"For all its ecstatic nature,
another human drive. If we
avoid it just because it is
more difficult to integrate
than anger or fear, then we
are simply saying that when
the chips are down we
cannot follow our own
practice. "This is dishonest
and unhealthy." The Mind of
Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist
Ethics (1984), Robert Aiten
Metta -- loving kindness -- is one of the "Four Immeasurables" or Four Divine States of Buddhism. These are mental states or qualities cultivated by Buddhist practice. The other three are compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
Metta is sometimes translated as "compassion," but the Pali language makes a distinction between metta and karuna, which also means "compassion." Karuna connotes active sympathy and gentle affection, a willingness to bear the pain of others, and possibly pity.
Metta is a benevolence toward all beings that is free of selfish attachment. By practicing metta, a Buddhist overcomes anger, ill will, hatred and aversion.
The Metta Sutta is sometimes called the Karaniya Metta Sutta. It is from a part of the Tripitaka called the Sutta Nipata, which is in the Sutra-pitaka, or Sutra Basket, of the Tripitaka. Monks of the Theravada school frequently chant the Metta Sutta.
The Chenrezig Project has an attractive PDF presentation of the sutta to print out and display.
The Theravada website Access to Insight provides a number of translations, including this one by noted scholar Thanissaro Bhikkhu. This is just a small part:
As a mother would risk her life