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The development of Loving-Kindness is another useful practice, it aims at the dissolution of angry, averse states of mind and the increase of that kind of love which is cool, capable of extension to all and non-possessive. A word here about love. In English we have only this one word which has to describe a great range of emotions, whereas in Pali there are several words describing three levels.

* [For this in greater detail, see: "The Path of Purification," Ch. IX; "The Practice of Lovingkindness," Wheel No. 7; and "The Four Sublime States," Wheel No. 6.]

The lowest is the one we share with the animals: lust, which is based on powerful desires for pleasant feelings and is completely selfish. This kind of love does not consider others at all and cares only for self-gratification. In Pali its name is kama (a word which has the wider, meaning also of the objective stimulants of the senses and the defiled sensual stimulation in the heart). When there is no kama, deliberate sexual intercourse is impossible (as for the Arahants). Kama causes sex to appear attractive and is strengthened when the senses are not guarded. Hence the Buddha's injunction for bhikkhus to restrain their senses, to some extent (for instance, limiting the amount of television that he watches, and other distracting amusements), and this will help to limit the arising kama making for greater peace of heart. Second is sneha, the viscous attachment which holds families together. This love is not totally selfish but rather regards the attachment as a bargain out of which oneself and others get something. For instance, the husband gets home cooking while the wife obtains security to rear a family. The terms of this bargain, of course, may differ quite widely. But sneha is only capable of being extended to a few people who are involved in this bargain. By contrast, metta or loving-kindness, is a love not hot with lust nor sticky with attachment: it is cool and does not consider personal benefits. The person who has metta is concerned with the happiness of others before he thinks about himself. No human relationship can last long and be of great benefit if it is not founded on metta, for only such love can be extended to other beings generally and without limitation to some group. Usually our relations with other people are made up of kama sometimes, sneha frequently, with a sprinkling of metta now and again. From the point of view of meditation practice, kama hinders it while metta helps it.

Metta must be practiced first towards oneself. That is to say, one cannot love others unless first one has established love in one's own heart. To try spreading metta to others before strengthening it in oneself is like a poor man who proposes to give out money for others" benefit. To have metta for oneself means a relative absence of conflicts in oneself, to be at peace with oneself. So the first thing to do in sitting meditation is to repeat over and over again: "May I be at peace." When the mind becomes calm and one can feel about one's heart the brightness of metta then it is possible to start practicing it towards other people. Having cultured loving-kindness in one's heart, one may next picture any person whom one respects deeply and constantly wish for that person "May he (or she) be happy!" Having developed towards that person the same, or greater intensity of metta, then go on to see in the mind a person with whom one is just friendly, and after that a neutral person. Only then may one consider a person who is disliked or even one who is hated. In each case, the emotional tone accompanying the mental picture should be the same and only when it has reached the same intensity should one move on to the next person to be considered. It is useless to begin with those one dislikes as such practice is merely the extension of what is already there -- aversion -- rather than the development of something new -- metta. To begin with the disliked just wearies oneself and gets one nowhere. In this meditation, thoughts of loving-kindness must be backed up by the emotional feeling associated with loving-kindness, if they are to be really effective in ridding oneself of aversion.

This power of metta is used to break down the "walls" which we erect around ourselves, the walls of aversion and dislike, so that metta, properly practiced, becomes by deep meditation not only widespread but infinite in extent. One to whom each person and each living being are equally dear, who wishes happiness for all sentient beings, visible and invisible in every direction and state of existence, whose heart is "endued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, measureless, free from enmity and free from affliction" has truly succeeded with this practice.

But metta fails when it falls into either of two extremes. The first of these is called "the near enemy," that is, selfish physical desire or kama. so one should not attempt to practice metta in meditation towards a person for whom one has kama. The second is known as "the far enemy" and means the opposite of metta -- ill-will, anger and so on. So much for the practice of metta as a meditation.

