Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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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Alobha
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by Alobha » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:58 pm

Thanks for the responses friends.
Modus.Ponens wrote:In this sutta the Buddha advises that the practice of metta and other brahmaviharas should be taken from the first to the fourth jhana. Specificaly, it recomends practicing equanimity from the first to the 4th jhana, proving that the Visudhimagga is wrong.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... .than.html
The Visuddhimagga says the same, in fact, you just found a Sutta that is in accordance with the VisuddhiMagga here.
Then you should train yourself thus: 'Good-will (1), as my awareness-release, will be developed, pursued, [...]
"When this concentration is thus developed, thus well-developed by you, you should then train yourself thus: 'Compassion (2), as my awareness-release... Appreciation (3), as my awareness-release... Equanimity (4), as my awareness-release, will be developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, & well-undertaken.'
What's really interesting here is: mindfulness of the body and of feelings (part of the foundations of mindfulness) come after the Brahma Viharas. The Sequence in the suttas as signalised by "When .... is thus developed, then" indicate that the order is not random. Both the VisuddhiMagga and this Sutta refer to the Brahma Viharas in a sequential order, where you first practice good-will untill you reach the higher jhanas, then compassion, then appreciation, then equanimity.
Furthermore, In the most systematised way the Buddha taught the entire path, which is found in the Mahaparinibbana sutta, of the 37 things to develop to attain enlightenment, there is only direct mentioning of one brahmavihara: equanimity. Aditionaly, development of each brahmavihara leads to rebirth among the brahmas, and equanimity leads to rebirth among the highest brahmas.
I agree here. Of the four BrahmaViharas, only Upekkha / Equanimity is a link to awakening (sambojjhanga).

So there is still no clear reason for me, why Metta comes first and why there is this sequence. Metta is the best for merit making, but it's not a sambojjhanga.
I don't think the Brahma Viharas are intended to be practiced in order any more than the Eightfold Path is. I think the idea is to develop all parts simultaneously, as much as one is able. But I've been wrong before.
That may be right for a less-formal training of the Brahma Viharas, where it depends much on the situation what is most skillful to develop. However, it stands in contrast with the non-random order given like in the Sankhitta Sutta (and a few other Suttas) and the Visuddhi Magga. Even if one wants to see the Visuddhi Magga as perhaps not the best orientation, i'm still left with Suttas suggesting an order I don't understand.

I don't know. This is all very confusing.
Cittasanto wrote:One possibility is that we need to gladden the mind before balancing it.
but the reverse could be true also.
Believe it or not, that was helpful.
I'm not sure yet, but I'll investigate further. It is possible that Metta, Karuna and Mudita prepare the mind for Upekkha. So Upekkha would be the most important, but the others need to be trained before that. Considering how easy it is to drop from equanimity into indifference, taking out all anger with Metta, Karuna and Mudita before going for Upekkha would be a very skillful approach. Hm.
Last edited by Alobha on Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by Modus.Ponens » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:00 pm

I'm sorry for wrongly interpreting the information you gave on the Visuddhimagga.

You are correct, the Buddha gave that instruction in order.

However, there's a danger in taking the words of the Buddha as categorical statements and not as context dependent. My interpretation is that if you want to develop all the Brahmaviharas, then you should do it in that order. But if you want to deal with specific emotions, you should develop the apropriate brahmavihara by it self. If, for example, you are very jealus of others' happiness, it doesn't make sense to develop metta and karuna first. What makes sense to me is to develop mudita.

I could be wrong, of course. Just as I've been wrong in this very thread. But this is what makes sense to me.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:13 pm

Alobha wrote: That may be right for a less-formal training of the Brahma Viharas, where it depends much on the situation what is most skillful to develop. However, it stands in contrast with the non-random order given like in the Sankhitta Sutta (and a few other Suttas) and the Visuddhi Magga.
See also this recent discussion of the Sanghahitta Sutta:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=15015" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:21 am

Alobha wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:One possibility is that we need to gladden the mind before balancing it.
but the reverse could be true also.
Believe it or not, that was helpful.
I'm sure yet, but I'll investigate further. It is possible that Metta, Karuna and Mudita prepare the mind for Upekkha. So Upekkha would be the most important, but the others need to be trained before that. Considering how easy it is to drop from equanimity into indifference, taking out all anger with Metta, Karuna and Mudita before going for Upekkha would be a very skillful approach. Hm.
OK.
I think the type of person where the reverse would be true would be rather rare, and they would have more subtle than gross defilements.

Each are of course useful in different situations and indifference is more useful than being moved by things happening around us at times. but as a formal practice of development with (for arguments sake) the 16 steps of Anapanasati & Jhana in mind balance is a key element all the way through, not just a result.
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SarathW
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:54 am

Hi Dawn
You wrote:
There is one path in end of suffering - dispassion.

-------------
I agree. What I think is all insight meditation is directing towards eliminating attachment.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by Alobha » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:27 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Alobha wrote: That may be right for a less-formal training of the Brahma Viharas, where it depends much on the situation what is most skillful to develop. However, it stands in contrast with the non-random order given like in the Sankhitta Sutta (and a few other Suttas) and the Visuddhi Magga.
See also this recent discussion of the Sanghahitta Sutta:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=15015" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike
Thanks Mike. I don't look into the study section very often, but this was very helpful indeed! :anjali: It's interesting that there are clearly different sequential approaches to awakening and of course those depended on the context / the person who asked the Buddha for advice. Neither of them are "wrong", since they all work and lead to the same result, but different people benefit from different advice on how to best proceed. I think that's important to keep in mind.

Best wishes,
Alobha

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:05 pm

The following link also may help:

http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_Walpo ... Taught.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Page 32 states:

It should not be thought that the eight categories or divisions of the Path
should be followed and practiced one after the other in the numerical order. But they are to be developed more or less simultaneously, as
far as possible according to the capacity of each individual. They are all linked
together and each helps the cultivation of the others.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Post by Dhammanando » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:53 pm

Alobha wrote: I for example would, right now, profit more from cultivating Upekkha but it doesn't look like I'm meant to develop this Brahma Vihara before reaching the third jhana in the other three.
It isn't that you're not meant to develop upekkhā *at all* before reaching the third jhāna in the other three. Rather, it's that you're not meant to develop it with with the fourth jhāna as your aim. This is not to say that you can't develop it with other aims. For example, in the mettabhāvanā section of the Brahmavihāra chapter you will find quite a number of upekkhā-arousing practices, such as recollection of ownership of kamma. The mettā-developing yogi doesn't practice these aiming at the fourth jhāna, but rather to get over any antipathy towards particular beings that is impeding his arrival at non-discriminating mettā.

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