Universal love in Buddhism by Bodhiratna Bhikkhu

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Universal Love in Buddhism

Utsha Barua Joy

Humanity is the most favorable theme of Buddhism. A man can not be perfect without humanity. The Lord Buddha advised his disciples to manifest one’s humanity. A human being can practice universal love towards others. It is stated that there are two kinds of human beings. One with human feelings and other is animal in nature. The beast has no specialty of human, because the animalist of the beast is inherent. It cannot give up or try to give up the beastliness and it is quite impossible too. The beast is always the beast. But a man can attain humanity or can acquire the good qualities by virtue of application.

Greed (Love), enmity (Desa) and ignorance (Moha) are instincts of the lining beings. When a man is able to control these instincts, then he is a man and when he is able to attain a victory, he is a superman. It is very difficult to control or win these. So the wise men compared these-fold tendency with the burning fire.1

We find in the gradual development of history, the powerful persons are generally influenced by avidity, hatred and mental obsession and then attacked, strained and distressed the weak, then absorbed one’s all. This persecution would never be stopped, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly it is going on. In the development of civilization, we observe that a good number of wars happened and thousands of human beings are lost. It is very regretful

to state at the dying moment of civility two world-wars happened and a countless human lives were lost for ever. The atomic atrocity in Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the sad consequences of the human beings still incite hatred to the pensive mind. Even after this, the power broker persons have no cessation of their blood-thirstiness. As a result, mutual fighting, cruelty etc. are always happening among the nations, community, caste or castes,

class or classes and persons. The developed countries spend billion of dollars to produce the weapons for destructions. These atomic arms would be able to destroy the human civilization at any moment. If they spend half the money for the welfare of the poor, the earth will be a heaven in a short time. Generally common man always desires peace. They wish to live is a healthy world with peaceful mind. So the peace-loving people of the world make a good

number of organizations in different countries and they converse how the world-peace would be permanent among the human beings by seminars, conferences, meetings etc. It is very shocking to mention that the developed states of the world although advocate for peace, their production of the weapon of destructions are not stopped. If this is so, how the world-peace would be possible! That’s why the Lord Buddha prohibited the armstrade.2 He visualized

the harassment of humanity. So, the Lord Buddha cordially summoned to perceive the all worldly beast as self-like. He says, “All tremble before the wand of punishment. All are afraid of death and life is dear to all. By comparison of oneself with other one should neither kill, nor be the cause of killings.”3 In fact, peace will be investigated in one’s self and would be understood by themselves. It is called self-consciousness. A man can not practice non-violence, who has no self-consciousness. That is, he must realize all the worldly beings with himself. Then he would be able to control greed, enmity and illusion by dint of practice.

Avidity and ignorance give birth to enmity and from the enmity come out cruelty. From the cruelty arises conflict and then people are engaged each other in war. As a result, a countless number of human beings are lost, humanities are trampled. To get release from this horrible condition Buddhism cordially summoned to abandon the cruelty and to follow the non-violence by practicing universal love. It is mentionable that Buddha’s universal love is not limited, it is all over the universe. Buddhism says, Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so let him cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings, whatsoever living beings there be, feeble or strong, long stout or medium, short for or near, those who are born and those who are to be born may all beings, without expectation be happy minded.4

This self consciousness is called universal love or universal friendship. At first, the man heard the celestial message. Once, India was able of application of friendship all over the world by dine of Buddha’s invitation and the universal banner of victory of Buddhism was flown in the whole world. It is easy to conquer a kingdom but it is more than hard to control one’s heart. So, it is stated that Lord Buddha conquered the world but Alexander did not.5 Because, Alexander won the kingdom by physical strength but Buddha conquered the world without any bloodshed or arms, only by non-violence, universal love and amity. So we find the victory of Alexander was destroyed in course of time and the empire of friendship of Lord Buddha still is brightly flaming in human mind.6

The Maurya Emperor Asoaka was very cruel in one time in early life. He killed thousands of human beings in Kalinga war. Later on, he came in touch with Buddhism, then gave up the cruelty and embraced Buddhism, followed non-violence, universal love and friendship. He loved his citizens as his own child. Even today, his good deeds inspire us and we deeply feel proud of him.7 Because he was able to build up a great relationship all over the world. So, he is still honored as the greatest emperor in the history.

The present world is encumbered with modern weapons of destruction, any time it would be trampled and the human civilization would be destroyed in a moment. As it as, humanity is defeated by animosity. There are cruelty, jealousy, communal feelings etc. existing world-wide. On account of this, there are many battles, wars and communal riots causing the loss of countless human beings.

Now, there are many peace organizations formed in the world and many peace conferences are held in different countries with different religious faiths. But actual result is Zero. Peace will not be established until the self-consciousness is revealed in the human mind. So, Buddhism says to practice non-violence and to respect world alliance or universal brotherhood. In Pali term it is called ‘Metta’. It means to soften one’s heart, or the state of a true friend. It is defined as the sincere wish for the welfare and genuine happiness of all living beings without exception. It is also explained as the friendly disposition, for a genuine friend sincerely wishes for the welfare of his friend.8

It is sure that only by practicing universal love or world alliance world peace can be ensured. A few indications are given below to practice the meditation on world alliance or loving kindness. Firstly, Metta should be practiced towards oneself and should be wish for his own happiness and peacefulness9. He should practice: May I be happy, free from sufferings, danger and enemy.10 He should always practice it is his daily life. In course of time, gradually his mind and body would be filled with loving kindness. When he is full of peace and free from hateful thoughts it is easy for him to

disseminate joy towards all his near and dear ones individually and collectively, wishing them peace and happiness and freedom from all kinds of sufferings, disease, dangers and enemies.11 At first he should understand what is universal friendship and then he can practice it towards others. He should practice: My teacher, parents, relatives, friends, efficacious persons, neutrals be happy, live in happiness and free from suffering, disease, danger and enemy12; just as he wishes for the peace and happiness of himself and of relatives, even so he sincerely wishes for the peace and happiness of those who are neutral to him. Then he should radiate his universal love in the same way towards those who are hostile to him.

Thereafter, he should gradually stretch out his universal love towards all living beings, irrespective of caste, race, color, sex, animals, until he has identified himself with all, making no distinction whatsoever. He merges himself in the whole universe one with all. He is no more dominated by egoistic feelings. He transcends all forms of separation.13 His universal love will not be a great success until he loves all the lining beings in the world. The Buddha cited an example about the nature of universal love. He stated, “O monks if same thieves or barbers would be seen piercing limbs of a man with a both sided teeth of a sharp saw and if he is actuated by malicious, actually he is not follower of my precept, because he has got detached from the model of non-violence and universal love.”14

Therefore, at first we should develop self-consciousness, peace and harmony is our individual mind, then world peace or universal brotherhood is be established.


1. Dhammapada, 15/6

2. Five kinds of trades are forbidden in Buddhism; such as, arms, beast, meat, poison and drug.

3. Dhammapada; 10/1,2.

4. Khuddaka Nikayam, Metta Sutta.

5. Goswami, Banabihari; Itihaser gatipathe Buddhavani, jagajjyoti, (ed. H.B Chowdhury) 1995, P. 47.

6. Tagore, Rabindranath; Rabindra Racanavali Vol. IX, P. 501.

7. Barua, Sudhanshu Bimal; Rabindranath O Bauddha Sanskritim Calcutta, 1395, P. 92.

8. Tagore, Rabindranath; Utsaber Din (1905), Dharma.

9. Shantideva, Bodhicaryavatar; 8195

Sada mama Paresam Catulyameva, Sukham Priya,

Todatmanah ko viseso yenatraiva sukhodyamah.

10. Metta Bhavana ; Aham abera homi, abyapajjo homi, anigho homi, Sukhi attanam pariharami.

11. Mahathera, Narada, The Buddha and His Teachinges, P. 371.

12. Metta Bhavana.

13. Mahathera, Narada ; ibid, P. 372.

14. Mahasthavir, Dharmadhar, Buddher Dharma O Darsan, Calcutta, 1985, P. 144.

[ Ven. Utsha Barua Joy M.Phil. Researcher, National University Of Bangladesh. Monk of International Buddhist Monastery, Merul Badda, Dhaka-1212 E-mail:- utshabarua20@gmail.com]