metta as my main practice

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:16 pm

Greetings Chris,
Chris wrote:I think if you look at 14, 15 and 16 in the link above, you will see that the Buddha teaches that it does remove greed, hate and delusion.
I don't want to rain on this metta parade, because I'm a big fan of metta, but my reading of those examples does not suggest in any way that metta itself removes greed and delusion. The cure to those ailments, is generosity/renunciation and wisdom respectively. Metta alone will take one to the heavenly realms, not nibbana - hence its status as a brahma-vihara.

Lovingkindness practices exist outside Buddhism (as demonstrated by the fact the earlier content is hosted by a Hindu website), but it's only within Buddhism that the Noble Sangha exists. It is important to reflect on the reasons for this.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by Prasadachitta » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:05 am

In my opinion loving kindness meditation is fertile territory for insight practice. If the practitioner pays close attention to the changeability of attitude in regards to the changing perceptions she has as metta cultivation progresses, there can be insight into the non self and impermanence of the aggregates.


Metta

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by jcsuperstar » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:12 am

yeah i was going to add that, since metta is a feeling it could lead into insight much the same as the feeling of the breath comming in and out of the nose could.. maybe.. i guess its all just progressive..

i guess the zen koan would be "who is it that is radiating metta?"
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:21 am

It seems to me that some discussions of metta overlook that it is a perfectly good samatha practise that can take the practitioner to Jhana. It is therefore just as valid (and some would argue easier) object as attention to the breath for developing concentration. As I understand it, at the Jhana level it becomes irrelevant what the initial object was - the mind is fixed on a purely mind-created object.

Sure, for destruction of the taints insight is necessary, but developing some level of concentration, whether from metta, "foulness", breath, kasina, or whatever, is an aid to that. I don't think it's helpful to think in terms of "metta or insight", it's a matter of development of concentration and insight.

My teachers instruct primarily Mahasi-style vipassana, but will often recommend metta to deepen samadhi, particularly for someone who is having problems with the Mahsi approach.

Finally, I have not practised it myself so I may be misunderstanding it, but Bhante Vimalaramsi http://www.dhammasukha.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; teaches what one might interpret to a sort of "Metta-vipassana" approach, where metta takes the place of the breath or abdominal motion or walking as the primary object.

Metta
Mike

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:25 am

Greetings Mike,

Yes, I would consider that to be a balanced approach because it's also looking at insight, which promotes wisdom and thereby counters the delusion which underpins all mindstates rooted in greed or aversion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:26 am

jcsuperstar wrote:i was going to add that, since metta is a feeling it could lead into insight much the same as the feeling of the breath coming in and out of the nose could.. maybe..
Not according to Classical Theravada thought, as far as I understand it. Metta is a sort of visualisation, a mind-created object. Insight objects have to be "real" (paramatta dhammas). I presume that in the technique that Bhante Vimalaramsi teaches the insights would arise from examining the hindrances, etc, that arise while attempting to focus on metta.

Metta
Mike

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by zavk » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:53 am

Hi all,

The latest dhamma talk by Ajahn Brahm at the BSWA is on metta.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OswcrsyG ... annel_page" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
zavk
With metta,
zavk

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by Prasadachitta » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:05 am

mikenz66 wrote: Not according to Classical Theravada thought, as far as I understand it. Metta is a sort of visualisation, a mind-created object. Insight objects have to be "real" (paramatta dhammas). I presume that in the technique that Bhante Vimalaramsi teaches the insights would arise from examining the hindrances, etc, that arise while attempting to focus on metta.

Metta
Mike
Metta Bhavana might be called a visualization but I dont think metta is visualized. In my understanding metta is the result of the visualization. This result is a type of calm abiding or Jhanna. At that point the object of the meditation is not the visualization but the result. This result can be looked into like this "Does this result come from anything fixed or unchanging? Is this result fixed or unchanging?"


Metta

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:57 am

gabrielbranbury wrote: Metta Bhavana might be called a visualization but I dont think metta is visualized.
...
I may not be expressing it well, but what I meant was that, as I read the texts, metta is something created by the mind, not something "real" (paramatta), so the metta itself is not an "insight object". Whereas the sensations associated with the motion of my foot or my abdomen can be "real" (though we usually start by conceptualising the foot, but that's another issue).

