Karaniya Metta Sutta

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The Karaniya Mettā Sutta, aka Metta Sutta (C. ci jing 慈經), is one of the most frequently recited texts in Theravada communities.[1] This discourse (sutta) extols the virtuous qualities of mettā, traditionally translated as "loving kindness," "good will," etc.

The Karaniya Mettā Sutta is one of two discourses in the Pali Canon that are known as the Metta Sutta. The other is the Mettanisamsa Sutta (AN 11.15). The "Karaṇīya" Mettā Sutta is so-called after the opening word of the sutta in Pali, which is Karaṇīyam.

Within the Pali canon, the Karaṇīya Mettā Sutta sutta is found in the Suttanipāta (Sn 1.8) and the Khuddakapāṭha (Khp 9). It is also included in a popular collection of "protection texts" (paritta), known as The Book of Protection (Pirit Potha).

Origin story

According to traditional accounts,[2] a group of monks went into the forest to meditate during the rainy season. Once there, three local protector deities or spirits were disturbed by their presence, and the deities sought to drive the monks out of the forest by frightening them during the night.

The monks went to the Buddha and requested his assistance in quelling the disturbance. The Mettāsutta was the discourse that the Buddha then delivered in response, instructing the monks to meditate on loving-kindness (P. mettā; S. maitrī), thinking, “May all beings be happy and safe. May they have happy minds. Whatever living beings there may be—feeble or strong, long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born—may all beings have happy minds.[1]

The monks returned to the forest and meditated on loving-kindness, as instructed. After contemplating on metta, and radiating their energy into the forest, the monks were no longer troubled by the spirits.[1][3][4]


The Mettā Sutta identifies moral qualities and conditions conducive to the development of mettā, and presents a method to meditate on mettā.[3]

In terms of meditative development, the discourse identifies:

  • an intentional wish that facilitates generating mettā (Pali: sukhino vā khemino hontu; English: "May all beings be happy and safe")
  • a means for developing meditational objects (a list of various sizes, proximity, etc.) for such a wish
  • a metaphor — of a mother's protective love for her only child — for how one should cherish this meditation theme and guard it safely.
    Note: according to Thanissaro Bhikkhu, this metaphor is often misinterpreted as a prototypical metaphor for the feeling we ought to cultivate toward others. Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that this is not its intended meaning. See his article: "Metta Means Goodwill"
  • a method for radiating mettā outwards in all directions[5]


Translation by Gil Fronsdal

Contemporary Dharma teacher Gil Fronsdal provides the following translation:[6]

To reach the state of peace
One skilled in the good
Should be
Capable and upright,
Straightforward and easy to speak to,
Gentle and not proud,
Contented and easily supported,
Living lightly and with few duties,
Wise and with senses calmed,
Not arrogant and without greed for supporters,
And should not do the least thing that the wise would criticize.

[One should reflect:]
“May all be happy and secure;
May all beings be happy at heart.
All living beings, whether weak or strong,
Tall, large, medium, or short,
Tiny or big,
Seen or unseen,
Near or distant,
Born or to be born,
May they all be happy.
Let no one deceive another
Or despise anyone anywhere;
Let no one through anger or aversion
Wish for others to suffer.”

As a mother would risk her own life
To protect her child, her only child,
So toward all beings should one
Cultivate a boundless heart.
With loving-kindness for the whole world should one
Cultivate a boundless heart,
Above, below, and all around
Without obstruction, without hate and without ill-will.
Standing or walking, sitting or lying down,
Whenever one is awake,
May one stay with this recollection.
This is called a sublime abiding, here and now.

One who is virtuous, endowed with vision,
Not taken by views,
And having overcome all greed for sensual pleasure
Will not be reborn again.

Translation by Bhikkhu Sujato

This translation of the text Mettasutta is published by SuttaCentral under license CC0 1.0. Translation by Bhikkhu Sujato. SuttaCentral icon square 170px.png

Those who are skilled in the meaning of scripture
should practice as follows to realize the state of peace.
Let them be able and upright, very upright,
easy to speak to, gentle and humble;

content and unburdensome,
unbusied, living lightly,
alert, with senses calmed,
courteous, not fawning on families.

Let them not do the slightest thing
that others might blame with reason.
May they be happy and safe!
May all beings be happy!

Whatever living creatures there are
with not a one left out—
frail or firm, long or large,
medium, small, tiny or round,

visible or invisible,
living far or near,
those born or to be born—
may all beings be happy!

Let none turn from another,
nor look down on anyone anywhere.
Though provoked or aggrieved,
let them not wish pain on each other.

Even as a mother would protect with her life
her child, her only child,
so too for all creatures
unfold a boundless heart.

With love for the whole world,
unfold a boundless heart:
above, below, all round,
unconstricted, without enemy or foe.

When standing, walking, sitting,
or lying down while yet unweary,
keep this ever in mind;
for this, they say, is a meditation of Brahmā in this life.

Avoiding harmful views,
virtuous, accomplished in insight,
with sensual desire dispelled,
they never return to a womb again.

Other translations

See also

  • Brahmavihāra - for "divine abodes" identified by the Buddha, including metta.
  • Ten paramis
  • Paritta - traditional Buddhist "protective suttas," including this one.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Mettāsutta.
  2. For example, according to the Sutta Nipāta.
  3. 3.0 3.1 See, e.g., Bodhi (2005b).
  4. Gunaratana (2007).
  5. See, e.g., Bodhi (2005b & 2005c).
  6. Gil Fronsdal, Metta Sutta, Insight Meditation Center


  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (April 9, 2005b). "Sn 1.8 Mettā Sutta — Loving-kindness [part 1]" (lecture). Retrieved from "Bodhi Monastery" at [1] (mp3).
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (April 23, 2005c). "Sn 1.8 Mettā Sutta — Loving-kindness (part 2)" (lecture). Retrieved from "Bodhi Monastery" at [2] (mp3).
  • Gethin, Rupert (1998). The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-289223-1.
  • Gunaratana, Henepola (2007). "2007 Brahmavihara Retreat: The Karaniyametta Sutta, Introduction and Stanza One" (lecture). Retrieved from "Bhavana Society" at [3] (mp3).
  • Harvey, Peter (2007). An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31333-3.

External links

This article includes content from Karaniya Metta Sutta on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikipedia logo