Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

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Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby Nibbida » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:51 am

I looked in the suttas and couldn't find any obvious mention of near and far enemies of the Brahma-viharas. Are they expressed in different terms or are they from some later writing, like the Visuddhimagga?

Thanks.
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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby Anicca » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:16 am

From Metta - The Philosophy and Practice of Universal Love by Acharya Buddharakkhita

In the practice of metta it is important to understand the emotions which nullify metta either by being similar or being dissimilar. The Visuddhimagga calls them "the two enemies — the near and the remote." Greed, lust, worldly affection, sensuality — all these are said to be the "near enemies" because they are similar in tendencies. The lustful also sees the "good side" or "beauty," and therefore gets involved. Love should be protected from it lest the masquerades of these emotions deceive the meditator.


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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:19 am

Hi Nibbida,

Good question. I haven't seen anything obvious in Suttas. They are certainly in the Visuddhimagga. However, since the Visuddhimagga summarizes material from Vinaya, Suttas, Abhidhamma, and Commentaries, I'm not sure exactly where they first appear.

:anjali:
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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby Nibbida » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:12 am

Thank you friends. So far, it seems the Visuddhimagga is the earliest documented reference to this formulation.

It's funny. Once in a while I think about some piece of information I know about Buddhism and I stop and ask where exactly it came from. Often it's right from a sutta, but sometimes (like this) it's not.
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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:37 am

Nibbida wrote:Thank you friends. So far, it seems the Visuddhimagga is the earliest documented reference to this formulation.

I would not jump to any such conclusion until I had a thorough knowledge of the Suttas and Commentaries.

Finding a reference to show that something is in the Canon is relatively easy, proving that it is not is an entirely different matter. If you find something in the Visuddhimagga or Milindapañha, or in the works of well-respected contemporary authors like Venerable Ledi Sayādaw or Mahāsī Sayādaw, it is best to withhold judgement.

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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:46 am

Greetings,

I don't recall having encountered it in the suttas to date, but of course, absence of proof is not proof of absence.

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:21 am

You should have no doubt that lust and affection are the enemies of loving-kindness (metta).

An entire chapter of the Dhammapada is devoted to the dangers of Affection.

What the ordinary person with an undeveloped mind thinks of as love is defiled by affection, attachment, possessiveness, and lust. The Visuddhimagga goes into great detail on the way to develop the Brahmavihāra of Metta, saying that first one must get rid of all traces of anger and resentment — the far enemy — before one can begin the practice properly. Then, one should not choose a person of the opposite sex,¹ towards whom sexual desire could easily arise, nor a person who is a close relative, for whom affection and grief could arise. Rather, one should chose a person one holds in great respect such as a teacher or preceptor. It is easier to develop metta towards such a person, without the dangers of lust or affection. If developing metta towards your own mother or father, there might be no danger of lust, but the near enemy of affection could easily arise, and if any harm or danger threatens them, anger or fear might develop due to that affection.

¹ Presumably homosexuals should do though, as they would be likely to develop lust for a person of the same sex.
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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby Nibbida » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:13 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Nibbida wrote:Thank you friends. So far, it seems the Visuddhimagga is the earliest documented reference to this formulation.

I would not jump to any such conclusion until I had a thorough knowledge of the Suttas and Commentaries.

Finding a reference to show that something is in the Canon is relatively easy, proving that it is not is an entirely different matter. If you find something in the Visuddhimagga or Milindapañha, or in the works of well-respected contemporary authors like Venerable Ledi Sayādaw or Mahāsī Sayādaw, it is best to withhold judgement.

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I haven't made any conclusions, but thank you for making the point.
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