With metta meaning?

Noticed people using term “with metta” what’s the meaning?

With love. Metta means love.

Does metta mean love?

"The Pali word metta is a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana)

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“Loving kindness” is a good translation of “metta”.
Though using it regularly to sign off communications on the Internet can appear superficial.

Metta is happy mind, happy heart, very wholesome feeling. Most people use it like “good morning” in buddhist communities which is not good to be honest because it becomes habit rather of practice or real feeling. Now metta is like “best regards” even if they do not have metta in mind they still write “with metta”. I would be vary of using that if you are not feeling that way to yourself and people.


Yes, I think the habitual use of “metta” can trivialise and devalue what is really a profound quality.


Or it can trigger the discovery, investigation, and development of actual metta :wink:


I think “loving kindness” is a poor translation, it replaces one five letter Pali word with two English words that are never used together in idiomatic English except in Buddhist circles.

Even as a mother would protect with her life her child, her only child, so too for all creatures unfold a boundless heart.

With love for the whole world, unfold a boundless heart. Above, below, all round, unconstricted, without enemy or foe.

A mother loves her child, she doesn’t “loving-kindness” her child.

So much of Buddhism in English is still wedded to Victorian era translations that sound completely ridiculous today IMO, it’s a shame, because filling one’s heart with love for all beings is so much less complicated and alienating than filling one’s heart with “loving-kindness” for all “sentient” beings.

with Metta.

Yes, English translation most of the time makes no sense sadly because of the lack of accomplished people who can actually explain Dhamma as it is

It can’t, nobody goes deeper than habits like with “good day”, they wishing it even without sincere heart so it will not work that way. Only use of proper metta with proper feeling/timing will spark interest because one will experience very happy jhanic feelings

I guess “with metta” is a Buddhist letter or email sign off found predominantly in the English speaking Buddhist world. I understand that it wasn’t so common to see this particular sign off in the past, it is a recent thing? I have vague memories of seeing more variety in the early 2000s, but “with metta” does seem to be gaining ground as a standard English signoff among competitors like “yours in the dhamma”, “sukhi hotu” etc?

There are always also groups that speak English without feeling a need to participate in the emerging norms of English speaking Buddhist cultures, too.

As a result of being a new custom & having possible connotations of closeness, this sign off may not be perceived as formal enough by monastics in traditional Buddhist countries, so good to keep in mind that it is not universally appropriate in an international context, especially junior-> senior. (Anyone who wants to send me a letter with metta is nonetheless welcome to do so any time!)

In most Buddhist countries, Buddhism has influenced greetings, i.e. Myanmar mingalabar (may you have the blessings in the mangala sutta) or Sinhalese theruwan saranai (through the power of the triple gem).

This is a natural result of the influence of Buddhism on culture, I personally love to use expressions that show Buddhist faith (where contextually appropriate). I was always told that it is good custom to say “anicca vata sankhara” on hearing of a death, for example (although in English I normally tell people I’m sorry to hear the news, which sounds funny in a Buddhist context). How sincerely it is meant is up to the individual.


Do you know who first translated metta as loving-kindness? I ask because loving-kindness is the English translation of the Hebrew term chesed. If the first person to also use the same unusual term was Jewish, it might be simply that they translated metta to a term they were already comfortable with. I’m aware that Sharon Salzberg, who is Jewish, popularized “loving-kindness” as a translation for metta, and she likely chose it because of its familiarity, but I don’t know if she was the first to use it.

It’s not a mundane feeling and should not be viewed like this, otherwise, if you get a puppy and because of “feeling good” towards the puppy you would attain Brahma rebirth. I think that’s what confuses people a lot that metta is like jhana or gateway for jhana.

I don’t agree, and I think “loving kindness” is actually a good description of what metta involves. “Love” is such a loaded word, often associated with romantic love, which is obviously not an appropriate meaning for metta. The example of maternal love gives the sense of metta being a powerful feeling, but clearly we are not biologically related to the vast majority of the people we encounter. On the other hand, being kind to people is the most obvious practical expression of metta.

Love is fine.

There are many different kinds of love, including friendly love, religious love, etc. In the West, the classical definition of love by philosophers and classical authors includes all these different meanings, such as philia, eros and so on and these are all generally translated by the same word and it is context which allows us to know what is meant. When we read a sentence, we understand the meaning by the context. Thus, when reading the bible and Jesus says something about love, we understand he does not mean romantic love. In the context of reading the suttas, the same happens. So love is a perfectly fine translation, and less unwieldy than “loving-kindness”.

There’s an interesting argument that this section of the Metta Sutta refers not to the level of love that a mother shows to her child, but to the level of dedication in that practice. In other words, Metta may or may not be the love that a mother shows a child, but that the dedication of the mother is the focus of this sentence.

What’s good about Pali studies is that we are taking Pali words, and trying to adapt them to the English (or other) language. Like the word dukkha, metta may involve a spectrum of definitions…one term or definition may in and of itself be limiting.

I also like the closing salutation of “with Metta” as it can be a reflection of that lovingkindness to a beloved, friend, or kalyana mitta, and it can also be an expression of goodwill. There is always a risk of any salutation becoming cliche, but used correctly it’s often a nice way to conclude a heartfelt meeting or communication.


Other, possibly better, translations of ‘mettā’ are ‘benevolence’ or ‘good-will’.
‘Love’ is such a vague English word, I love chocolate, Paris in the spring time, my wife, etc.
Perhaps ‘mettā’ as a salutation is a fancy western buddhist way of saying, ‘best wishes’ , or ‘all the best’. It seems to signify membership in a group.


We can see the special and probably rare quality of mettā spoken about by the Buddha in the Aṅguttara 1’s, ‘finger-snap’ section:

Accha­rāsa­ṅ­ghāta­matta­mpi ce, bhikkhave, bhikkhu mettācittaṃ bhāveti; ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave: bhikkhu arittajjhāno viharati satthusāsanakaro ovādapatikaro, amoghaṃ raṭṭhapiṇḍaṃ bhuñjati’. Ko pana vādo ye naṃ bahulīkarontī”ti.

Bhikkhus, if for even the time of a fingersnap a bhikkhu develops a mettā-mind, this is called a bhikkhu not without jhāna, who acts on the teacher’s teaching, responds to his advice, and does not eat the alms food of the nation in vain. How much more, then, those who make much of it!

(also āsevati and manasi karoti).


Maybe something like good-heartedness?

Yes, these things are very culturally dependent. My experience with Thai and Chinese people is that “sorry” in that context can come across as very odd: [What are you apologising for? The death is not your fault…]. The strangeness of that particular English idiom is lost on native English speakers…