Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

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Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby Nibbida » Wed May 05, 2010 8:02 pm

I saw on the website below that the proximate causes of metta are "seeing the goodness in people" and "seeing that all beings want to be happy and free from suffering"
http://www.ashokaedu.net/samples/bv1f.htm

Can anyone point to a good resource that lists the proximate causes for all of the Brahma-viharas?

Thanks :anjali:
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 05, 2010 10:28 pm

Hi Adosa,

See page 86 of A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hxo ... &q&f=false for where that quote comes from:
(6) Non-hatred (adosa). i..e metta, etc.
(7) Covers equanimity, but doesn't seem to give a proximate cause.
See page 89 for compassion (seeing helplessness in those overwhelmed by suffering) and appreciative joy (seeing the success of others).

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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby Nibbida » Wed May 05, 2010 10:56 pm

Hmmm. Apparently the Visuddhimagga, (lX, 96) lists reflection on kamma as the proximate cause of equanimity:

Equanimity is characterized as promoting the aspect of neutrality towards beings. its function is to see equality in beings. It is manifested as the quieting of resentment and approval. its proximate cause is seeing ownership of deeds (kamma) thus: "Beings are owners of their deeds. Whose (if not theirs) is the choice by which they will become happy, or will get free from suffering, or will not fall away from the success they have reached?" It succeeds when it makes resentment and approval subside, and it fails when it produces the equanimity of unknowing, which is that (worldly-minded indifference of ignorance) based on the home-life.

Incidentally, this is from a book called Cetasikas by Nina Van Gorkom (1999). This book and others by her can be downloaded from:
http://www.zolag.co.uk/ebook.html


So the proximate causes are:

Metta: seeing the goodness in others, seeing that all beings want happiness and freedom from suffering
Karuna: seeing the helplessness of others in suffering
Mudita: seeing the successes of others
Upekkha: seeing ownership of deeds
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 06, 2010 2:08 am

Thanks for that Nibbida,

This is consistent with the Sublime Attitudes chant:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#sublime
(METTĀ — GOOD WILL)
Sabbe sattā sukhitā hontu.
May all living beings be happy.
Sabbe sattā averā hontu.
May all living beings be free from animosity.
Sabbe sattā abyāpajjhā hontu.
May all living beings be free from oppression.
Sabbe sattā anīghā hontu.
May all living beings be free from trouble.
Sabbe sattā sukhī attānaṃ pariharantu.
May all living beings look after themselves with ease.

(KARUṆĀ — COMPASSION)
Sabbe sattā sabba-dukkhā pamuccantu.
May all living beings be freed from all stress & pain.

(MUDITĀ — APPRECIATION)
Sabbe sattā laddha-sampattito mā vigacchantu.
May all living beings not be deprived of the good fortune they have attained.

(UPEKKHĀ — EQUANIMITY)
Sabbe sattā kammassakā kamma-dāyādā kamma-yonī kamma-bandhū kamma-paṭisaraṇā.
All living beings are the owners of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions.
Yaṃ kammaṃ karissanti kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā tassa dāyādā bhavissanti.
Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.

It's good to think about the meaning of those verses.

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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby PeterB » Thu May 06, 2010 8:32 am

Indeed. I was taught that the cause and foundation of Upekkha is the taking of responsibility.
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 10:10 am

Greetings,

This verse...

All living beings are the owners of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.


... leaves me cold. People ignorantly do stupid things, and because they will suffer for that, we react with equanimity? Compassion seems a more apt response to such a tragic circumstance.

To be honest, this verse seems more like a method of stilling hatred and jealousy against your enemies, rather than cultivating true equanimity. Even then it's pretty indirect... it could all too easily turn into a "ha ha, he'll get what's coming to him" sentiment, and that is strongly related to "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me"... a view we're not to harbour.

The only way it could work perhaps, is if I turned my scope inward. If I see that my own stupid actions will bring bad results, I will consciously try to still and calm these unwholesome tendencies so that I do not act in mindlessly harmful ways. Seeing that I would be heir to my kamma, I would aim to act less rashly.

Well that's the view from here. If there's a proximite cause for equanimity, it's sati (imo).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby PeterB » Thu May 06, 2010 10:38 am

I think thats right Retro..to turn ones gaze inwards. And the way that one turns that gaze inwards is by sati. Not by endless rumination on ones deeds or those of another beyond the acknowledgement in the case of ones own deeds, when they lack wisdom, are unskillful.
I think that development of sati is at least in part what is meant by taking responsibility.

