Difficulty with metta bhavana

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

Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Invincible_Summer » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:49 am

What is the difference between practicing metta meditation by directing it towards specific people (friends, neutral, people we don't like), versus cultivating the feeling of metta and directing it more generally (i.e. in various directions)? The metta sutta doesn't seem to even mention directing metta at all.

I've only really tried the former method (directing it towards specific people) because that's what seems to be the most common way to teach it. However, I find it very difficult to generate a feeling of loving-kindness once I move past people I am positive towards. I can visualize the people, and I can recite the words in my head ("May they be happy...") but I don't feel like I'm actually developing any metta.

I haven't found a guided meditation for practicing metta bhavana in the second (not directing at specific people) method, and have found zilch in terms of a sutta-based metta bhavana practice.


Can someone help me out here? I feel that I'm often quite critical and judgmental and think I would benefit from this practice.
Invincible_Summer
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:26 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby santa100 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:32 am

Vism. IX (starting on page 291) gives very detailed instructions on the Brahmaviharas..
santa100
 
Posts: 1499
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby cooran » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:56 am

This thread has the talks given by Bhante Sujato at a Metta Bhavana Retreat:

Ajahn Sujato - Unconditional Love

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2810

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7359
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Ben » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:38 am

Invincible_Summer wrote:What is the difference between practicing metta meditation by directing it towards specific people (friends, neutral, people we don't like), versus cultivating the feeling of metta and directing it more generally (i.e. in various directions)? The metta sutta doesn't seem to even mention directing metta at all.

I've only really tried the former method (directing it towards specific people) because that's what seems to be the most common way to teach it. However, I find it very difficult to generate a feeling of loving-kindness once I move past people I am positive towards. I can visualize the people, and I can recite the words in my head ("May they be happy...") but I don't feel like I'm actually developing any metta.

I haven't found a guided meditation for practicing metta bhavana in the second (not directing at specific people) method, and have found zilch in terms of a sutta-based metta bhavana practice.


Can someone help me out here? I feel that I'm often quite critical and judgmental and think I would benefit from this practice.


Try to think of meditation as training. Just like an athlete trains his or her body to compete at an elite level, so we too, as meditators train our mind to develop jhana and Vipassana.
Being able to generate metta towards those whom you do not know or do not like is difficult but by regular effort, it is achievable. Eventually,everyone and all beings will become an object for your metta bhavana.
In the meantime, just continue to practice the best you can.
Kind regards,
Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief

Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15935
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:22 am

Invincible_Summer wrote:Can someone help me out here? I feel that I'm often quite critical and judgmental and think I would benefit from this practice.


If you're practising with others then you could try broadening metta to all the people in the room. Alternatively imagine the people in your local area, like neighbours or people you see regularly in the area.
Also be kind to yourself in recognising that metta takes time to develop. Initially the practice might just involve thinking about other people and the challenges they face, or perhaps a greater acceptance of them.
Well, oi dunno...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Invincible_Summer » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:49 pm

Thanks for the replies. I will try to be more patient with this, and more kind to myself by not seeing my foray into metta bhavana as some sort of failure.


Is there much of a difference between the metta bhavana techniques I mentioned in the OP?
Invincible_Summer
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:26 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:58 pm

Have you ever tried doing it this way? It's not a delineated brahmavihara practice event, but a way of being in the world.
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4061
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:43 am

daverupa wrote:Have you ever tried doing it this way? It's not a delineated brahmavihara practice event, but a way of being in the world.


So developing Right Mindfulness and Right Intention?
Well, oi dunno...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby daverupa » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:22 am

Well, mindfulness is what allows for the accurate and repeated application of patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy, but the precise methods will vary according to individual contexts. I simply experience a better result with this approach, as opposed to seated metta practice directed towards various people I imagine for the purpose.

Instead, whenever a person is present to the physical senses or the mind in recollection, etc, these four can be applied over mindfulness, like gloves over hands.
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4061
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:26 pm

Invincible_Summer wrote:What is the difference between practicing metta meditation by directing it towards specific people (friends, neutral, people we don't like), versus cultivating the feeling of metta and directing it more generally (i.e. in various directions)? The metta sutta doesn't seem to even mention directing metta at all.

The directed practice can be found in teachings on the Brahmavihara's for a look at what these directions signify have a look at the Sigolavada sutta DN 31

I've only really tried the former method (directing it towards specific people) because that's what seems to be the most common way to teach it. However, I find it very difficult to generate a feeling of loving-kindness once I move past people I am positive towards. I can visualize the people, and I can recite the words in my head ("May they be happy...") but I don't feel like I'm actually developing any metta.

I prefer to think of metta as good will, or friendliness. I have found an instruction I was given on one retreat very useful. Using the acronym P.U.F.F. meaning Patience, Understanding, Forgiveness, and Friendliness, I nurture the quality when people come to mind the best I can.
What qualities does your understanding of Metta have?

