Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded,“Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness” (Sn 1.8), translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 2 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.amar.html .
This verse instruct us how to do directional radiating of Metta. Before we go into that, let’s do a quick recap on previously discussed Metta meditation techniques.
We had learnt that Loving Kindness in our mind can be radiated without any hinderance by distance. That means you can be in London or New York and you can still direct your loving kindness to someone in Africa or Asia.
Loving Kindness or Metta can be and should be directed to all types of beings. Be they seen or unseen. In another word, you can be oblivious or non-perceptive of them when you direct your loving kindness towards them. For example, deceased family members and friends. Or the ghosts and gods etc. Although most of us cannot perceive them, we can still direct our metta towards them by bearing our goodwill towards them.
Having said that, Metta meditation is not about missing someone or brooding or worrying about someone. We just need to develop a sense of goodwill and direct that goodwill towards them. Usually, we repeat in our mind, May you be well and happy.
For example, I do not know all my readers but I can simply direct my goodwill thus, “May all readers be well and happy.” Just focus on strengthening our sense of loving kindness in our mind.
For some beginners to Buddhism, they may find the verse “May you be well and happy” a little unsettling. This is especially when they have been conditioned to think that only God / goddess has that ability to bestow blessings? In case you think in this manner, please note that this verse is not a prayer. Nor are you giving your blessings to others. It is simply meant to develop our loving kindness in our mind. Therefore, we are only practicing to strengthen our Metta. Not trying to play god…..
However, there had been numerous account of how advanced meditator can benefit others through this meditation. That is just a positive side effect to the practice and we should never make that our objective. This is because if we have such an ulterior motive, then our Metta becomes conditional. We want to develop unconditional loving kindness.
This verse talks about “radiating” loving kindness in all directions. It is kind of like the Sun giving light in all directions. In that sense, we develop a sense of intense loving kindness and direct it to beings in front of us (seen or unseen) and stretching limitlessly in front, then towards our right, behind us, to our left, above us and below us. This loving kindness is unbound and cannot be restricted anywhere. In that sense, it is more powerful than the Sun’s ray. We do not need to imagine countless faces of beings or types of beings. We simply adopt that mental position that they are there without going into details.
For beginners, if it is too much to fathom; you can imagine a golden light radiating from yourselves outward, like a “spherical force field” radiating from a superhero in those sci-fi movie? That is just a “visual aid” and the important skill is to develop a strong sense of loving kindness directed outwards in all direction. It can be quite fun actually. Give it a try.
Okay, time to hit the meditate button. No matter where you are now. In office, in restaurant or in the subway. This meditation is “simple” because you can do it anywhere. Just pure unconditional loving kindness directed outwards, in all directions. And please do not over think.
May all be well and happy