Part I, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw
What has been stated in the Patisambhida Magga Pali that 528 kinds of metta are developed, refers to the manner of developing metta by those who have achieved metta jhana. At the present time, however, it is usual to develop metta, as a binding duty by monks, to do the recitation for the achievement of paramita and kusala. The Pali dictum usually chanted is the same as the recitation done by rote by the majority of the people. I would first of all recite the dictum in Pali for the purpose of elucidation and enumeration.
Sabbe satta, sabbe pana, sabbe bhuta, sabbe puggala, sabbe attabhavapariyapana. Up to this, these five phrases denote all sentient beings without distinction and limitation. Hence, the expressions: sabbe satta – all creatures, sabbe pana – all those beings who breathe, sabbe bhuta – all living beings, sabbe puggala – all those individuals or persons, and sabbe attabhavapariyapana – all those individuals or persons who have the attributes of a being or khandha, convey the same meaning. Each and every expression mentioned above, refers to all beings.
Then comes: sabba itthiyo, all females; sabbe purisa, all males; sabbe ariya all Noble Ones; sabbe anariya, all those puthujjana or ordinary worldlings; sabbe deva, all those devas or celestial beings;. sabbe manusa, all those human beings; sabbe vinipatika, all those beings belonging to the four apayas. These expressions denote the different types of seven species of beings, namely, a pair of males and females, a pair of ariyas, Worthy Ones, and worldlings (puthujjana), and three groups of beings, viz: Devas, human beings and beings belonging to apayas. Loving-kindness that is developed radiating towards the seven groups severally and individually identifying them in their respective different identities is known as odhisa metta. The first five phrases earlier stated having no limitations with reference to all beings, is called anodhisa metta, which means metta without any distinction and limit.
In developing metta, these two groups forming twelve (12) aphorisms should be recited or uttered in combination with the four phrases, viz: Avera hontu – May escape from all dangers; avyapajjha hontu – May be free from mental distress or suffering; anigha hontu – May be free from bodily suffering or injury; sukhi attanam pariharantu – May have the full accomplishment with complete happiness, or rather, be able to happily shoulder one’s own bodily-self. The last dictum conveying goodwill: “May have the full accomplishment with complete happiness and be able to shoulder one’s own bodily self or khandha” is very significant and meaningful. All beings are prone and exposed to external dangers of all sorts. There are also dangers of diseases and sufferings – dukkha vedanas – in the material body itself. Moreover, for the sake of one’s own good health and proper livelihood, everything possible should invariably be done and achieved. Only when free from danger and harm that may befall a man, and when necessities of life are adequately obtained, then happiness will be derived both physically and mentally. If the burden of khandha can be successfully shouldered, it can be said to be satisfactory from the point of worldly affairs. That is the reason why development of metta should be seriously made with a benevolent frame of mind by uttering the words. “May one be able to shoulder and sustain one’s own bodily-self -khandha, with happiness.”
If metta is developed saying, sabbe satta avera hontu: May all beings be free from danger and harm, etc., which comprise 5 phrases of anodhisa (metta) combined with four (4) kinds of developing metta, it will come to (5 x 4) = 20. This is anodhisa metta, twenty in number. Next, if further development of metta is practised, uttering, “sabba itthiyo” – all females, etc., comprising 7 phrases of odhisa (metta) along with the expression of sentiment – “May all be free from danger, etc.”, which describe the manner of developing metta in 4 phrases, it comes to (7 x 4) = 28. This is odhisa metta, twenty-eight in number. If added with 20 anodhisa metta, it will come to a total of 48. This mode of developing metta bhavana without direction-wise as to the region of the earth is called disa anodhisa metta.
Similarly, developing metta towards all beings living in the East – puratthimaya disaya, as: sabbe satta avera hontu, i.e., “May all beings be free from danger and harm, etc.”, would make up a sum of 48. In the same way, the rest of the cardinal points of compass indicating direction of the regions by the magnetic needle, viz; the West (48) in number, the North (48) in number, the South (48) in number, with the addition of the four anudisas or vidisas viz: the South-east (48), the North-west (48), the North-east (48), the South-west (48), and also together with the two, namely, hetthimaya disaya (48) and uparimaya disaya (48), the Nadir and Zenith – (all six) when added up with the ten disas (regions) each having 48, will amount to a total of forty-eight multiplied by ten (48 x 10) = 480. This being the way of developing metta region-wise of the Universe according to what is indicated by the compass needle, is known as disa odhisa metta. If this 480 is added to 48 of disa anodhisa it will reach the total figure of 528 kinds of metta
In order to have an idea of the numerical units of the 528 kinds of metta; let us develop loving-kindness by reciting as follows,
1. May all beings be free from danger, from mental distress (misery), from bodily suffering, and be able to shoulder the burden of one’s own khandha with both physical and mental happiness (4 kinds).
2. May all beings who have life and breath, i.e. who breathe, be free from danger, from mental distress, from bodily suffering, and be able to shoulder the burden of one’s own khandha or material body with both physical and mental happiness (4 kinds of metta).
After the recitation of the words, “May be free from danger” in the course of developing metta, the mind that concentrates and the voice of utterance immediately come to cease. This cessation of mind and matter, nama and rupa, must also be contemplated. If contemplation is made as such, metta samatha together with vipassana become developed in pairs. The continuous contemplation of samatha and vipassana in pairs is called yuganaddha vipassana. Let’s recite and develop metta by applying this method of yuganaddha.
3. May all conspicuous living beings be free from danger, from mental distress, from bodily suffering, and be able to shoulder the burden of one’s own khandha with both physical and mental happiness (4 kinds).
4. May all individuals be free from danger, etc., etc. (4 kinds).
5. May all those who have the material khandha, the bodily-self, be free from danger, etc., etc. (4 kinds; 5 x 4 = 20 kinds).
1. All females (the use of the expression “females” is sweet to the ear; it includes female devas or divine maidens, female animals, such as cows, female buffaloes, female petas, female asuras, and females of apaya (hell, etc.) May all those females be free from danger, from mental distress, from bodily suffering, and be able to shoulder the burden of their own respective khandha with physical and mental happiness (4 in number).
2. All males (the term “males” likewise sounds sweet to the ear; it also includes all male devas and male animals, etc.). May all these males be free from danger, from mental distress, etc. (4 kinds).
3. May all Ariyas, Noble Ones, be free from danger,….. with both physical and mental happiness (4 kinds).
4. May all puthujjanas, common worldlings, be free from danger, etc., (4 kinds).
5. May all devas, celestial beings, be free from danger, etc., (4 kinds).
6. May all human beings be free from danger, etc., (4 kinds).
7. May all apaya beings (beings in hell) be free from danger, from mental distress, from bodily sufferings, and be able to shoulder the burden of one’s own khandha with both physical and mental happiness (4 kinds); (7 x 4 = 28 kinds).
These are the twenty-eight (28) odhisa metta. If these are added to twenty (20) of anodhisa metta mentioned in the foregoing, it would come to 48 kinds of metta. Thereafter, let us recite and develop mindfulness on metta in the following manner beginning with the Eastern region, each phrase having 48 kinds. This manner of developing metta appears acceptable to every Buddhist. It is easy. Even those who have no adequate knowledge can understand.
Let’s begin chanting.
1. May all beings in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc., .
May all persons who breathe or are alive through respiration in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,
May all those persons who obviously exist in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.
May all individuals in the Eastern region be free from danger, etc.,
May all those who possess the material khandha or bodily-self, in the Eastern region, be free from danger and be able to shoulder the burden of khandha, etc.,
May all females in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,
May all males in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,
May all ariyas in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,.
May all puthujjanas in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,
May all devas in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,
May all human beings in the Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.,
May all apaya beings in the Eastern region, be free from danger, mental distress, bodily suffering, and be able to shoulder their own respective khandha with both physical and mental happiness.
Likewise, it is to be recited and developed in respect of the remaining nine regions. For the time being, it would be sufficient enough to recite and develop the first and the last phrase or expression (of words). Let’s do the recitation.
2. May all beings in the Western -region, be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the Western region, be free from danger, etc.
3. May all beings in the Northern region, be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the Northern region, be free from danger, etc.
4. May all beings in the Southern region, be free from danger, etc..
May all apaya beings in the Southern region, be able to shoulder their own burden of respective khandha, etc.
5. May all beings in the South-Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the South-Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.
6. May all beings in the North-Western region, be free from danger, etc..
May all apaya beings in the North-Western region, be free from danger, etc.
7. May all beings in the North-Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the North-Eastern region, be free from danger, etc.
8. May all beings in the South-Western region, be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the South-Western region, be free from danger, etc.
*9. May all beings in the Nadir be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the Nadir be free from danger, etc.
10. May all beings in the Zenith be free from danger, etc.
May all apaya beings in the zenith be free from danger, etc.
