Metta Meditation

The Metta meditation comes from sacred Buddhist texts (Metta Sutta). It is called Metta Bhavava, which can be translated as “Benevolence Cultivation” or “Loving-Kindness Cultivation.” The meditation below is a practice that aims to grow seeds of compassion, health, and kindness in our hearts and minds, for us, and for all beings and life. It is a process and ongoing practice.

I created the adaptation below from English translations in order to help my own comprehension and practice. I did this with great care, careful research, and attention to origin, tradition, and intended meaning. For educational purposes and for increased comprehension, definitions and sources are provided after the mantra on this page.

When you first begin, repeat the first Metta section for Self, until you really feel it. Repeat each one in this way. Each may feel different, and that is okay. We start with self, and then work through the many levels of our personal relationships, on out into the universal. This is a meditative process that transmits deep wisdom, and a beautiful sense of personal responsibility that can grow and deepen over time.

It may help to begin with breathing that facilitates the release of tensions and distractions. With your breath, let go of any distraction, worry, tension, or concerns. Set it all aside in order to be in the present moment with the mantras. Also with your breath, you may wish to welcome into your body and mind: feelings and energies of compassion, kindness, peace, and calm.

While practicing the Metta, the following techniques may be helpful in deepening the ongoing practice:

  • Picture yourself taking care of little sprouts that can grow into beautiful, transforming energy that benefits everyone. Take good care of them. That is what Metta is all about. It starts with the self and moves outward from there.
  • Imagine warmth and goodness in the form of golden loving sunlight around and in your body. Imagine the light of love and kindness in your heart and all through and around you.
  • For the difficult person and the opposition: set aside and let go of resentment or hatred. The full Metta mantra has the ability to transcend and transform difficult energies. See the full version of the Metta for a fuller picture of this practice — the last section on this page.

When out in the world, without the text, the Metta can be remembered and practiced in a shortened version:

May I be free from suffering. May I be well.
May you be free from suffering. May you be well.

Here are all the stages of the Metta, in the section below. You can replace general groups with specific names, when you need or want to. For example, instead of saying “May my loved ones and friends be well.” You can say, “May (name of person) be well.” The mantras can be practiced alone and in groups.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Loving-Kindness Mantras

aka Metta Bhavava (Loving-Kindness Cultivation)

Adaptation by C.S. Sherin, WildClover.org

  1. METTA FOR SELF:
    May I be joyful and healthy.
    May I be radiant and secure.
    May I receive and practice loving-kindness.
    May I be free from ill-will, bondage, and suffering.
    May I see clearly and act ethically in freedom.
    May I be well.
  2. METTA FOR LOVED ONE/FRIEND:
    May my loved ones and friends be joyful and healthy.
    May my loved ones and friends be radiant and secure.
    May my loved ones and friends be free from ill-will,
    bondage, and suffering.
    May my loved ones and friends see clearly and act
    ethically in freedom.
    May my loved ones and friends be well.
  3. METTA FOR ACQUAINTANCES:
    May my neighbors and acquaintances be joyful and healthy.
    May my neighbors and acquaintances be radiant and secure.
    May my neighbors and acquaintances be free from ill-will,
    bondage, and suffering.
    May my neighbors and acquaintances see clearly and act
    ethically in freedom.
    May my neighbors and acquaintances be well.
  4. METTA FOR DIFFICULT PEOPLE:
    May those I struggle with be joyful and healthy.
    May those I struggle with be radiant and secure.
    May those I struggle with be free from ill-will,
    bondage, and suffering.
    May those I struggle with see clearly and act
    ethically in freedom.
    May those I struggle with be well.
  5. METTA FOR OPPONENTS:
    May those I oppose be joyful and healthy.
    May those I oppose be radiant and secure.
    May those I oppose be free from ill-will,
    bondage, and suffering.
    May those I oppose see clearly and act
    ethically in freedom.
    May those I oppose be well.
  6. METTA FOR ALL LIFE:
    May all beings and all life be joyful and healthy.
    May all beings and all life be radiant and secure.
    May all beings and all life receive and
    practice loving-kindness.
    May all beings and all life be free from ill-will,
    bondage, and suffering.
    May all beings and all life see clearly and act
    ethically in freedom.
    May all beings and all life be well.
    May all beings be joyous, radiant, and secure.
    May all beings be healthy, safe, and at ease.
    May all beings be well.
    May all that is be well.
Creative Commons License
Loving-Kindness Mantras, adapted by C.S. Sherin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The following is the extended version of the Metta, a translated and adapted version from the sacred Buddhist texts. Directly following this section, you will find notes with definitions for Buddhist terms.