Besides mind, a human being has two other channels of communication -- speech and bodily action. Therefore, digressing again from what is done in the shrine-room, one should make efforts to express loving-kindness in these two ways as well. As far as speech is concerned, make an effort to cut out sharp or harsh words when they are spoken in anger, while trying to cultivate kindly speech. And as speech to be convincing has to be backed up by bodily action, one's body should express loving- kindness too. See that it performs acts of helpfulness and service. See that one is "clean-handed" -- that is, that things which could be given do not "stick" to one's hands, for generosity is a companion and supporter of loving-kindness. If one makes an effort like this with one's speech and body, it will be helpful to one's meditation on metta, while that in turn will ensure that one's good actions are not just an empty facade.

The subject of meditation is vast, as the mind with which it deals is intricate and there are many different methods suited to different minds with their defilements. In this brief section only two methods have been mentioned and their development has only been outlined upon the side of calm. The development of calm is very necessary before going on to the development of insight, in which impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-self are investigated, as the mind must be strong and undistracted for insight to penetrate towards enlightenment. The development of calm, cannot be dealt with here and no book, however extensive, can replace the advice of a meditation master.

It is possible that if the mind becomes deeply concentrated and states quite new to the meditator are suddenly experienced, that fear may arise. Fear can also be troublesome if an object of mind comes up, a mental picture, which is horrible to the meditator. If such fear should arise then the meditator should leave that object and turn to the Recollection of the Three Treasures, mentally repeating: "Indeed the Exalted One is thus: The Accomplished destroyer of defilement...." If the fear is banished by the first Recollection then one's meditation can be resumed, otherwise one should go on to recite "The Dhamma of the Exalted One is well-expounded..." and "The Sangha of the Exalted One's disciples who have practiced well..." until all fear is cured in the mind. This is sure to be dispelled as the Buddha has said, in the Dhajagga Sutta (The Discourse on the Foremost Banner), because one is recollecting the qualities of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha which are "free of greed, free of aversion and free of delusion" and are therefore free from fear. This is where strong and sure Refuge in the three Treasures is shown to be so valuable, for if strong confidence in them is present fear has no chance. But the mind in which there are many doubts is easily shaken and fear can get a hold there. Well-balanced Dhamma practice should dispel the causes giving rise to fears, but if these persist it is necessary to ask someone competent in meditation how they should be treated.

At the conclusion of meditation, one should gently bring the mind back to its usual state of engagement with the senses. During this time the limbs should not be moved quickly but gently rubbed if they are cool or have "gone to sleep". when one is quite ready, then it is time to chant the Anumodana.

Anumodana [See appendix A9 for the Pali]

This is one of those words which it is very difficult to translate into English. It means literally "rejoicing with or after" but implies "asking beings to rejoice in the good kamma which one has made and so benefit themselves." It is often translated "blessing" but this gives the wrong picture, as one is inviting other beings to rejoice at what one has done; one is not invoking some blessing of another power upon them.

The person who is inviting others to rejoice does not actually "share his merits," although this expression is often seen. How can merits (a poor translation of punna which means all kinds of actions which cleanse and purify the mind of the doer) be shared indeed? As punna is good kamma, one should remember "I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma..." so how can it be "shared" with others? Good kamma or punna is not like a cake which can be cut up into pieces and handed round! What one does is not "sharing" but dedicating one's punna to other beings (either to particular beings who are suffering, such as parents, relatives, friends, etc.; or generally to all beings (see below), "infinite, immeasurable"). And these beings to whom one dedicates kamma may be either living this life or else reborn in other states. In dedicating it to them one asks them to rejoice ("By rejoicing in this cause, this gift of punna given by me...") and when they do so they also make good kamma which is the direct cause of their happiness ("a happy life and free from hate... and their good wishes all succeed"). The "Path Secure" mentioned in the verses below is the attainment of Stream-entry when a person has seen Nibbana for the first time, known the Truth of Dhamma for himself and is no longer liable to fall into low, subhuman births.

These verses are part of a longer Pali composition by King Mahamongkut (Rama IV) of Siam, possibly written while he was still a prince and bhikkhu holding the position of Abbot of Wat Bovoranives in Bangkok.

