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Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm
by manas
Hello all

I like walking down the street, and having this feeling of goodwill towards all I encounter - other people, dogs being walked, birds flying around, insects...it's a positive & uplifting emotion which as Buddhists, we are encouraged to cultivate.

However, when I look deep into my heart, I notice there is a group of people who I must admit, I cannot currently feel that emotion towards. I can forgive people who have harmed me, yes; a grudge is a burden I don't want to carry around. My problem is with the worst kind of child abusers. I mean, let's put aside the likes of Weinstein or Epstein, these guys are tame as compared with some people. Sadly, there exist in this world, truly evil people, men (and even some women, which horrifies me even more), who abuse very young children. There is no need to mention any details; even knowing it goes on, makes me feel sad at heart. Sometimes the child victim is so brutally sexually assaulted, that they don't even survive the experience. Herein, lies my dilemma: the Buddha advises us to spread metta out in all directions, east, west, north, south, up, down etc, to all living beings, as I understand it. Does that include such monsters - men (or, sometimes even women) who are so heartless & barbaric, that they can commit the very worst of crimes, against even the most vulnerable?

I can repeat 'may such monsters be well & happy' but that would be insincere at this stage, I'm afraid. When I look into my heart, the emotion towards these monsters, is actually the wish they be punished. I could feel sorry for them, if i saw them burning in a hell world, yes; I would feel they got their just deserts, and could then feel compassion for them in such pain. But right in the here-and-now, I have to be honest - I can't truly feel goodwill for such people. I want them to pay for what they did.

However, I'm trying to be a disciple of the Buddha. Hard as this might be, I want to know, from the suttas if possible, what he would advise regarding goodwill towards even very evil people. If the Buddha advised that we ought to somehow extend goodwill even towards such monsters, well, I will attempt to follow his instructions - although, I'm going to need some help with this.

Quotes from suttas would be much appreciated, however the advice of any good & wise teacher of Dhamma who lives in accordance with the Dhamma, would be welcome also.

Thank you for reading about this difficult issue. I would not be broaching it, if there was not also this wish: to be free from ill-will, towards any being. I've been noticing for some time now, ill-will is painful. But...how to not feel it towards those I mentioned above?

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:28 pm
by befriend
Equanimity. The reminder that all beings are owners of their actions and will inherit its results is a form of equanimity or the last brahma vihara it protects metta compassion and mudita. Sharon salzberg a great metta teacher says when dealing with difficult people you can change the phrases to "may you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering" may you be filled with loving kindness may you be free from anger enmity and bitterness may you have happiness and the cause of happiness such as clarity and kindness she says "we pay attention to the persons suffering and not just his or her transgressions"

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:35 pm
by befriend
The people you mention are probably sociopaths or psychopaths sociopaths are made psychopaths are born that way. As buddha said when the mind is engulfed in intense greed hate or delusion one does not know what is good for oneself or another. Coming from the suttas this may be a far stretch or not useful but buddha said since there is no discernible beginning of existence all beings have been our mother at some point in time. That's why you hear Tibetans calling all beings mother beings. Don't know if that would help.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:38 pm
by Nicolas
manas wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm
the Buddha advises us to spread metta out in all directions, east, west, north, south, up, down etc, to all living beings, as I understand it. Does that include such monsters - men (or, sometimes even women) who are so heartless & barbaric, that they can commit the very worst of crimes, against even the most vulnerable?
Yes. Metta for everyone.
Kakacūpama Sutta (MN 21) wrote: Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of goodwill, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with goodwill and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with goodwill—abundant, enlarged, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.
It may be useful to reflect on why there is the desire to see evil-doers punished.
Evil people are severely misguided but suffer too.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:39 pm
by befriend
I honestly believe in kamma vipaka which means you don't have to want revenge because the universe does that for you.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:48 pm
by Nicolas
Some more quotes from the suttas:
Dhp 5 wrote: Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
Maṅgala Sutta (Snp 2.4) wrote: A mind that remains unshaken
By the ups and the downs of the world,
Sorrowless, stainless and safe:
This is the greatest good fortune.
Āghāta­paṭivinaya Sutta (AN 10.80) wrote: There are these ten ways of subduing hatred. Which ten?
[1] Thinking, ‘He has done me harm. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[2] Thinking, ‘He is doing me harm. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[3] Thinking, ‘He is going to do me harm. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[4] Thinking, ‘He has done harm to people who are dear & pleasing to me. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[5] Thinking, ‘He is doing harm to people who are dear & pleasing to me. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[6] Thinking, ‘He is going to do harm to people who are dear & pleasing to me. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.

[7] Thinking, ‘He has aided people who are not dear or pleasing to me. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[8] Thinking, ‘He is aiding people who are not dear or pleasing to me. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[9] Thinking, ‘He is going to aid people who are not dear or pleasing to me. But what should I expect?’ one subdues hatred.
[10] One does not get worked up over impossibilities.
These are ten ways of subduing hatred.
Āghāta­paṭivinaya Sutta (AN 5.162) wrote: There is the case where some people are impure in their bodily behavior & verbal behavior, and who do not periodically experience mental clarity & calm. Hatred for a person of this sort should also be subdued.
[...]
And as for a person who is impure in his bodily behavior & verbal behavior, and who does not periodically experience mental clarity & calm, how should one subdue hatred for him? Just as when there is a sick man—in pain, seriously ill—traveling along a road, far from the next village & far from the last, unable to get the food he needs, unable to get the medicine he needs, unable to get a suitable assistant, unable to get anyone to take him to human habitation. Now suppose another person were to see him coming along the road. He would do what he could out of compassion, pity, & sympathy for the man, thinking, ‘O that this man should get the food he needs, the medicine he needs, a suitable assistant, someone to take him to human habitation. Why is that? So that he won’t fall into ruin right here.’ In the same way, when a person is impure in his bodily behavior & verbal behavior, and who does not periodically experience mental clarity & calm, one should do what one can out of compassion, pity, & sympathy for him, thinking, ‘O that this man should abandon wrong bodily conduct and develop right bodily conduct, abandon wrong verbal conduct and develop right verbal conduct, abandon wrong mental conduct and develop right mental conduct. Why is that? So that, on the break-up of the body, after death, he won’t fall into the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, purgatory.’ Thus the hatred for him should be subdued.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:01 pm
by Nicolas
manas wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm
I've been noticing for some time now, ill-will is painful. But...how to not feel it towards those I mentioned above?
Some ways to not feel ill-will towards evil people: think that they are just like you in the most fundamental ways: they are beings with minds just like you, they are human just like you, they are subject to decay, disease and death just like you. How they differ is in their attitude, which is different from yours. Their attitude is based on misunderstanding what's good for them and for others. Whatever painful feeling that they might have, that is similar to the painful feeling that you might have. When you are in fear and when they are in fear, it is a similar fear. When they are in pain or you are in pain, they are a similar pain. When they are heart-broken and you are heart-broken, it is similar. In such moments, you and they are not so different, because experiencing the same thing, or something similar.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:09 pm
by JohnK
manas wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm
I can repeat 'may such monsters be well & happy' but that would be insincere...
Consider that you are not wishing that they be happy while still doing the incredibly unwholesome things they are doing. You are wishing that they find a way out of that behavior; that they eventually find a harmless happiness that is inconsistent with the appalling behavior. Sila comes before meditative/dhammic happiness. So, in wishing for their real happiness, you are wishing they stop doing what they are doing.
:anjali:
As there is a cultivation of metta, you can't immediately pick the worst people and expect to be able to wish them well right away. Work it where you can; find the happiness of it; I think eventually you will be able to be limitless about it as taught. Just my 2 cents.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:06 am
by char101
You won't be able to develop metta by focusing on the 'evilness' of people. Such thing does not make sense.

One thing that may help is that, in psychology it is a common theme to not judge people by their actions. Their actions may be good or bad, but it does not describe the person as a whole. After all, a person is a complex being with good and bad actions.

So when you see bad behaviors, just take it as it is, bad actions. It does not mean that the person, in whole is bad. There is no completely bad or good person. But what you can be sure is that, just like yourself, everyone want to be happy. So just like yourself, who have your own bad and good behavior, want to be happy, you can expect the same thing for other people.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:54 am
by confusedlayman
manas wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm
Hello all

I like walking down the street, and having this feeling of goodwill towards all I encounter - other people, dogs being walked, birds flying around, insects...it's a positive & uplifting emotion which as Buddhists, we are encouraged to cultivate.

However, when I look deep into my heart, I notice there is a group of people who I must admit, I cannot currently feel that emotion towards. I can forgive people who have harmed me, yes; a grudge is a burden I don't want to carry around. My problem is with the worst kind of child abusers. I mean, let's put aside the likes of Weinstein or Epstein, these guys are tame as compared with some people. Sadly, there exist in this world, truly evil people, men (and even some women, which horrifies me even more), who abuse very young children. There is no need to mention any details; even knowing it goes on, makes me feel sad at heart. Sometimes the child victim is so brutally sexually assaulted, that they don't even survive the experience. Herein, lies my dilemma: the Buddha advises us to spread metta out in all directions, east, west, north, south, up, down etc, to all living beings, as I understand it. Does that include such monsters - men (or, sometimes even women) who are so heartless & barbaric, that they can commit the very worst of crimes, against even the most vulnerable?

I can repeat 'may such monsters be well & happy' but that would be insincere at this stage, I'm afraid. When I look into my heart, the emotion towards these monsters, is actually the wish they be punished. I could feel sorry for them, if i saw them burning in a hell world, yes; I would feel they got their just deserts, and could then feel compassion for them in such pain. But right in the here-and-now, I have to be honest - I can't truly feel goodwill for such people. I want them to pay for what they did.

However, I'm trying to be a disciple of the Buddha. Hard as this might be, I want to know, from the suttas if possible, what he would advise regarding goodwill towards even very evil people. If the Buddha advised that we ought to somehow extend goodwill even towards such monsters, well, I will attempt to follow his instructions - although, I'm going to need some help with this.

Quotes from suttas would be much appreciated, however the advice of any good & wise teacher of Dhamma who lives in accordance with the Dhamma, would be welcome also.

Thank you for reading about this difficult issue. I would not be broaching it, if there was not also this wish: to be free from ill-will, towards any being. I've been noticing for some time now, ill-will is painful. But...how to not feel it towards those I mentioned above?
Perceive them as just bones and skin moving and hitting as there is no being. U can’t be anger on non living thing it atleast reduce ur present I’ll will

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:37 am
by chownah
You have constructed identities.....you are indulging in self views....whenever you see or hear of an individual and the thought "evil" arises and you attach that thought to that individual it is your mental process which lead you to aversion....whenever this happens it is a good chance for you to observe how your mental fabrications and indulgence in self view create dukka for you in your life.......that person you see or hear about has fruits of bad kamma to deal with and there is no reason why this sad state of affairs should induce dark kamma to arise for you....instead let it be something which reminds you to observe how you fabricate and indulge in self view.....then it will be perhaps bright kamma tending towards the goal.....
chownah

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:16 am
by Mkoll
Āghāta­paṭivinaya Sutta (AN 5.162) wrote: There is the case where some people are impure in their bodily behavior & verbal behavior, and who do not periodically experience mental clarity & calm. Hatred for a person of this sort should also be subdued.
[...]
And as for a person who is impure in his bodily behavior & verbal behavior, and who does not periodically experience mental clarity & calm, how should one subdue hatred for him? Just as when there is a sick man—in pain, seriously ill—traveling along a road, far from the next village & far from the last, unable to get the food he needs, unable to get the medicine he needs, unable to get a suitable assistant, unable to get anyone to take him to human habitation. Now suppose another person were to see him coming along the road. He would do what he could out of compassion, pity, & sympathy for the man, thinking, ‘O that this man should get the food he needs, the medicine he needs, a suitable assistant, someone to take him to human habitation. Why is that? So that he won’t fall into ruin right here.’ In the same way, when a person is impure in his bodily behavior & verbal behavior, and who does not periodically experience mental clarity & calm, one should do what one can out of compassion, pity, & sympathy for him, thinking, ‘O that this man should abandon wrong bodily conduct and develop right bodily conduct, abandon wrong verbal conduct and develop right verbal conduct, abandon wrong mental conduct and develop right mental conduct. Why is that? So that, on the break-up of the body, after death, he won’t fall into the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, purgatory.’ Thus the hatred for him should be subdued.
I like that one for your situation, manas. As well as the previous one in AN:
AN 5.161 (Ven Nanamoli translation) wrote:"Bhikkhus, there are these five ways of removing annoyance, by which annoyance can be entirely removed by a bhikkhu when it arises in him. What are the five?

"Loving-kindness can be maintained in being toward a person with whom you are annoyed: this is how annoyance with him can be removed.

"Compassion can be maintained in being toward a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed.

"Onlooking equanimity can be maintained in being toward a person with whom you are annoyed; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed.

"The forgetting and ignoring of a person with whom you are annoyed can be practiced; this too is how annoyance with him can be removed.

"Ownership of deeds in a person with whom you are annoyed can be concentrated upon thus: 'This good person is owner of his deeds, heir to his deeds, his deeds are the womb from which he is born, his deeds are his kin for whom he is responsible, his deeds are his refuge, he is heir to his deeds, be they good or bad.' This too is how annoyance with him can be removed.

"These are the five ways of removing annoyance, by which annoyance can be entirely removed in a bhikkhu when it arises in him."
The order is meaningful here. If metta doesn't work at the time, try compassion. If compassion doesn't work, try equanimity...etc. When you reflect on the horrendous suffering these people have cultivated for themselves, it becomes harder and harder to hate them.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:55 am
by Srilankaputra
manas wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm

However, when I look deep into my heart, I notice there is a group of people who I must admit, I cannot currently feel that emotion towards. I can forgive people who have harmed me, yes; a grudge is a burden I don't want to carry around. My problem is with the worst kind of child abusers. I mean, let's put aside the likes of Weinstein or Epstein, these guys are tame as compared with some people. Sadly, there exist in this world, truly evil people, men (and even some women, which horrifies me even more), who abuse very young children. There is no need to mention any details; even knowing it goes on, makes me feel sad at heart. Sometimes the child victim is so brutally sexually assaulted, that they don't even survive the experience. Herein, lies my dilemma: the Buddha advises us to spread metta out in all directions, east, west, north, south, up, down etc, to all living beings, as I understand it. Does that include such monsters - men (or, sometimes even women) who are so heartless & barbaric, that they can commit the very worst of crimes, against even the most vulnerable?

I can repeat 'may such monsters be well & happy' but that would be insincere at this stage, I'm afraid. When I look into my heart, the emotion towards these monsters, is actually the wish they be punished. I could feel sorry for them, if i saw them burning in a hell world, yes; I would feel they got their just deserts, and could then feel compassion for them in such pain. But right in the here-and-now, I have to be honest - I can't truly feel goodwill for such people. I want them to pay for what they did.
And if they ask: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why hate arises, and once arisen it increases and grows?’
_‘Ko panāvuso, hetu ko paccayo yena anuppanno vā doso uppajjati uppanno vā doso bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattatī’ti?

You should say: ‘The feature of harshness.
_Paṭighanimittan”tissa vacanīyaṃ.

When you attend improperly to the feature of harshness, hate arises, and once arisen it increases and grows.
_Tassa paṭighanimittaṃ ayoniso manasi karoto anuppanno vā doso uppajjati uppanno vā doso bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattati
manas wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm
I cannot
Yes, you can
And if they ask, ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why hate doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up?’
_Ko panāvuso, hetu ko paccayo yena anuppanno ceva doso nuppajjati uppanno ca doso pahīyatī’ti?

You should say: ‘The heart’s release by love.’
_Mettā cetovimuttī”tissa vacanīyaṃ.

When you attend properly on the heart’s release by love, hate doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up.
_Tassa mettaṃ cetovimuttiṃ yoniso manasi karoto anuppanno ceva doso nuppajjati uppanno ca doso pahīyati.

This is the cause, this is the reason why hate doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up.’
_Ayaṃ kho, āvuso, hetu ayaṃ paccayo yena anuppanno ceva doso nuppajjati uppanno ca doso pahīyatī’ti
https://suttacentral.net/an3.68/en/sujato

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:49 pm
by dharmacorps
I used to feel this way towards predators, and I still experience some problems with ill will to be sure. But lately for whatever reason when I hear about predators like this my mind first goes to the place of how much immeasurable duration of suffering they are creating for themselves by their evil actions. I guess it is a reflection on kamma. Maybe that will help, aside from what the suttas say.

Re: Help wanted: what do suttas say, about metta even for very evil people?

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:57 am
by chownah
Perhaps it should be more or less accepted that the initial reaction to hearing about or seeing egregious behavior is one of disgust and abhorance.....and that those initial reactions probably will continue until one has gone much farther along the path. In the mean time maybe it would one should at a later time when the initial reaction has faded to use whatever discernment one has of the various teachings that one knows about to disentangle whatever fabrications are leading to that disgust and aversion.

In other words don't attack the problem at the initial reaction but calm the mind and deal with it later.
chownah