Maitri is one of the four virtues of Buddhism, collectively known as Brahmaviharas or ‘the immeasurables’. The term maitri can be translated from Sanskrit as “loving-kindness,” “benevolence,” or “friendliness.” The concept is central to the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation and is also referenced in ancient Hindu and Jain scriptures.
Maitri was recently popularised by Buddhist teacher, author and nun, Pema Chodron. In her book How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, she describes maitri as “unconditional friendliness,” not only towards others but towards oneself.
As such, it is an essential facet of mindfulness meditation, enabling the practitioner to cultivate a non-judgmental, non-critical and non-goal oriented attitude towards the practice.
Maitri is also known as metta in Pali.