Mettā – The possibilities for love and kindness, holding life dear.

Mettā is often translated as loving-kindness. It conveys that this state of mind, way of life, and being is open to and interested in the possibilities for love and kindness discoverable within the human experience, within the body of the world and life. A willingness to recognise, establish, encourage and secure the seeds of friendliness and warm-heartedness and discover the way of tenderness and affection for each life as it experiences the human condition and the truths of reality. Through the right ways of practice, we gain patience and affection for our own unique experiences and the journey through life experienced by others and, in so doing, live in ways that are an offering of goodwill and benevolence for all lives, all species and the living world. The development of Mettā requires a willingness to investigate one’s experiences of suffering through mindfulness and to do the work to abandon, transform, and find healing, dissolving feelings of hatred, anger, resentment, aggression, aversion, prejudice, and separateness. Mettā is the deep, enduring, friendly attitude and warmth of spirit that can be made present and actively brought to bear in the human birth. A human life has a powerful healing agency when accompanied by mental discipline, ethical conduct, loving intentions and attitudes of friendliness. Mettā is also called the great equaliser of unhealthy and unwholesome cause and effect, repairing our inner and outer relationships to harm, capable of transforming suffering into healing states of being supporting the personal life and all others too. It is an ongoing practice through which we can discover how to hold all life equally dear, one’s own, another’s, the worlds, and the truths of reality. An all-embracing, pervasive, all-inclusive kindness that holds life dear and offers well wishes for the world.

As we learn of Mettā and come to understand its significance in our lives, we discover a state of mind filled with a willingness to be friendly, to hold life precious and dear, to be open and receptive, with humility and tenderness. As it develops, this highly valued state of mind becomes increasingly alive and available to the possibilities for love and kindness, fond affection and understanding, filling us with the qualities that bring peace and Refuge to all our lives. Mettā is highly valued for the love and kindness it promotes and its involvement in relationships of genuine friendship and care. It becomes our friend, companion and guide on the Path of practice and living. Its value in health, peace and Refuge is evident. Mettā is one of the highest good qualities that can be developed and becomes an important lens through which to meet, greet and engage with life. There is beauty and energy in shared friendliness and its constant evolution, which carries the wisdom of its healing and Refuge into our own lives, others and the world.

We all have a personal Mettā memory, a moment or more of Mettā in our lives. Somewhere in our lived experience, there exists an example or an exemplar, an act or attitude demonstrating these qualities, whether a personal inner one or an outer source. This memory is a reliable and trustworthy source of the Mettā state. We are encouraged to recollect these living memories within our being and come into contact with this Mettā state again. This recollection is the first step to reconnecting and reuniting with the sources of Mettā in one’s own experience, helping us to remember and naturally recover the love and kindness that is our humanity. These memories help us to become familiar once again with the feel, atmosphere, and sensations associated with our inner ecologies and relationships to love and kindness while developing awareness of the outer presence of Mettā that exists in the world. As we become more familiar with the sources and their sense, this Mettā quality can naturally reintegrate into our lives, conveying the wisdom of friendliness permeating more of our thoughts, actions and experiences.

As we start to contemplate and meditate on Mettā, we will come into contact with what ‘is’ and simultaneously with what ‘is not’ Mettā. This truth is an essential part of the development of Mettā and is not a fault of the practice. We come to realise that it requires our love and kindness to develop love and kindness. We come to see and understand that all beings suffer from the same lack or loss of love and kindness that we may have. We start to see the need for its presence everywhere, so we become motivated and committed to practising and strengthening the sources of Mettā in ourselves. When we become familiar with the sources of Mettā, seeing its value and developing knowledge of the love, kindness and friendliness required for Refuge, we are now looking through the lens of loving motive and intent in body, speech and mind. We can begin to extend our mindfulness, broadening our gaze, encompassing all things filled with friendliness, living in solidarity, and being more accepting and understanding of the nature of suffering. We come to see our sameness as human beings struggling to find the safety and security of love and kindness in our lives. Mettā practices open the gateway to a more profound and robust potential for friendliness, goodwill, love, and kindness to be available in all our lives. In practice, seeking suitable, clear, explicit instruction and support covering the sequential meditative steps that build our capacity for Mettā to be done mindfully is essential. Mettā meditation, explored closely without appropriate guidance can create unhealthy relationships and responses to life and lived experiences and darkened states of being turned towards oneself, others and the world. As you have discovered, I take caution to practice seriously, with due respect to the power of our minds to overwhelm our capacity for mindfulness and Refuge.

Mettā is a natural quality, a living aspect of us all. It is an expansion of our mindfulness that can be felt and experienced directly in our hearts. The meditative practices for the cultivation of Mettā help us to establish and deepen our awareness and embodiment of this wonderful natural quality by first discovering the courage and willingness to find, recognise and acknowledge the seeds and sources of meaningful friendliness in the living memory of our own experiences. We take these sources as embers to rekindle the flame of love and kindness in our lives so we may shine its light into the world. When done safely, with the correct instruction and ongoing support, Mettā is a profoundly transformative and healing practice. As we find ways to purposefully and deeply care for our emotions, feelings and experiences, even the complex and challenging ones such as anger, aggression, hatred, jealousy, conceit, aversion or prejudice, we learn how to embrace them with understanding, as a good friend, caring for all their truth as part of the human experience with a more willing and robust love, friendliness and kindness that is increasingly available to us. The practice of Mettā is both challenging and vastly rewarding. It holds immense value within the personal life, for the collective of humanity, the nature of life, and the world itself. Each day, remember to hold this life, your humanity, all lives, all species, and the world dear.

By Genyen – Ian Hackett of Tig-Le House

If you would like to learn the practice of Metta meditation as shared in the oral lineage traditions of Universalist Dharma, join in retreat at 5-day Metta meditation retreat October 2024 at Fair Harvest (

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