audio, buddhism, series

The Discourse on Loving-Kindness (Mettā Sutta)

I’ve been wanting to do this series for a long time. We’re taking several weeks to study our way slowly through the beautiful Mettā Sutta, the Discourse on the cultivation of Friendliness, or Loving-Kindness. It’s a joy to discuss, and we’re learning to chant the sutta as well. Here are the talks and meditations from each week of the series, along with the passage in the discourse we discussed that night.

The full text of the discourse is at the bottom of this page, and is on the chant sheet we use, part of the “Theravāda Daily Practice” sequence. You can download the text in PDF form here. For more on mettā and the other brahmaviharas (Divine Abidings), see this series as well.

Chanting the Mettā Sutta:


Mettā Sutta, Part 1: the basic disciplines of Buddhist practice (10.3.17)

“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.”

Meditation: Cultivating love for the “benefactor” and close friends


Mettā Sutta, Part 2: Ethics and relationality (10.10.17)

“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.”

Meditation: Self-love & forgiveness


Mettā Sutta, Part 3: Making it universal. “Omitting none.” (10.17.17)

“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.”

Meditation: Compassion, and a response to the Northern CA wildfires that devastated our area that week


Mettā Sutta, Part 4: Learning deep equanimity toward difficult people, and a discussion of hatred. (10.24.17)

“Let none deceive another or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.”

Meditation: Radiating mettā, working with the full-body breath and the senses


Mettā Sutta, Part 5: A question came up at the end of last week’s conversation about holding people accountable for their harmful actions, and if that was compatible with seeing everyone’s state as a product of conditions, and therefore not completely their “fault.” The question, and the standard answer (that people are still responsible for their actions), lean on the difficult doctrines of karma and not-self, so we spent an extra week with them. (10.31.17)

Chanting & Meditation: This was the final week of the month, when we always do the full Refuge & Precepts pūja. This month we experimented with embedding the meditation and the chanting of the sutta within the chanting sequence, as I suggest doing in home practice. We’ll probably do more of this. (You can download the text in PDF form here.)


Mettā Sutta, Part 6: Mother! And the difference between “protect” and “cherish”

“Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings,”

Chanting & Meditation: Again we embedded the meditation in the full pūja sequence, but just using the Pāli chants, not the English as well. For the meditation, we did a compassion practice.


Mettā Sutta, Part 7: Radiating vs. wishing. Looking at two major methods of mettā meditation, the “phrases” method of the Mahasi tradition, and the “radiating” method of Ven. Anālayo.

“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.”

Meditation: Classic Mahasi-style phrase practice, sending mettā to the benefactor and the neutral person, with a little All Beings at the end.


(I’ll be away for Thanksgiving on Nov 21, and Daniel Doane will teach that Tuesday.)

1 more session in this series coming up! We’ll finish the text on Nov 28, looking at the wisdom teaching at the end:

“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 fixed views, the pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, being freed from all sense-desires, is not born again into this world.”


The Discourse on Loving-kindness (mettā sutta), SN 1.8

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 fixed views, the pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, being freed from all sense-desires, is not born again into this world.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *