The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Jhana4
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The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by Jhana4 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:19 pm

At the Sri Lanakan Vihara I go to, at almost every ceremony the Metta Sutta is read. It seems to have great emotional significance to the Sri Lankans. I don't want to sound ignorant, but I literally am in regards to this sutta. Why is it so important to them. It doesn't seem very profound to me or saying that much. Even considering that these are lay people who only come for religious ceremonies it seems like there a lot of other things from the Pali Canon that could be read for someone in a "church going" mode that would have more meaning.

So, would anyone care to explain the significance of this sutta, why it seems to be so important to the Sri Lankans?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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DarwidHalim
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by DarwidHalim » Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:37 pm

Jhana4 wrote:At the Sri Lanakan Vihara I go to, at almost every ceremony the Metta Sutta is read. It seems to have great emotional significance to the Sri Lankans. I don't want to sound ignorant, but I literally am in regards to this sutta. Why is it so important to them. It doesn't seem very profound to me or saying that much. Even considering that these are lay people who only come for religious ceremonies it seems like there a lot of other things from the Pali Canon that could be read for someone in a "church going" mode that would have more meaning.

So, would anyone care to explain the significance of this sutta, why it seems to be so important to the Sri Lankans?
YEs, metta is extremly important. Without metta, there will be no teaching from the buddha. He will keep it himself.

In your meditation, it is also quite difficult for you to go to Jhana state if you lack metta.

If you want more information about it, read this two books:
http://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Bliss ... 319&sr=8-2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
and
http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Mindfulnes ... 367&sr=1-1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If your understanding about emptiness doesn't increase your metta, there is something wrong in your emptiness understadning.
Similarly, if your metta increase but your emptiness is also not improved, your metta is not a real metta. Something is wrong with your metta meditation.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Dan74
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:07 pm

Well I go to a Seon Temple (Korean Zen) and at every service Metta Sutta is read. So not just the Sri Lankans.
_/|\_

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pilgrim
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by pilgrim » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:31 pm

The 3 most popular Parittas (blessing suttas) are the Metta, the Ratana and the Mangala suttas. All are beautiful and meaningful but I suspect one reason the Metta sutta gets more air-tme during events is that it is the shortest by far.

chownah
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by chownah » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:49 pm

My guess since I really don't know is that both Sri Lanka and Korea have recently gone through and are still suffering from bloody civil wars....thus the issue of metta is more immediately felt etc.....also I think that perhaps Asian Buddhists are perhaps more focused on the practical aspects of Buddhism as opposed to what westerners think of as being a more spiritual Buddhism....and metta is a very practical endeavor....
chownah

Jhana4
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by Jhana4 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:09 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:
YEs, metta is extremly important. Without metta, there will be no teaching from the buddha. He will keep it himself.
I agree, but the particular sutta I am talking about does not give any instructions in metta meditation. It doesn't appear to say much at all, certainly not enough for me to see why Asians seem to take it so seriously.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:45 pm

Bah humbug! What these people need is not just metta — they need to do some marananussati, asubhakammatthāna, and satipatthāna.

Nothing wrong with chanting the Metta Sutta, Mangala Sutta, and Ratana Sutta, of course, but there is a lot more to Dhamma than these three suttas, and the meaning of them needs to be understood thoroughly too — not just listening to Pali words as if its some magic potion.

A Discourse on Voidness
“Ānanda, a disciple should not seek the Teacher’s company for the sake of discourses, stanzas, and expositions. Why is that? For a long time, Ānanda, you have learned the teachings, memorised them, examined them, and penetrated them with right view. But such talk as leads to disenchantment and nibbāna, that is talk on wanting little, contentment, seclusion, energy, virtue, concentration, wisdom, deliverance, knowledge and vision of deliverance, for such talk a disciple should seek the Teacher’s company even if he is sent away.
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DarwidHalim
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by DarwidHalim » Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:52 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:
YEs, metta is extremly important. Without metta, there will be no teaching from the buddha. He will keep it himself.
I agree, but the particular sutta I am talking about does not give any instructions in metta meditation. It doesn't appear to say much at all, certainly not enough for me to see why Asians seem to take it so seriously.
I read this book long time ago about metta meditation. In this book, there is a history how Buddha give metta meditation to the mink who is scared to do the meditation in the jungle full of ghost. I forget the whole story, but roughly it is like that.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/157062903 ... 395&sr=8-1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

That book can give you the starting point for further research.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Claudia
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Re: The Metta Sutta, why so important?

Post by Claudia » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:47 am

This matter is touching me, although I don't have a direct answer, but I like to write why the Metty Sutta is maybe the most important Sutta to me.

Before I start with my meditation, I often recite the Metta Sutta (translation by Sharon Salzberg) and it helps to open my heart. Depending on my own mood or (my) needs or needs of people who are close to me (friends or the families, I support), I recite the Metta-Sutta for myself when I feel in need and when I feel good and and strong and intact, I recite it for other people.

Whenever I recite it, my mind starts to calm down, getting balanced and happy. When I recite the Metta Sutta for me, it is like the "world embraces me", when I recite the Metta Sutta for other people, it seems like I am able to embrace the world.
It goes deep, deep into my heart and I want to cultivate my heart feeling well and liberated and getting the abilty to share Metta.

Reciting the Metta Sutta in combination with Metta meditation helps me a lot to live my life. Metta already helped me to cultivate forgiveness - sometimes it seems almost impossible to forgive oneself or/and other people who hurt us.
To me, Metta means the help to clarify my heart.

I had two experiences, where my Metta practice helped me a lot.
The first time where I felt it was, when I was able to forgive something of what I never thought I am able to forgive this.
The other time my Metta practice helped me when I supported a very young and very traumatized refugee who experienced harassment by the german aliens departement. I had to do a lot of dialogues with the civil servant, who caused a lot of psychological stress to this young man and who wanted to deport him back to his native country where his father was political hunted.

Without my Metta practice I maybe would have not been able to negotate all this in a diplomatic and calm way. The conferences we had even passed the political rows and I knew, the decisions also depend on my diplomacy.

Sometimes it was so difficult and it seemed so impossible to speak with kindness to the civil servant who seemed to be so prejudice and full of anger and it was really a hard exercise to have in my mind: "May this civil servant be happy and well...." --- but it really, really helped.

This are only two examples for why Metta means a lot to me. :anjali:
Many greetings from

Claudia

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