Cultivating ALL brahmaviharas towards oneself

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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Cultivating ALL brahmaviharas towards oneself

Postby Awarewolf » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:44 am

I am mainly speaking about the cultivation of these attitudes during daily life. I commonly hear of directing goodwill (metta) and equanimity towards oneself. But the descriptions of compassion (karuna) and joy (mudita) are always in terms of another. If metta and equanimity can be directed towards others also, why can't karuna and mudita be directed towards oneself? Maybe they can, I just haven't read this anywhere yet.

It makes more sense to me like this. Just say I'm feeling down. I can send metta to myself, but sometimes it takes a great deal of forced effort to get through negative feelings (panic attack, anxiety, etc.) and cultivate good intentions. I did this this morning on the way to the morning work meeting. I've had a couple panic attacks up there but as I felt those feelings this morning I fought through with good-will and positivism and walked upstairs to the meeting happy. This was difficult though, it was forced. This may not be easy or safe in the long run to go about a strategy like this for coping with this particular problem. Please also note I look to develop the sublime attitudes for further reasons as well.

If I was to, however, have compassion (karuna) for myself instead, then I could much more easily surrender to my current self and the feelings I experience. From there it seems logical to recall equanimity and karma's role....which would lead to realizing that the past can't be changed and the need to focus on goodwill (metta) for myself now.

And what about when I'm extra happy? Laughing with others? Can I feel joy (mudita) for myself as I would feel for others when they are happy? This only makes sense to me but I want to find back-up from a Buddhist perspective like the suttas.

It seems to be somewhat forced, when I'm feeling down or particularly high, to realize "I'm not doing it right. I should be focused on kindness and goodwill for myself" and become consciously focused in changing a situation that would do better with karuna or mudita over metta. Thanissaro considers karuna and mudita to be extensions of metta anyways, so this seems to be the case. Any comments?

Lastly, when does one move past oneself and onto others? I understand that in formal private meditation, we should be becoming very concentrated, and as you become stable in these feelings on yourself, you can safely move to the next safest person on the list.
But in daily life? For a beginner working at these attitudes, should I just stick to directing goodwill, compassion, joy and equanimity towards myself whenever I can? And spread these feelings towards others as the time calls for it? (ex. a person shows me they need a hand ...compassion, or they tell me a joke in a happy I don't want to get caught up in focusing on others when I haven't stabilized the feelings for myself.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. :console:

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Re: Cultivating ALL brahmaviharas towards oneself

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:09 am

For me, always looking out for number 1, means looking out for my friend, not me, I'm number 2, or 3, or 4, I probably don't need to give myself as much attention and care as I do my friends(I mean I'm pretty well taken care of).

But you seem to have the opposite problem, maybe you are neglecting yourself, and really need to take care of yourself first. See if it works, but NEVER give up on your friends, thinking only of yourself, that's a lonely place to be.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

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Re: Cultivating ALL brahmaviharas towards oneself

Postby SarathW » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:16 am

Hi Awarewolf
Sorry I cant give your a short and direct answer to your question.
Please read page 489 - Chapter 42 of attached link. Please let me know whether it is any help. :) ... gsurw6.pdf
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Cultivating ALL brahmaviharas towards oneself

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:39 am

Greetings awarewolf,

You may be interested in this previous discussion...

Personal experiences of mudita ~ appreciative joy

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)

"You've got to focus on what's really worthwhile in life, which means resisting a lot of the currents in our culture" (Thanissaro)

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Re: Cultivating ALL brahmaviharas towards oneself

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:21 am

For instance, there's the passage where the Buddha is talking to his son and says that when you make a mistake, resolve not to make it again. If you see that your actions have gone off course, resolve not to do them again. When they've been on course, develop a sense of happiness and joy. Often we mistrust that joy. We think somehow that the critical thoughts in our mind are more real, and that the more self-congratulatory thoughts are deluded. Well, that's not the case. When you do something right, you should congratulate yourself on it as a means of encouragement, to give some juice to the path. Otherwise it's very easy for things to get dry. If you criticize yourself about your actions all the time, you find yourself totally hemmed in. Remember that you do do some things right. Focus on those to put the mind in a good mood.
Varieties of Mindfulness

We sometimes feel embarrassed to congratulate ourselves on how things are going, but that embarrassment doesn't help at all. Recognizing when the meditation is going well and learning how to appreciate when it's going well will give you a reference point. When you start getting discouraged about the whole process, you can remember that there were times when it went well. And it's really worth whatever effort it takes to get it going well again.
How to be Alone

"Having done a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it. Feeling distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it, you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.
MN 61

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