Loving-Kindness as Protection from Fear

The Metta Sutta is one of many traditional Paritta or protection chants across Buddhist cultures. It is said that the Buddha first gave the practice of metta or loving-kindness to monks who were afraid of the tree spirits in the forest. By practicing metta, the monks transformed their fear into love and transformed the anger of the tree spirits into kindness and generosity.

Sharon Salzberg comments on this story with the following wisdom: “…a mind filled with fear can still be penetrated by the quality of lovingkindness…a mind that is saturated by lovingkindness cannot be overcome by fear.” (From Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness)

Here is a part of the Metta Sutta to recite to yourself. See if it protects you from fear, even if ever so slightly. See if it brings loving-kindness to yourself and to those around you.

“[And so I wish]: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born –
May all beings be at ease!”