Metta in short is somewhat like the affectionate attitude of mind that a good mother has towards her child while protecting him even at the risk of her own life. If you can cultivate such an attitude of mind towards all, breaking down all barriers of caste, colour, creed, sex, etc, then you have cultivated Metta in full. It is not of course easy for anyone to attain this high standard at once, unless one had such past experience in this ‘round of rebirth’ called Samsara. However, anyone can acquire this standard by following a graduated course of meditation and conscious application of the principle in everyday life.
The practice of Metta is the very essence of the Buddhist way of life. It is a positive quality of the mind which promotes an ethical attitude. The man, who attends to his fellow-beings the love and affection which a mother reserves for her only son and says with conviction and feeling, “May all beings be happy,” finds no place in his mind for malice, jealously, envy or pettiness.
By the very practice of loving kindness, he becomes incapable of killing, stealing, lying slandering or using harsh language. Not only does he avoid doing harm to others whether by deed, word or thought, but also develops the tendency to engage himself in the task to make his neighbours happy, to help them in times of difficulty, to care for the sick and the old and to look after the welfare of the poor and the destitute.
He that practice Metta lives the sublime life. Free from malice and jealously, he looks upon all with equanimity.
Most outstanding characteristics of Metta are the absence of its opposites - hatred, anger, ill-will etc. They are two opposites that are inter-related in this manner, one reducing the other, or one’s presence causing the other’s absence. Therefore the first step in the meditation of developing Metta is to reduce the opposite tendencies of hatred and ill-will.
According to the Buddha, war and peace begin in the minds of men. Therefore most of His Teachings, if not all, are directed towards understanding, developing and controlling the mind, eventually leading to perfect purity of conduct, perfect peace of mind, and perfect wisdom. Metta is only one such method prescribed by the Buddha for the purpose of this mind culture. If you develop Metta, your attitude of mind will change for the better and that will in turn change your whole personality.
If you have adequate patience to continue this meditation regularly at least for a few minutes each day and maintain the consequent attitude of mind throughout your waking life, you will realize how happy and pleasant you are. This is the cumulative and collective benefit of practicing Metta.
Anyone who practices Metta even a few minutes a day or a short time, will be rewarded in proportion to the sustained effort and the sincerity of purpose. One need not wait long to see the result of such elementary practice. The meditator himself will feel the difference resulting from the presence of Metta as a dominant part of the content of his psychological field.
The Buddha urged that we love unconditionally ~ love that is non possessive, non seeking, unselfish love.