Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part IV by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

I have so far given teachings on metta, one of the four kinds of the Brahmavihara Dhamma. I would now like to add a bit more about the method of developing metta and the method of practising Vipassana meditation, and also some stories relevant to the advantages of metta bhavana as taught by the Buddha. Therefore, the Buddha’s teachings in Pali from the Anguttara Nikaya, Fourth Nipat, Second Metta Sutta (445) will be explored.

(54) Second Metta Sutta

Idha bhikkhave ekacco puggalo mettasahagatena cetasa ekam disam paritva viharati. Tattha dutiyam. Tattha tatiyam. Tattha catuttham. Iti uddhamadho tiriyam sabbadhi sabbattataya sabbavantam lokam mettasahagatenacetasa vipulena mahaggatena appamanena averena abyapajjhena pharitva viharati. So yadeva tattha hoti rupapagatam vedanagatam sannagatam sankharagatam vinnanagatam, te dhamme aniccato dukkhato rogato ghandato sallato aghato abadhato parato palokato sunnato anattato samanupassati. So kayassa bheda param marana suddhavasanam devanan sahabyatam upapajjati. Ayam bhikkhave upapatti asadharana putthujjanehi.

N.B. (It has been reproduced in toto to make it clear that this was originally preached without a break. However, when preaching is done it may be delivered in separate parts).

Bhikkhave – O Bhikkhus! Idha – in this Sasana, ekacco puggalo – some individuals or persons, mettasahagatenacetasa – with thoughts based on goodwill, ekam disam – towards a region of the earth, nay, all beings who are living or present in one region or place, pharitva – by emitting and spreading with a feeling wishing happiness to others, viharati – live or remain fixing their attention as such.

Similar explanation of this Sutta in Pali has been mentioned in the First Part. This Sutta as preached by the Buddha is almost the same as stated by the Venerable Ashin Sariputta except that the former rendering in Pali uttered by Ashin Sariputta does not explain how Vipassana should be contemplated. The former Pali expression ekam disam – could be interpreted to mean – “one of the four regions of the East, West, South and North”. However, according to the usual way of radiating metta, it must be construed as the region in the East. Let us therefore recite by developing metta as below:

“May all beings in the Eastern region be happy.” (Repeat thrice)

In the same way, metta is radiated towards the Second region, and also towards the Third region and Fourth region. This is the manner of radiating metta with a feeling of good will towards the regions in the West, North and South. Let us recite by developing metta according to these three phrases.

“May all beings in the Western region be happy.” (Repeat thrice)
“May all beings in the Northern region be happy.” (Repeat thrice)
“May all beings in the Southern region be happy.” (Repeat thrice)

Iti – in this manner, uddham – towards all beings living in the higher region, adho – towards all beings in the lower region, tiriyam – towards all beings in the remaining four regions of the opposite direction, sabbadhi – in all regions, sabbattataya – treating or looking upon all beings on equal terms or as having the same status comparing with his own self, nay, with all goodwill or thoughts, sabbavantam lokam – towards all universes where all beings live, Mettasahagatena cetasa – with a feeling of goodwill wishing them happiness, vipulena – with widespread (extensive) thoughts, mahaggatena – with the Jhanic-mind called mahaggata, appamanena – with boundless thoughts, averena – with thoughts freed of animosity, abyapajjhena – with thoughts freed of ill-will to cause sufferings, pharitva vharati – remains fixing his attention, or, lives radiating (lovingkindness).

With these words, it has been instructed as to how metta should be radiated towards the higher regions, lower regions and regions in the opposite directions of the point of compass. It is regionwise according to the desana. Let us therefore recite by developing Metta according to the sequence mentioned in patisambhidamagga.

“May all beings in the South-Eastern region be happy
“May all beings in the North-Western region be happy
“May all beings in the North-Eastern region be happy
“May all beings in the South-Western region be happy
“May all beings in the Lower region be happy …
“May all beings in the Higher region be happy…”

It is to radiate metta towards all the Ten regions, with the Jhanic-mind called mahaggata by developing metta only after attaining metta-jhana. However, there is no fault in developing metta as such without the attainment of jhana. It can accrue advantages as may be appropriate. What are then the advantages? It may be stated as below:

The derivation of advantages from kamavacara-metta kusala by virtue of which, one can sleep well, wake up from sleep happily and with joy, will have no bad or horrible dreams, gain respect and love from both Devas and Humans, and be free from dangers that might otherwise befall him in connection with all Ten regions. Then also, if he is a Bhikkhu, he will prove himself to be a noble and worthy recipient of dana (charity), and thereby’ causing the donor to achieve greater advantages. In making use of the four requisites or properties concerning the Bhikkhus, he is released from debt which he would otherwise be under obligation to repay. If death occurs while developing metta with mindfulness, he will be liberated from the Four Nether Worlds, and be reborn in the Abode of Sugati – celestial or human worlds. I have therefore been repeatedly giving you instructions to develop metta in order to enable you to reap the fruits or advantages as already stated. Let us recite in the form of a verse which will indicate how benefits can be derived.

“Happy in sleep, and in waking,
Delightful dreams come in a vision;

Humans, and Devas showering love and affection
Celestial beings constantly keep on guarding;

Fire, poison and swords avoid causing bodily harm
Speedily becomes the mind serene and calm
Facial complexion with joy is sparkling;

Without gloom and anxiety on the verge of death
Verily destined to become a Brahma
All constituting eleven attributes in number
Are the advantages accrued from developing metta.”

Of these eleven advantages, three of them, viz: (1) sleeps well, (2) wakes up from sleep happily; (3) have no dreadful and bad dreams and will have only good dreams, are clear enough and do not require elaboration. The next is Number (4) Loved and respected by the public. In this connection, the story of prince Malla by the name of Roja, is considered appropriate to be cited and quoted from Viniya Mahava Pali (345).