I was originally responding to your comment:
Nowheat wrote:The Buddha's methods don't seem to me to be aimed at liberating individuals so much as at reducing suffering in the world for all beings, liberated or not.
and so I posted a couple of verses from 'Khaggavisana Sutta: A Rhinoceros' because (in my opinion) I don't think the Buddha's aim was to "save all beings" to use the Mahayana phrase.
And where, in the quote that you are responding to, do you find me talking about "save all beings"? Please notice that I said "reduce suffering in the world for all beings" and "liberated or not". I was quite specifically not talking about "saving all beings".
nowheat wrote:And yet, the Buddha points out that if one was constantly engaged in metta practice, one could not do things that would bring dukkha.
I've not read anything that says one can become an arahant just through metta practice.
Is one of the things that defines being an arahant, being liberated from dukkha? If so, how about this:
from AN 10.208 Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:
"What do you think, monks: If that youth, from childhood, were to develop the awareness-release through good will, would he do any evil action?"
"Not doing any evil action, would he touch suffering?"
"No, lord, for when one does no evil action, from where would he touch suffering?"
-- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I agree that I have never found the Buddha saying outright that metta practice alone makes one an arahant. I actually can't recall him saying that any of the practices he recommends can, alone, make one into an arahant. But the above certainly indicates that once fully involved in metta, no deeds that result in dukkha would take place, and I don't see that as different from being an arahant, except in the wording. He puts it a different way, yes, but it comes out to the same thing. I would guess that if one was fully engaged in metta all the time it would be because all the other factors -- insight, right view, and non-delusion among them -- would be right there along with it, just like Rule #1 "Understand Dukkha" actually incorporates the other three points that follow it, because without them, there isn't a full understanding of dukkha.
However, I don't think there's much point in us playing extended "point ping pong" (as you put it) because this is a rebirth thread which continually keeps getting way off topic, so that's all from me for now.
I am not sure why you'd define what we're talking about as being outside a discussion of rebirth, Aloka, and therefore abandon the field of engagement so readily, but how the Buddha envisioned the working of karma is actually important to what I am trying to explain. It is in no way "off topic" that I can see. Case in point:
Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes on the snippet above (he has it as AN 10.219) indicate that he can't work out how the above makes sense within the context of his understanding of the dhamma. I submit that the reason he has this problem is because he is certain that the Buddha, when talking of karma, always intended the karmic system to include carrying the results of deeds from one life to the next, but that this piece, and others like it, show that this was not the Buddha's actual point. Rebirth is used in the Buddha's talks as a frame for his lessons, it isn't the lesson itself.