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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Mettā (Pāli) or Maitrī (Sanskrit) means unconditional and unattached loving kindness. It is one of the ten pāramitās of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four Brahmavihāras. The mettā bhāvanā (cultivation of mettā) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism, practiced with mindfulness of breath, which provides concentration, so as to prevent the loss of compassion.

The object of mettā meditation is to cultivate loving kindness (love without attachment, non-exclusive love) towards all sentient beings. The practice usually begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves (though this is not specifically recommended by the Buddha himself in the relevant suttas/sutras), then their loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers and finally their enemies. It is a good way to calm down a distraught mind because it is an antidote to anger. Someone who has cultivated mettā will not be easily angered and can quickly subdue anger that arises. They will be more caring, more loving, and more likely to love unconditionally.

Buddhists believe that those who cultivate mettā will be at ease because they see no need to harbour ill will or hostility. Buddhist teachers may even recommend meditation on mettā as an antidote to insomnia and nightmares. It is generally felt that those around a mettā-ful person will feel more comfortable and happy too. Radiating mettā contributes to a world of love, peace and happiness.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mettā" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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