Metta Bhavana

Venerable Sujiva
Directional Metta

One may then practise metta in the following ways:

1. Unspecified pervasion in the 10 directions.
2. Specified pervasion in the 10 directions.
3. Both unspecified and specified pervasion in the 10 directions.

The 10 directions are:

1. purtthimaya disaya: in the eastern direction.
2. pacchimaya disaya: in the western direction.
3. uttaraya disaya: in the northern direction.
4. dakkhinaya disaya: in the southern direction.
5. puratthimaya anudisaya: in the south-eastern direction.
6. pacchimaya anudisaya: in the north-western direction.
7. uttaraya anudisaya: in the north-eastern direction.
8. dakkhinaya anudisaya: in the south-western direction.
9. hetthimaya disaya: in the direction below.
10. uparimaya disaya: in the direction above.

Radiating in the directions brings in the spatial concept often associated with beings. It also brings about mental expansion.

How does one radiate metta in the 10 directions?

We can start by sitting facing east as it would be easiest to radiate in front of us.

There are many ways of doing this but I shall just use the simplest way. That is, we sit to radiate metta to all beings in the east with the wish:

1. sabbe puratthimaya satta – avera hontu
2. sabbe puratthimaya satta – abyapajja hontu
3. sabbe puratthimaya satta – anigha hontu
4. sabbe puratthimaya satta – sukhi attanam pariharantu

(May all beings in the eastern direction be
1. free from enmity.
2. free from mental suffering.
3. free from physical suffering.
4. able to take care of themselves happily.)

We can first think of the limitless expansion that stretches eastwards, and the beings all along the way. Then as we arouse the metta and together with the 1st aspiration, we let it flow on and on as if the mind is travelling far into space.

To quote an example: once I was doing metta and my mind flew as if into space, travelling at a great speed as if through the spatial universe and it was metta all the way – and the bliss of it! When metta is decreasing, we continue with the next aspiration to arouse and continue its flow.

After the four aspirations, we can do it in the western direction. We can then go on until the concentrations are reached.

One aspect to note is this:

Although we may in the process get the impression that the mind is going places and we may even see those places, we should disregard them but continue radiating metta in that direction to beings.

With experience and improvement we should experience a much expanded course. Breaking the space concept, we can also send metta effectively to any who may stay very far away. Our minds can even feel for all beings with awareness, however widespread they may be. Besides we can learn to shoot metta into people effectively whenever they are around – even if they are behind you!

In the same way we can radiate metta in the specified way in the 10 directions. That is, we use the 4 aspirations in 10 directions to the 5 groups starting with “May all beings…” until “May all take care of themselves happily”. We do this till all the concentrations are mastered. Finally we combine the unspecified groups (5) and specified groups (7) and radiate to them each in the 10 directions, one after another, starting with “May all beings…” to “May all unhappy states take care of themselves happily”.

One final combination of these makes up 528 aspirations in all. Each capable of going into the 4 absorptions.

5 x 4 aspirations …… 20
7 x 4 aspirations …… 28
5 x 10 x 4 aspirations …… 200
7 x 10 x 4 aspirations …… 280
TOTAL …… 528

These 528 aspirations are sometimes recited in brief to include all the groups, directions, and aspirations combined, or in full, one by one, which would take a longer time. The more actual applications would be in the metta bhavana itself where it is the climax of metta for all beings and to the highest level of concentrations. Here one enters into 528 absorptions because each aspiration is capable of bringing up one.

Recitation in the protective chanting includes many suttas and verses. Some invoke the blessings that come with the Triple Gem, others call upon deities to help in times of trouble. At other times asseverations of truth are made. These when recited for the welfare of others are done so with faith, truthfulness, and metta. The recitation itself gives us concentration. If we understand what is recited it would be more effective.

There are a number of recitations which are more specifically involved with metta blessing. The well-known one is Karaniya Metta Sutta, the “blessings of loving kindness, 528 metta and so on…!” As we can see, they are part of metta bhavana. As for other parittas, they also involve giving metta to the audience.

See selection of metta recitations.