The words of loving-friendliness, which we recite every morning and evening at the Metta Vihara, are some selected discourses from the teachings of the Buddha. They are in Pli language and called paritta (protective words of loving friendliness). Reciting paritta with utmost care and great respect is a long held tradition in the Theravda Buddhist culture.
According to the traditional commentaries, these protective words of loving-friendliness are said to have two-fold power. They are the powers of loving-friendliness and truth.
Buddhism teaches that loving-friendliness (metta) and gratefulness (kataut) to be the purest and the most powerful thoughts to be born in human mind. The Buddha himself is said to have lived with a heart of loving-friendliness throughout the life. Thereby, all the words and deeds of the Buddha were governed by His heart of great loving-friendliness. The purpose and the contents of all the teachings of the Buddha were nothing but loving-friendliness.
The stras we recite daily, namely, the Mangalasutta, the Ratanasutta and the Karayamettasutta contain mainly the Buddha’s teachings of loving-friendliness and the Buddhist path towards purity.
The other power of the paritta is the power of the truth (sacca). The truth in early Buddhism is nothing but seeing things as they are. The Buddha – the Enlightened Being, having purified himself from all defilements, and accordingly having seen the things as they are, preached the truthful, trustworthy and pure dhamma leading to happiness, purification and liberation. The paritta contains such powerful true words of the Buddha.
It is trusted that by reciting the paritta with respect and proper attention to the meaning, it generates incalculable merits that empower human beings in the journey to happiness, purification and liberation.
We are also able to transfer that merit to gods who protect us and to our dead and departed ones who loved and nurtured us.