Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Metta Sutta

Metta Sutta( Discourse on Loving-kindness )
U Nandiya 

Once the Bhagava ( Lord Buddha) was staying at the Jetavanamonastery in the pleasance of Anathapindika at Savatthi. A groupof monks received permission from the Lord to meditate in adistant forest during the period of Buddhist Lent.

Each of themonks took shelter under a big tree as a temporary residence andan engaged themselves intensively in the practice of meditation.On account of the spiritual power of their meditation, the treedeities could not stay in their trees-abodes above the monks, sothey had to come down to the ground. 

Realizing that the monkswould spend the whole rainy season there, the deities were muchannoyed. So they tried to scare the monks away during the night byharassing them in various ways.After living under such impossible conditions for sometime, themonks could not bear it any longer and rushed back to the Buddhaand informed him about their difficulties. 

So the Buddha advised them to recite the text of loving kindness (Metta Sutta) and toradiate the spirit of love to all beings. On the full-moon day of Wagaung, the Buddha taught the monks the Metta Sutta. 

From that day till now, the full-moon day of Wagaung has been called as the'Great or Grand Occasion of Metta.Encouraged by this discourse, the monks returned to theirrespective places. They practiced in accordance with theinstructions given them to permeate the entire atmosphere withradiant thoughts of love, 

The tree-deities were much pleased to beaffected by the power of love, and so let the monks (meditators)stay without any further disturbances.MettaMetta is the highest need of the world today, indeed it is moreneeded than ever before. 

Because in this new world, there aresufficient materials, money and brilliant wise men and scientists.In spite of these, there is no peace and happiness. It shows thatsomething is lacking, That is Metta.What is the Buddhist idea of Metta? The Pali word "Metta" means"loving kindness", not the ordinary, sensual, emotional,sentimental kind of love. 

Metta has been translated by modemtranslators into English as generous, mindful loving, lovingkindness, sending out thoughts of love towards others" butaccording to the words of Buddha, Metta has a far widersignificance, and a much more extensive implication than this. 

It means a great deal more than loving kindness harmlessness,sympathy.What is love? Love is also defined in the Oxford Dictionary.According to it, love means warm affection, attachment,affectionate devotion, etc. These are synonymous terms for loveand they all refer to sentimental worldly love. 

So, Metta has nofull English equivalent. For this Metta is much more than ordinaryaffection or warm feelings. The Pali word Metta literally means"friendliness", but also means love without a desire to possessbut with desire to help, to sacrifice self-interest for thewelfare and well being of humanity. 

Metta is with out anyselection or exclusion. If you select a few good friends andexclude a bad person, then you have not got a perfect grasp of Metta. Indeed Metta is not only benevolent thought, but alsoperforming charitable deeds, an active ministry for the good ofone and all.

In the "Metta Sutta" the Buddha has chosen the love of a motherfor her child as an example. Imagine a mother's love when herchild is hungry; she watches carefully to feed her child even before it asks her for food. When the child is in danger, she willrisk her own life. 

So the Buddha taught us to love all beings as amother loves her only child. If we can do this even to a smallextent, the world will become happier and more peaceful place. Inthe Dighanikaya, it is said by the Buddha that almost every virtuesuch as unselfishness, loving sympathy and loving kindness isincluded in this "Metta".

Though we talked much about Metta and repeat the formula "Sabbesatta avera hontu, abyapajjha hontu etc;. "( May all sentientbeings be free from danger; may they be free from oppressionetc.), without Metta how can it be effective? 

This passage is notto be merely recited. The Buddha does not ask us to learn any ofhis teachings for recitation only. So the recitation of the "MettaSutta" is good, but the Buddha did not mean it to be merelyrecited. 

He exhorted us to follow and practice the instructions init so that we might realize Metta as the best state of heart inthe world.Therefore do not be satisfied with the mere recitation of the"Metta Sutta" but strive to know its meaning with a view topracticing it and to make it suffuse your being. 

