Metta Meditation

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
pktun
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby pktun » Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:40 pm

Metta Bhavana

I have listened to a two hour sermon on Metta Bhavana by Chanmyay Sayadaw about ten years ago.

The practitioner of metta bhavana is like a musician practising to play a harp. The more he plays the better he becomes. Whether the listener benefit or not depends on whether his attention is tuned to hear or enjoy the music.

Sending goodwill and loving kindness to all beings in all directions gives the person an immense joy and satisfaction.

To practice metta to promote concentration needs a specific technique.

There are some useful ways to prepare ourselves before starting metta bhavana. One should wash and dress clean clothings, preferably eat a vegetarian meal (it is said to help developing metta by avoiding meat of killed animals). It is sensible to follow the basic morality, five precepts. Imagine how a mother would feel towards her only son. Think towards ourselves what we want and need. Prime our metta bhavana by wishing ourselves to be healthy, prosperous, to be free of physical pain and mental distress, to be able to fulfil our own needs and comfort. Then we carry on with sending metta to respectful teachers, sanghas/monks, parents, relatives, friends, workmates, neighbours, people difficult to deal with, and lastly enemies (when the metta state is very strong).

One should start sending metta ( by wishing good health, prosperity, freedom from bodily pain and mental distress, to be able to fulfil own's needs, to realise higher dhamma and to retain the previous wisdom) repeatedly to someone we respect ( like a meditation teacher or a monk), again and again, many many times until you can see or concentrate strongly on that person very clearly and continuously. Sometimes we may see his face (which may be smiling).

We have to make a wish to have a state of mind filled with metta, which has five qualities: vitaka (aiming), vicara (rubbing against object), piti (rapture/joy), sukha (happiness), ekatta(unity or singleness). After repeated practice and when the mind is calmer, we can then wish for a state of metta with 3 qualities: piti, sukha, ekatta and continue reducing these one by one until ekatta state of metta remains.

Once the concentration is very strong, we can try sending to another person from the similar category of people. If the mind become shaky, we have to return to the previous person again to send metta. An example of trying to fill a small pond with water before we can send water along the connecting drains on the ground to other ponds was given. If the first pond is not full, water will not easily flow to the second or third ponds.

There are a category of persons not suitable to start sending metta because it can be difficult, ending in unwanted mental states or impossible to cencentrate. They are the people we love intimately ( can become very sad if they are ill or miserable), those we hate ( can result in strong anger), those we barely know ( difficult to create a metta state), opposite sex ( can cause lust), people who have died ( mind will not settle, because their mental object is difficult to focus). In the commentary a young monk tried repeatedly to send metta to his master without success and later found out that his master has passed away. (It is very difficult to say whether the mind actually searched or reached out to find the object because mind does not follow the usual physical time and space dimensions.)

When the concentration is strong, we can move our focus of metta from one category to the other and will be successful even towards enemies.


Persons who practice metta will have the following benefits: good sleep, refreshed on waking up, good dreams, loved by humans, devas, free from dangerous and poisonous animals, protection from weapons, poisons and fire, good concentration, clear complexion, peaceful at the time of death and reaching the brahma (devine realm) in the after life. (11 benefits of metta)

(P.S. If the initial aim of doing metta bhavana is to support the vipassana mindfulness, the deep concentrated metta state can be observed as a vippassana mind object, and notice annica, dukkha and anatta characteristics.Note: samatha-yanika/vipassana-yanika)

May you be successful with your metta bhavana.

Peter Khin Tun

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:05 am

fwiw the only time i'm positive i acheived a jhanic state was while doing metta meditation...
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:17 pm

It is important to reflect on all of the Brahmaviharas, not just metta. It might also be good to observe how each Brahmavihara spills over into the other.
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:08 pm

To be more blunt: How can you expect to ride a horse (to the Brahma realms) with only one leg? How can you expect to drive a car with only one wheel, or expect a bird to fly with only one wing?

A horse with only one leg instead of four will just hop around, or fall over. Likewise, a car with only one wheel instead of four, a bird with only one wing (i.e. compassion but no wisdom, wisdom but no compassion, intelligence but no faith, faith but no intelligence), can only move in circles, at best.

Moving around in circles, while superstitiously thinking, "I am sending out karmic energy which makes the world a better place," based on practices derived from the Visuddhimagga but not the Tipitaka, this is not a good meditation practice. But it is better than not meditating at all and it's a good place for beginners to start.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:49 pm

Hi Individual

Individual wrote:To be more blunt: How can you expect to ride a horse (to the Brahma realms) with only one leg? How can you expect to drive a car with only one wheel, or expect a bird to fly with only one wing?

A horse with only one leg instead of four will just hop around, or fall over. Likewise, a car with only one wheel instead of four, a bird with only one wing (i.e. compassion but no wisdom, wisdom but no compassion, intelligence but no faith, faith but no intelligence), can only move in circles, at best.

Moving around in circles, while superstitiously thinking, "I am sending out karmic energy which makes the world a better place," based on practices derived from the Visuddhimagga but not the Tipitaka, this is not a good meditation practice. But it is better than not meditating at all and it's a good place for beginners to start.


who says they are superstitious or derived from the Visuddhimagga?
A Hourse with one leg needs care and attention, a car with one wheel is good shelter from the rain, or a home for those who are homeless, a bird with one wing is a constant companion who needs help, not all birds fly btw. and moving around in circles is better than moving without understanding at least when we see something often enough we can see what it is, not what we think it is
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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: Metta Meditation

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:19 am

Manapa wrote:who says they are superstitious or derived from the Visuddhimagga?
A Hourse with one leg needs care and attention, a car with one wheel is good shelter from the rain, or a home for those who are homeless, a bird with one wing is a constant companion who needs help, not all birds fly btw. and moving around in circles is better than moving without understanding at least when we see something often enough we can see what it is, not what we think it is

...I suppose you're right.
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:11 am

Individual wrote:To be more blunt: How can you expect to ride a horse (to the Brahma realms) with only one leg? How can you expect to drive a car with only one wheel, or expect a bird to fly with only one wing?

A horse with only one leg instead of four will just hop around, or fall over. Likewise, a car with only one wheel instead of four, a bird with only one wing (i.e. compassion but no wisdom, wisdom but no compassion, intelligence but no faith, faith but no intelligence), can only move in circles, at best.

Moving around in circles, while superstitiously thinking, "I am sending out karmic energy which makes the world a better place," based on practices derived from the Visuddhimagga but not the Tipitaka, this is not a good meditation practice. But it is better than not meditating at all and it's a good place for beginners to start.



Individual wrote:For those that don't, I can't really say how long I've been a Buddhist, because though I've talked about Buddhism for a long time, my practice has been sporadic and only until recently, have I begun to take it in a manner which could be called "seriously". But the possibility of backsliding is likely. And recognizing the validity of notself, it seems like it would mostly be purely out of vanity if I were to say "I'm a Buddhist." But I have to say that sometimes, in order for people to efficiently have at least a general sense of what I believe without me going too much into detail.


Given the above statement in your introduction, what experience do you claim that qualifies you to make such qualitative statements as the above, and to judge what is and is not "a good place for beginners to start"...?

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:55 am

stuka wrote:
Individual wrote:To be more blunt: How can you expect to ride a horse (to the Brahma realms) with only one leg? How can you expect to drive a car with only one wheel, or expect a bird to fly with only one wing?

A horse with only one leg instead of four will just hop around, or fall over. Likewise, a car with only one wheel instead of four, a bird with only one wing (i.e. compassion but no wisdom, wisdom but no compassion, intelligence but no faith, faith but no intelligence), can only move in circles, at best.

Moving around in circles, while superstitiously thinking, "I am sending out karmic energy which makes the world a better place," based on practices derived from the Visuddhimagga but not the Tipitaka, this is not a good meditation practice. But it is better than not meditating at all and it's a good place for beginners to start.



