Title- Metta, Loving-kindness

Loving-kindness (metta) is the opposite of hatred (dosa). Metta is the mental factor called adosa (non-hatred) which wishes for the welfare of other beings, contemplating: “May all beings be happy; May they be free from danger.”

Metta is generally understood as “Love” . There are three kinds of love: —–

(1) Mutual love between husband and wife (Tanhapema)
(2) Mutual love among the members of the family (Gehassitapema)
(3) Loving-kindness or benevolence for the welfare (Metta)

The first two kinds of love are not metta.They are lust, greed and craving.
Metta is the pure form of love which can bring peace and prosperity to all beings.

There is no particular mental factor (cetasika) as metta. The adosa-cetasika, when it is meant to connote wishing others’ welfare, peace and progress, is known as metta. Therefore, note that metta is the sincere will to help others to be well and prosper.

False Metta

There is also a form of metta which among relative, lovers, husbands and wives. Such metta also constitutes wish and deeds of helpfulness to each other. They are said to be “in love” with one another. They also use the word metta for this type of attachment. But it is actually lust or attachment termed gehasita-pema, (love for the household already treated under “lobha”). This is not true or sincere metta(loving-kindness).

Once a layman approached his reverend bhikkhu and asked him the proper way to practice metta-bhavana. The bhikkhu said; “Start radiating metta on the one you love best”. So, as he loved his wife best, he started metta meditation on her that night just outside her room. After some time he became so overcome with love that he rushed to her room. As the door was bolted shut he bumped his head at the door and received bruises. This kind of love is called gehasita-pema.

A Cow’s Love for Her Calf

One cannot say such form of pema never develop into true metta; even a cow’s love for her calf can bring about the arising of wholesome consciousness (kusala citta). Once upon a time, a cow was breast-feeding her young calf with true metta. At that very moment a hunter threw a spear at her. But due to her immerse metta for her calf, the spear became flaccid like a palm leaf and caused her no harm at all. This is the evidence that love between relatives, friends, husbands and wives, parents and children can develop into true metta.

The Metta of Queen Samavati

In the acient kingdom of Kosambi, King Utena had three queens, namely, Samavati, Magandi and Vasuladattadevi. While Samavati was devoted to the Three Gems (Ti-ratana), Magandi, since her maiden days, bore a grudge against the Buddha. She used to find fault on Samavati, who always practiced metta-bhavana. King Utena rotated his visits to the three chambers of his queens respectively; and he was very dexterous with the harp.

One day, when the turn to visit Samavati’s room came, Magandi put a poisonous snake which she got from her uncle, into the cavity of the king’s harp and placed many garlands so as to stop the snake from coming out. Then she told the king not to go to Samavati’s chamber as she had a horrid nightmare to be interpreted as a bad omen. But the king, heedless of her warnings, went to his beloved’s chamber. Magandi followed him as if she was very concerned about the king’s safety.

When the king reclined on Samavati’s couch after dinner, she secretly removed the garlands to let the snake out of the cavity. The snake being full of fury, made a hissing sound and approached the king. Magandi pretended to be shocked, scolded Samavati and her attendants and blamed the king for not listening to her warnings.

King Utena, being ignorant of Magani’s sinister plot, got very angry and picked up his bow and arrow to shoot the innocent queen and her attendants.

At that moment Samavati told her attendants not to feel hatred or anger against the king and Magandi, but only to propagate metta( loving-kindness) to them, as they have always been doing. She said except metta there was no savior in sight at such a time. She urged all to emanate metta thoughts to both the king and Magandi as much as possible, and dispel all thoughts of grudge,anger and revenge.

So, the attendants, well-trained under the guidance of Queen Samavati, cultivated loving-kindness to King Utena and Magandi. The angry king could not conquer his anger and released an arrow. Due to the power of metta, the arrow turned back towards him. At once the king recovered his senses and, kneeling in front of Samavati, begged for forgiveness. He now realized his own thoughtlessness.

Moral of the Story

Queen Magandi was envious and jealous of Queen Samavati who was more beautiful and popular. She was infested with issa and dosa. So she plotted evil schemes with maya. King Utena, on seeing the snake, was overcome with dosa. When the arrow boomeranged, he experienced great fear under the influence of dosa and domanassa. Queen Samavati and her attendants being basically good-natured, propagated metta even towards their enemies.

In this age, those who want to live a highly virtuous life should emulate the attitude and behavior of Queen Samavati. In the face of envy, jealousy and ill-will, one should improve one’s mind and extinguish the desire to avenge others. Given the opportunity to do service to others, do so even to those who had been malicious to you. Make good use of the priceless weapon known as metta. Metta is water; dosa is fire. The more the water, the easier it is to fight the flames. Therefore, one ought to try to diminish one’s anger and foster loving-kindness to all beings.

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Related Articles:

Title- How To Radiate Loving-kindness & Cultivating Loving-kindness

Title- The Benefits of Radiating Loving-kindness

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