Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Alobha » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:37 pm

Topic says it all. I've been investigating in Mahasi Sayadaw's and the Visuddhi Magga's point of view (which are pretty similar). The Buddha puts Metta in the forefront of the four Brahma Viharas, too.

I don't get why, because they are both distinct qualities and tools dealing with different fetters. As I see it, Metta is good against ill-will and Upekkha is good against Craving and clinging. From my understanding, Metta and Upekkha are thus not dealing with the same category of defilement (lobha vs dosa), so this really confuses me. What's the reason for the fixed sequence of the Brahma Viharas? One is certainly not meant to deal with anger before dealing with greed at all, right ?

The Visuddhi Magga says: "One who wants to develop equanimity must have already obtained the triple or quadruple jhána in loving-kindness, and so on. " but why does it say so? If Greed is a problem for a person, why does one have to bring Metta to the third jhana first and deal with anger, when this is a totally different point to work on compared to Upekkha, that is much more aimed at dealing with greed?

I'd like to train Upekkha more systematically, but as I understand it from the sources I've read, one is not meant to train Upekkha unless one achieved the third or four jhana in the other three Brahma Vihara. I don't know the reason for this. Why does one have to?
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:55 am

Hmm... they don't really come "in an order" do they?

They are simply in a list; they are almost always found together when their practice is described, as I recall...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:25 am

Good question Alobha,

Clearly they are all linked, and they tend to balance and support each other. However, it does seem to me that metta is the most most basic and straight-forward to cultivate. The others involve identifying something specific about the "target" to be compassionate/joyful/equanimous about. Metta doesn't. You can't just be "compassionate about Smith", it has to be "compassionate about some issue that Smith has..." So it's a little trickier...

However, as you point out, the Visuddimagga is treating these as jhana practices. That's not the only way of to use them, and I suspect most people use them in a more low-key way.

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby suttametta » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:52 am

Dharma means the natural course of things. Why is not so import as how and when. When you experience three poisons, at that time, if you bring to mind loving kindness and compassion, then you will enter into gladness. With no three poisons present at that time, your mind naturally enters into equanimity. At that time the why is very apparent, because by the time of gladness, three poisons are already at least very weak. And in equanimity, one's jhana is stable enough to recognize the nature of perception and the enlightened state.
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby DAWN » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:21 am

Because Metta is a relative quality, and Upekkha is an absolute quality.

Upekkha = Metta + Panna (wisdom).

Mirrow is endowed by Upekkha - he dont modify (tuch/self identify with) what is reflected (Panna) , he let reflected be what it is (Metta).
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby santa100 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:41 am

Vsm offered 2 explanations in the subsequent paragraphs:

VsmIX.109: (metta is practiced first as promotion of welfare of other beings):
One who wants to develop these four should practice them towards beings
first as the promotion of the aspect of welfare—and loving-kindness has the
promotion of the aspect of welfare as its characteristic; and next, on seeing or
hearing or judging
16
that beings whose welfare has been thus wished for are at
the mercy of suffering, they should be practiced as the promotion of the aspect of
the removal of suffering—and compassion has the promotion of the aspect of
the removal of suffering as its characteristic; and then, on seeing the success of
those whose welfare has been wished for and the removal of whose suffering
has been wished for, they should be practiced as being glad—and gladness has
the act of gladdening as its characteristic; but after that there is nothing to be
done and so they should be practiced as the neutral aspect, in other words, the
state of an onlooker—and equanimity has the promotion of the aspect of
neutrality as its characteristic; therefore, since their respective aims are the aspect
of welfare, etc., their order should be understood to correspond, with lovingkindness stated first, then compassion, gladness and equanimity


VsmIX.111: (mapped to the order of the fourfold/fivefold jhanas)
Though they have a single characteristic in having a measureless scope,
yet the first three are only of triple and quadruple jhána [respectively in the
fourfold and fivefold reckonings]. Why? Because they are not dissociated from joy. But why are their aims not dissociated from joy? Because they are the escape
from ill will, etc., which are originated by grief. But the last one belongs only to
the remaining single jhána. Why? Because it is associated with equanimous
feeling. For the divine abiding of equanimity that occurs in the aspect of neutrality
towards beings does not exist apart from equanimous [that is to say, neitherpainful-nor-pleasant] feeling
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby DAWN » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:08 am

If take a similie:

Metta is when you take a shovel to clean the surface of the mind
Panna is when you take a broom to clean the surface of the mind
Upekkha is when you take breath and shawl to polish the surface of the mind
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby pegembara » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:18 am

Another simile to show the gradual development in sequence:

A mother is not only born with the child she brings forth, she
also grows up with the child she brings up. Her growth is in terms of
the other three Divine Abidings or Brahma Vihara- compassion,
sympathetic joy and equanimity. In bringing up her child, some-
times a mother has to be stern and tactful. Her soft tender love
matures into a compassionate sternness, when the child is pass-
ing through the unruly boyhood and reckless adolescence. But
that hardness of her heart melts at the correct moment, like
butter.

The child has now reached manhood. He can stand on his
own feet with enviable self-confidence. The mother also grows
up with sympathetic joy enjoying the fruits of her labours. Her com-
placence, like curd, is serene and has nothing meddlesome about it.
The bringing forth and the bringing-up is over. The time comes
now to let go - of the attachments and involvements regarding
the child. But for that separation too, the mother, now mature
in her experience, is fully prepared with equanimity. Like a pot
of ghee, she is not easily upset.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Alobha » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:33 pm

pegembara wrote:Another simile to show the gradual development in sequence:

A mother is not only born with the child she brings forth, she
also grows up with the child she brings up. Her growth is in terms of
the other three Divine Abidings or Brahma Vihara- compassion,
sympathetic joy and equanimity. In bringing up her child, some-
times a mother has to be stern and tactful. Her soft tender love
matures into a compassionate sternness, when the child is pass-
ing through the unruly boyhood and reckless adolescence. But
that hardness of her heart melts at the correct moment, like
butter.

The child has now reached manhood. He can stand on his
own feet with enviable self-confidence. The mother also grows
up with sympathetic joy enjoying the fruits of her labours. Her com-
placence, like curd, is serene and has nothing meddlesome about it.
The bringing forth and the bringing-up is over. The time comes
now to let go - of the attachments and involvements regarding
the child. But for that separation too, the mother, now mature
in her experience, is fully prepared with equanimity. Like a pot
of ghee, she is not easily upset.


Yes. I'd agree with that, ie that it depends on the time and circumstances which of the Brahmaviharas is the most skillful to apply. This stands in contrast to how the Brahmaviharas should be practiced according to the Visuddhi Magga, where the qualities are practiced out of context.


daverupa wrote:Hmm... they don't really come "in an order" do they?

They are simply in a list; they are almost always found together when their practice is described, as I recall...

Did the Buddha teach lists in random order, without intention on how the order is listed or did he teach with intention on what he says first and what he says after that?
There is a clear order, starting with Metta as the most important.
See It 27: "Monks, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant."

However, look at the near- and far-enemies of each distinct Brahmavihara like here:
Image

Let me rephrase the question:
If it's not about merit, but about the fetters, then what's the order?
Is Metta the no1 when one wants to deal with craving and clining or is Upekkha the first choice?
Vice versa, isn't Metta only the no1 when when dealing with ill will, meaning that for different enemies, a different Brahma Vihara should be given priority in cultivation?
I for example would, right now, profit more from cultivating Upekkha but it doesn't look like I'm meant to develop this Brahma Vihara before reaching the third jhana in the other three. And I wonder why, assuming that each Brahma Vihara is not equal in it's effectivity against every fetter. Is that a wrong assumption? Is metta the best against every fetter and the other three Brahma Viharas are hierarchically inferior to Metta in every aspect?
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:57 pm

In this sutta the Buddha advises that the practice of metta and other brahmaviharas should be taken from the first to the fourth jhana. Specificaly, it recomends practicing equanimity from the first to the 4th jhana, proving that the Visudhimagga is wrong.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

So, just as metta can be felt during 4th jhana, upekha can be felt during 1st jhana. The Visuddhimagga has a very rigid (and wrong) classification of the jhanas.

Furthermore, In the most systematised way the Buddha taught the entire path, which is found in the Mahaparinibbana sutta, of the 37 things to develop to attain enlightenment, there is only direct mentioning of one brahmavihara: equanimity. Aditionaly, development of each brahmavihara leads to rebirth among the brahmas, and equanimity leads to rebirth among the highest brahmas.

Thus equanimity is the most important brahmavihara.

And, of course, if craving is your biggest problem, then you should apply equanimity and not develop metta then karuna, then mudita and only then upekha. It's self evident, imo.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Dmytro » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:59 am

Hi Alobha,

Alobha wrote:What's the reason for the fixed sequence of the Brahma Viharas?


This is explained in Vimuttimagga, page 193.
http://archive.org/details/ArahantUpato ... reedom.pdf

Best wishes,
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Tex » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:31 pm

A poster on the old black and gold site once analogized the Brahma Viharas as four beams placed on the ground with the bases forming the corners of a square, with all of the beams leaning inward to form a point at the top, like the skeleton of a pyramid. In this way, each one supports all of the others and is supported by all of the others.

I don't think the Brahma Viharas are intended to be practiced in order any more than the Eightfold Path is. I think the idea is to develop all parts simultaneously, as much as one is able. But I've been wrong before.
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby SarathW » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:20 am

There are many categories in Dhamma teaching. I see them as different paths. They all are aim towards one goal “Nirvana”
If you can understand and experience one category you will understand all. That could be the reason why, that we chose one meditation object, when we meditate.

To see various categories please refer to the following link:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:12 am

One possibility is that we need to gladden the mind before balancing it.
but the reverse could be true also.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby DAWN » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:08 am

SarathW wrote:There are many categories in Dhamma teaching. I see them as different paths. They all are aim towards one goal “Nirvana”
If you can understand and experience one category you will understand all. That could be the reason why, that we chose one meditation object, when we meditate.

To see various categories please refer to the following link:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html


There is one path in end of suffering - dispassion.
There is one way to suff out a fire - snuff it out.

This world is buring inwardly and outwardly. :|

Like a monk, fire man is weared in yellow. :)
Image

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Alobha » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:58 pm

Thanks for the responses friends.

Modus.Ponens wrote:In this sutta the Buddha advises that the practice of metta and other brahmaviharas should be taken from the first to the fourth jhana. Specificaly, it recomends practicing equanimity from the first to the 4th jhana, proving that the Visudhimagga is wrong.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The Visuddhimagga says the same, in fact, you just found a Sutta that is in accordance with the VisuddhiMagga here.

Then you should train yourself thus: 'Good-will (1), as my awareness-release, will be developed, pursued, [...]
"When this concentration is thus developed, thus well-developed by you, you should then train yourself thus: 'Compassion (2), as my awareness-release... Appreciation (3), as my awareness-release... Equanimity (4), as my awareness-release, will be developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, & well-undertaken.'

What's really interesting here is: mindfulness of the body and of feelings (part of the foundations of mindfulness) come after the Brahma Viharas. The Sequence in the suttas as signalised by "When .... is thus developed, then" indicate that the order is not random. Both the VisuddhiMagga and this Sutta refer to the Brahma Viharas in a sequential order, where you first practice good-will untill you reach the higher jhanas, then compassion, then appreciation, then equanimity.

Furthermore, In the most systematised way the Buddha taught the entire path, which is found in the Mahaparinibbana sutta, of the 37 things to develop to attain enlightenment, there is only direct mentioning of one brahmavihara: equanimity. Aditionaly, development of each brahmavihara leads to rebirth among the brahmas, and equanimity leads to rebirth among the highest brahmas.

I agree here. Of the four BrahmaViharas, only Upekkha / Equanimity is a link to awakening (sambojjhanga).

So there is still no clear reason for me, why Metta comes first and why there is this sequence. Metta is the best for merit making, but it's not a sambojjhanga.

I don't think the Brahma Viharas are intended to be practiced in order any more than the Eightfold Path is. I think the idea is to develop all parts simultaneously, as much as one is able. But I've been wrong before.

That may be right for a less-formal training of the Brahma Viharas, where it depends much on the situation what is most skillful to develop. However, it stands in contrast with the non-random order given like in the Sankhitta Sutta (and a few other Suttas) and the Visuddhi Magga. Even if one wants to see the Visuddhi Magga as perhaps not the best orientation, i'm still left with Suttas suggesting an order I don't understand.

I don't know. This is all very confusing.

Cittasanto wrote:One possibility is that we need to gladden the mind before balancing it.
but the reverse could be true also.

Believe it or not, that was helpful.
I'm not sure yet, but I'll investigate further. It is possible that Metta, Karuna and Mudita prepare the mind for Upekkha. So Upekkha would be the most important, but the others need to be trained before that. Considering how easy it is to drop from equanimity into indifference, taking out all anger with Metta, Karuna and Mudita before going for Upekkha would be a very skillful approach. Hm.
Last edited by Alobha on Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:00 pm

I'm sorry for wrongly interpreting the information you gave on the Visuddhimagga.

You are correct, the Buddha gave that instruction in order.

However, there's a danger in taking the words of the Buddha as categorical statements and not as context dependent. My interpretation is that if you want to develop all the Brahmaviharas, then you should do it in that order. But if you want to deal with specific emotions, you should develop the apropriate brahmavihara by it self. If, for example, you are very jealus of others' happiness, it doesn't make sense to develop metta and karuna first. What makes sense to me is to develop mudita.

I could be wrong, of course. Just as I've been wrong in this very thread. But this is what makes sense to me.
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:13 pm

Alobha wrote:That may be right for a less-formal training of the Brahma Viharas, where it depends much on the situation what is most skillful to develop. However, it stands in contrast with the non-random order given like in the Sankhitta Sutta (and a few other Suttas) and the Visuddhi Magga.

See also this recent discussion of the Sanghahitta Sutta:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=15015

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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:21 am

Alobha wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:One possibility is that we need to gladden the mind before balancing it.
but the reverse could be true also.

Believe it or not, that was helpful.
I'm sure yet, but I'll investigate further. It is possible that Metta, Karuna and Mudita prepare the mind for Upekkha. So Upekkha would be the most important, but the others need to be trained before that. Considering how easy it is to drop from equanimity into indifference, taking out all anger with Metta, Karuna and Mudita before going for Upekkha would be a very skillful approach. Hm.

OK.
I think the type of person where the reverse would be true would be rather rare, and they would have more subtle than gross defilements.

Each are of course useful in different situations and indifference is more useful than being moved by things happening around us at times. but as a formal practice of development with (for arguments sake) the 16 steps of Anapanasati & Jhana in mind balance is a key element all the way through, not just a result.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

Postby SarathW » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:54 am

Hi Dawn
You wrote:
There is one path in end of suffering - dispassion.

-------------
I agree. What I think is all insight meditation is directing towards eliminating attachment.
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