These free dharma teachings are offered as skillful means to support the practice of metta, (maitre), or loving-kindness meditation. If you are new to this wonderful practice established by the Buddha, I hope the articles here at Metta Refuge help you determine for yourself what skillful means and approaches work best in your individual practice along the path to an awakened heart.
The Great Aspiration of Metta
As a mother, at the risk of her life,
Watches over her only child,
Let him cherish an unbounded mind
For all living beings.
Let him have love for the whole world
And develop an unbounded mind
Above, below and all around,
Boundless heart of goodwill, free of hatred,
Standing, walking, sitting or lying down,
So long as he be awake,
Let him cherish this thought,
This is called divine abiding here.
~ Karaniyametta (Metta) Sutta
Ajahn Brahmavamso is a wonderful Theravadan monk whose wit and humor help bring the buddhadharma alive. Given his courageous stand on ordinating women into the Thai Forest tradition, I wanted to honor Ajahn Brahm (as he is affectionately know) by introducing his skillful teachings to people who might not know of teachings and skill as as a teacher.
I think this is one of the best, most inspiring metta instructions I’ve ever posted.
Click this link to read Ajahn Brahmavmso’s full article:
Another highly skilled and big-hearted teacher is Bhante Vimalaramsi. Bhante G, as he is affectionately known, is an American Buddhist Monk teaching Metta Vipassana or sometimes called Tranquil Wisdom Meditation using the directions given in the Pali Suttas. He is the author of the distinguished book “The Anapanasati Sutta: A guide to Mindfulness of Breathing and Tranquil Wisdom Meditation” that has now been translated into five languages. I consider it perhaps the finest and most accessible presentation of the Anapanasati Sutta that I have ever studied.
Please click this link to read Bhante Vimalaramsi’s talk:
This third article is a unique teaching on metta, or loving-kindness meditation, by Acharya Buddharakkhita from “Mettá: The Philosophy and Practice of Universal Love.”
In this article, Buddharakkhita focuses specifically on how to use visualization and thought-radiation to embrace others in universal love and goodwill. I have found this essay incredibly helpful and inspiring over the years.
Please click this link to read Acharya Buddharakkhita’s talk:
Gil Fronsdal was one of the very first teachers I discovered in my dharma practice. I have always been touched by Gil’s gentle, loving approach to the practice, and his wisdom in guiding students to more and more skillful means.
Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He has trained in both the Japanese Soto Zen tradition and the Insight Meditation lineage of Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia.
Here is a wonderful introduction by Gil to the basics of metta:
Articles on metta that you can download as PDF
“Metta is universal and doesn’t belong to any people, race or religion but it is open and free for anyone to try and see for themselves.” Venerable Dhammarakkhita”
This article (below) by Ven. Dhammarakhita is a short, easy-to-follow explanation of how to practice loving-kindness meditation. It has been a treasure-trove of helpful instruction and inspiration to me over the years. The talk is based on a three-day retreat given in Thailand by Ven. Dhammarakkhita, who is a monk from the Myanmar (Burmese) Theravada tradition.
Although Ven. Dhammarakkhita’s talk is a wonderful introduction to metta, there’s also plenty here for those who have an established loving-kindness practice. I recommend going slowly through the talk and pondering each page of the instruction. But, most important of all, don’t just read about it, do it!
Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of the words or by the emphasis on repetition of metta phrases. Metta isn’t about dull, dead repetition! As you practice and work with metta phrases, try to feel and drink in what the words point to, but don’t get caught up in words.
Metta is meditation. That means it requires attention and self-observation. Try to notice when your words and well-wishes are going stale, and when they are alive with genuine intention and attention. Notice when you feel “full” and have done enough metta for one sitting. Notice when you are running into apathy and indifference and need to push on to rouse yourself. It’s all about practice and learning new skills. Be patient and don’t be discouraged if your progress seems slow at times.
Finally, the more regular your metta practice is, the better. Even if it’s just a few minutes of earnest, heart-felt well-wishes to all beings at the start or end of a day, try to honor your commitment do metta every day. The effects of metta are cumulative, and there’s nothing quite as inspiring as feeling the ability to love unconditionally growing in one’s heart.
Please click this link to download Ven. Dhammarakkhita’s talk in PDF format:
Next is a wonderful and wise talk by dharma teacher Gregory Kramer on how to teach children loving-kindness practice. It’s especially important to let children come naturally into a relationship with their hearts and not to force metta, or any other kind of spiritual practice, on them. This dharma teacher is very wise in this regard.
Most important of all, it is our lives and actions that speak most loudly to our children—not so much we say but what we do and how we live. If we have little unconditional love in our own hearts, if we do not love ourselves unconditionally, how can we teach our children what a genuine love, universal love is?
Although this article is aimed at working with children, it can be just as helpful to us “grown-ups.” I’ve found that working with oneself as if one were a little child can very skillful and help break through old thought-patterns of self-hate and lack of self-worth that may come from our own childhoods.
Please click this link to download Gregory Kramer’s article in PDF format:
Last, but certainly not least, is this talk by Venerable Sujiva. It offers a very clear “how to” explanation of basic loving-kindness meditation, and I have a special affection for it, because it’s is one of the first teachings on metta that I studied intensively.
Ven. Sujiva, the founder of Santisukharama, a Vipassana (Insight) meditation center, is a much-loved Malaysian Theravadin Buddhist monk.
He is a well-known and highly respected Vipassana meditation teacher who has dedicated his life to the teaching and propagation of Vipassana meditation throughout Southeast Asia and around the world.
Click this link to download Ven. Sujiva’s article in PDF format: