Dear Members,David's Book : The Seven Directions of Loving-Kindness
[By Dr. David N. Snyder]
The Seven Directions of Loving-Kindness and other
Reference Prayers and Meditations
In this chapter there are some prayers and meditations provided to supply a reference for daily or
other usage. The first five prayers are quotes from the scriptures or a quote from a leader of each
of the major world religions. The final five prayers / meditations are from the schools of
Buddhism with representative prayers from each of the major schools.
The sixth prayer is a chant or discourse from the Theravada Buddhist tradition paying homage to
the Buddha. The first part is in Pali and then the English version. There is no holy language in
Buddhism, but the Pali language is the nearest form to the Buddha‘s language and studying it
and reciting it can provide a better understanding of the true meaning of the Buddha‘s teachings.
At Buddhist holy sites such as Bodhgaya, India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, you
can see Buddhists from all over the world who may not be able to communicate with each other,
but have the common Pali language which allows them to pray together.
The seventh prayer is a chant or discourse from the Theravada Buddhist tradition on the
important sayings of the Buddha on mindfulness. This discourse on the Four Foundations of
Mindfulness is very lengthy and has been paraphrased for brevity. For the complete text, see
Soma Thera‘s book on this discourse listed in the bibliography. In the Theravada tradition this
discourse is recited at special occasions to assist the mindfulness of everyone who hears it.
The eighth prayer is the Heart Sutra from the zen Buddhist tradition. This is also recited to assist
one‘s concentration, mindfulness, and insight. The Heart Sutra is written in dualistic,
seemingly contradictory terms in an attempt to get the practitioner to go beyond these
The ninth prayer is the vajrayana (Tibetan) prayer for the dead and dying. The Tibetan tradition
has a rich history of concern and preparation for the dead and dying.
The tenth and final prayer presented here is the Theravada loving-kindness meditation / prayer,
known as metta, in Pali. In the loving-kindness prayer we are to extend loving-kindness to all
beings, even our enemies. Many people find this difficult, however, as the Venerable Bhante
Henepola Gunaratana states, if we wish our enemies to be free of the things (such as meanness)
we do not like them for, then they will no longer be our enemies or problems to us. (Gunaratana,
1993) The seven directions for sending metta are: you, parents, teachers, relatives, friends,
enemies, and then all beings in the universe.
The Homage to the Buddha and loving-kindness (known in Pali as metta) meditations are recited
daily at Theravada Buddhist temples. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Theravada) and the
Heart Sutra (found in zen centers and also Kapleau, 1978) are recited to the sick, dying, and the
dead to assist in their mindfulness and also on other occasions to assist the mindfulness of the
individual reciting. The Tibetan prayer can be found at vajrayana Buddhist temples and also in
The Tibetan Book of the Dead. (Fremantle and Trungpa, 1992)
Thus, presented here are ten prayers / meditations which we can refer back to for regular usage.
The ten prayers represent all of the world‘s great religions and you can see the similarities
running through all of them. The science of prayer can be seen by the fact that numerous studies
have shown that prayer is very helpful. For example, studies have shown that when sick people
are prayed for there are significantly better results from a group that was not prayed for. In some
studies this has been demonstrated true even when a sick group did not even know that they were
being prayed for. (Kornfield, also often found in several health and spiritual magazines) This
power of prayer can be from the power of our own minds or consciousnesses and / or from
Divine beings. The point is that it works and has scientific evidence to support it.
*****************to be continued*************