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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Universal Metta as taught in Buddhism

Today is il poya day

Universal Metta as taught in Buddhism

By Ashan Nilantha Dissanayaka, Lecturer Buddhist Cultural Section, Sri Lanka Buddhist and Pali University

The subject of Universal Metta is one of the most important aspects which is covered in the philosophy of Buddhism. The word Metta signifies friendship, and likeability. Describing it in detail, Metta also means compassion one shows towards living beings- both human and animal without harbouring hatred or any other harmful thoughts in the mind and then putting one’s mental thoughts to action physically.
If a friend is honest and kind towards his friends, he would never wish harm to any living soul on this planet that is how Universal Metta has been described in Buddhism.
Lord Buddha in several of his discourses set down in the Anuruddha and Karaneeyametta Suttas and in the Sutta Pitaka, what he has meant is that it encompasses all living creatures irrespective of one’s difference on the grounds of race, colour, cast or creed.
Metta if practiced to the letter also helps human beings to extinguish all evil, wicked or any other notions that breeds contempt towards fellow beings whether human or animal.
Metta, without a doubt helps humans to purify their whole body and their actions which will result in not being harmful to either themselvesor to the others in the society that we all live in.
This concept of Metta has also been described as a form of meditation as well where those who practice it will see their lives being automatically enriched .
It is said that Metta should be extended not only to creatures that are visible to the naked eye but even to those that are not, whether they be big or small or even creatures that are unborn.

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It is also clear that the concept of Universal Metta as explained so lucidly in Buddhism, supersedes those which have been promulgated in most other religions.
This concept as has been described in Buddhism also states that Universal Metta is not confined to a certain period or to a particular segment of society.

Difference

It has to be practiced towards all living and non-living creatures on this universe irrespective of any kind of difference between the segments, the societies or the strata that they are born into.
In one of the Sutta’s titled Mettanisansa it has been explained as to the 11 benefits a human being could gain by practicing this form of compassion or loving kindness. They are as follows -
n One is able to sleep soundly.
n One is able to wake up without any problem.
n One will not see bad dreams.
n One will become a likeable character to others.
n One will also become a likeable character to those who detest him.
n One will be protected by the Gods.
n One will be protected from being harmed by poison and weapons.
n One will be blessed with a handsome or pretty face.
n One’s mind will not wander and be subjected to meditation all the time.
n When one is on the death bed his or her thoughts will be filled with Metta or compassion and loving kindness.
n If one does not attain Nibbana he or she will be born in the world of the Bamba.
Also if a person is able to display compassion or loving kindness to others that person will be able to win over enemies with ease. That person will not be subjected to any kind of harm either from Kings or thieves. That person’s glory will spread to the furthest corners of the world and his or her skin will shine like those of the Gods.
That person’s life both in this world and the world that he will head after death will always be enriching for him or her and they will be blessed with comforts of which others could only dream of.
Such person’s will also not meet with untimely deaths and will be blessed with long-life to whatever world they go to after death if they do not attain Nibbana.
Lord Buddha once explained in a sermon to his ever dependable chief assistant and Arahath, Ananda Thera, that Buddhism was based on the concept of Metta whichever way one looks at it.
The Enlightened One in one of his sermon’s said that vengeance can only be overcome with Metta or compassion or loving kindness and not with hatred or other thoughts of ill-will.
He pointed out that to any person who practices Metta also develops the habit of patience and will never be provoked into arguments, fights etc.
The Buddha from his own noble life displayed these attributes to no end. Such were the examples in the manner in which he tackled the case of the devil Alavaka, his relative Devadatta and the husker Nalagiri etc.
The Buddha also remarked that if Metta is spread those persons will not commit the five sins such as killing other beings, stealing, committing adultery, repeating falsehoods and consuming alcohol or other forms of harmful drugs.
According to the philosophy of Buddhism, if Universal Metta is truly and effectively practiced in this world that would be more than sufficient to douse so many wars or other large scale conflicts in this world.
Also it will enable society to prevent murders from being committed, robberies, thefts crimes including rape as no human being who practices Metta can afford to see blood being spilled from the body of another being.
Such people will also express their loving kindness to the environment that they live in, not forgetting the animals that also inhabit it.
Thus it can be seen that the concept of Universal Metta in Buddhism is a form of teaching that could be used in any country or society irrespective of the times that anyone lives in.
And the resultant benefits to be accrued from such teachings if practiced will enable to enrich his or her life whatever religion they may pactise.


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