About the Metta Verses

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39237

    About the Metta Verses

    As one practice of our Treeleaf RECOMMENDED 'At Home' Liturgy, for those folks who wish to add some other practices and activities to our core practice of, of course, ZAZEN ...

    ... we have a Daily Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice ...

    Our core practice is always Zazen ... "Just Sitting" Shikantaza Zazen.

    But I wish to introduce a touch of "Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice" as well (many Zen teachers have done so), and I recommend it once a day at least. It can also be done at any time when, for example, some feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy or the like start to well up in us directed at a fellow sentient being. A bit of Metta can be good medicine for that.

    While I do not intend this to replace our core practice of Shikantaza by any means, I have taught at various Zen Sangha that have well introduced a bit of Metta Practice. I think it adds a little something vital to our practice on the "Compassion" side of the equation.

    For those not familiar with the term ...

    Metta (मैत्री, a word in the ancient Buddhist Pali language) has been translated as "loving-kindness," "benevolence," "good will," "love" and "sympathy." It is one of the Ten Paramitas (Virtues) of Buddhism. The metta bhavana ("cultivation of metta") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. The object of metta meditation is loving kindness (but, of course, without demands or attachment). Traditionally, the practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves, then their loved ones, friends, strangers, difficult or hate-filled people in our life or world (perhaps the most difficult part of the practice) and finally towards all sentient beings.
    I might suggest a few minutes of Metta practice as a nice way to end the day before bed (or, for example, at the closing of your evening Zazen) or sometime during your day. Perhaps just before turning into bed for the night, or right after finishing your evening Zazen (and before rising from the Zafu), or any time, you might recite or chant the following ... (and, as stated, it is also good during your day when encountering folks who "just plain get your goat"!
    More information at the above link.

    It is a wonderful practice from South Asian Buddhism which has become a standard practice with many Soto Zen groups in the West. One little change I made in the phrasing of our Treeleaf Version, compared to many versions found in other Buddhist groups, is that I made the emphasis on "acceptance, peace, allowing, equanimity" a little stronger in the wording than the wish for "happiness" often found in many translations. In fact, Buddhist "Happiness" (with a Big "H") might be described as a Happiness to sometimes be happy in life, but also an openness and willingness to sometimes grieve and be heart-broken in this life, finding the Light and Clarity and Wisdom which shines even through such hard times. Thus, I feel, acceptance and flowing with life conditions is much more central to our Zen Practice than some facile wish to be "happy" and not ever sad.

    1. May he(she/they/I) be free of suffering; may he(she/they/I) feel safe and still.

    2. May he(she/they/I) be free of enmity; may he(she/they/I) be loving, grateful and kind.

    3. May he(she/they/I) be healthy and at ease in all his(her/their/my) ills.

    4. May he(she/they/I) be at peace, embracing all conditions of life

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 09-01-2022, 03:37 AM.
  • Tokan
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Oct 2016
    • 1230

    Thanks Jundo

    I think this is one of those practices that can seem pointless at the beginning but, with time, it makes its own sense. My personal view is that the practice itself brings about increased sincerity and forms its own positive feedback loop, so the more you do it, the more you do it with genuine sincerity. When you do this practice for a long time and look back, in my own experience I have discovered this effect, and the traces of ego fade. I firmly believe that much of zen or buddhist ritual is like this, you have to practice it with sincerity for some time to penetrate it, but no one can tell you what it will open up in your practice.

    Gassho, Tokan (satlah)
    平道 島看 Heidou Tokan (Balanced Way Island Nurse)
    I enjoy learning from everyone, I simply hope to be a friend along the way


    • Do Mi
      • Apr 2023
      • 95

      I'll never forget how instantly metta practice switched me from a triggered/fearful/upset place when someone suddenly honked and yelled at me in a dark parking lot to complete calm. "May the woman in the car be at ease..."


      In gassho,

      Do Mi