Mettā Sutta, Summer Break

Hello! Thank you for reading With(out) Bounds! I will take a short break from posting over the next couple of weeks. But please come back in mid-July when I will be back up and posting regularly!  (Roughly, check back around July 15th.)  I look forward to continuing this journey through the Buddha’s life and eventually on through to his main disciples and beyond.

For now, I leave you with the Mettā Sutta.  This version is from Bhikkhu Nānamoli’s The Life of the Buddha, pages 180 – 181 (as before, I have switched gendered pronouns with non-gendered ones and made additional grammatical changes in light of this switch when appropriate).  I am including Bhikkhu Nānamoli’s footnote below, since it adds a new dimension of context and yet another layer of interpretation.

May this find you well and at ease! May your practice sustain you! May we work together to continually open our Buddha eyes and Buddha mind!

Mettā Sutta

This should be done by one with skill in good
In order to attain the state of peace.

Let [them] be able, upright, straight,
And meek and gentle and not proud;
Contented, easy to support,
Unbusy, frugal, and serene;
In faculties, prudent and modest,
Ungrasping among families;
And let [them] do no slightest thing
That other wise [ones] might deplore.

(Then let [them] think:) “In joy and safety
Let every being’s heart rejoice.
Whatever breathing beings there are,
No matter whether faint or bold,
With none excepted, long or big
Or middle-sized or short or thin
Or thick or those seen or unseen
Or whether dwelling far or near,
That are or that yet seek to be,
Let every being’s heart rejoice.
Let none betray another’s trust
Or offer any slight at all,
Or ever let them wish in wrath
Or in revenge each other’s ill.”

Thus as a mother with her life
Will guard her [child], her only child,
Let [them] extend unboundedly
[Their] heart to every living being.
And so with love for all the world
Let [them] extend unboundedly
[Their] heart, above, below, around,
Unchecked, with no ill will or hate.

Whether [they] stand, or sit, or walk,
Or lay down (while yet not asleep),
Let [them] such mindfulness pursue:
This is Holy Abiding here, they say.

But [they] that traffic not with views,
[Are] virtuous, with perfected vision,
And long no more for sense desires:
[They are] not born again in any womb.


This song, known as the “Song of Loving-kindness” (Mettā Sutta), is the most popular of all for recitation today.  If the concealed direct-speech passage (in “…” in the rendering) is overlooked, the architecture of the sutta is lost; it is not an injunction to an audience, but a description of the thoughts of one practicing the divine abiding of loving-kindness. (The iti which normally terminates direct-speech passages in Pali is often left out in verse.) “This is divine abiding here, they say” means that they (i.e. noble ones, those who have realized extinction of lust, hate and delusion) say that this abiding equals in this very life the pure consciousness enjoyed in the higher heavens. The last four lines point out that while the four divine abidings lead to heaven, they do not ensure attainment of the unformed (unconditioned) Nibbāna (the cessation of birth, ageing and death) unless coupled with insight into the impermanent nature of all that is arisen and conditioned, whether formed or formless, and including all modes of heavenly existence.

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