The Metta Sutra, according to legend, came about after the Buddha sent his monks into the forest to meditate during the rainy season. The Tree spirits felt they monks were threats to them and harassed them during the nights. The monks complained to Buddha and he gave them a sutra to recite that wishes well-being on whomever they felt needed it. After sending loving-kindness to the tree spirits, the spirits welcomed them into their midst and left them alone.
Metta is a tool for personal transformation and relational transformation.....our first obligation is to develop honest compassion for ourselves. We must soften and heal before we can be at peace with others. This is not an excuse for pity party or wallowing in anger or grief, but an opportunity to acknowledge our feelings honestly and practice self care.
Metta as a tool for helping those whom you cannot help in person: your family, friends. By reciting metta for those whom you love, you are sending them the best of yourself in a true spirit of generosity. Instead of expecting or even demanding help from them, you are selflessly offering them kindness and compassion.
Metta is a tool for offering gratitude to those whom you encounter toward which you have neutral feelings: a cafeteria worker, a staff member, an inmate whom you haven’t really met but whom you feel could use a boost.
Metta is a way to neutralize the charged feelings you may have for people whom you call enemies or who are simply difficult to get along with. Over time you, as you silently chant the metta phrases for these persons, you may feel your attitudes softening. You may notice that their presence does not evoke angry feelings inside you.
Finally, metta is a way to engage with all sentient beings, those near and far, without distinction. It is recognition of the reality of our interdependence. Let your socks be a reminder of this truth. Each day, as you put them on, remember all those people who have enabled you to keep your feet warm and dry.
If you wish to try this meditation, breath gently and recite inwardly the following phrases or ones you have created, first for yourself, then for others, replacing “I” with “he or she” or the person’s name.
May I dwell in safety
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be peaceful and at ease.