B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Explore the ancient language of the Tipitaka and Theravāda commentaries
frank k
Posts: 432
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:18 pm
Hi Frank,
frank k wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:33 am
Translating 'metta' as 'love' is in clear category of 'Wrong', not in the category of 'legitimate difference of opinion'.
I wonder if there are, perhaps, some variations of interpretation between those of us who speak different varieties of English. Perhaps those of use who are native British or Australasian English speakers don't have the same baggage with regard to the word "love". I certainly don't think it's perfect, but I see flaws in the alternatives as well, as I pointed out above.

I wonder this partly because, not being a native American English speaker, I sometimes find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's writing style very obscure, whereas some think it's wonderfully clear.

Metta :heart:
Mike
As a native American English speaker, I can totally see there are differences between American English and different International versions of English. But but again, for 'Love', Oxford English dictionary, Merriam English dictionary, and probably every other English dictionary, place romantic attraction, sexual and lustful attraction, in a very prominent place, and I believe the dictionaries under sell its prominence by not placing it in the #1 position. Just look at classic English language literature from any era, how is 'love', romantically, regarded? How do modern westerners react every time they hear that word, 'love'?

And not even English speakers, I believe it's a universal phenomena, you ask most people what is the meaning of life, what's the purpose for existence, probably most of them are going to rank romantic/sexual 'love' as #1.

'metta' does not have romantic love in there.
the English 'love' does.
It's very clear cut 'right' and 'wrong' situation, (as of the current time and conventional agreed dictionary definition of 'love'), unlike many pali word translation choices.

When I first saw B. Sujato's translation of metta as 'love' a couple of years ago, I too thought, 'okay, that's interesting.' And being liberal myself and appreciating people risk taking and exploring different possibilities, I just sat with my opinions. But recently when I researched into metta and its counterparts such as vihesa, ill will, and the other brahmaviharas, when I researched carefully I realized metta as 'love' is just plain wrong. It's very clear cut if you think it through carefully.

I talked to some Chinese friends and asked them about how metta was translated in the Agamas, and the result is very telling.
Like the Pali metta, the Chinese word used to translate metta absolutely has no romantic or sexual lust associated with it. In classical Chinese, it's more of a paternal and grandparent having care and regard for their younger relatives.

Now here's the real kicker. You know how the Agamas translate the word 'tanha', thirst/craving, the source of dukkha? The Chinese word they use, is the Chinese word for 'romantic Love'!
Now while I don't exactly agree with that, I definitely agree with the part where there's a clear division between friend-kindness and romantic love & lust, and the the latter is a defilement, in no way to be ambiguously associated with 'metta' and brahma viharas.
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

frank k
Posts: 432
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:55 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:48 pm
So what is a good translation for metta?

"Kindness" might work, but I'm not convinced its strong enough? Maybe "loving kindness"?

Metta sounds very strong when you read the Karaniya Metta Sutta, like a mother loves her child and all that.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .amar.html
You can read what B. Thanissaro and B. Analayo, among others, have written about that passage in Karaniya Metta Sutta.
Basically, it's an erroneous interpretation to equate the metta with the 'mother's love'. The metta is being equated in the metaphor with the act of being protective of the quality of metta (good-will) all the time. (Kind of a 'meta' statement). In other words, just like the mother guards an only child with her own life, one protects the quality of good-will in the mind as you would value your own life, to not lose the quality of metta.

As I stated in OP, 'loving-kindess' at least attempts to divest the English 'love' as romance/sex with the 'kindness' qualitification, so at least it's reasonable to consider it not 'wrong'.
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 5475
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jul 06, 2019 8:16 pm

frank k wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:46 am
But but again, for 'Love', Oxford English dictionary, Merriam English dictionary, and probably every other English dictionary, place romantic attraction, sexual and lustful attraction, in a very prominent place, and I believe the dictionaries under sell its prominence by not placing it in the #1 position. Just look at classic English language literature from any era, how is 'love', romantically, regarded? How do modern westerners react every time they hear that word, 'love'?

And not even English speakers, I believe it's a universal phenomena, you ask most people what is the meaning of life, what's the purpose for existence, probably most of them are going to rank romantic/sexual 'love' as #1.

'metta' does not have romantic love in there.
the English 'love' does.


:embarassed: :o :jawdrop:

JohnK
Posts: 818
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:06 pm
Location: Tetons, Wyoming, USA

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by JohnK » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:15 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:02 pm
The blog reminds me of this passage from the Mahāsi Sayādaw's discourse on the Vammika Sutta. Although it is on the topic of metta, it is lacking in good-will. Translation is not an exact science, but an art.
In his discourse on the Vammika Sutta, the Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw relates the following incident that took place in Thanbyuzayat, a town within Moulmein District, and was published in one of the Daily Newspapers.

Four or five elders from that town were chatting on a religious topic. It is customary in Burma among knowledgeable elderly people to meet whenever there is any social or religious function such as a memorial service for the deceased. They usually discuss religious topics while the reception is going on with light refreshments such as green tea and some delicacies like pickled tea-leaf (laphet). Sometimes, heated discussions take place, and the participants disagree on controversial points. On this occasion, the elders became indignant and assaulted one another ending up with them being interviewed by police officers. The news editor who reported the story, remarked that the elders concerned had been placed in police custody, but “a redeeming feature” was that the topic of discussion happened to be on patience (khantī).

