Why does metta come before Upekkha?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
User avatar
Alobha
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:27 pm
Location: Germany

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?

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

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...

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14947
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

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.

:anjali:
Mike

suttametta
Posts: 289
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 2:55 pm

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.

User avatar
DAWN
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

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).
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

santa100
Posts: 2673
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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


User avatar
DAWN
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

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
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

pegembara
Posts: 1140
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:39 am

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.

User avatar
Alobha
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:27 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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


User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 2637
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

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.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

User avatar
Dmytro
Posts: 1449
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine
Contact:

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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



User avatar
Tex
Posts: 703
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:46 pm
Location: Austin, TX, USA

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.
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

SarathW
Posts: 8014
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

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
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6524
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

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.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

User avatar
DAWN
Posts: 801
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:22 pm

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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

Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

User avatar
Alobha
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:27 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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

Last edited by Alobha on Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Modus.Ponens
Posts: 2637
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Gallifrey

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.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14947
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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


User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6524
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Why does metta come before Upekkha?

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



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

SarathW
Posts: 8014
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

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.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”


Return to “General Theravāda Meditation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine