Metta Bhawana is a unique type of concentration meditation which, if practiced even for the duration of smelling fragrance of a flower, is more meritorious than offering alms to the Buddha himself and even building a monastery (kuti) for the use of Bhikku Sangha (Velama Sutta). And it does not cost you anything to accumulate such merits.
It is better if Metta Bhawana can be practiced at a quiet place with minimal disturbances and in a comfortable posture initially. Keeping your back (spine) straight, would help you not fall asleep during meditation.
Radiation of Metta directed upon all living beings is possible in two methods as taught by the Buddha in Anuruddha Sutta in Majjhima Nikaya.
Exalted Deliverance of Mind (Mahaggata Cheto Vimukthi)
Here the Metta is radiated by gradually increasing the circle of influence starting from you (gradually increasing the geographical area)
May I be free from Anger, free from Hatred, free from Jealousy, free from Suffering and Unsatisfactoriness, May I live Well and Contented, May I attain Everlasting Peace and Happiness
As well as I am, may all the beings in this home (or the place you are in, as applicable) be free from Anger, free from Hatred, free from Jealousy, free from Suffering and Unsatisfactoriness, live Well and Contented, attain Everlasting Peace and Happiness
You can also have different focus areas as long as the perimeter is increased through each step and Metta is directed upon all living beings at the end.
Boundless Deliverance of Mind (Appamana Cheto Vimukthi)
Here the Metta is radiated towards ten (10) directions from the place you are in. Since directions have no boundaries, Metta is directed upon all living beings in one direction at a time. When all the ten directions are taken together, it covers the total space around you without limits.
The specific focus area under this method is the direction itself. May I be free from Anger, free from Hatred, free from Jealousy, free from Suffering and Unsatisfactoriness, May I live Well and Contented, May I attain Everlasting Peace and Happiness
As well as I am, may all the beings in Northerly direction be free from Anger, free from Hatred, free from Jealousy, free from Suffering and Unsatisfactoriness, live Well and Contented, attain Everlasting Peace and Happiness
It is important to keep in mind that whichever the way you practice, whatever the words you use, the ultimate objective is to feel the loving kindness towards all living beings, regardless of any barriers. Your loving kindness should be similar to that of a mother towards her only son. When Metta is practiced continuously your anger, hatred, and restlessness will be reduced and your ability to forgive people will be increased gradually.
While you practice radiating Metta in a sitting posture, it can also be practiced at other instances and postures.
One such instance is while you travel in public transport. In a bus, you can radiate Metta upon all the passengers using the same phrases given above starting with the Driver and Conductor. This will help you to be Equanimeous towards the actions of fellow passengers and specially the Driver if he intentionally delays the journey.
If you can concentrate on nothing but Metta throughout your journey, you yourself can experience the positive results at the end of it.
At the workplace, while you work, Metta can be radiated to all fellow employees including all your superiors and subordinates. Radiating Metta at workplace would result in you not getting hurt by the actions or words by fellow employees, specially the superiors, and you in turn not doing or saying anything that might hurt others. This will make your workplace a pleasant environment where you can work happily and effectively.
Practiticing Metta Bhavana.
Similarly, if you are a mother or a housewife, Metta Bhawana can be practiced while cooking, cleaning, washing and attending any other routine chores. In radiating Metta as discussed above, it will help you always to remember that all the teachings of the Buddha are focused towards our own development and not of others’. In other words, we must be the change that we wish to see in the world.
Otherwise, there is a tendency for us to fall in the way of thinking ‘why others cannot be loving and kind towards me? If you have effectively developed boundless loving kindness towards all living beings in the world, it should be reflected through your actions – words and thoughts.
This change in you would be felt by everybody around you. As a result, everybody including your family members, colleagues and friends would feel comfortable. Your calmness will make them feel happy to be around you.
The eleven (11) unique benefits accruing from practicing Metta Bhawana as taught by the Buddha in Mettanisansa Sutta and the guidance to radiate Metta as taught in Karaniya Metta Sutta, would be discussed in detail in a future issue of Mahamegha.