Author: Thich Le Minh
Giang Kiet Tuong Translated to English
Read in Vietnamese
Often when chanting out loud, or just contemplating silently, we can use the metta sutra (Compassion Prayer) in our daily practice to wish for good things to ourselves first, then to all other people around us. The Metta Sutra goes like this:
“May I (or all sentient beings) be peaceful and safe, not subjected to accidents and misfortunes.”
“May I (or all sentient beings) be happy, without any suffering or agony.”
“May I (or all sentient beings) live in peace, and have a gentle and healthy life.”
“May I (or all sentient beings) live leisurely, firmly and without fear.”
1) MAY I AND ALL SENTIENT BEINGS BE PEACEFUL AND SAFE, NOT PRONE TO ACCIDENTS AND MISFORTUNES
We start out the compassion prayer by taking care of our own physical and mental health with the wish to always be safe and wholesome, and not having to face dangers, accidents, or misfortunes. We also seek the same peace and safety for others, so that just like us, they encounter no bad actions, nor hardship and disaster in their lives.
A life without peace is just like a nightmare. When we are constantly revolved in the midst of calamities such as greed and hatred, we are unhappy and can’t help but spreading unhappiness to others around us as well. So like having the nightmare that wakes us up in the middle of the night: the feelings then and there resulting from the bad dream are worries, frustration, and self-pity. Our mind and body are not peaceful and safe. When the world around deals us nothing but turmoil, disturbance, bullying, loneliness, repression and coercion, how could we achieve peace and normalcy in our lives.
2) MAY I AND ALL SENTIENT BEINGS BE HAPPY, HAVING NO SUFFERINGS NOR AGONIES
If we encounter just beauties and happy feelings from ourselves and others, if we have little fear of people and things, and if we can trust our own capacity to love, then we can be very happy indeed. Likewise, we need to know how to handle any misfortune, ugly thought or unhappy event in our lives, without dwelling into, nor keeping and brooding over them, then we can certainly experience happiness. Even at times when we have favorable and positive situations within reach, but if we carry an inner sadness, we would feel miserable and cannot enjoy them either. Other repetitive sentences such as “I wish I could be happy” or “I want my life to be peaceful” or “I hope for total salvation” can also be used as the mantra instead.
3) MAY I AND ALL SENTIENT BEINGS LIVE IN HARMONY AND HAVE A GENTLE AND HEALTHY LIFE
We hope that our body is healthy, physically fit, non-diseased, and harmonious without feeling pain and discomfort. But if, for unexpected reasons and circumstances, our bodies are subjected to pain, then let us bear this pain in great endurance and patience. So we don’t convert the bodily ailment into mind suffering and misery to our whole self. We can also chant these sentences as mantra instead: “I wish I am always healthy,” “I hope to get well soon,” “I will befriend my own body” or “I wish to be the embodiment of love, compassion and understanding.”
4) MAY I AND ALL SENTIENT BEINGS POSSESS A LEISURELY, FIRMLY AND FEARLESS LIFE
This chanting mantra represents the urgent and immediate needs we are facing in our daily lives. These demands include fear, worry in relationship, difficult family situation, hardship in making a living, etc… When repeating this chant we hope that our problems are bearable and easily solvable. So our life will be more relaxed and less stressful. Some sentences that can be replaced are: “I wish for a more relaxed life,” “I hope to always have compassion throughout my life,” “I will try to live in this moment, here and now.”
Once sitting down comfortably, you can contemplate in a short five minutes all the beauties and good qualities that you possess – you should have a few, or devise the wish for happiness – what makes you really happy. Next, you can choose three or four of the mantras listed above that most applicable and appropriate for yourself. Then keep repeating them over and over again, silently to yourself - your own mind and spirit. You can also coordinate them with your slow breathing in out, in out. Or you can just simply concentrate your mind on each of the sentences, and not relying on any part of the body for anchor.
You can learn and practice these contemplations in a gentle and moderate manner. There is no need to “hurry and finish” them all; there is no contest here; do not chant the mantra with a quick, rude and rash attitude. Each repetition ought to be like a special gift you give to yourself. If your mind wanders, or if you stray and cannot keep your attention, just let go of these wandering thoughts, find your way back, and return to the mantra effortlessly. There are times when suddenly you feel self-pity and shame, or that you recognize what has deter your ability for self love; just note these sentiments and their presence in the back of your mind. Continue to breathe in and out gracefully, and re-direct your mind toward the good and beautiful characteristics that you have or your desire for happiness, and return once again to the mantra reciting.
Giang Kiet Tuong (The Buddhist Translation Group)
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