The Buddhist Metta of Loving Kindness has a long and rich tradition. It is brought into practice to keep the mind open and fruitful. It’s purpose is to develop a sense of selflessness and practice altruism, as was taught by the Buddha.

The basic concept is that hatred cannot coexist with a sense of loving kindness; one drives out the other. So to practice giving loving kindness, one can dispell a sense of hatred. Loving kindness is not forgiveness, although they are somewhat related, and practicing loving kindness can lead one to forgiveness.

There are many things which cause one to have negative states; practicing a positive state can help relieve one of those negative feelings.

The Method of the Prayer

To perform this prayer, one must thing of other people, and make the prayer to them each in turn. Some of the people to think of include:

  • Yourself
  • Your parents
  • Your siblings
  • Other relations
  • Those you work with and for
  • Those you play with
  • Those you are in community with
  • Those who give you guidance and support
  • Those who contest with you
  • Those who might be your enemies
  • The entire world

Clearly, this goes from small to huge. How does one possibly think of the entire world? Actually, it isn’t necessarily that difficult a thing to conceptualize that all people everywhere can benefit from loving kindness. Perhaps a more difficult set of people to think of this way are your supposed enemies. How can you justify wishing loving kindness for them? Yet this is the way of achieving true detachment and grace, and to achieve a truly loving, kind heart.

To do this, recite the metta substituting the person or people or group for the tag <person> in the script below. Start from the center, yourself, and work your way out to the last group “all beings”, the reverse the flow back to yourself. You may speak it to individuals, groups, or whatever you wish that signifies the recipient of your loving kindness.

The Metta

May <person> have happiness, and the causes of happiness
May <person> be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering
May <person> never be separated, from the supreme joy that is beyond all sorrow
May <person> abide in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion

Another Version

May <person> live in safety.
May <person> be happy.
May <person> be healthy.
May <person> live with ease.