Protective Meditations

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Protective Meditations

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:46 pm

Recently on DW, someone mentioned the Theravadan practice of "Four Protective Meditations" which they do prior to settling down for their main sit. These are, I think,
1) The Buddha

2) Compassion

3) The Repulsiveness of the Body

4) Death.

Can any kind person tell me more about these? Are they exclusively Theravadan? Where do they come from? Canonical support or mentions? And, of course, any practical hints...
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Re: Protective Meditations

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:05 pm

They are individually found in the Nikayas, but nowhere there collected as a set of four. There was a Tricycle article about them a while ago, and Bhikkhu Bodhi did a talk on each one.

I don't think Tricycle is free; I can't see most of it, anyway, but there it is for what it's worth.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Protective Meditations

Postby Sam Vara » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:33 am

Many thanks Dave.
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Re: Protective Meditations

Postby Ananda26 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:14 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Recently on DW, someone mentioned the Theravadan practice of "Four Protective Meditations" which they do prior to settling down for their main sit. These are, I think,
1) The Buddha

2) Compassion

3) The Repulsiveness of the Body

4) Death.

Can any kind person tell me more about these? Are they exclusively Theravadan? Where do they come from? Canonical support or mentions? And, of course, any practical hints...


There is collection of Protective Verses which includes Long Discourse #32, The Atanatiya Protective Verses.
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Re: Protective Meditations

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:22 pm

Hi Sam Vara
The second one is Metta :)
I think they are called (individually) protections in some suttas but not set up as a group like the Brahmavihara's.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Protective Meditations

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:23 pm

The Four Protections are mentions in Practical Insight Meditatiton
  1. The Qualities of the Buddha (Buddhānussati), to overcome fear and give confidence
  2. Loving-kindness (mettabhāvanā) to overcome anger.
  3. The loathsome aspects of the body (asubha) to overcome lust and infatuation
  4. Recollection of Death (maranussanti) to overcome laziness and heedlessness

Whenever the mind gets out of balance, one can use the appropriate protection to bring it back to equanimity, before resuming the general and comprehensive technique of establishing mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna).
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