*A question may arise as to who are the ariyas, devas and humans in the Nadir, and similarly, as to who are the people and apaya beings in the Zenith. Such a question may be answered and elucidated as follows:
If a person residing in the upper-storey of a house or monastery, etc., while developing and radiating or sending metta, there can be ariyas, devas and humans in the lower storeys or in other similar places. While developing metta from the top of a mountain, etc., there can be ariyas, devas and humans in places at the foot of the mountain or low lying areas, such as valleys. If the person who develops mindfulness of metta stays in the lowest level or surface of the earth, there can be humans, devas and ariya-devas living on the surface of the wide expanse of water in the ocean. In the deep below the surface of water, there can be devas, and ariya-devas. In this connection, recollection may be made of the belief entertained by some people that Ashin Upagupta is residing in the sea.
In much the same way, if metta is developed while remaining on the surface of the earth, there can be human beings on the higher level of the earth, on the elevated planes, on the hills or mountains, or on the upper-storeys of the house or monastery. Moreover, animals such as, insects, birds, etc., may be present in those places higher up – or in the firmament. In the Chapter relating to the story of Vinita of Fourth Parajika paragraph of the Rules of Discipline and in the Nidana Vagga Lakkhana Sanyutta Pali, it has been stated that there are petas in the sky or the firmament running about bitterly crying in great pain. This bears testimony to the presence of apaya beings in the higher region up in the sky. In regard to insects, flies, birds and other animals with wings moving through or flying in the air up in the sky or heaven, they can be clearly seen even with the naked eye.
What has been recited and developed is a brief but comprehensive account of the 528 kinds of metta. This is the manner in which persons who are accomplished with metta jhana, have immersed themselves in a trance of jhana. In any case, those who have not yet achieved the jhana, could also radiate metta bhavana in the same manner as stated. Those who have special perfection or paramitas may even attain metta jhana while developing metta. Then, in the event of failing to achieve jhana, beneficial results will be undoubtedly accrued as mentioned below.
Bhikkhave – 0, Monks! Bhikkhu – a monk, Metta cittam – by being able to entertain or dwell upon the noble thoughts of loving-kindness for the sake of another’s happiness, even for a flick of a second (Iccharayasanghatamattampi) – (Reference Anguttara Ekakanipata 53 Sutta), and if such thought were borne in his mind with attentive concentration (Ref.: 54 & 55 of that Sutta), the monk who has so developed his mind in imparting metta to others, is deemed to be a person not devoid or divested of jhana, or a person who strictly conforms to the practice as instructed and admonished by the Blessed One. Furthermore, he is also a person truly deserving of accepting without vanity the gift of meals offered by the people of the country or citizens. Hence, how it could be said that those monks who have frequently practised and developed the feeling of lovingkindness, would have been deprived of jhana? This is the preaching of the Buddha, and as such, there is hardly any doubt that developing metta is highly advantageous.
According to this desana, even if the feeling of metta, loving-kindness, is fostered for a very brief duration of a split-second, he who exercises this goodwill or benevolent feeling towards others may be said to be a person who is not devoid of jhana-contemplation. He shall be deemed a person who has truly practised in compliance with the due admonition of the Blessed One. If he were a monk, he is deservedly worthy of enjoying the meals offered by his benefactors. He may be regarded as having enjoyed the meals or food so offered there by making the donor gain merits or benefits. It is because if the meals are taken by the monks without self-examination or contemplation, i.e., paccavekkhanam, it would amount to accepting and taking meals on deferred payment of loans. The reason being that if a monk not being accomplished with sila, eat the meals which should be taken or consumed by a monk fully accomplished with all four moral precepts, it is similar to taking the meals on credit system, saying that he would only later repay it by fulfilling the required sila, morality or precepts. Also, full benefits will only be derived by the alms-giver if he offers anything in charity to a monk who is fully accomplished with the four silas. Therefore, the Commentaries have said that the enjoyment or partaking of the four kinds of property, such as meals, etc., without reflecting with his intelligence and without consideration, will amount to taking things on loan for which he will have to account for.
A monk who is developing metta towards others even for a moment, shall be deemed to have accepted the gifts in the role of a real owner. He is like one who inherits the properties. That is the reason why it may be construed as consuming or partaking of things or food offered, without vanity or futility. Atthakatha goes to say that “(sanghe) dinna danam” – the gift that is given, or rather, offerings bestowed on the Order of monks “mahathiyam hoti mahapphalam” – have great reward. For being beneficial as such, it may be said to be consumed without futility.