Metta (loving-kindness) is the ninth parami, or emanation of an awake being. What we call “love” is usually based on desire and attachment. This “love” is unreliable because it is usually based on grasping, conditioned on what we get from the “beloved.” At first, the attraction and even the grasping may feel exciting, obscuring the underlying suffering of grasping.
There is another kind of love, called metta. The Pali word “metta” can be translated as “friendliness” or “gentleness,” like a gentle rain that falls indiscriminately upon everything. It is an attitude of universal, unconditional, infinite love—the basic wish for all beings, without exception, to be safe, peaceful, healthy and at ease—without bargaining or condition. The beauty and purity of it is non-discrimination—no one, including ourselves, is excluded from the domain of our metta. This attitude is a wonderful refuge for us, based on the wisdom of the complete interconnectedness of all beings. The Buddha first taught it as an antidote to fear. For the beloved is not a stranger to be feared and fear is antithetical to the heart of love. It is a steady sense of patient, fully inclusive relatedness, connection, warmth, radiance and abundant generosity of heart, independent of conditions.
Metta may seem pollyanna-ish or out of reach. But that steady sense of patient, all embracing connection, can be successfully cultivated. If it were not possible, the Buddha would not have taught it. Can you imagine a world in which we encounter everyone with the attitude of metta? Will you start now?