That is the mostessential fact. Meditation does not mean merely to think about it,but to practice it in your daily life.Discourse of loving kindnessThis discourse of loving kindness serves as a mark of protectionand as a subject of meditation.

In the first part of the discourseare found virtues that should be practiced by anyone who desireshis own welfare, and in the latter part the method of practicingMetta or good will is explained in de tail. The Buddha taught usto follow and practice the following principles:

He who is skilled in doing welfare, who wishes to attainthe state of calm, (Perfect tranquility) must work to beefficient, upright, perfectly upright, easy to speak to,gentle and humble.Contended, easily supportable, having few duties, simplein livelihood, controlled in sense prudent, modest andnot greedily attached to families, he must not commiteven the slightest sin for which other wise men mightcensure him.

He must contemplate so: May all beings be happy, may allbeings be secure, may all beings be happy. He mustradiate the measureless thoughts of loving kindness towhatever living beings there may be; feeble or strong,tall, medium or short, small, medium or large, thin,medium or stout, seen or unseen, those dwelling far ornear, those who are born and those who are to be born-may all beings, without exception, be happy. 

Let none be angry with another, let him not despiseanyone in any place. By means of physical and verbal provocation or by frustrated enmity, in anger or ill-will let him not wish another's suffering.Just as a mother would protect at the risk of her own life the life of her only son, even so let him spread boundless loving kindness to every corner of the world;above, below and across, unhindered without any obstruction, without any hatred, without any enmity.

While standing, walking, sitting or lying down, as long as he awake, without sloth (laziness) he should devote himself to this mindfulness of love. This, they say, is the "Highest Conduct" and this is called the "Noble living" (Holy life).

If the meditator, not falling into wrong-view (egoism), be virtuous and endowed with perfect insight, and expel his passion for sensual pleasure, then, of a truth, he will never be conceived in any womb again.In the Dhammapada the Buddha said, "A beautiful word or thought which is not accompanied by corresponding acts is like a brightflower which bears no fruit. It would not produce any effect." 

So,it is action, not speculation, it is practice, not theory that matters. According to the Dhammapada, "will" if it is not followedby corresponding action does not count. Therefore, practice of the"Noble Principles of the Metta Sutta" is the essence of Buddhism.In this connexion this "Metta" or Universal Love (Loving kindness) is generally taken to exist in connexion with other people, but in reality love for self comes first. It is not a selfish love, but love for self, pure love that comes first. 

By having pure love or"Metta" as we defined it for self; selfish tendencies, hatred,anger, will be diminished. Therefore, unless we ourselves possess"Metta" within, we can not share, radiate, send "Metta" to others.So meditation on love "Metta" is to be started within ourselves.

According to Buddhism self-love comes first. By helping ourselves,we can help others effectively. The Buddha pointed out, "If  a person cannot help himself well, he cannot help others well".In the Dhammapada it says, "One should first establish oneself inwhat is proper then only he should advise another; such a wise-manwill not be reproached!".

If one cannot find happiness in himself,he cannot find happiness anywhere else. It is also said thatpeople who cannot control themselves cannot find happiness.According to the Buddhist method, training oneself comes first.Individual perfection must be first, so that the organic whole maybe perfect. The state of the outer world is a reflection of our inner selves. 

The world is like a great mirror, and if you look a tthe mirror with a smiling face, you will see your own beautiful smiling face. If you look at it with a shrinking face, you will see your own ugly face. It means that "Every action must have equal and opposite reaction." 

So if you treat the world properly, kindly, the world will treat you kindly. We should not expect other persons to treat us kindly first, we should start by ourselves treating them kindly. This is the essence of Buddhist "Metta" Loving Kindness.

"May all beings be happy, may all beings be secure, may all beings be happy minded and may their hearts be wholesome." 

U Nandiya Source: The Buddhists' Three Jewels.

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