I think its also worth reminding ourselves that the Brahma Viharas work in concert and should be developed as such.
Upekkha is not an end in itself, it is developed with Metta and with Mudita and Karuna. They together are the pillars that sustain Right View etc.
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 10:54 am

Greetings Peter,

I agree with you there, but that certainly doesn't seem like the intended sentiment behind the Visuddhimagga quote or the sublime attitudes chant.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby appicchato » Thu May 06, 2010 10:57 am

(UPEKKHĀ — EQUANIMITY)
All living beings are the owners of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions.

FWIW...this definition of equanimity is not in line with the world I live in...not by a long shot...nor is PeterB's understanding of it (I'm not saying it's wrong Peter, just that it's not in line with my understanding...quite far away, actually)...the two most prevalent definitions of equanimity (that I've seen) are 1. evenness of mind (an equitable one), and 2. right disposition (again, an equitable one)...where does action, owners, heirs, birth, relations, and dependence come into the picture?...and then there's responsibility...responsibility?...apples and oranges...all of it...once again the propensity (for some/most) to make things more complicated than they are, or need to be...just the view from this angle, nothing more...
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby PeterB » Thu May 06, 2010 11:04 am

Perhaps I have expressed myself badly Bhante. I was not giving a definition or description of Upekkha.
I was relaying one of the ways I was taught that are likely to dispose the mind to Upekkha..I was taught that it was in fact a by product if the other BV's. And that it starts by taking responsibility for ones actions.

I would be grateful to have it pointed out if this is in erroneous.
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 06, 2010 11:11 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:People ignorantly do stupid things, and because they will suffer for that, we react with equanimity? Compassion seems a more apt response to such a tragic circumstance.

Of course we should have compassion. As far as equanimity is concerned you may be confusing equanimity with its "near enemy": indifference.

And, as Peter says, the Brahamaviharas come as a group that support each other. Without equanimity it is very easy for compassion to fall into its near enemy, variously translated as sadness or pity.

One develops compassion for others, does ones best to help them, but recognises that beings are a product of past kamma and not under our control. So our help and compassion may well be totally ineffective.

Here are some extracts from Patrick Kearney's instructions on cultivation of the Brahmaviharas that used to be on his web site.
Patrick Kearney wrote:Equanimity (upekkhā) is balance and impartiality itself, seeing the universality of happiness and sorrow and understanding that these states arise in all of us in the same way and for the same reasons.
...
All the sublime states are based on empathy, and the impartiality which is
implicit in empathy. Love (mettā) is founded on the understanding that just as
I want to be happy, so do others; just as others want to be happy, so do I.
Compassion (karuṇā) is founded on the understanding that just as I suffer, so
do others; just as others suffer, so do I. Joy (muditā) is founded on the
understanding that just as I rejoice in my happiness, so do others; just as
others rejoice in their happiness, so do I. And equanimity (upekkhā) is the
maturing of impartiality, the understanding that all beings pass through
happiness and sorrow in the same way and for the same reasons. Empathy
begins with oneself, and so the practice of the sublime states begins with
oneself.
...
Upekkhā
Self: Return your attention to your own body, re-establishing your sense of
being grounded in the body. Bring awareness to your heart. And now reflect
how your happiness and sorrow have come about through your own actions
throughout your life; how the choices you have made, and continue to make,
condition the kind of life you lead. We create our own lives through how we
respond to the challenges and opportunities that come our way, and I alone am
the one responsible for the choices I make. Then maintain a stream of
reflections along the lines of: “I am what I have done; I shall be what I do.“

Others: Now bring to mind others you know, in no particular order. As the
image of each arises in your mind, reflect: “S/he is what s/he has done; s/he
will be what s/he does.” Allow yourself to let go of any wishes that things be
different from the way they are. Things are as they are because of natural
conditions, in particular our choices as expressed through our actions. You may
reflect, “Things are, as they are.”

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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 11:20 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Of course we should have compassion. As far as equanimity is concerned you may be confusing equanimity with its "near enemy": indifference.

No, I just think the first two quotes in this topic regarding equanimity were very indirect and potentially counter-productive, that's all.

Equanimity is best developed in relation to one's own responses to challenging circumstances, not through knowing that others get what's coming to them.

Accordingly, I think Patrick Kearney's method is far more satisfactory than Buddhaghosa's.