Individual wrote:For those that don't, I can't really say how long I've been a Buddhist, because though I've talked about Buddhism for a long time, my practice has been sporadic and only until recently, have I begun to take it in a manner which could be called "seriously". But the possibility of backsliding is likely. And recognizing the validity of notself, it seems like it would mostly be purely out of vanity if I were to say "I'm a Buddhist." But I have to say that sometimes, in order for people to efficiently have at least a general sense of what I believe without me going too much into detail.


Given the above statement in your introduction, what experience do you claim that qualifies you to make such qualitative statements as the above, and to judge what is and is not "a good place for beginners to start"...?

Mmm. You're right, Stuka.

Keep in mind that I've used to posting on Buddhachat or on non-Buddhist forums, where we speak to eachother as equals -- where there are few people with great experience at meditation, hardly any monks, so we speak to eachother on an equal basis. My above statement, though, sounds arrogant, doesn't it? And I am a beginner myself, right?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

Element

Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Element » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:16 am

Individual wrote:My above statement, though, sounds arrogant, doesn't it? And I am a beginner myself, right?

In the Dhammapada, Buddha taught:
379. By oneself one must censure oneself and scrutinize oneself .

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:12 am

:focus:
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:12 pm

Element wrote:
Individual wrote:My above statement, though, sounds arrogant, doesn't it? And I am a beginner myself, right?

In the Dhammapada, Buddha taught:
379. By oneself one must censure oneself and scrutinize oneself .

Yes, but I also remember Sariputta once saying (in one of the suttas -- can't remember the specific reference), "Two things are necessary for wisdom: Mindfulness and the voice of another."
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:48 pm

Hi Individual,

Individual wrote:Yes, but I also remember Sariputta once saying (in one of the suttas -- can't remember the specific reference), "Two things are necessary for wisdom: Mindfulness and the voice of another."


You are probably thinking of the Mahāvedallasutta's two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another (parato ghosa) and proper reflection (yoniso manasikāra).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Individual » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:37 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Individual,

Individual wrote:Yes, but I also remember Sariputta once saying (in one of the suttas -- can't remember the specific reference), "Two things are necessary for wisdom: Mindfulness and the voice of another."


You are probably thinking of the Mahāvedallasutta's two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another (parato ghosa) and proper reflection (yoniso manasikāra).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Yes, thank you. :)
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby halwilson » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:11 pm

Here's link to Sayadaw U Pandita's helpful instructions for Metta meditation, an excerpt from his book, The State of Mind Called Beautiful.

http://www.dharmanet.org/wisdomweek5.htm

Cheers, Hal
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:50 pm

Here is something attributed to Ajahn Chah regarding Metta Meditation

Practice it like this.

When you get free time, just sit on a comfortable place (not really on floor) and start analyzing previous situations where you got Anger, Hate, Sorrow, Disappointment and Fear...

Think about the your own mind, how it reacted on those situations... Not about people or the situation. Just how you reacted! Then think, "Am I still in that situation or Has it faded away?", then, "Why I made all that fuss?", Give yourself a thought, "That was a situation, which occurred due to a reason and faded away when the reason fades away." And now, "I treat myself a peaceful from that situation, happy because I am not in that situation, contended because I am not living in that situation"

Analyze previous incidents in which you got Anger, Hate, Sorrow, Disappointment and Fear...

After analyzing each situation, give yourself a thought, "If I reacted to that situation in a different way, much of a peaceful way, with letting go, my own ******** thoughts (******** means the situation, Anger, Hate....), how different it would result in?" And make yourself, ready to check your reaction in awkward situations.

In your everyday life, observe your own mind! Check yourself in every free time. "How I have been doing?".

This is the practice of mindfulness, the beginning. It would be wonderful.


this is actually quite close to how I describe my practice Metta from time to time,
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"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: Metta Meditation

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:55 pm

Hi Manapa

It looks to me more like mindfulness rather than metta meditation. Metta meditation is more focused on generating feelings of metta, upekkha, mudita and karuna and projecting those feeling outward, to other beings. Metta also sometimes incorporates the sharing of merits with others.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:36 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Manapa
It looks to me more like mindfulness rather than metta meditation. Metta meditation is more focused on generating feelings of metta, upekkha, mudita and karuna and projecting those feeling outward, to other beings. Metta also sometimes incorporates the sharing of merits with others.
Kind regards
Ben


Well mindfulness is active practice, and what better way to generate and project Metta than to find our own flaws and work out ways to not do them when faced with circumstances which typically lead us to act with them? as the Buddha advised Rahula, reflect before, during, and After acting.

Sn 1.8 Karaniya Metta Sutta Good Will Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos, cultivate a limitless heart: Above, below, & all around, unobstructed, without enmity or hate.
Whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down, as long as one is alert, one should be resolved on this mindfulness. This is called a sublime abiding here & now.


Ben wrote:BTW, nice avatar pic!

it is a cross between a canadian sangha emblem (the one with 10000+ talks)with a tad bit of editing and the emblem of where I am from
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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: Metta Meditation

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:57 pm

Here is another article on Metta meditation, by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana: http://www.bhavanasociety.org/resource/meditation_on_loving_kindness_metta/

He makes an interesting etymological exercise around the word Metta, and presents an nice analogy between Metta and the sun's warmth:

“Mitra” in Vedic literature and “Mitta” in Pali literature means the sun. The nature of the sun can be called “Maitri” or “Metta”. Maitri or Metta also means friendliness or loving-kindness. Perhaps the reason why loving-kindness is called so is that it generates very warm feeling towards all beings. Like warmth comes from the sun, one who has loving-kindness has a warm heart towards others. Just as the sun shines indiscriminately on any object in the world, “Metta” or “Maitri” pervades all beings without any discrimination. Just as the sun dispels darkness, loving-kindness destroys the darkness of hatred.
With Metta

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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:58 pm

Hello Rui Sousa,

"Perhaps the reason why loving-kindness is called so is that it generates very warm feeling towards all beings. Like warmth comes from the sun, one who has loving-kindness has a warm heart towards others."

At the monastery I attend, we've asked Bhante Dhammasiha to include more guided metta meditations in our Sunday meditation and sutta study group. Most westerners seem to have an aversion based mind, so one of the things I've found most helpful at the beginning of a metta practice is to generate warm feelings towards a particular being initially (with all the safeguards about 'love' and 'sexual desire'). Mostly I use the mental image of a cute baby or an engaging puppy. Once the feeling has been generated the rest of the practice follows traditional patterns with Teachers, Mother, those close to me, and moving ever outward to include insects etc. and then other geographical areas and finally all the directions.

metta
Chris
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Re: Metta Meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:44 am

Hi Chris,
Chris wrote:Most westerners seem to have an aversion based mind, so one of the things I've found most helpful at the beginning of a metta practice is to generate warm feelings towards a particular being initially (with all the safeguards about 'love' and 'sexual desire'). Mostly I use the mental image of a cute baby or an engaging puppy. Once the feeling has been generated the rest of the practice follows traditional patterns with Teachers, Mother, those close to me, and moving ever outward to include insects etc. and then other geographical areas and finally all the directions.

Those are good points.

In his book "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" Ajahn Brahm suggests puppies and kittens. As I recall he said he had one student who had trouble with aversion to all animate objects and they finally got her started by sending metta to plants....

I believe I've also heard him state in talks that he finds Westerners have a lot of difficulty with Metta, and he'd like to teach more of it, but he's afraid of driving too many people away...

When Bhante Aggacitta visited us last year he ran us through all the possibilities then went round the room asking which particular person (self, respected person, etc) or geographical view (outwards, overhead view, etc) was easiest. And of course, the responses were all over the place. His advice was to try all the possibilities to figure out which one was easiest, and then use that to start in future.

Metta
Mike


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