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“Whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.”
~ The Buddha
It 27

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Recommended Reading

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya

Translated by Venerable Bhikkhu Nyanamoli and Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi

Wisdom Publications, Boston/London, 1995.
The Suttas are the primary resource for a practitioner to refer to.  This collection contains 152 Suttas and an invaluable introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi.  A wealth of footnotes makes the text very accessible to the interested reader.