Metta Prayer and Anatta

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

Post by ehensens » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:35 pm

Based upon some advice given in Bhante G's Mindfulness in Plain English, I have been reciting a prayer of metta before beginning each of my sittings, which goes like this:

May I be well, happy and peaceful.
May no harm come to me.
May I always meet with spiritual success.
May I also have patience, courage, understanding and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
May I always rise above them with morality, integrity, forgiveness, compassion, mindfulness and wisdom.

I then proceed to think of and note love for those in my family, which I attempt to do with compassion and non-attachment rather than desire and ownership.

I've noticed that reciting this really inspires me to forgive myself for failures along the path and to continue on with all my heart, and it reminds me that difficulties, problems, and failures are inevitable, which is very valuable.

But, I've also noticed that while reciting this prayer, I feel like it strengthens the sense of self. I imagine that "I" am "deserving" of health, happiness, and peace, that "I deserve" for no harm to come to "me", etc.

Can you guys help me reconcile this discrepancy? I am sure that this strengthening of the sense of self that is resulting from this recitation is due to some sort of wrong view on my part. How can I practice this sort of metta recollection without making false distinctions between "me" and "others"?

Thank you very much for your thoughts!

SarathW
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:36 pm

The way I understand Metta Bhavana is taught for beginners.
The objective is to eliminate the anger or aversion.
Once you accomplish in this you have to move to the next level of practicing Satipathana.
Buddha never said there is no soul.
He avoided the two extremes of existence and non-existence and taught the Dependent Origination.
Metta Bhavana should be completed with four Brahma Viharas.
At the Upekkha level, you can contemplate the nature of Anata.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by salayatananirodha » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:23 pm

This is an important topic. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .piya.html

The opening of this exposition pertains to oneself.
1. "He who is skilled in (working out his own) well being, and who wishes to attain that state of Calm (Nibbana) should act thus:
How should he act?
he should be dexterous, upright, exceedingly upright, obedient, gentle, and humble.

2. "Contented, easily supportable, with but few responsibilities, of simple livelihood, controlled in the senses, prudent, courteous, and not hanker after association with families.

3. "Let him not perform the slightest wrong for which wise men may rebuke him. (Let him think:) 'May all beings be happy and safe. May they have happy minds.'

note: all beings.
To reiterate,
4.& 5. "Whatever living beings there may be
Nothing that follows pertains to creating rank or file,
— feeble or strong (or the seekers and the attained) long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born —
may all beings have happy minds.
No emboldening any division or classification, disregard them.
7. "Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings.
This reveals the self-sacrificing quality of this love; it involves the relinquishment of self or anything pertaining to self. She isn't concerned with her own self, she is concerned with her only son, this is selfless.
8. "Let him radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across —

Venerable anālayo and others have realized that the practice you've described doesn't work for them.
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
Follow the preliminary instructions of the sutta in order for the thoughts of universal love to arise; the sutta is very simple, and because it is simple, beings wish to amend it or make unnecessary additions. The Buddha clearly didn't intend for us to practice these 'self-love' rituals, or this would have been included.
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

santa100
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by santa100 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:20 am

ehensens wrote:How can I practice this sort of metta recollection without making false distinctions between "me" and "others"?
At the beginning stage, it's helpful to cultivate Metta starting with oneself. Then expanding it in subsequent stages toward your loved ones, friends, colleagues, enemies, and finally, all sentient beings, those with forms or without forms. So, the further one advances on the Metta path, the less and less emphasis being made toward oneself, and more and more focus toward others, and eventually no more distinction by just focusing on "all sentient beings".

ehensens
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by ehensens » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:37 pm

Thank you all for your responses! This is basically what I had figured, that it is a practice that starts with metta aimed at the conventional "self", and which ultimately expands to all beings. Your input has been helpful.
SarathW wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:36 pm
Buddha never said there is no soul.
SarathW, could you please expound on this statement? I do not understand how such a "soul" could exist, at least not in the way many of us in the West typically think of it (coming from a Judeo-Christian-based cultural background).

Where in the five aggregates is the "soul"? It is my (perhaps faulty) understanding that from the Buddhist perspective, only the cittasantana (mind-stream process, flow of consciousness) is persistent.

Thank you!

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_anicca_
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by _anicca_ » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:26 pm

For metta bhavana, you focus on the feeling that it creates (metta) and not so much the phrases. The phrases are used as primers, and you can even drop them if you like and just direct that feeling towards the concept of self.

Metta bhavana is a conceptual practice.
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

http://vipassanameditation.asia

SarathW
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by SarathW » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:19 pm

ehensens wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:37 pm
Thank you all for your responses! This is basically what I had figured, that it is a practice that starts with metta aimed at the conventional "self", and which ultimately expands to all beings. Your input has been helpful.
SarathW wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:36 pm
Buddha never said there is no soul.
SarathW, could you please expound on this statement? I do not understand how such a "soul" could exist, at least not in the way many of us in the West typically think of it (coming from a Judeo-Christian-based cultural background).

Where in the five aggregates is the "soul"? It is my (perhaps faulty) understanding that from the Buddhist perspective, only the cittasantana (mind-stream process, flow of consciousness) is persistent.

Thank you!
If you tell me that there is a cup, a table or a house, I can't say whether there is no cup, a table or a house.
There is an aggregate of matter but there is no intrinsic thing called a cup, a table or a house.
In the same way, there is this five aggregate and someone may call it the soul.
In Buddha's time people used to call this Atta.
Conventional sense there is individual responsibility. We can't deny it.
Buddha avoids the existence and non-existence and taught dependent origination.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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LG2V
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by LG2V » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:26 am

When you get to the point of radiating metta to all being, reflect on the fact that all things are Not Self, composed of some combination of the five aggregates. Then, continue with your metta practice as normal. You'll get some interesting results. You can try the same for impermanence and imperfection as well.
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com

ehensens
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Re: Metta Prayer and Anatta

Post by ehensens » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:56 pm

Wonderful and useful advice from each of you, for which I am truly grateful.

:bow:

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