Universal Loving Kindness Meditation

Universal Loving Kindness Meditation comes from the Buddhist practice of Mindfulness. It is one of the mindfulness exercises used to clear the mind and focus the attention. It is often referred to as Metta (Poly) or Maitri (Sanskrit), the practice of loving kindness. There are many variations on the general theme of this meditation. The basic approach is to recite statements asking for loving kindness for ourselves, for those we love, for those we do not know personally, for those who we may dislike, and for all sentient beings.

Book Cover Mindfulness In Plain EnglishMy favorite version of the Universal Loving Kindness Meditation can be found in the book Mindfulness In Plain English by the Venerable H. Gunaratana Mahathera. The book was copyrighted in 1991 with several statements in the opening pages offering it as free for distribution. “Permisssion to reprint for free distribution has been kindly granted by the author.” “Reprinted for free distribution.” “This book is strictly for free distribution, it is not to be sold.” At 185 pages, this slim volume gives practical, straight-forward direction on how to practice mindfulness meditation.

In Chapter 9, Set Up Exercises (numbered pages 89-98) Universal Loving Kindness Meditation is explained in as plain English as one could hope. The text goes through a discussion on the importance of reciting certain passages within the Mindfulness practice. Simple and clear:

“They are not prayers, and they are not mantras. They are not magical incantations. They are psychological cleansing devices which require mental participation in order to be effective. Mumbled words without intention are useless.”

The “psychological cleansing device” is actually the mind viewing itself in deep concentration. Through this close examination of our thoughts, we begin to eliminate harmful thoughts that no longer support us on our path. Instead, we replace them with the more useful thoughts of loving kindness toward ourselves and others. Replacing a negative thought with a positive thought is not a new psychological construct. And using repetition we begin to encode to memory, and indeed encode to a new way of thinking.

As in most skillful development, we make progress when we repeatedly work and practice. Mindfulness is a skill and Universal Loving Kindness Meditation is one of its practices. As mentioned, there are many versions of Metta. Take a look at a few of the ones listed below and see if one of them will work for you. At the end of this post is the version given in the book Mindfulness In Plain English.

Links to the book Mindfulness In Plain English:
In print, a pdf file from the Buddha Educational Foundation: http://ftp.budaedu.org/ebooks/pdf/EN036.pdf
In audio, via YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLbflbaj_1A

Basic instructions for a similar practice from The Metta Institute.

Issue at Hand by Gil Fronsdal, free from The Insight Meditation Center

 

The following is a direct excerpt from the text of Mindfulness In Plain English. It contains the recitation phrases for Universal Loving Kindness, along with the general instructions given along with the practice.

______________

At the beginning of each meditation session, say the following sentences to yourself. Really feel the intention:

1. May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me. May no difficulties come to me. May no problems come to me. May I always meet with success.

May I also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

2. May my parents be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

3. May my teachers be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

4. May my relatives be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

5. May my friends be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

6. May all indifferent persons be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

7. May my enemies be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

8. May all living beings be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

Once you have completed these recitations, lay aside all your troubles and conflicts for the period of practice. Just drop the whole bundle. If they come back into your meditation later, just treat them as what they are, distractions. The practice of Universal Loving Kindness is also recommended for bedtime and just after arising. It is said to help you sleep well and to prevent nightmares. It also makes it easier to get up in the morning. And it makes you more friendly and open toward everybody, friend or foe, human or otherwise.

______________