Herein, this Lovingkindness Sutta was spoken
by the Blessed One, not by disciples, etc.; and that was when
bhikkhus, who had been harassed by deities on the slopes of the
Himalayas, had gone to the Blessed One's presence; and it was
uttered then at Savatthi as a meditation subject with the purpose
of [providing] a safeguard for those bhikkhus. That, it should
be understood in brief to start with, is how the clarification
of the source illustrates those questions.
Prior to the the
rainy season, bikkhus from many countries gathered
with the Buddha.
But in detail it should be understood as follows. On one occasion
the Blessed One was living at Savatthi when the [time for the]
taking up of the Residence for the Rains was near at hand.
Now on that occassion many bhikkhus from various countries,
who were desirous of taking up residence for the rains in various
places after taking a meditation subject in the in the Blessed
One's presence, had approached the Blessed One.
expounded meditation subjects suitable for the eighty-four
thousand shades of temperament .
And there he
had expounded meditation subjects suitable for the eighty-four
thousand shades of temperament in the following way, that
is to say: for those of lustful temperament he showed Loathesomeness
as a meditation subject of the eleven kinds as with consciousness
and without consciousness; for those of hating temperament
the fourfold meditation subject beginning with Lovingkindness;
for those of deluded temperament, the meditation subject
consisting in Mindfulness of Death, etc.; for those of speculative
thinking temperament, Mindfulness of Breathing, the Earth Universal,
etc.; for those of faithful temperament, the subjects consisting
of the Recollections of the Enlightened One, etc.; and for
those of intelligent (discovering) temperament, the Definition
of the Four Elements.
monks found a most desirable spot for in the foothills
of the Himalayas for the three-month rains retreat.
So when [a party of] five hundred bhikkhus had learnt each
a meditation subject in the Blessed One's presence and were
seeking a suitable resting place with a village as alms resort,
eventually in the outland country they came in sight of a mountain
forming part of the Himalaya range. While its surface glittered
like blue quartz crystal, it was embellished with a cool dense
shady green forest grove and a stretch of ground strewn with
sand resembling a net or a silver sheet; and it was furnished
with a clean spring of grateful cool water. Now when the bhikkhus
had spent one night there and the dawn was drawing near, they
attended to the needs of the physical frame and then went for
alms into a town not far distant. The town was connected with
a thousand clans and constructed as a community-residence,
and the people there had faith and confidence.
The local villagers
were overjoyed. They fed the monks and begged them
to spend their retreat there.
Since it is hard in the outlands
to get a sight of those gone forth into homelessness, they
were happy and joyful when they saw the bhikkhus, and they
fed them and begged them to stay on for the three months (of
obligatory residence during the Rains) and they had five hundred
work-rooms built and furnished with all such necessities as
beds, chairs, pots for drinking and washing water, and so on.
On the following day the bhikkus went into another town for
alms, and there too the people served them in like manner and
begged them to stay on for the Rains. The bhikkhus consented
subject to there being no obstacle. The re-entered the wood,
where they [arranged to keep up] energy night and day by having
a wood-block struck for the watches, and abiding much in reasoned
attention, they went to the roots of trees and sat down.
that lived in the trees under which the monks were
meditating didn't want to leave their homes in the
The tree deities were discouraged by the virtuous bhikkhus’ courage,
and they came down from their own mansions and wandered back
and forth with their children, just as when a block of houses
is commandeered from villagers by kings or royal ministers
and the human inhabitants of the houses who have had to evacuate
them and go to live elsewhere watch from a distance, [wondering]
' When are the venerable ones going way', so too the deities
came down from their own mansions and wandered back and forth,
watching from a distance wondering 'When are the venerable
ones going away?'. Next they thought thus ' Bhikkhus who enter
upon the first period for residence for the Rains will certainly
stay on for three months; but we cannot live with our children
away from home for so long. Let us show the bhikkhus some object
that will scare them away '.
decided to frighten the monks away.
So in the night when it was the
bhilkkhus' time to give effect to the monks’ True Ideal,
they created terrifying forms of spirits, and standing in front
of each of them, they made dreadful noise. When the bhikkhus
saw the forms and heard the noise, their hearts quailed, they
grew pale and jaundiced and they could no longer unify their
cognizance. When they were harassed again and again by this
fear, with their cognizance ununified they forgot their mindfulness.
As soon as they had forgotten their mindfulness, the deities
harassed them with bad smells. Their brains to seemed
to smother in the stench, with feelings of oppression in their
heads. However, they did not mention their hauntings to each
Then one day when all had assembled at the time for waiting
on the Senior Elder of the Community, he asked them "Friends,
when you first entered into this wood, the color of your skin
was quite pure and bright for some days and your faculties
were clear; but now you are lean and pale and jaundiced. What
does not suit you here?" Then a bhikkhu said 'Venerable sir,
at night I saw and heard such-and-such a dreadful object and
I smelt such-and-such a smell, and so my mind was not concentrated",
and all told in the same way what hadhappened. The Senior
Elder said "Friends. two kinds of entry upon Residence for
the Rains have been described by the Blessed One, and this
resting place does not suit us. So let us go to the Blessed
One and ask about another resting place that will suit us."
distracted by the deities, the monks returned to
the Buddha, seeking a better place to retreat.
The others agreed, and so they all put their resting places
in order, and then they took their bowls and [outer] robes
and without even telling anyone--for they had no attachments
among the clans—they set out to wander by stages to Savatthi.
They went to the Blessed One. When he saw them, he said ' Bhikkhus,
a training rule has been made known by me saying that no one
is to go wandering during the Rains. Why are you wandering?
them the Metta Sutta and urged them to return to
the forest, reciting the Metta Sutta as a safeguard
and as a subject of meditation.
They told the Blessed One all that had happened. The Blessed
One adverted to the whole of Jambudipa, but he saw not so much
as even a place for a four-legged chair that might
suit them as a resting place. Then he told them "Bhikkhus,
there is no other resting place that will suit you. It is only
by living there that you might reach the exhaustion of taints.
So go and occupy that same resting place. But if you want to
be free from fear of deities, then learn this safeguard; for
this will be both a safeguard and a meditation subject for
he uttered this Sutta.
returning monks reciting the sutta, the tree deities
welcomed the bhikkhus to the forest and keeping them