     May the punna made by me,
     now or at some other time,
     be shared among all beings here --
     infinite, immeasurable,
     By rejoicing in this cause,
     this gift of punna given by me,
     may beings all forever live
     a happy life and free from hate,
     and may they find the Path Secure
     and their good wishes all succeed!

Having finished this recitation one should stay quiet with a heart full of loving-kindness for all beings just for a short while. Then to conclude the service one again makes the prostration with five limbs three times.


In Theravada Buddhist countries, the traditional verses and passages, as well as the Discourses of the Buddha, whether used in services or for other occasions, are usually recited in Pali, the language spoken by the Buddha. In each country there are somewhat different traditions of chanting and pronunciation of Pali. [*] (In other Buddhist lands also, traditions exist for the chanting of Buddhist scriptures, usually in a special and now archaic form of the vernaculars). Besides the established traditions of Pali chanting, there are also, in countries like Thailand, ways of chanting in the language of the people. Few lay people understand the grammar of Pali though many may know a number of important phrases and terms in that language, so we find that lay people (and sometimes bhikkhus as well) chant in Pali following each phrase with a translation in the vernacular. This can often be heard in Thailand where school children also chant verses composed in Thai on the respect that should be given to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, parents and teachers (the Five Treasures).

* [An LP record of Pali chanting in Sinhalese style may be had from the Buddhist Missionary Society, Brickfields Buddhist Temple, Jalan Berhala, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tapes of chanting (morning and evening services, paritta, etc.) can be had of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, 33 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 11, Thailand. These are in Thai styles of chanting.]

In countries where Buddhism is either newly introduced or again flourishing after a period of neglect, there may be very few who understand Pali, while, on the other hand, many may wish for some devotional and reflective practice for their daily lives. Hence the short number of texts suggested here are all in English. Then comes the question of how to chant in this language. Lay Buddhists can be guided by the Buddha's words when some bhikkhus began to sing the Dhamma: "Bhikkhus, there are these five dangers when Dhamma is chanted with a long, singing sound:

     (1) He is pleased with himself regarding that sound, (= pride)
     (2) others are pleases regarding that sound (they have regard for
         it but not for Dhamma)
     (3) householders look down upon him (as music is for those who
         enjoy sense-pleasures)
     (4) while trying for accuracy of sound his concentration is broken,
         (he neglects the meaning of what he is  chanting)
     (5) people coming after fall into views (by emulation) ("saying:
         Our teachers and preceptors sang it thus" [Commentary] -- a
         source of both pride and quarreling among later generations of
                                    (Vinaya Pitaka, ii. 108)

From these five disadvantages we understand that it is disrespectful for a bhikkhu to sing or intone the Dhamma in such a way that its meaning is lost. [*] This rule, of course, does not apply to lay people but in Buddhist lands the latter, perhaps guided by the conduct of bhikkhus, have made little or no use of music for religious purposes. After all what are we trying to achieve by chanting the words relating to the Buddha and his teaching? Is it not to gain calm through a mind concentrated on Dhamma? Then music has rather an exciting effect on many people and so is opposed to our aim. Again, compared with western religion, Buddhism has a different aim. There, the object of chanting and singing is to make sounds pleasing to the Creator's ear, out of love or fear of him. But Buddhists are not burdened with such an idea, for our aim and goal lies within, to be attained by our own efforts, not by propitiation of an external power. Lord Buddha was one who spoke in praise of silence and restraint, so in preparing ourselves to be silent, restraint should be used in our chanting.

* [In "The Entrance to the Vinaya II" (Mahamakut Press, Bangkok, BE 2516) we read: "It is prohibited for a bhikkhu to preach Dhamma with a long-drawn intonation. To preach Dhamma or recite Dhamma in an artificial long-drawn way of chanting until it brings about mispronunciation, should not be done.]

