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I can't find much information on Metta-Bhavana and I want to know:

  1. what it is. What is the purpose of this type of meditation?

  2. details concerning its practice. How does one practice this meditation?

  • You may have been misspelling it when you searched: it's spelled bhavana not bhanava, so metta-bhavana. – ChrisW Apr 1 '17 at 23:20
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'Metta' is good-will & non-hatred. It is wanting other people to be happy. This does not mean to "save" or transform other people into inherently happy people but to abide with non-conflict with other people. The meditation method is below:

Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born. Wishing: In gladness and in safety — May all beings be at ease/be happy! (sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā)

Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings.

Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, freed from all sense desires.

Karaniya Metta Sutta

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Metta-Bhanava - what is it?

The Buddha said that next to the contemplation of ‘Anicca’, the next most fruitful bhavana is that of metta. The benifits of the metta bhavana far exceed what one gains from all other forms of giving. The Buddha said one could attain the Anagami stage by correctly doing the metta bhavana. But that entails understanding anicca, dukkha, anatta. The impact of the metta bhavana increases gradually with increased understanding of anicca, dukkha, anatta, because then one realizes the dangers and suffering that all living beings face in future lives. There are two ways of cultivating this Bhavana, and how it is done. But what matters is not the particular set of words used, but what is felt in one’s heart. To do that one needs to truly comprehend that there is REAL SUFFERING in this world, not only in the human or animal realms, but in all other realms.

What is the purpose of this meditation?

You and I are still in this unending cycle of rebirths (sansara) that has no beginning due to our innumerable “unskilful kamma vipaka”. There is a very simple recipe to stop many such “past kamma vipaka” from coming to fruition. Metta-Bhanava is one such that helps to “wear out” and ultimately remove many of the “kamma seeds” associated with past unskilful deeds. Doing metta bhavana and transferring merits gained is an effective way to do this.

All intentions have kammic energy. You may remember that the Buddha said, “Cetana ham bhikkave kamman vadami”, or “Bhikkhus, I say intention is kamma”. And kamma is the fundamental potential energy for everything in this world. When one is “transferring merits” by sincerely saying that “May so and so receive merits from this good deed that I have done”, or doing metta bhavana by saying, “May all beings be free from the suffering in the samsara”, one is transmitting one’s intention.

How does one practice this meditation?

Two ways of cultivating the loving-kindness meditation are mentioned in Anuruddha Sutta in Majjima Nikāya. Arahant Anuruddha Thero has explained those two ways of cultivating the loving-kindness meditation. These two methods are Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti and Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti.

The way to cultivate Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti…

May all beings in north direction be free of enmity… May they be free of anger… May they be free of jealousy… May they be free of suffering, harm… May they live well and happy… May they become peaceful…

May all beings in northeast direction… May all beings in east direction…May all beings in southeast direction… May all beings in south direction… May all beings in southwest direction… May all beings in west direction… May all beings in northwest direction… May all beings in up direction… May all beings in down direction…

The way to cultivate Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti…

In Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti, loving-kindness meditation is cultivated by expanding the area of focus progressively. That is, one cultivates loving-kindness to oneself first. Then to beings in the immediate environment, village, in town, in province/state, in the country, and in this earth, to other worlds…. Ones who prefer Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti method can remember the following … to practice the loving-kindness meditation.

May I be free of enmity… May I be free of anger… May I be free of jealousy… May I be free of suffering, harm… May I live well and happy… May I be peaceful…

I and all beings in this village… I and all beings in this town… I and all beings in this province/state… I and all beings in this country… I and all beings in this world… I and all beings…

What are the benefits of this meditation?

Benefits of practicing the loving-kindness meditation are clearly shown in the Mettānisansa Sutta in Anguttara Nikāya. Those benefits are:

A person who cultivates the loving-kindness meditation: Sleeps well; Wakes up well; Does not have nightmares; Becomes likable to humans; Becomes likable to ghost / ‘Pretha’ beings of the lower realms; Gets the protection of divine beings of higher realms; Does not come to any harm from poisons, weapons etc. Can attain concentration with ease; Gets a colorful/brighter complexion; at the time of death will have a clear mind; Will be born in the Deva / Brahma planes of existence upon death.

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Do to Metta Bhavana you should wish everyone well from Bottom of your heart.

The objective of this is to:

  • develop loving kindness as a quality
  • break you tendency to classify people into loved ones, neutral and unloved ones and react to the perception of them with clinging, hatred or neutral feeling creating the unwholesome roots

If you include the other Brahmavihara: - break you tendency to classify people into better off, same level and worse off and react to the perception of them with clinging, hatred or neutral feeling creating the unwholesome roots

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