Boundless Heart (Metta Sutta #20)

This is a part of a series going line by line from the Metta Sutta. It starts here. I’ve just about run out of steam going line by line with this sutta, so let me just provide you with a few last thoughts on the last lines.

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

One of the most beautiful and tender metaphors in all of the Buddhist canon.

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

I know of no other religion that makes such a big deal out of posture! In some traditions, posture is really aesthetized, almost fetishized, to the point of ridiculousness. That is not what is meant here. Properly understood, the ideal of maintaining awareness of posture is a sort of pre-meditative practice. It exercises the muscle of mindfulness. Seated meditation is considered the best posture for deep meditation because there are fewer distractions than with walking but less opportunity for drowsiness than lying down. But maintaining a sense of mindfulness (either on the breath, the posture, or the heart as with metta) in all postures is a powerful meditative calisthenic.

Free from drowsiness, one should sustain this recollection.

In all honesty I used to find this line a little disappointing. In a lot of my favorite poems, there is a powerful last line that puts the rest of the work in a profound new light. Not here! Instead it’s a standard, boring sounding line. Here’s a better version (for my tastes) for that last line: with energy and zeal, one should sustain this practice.


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