In this unit: Loving-kindness is one of the Four Immeasurables taught by the Buddha. The other three are sympathetic joy, equanimity (equal spread of feelings) and compassion. Loving-kindness means you want all beings to be well and happy. Not just people you know and like, but all beings – including strangers, people that annoy you, even animals.

Nalagiri tamed by loving-kindness

Although his evil plot had failed, Devadatta tried to kill the Buddha again. When the Buddha was on his daily alms-round at Rajagaha, Devadatta set loose a wild elephant. But as the wild elephant ran towards the Buddha, it became calm because of the Buddha’s enormous loving-kindness. After this incident, Devadatta gave up trying to kill the Buddha, but he still wanted to be the head of the Sangha.

Read & Discuss: Story of the Buddha

Showing Loving-kindness to Everyone

Loving-kindness means showing kindness to others so that they will be well and happy. Another word for loving-kindness is Metta.

We show loving-kindness to others by wishing them to be well and happy. One way to show loving-kindness is to help other people so that they will be able to do things by themselves.

We wish ourselves to be well and happy so that we can do good and help others – and because we all want to be happy.

We should try to make our parents and teachers well and happy because they teach us so many interesting things that we do not know about.

We should try to make animals well and happy. Animals are just like human beings because they also suffer pain and sadness.

Before going to bed, we should generate loving-kindness for all beings. If we always do this, we will be happy and peaceful.

The Elephant Nalagiri

Devadatta was one of the Buddha’s disciples and also his cousin. He therefore expected to become the future leader among the monks. To his surprise, the Buddha treated him like everyone else. This made him so angry that he plotted to harm the Buddha.

In the village, there was an elephant known to be a man-killer. Her name was Nalagiri. One day, Devadatta gave Nalagiri some alcohol to make her go wild. He then drove the elephant onto the path where the Buddha was walking. As soon as Nalagiri caught sight of the Buddha, she rushed towards him in a mad fury. People scattered in fright in all directions. They shouted, “Mad elephant! Run for your lives!”

To everyone’s surprise, the Buddha faced Nalagiri calmly as he raised his hand to touch her. The huge creature felt the power of the Buddha’s loving-kindness and readily went on her knees in front of him, as if bowing humbly. So we can see that loving-kindness can turn hostility into respect.

Loving-kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation is wishing yourself and all other living beings happiness. In other words, you send out thoughts of kindness towards yourself and love and goodwill towards others, including animals.

Whatever good things we wish for ourselves, we also wish for everybody else. It is like a song, that you can sing to yourself and to others.

Here is a practice you may like to try:

  1. Sit down or lie down comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Now turn your attention to yourself and say in your mind:
    “May I be well, may I be happy.”
  3. Then recall in your mind someone very dear to you and say in your mind:
    “May (s)he be well, may (s)he be happy.”
  4. Then recall to your mind your friends and also wish them well:
    “May they be well, may they be happy.”
  5. Next turn your attention to the whole world, to all people around you and say in your mind: “May all people be well, may all people be happy.”
  6. Finally turn your attention to the whole world, to all beings around you and say in your mind: “May all beings be well, may all beings be happy.”
  7. Finish by saying: “Peace, peace, peace”

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Quiz: Unit 6

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