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

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

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Nibbida
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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.


metta

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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.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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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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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby waterchan » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:09 pm

Do we now have a better idea of the earliest origins of these concepts?

An educated guess might be that the near and far enemies of the Brahmaviharas are commentarial and not used in the suttas. That does not diminish their importance; this is easily one of the most useful commentarial concepts I've encountered.
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Re: Who defined near & far enemies of the Brahma-viharas?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:23 am

As far as I know they are not in the suttas. There is a lot of detail in the Visiddhimagga and I suggest you look through that for references.

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

Postby culaavuso » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:46 am

waterchan wrote:Do we now have a better idea of the earliest origins of these concepts?

An educated guess might be that the near and far enemies of the Brahmaviharas are commentarial and not used in the suttas. That does not diminish their importance; this is easily one of the most useful commentarial concepts I've encountered.


The Visuddhimagga appears to reference MN 137: Saḷāyatana­vibhaṅga Sutta and DN 33: Saṅgīti Sutta in its discussion of near and far enemies. A search of the CST4 Tipiṭaka for the specific terms near enemy (āsannapaccatthika) and far enemy (dūrapaccatthika) appears to only have matches in the commentaries and later texts.

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

Postby santa100 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:52 am

Nibbida wrote: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?

They're new terms to elaborate original concepts in the suttas. For example, regarding far enemy:
Vism IX.98 wrote:And ill will, which is dissimilar to the similar greed, is its far enemy like a foe ensconced in a rock wilderness. So loving-kindness must be practiced free from fear of that; for it is not possible to practice loving-kindness and feel anger simultaneously

Which elaborates what was mentioned in DN 33:
http://suttacentral.net/en/dn33 wrote:If you develop the emancipation of the heart through loving-kindness, ill-will has no chance to envelop your heart. This emancipation through loving-kindness is the cure for ill-will.

Likewise for near enemy:
Vism IX.99 wrote:Compassion has grief based on the home life as its near enemy, since both share in seeing failure.

which elaborates what was mentioned in MN 137:
MN 137 wrote:When one regards as a non-gain the non-gain of forms cognizable by the eye that are wished for, desired, agreeable, gratifying, and associated with worldliness—or when one recalls what was formerly not obtained that has passed, ceased, and changed—grief arises. Such grief as this is called grief based on the household life.


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