As a mother
would risk her life to protect her child, her only child,
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Whether standing, walking, sitting,
or lying down, as long as one is alert,
With the beginning of the 7th verse, the verbs shift from imperative to optative (expressing a wish or hope). This suggests a moving away from direct practice toward a more discursive view of the metta practice.
The shift in tone can be taken as more of a commentary on the practice, offering encouragement and further guidance on how one should hold oneself while practicing the meditation.
The lovely image of a mother caring for her child is introduced, along with the classical image of “sending” metta in all direction like a trumpeter might do. We also hear a direct confirmation of the label this practice gets as “divine abiding” (brahma vihara).
|Note: various kinds of motherly love are also used to describe the nuances of the other three brahma viharas or divine qualities of heart: compassion (like a mother for a sick child), appreciative joy (like a mother for a child going off into the world), and equanimity (like a mother hearing of the affairs of a grown child).|
Notice that in the 7th verse the Buddha stirs us to develop a boundless mind to all beings, while in the 8th verse the boundless mind is directed to the entire world.
While the 9th verse continues the theme of expanding the practice of loving kindness, the emphasis is upon the comportment of the meditator. rather than describing the destination or location of the love heralded in all directions.
The last two lines of the 9th verse bring this theme to to a simple conclusion, establishing the crucial link between loving kindness (metta) meditation and insight (vipassana) meditation, with its classical emphasis upon mindfulness.