The various passages which have been recommended here for this purpose are embedded in much explanatory matter and people who wish to use them and any other reflections which they have found stirring, could copy them all out to form a chanting book. [*] Then only one thing remains to be done and that will come about through daily use: learn these texts by heart. Even if one is far from home one can then quietly repeat them to oneself and so not break one's regular practice.

* [See the author's "Buddhist Texts for Recitation" (Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy; Vesak 1974]

In the various Buddhist countries there is a great variety of chants and recollections and even neighboring monasteries may have their own traditions and not use all the same items. Those given here in English translation are among the most popular and common to most traditions. Others can be added according to individual preference and knowledge. There is no such thing as a standard morning and evening service in the Buddhist world and even between these two there may be differences of items used. So much for daily practice in the shrine room.

The Laity's Practice of Dhamma

Then what about Dhamma-practice outside the shrine-room? This is really a subject which goes beyond the scope of this book. All the important aspects of a layman's practice of the Dhamma have been written about in other books. However, mention may be made of these things:

Dana (Giving)

The giving of material things (amisa-dana), for instance, to support bhikkhus, to give to the poor, starving and so forth. There is no lack of opportunity to practice this in our over- populated world. And Buddhists who have enough of this world's wealth, enough of clothes, food, shelter and medicine which are the basic necessities for life should practice dana bearing in mind that what is given away is truly well preserved while what is kept is wasted. The practice, running counter to the worldly way of craving and attachment, is very important in the present materialistic civilization with its emphasis upon gain and accumulation of possessions. Nothing much can be done in Dhamma until one is prepared to open one's heart and one's hands to others.

The giving of Dhamma (Dhamma-dana) means the gift of some useful teaching and advice for others. It is necessary to know what will benefit them if one would give this gift in the right way. Dhamma is the supreme gift in the world, as said by the Buddha:

     All gifts the gift of Dhamma does excel,
     all tastes the taste of dhamma does excel,
     all joys the joy of Dhamma does excel --
     the craving-ender overcomes all dukkha.

                        (Dhp. 354)

All material things wear out with use but the Dhamma increases as we practice it. And material things give benefit only in this life, while the Dhamma benefits the practice now and in future lives as well.

The giving of non-fear (abhaya-dana). This means acting in such a way that other beings do not have any cause to fear oneself. This is another name for the practice of loving-kindness (metta) and is based upon good moral conduct (sila).

Sila (Moral Conduct, Precepts) [*]

The Five Sila have been mentioned above. The Eight Sila will be dealt with in connection with the Uposatha day (below). Besides these lists of precepts which are guides to good conduct, one should study those discourses of the Buddha, like the Singalovada (The Exhortation to Singala -- see "Everyman's Ethics", Wheel 14) in which he has given the principles which will conduce to a harmonious society. This must be founded upon wholesome mental states in the individual and for this the following practices are essential:

* [See Wheels: 14, Everyman's Ethics; 55, The Five Precepts; 50, Knowledge and Conduct; 104, Early Buddhism and the Taking of Life; 175/176, Ethics in Buddhist Perspective.]

Bhavana (Development or cultivation of the mind)

The four Divine Abidings: Loving-kindness, compassion, joy- with-others, and equanimity, bring two blessings: harmony within and peace with other people. Their importance in Buddhist practice cannot be over-emphasized. They are the educators of the heart or emotions and from a Buddhist point of view it will be better to be gentle and non-aggressive though lacking intellectual knowledge of Dhamma. Such a person shows that he has been tamed by the Dhamma of non-harming, but mere knowledge of the Dhamma divorced from practice makes only for conceit and an increase of views (ditthi).

Reading the Suttas in translation, especially the Anguttara-nikaya (see the anthology in two parts with this title from BPS, Kandy, and "Gradual Sayings", the complete translation in 5 vols. from the Pali Text Society London), will bring to light many discourses containing valuable advice for lay Buddhist practice. It would be useful to collect these together and then read them through from time to time. A reading of such relevant suttas might be introduced into the evening service every day, or else read upon Uposatha days. This brings us to the subject of the second part of this book.

next: Uposatha

Dhamma Essay:
The Search for Security by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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