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Metta - Loving Friendliness in Action

Metta is one of the qualities the Buddha encouraged us to develop. Metta is variously translated as goodwill, unconditional love and loving friendliness.

There is a chant, in English, about this quality. It is the first chant that I memorized.

Everyday, on my way home from work, walking, I had to cross a busy street. A crosswalk sign was present, but most drivers ignored it. I had to take one step out into the traffic in order to get drivers to stop for me.

Initially, this daily scenario raised anger in me. Feelings of tightness accompanied the feeling, not to mention the uncomfortable, negative mind state I was experiencing. Then one day, the chant on metta came into my mind. Specifically, the line, "This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness.......let none ..... despise any being in any state."

And here I was, despising all those drivers AND causing suffering for myself. That phrase shouted out at me: "let none despise any being in any state." So I began to think of the drivers as hurrying to get home to their families after a tough day at work. I sent them good wishes. My anger immediately transformed to a feeling of caring. The suffering I was experiencing was gone. I felt good.

Since that moment of waking up to my despising, I have used metta in many other situations. My negative reaction to another is what triggers the memory of crossing the road. I then stop my negative mumblings and send metta to the other person. Everything changes. I relax. I feel better. And the other person often has a positive response as well. I so appreciate this teaching.

Metta Chant

This is what should be done

By one who is skilled in goodness

And who knows the path of peace:

Let them be able and upright,

Straightforward and gentle in speech,

Humble and not conceited,

Contented and easily satisfied,

Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways,

Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,

Not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing

That the wise would later reprove.

Wishing: In gladness and in safety,

May all beings be at ease!

Whatever living beings there may be,

Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,

The great or the mighty, medium, short, or small,

The seen and the unseen,

Those living near and far away,

Those born and to-be-born –

May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,

Or despise any being in any state.

Let none through anger or ill-will

Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother protects with her life

Her child, her only child,

So with a boundless heart

Should one cherish all living beings:

Radiating kindness over the entire world:

Spreading upwards to the skies,

And downwards to the depths,

Outwards and unbounded,

Freed from hatred and ill-will.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,

Free from drowsiness,

One should sustain this recollection.

This is said to be the sublime abiding.

By not holding to wrong views,

The pure-hearted one,

Having clarity of vision,

Being freed from all sense desires,

Is not born again into this world.

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