Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/06/2016

What is metta anyway?

Despite spending most of my formal meditation trying to cultivate it I have to admit that I’m still unsure about what metta is. I recently re-read an article by Ven. Thanissaro wherein he states that metta is not a feeling. Rather he claims it is an attitude of goodwill. 
The venerable states that this misunderstanding arose as a result of a bad translation of the Karaniya Metta Sutta. There is one passage in particular that is often taken to mean that one should love all beings in the same way that a mother would het only child. The Ajahn states that this really refers to protecting one’s state of mind. I trust the venerable very much but it seems to me there’s something lacking. How to resolve the difficulties?

There are other bhikkhus and bhikkhus I respect who teach metta differently but I suppose I won’t really be satisfied until I find a more definitive answer in the Canon. Until then, there’s no real harm in continuing as I have as long as I recall not to be too upset at the lack of apparent progress. 


  1. Since a long time i.m using a method which seems quite good to work for me….its a very simple practise and can be done every where…in the society, also alone. First i give some good thoughts for me, so that my heart feels happy…then i imagine whoever is asking me the question “who are you”? I answer “i am your friend”……its a kind of an inner short dialogue…like an inner game…”Who are you?” “I am your friend”…..
    in the bus, on the road.wherever… my friends circle, but can be a dog, a crow or an ant too….i imagine mr.putin would ask me this one question, mr.erdogan, mr. Hitler posthum…and and and….thats a nice challange 🙂
    Its not that everybody must be my friend, thats not possible……but the Buddha said in the suttas ” I.m a true and genuin friend of the whole world” i try my best…. 🙂

    Best wishes for the practise.

    • Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! Thank you Ayya!

  2. isn’t it loving- kindness? that means it a kind of will to wish others be happy and well, not feelings. according to abhidhamma there are 3 types of feelings, nice, bad, neutral.
    and if a mom has a only-child, she probably thinks his son all the time, like this, you should try not to forget giving metta to others all the time
    that’s what i understood when I learned Metta sutta.

    with Mettaa _()_

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