About “Karaṇīyamettā Sutta”

This is a sound meditation for as many voices as possible.  This was written as a meditation on kindness around the time of Pauline Oliveros’ passing.

“The audible attempt at a harmonious consensus among distinct individual voices is one of the most compelling musical experiences in existence. is is common in vocal chanting and ritual, and is a primary characteristic of nearly all religions where singing or chanting scripture together is part of the practice. From a performative perspective, the process of joining to sing something as ‘together’ as possible can be both musically rewarding and spiritual. From the perspective of the audience, the compassion necessary to stand in close proximity and perform something as one voice is tangible. It is a strong metaphor and a beautiful effect. Moreover, in the current climate of issues of anger, poverty, homelessness, crisis, and community-building, this ancient Puri chant on loving kindness combined with the musical process of expressing togetherness through song will hopefully leave the listener with a profound message and a beautiful peaceful feeling.”


This work was Commssioned/Workshopped/Performed by Ghost Ensemble as part of the Indexical Ghost Ensemble New Commissions Project. It is based on the Theravada Buddhist chant Karaṇīyamettā Sutta. In 40 phrases, this chant describes the qualities of loving kindness, outlines how to develop it in the self, and ends with a wish for all beings to be at ease.

Wishing: In gladness and in safety: May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be[…] May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will, Wish harm upon another.

So with a boundless heart, Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.*

We sing together to radiate kindness in every direction.

*English translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha.

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