This sutta is popular amongst Theravada Buddhist and it is one of the three sutta for protection. The other two being the Ratana Sutta and Mangala Sutta. According to folk legend, chanting the Metta sutta will grant the practitioner with attractiveness. That means the ability to attract fortune and favor from other beings.
Metta means loving kindness and it is one of the characteristics of a god’s mind. Furthermore, it is not rocket science to understand that a kind and loving person becomes popular with people.
However, if we examine the background of this sutta, we realized that there is more to it.
During the Buddha’s time, a group of monks practicing in a forest were disturbed by supernatural beings. Consequently, they couldn’t meditate and some even fall ill. They approached Buddha for help and Buddha taught them metta meditation. Buddha also taught them to recite this sutta at the forest to overcome the hostility of the supernatural beings. The result was amazing and both the monks and the hostile supernatural beings benefitted.
Hatred is, indeed, never appeased by hatred in this world. It is appeased only by loving-kindness. This is an ancient law.Dhammapada Verse 5 – Kalayakkhini Vatthu
If we look at Buddhist relationship with the supernatural beings, we discover that Buddhist try to understand their sufferings, pacify them and teach them the correct way to end their sufferings.
For example, if you visit Bangkok international airport. You might chanced upon a Buddha shrine in the airport. It wasn’t there in the beginning. According to urban legend, construction of the airport disturbed some powerful earth bound spirits. Consequently, accidents and haunting incidents kept occurring after the airport was completed. Monks were invited to investigate and the unhappy spirit lord voiced his grievance of being disturbed by the human activities. Ultimately, a “deal” was made to benefit the spirits there by building a spirit shrine. At one point in time, Buddha’s relic was also installed to “guide” the spirits. Besides airport staffs making offerings to them at their spirit shrine (to appease and pacify the spirts), the spirit can now participate in veneration of Buddha to earn merits for themselves. As you can see, we do not simply exorcise. We learn to live harmoniously with everyone.
Therefore, the first attitude to get right is this; although the background of Metta Sutta was to help a group of monks overcome their difficulties with disturbing spirits, Metta Sutta is not a book of exorcism. We do not chant this sutta with an intention of driving spirits away or harming them.
The main practice is LOVE.
May all be well and happy.