Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part I, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(13) The Eleven Advantages of Metta

Briefly stated, the eleven advantages of metta that are worthy of note and remembrance are the states of mind which have been developed, observed and depended upon several times, similar to the vehicles or carriages that have been maintained properly and kept in readiness for use. They are those which have been properly practised and firmly established. The feeling of metta should be free from nivaranas, obstacles, such as ill-will etc. Ordinarily, metta is to be regarded as mere loving-kindness. However, from the point of view of cetovimutti, i.e. the serenity of mind emancipated from human passions, it should be taken as the jhanic mind. It has been explained as such in the commentary.

The eleven advantages, if enumerated, may be stated as (1) It gives a sound sleep or rather, an uninterrupted slumber. Those who are lacking in the practice of meditation are restless before falling asleep in their sleeping-couch or bed. They may perhaps be snoring. On the other hand, a person equipped with metta bhavana has a peaceful sleep with an undisturbed mind. When fallen asleep, he sleeps at peace and happily just like a person who has immersed himself in a trance of samapatti. This is the first advantage.

And next (2) Sukham patibhujjhati – happily rouses from sleep. When waking up from sleep some have stirred up with a grumble. Some may have to swing and stretch their arms and legs, or may have to make other bodily movements or roll on before getting up from bed. Those who go to sleep after developing metta will not suffer such miserable conditions, and they rouse from sleep happily and as fresh as the blooming lotus flowers. According to Dhammapada verses: Suppabuddham pabdujjhanti sada Gotama savaka, yesam diva ca ratto ca, niccam buddhagata soti, etc., i.e., those who are practising meditation, such as, developing contemplation of Buddhanussati – Mindfulness on the Noble Attributes of the Buddha, have the advantages of sound sleep and joy or happiness when waking up from sleep. It should be noted that special emphasis has purposely been made on the peculiar characteristics of metta bhavana because of its qualities in deriving such benefits.

(3) Papakam supinam – evil or bad dreams will not present themselves in sleep. There are instances where a vision may appear in one’s sleep as if he has fallen down from a very high altitude, or has been ill-treated by others, or has suffered from snake-bite, etc. A person developing metta will not have such weird or frightful dreams, but will have pleasant and sweet dreams, as if he is worshipping the Buddha, or is flying through the air with jhana, or listening to the sermon and the like which give him delight.

(4) Manussanam piyo hoti – Others will adore him or have affection for him because of his accomplishment of the noble attributes. He will be spreading his loving-kindness to others and will never cause harm to others. Those who are near and dear to him will not find fault with him. He is tolerant too, and having the serenity of mind with compassion for others, he is loved and respected by all who come into contact with him. Developing metta from the bottom of his heart is the best attribute which invokes or causes to invite affection and respect from others.

(5) Amanussanam piyo hoti – He is also loved by devas. The fourth and the fifth advantages indicate that he is loved, by all human beings and devas. An instance has been shown in the Visuddhimagga as to how love and respect have been bestowed upon by devas.