Posted by: Upāsaka | 04/05/2010

Enemies of Metta

I know from my own experience that my practice of metta bhavana can seem at times to produce emotional states and feelings which are completely antithetical to the idea of loving-kindness. Fortunately for me, this is not uncommon and a good many teachers have much to say about the so-called Enemies of Metta. Although I am unsure of the author, I did find this rather interesting classification of the obstacles to metta on the Dublin Buddhist Centre’s website:

The Far Enemy of metta is ill-will or aversion. It is the polar opposite of wanting the best for
someone. It comes in various shades, and particularly in the difficult person stage, we have
to acknowledge any feelings of irritation or animosity that arise, and then try and let them
The Near Enemy of metta is sentimental attachment, and this arises particularly in the friend
stage. It is where we like the feeling that we have ourselves when someone is around, rather
than wanting the best for them. It isn’t the end of the world to feel this, but in the practice
we try and move towards a more self-less love for people; metta.
Sometimes people mistake metta for being ‘nice’, and think that it is about letting others ‘off
the hook’, or letting people walk over them. Nothing could be further from the truth! Metta
is the most robust state you could be in. It is not sentimental at all! Often the kindest thing
one can do for someone may not necessarily be pleasant for them. We are developing
robust kindness, not ‘nice-ness’!
The Hidden Enemy of metta is boredom and indifference. This can particularly arise in the
neutral person stage! Sometimes it can be a real trial to just get interested in the person, just
to take them in as a human being at all. Engaging our imagination to see them as much as
possible, and simply watching out for our mind wandering helps in this stage.

May this be of benefit. Sukhi hotu.



  1. Yes, i feel that way often: rarely even thinking that someone i know is a person–bull-sugar! I prefer to think of them as the story that i’m experiencing. I like to see life as a book. hmmmm.

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