This is a part of a series going line by line from the Metta Sutta. It starts here.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small
Here again is one of the classic aspects of the teaching of metta and one of the characteristic teachings of Buddhism. Metta means loving kindness for all. Not just other Buddhists. Not just “worthy” people. Not just people! All living beings.
Devadatta, the Buddha’s cousin, was forever scheming to take over the sangha. Once he hired a prison guard to release Nalagiri, a huge mad elephant, to assassinate the Buddha. One day the Buddha was returning from almsround walking down narrow streets of the town The huge elephant came charging toward him. Ananda (the Buddha’s faithful attendant) leapt in front of the elephant, but the Buddha asked him to step aside. Instead he radiated powerful metta to Nalagiri, who was immediately pacified. Nalagiri even bowed down to the Buddha in appreciation for his gift of metta.
The next post in this series is here.