How to understand a mother's love in the Metta Sutta

Thank you…you have explicitly clarified my question beautifully.

Thank you for making this distinction Bhante.

Gillian basically has done this.

But I want to add that as someone with little knowledge of Pali, little talent or time for scholarship, I trust certain people, partly out of necessity, partly with very good reasons. That’s why I tagged yourself and Ajahn Brahmali. So for someone like me, it matters what you both say about whether this text is more or less likely to have been spoken by our founder.

Also, I am not coming from any desire to get at a better translation for it’s own sake, in fact, I am not motivated by any such interest.

It’s purely a personal interest to understand the intention of the original author.

Which of course intersects exactly with the interest of all of you to get at a spot on translation! So I’m just intensely grateful to you all.

Also, if I have reason to suspect to a high degree that the author is the Buddha; then no matter how much I may dislike what the Pali is saying, I would be open to investigate it from every possible angle.

And until I came to this thread yesterday, I always thought that the following is what was meant:

It never ocurred to me that these lines might be an extraordinarily clear and specific example of the 4th Right Effort.

I apologise if I wasn’t clear, but I have no problem with the translation presented, it’s beautiful, I love it. But I also note:

So I trust you when you say it remains a straight forward rendering rather than an adaptation. Yet, I can’t help noting that you qualify “straight” with “fairly”… This is partly what prompted the question; which is: whether we are supposed to love all beings, or love the metta mind.

It might not seem like an important distinction, all beings vs the metta mind. But on a personal level for me it’s feels like a deeply vulnerable, important question right now. So this isn’t an academic question for me. It’s informed about where I’ve come from when I used to Practise, how I viewed my responsibilities to others, where I ended, where others began…and how I move forward and in what direction. It’s just a really personal, crucial question for me right now.

Yes, it is this entanglement that I hope to avoid as I move forward and learn to love more skillfully.

I see…and Bhante has, “protect”, which is kind of like “guard”. Yet, I feel it really only works on a practical level for me, if I am protecting/guarding the mind, rather than other beings…

Ajahn this is beautiful and is what I hope is being said in this sutta - it feels so much more healing than the other way of looking at it. Thank you for this. This way of looking somehow brings each one of us back to taking responsibility for our own minds, rather than the minds of others - which is where a mother’s love can go, into control and sadness that others aren’t good or happy. But if it’s about guarding a metta mind - everything changes and I feel the practical implications of this view to be more useful and far reaching. Perhaps this is what Bhante also meant by ‘authenticity’? This way of approaching these lines, certainly feel more authentic because they seem more useful.

Again…just so beautiful. Yes, this is another practical implication of viewing these lines as guarding one’s mind rather than guarding all beings.

It occurs to me that I can make the question even more personal and specific, and so, I hope clearer:

When love is in the heart and it’s clear and strong and lovely…and I see other beings harming each other, where do I put my attention? In the past, my dear little metta mind has fallen into a heap of pain upon seeing the ugliness within us all. And I’ve struggled to keep up with the feeling of benevolence to all beings because I was mired in sadness and a feeling of powerlessness.

But…if this little mind, when it feels loving, can turn away - feels like it is given persmission, is allowed to, turn away - from looking at our flaws and can instead just stay with loving - guarding - the love… To me, that feels like a more do-able thing.

And then the questions flow: how do I view our flaws, so my mind feels it can turn away? And how do I specifically do all this, how do I guard the love that is there? What very specific things, views, qualities do I make more important, than a focus on our flaws?

I just feel so much more is opened up and so much depends on how these lines about the mother and child are viewed. Regardless now, I guess, after this act of participation and discussion, I feel, even if the Lord Buddha did intend for us to spread metta to all beings in these particular lines (and elsewhere and often, he does, right?) then, I would still feel, with no disrespect to the Buddha, indeed, with much reverence for him and his teachings, that I have to follow the interpretation that I feel allows me to do this best.

Any comments, clarifications from anyone are gratefully received. :pray:t5: :pray:t5: :pray:t5:
I am just so grateful for this forum and the learning offered here.