“What Needs To Be Done:
Loving-Kindness”

based on English translations of the Karaniyametta Sutta (Metta)

Adapted by C.S. Sherin, WildClover.org

With true knowing, we seek to dedicate ourselves to what is good for us and others —we seek a state of complete peace.

We are dedicated to being effective, efficient, and disciplined. We are devoted to practicing and remaining: moral, honest, straightforward, kind in words and actions, and flexible. We let go of conceit and fear. We are able to be content and happy. We let go of worry and enmeshment.

We let go of bondage to sensory desires, hate, and greed. We let go of cravings, and attachments to family and groups. We maintain respect for self, and all others. Regardless of our status, power, and stature — or lack of it — we avoid actions and words that the most wise will be sure to rebuke.

We commit to practicing this ongoing seed-thought-practice of the heart, mind and actions — this Metta meditation, the Benevolence Cultivation, this Loving-Kindness practice:

May all beings be joyous, radiant, and secure.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be uplifted, inspired, and dwell in
true freedom, peace and happiness.

This seed-thought-practice that we commit to nurture and cultivate is for: all life and beings — on and in every part of the spectrum of large and small, strong and weak; height, size, weight, ability, and presence; the seen and unseen, form and formlessness, near and far, born and non-born — it is for all beings and life, without exception.

May all beings be happy, healthy, safe, and at ease.
May all beings be well.
May all that is be well.

May all life and beings be free from: deception, domination, and slavery put upon any other. May all life and beings be free from: lashing out with ill-will. May all life and beings be free from: curses and wishes of harm put upon others, and suffering.

May our commitment to this Benevolence Cultivation practice be grown — to be an infinite radiating Loving-Kindness for all beings and life.

We send this Metta to self, to friends, to people we are aware of but don’t know well, to those we ignore, to those we struggle with, and those we oppose.

May this Metta practice permeate and transform us and our world and universe — whether we are up, down, resting, active, asleep, or otherwise, in all our time of being, sleeping, and waking — we seek to rest and live in this practice and dedication to Metta Cultivation— throughout all expanses and narrowness, breadth, and depths of: air, sky, water, liquid, gases, and voids; in, around, and through all matter — underground and throughout all depths and hidden places — everything, in all directions of space, time, and realities — visible and invisible.

This is the magnificent discipline that relieves one from fixed views, and gives one freedom with ethical action and clear vision. This Metta results in freedom from the bondage of forgetting, ignorance, craving, clinging, and suffering — and rebirth into them. Then, one will never again be born into that bondage. The freedom, happiness, and loving-kindness gained through this practice are lasting and true.


Sources: TheBuddhistCentre.com, Buddhaimonia.com, dictionary/etymology, Wikipedia, and MettaInstitute.org.


Notes

Mettā (Pali)/ maitrī is Sanskrit and can be translated as: an “active interest for others,” “good will,” and “kind, loving, sympathy.”

Bhavava is Sanskrit, and can be translated as: “cultivation” or “development.” With that meaning, also implied is a “calling into existence” because — Bhava = “becoming.”

Karaṇīyam is a word from Buddhist texts, which means, this is “what should be done.”

Sutta (Pali)/ Sutra in Sanskrit, within the context of Buddhism–refers to the sacred texts — canon records of Gautama Buddha’s teachings.

Karaṇīyamettā Sutta is also known as the Metta Sutta in Buddhism. It is found in the Buddhist sacred text collection called Sutta Nipata.