The function of equanimity isn't "to see equality in beings", it's to be mentally balanced regardless of circumstances.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby PeterB » Thu May 06, 2010 11:24 am

That is very much in line with what i was taught Mike...that in fact none of the BV's stand alone. None are ends in themselves. Metta without Upekkha can become a sentimental over identification with the other. Upekkha without Metta can lapse into indifference. And so on.

How do you see the issue Ven Appicchato ?
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby appicchato » Thu May 06, 2010 11:34 am

PeterB wrote:Perhaps I have expressed myself badly Bhante. I was not giving a definition or description of Upekkha.
I was relaying one of the ways I was taught that are likely to dispose the mind to Upekkha..I was taught that it was in fact a by product if the other BV's. And that it starts by taking responsibility for ones actions.

I would be grateful to have it pointed out if this is in erroneous.


I don't see it this way Peter, but that's neither here nor there...one man's erroneous is another man's righteous, and if you're happy with the way you were taught, wonderful...the main reason I've commented here (and again, not directed towards you specifically) is to wonder, publicly, why, oh why, do we have to add, subtract, and twist, so many, many, things that don't require (that I see) the doing so of?...I guess I should chill out, I could very well be losing it...and in the end, whatever I say, nothing's really going to change either way anyway...

Be well... :smile:
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby PeterB » Thu May 06, 2010 11:38 am

I would genuinely like to know how in your view it has become twisted Bhante. If its not appropriate to push you on it then forgive my pushiness, If I have been taught wrongly or even just differently, it could well help me and others to know how......... :smile:
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 06, 2010 11:40 am

retrofuturist wrote:Accordingly, I think Patrick Kearney's method is far more satisfactory than Buddhaghosa's.

What are you referring to as "Buddhaghosa's method"? Interestingly, Visuddhimagga IX-88 ... doesn't mention the "beings are owners of their kamma..." approach.

In fact, since he discusses it in the context of concentration, he states that one should already have cultivated the first three jhana in the other three divine abidings. One then recognises that the joy cultivated in those jhanas is gross and needs to be abandoned to go further.

The instructions include to "...arouse equanimity by looking on with equanimity at a person who is normally neutral, then a dear person, ..., then through the neutral one he should break down the barriers in each case between the three people, that is, the dear person, then the boon companion, and then the hostile one, and lastly himself..."

Mike
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 11:40 am

Greetings bhante,

When the Blessed One has spoken the Dhamma so well, I cannot help but agree with your concerns regarding proliferation.

Extract from DN 21: Sakka-pañha Sutta
http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/D ... /dn-21.htm

The Blessed One wrote:"'Equanimity is of two sorts, I tell you: to be pursued & not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? When one knows of a feeling of equanimity, 'As I pursue this equanimity, unskillful mental qualities increase, and skillful mental qualities decline,' that sort of equanimity is not to be pursued. When one knows of a feeling of equanimity, 'As I pursue this equanimity, unskillful mental qualities decline, and skillful mental qualities increase,' that sort of equanimity is to be pursued. And this sort of equanimity may be accompanied by directed thought & evaluation or free of directed thought & evaluation. Of the two, the latter is the more refined. 'Equanimity is of two sorts, I tell you: to be pursued & not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.


Venerable Appicchato wrote:why, oh why, do we have to add, subtract, and twist, so many, many, things that don't require (that I see) the doing so of?...

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby appicchato » Thu May 06, 2010 11:45 am

PeterB wrote:...that in fact none of the BV's stand alone. None are ends in themselves. Metta without Upekkha can become a sentimental over identification with the other. Upekkha without Metta can lapse into indifference. And so on.

How do you see the issue Ven Appicchato ?


Well...I see (each of) the BV's quite able to stand alone...that they can (quite handily) be ends in themselves...metta is metta, with, or without, upekkha, and may, or may not, become a sentimental oversimplification with the other...and that upekkha, without metta, may, or may not, lapse into indifference...and so on...
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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 11:49 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:What are you referring to as "Buddhaghosa's method"?


Everything quoted from him to date in this topic, including what you just posted, is about how the practitioner feels about and regards other beings (and their kammic fate).

Other beings aren't the point... it's how we respond to circumstances, or more specifically to the five aggregates, the six senses and so on.

The thing I've been least equanimous about today was realising that I'd left my work pass at home. How does Buddhaghosa's method help with that?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Proximate causes of the Brahma-vViharas

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 06, 2010 11:50 am

Hi Retro,

These statements about beings being owners of their kamma is also in the Suttas:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Students, beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator. Kamma is what creates distinctions among beings in terms of coarseness & refinement."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"'I am the owner of my actions,1 heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' ...

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