In fact, again according to my reading, to develop the Commentarial version of Jhana, one needs to switch to a mind-created object. So when Visuddhimagga (and teachers such as Ajahn Brahm) talk about going into Jhana via the breath they talk about the arising of a nimitta (which is a mind-created object) and the switching of attention from the breath to that object.

E.g. see http://aimwell.org/Books/Other/Questions/questions.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Ānāpānasati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one pointed of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānasati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom.
Metta
Mike

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by nathan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:‘Loving-kindness that is a freeing of the mind'
‘Loving-kindness that is a freeing of the mind’,

Metta and Vipassana at the same time is:
Equanimity informs wisdom and wisdom informs equanimity.

My thinking is that it is upekkha which informs metta; upekkha and metta which informs karuna; and upekkha, metta, and karuna that informs mudita.

Equanimity-Peace-Upekkha is vital for the awakening process. Compassion-Metta is beneficial for awakening and vital for bringing awareness of upekkha to other beings. This may take forms of Karuna-Kindness and Mudita-Appreciation or they may not. Karuna and Mudita can arise without Metta and Upekkha. When Upekkha is arising and there is awareness of another being metta and one or both of the others may arise as well.

By beginning with investigating mudita and each of the others singly one can develop awareness of all of the viharas to upekkha but it is more difficult to arrive at upekkha when doing vipassana without doing the viharas because it is probably unclear what the quality of equanimity is and one must simply get to equanimity from dukkha while attempting to distinguish between the viharas at the same time. So I would say clear knowledge of all of the viharas are vital to ease in progressing in vipassana but only upekkha is vital to the ongoing process of progressing in vipassana with ease.

Discernment of these qualities are simply an arising of it and an awareness of the quality arising. If one has these qualities arising one can discern the qualities. If the qualities are not arising one will have to cause a quality to arise by conceiving of it first. How these qualities are fabricated will depend on the combined efficacies of the developments of concentration, of insight and of each of the four qualities.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by cooran » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:36 am

Hello all,

A little more:

In the Numerical Discourses, Chapter of Fours, (IV, 190)

"And how has a monk attained the status of a Brahma? Here, monks, a monk dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, likewise the second quarter, the third and the fourth. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility and without ill will. Her dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion ... with altruistic joy ... with equanimity ... without ill will. It is in such a way that a monk has attained the status of a Brahma.

Note to Sutta: The four meditations to be described are known as the Brahma-vihara, "the Divine Abodes', hence a monk who attains them is said to have attained the status of a Brahma (brahmapatta).
Elsewhere the development of the brahma-vihara is called the Path to the company of Brahma (See DN 13, MN 99 etc.)
Again, AA (Anguttara Atthakatha) interprets the text to mean that the monk here is one who has attained arahantship based on the four brahma-vihara.

metta
Chris
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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:19 pm

Greetings Chris,
Chris wrote:Note to Sutta: The four meditations to be described are known as the Brahma-vihara, "the Divine Abodes', hence a monk who attains them is said to have attained the status of a Brahma (brahmapatta).
Elsewhere the development of the brahma-vihara is called the Path to the company of Brahma (See DN 13, MN 99 etc.)
Again, AA (Anguttara Atthakatha) interprets the text to mean that the monk here is one who has attained arahantship based on the four brahma-vihara.
Interesting. The commentary and suttas you cite seem to be at odds with one another.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by nathan » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Chris,
Chris wrote:Note to Sutta: The four meditations to be described are known as the Brahma-vihara, "the Divine Abodes', hence a monk who attains them is said to have attained the status of a Brahma (brahmapatta).
Elsewhere the development of the brahma-vihara is called the Path to the company of Brahma (See DN 13, MN 99 etc.)
Again, AA (Anguttara Atthakatha) interprets the text to mean that the monk here is one who has attained arahantship based on the four brahma-vihara.
Interesting. The commentary and suttas you cite seem to be at odds with one another.

Metta,
Retro. :)
There are many fine points to consider. I am making efforts to get to the bottom of these in the free for all forum thread called: Feelings. At least we have made a start of on it and there is some informed comment in the thread so far from Ven. Dhammanando. It has been helpful for my understanding. Feel free to add questions there as well.
:smile:
metta & upekkha
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by green » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:10 am

non-Buddhists can try to do metta all they want and go hug the hugging ma and other wierd things-- they won't be able to succeed in practicing real metta.

