Hi. I remember reading a long time ago a sutta where I believe someone asks “how do you radiate metta” and the Buddha says just like you would meet a friend you haven’t met in a long time and wish them well. Does anybody know which sutta this is?
I remember Ajahn Brahm saying this simile, however, never seen it in a sutta yet. Wonder if someone else can find it
Here’s a sutta about metta that kinda explains the concept by example:
All sentient beings, all living things,
all creatures, every one:
may they see only nice things,
may bad not come to anyone. -AN 4.67
To clarify, here’s why I remembered Ajahn Brahm when you mentioned recollecting a friend in metta practice :
The detailed instructions for radiating metta are not in the suttas but in the Vishuddhimagga. The introductory instruction:
“4. For loving-kindness should not be developed at first towards the following
four kinds of persons: an antipathetic person, a very dearly loved friend, a neutral
person, and a hostile person. Also it should not be developed specifically (see
§49) towards the opposite sex, or towards a dead person.”—Vism IX, 4
Ven. Analayo found that practising radiation to different types of people did not work for him and he just developed metta internally.
How about sn46.54?
While it is made clear in this sutta that the practice of radiating metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha is not uniquely Buddhist, and not sufficient according to the Buddha, it does contain the formula for radiating the brahma viharas.
“Reverends, the ascetic Gotama teaches his disciples like this:
‘Come, mendicants, give up these five hindrances, corruptions of the heart that weaken wisdom, and meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.
(And Ven Anālayo uses these directions in his guided BV meditations.)