Metta, other than metta sutta

the metta sutta isn’t found in the Chinese paralels right so probably not an EBT. so how does the Buddha want us to develop metta? pls help. also how is it part of 8fold path

Is this true? @cdpatton? Considering the Chinese canon has so many parts missing it boggles my mind that people have this idea. I mean, there are no parallels of the Metta sutta within the Pali canon so does that make it any less authentic?

There is a stock passage for the brahmaviharas

mettāsahagatena cetasā ekaṁ disaṁ pharitvā viharati tathā dutiyaṁ. Tathā tatiyaṁ. Tathā catutthaṁ. Iti uddhamadho tiriyaṁ sabbadhi sabbattatāya sabbāvantaṁ lokaṁ mettāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena abyāpajjena pharitvā viharati.

It’s when a monk meditates 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, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.

In MN21 there are more direct instructions:

If that happens, you should train like this:
Tatrāpi te, phagguna, evaṁ sikkhitabbaṁ:
‘My mind will be unaffected. I will blurt out no bad words. I will remain full of compassion, with a heart of love and no secret hate.’
‘na ceva me cittaṁ vipariṇataṁ bhavissati, na ca pāpikaṁ vācaṁ nicchāressāmi, hitānukampī ca viharissāmi mettacitto, na dosantaro’ti.

There are so many other sutta on metta too.


Only a lacking parallell shouldn’t count too much as evidence of lateness, IMO, because we know that the schools organized their suttas differently, so other versions of the metta sutta could have been in parts of other schools’ collections that have been lost.

Maybe there are other signs as well though that make the case stronger, I dunno:)

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We’ve actually had many conversations around this topic before;


what about different analysis on the sutta such as the words used, the rhythms or phrasing or other ways to know if it is early or late?

what are earliest ebt metta teachings and how do they fit in?

I heard that there are other analysis that doubt whether it is early. I wonder though how the Buddha wanted us to practice mettq

Hi @Iwanttonibbana

In this post I gave a link to some discussion of metre (rhythm) by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu

He may have some of the discussion you are asking for.


I haven’t researched it myself, so I can’t be certain that there is no parallel at all. It’s very popular in modern Chinese Buddhism, but they I believe have been translating the Pali Metta Sutta (and singing it in the case of Imee Ooi). It looks like others have decided there isn’t a direct parallel. The problem with the Khuddakanikāya is that we know from descriptions of other sectarian canons that it wasn’t unique to the Theravada school, but we only get mentions of the more important items that were placed in a fifth Agama (like the Jatakas, Itivittaka, etc.). Doesn’t mean KP didn’t have a parallel at some time, but none have survived to my knowledge if it did.

Of course, even if it had a parallel, that wouldn’t mean it wasn’t composed later than the earliest suttas. It’s a thorny issue to me, separating the “oldest” texts from the “old” texts. I tell people I gave up on that. I see passages that are attested all over in various traditions that take forms both brief and long that make me believe they are very old, but the texts themselves are hard to place. They are all EBTs to me until we get into the later Abhidharma and Mahayana texts.


To reiterate what others have said:

  • The fact that it lacks parallels doesn’t mean it isn’t an EBT, it just means that it is part of a scripture that wasn’t translated into Chinese.
  • The language and ideas are all early, and don’t differ from the mainstream of EBTs. Yes, it is phrased as a distinctive poetic composition, but there’s nothing in the content to signify lateness.
  • The final verse, however, is in a different metre and was probably added later.

As for metre, the bulk of it is composed in the very rare gīti (or “old āryā”). What we can say about this metre is that it is a later style than the ancient Vedic metres, but one of the, if not the, oldest of the newer styles that were emerging. The problem is that it is found so rarely that it is difficult to pin down. But as I understand it, it could simply have been an early example of the metre, so we can’t make any conclusions as to its date relative to the other texts in the Suttanipāta.

Note also that of the three poems in this metre in Pali, one is Snp 4.14 in the Atthakavagga, which is generally regarded as one of the oldest parts of the canon. The verses of MN 56, likewise, appear early so far as I can tell, since it does not have any late ideas, and does have a lot of Brahmanical terms.

In my Introduction I said, in reference to the idea that the Suttanipāta may have been composed in the south:

Support, albeit indirect, for this comes from the unusual presence of the gīti (or “old āryā”) style of meter in the Suttanipāta. This is found in only three Jain suttas in Ardhamagadhi and three suttas in the Pali, namely the Mettasutta (Snp 1.8), the Tuvaṭakasutta (Snp 4.14), and the verses of homage in the Upālisutta (MN 56). The Upālisutta is a dialogue with the Jains, and Upāli is using a meter that is most closely associated with the Jains, a detail that attests to the verses’ authenticity.

According to K.R. Norman, when the Vedic peoples arrived in northern India with their chanted verses some centuries before the Buddha, these melded with the more musical poetic singing of the local Dravidian peoples to give rise to new families of poetic styles. This innovation was ongoing during the period of composition of the Pali canon and is responsible for the diverse metrical styles in the Suttanipāta. The gīti is the oldest example of this transition. Given that extant examples stem from either Magadha or Mahārāṣṭra, Norman postulates that the style arose somewhere between Magadha and Mahārāṣṭra. And that would locate it in Avanti.

Let me briefly look at the doctrines, to show why I say they fit with other EBTs.

  • it refers to the sambhavesī, “one to be born”, which is found elsewhere in EBTs, but which sits uneasily against the Theravadin doctrine of instantaneous rebirth.
  • sambhavesī is, however, comparable to such Sanskrit constructions as Rig Veda 1.66.8, yamo ha jāto yamo janitvaṁ (“the twin that is born and the twin about to be born”) and Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, bhūtaṁ caiva bhaviṣyacca jātaṁ ca janiṣyamāṇaṁ (“has become and will be, born and to be born”).
  • the original ending probably spoke simply of the satisfaction of developing samatha meditation, which seems to have been the motivation for adding the final verse on insight.
  • the first third deals with qualities of ethics and character that are commonly found throughout the EBTs.
  • Creatures “firm and frail” (tasathāvare ) is a common Jain idiom (eg. Uttarādhyayana 5.8: tasesu thāvaresu ya , Sūyagaḍa 3.4.20: je keī tasathāvarā , Dasaveyāliya 4.1.42: tasaṃ vā thāvaraṃ vā , Ācāraṅgasūtra 9.1.14 tasa-jīvā ya thāvarattāe ).
  • the final verse has the unusual term jātu (“ever”), which is also characteristic of a verse ascribed to Uddaka Rāmaputta (SN 35.103)
  • Meanwhile, it lacks characteristic doctrines of late canonical literature, such as the emphasis on offering dana to get enlightened, the paramis, the importance of making resolutions (adhitthana), and so on.

To sum up, it has many qualities that are in common with EBTs and other contemporary literature, while lacking qualities in common with later literature.


thank you so much Bhante Sujato

so final verse is this “The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.”?

i will read your response soon when mind is clear :slight_smile:

Yes, although the translation is not good. For a start, the word is sīlavā which means “one who has ethics” or “one who is virtuous”, and has nothing to do with having a “good heart”.

Anyway, here’s my translation:

Avoiding harmful views,
virtuous, accomplished in insight,
with sensual desire dispelled,
they never return to a womb again.


thank you for your translations and the immense service you have done for humanity. I was reflecting on it yesterday with so much joy and inspiration. It is incredible to have the Dhamma available for free and for all and how you provided this for us.

i didn’t mean to copy laste someone elses translation. it was just the first one appearing on google and i was being lazy.

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No worries, just mentioned it because I know that we all care!