Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part II by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(43) Manner of developing Metta separating into three distinct parts

Ye digha va – Those beings who have a long body, and ye va mahanta – those beings who are big and large in size and stature, ye va majjhima – and those beings or creatures who are neither long nor short, nor big nor small in bodily stature, or in other words, who have medium-sized body, ye va rassaka those beings who are dwarfs, or rather, short, ye va anuka – those beings who are tiny and small, ye va thula – those beings who are bulky in body and built, fat, corpulent and fleshy, atthi – do exist or are living. Anavasesda – All without exception Ime satta – those beings, sukhitatta – may with happiness in both body and mind, bhavantu – become accomplished and contented.

With this portion of gatha or verse (words), the Buddha prescribed three methods by which Metta should be developed after distinguishing the beings in three different kinds. The first method shown has reference to different kinds of beings according to the size of their body dimension or stature, whether it is long, short, or medium-sized. Out of these three kinds, those beings or creatures who have lengthy bodies are snakes, dragons, lizards, earthworms, etc. Creatures who have short bodies are chickens, birds, frogs, etc. Medium-sized creatures or beings are horses, cattle, buffaloes, pigs, etc. However, it is pretty hard to give a definite decision on the matter of making a specific classification. Let’s develop Metta towards these three different kinds of beings or creatures. Please follow the recitation:

“May those beings who have long bodies be happy.”
“May those beings who are dwarf and have short bodies be happy.
“May those beings whose bodies are neither long nor short, i.e. medium-sized be happy.”
“May all those beings who have long, or short, or medium-sized stature be happy.”

N.B. Each and every message of goodwill such as “be happy”, may be said three times.

Furthermore, the second method explains the way how to develop Metta by distinguishing the beings according to their bodily size as to whether they are big, or small, or medium-sized. Of these three kinds, beings who have huge bodies are marine mammals, such as, big fishes, turtles, etc., and those animal beings living on land, such as, elephant, dragons, etc. They include giants or ogres and also Devas as well as Brahmas of immense bodily dimension from the world of Devas. Anuka – Small and tiny creatures or beings are small invertebrate animals like insects, etc. Human beings, dogs, pigs, fowls, birds, etc., may be regarded as belonging to the category of medium-sized beings. It would also be difficult to give a definite decision as to what kind of beings should be included in the three respective categories as may be appropriate. Let us develop Metta by distinguishing the beings according to the said three kinds. Please join the recitation.

“May all beings who have huge bodies be happy.”
“May all beings who have small and tiny bodies be happy.”
“May all medium-sized beings who are neither large nor small in their bodies be happy.”
“May all beings who have big, or small, or medium sized bodies or physical structure be happy.”

N.B. The word “be happy” is repeated three times.

Next, the third method indicates as to how Metta should be developed distinguishing towards the three different kinds of beings, viz: round, big and fat. beings, tiny creatures and medium-sized beings. Of these three kinds, the big, round and fat beings are fishes, tortoises, molluscs (oysters), snails, etc., whose body structures are short-winded, plump and flabby. Anuka – tiny and diminutive creatures are those which cannot be seen by the naked eye, such as very small insects, germs and fleas. The middle sized beings are those creatures which are ordinarily visible and which may be said to be beings not too big or too bulky or fat. These three kinds of beings are pretty difficult to be classified with certainty under which category they would fall. Hence, the Commentary has stated that in a way, among the same kind of beings, those which are big and not too fat and bulky, as well as medium-sized and tiny creatures or beings, may be said to come under the definition of “Anuka”. According to this statement of explanation, it may be considered feasible to include persons with a height of more than five and a half feet, or six feet, weighing over 100 Ibs in the category of those who are fat, and to regard persons who are two or three feet in height with less than 100 Ibs. in weight, as short and small beings, and to consider the rest of the people as medium-sized beings. This is also difficult to decide. As such, it’ would appear proper to develop Metta by merely noting ordinarily as big and fat, small and medium sized, without precisely distinguishing the beings. Let us therefore develop Metta according to the last-mentioned three different kinds. We may recite as follows:

“May all beings whose physical structure is round and fat be happy.”
“May all beings whose physical structure is very, tiny and small be happy.”
“May all beings who have medium-sized physical structure be happy.”
“May all fat, tiny, and middle-sized beings be happy.”

N.B. The word “be happy” may be repeated three times.