Metta Sutta

This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright, straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited, contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skilful,
not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing that the wise would later reprove.
They should wish:

In gladness and in safety
May all beings be at ease.
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,
May all beings be at ease!
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.


Metta, often translated from the Pali as 'loving kindness', is one of four mental states that Buddhists wish to cultivate. The other three are compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. Each of these four states has an easily recognized 'far enemy' and an equally insidious 'near enemy'.

Mental state Definition Far enemy Near enemy Comments
Loving kindness Wanting others to be happy Hatred, anger Conditional love State to avoid: attachment
Compassion Wanting others to be free from suffering Cruelty Pity State to avoid: sentimentality
Sympathetic joy Rejoicing in the good fortune of others Envy Hypocritical admiration Good against depression
Equanimity Regarding every sentient being as equal Anxiety, doubt, worry Indifference State to avoid: apathy

In the Metta Sutta, the Buddha discusses the conditions that must obtain for metta to arise and how to cultivate it in one's mind and heart. See Khema 1987, Chapter 5, for an alternative translation and a very helpful discussion.

Each of the four states corresponds to one of the verses of the Four Immeasurables.