The Metta Prayer

autumn leafThe Buddha gave a beautiful teaching on the development of lovingkindness called the Metta Sutta (also known as the Karaniya Metta Sutta). I’ve adapted the words of the sutta to formulate them as an aspiration that can be repeated in a prayer-like way.

In order that I may be skilled in discerning what is good, in order that I may understand the path to peace,

Let me be able, upright, and straightforward, of good speech, gentle, and free from pride;

Let me be contented, easily satisfied, having few duties, living simply, of controlled senses, prudent, without pride and without attachment to nation, race, or other groups.

Let me not do the slightest thing for which the wise might rebuke me. Instead let me think:

“May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.

Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,

Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,

Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.

Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.”

Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.

Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.

Standing, walking, seated, or lying down, free from torpor, let me as far as possible fix my attention on this recollection. This, they say, is the divine life right here.

Translated and adapted by Bodhipaksa from the Pali Metta Sutta.

17 Comments. Leave new

Beautiful prayer, but still, I cant help but wonders:

Will all beings be well and safe, will they be at ease?

Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,

Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,

Born or unborn; will all beings be happy?

Will none deceive or despise another anywhere? Will none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate?

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Hi Hopeless,

I’d imagine that’s not going to happen, but the point is to transform our own emotional life by cultivating the wish that other beings be well.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Rodger Ricketts
September 20, 2009 12:35 pm

Yes, It is not magic even though would say that there is a benefical positive energy generated by such thoughts but more importantly is the personal transformation of our emotions and thinking when we recite the metta “prayer”.

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Jerry Segers, Jr.
April 6, 2011 11:25 am

I’d like to take exception to your translation… In particular, you translated it as “May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease” I don’t speak/read pali or sanscrit or whatever, but simple logic demands that it be translated “May all beings be well and safe, may _we_ be at ease” If I’ve offended you with this, I do apologize. I just thought it needed to be said. (a similar error on my part gave me difficulties in my practice, hopefully others will not follow suit.)

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No offense taken, Jerry. The verbs used in this passage, hontu and bhavantu, are in the third person imperative: “may/let them be…” It would be inaccurate to translate those as “let us be…”

In my own practice I tend to use the phrases “may all beings be well (etc)” or “may we be well (etc)”. I assume you’re pointing to the problem of excluding ourselves from the scope of our own well-wishing, and I agree that’s a valid concern. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the translation in this regard. That’s just what the Pali says.

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tom Barnhart
July 21, 2011 10:26 pm

The Metta Prayer (Buddhist prayer of Loving Kindness)

May you be safe from harm
May you be happy and peaceful
May you be strong and healthy
May you be free from suffering

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Bliss Cannabis
January 6, 2012 1:55 pm

Thank you for sharing your translated version of your prayer! It is quite beautiful with it’s intention.

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There’s an end-quotation mark but no beginning-quotation mark. Does the prayer begin with “In order that I may…” or “May all beings…”? And is the end of the prayer “…anger or in hate.” or “…the divine life right here.”?
Thanks!

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Hi, Dom.

I corrected the text by adding the missing quotation mark, and also indented the entire passage for clarity.

The prayer begins with “In order that I may be skilled…” and ends with “…the divine life right here.”

There is a prayer within the prayer, so that there’s an aspiration to bear the thought “May all beings be well … in anger or in hate” in mind at all times.

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Thank you for the beautiful translation! I think you did a wonderful job of capturing the intent of the message and i will use it in my daily practice now :)

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An old college friend of mine is going through some very trying times. His wife has many, many health issues at this time and I have just written to him about Metta. Thank you for what you have written and expressed. Such a rich prayer.

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Michael Doddd
January 8, 2014 10:05 am

I make reading through this slowly a part of my daily practice. Thank you.

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January 9, 2014 4:22 pm

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Stanley Benjamin
April 25, 2014 7:52 pm

A very good morning to all . I woke up this morning and decided to go to the internet to recite my morning prayers. As I scrolled along this web page, I managed to find a lot of interesting topics of Bhuddism ,example…how to start the day and end the day as well. I never failed to recite the meta kata daily ( Pali ) . Yes, I feel comfortable after doing so and I try to live my day in a very positive manner. But after reading your version of the meta in English…OMG ! I can feel the flow of happiness in my heart . Then only did I realize that I have to understand the text I am reading or reciting to achieve wisdom. Thank you once again for making me happy..and with this happiness, I will try to make others happy too ..today. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu.

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Metta Prayer and other quotes of wisdom – In the memory of Mr. S.N. Goenka | lallous' lab
December 28, 2015 12:39 am

[…] I first heard this prayer when I was taking the Vipassana course. The following prayer is borrowed from the Wildmind Buddhist Meditation website: […]

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