‘Metta’ - In Pali the word ‘Mitta’ means friend. ‘Mitta’ becomes ‘Metta’ which indicates friendliness, goodwill, ‘benevolence, loving-kindness or the regarding of others as one’s friends.

Although here ‘Metta’ literally explains as loving-kindness, it is not the ordinary love or affection which is the indirect enemy of loving-kindness. While the passionate love leads one to temporary happiness, unrest of the mind and sometimes even to the various sufferings, loving-kindness produces permanent happiness, blessing and peace in the mind. Therefore it should be clearly understood that the ordinary love is entirely different from loving-kindness.

‘Metta’ is one of the Four Brahma Viharas - four sub-lime states of mind, namely:

(i) METTA - loving-kindness
(ii) KARUNA - compassion
(iii) MUDITA - sympathetic joy
(iv) UPEKKHA - impartiality or equanimity

‘Metta’ is also one of the fundamental characteristic features of Bodhisattas. It is this ‘Metta’ that embraces all beings as our own brothers and sisters, without distinction of race, caste, creed or colour. It is this ‘Metta’ that promotes the Bodhisattas to renounce the world for the good and happiness of mankind.

The direct enemy of ‘Metta’ is hatred. As long as enmity, hatred and hostility exist in our mind towards anyone, t is impossible to develop loving-kindness. We should therefore forget enmity and hostility once and for all and concentrate more on practising ‘Metta’ at every possible opportunity. Otherwise, it will continue to exist in us from birth o birth in this Samsara; producing much suffering, misery and unhappiness. At the same time we should remember, that according to the Metta Sutta, various advantages can be obtained in this very life by developing ‘Metta’.

‘Metta’ is also one of the common subjects for meditation. In practising ‘Metta’, at first, one should extend loving-kindness towards oneself. Secondly it should be spread towards one's parents, husband or wife, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and the rest of the family. Thirdly one should be able to spread loving-kindness among neighbours, villages or towns, then the whole country and finally to all the beings in this world.



Long ago there lived a king named Maha Pratapa. His queen was Candra Devi. They had a handsome and lovable son named Dhammapala. This was our Bodhisatta. Great were the rejoicings of the people over the birth of this charming hince. The king also was happy, but he was a proud and jealous father. His wickedness knew no bounds.

One day the happy queen was fondling the Prince, placing him on her lap. At that moment, the king happened to pass by. Seeing the king, the queen did not rise to salute him because the child was on her lap. At once the king was offended by this seemingly disrespectful attitude. Deeply enraged, he returned to the upper storey of the palace and summoned the executioner. He came quickly with an axe in his hand and stood before the king awaiting his orders. “My enemy in this palace is that fellow, Dhammapala! Seize him by his feet, drag him before me,” ordered the king in a rage.

The executioner went up to the queen, begged her pardon; gripping the baby Prince by the feet, he mercilessly dragged the seven month old Prince along the ground. Over-come with grief, the queen came crying and begged the king to punish her for her disrespect instead of the helpless, innocent child. But the heartless king was not moved by such pleading and crying. In fact, he was dominated by anger and jealousy.

So he ordered the executioner to cut off the hands and feet of little Dhammapala. With no mercy the executioner chopped off the limbs of the infant Prince. The affectionate mother clasping those severed limbs of her son said, “Your Majesty, a mother’s love for her children is very deep.  Please, Your Majesty, allow me to have even this maimed body of my child.”

The hard-hearted king was not moved by such soft words. “Take this child to a place where four ways meet and behead him. Pierce his heart with a sword. Cut off his flesh and throw to the four directions,” was the cruel order of the fearless father Young Dhammapala was only seven months old. Although he was only a suckling, Dhammapala was a highly advanced being. He was a Buddha-to-be. He harboured no malice in his tender heart, instead, radiated his thoughts of loving-kindness towards all.

He thought to himself, “Dhammapala, here is a golden opportunity for you to practise your loving-kindness. In front of you is your father who has ordered you to be killed ruthlessly. On your side is the executioner who is about to kill you. On the other side is your grieving mother whose heart is about to burst. In the centre is your helpless self.

You must surely love your dear mother. But your love for our father should be greater. Your beloved mother does cry for you. But it is your beloved father that has given you this opportunity to practise patience and loving-kindness equally towards all the four.”

“May no misfortune befall my father. May he not be subject to any suffering! May he be free from all ill! May he ever be well and happy! May I be a Buddha in the future by he might of this great deed.” The noble minded Dhammapala was killed; but his boundless love triumphed.