I haven't found a guided meditation for practicing metta bhavana in the second (not directing at specific people) method, and have found zilch in terms of a sutta-based metta bhavana practice.

Can someone help me out here? I feel that I'm often quite critical and judgmental and think I would benefit from this practice.

Have you tried to reflect on the metta suttas? I have at times recited the text and found it a useful protection against fear, and as a useful grounding device while practicing metta.
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."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5687
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby fivebells » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:56 pm

Cittasanto wrote: I prefer to think of metta as good will, or friendliness.


Thanissaro talks about this at length in his recent day-long about the Brahmaviharas. Actually, he goes further, and says that Metta doesn't have to involve friendliness, it only has to involve good will, and in fact there are examples of the Buddha being quite unfriendly in the canon. E.g.

“You worthless men, how can you for the sake of your stomachs
speak praise of one another’s superior human states to householders?
It would be better for you that your bellies be slashed open with a
sharp butcher’s knife than that you should for the sake of your
stomachs speak praise of one another’s superior human states to
householders.
fivebells
 
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:59 pm

hi Fivebells,
fivebells wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: I prefer to think of metta as good will, or friendliness.


Thanissaro talks about this at length in his recent day-long about the Brahmaviharas. Actually, he goes further, and says that Metta doesn't have to involve friendliness, it only has to involve good will, and in fact there are examples of the Buddha being quite unfriendly in the canon. E.g.

“You worthless men, how can you for the sake of your stomachs
speak praise of one another’s superior human states to householders?
It would be better for you that your bellies be slashed open with a
sharp butcher’s knife than that you should for the sake of your
stomachs speak praise of one another’s superior human states to
householders.

Wouldn't an admirable friend admonish severely what needs admonished severely? Here the Buddha didn't turn his back on them, rather, they were put in their place.
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."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5687
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:17 am

daverupa wrote:Well, mindfulness is what allows for the accurate and repeated application of patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy, but the precise methods will vary according to individual contexts. I simply experience a better result with this approach, as opposed to seated metta practice directed towards various people I imagine for the purpose.


Yes, understood. I can see this approach working better "off the cushion".
Well, oi dunno...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Invincible_Summer » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:21 am

daverupa wrote:Have you ever tried doing it this way? It's not a delineated brahmavihara practice event, but a way of being in the world.


Yes, I try to do this as an "everyday practice" sort of thing, although I never knew of the sutta before. Thanks for sharing it. I guess I feel that I'm not as successful in being patient or sympathetic as I would like to be, and would like to try to bolster this by practicing some sitting metta bhavana. I'm aware that it's important to try and carry lessons "learned" in meditation "off the cushion," but I think sometimes the cushion is a good place to train weak areas.



Cittasanto wrote:The directed practice can be found in teachings on the Brahmavihara's for a look at what these directions signify have a look at the Sigolavada sutta DN 31


Interesting... so when these directions are used, they actually mean to direct them towards parents, teachers, friends and associates, wife/husband, and ascetics/brahmans (religious teachers?)?

I prefer to think of metta as good will, or friendliness. I have found an instruction I was given on one retreat very useful. Using the acronym P.U.F.F. meaning Patience, Understanding, Forgiveness, and Friendliness, I nurture the quality when people come to mind the best I can.
What qualities does your understanding of Metta have?

Good question, and I like the acronym!

I think my understanding of metta includes goodwill, patience, and acceptance.

Have you tried to reflect on the metta suttas? I have at times recited the text and found it a useful protection against fear, and as a useful grounding device while practicing metta.

I have not. I will try this. Thanks for the help!
Invincible_Summer
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:26 am

Re: Difficulty with metta bhavana

Postby Ananda26 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:41 pm

Invincible_Summer wrote:What is the difference between practicing metta meditation by directing it towards specific people (friends, neutral, people we don't like), versus cultivating the feeling of metta and directing it more generally (i.e. in various directions)? The metta sutta doesn't seem to even mention directing metta at all.

I've only really tried the former method (directing it towards specific people) because that's what seems to be the most common way to teach it. However, I find it very difficult to generate a feeling of loving-kindness once I move past people I am positive towards. I can visualize the people, and I can recite the words in my head ("May they be happy...") but I don't feel like I'm actually developing any metta.

I haven't found a guided meditation for practicing metta bhavana in the second (not directing at specific people) method, and have found zilch in terms of a sutta-based metta bhavana practice.


Can someone help me out here? I feel that I'm often quite critical and judgmental and think I would benefit from this practice.


Here one abides pervading the first direction with a mind of loving kindness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth so above, below, horizontally, and everywhere one abides pervading all the world with a mind imbued with loving kindness abundant exalted and immeasurable without hostility and without ill will.

Likewise with compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.

Long Discourses of the Buddha contains a number of references to these with this description of how to do so. This is a general development of loving kindness meditation, and we can apply it specifically to whoever we encounter in our day to day practice.
Ananda26
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:41 pm


Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests