A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

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A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:39 pm

Anyone have any thoughts about the practice and cultivation of mettā during online discussions? What factors make it easier (or more difficult) for each of us to cultivate metta (and also the rest of the brahama viharas) when communicating online? And why is this important (or not)?

:coffee: :rules: :offtopic: :spy: :toilet: :juggling: :smile: :group: :stirthepot: :computerproblem: :meditate: :jedi:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:57 pm

Thank you for starting this topic, (((Chris))).

I was thinking about starting a topic myself, to ask about what exactly constitutes meta discussion (and metta in discussions) since I looked in the TOS, but must have overlooked it.

And why is this important (or not)?


Well, I think metta in discussions helps to keep our communications tactful, peaceful, good willed, encouraging, uplifting and, all in all, pleasant.

Metta is the ruling principle in right speech, I think.

But we're all not perfect...and words are like arrows.

Once shot into the air, you can't catch them anymore and bring them back.

But you can kill with such an arrow, or cause a wound that produces pus for years... :weep:

A :anjali:
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:21 pm

Meta discussion is discussion about discussion and/or about those discussing. This whole thread could be seen as meta discussion.

Non meta discussion does not attempt to dictate the tone of the discussion. It does not for example assume that challenging a view vigorously is contrary to metta.
Personally the times I have learned most was when challenged vigorously by Ajahn Sucitto, Ajahn Munindo ( phew! ) and even more so by Trungpa Rinpoche. I never doubted that when being shouted at by Trungpa Rinpoche that he doing it as a result of metta.
It is why human face to face Sangha is essential so as not to develop an oversensitivity to that which we feel discomfort. Either for ourselves or others. Metta and its expression takes infinite forms.Because people take infinite forms. The criterion for metta is not style. Its motive. And the motives of others will always be a matter of speculation. The only way to avoid speculation is to stick to the topic..not to attempt to introduce a particular style of answer.
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby Hanzze » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:48 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby zavk » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:50 pm

christopher::: wrote:Anyone have any thoughts about the practice and cultivation of mettā during online discussions? What factors make it easier (or more difficult) for each of us to cultivate metta (and also the rest of the brahama viharas) when communicating online? And why is this important (or not)?


Oh... for me, online discussions present some of the best opportunities to strengthen Right Effort, which as you know, is about the commitment to the relinquishing of unwholesomeness (i.e. pride, anger, impatience, etc) and the development of wholesomeness (humility, lovingkindness, patience, etc). This, for me, is the primary criterion for deciding whether to participate in any discussion or not--much more so than Right View. So sometimes, even though I see what appears to be unskilful or wrong views in discussions and even though I have points to raise, I refrain from participating if I do not feel that I can honour my commitment to Right Effort, to wholesomeness rather than unwholesomeness.

But this is not to say that I do not get annoyed by some of the things I read. I get annoyed like everyone else. :computerproblem:

However, I've come to feel that my life-practice somehow becomes 'breezier' if I keep my annoyance to myself rather than give it expression. I find that the more I give it expression, the more they linger in my consciousness. And the more they linger in my consciousness, the more likely I am to stumble into situations (both online and offline) that arouses and trap me unwholesomeness. So more than anything else, it is about making things easier for myself--I suppose you could say that it is first and foremost about metta towards myself

:anjali: :smile: :group:
Last edited by zavk on Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby andre9999 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:00 pm

Zavk, I don't know who you are, but in the last few days you've had some of the best posts I've seen on here.

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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby zavk » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:03 pm

Oh thanks, you're very kind, Obi-wan-headed one. :)
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:23 pm

Hanzze wrote: My laptop is breaking down all 30 min, it allways runs hot *lol*.


Hey, du, "wie der Herr, so sein G'scherr!" ;)

"As the master, so his staff!

Only kidding, of course. My laptop doesn't like it too warm either. But I do.

So when I feel warm enough, he turns the fan on, and takes a break...... :lol:



Which color was that?
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby chownah » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:26 pm

I think that the most important aspect of metta during discussions is that if you read an abrasive post that you maintain metta while reading it....if every post was polite and insipid then there would be no challenge to maintain metta while reading this site....in other words you take care of your metta and I'll take care of mine....my guess is that you have no idea about my state of metta while posting and you just interpret my post for metta content through your own twisted sense of what metta is supposed to be....but....like all dhammas it is empty...it is soooo empty in fact that if you shout into it it will echo....don't believe me?....just try it......it.......it.......it.....

chownah...nah...nah....nah....
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:27 pm

zavk wrote:So sometimes, even though I see what appears to be unskilful or wrong views in discussions and even though I have points to raise, I refrain from participating if I do not feel that I can honour my commitment to Right Effort, to wholesomeness rather than unwholesomeness.

But this is not to say that I do not get annoyed by some of the things I read. I get annoyed like everyone else. :computerproblem:

However, I've come to feel that my life-practice somehow becomes 'breezier' if I keep my annoyance to myself rather than give it expression. I find that the more I give it expression, the more they linger in my consciousness. And the more they linger in my consciousness, the more likely I am to stumble into situations (both online and offline) that arouses and trap me unwholesomeness. So more than anything else, it is about making things easier for myself--I suppose you could say that it is first and foremost about metta towards myself

:anjali: :smile: :group:


Super insight! :bow:
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:21 pm

Thanks all for sharing your perspectives, and I agree, excellent insights zavk! You mentioned patience (kshanti), which is definitely another of the wholesome virtues that online conversations give us the chance to cultivate.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby Nyana » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:31 pm

PeterB wrote:It is why human face to face Sangha is essential so as not to develop an oversensitivity to that which we feel discomfort.

Indeed.
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:41 pm

I of course meant to write "to that WITH which we feel discomfort " Geoff. :embarassed:

metta ,

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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby Nibbida » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:23 pm

Christopher, I love the curious and thoughtful nature of the questions you post and of your approach overall.

If I'm not practicing metta here, then I'm just flapping my proverbial gums. If I feel annoyance, then there's all the more reason to be mindful of it and make an intentional choice about how to proceed rather than blindly swirling in the downward spiral of the twelve links of dependent origination (rather than the upward spiral of Transcendental Dependent Arising).

There isn't a single time that I feel annoyance that I'm not clinging to something, most often to views. Annoyance cannot persist in the absence of clinging. Even if I find myself in opposition to someone's expressed view or to their overall style of interpreting the Dhamma, there is also the choice to recognize that every single person on this forum is seeking to eliminate suffering and experience happiness (as are all sentient beings). If I'm responding to someone (or even thinking about someone in the absence of responding) and I'm not doing it from a place of metta, then what am I really accomplishing? It's more downward spiral, which is contrary to the purpose of participating here. There's a difference between spinning our wheels and turning of the wheel.

It's truly walking the razor's edge, as it were, neither suppressing annoyance nor indulging it, but instead watching it with as much mindfulness, equanimity, and compassion as I can muster. From that point, thinking and responding with metta is much more possible.

One of my favorite teachers is Christina Feldman, who said, "The quality of mindfulness is imbued with warmth, compassion, and interest. In the light of this engaged attention we discover it is impossible to hate or fear anything or anyone we truly understand."
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby christopher::: » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:01 am

Nibbida wrote:
If I'm not practicing metta here, then I'm just flapping my proverbial gums. If I feel annoyance, then there's all the more reason to be mindful of it and make an intentional choice about how to proceed rather than blindly swirling in the downward spiral of the twelve links of dependent origination (rather than the upward spiral of Transcendental Dependent Arising).

There isn't a single time that I feel annoyance that I'm not clinging to something, most often to views. Annoyance cannot persist in the absence of clinging. Even if I find myself in opposition to someone's expressed view or to their overall style of interpreting the Dhamma, there is also the choice to recognize that every single person on this forum is seeking to eliminate suffering and experience happiness (as are all sentient beings). If I'm responding to someone (or even thinking about someone in the absence of responding) and I'm not doing it from a place of metta, then what am I really accomplishing? It's more downward spiral, which is contrary to the purpose of participating here. There's a difference between spinning our wheels and turning of the wheel.

It's truly walking the razor's edge, as it were, neither suppressing annoyance nor indulging it, but instead watching it with as much mindfulness, equanimity, and compassion as I can muster. From that point, thinking and responding with metta is much more possible.

One of my favorite teachers is Christina Feldman, who said, "The quality of mindfulness is imbued with warmth, compassion, and interest. In the light of this engaged attention we discover it is impossible to hate or fear anything or anyone we truly understand."



Great post, my friend. It seems so simple to me as well, not that i can do what you have described effectively all the time, but whether here online or with my family, coworkers, students, store clerks, folks walking down the streets, it all seems like the same situation, with the same opportunities and challenges. Choose to make the effort to cultivate wholesome qualities of speech, action and mind or be lazy (unmindful) and fall into delusion (greater suffering). Simple situation, incredibly challenging. And we get like a hundred opportunities every day, moment after moment after moment. You have to watch your own mind, observe how you are thinking, feeling, talking, acting and make the necessary course adjustments, again and again.

Some people believe metta can be expressed many different ways, that a teacher screaming or even physically hitting a student (or their child) can be a way metta is expressed. Perhaps this is true, but i'm doubtful. Buddha described wholesome mindstates very specifically. He described the fetters and hindrances, and anger as being a poison.

If we're not coming from a place of calm, joy, compassion, kindness or find ourselves angry and irritable for me i see that as a sign i need to shut my mouth and cultivate a more wholesome state of mind before engaging with others. Others may disagree, and definitely intentions (why we speak/act a way) are crucial but so are actions (how we act/speak)...

This is not easy, though, at all...!

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: A Meta-discussion about mettā during discussions?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:14 am

I'm going to bump this, as these issues have come up again in another discussion.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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