6.2 | Meditation on Mettā | 2


Meditation on Mettā

There are various ways of practising mettā-bhāvanā, the meditation on universal love. Three of the principal methods will be explained here.

These instructions, based on canonical and commentarial sources, are intended to explain the practice of mettā-meditation in a clear, simple and direct way so that anyone who is earnest about taking up the practice will have no doubts about how to proceed.

For full instructions on the theory and practice of mettā-bhāvanā the reader is referred to the Viśuddhimagga, Chapter IX.

Method 2

The first method of practising meditation on mettā employs the projection of loving thoughts to specific individuals in order of increasing remoteness from oneself.

The second method presents an impersonal mode of radiating mettā which makes the mind truly all-embracing, as suggested by the Pali term mettā-cetovimutti, “the liberation of mind through universal love.

The unliberated mind is imprisoned within the walls of egocentricity, greed, hatred, delusion, jealousy and meanness. As long as the mind is in the grip of these defiling and limiting mental factors, for so long it remains insular and fettered.

By breaking these bonds, mettā liberates the mind, and the liberated mind naturally grows boundless and immeasurable. Just as the earth cannot be rendered “earthless,” even so the mind of mettā cannot be limited.

After completing the radiation of mettā towards selected persons, when the mind breaks the barriers existing between oneself and revered ones, beloved ones, friends, neutral ones and hostile ones,

the meditator now embarks on the great voyage of impersonal radiation, even as an ocean-worthy ship voyages through the vast, measureless ocean, nevertheless retaining a route and a goal as well.

The technique is as follows:

Imagine the people residing in your house as forming an aggregate, then embrace all of them within your heart, radiating the mettā thoughts:

May all those dwelling in this house be free from hostility, free from affliction, free from distress; may they live happily.

Having visualised one’s own house in this manner, one must now visualise the next house, and all its residents, and then the next house, and the next, and so on, until all the houses in that street are similarly covered by all-embracing loving kindness.

Now the meditator should take up the next street, and the next, until the entire neighbourhood or village is covered.

Thereafter extension by extension, direction-wise, should be clearly visualised and spread with mettā-rays in abundant measure.

In this way the entire town or the city is to be covered; then the district and the entire state should be covered and radiated with thoughts of mettā.

Next, one should visualise state after state, starting with one’s own state, then the rest of the states in the different directions, the east, south, west and north.

Thus one should cover the whole of one’s country, geographically visualising the people of this land regardless of class, race, sect or religion.

Think: “May everyone in this great land abide in peace and well-being! May there be no war, no strife, no misfortune, no maladies! Radiant with friendliness and good fortune, with compassion and wisdom, may all those in this great country enjoy peace and plenty.

One should now cover the entire continent, country by country, in the eastern, southern, western and northern directions.

Geographically imagining each country and the people therein according to their looks, one should radiate in abundant measure thoughts of mettā:

May they be happy! May there be no strife and discord! May goodwill and understanding prevail! May peace be unto all!

Thereafter one should take up all the continents - Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America - visualising country by country and people by people, covering the entire globe.

Imagine yourself at a particular point of the globe and then project powerful rays of mettā, enveloping one direction of the globe, then another, then another and so on until the whole globe is flooded and thoroughly enveloped with glowing thoughts of universal love.

One should now project into the vastness of space powerful beams of mettā towards all beings living in other realms,

first in the four cardinal directions - east, south, west and north
- then in the intermediary directions - northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest
- and then above and below,

covering all the 10 directions with abundant and measureless thoughts of universal love.