Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part II, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(18) Persons towards whom Metta should not be developed at the initial stage

Metta should not be developed at the beginning of the exercise towards: (1) persons who are hostile and unfriendly, or who deserves hatred (appiya); (2) persons who are dearest to you or your beloved ones, that is, those who, have close affinity with the meditator through deep love (atippiya); (3) persons who deserve neither love nor hatred, i.e., neutral persons; and (4) persons who are enemies.

Justification for not developing metta at the beginning from such people is because it would be difficult to permeate the feeling of loving-kindness, or rather, it would be incongruous to send your metta to one whom you hate. It is also rather hard or awkward to transmit your metta first to one’s beloved ones like – your children, brothers and sisters. for whom you have intense love and attachment. Neither will it be easy to develop loving-kindness for people, such as, your own pupils or disciples and other neutral persons. It is because, if persons for whom you have deep love and affection are found to have become a bit miserable or have suffered, trouble and misery, you would probably become highly depressed or dejected. Next, it would also be difficult to put a stranger or a neutral person, who is unfamiliar with you, in the role of a beloved, person. Yes, indeed. It is well-nigh impossible to constantly radiate loving-kindness to a complete stranger. Leave aside emitting loving-kindness to an enemy. As regards an enemy, the moment you remember him, feeling of anger will arise recalling the past incidents or memories of his wrong doings or faults. They are the four kinds of people in whose favour or for whom one should not develop metta – at the initial stage of the practise of loving-kindness meditation.