Metta, in Pali, or Maithri in Sanskrit language, means ‘loving-kindness’, or boundless love’. It is the wish for all sentient beings to be well and happy. It is also referred to as boundless or universal love, a love that transcends all barriers, such as caste, colour or creed.
Metta is the basis for cultivation of virtues, such as compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity, which are very important qualities to develop as we live through these times of great change and uncertainties.
The practice of metta helps to reduce the tendency of anger, hatred and grudges. Metta is a great healing force. It also promotes patience, tolerance, gratitude and above all, a forgiving heart. Forgiveness is an important factor which helps in releasing certain emotional blockages due to grudges, remorse or guilt conscience. When one is clear from those emotional blockages through seeking forgiveness from others, then forgiving others as well as forgiving oneself, one’s heart will become lighter, one will experience light heartedness and one will be happier and more cheerful.
The release of emotional blockages through metta and the practice of forgiveness have great therapeutic values. Many health problems are related to anger and other negative emotions.
Metta promotes the true spirit of friendship or friendliness. As such human beings will be near and dear to one. One will be able to make friends easily. Even animals will love one. This is how the yogis who practice in deep forest or jungle can live in harmony with wild animals.
According to the instructions given in the Karaniya Metta Sutta, one needs to practise until one’s heart is completely suffused with loving-kindness:
in all directions: above, below and all around
UDDHAM ADHO CA TIRIYAÑ CA
and at all times; whether standing, sitting, walking or sleeping
TITTHAM CARAM NISINNO VĀ SAYĀNO VĀ
When practised together with wisdom and insight, Metta will indeed become a powerful healing force which will transform us into a more compassionate and caring community, as well as transmuting all negative energies and entities in light, love and harmony.
Benefits of Metta (Anguttara Nikaya 11.16)
- One sleeps happily
- One wakes happily
- One does not suffer bad dreams
- One is dear to human beings
- One is dear to non-human beings
- The gods protect one
- No fire or poison or weapon harms one
- One’s mind gets quickly concentrated
- The expression of one’s face is serene
- One dies unperturbed
- Even if one fails to attain higher states, one will at least reach the state of the Brahma world