The editor hit the nail right on the head. Intolerance is the worst thing when discussing the topic of patience, which needs to be exercised as advised by the Buddha. Indignation resembles the toad that swells up. It gives a great deal of trouble and therefore really needs to be discarded.
:goodpost:
Thank you for the story, its irony, and its lesson -- excellent reminder to try to exemplify the teachings while discussing them.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 899
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:01 am

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by seeker242 » Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:31 pm

B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.
Yet, still quite easy to understand, given the context. Therefore, not horrible. :) Divorcing a word from it's context, now that's horrible in pretty much any language! :D :meditate:

User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 644
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta » Sun Jul 07, 2019 4:10 am

Image




As for me, there is no big issue regarding B. Sujato's translation.




"love" is not a tabooed word in religious context, imo:
For God so loved the world that...
John 3:16 (Bible)


Allah loves the doers of good.
5:13 Qu'ran
https://quran.com/5


... Brahman as the Lord of Love ...
Highest God Of Hinduism https://www.hinduwebsite.com/brahman.asp




Personally, I feel more weird reading his translation of loka into galaxy than metta into love.



Image
🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐
  • "the one thing all the mistaken views have in common is the assump­tion that the self exists" ~ DN1
  • "It is an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" ~ MN22
  • The No-self doctrine is found only in the teaching of the Buddha.
  • No-self (anatta) means that there is no permanent, unchanging entity in anything animate or inanimate. ~ SN22.59

sentinel
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:26 pm

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by sentinel » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:57 pm

In the agama , in dependent origination the tanha ie craving link in Chinese is 爱 (ai) .
In Chinese , love is 爱 (ai) , commonly describe the relationship between a man and a woman .
And 情 (qing) which is the feeling or an affection describing the relationship between parents and children , brother and sister .

Metta in Chinese is 慈 (ci) which means gentle , kindness or benevolence . In Chinese 慈 commonly describe affection of parents towards children .
:buddha1:

frank k
Posts: 432
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:03 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019 ... k-secrets

excerpt:
British-born guru Sangharakshita was mired in allegations of abuse for years. Now it seems the scandal in his wealthy order went far wider than previously acknowledged

(article is about sexual abuse in tiratana organization, including how how Sangharakshita preyed on heterosexual men into having homosexual sex with him)
==================================

Metta = "love" is a horrible and wrong translation.
You can almost guarantee someone in the future (or many people throughout history already), will use metta and 'love' as part of the justification for sexual predators to prey on victims. You really don't want to give them easy ammunition like that.

So you need to to clearly separate the romantic, sexual, and passionate aspect of love out of 'metta'. Metta is friendly kindness, it's not love.
B. Sujato's translation, by virtue of being free, easily accessible, is likely to become a defacto standard for English sutta translation.

Just because many of you may be came from a religious upbringing where Christ's 'love', has a clear and separate category different from romantic love, understand most of the rest of the world does not, and when they hear 'love', romance & passion & lust & sex is part of the package.
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2465
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Zom » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:41 pm

You can almost guarantee someone in the future (or many people throughout history already), will use metta and 'love' as part of the justification for sexual predators to prey on victims. You really don't want to give them easy ammunition like that.
Metta = "love" is a horrible and wrong translation.
Personally, I feel more weird reading his translation of loka into galaxy than metta into love.
True. I don't like the idea of "humanitizing" suttas. They should be precise in meaning, that is what they were made for from the very start. If one wants "not so cold" and "more human" variant, he should consider listening to Dhamma talks or reading Dhamma books or posts or whatever. These are usually not "cold" at all, especially the most popular ones (and from some popular teachers, like, eh, ajahn Brahm :tongue: .)

Dinsdale
Posts: 6628
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:44 am

frank k wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:03 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019 ... k-secrets

excerpt:
British-born guru Sangharakshita was mired in allegations of abuse for years. Now it seems the scandal in his wealthy order went far wider than previously acknowledged

(article is about sexual abuse in tiratana organization, including how how Sangharakshita preyed on heterosexual men into having homosexual sex with him)
==================================

Metta = "love" is a horrible and wrong translation.
You can almost guarantee someone in the future (or many people throughout history already), will use metta and 'love' as part of the justification for sexual predators to prey on victims. You really don't want to give them easy ammunition like that.

So you need to to clearly separate the romantic, sexual, and passionate aspect of love out of 'metta'. Metta is friendly kindness, it's not love.
B. Sujato's translation, by virtue of being free, easily accessible, is likely to become a defacto standard for English sutta translation.

Just because many of you may be came from a religious upbringing where Christ's 'love', has a clear and separate category different from romantic love, understand most of the rest of the world does not, and when they hear 'love', romance & passion & lust & sex is part of the package.
As it happens I first learned metta bhavana with Triratna, back in the 1980s.They translated metta as "loving kindness".
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Nicolas » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:08 am

What about “universal love”?

sunnat
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:08 am

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by sunnat » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:30 am

The op thesis makes sense and Loving kindness is good. etc..

However, the metta sutta makes it clear what it means. There are a few different poems, verses, chants and so on to use in metta meditation (which is an important part of the practice) so anyone who actually practices/walks the practical path, contemplates the precepts, the sutta, the meaning of wholesome, unwholesome, skillful, unskillfull, beneficial, detrimental and so on as presented in the teachings will come to a correct understanding of the meaning of metta. Otherwise it's a worthwhile talking point.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests