An outline of the Metta Bhavana

lotusIn the Metta Bhavana practice we’re cultivating love, or friendliness, or lovingkindness.

Eventually we want to become like an emotional bonfire: a steady blaze of emotional warmth that will embrace any sentient being that we become aware of. This is an attainable goal for every human being. All it takes is time and some persistent effort.

The practice is in five stages. We cultivate Metta for:

  • Ourselves
  • A good friend
  • A “neutral” person — someone we don’t have any strong feelings for
  • A “difficult” person — someone we have conflicts with or feelings of ill will towards
  • All sentient beings (ambitious, huh!)

You may notice that there’s a progression in the stages. It’s easiest for us to cultivate lovingkindness for ourselves and for our friends. It’s a bit more difficult to do this for people we don’t know well. And it really goes against the grain to cultivate lovingkindness for someone we’re in conflict with. Lastly, we cultivate lovingkindness for everyone in the world: i.e. all friends, people we don’t know, and people we’re in conflict with — plus ourselves of course.

We’ll learn these stages one at a time. We suggest that you practice one stage for a while before moving on to the others.

7 Comments. Leave new

Metta Bhavana en Español | satori stephen
February 14, 2008 5:20 pm

[…] understanding all of the words our guide was using, I did get that today’s meditation was a Metta Bhavana, which I was pretty familiar with from my time at Igatpuri. With all the noise from the street and […]


cultivating love and friendliness is a good part of human nature. i have really accepted your views. very few people have got these ideas…………..

Why I can take a beating « the enemy returns: a journey with kidney cancer
June 3, 2010 3:50 pm

[…] the long breathing meditation he has a second meditation called the Metta Bhavana, that is the Buddhist development of Loving Kindness. The meditation calls for standard sitting […]

June 10, 2010 5:07 am

I put my these hands in a prayer position at this chest, I bow this head slightly & smile into this heart, breathing steadily & evenly. Metta Bhavana

The view from here: researching a new show from my sofa « David Leddy's blog
November 13, 2010 6:20 am

[…] Metta bhavana – the Buddhist meditation on loving kindness […]

The Metta Bhavana | Pablo Neruda's World
April 21, 2011 8:34 pm

[…] have found the Metta Bhavana practice to be extraordinarily grounding this week. Loving Kindness truly is a journey into the […]

Us & Them: People & Animals | Triratna Buddhist Community Highlands
January 15, 2014 7:10 am

[…] of the meditation practices in the Triratna movement – the Metta Bhavana – helps us make a habit out of seeing more of ourselves in other beings, and more of them in […]


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