Despite spending most of my formal meditation trying to cultivate it I have to admit that I’m still unsure about what metta is. I recently re-read an article by Ven. Thanissaro wherein he states that metta is not a feeling. Rather he claims it is an attitude of goodwill.
The venerable states that this misunderstanding arose as a result of a bad translation of the Karaniya Metta Sutta. There is one passage in particular that is often taken to mean that one should love all beings in the same way that a mother would het only child. The Ajahn states that this really refers to protecting one’s state of mind. I trust the venerable very much but it seems to me there’s something lacking. How to resolve the difficulties?
There are other bhikkhus and bhikkhus I respect who teach metta differently but I suppose I won’t really be satisfied until I find a more definitive answer in the Canon. Until then, there’s no real harm in continuing as I have as long as I recall not to be too upset at the lack of apparent progress.