You might glance at the title of today’s post and feel puzzled about the word “metta”. A thumbnail definition for Western readers is helpful. The word “metta” is a Pali language term that roughly translates to positive energy and kindness to other beings. It is usually used to describe a particular type of Buddhist meditation. The Sanskrit equivalent is the word “maitri”. The cultivation of metta is believed to be an essential aspect on the path to enlightenment.
One can remember metta as one of the Four Divine States: karuna (compassion), upekkha (equanimity), mudita (sympathetic joy), and metta (loving-kindness). In practice, some of us conflate karuna with metta; but there is a subtle difference. Karuna describes affection and sympathy while metta is the active practice of benevolence towards all living beings–free of selfish attachment.
In particular, organizers of the World Day of Metta request that people everywhere, regardless of faith tradition or affiliation or non-religious, contemplate, meditate upon, or pray to offer metta to all living beings in the world. This is to take place from noon until 2:00 PM, local time.
Although the World Day of Metta brings public awareness to the concept of metta or loving-kindness, it’s important to remember that metta is intended to be a daily practice and not just some words that give us warm fuzzies. Metta can be thought of as the ethical practice to be aware of conceit and greed in our nature then work to reduce and eventually eliminate it from our behavior–a continuous process. Basically, to wish no harm in our daily interactions with others.
The Blue Jay of Happiness contemplates a verse attributed to Lao Tzu. “When virtue is lost, benevolence appears, when benevolence is lost right conduct appears, when right conduct is lost, expedience appears. Expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder.”