Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

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Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby manas » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:03 pm

This has been on my mind for a long time to investigate, and I would appreciate any links to good discussions on this. It is this: we feel metta for someone, or just have a feeling of generalized goodwill towards humanity at a particular moment. That is an intention, a sankhara, right? But along with that intention, there is a pleasant feeling, which is classed as vedana. So is it like this: metta is sankhara, but there is pleasant feeling that results from contact with it, which is vedana (in this instance, 'not-of-the-flesh'?) but when we are actually in the experience, it seems difficult to distinguish these?

(By the way, if I have totally or even partially misapprehended (or incorrectly defined) anything, please let me know!)

Thanks for reading

manas
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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby SarathW » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:06 am

Hi Manas
I could not really get what you mean.
But the way I understand Metta, Karuna and Mudita to be extended in conjunction with Uppekka. So there is no pleasant or unpleasant feeling.
No karma (Sankahra) as they are termed as Kiriya Citta.
Please someone correct me if I am wrong.
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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:23 am

Hi Manas,

I don't think that you should be classifying something as exclusively one particular aggregate. Khandas are not "things".

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... tm#khandha
Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities 'heaps', 'bundles', while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body-and-mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental constructions are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.


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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby SarathW » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:41 am

Hi Mike
Thanks. I see the question now. The link you provided also very helpful.
:)
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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby binocular » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:25 am

manas wrote:This has been on my mind for a long time to investigate, and I would appreciate any links to good discussions on this. It is this: we feel metta for someone, or just have a feeling of generalized goodwill towards humanity at a particular moment. That is an intention, a sankhara, right? But along with that intention, there is a pleasant feeling, which is classed as vedana. So is it like this: metta is sankhara, but there is pleasant feeling that results from contact with it, which is vedana (in this instance, 'not-of-the-flesh'?)


but when we are actually in the experience, it seems difficult to distinguish these?

Probably because there is so much going on, and we notice only some bits.
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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby manas » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Manas,

I don't think that you should be classifying something as exclusively one particular aggregate. Khandas are not "things".

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... tm#khandha
Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities 'heaps', 'bundles', while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body-and-mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental constructions are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.


:anjali:
Mike


Thanks for that reminder, Mike. You're right, and I need to go back and reread Thanissaro Bhikkhu's study guide on the khandhas, where as I now recall he makes that point also. I really need to study more :reading:

metta,
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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:58 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Manas,

I don't think that you should be classifying something as exclusively one particular aggregate. Khandas are not "things".

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... tm#khandha
Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities 'heaps', 'bundles', while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body-and-mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental constructions are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.


:anjali:
Mike


Hi Mike

While I do agree substantially with the above, I think it is only generally true that the experience cannot be pried apart at the triad of feeling, perception and consciousness: MN 43 which suggests that all 3 are saṃsaṭṭhā (conjoined) and not otherwise.

The bit about the qualitative aspect of the experience (softness etc) might be furnished by rūpa as an Aggregate (minus the formless states), but is saṅkhāra conjoined to each experience?

AN 4.235 suggests that saṅkhāra is optional. In each of the cases where there is dark kamma, bright kamma or dark-&-bright kamma, the sutta says that the person "fabricates/generates a bodily/verbal/mental fabrication" accordingly (ekacco sabyāpajjhaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti, sabyāpajjhaṃ vacīsaṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti, sabyāpajjhaṃ manosaṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti.). Abhisaṅkharoti is a common synonym for the verb of saṅkhāra .

Yet, in the 4th case of kamma that is neither dark-nor-bright, the XYZsaṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti possibility drops out of the picture. Apparently the kamma that ends kamma is somewhat special, where saṅkhāra does not necessarily intrude.

All very mysterious. Perhaps there is a slight difference in emphasis on what saṅkhāra means in DO as against the Five Aggregates model.
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Re: Are metta and the associated feeling, actually distinct?

Postby reflection » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:54 pm

Aside from good replies already given, I'd like to add something out of my experience. In a way one can see sankhara apart, and form apart from the group of consciousness/feeling/perception, but not always is it a useful thing to try and fit experiences into them. First of all the aggregates aren't meant for this, but also because the latter group of three is always a bit of a soup, a mix of things having a shared flavor. But perhaps more so because usually, the whole of our experience is a bit of a soup. To tell things apart, is not easy to do when in ordinary consciousness.

When we regularly feel metta in daily life, there is already much going on in the mind. It constructs an object for the metta (also a sankhara), it feels metta, it is conscious of both the object and metta. Probably there are thoughts arising as well and there are also other senses are going on. There is contact at the eye, ear, etc etc, with their associated feelings, consciousness and sankharas etc. This state of being is not really productive to see what is what, to distinguish things.

And neither should you at that point, because the practice of metta doesn't require this. I think it's more fruitful to take the metta as an object itself, let it still the mind down. To feel where metta and mindfulness blend together. At that point the question will also disappear, because it is too coarse a fabrication.
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