Metta is radiation of good will through the Triple Gem, it is a love of all beings as no different from yourself. The Triple Gem makes one actualize the practice, without which one only pretends to practice metta -- only says the words, but does not know metta.

One who does not have faith in the Triple Gem will not be able to realize metta practice.

I remember trying to do metta without the Triple Gem -- it just didn't work.

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Re: metta as my main practice

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:31 am

Hi Green,
green wrote:non-Buddhists can try to do metta all they want and go hug the hugging ma and other wierd things-- they won't be able to succeed in practicing real metta.
I don't think this opinion is supported in the Suttas.

In the Assalāyana Sutta (MN. 93) the Buddha has the following exchange with an unconverted brahmin:
  • “Although Master Gotama says this, still the brahmins think thus: ‘Brahmins are the highest caste, those of any other caste are inferior; brahmins are the fairest caste, those of any other caste are dark; only brahmins are purified, not non-brahmins; brahmins alone are the sons of Brahma, the offspring of Brahma, born of his mouth, born of Brahma, created by Brahma, heirs of Brahma.’”

    “What do you think, Assalāyana? Is only a brahmin capable of developing a mind of loving-kindness towards a certain region, without hostility and without ill will, and not a noble, or a merchant, or a worker?”

    “No, Master Gotama. Whether it be a noble, or a brahmin, or a merchant, or a worker — those of all four castes are capable of developing a mind of loving-kindness towards a certain region, without hostility and without ill will.”

    “Then on the strength of what [argument] or with the support of what [authority] do the brahmins in this case say thus: ‘Brahmins are the highest caste, those of any other caste are inferior; brahmins are the fairest caste, those of any other caste are dark; only brahmins are purified, not non-brahmins; brahmins alone are the sons of Brahma, the offspring of Brahma, born of his mouth, born of Brahma, created by Brahma, heirs of Brahma’?”
Note that Assalāyana does not specify any religious affiliation for those who are capable of developing mettā and nor does the Buddha contradict him.


And in the Cullasīhanāda Sutta (MN. 11) the Buddha says concerning outside teachers:
  • “Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of attachment. What four? Attachment to sensual pleasures, attachment to views, attachment to rules and observances, and attachment to a doctrine of self.

    “Though certain recluses and brahmins claim to propound the full comprehension of all kinds of attachment, they do not completely describe the full comprehension of all kinds of attachment.

    [...]

    “They describe the full comprehension of attachment to sensual pleasures, attachment to views, attachment to precepts and vowed observances, but without describing the full comprehension of attachment to a doctrine of self. Why is that? Those good recluses and brahmins do not understand this last instance of attachment as it really is. Therefore, though they claim to propound the full comprehension of all kinds of attachment, they describe only the full comprehension of attachment to sensual pleasures, attachment to views, and attachment to precepts and vowed observances, without describing the full comprehension of attachment to a doctrine of self.”

So, the Buddha concedes that outside teachers may describe the full comprehension of attachment to sensual pleasures. In other words, they may lead their disciples to a comprehension of the gratification and peril in sense-pleasures and the advantage of renouncing them. This is the only kind of paññā that is needed for success in samatha-bhāvanā, of which mettā-bhāvanā is one form.
Metta is radiation of good will through the Triple Gem,
Mettā is the wish for beings to be happy. It is merely a more exalted form of the wholesome mental factor of non-hate and has no necessary connection with the Triple Gem.
it is a love of all beings as no different from yourself.
Mettā can be devloped to that extent, after the stage called the "breaking of the barriers", but in its preliminary development its focus is only on the happiness of particular beings.
The Triple Gem makes one actualize the practice, without which one only pretends to practice metta -- only says the words, but does not know metta.
What actualizes the practice is not the Triple Gem, but rather, the repeated advertence to the proximate cause of mettā, namely, sattānaṃ manāpabhāva-dassana — the perception of what is lovable in living beings.
I remember trying to do metta without the Triple Gem -- it just didn't work.
Fair enough, but you over-generalize when you claim that your experience will be true for everyone.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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