Every time I’ve written an article or given a talk of any kind and referenced a passage from the Metta Sutta, I am given feedback “that wasn’t it!” or “are you sure?” or “I found 5!”. It’s true.. we can’t seem to land on a single interpretation of this ancient Buddhist chant, however I think we can land on the profound impact we’d all experience inside and outside us if we reminded ourselves of it’s wisdom and beauty.
I was given this version recently and have been sending it around to some monks to see what they think of the interpretation. I’ve received another three versions and told “no no, that’s not right, this is right!” and “that’s wrong, use this one”. Then I got a message “Upasaka, how wonderful to find another way to say what can’t be said. These words on loving kindness are about our daily actions, this is a directive on the benefits of being kind, if you keep looking you will find one thousand more ways to say it, but what we all need to do is find just one way to do it”.
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.
~Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness
translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha © 2004