Discourse on Loving-Kindness

Metta Sutta, or Buddha’s Discourse on Loving Kindness, is a mantra used to cultivate the virtue of loving kindness.  Rick Heller wrote a piece for thenewhumanism.org discussing recent neuroplasticity research that suggests that loving kindness meditation changes the brain and causes the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone of empathy and emotional connection.

I have chosen to share this mantra as a preamble to future work on developing Epicurean chanting and recitation practices, which were always part of applied philosophy’s therapeutic process.  Epicurus said that through repetition and memorization, the teaching ‘becomes powerful’ in the soul, that we gain conviction and fortitude and are able to live as Gods among mortals.  Many of his Principal Doctrines, because they’re short and easy to memorize, lend themselves to this practice.

There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t incorporate loving-kindness meditation into our own approach to a science of contemplation and well-being.  Here’s the text of Buddha’s Discourse on Loving-Kindness in English:

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: 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!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

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About Hiram

Hiram is an author from the north side of Chicago who has written for The Humanist, Greenewave, Om Times, and other publications. His book Tending the Epicurean Garden (Humanist Press, 2014) is a contemporary and interdisciplinary introduction to Epicureanism. He earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from NEIU.