metta as my main practice

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metta as my main practice

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:13 am

i'm thinking about switching to metta as my main or only practice for awhile.
i just feel i "need" something more right now.

any advice? ever come across a metta based path?

:buddha2:
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 as my main practice

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:34 am

Greetings JC,

Thinking in terms of the three unwholesome roots, metta will help eradicate aversion.... but won't be targeted at eradicating greed or delusion.

As you say, it depends what you need right now.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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 as my main practice

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:54 am

well i'm always open to be wrong but i dont feel the other two are as big of a problem with me, at least right now, so maybe i'm just lacking a certain balence?

i remember once some shaolin monks saying the reason they did kung fu was if you can kill any man you fear no man, and then you can love all men.
they related it to kwan yin, who as the bodhisattva of compassion was without fear.
maybe it's just mumbo jumbo to condone jumping around and kicking bricks but it sounded nice :roll:
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 as my main practice

Postby cooran » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:07 am

Hello JC, (and Retro)

Metta is now my main practice. :smile: I still do vipassana, and it was my main practice over the last ten years ~ but Metta has now taken its place. I still do Vipassana, but find I need to do Metta and seem to gain from it. Bhante Dhammasiha at the monastery I attend every week, alternates Metta meditation one week with Vipassana meditation the next week.

Bhante Dhammasiha teaches that Metta meditation can take one all the way towards Nibanna.

Sometimes during Vipassana meditation, if it becomes too 'dry', I do a period of Metta meditation to 'moisten' the practice.

The most important thing for me is to ensure the feeling of Metta has been aroused before continuing ~ and I do this in various ways ... thinking first of someone of the same gender whom I love (I'm heterosexual .. so thinking of someone of the opposite gender could become unwholesome). At other times, mostly really, I think of a cute little baby or a cat or dog for whom I have loving feelings. This usually arouses metta ... and then I continue with extending metta using a fairly formulaic method.

It is good to think of some wishes that resonate with you.

My current list which I use while visualising or holding the target in mind, and while maintaining the feeling of Metta are:

May .... be safe and protected
May .... be healthy and strong
May .... be happy of heart and mind
May .... live with ease and wellbeing.
May .... have happiness and the conditions for happiness.
May .... be free of mental and physical pain.
May .... find the Dhamma and follow the Buddha's Teaching
May .... swiftly progress on the Path to Liberation and never fall back.

This link might be of interest:
http://www.hinduwebsite.com/buddhism/es ... _metta.asp

Retro,
Could you point out the teachings that state "metta will help eradicate aversion.... but won't be targeted at eradicating greed or delusion"?
I think if you look at 14, 15 and 16 in the link above, you will see that the Buddha teaches that it does remove greed, hate and delusion.

metta
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby Danny » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:30 am

I recently started Metta practice next to my Satipatthana practice. 10 min. after every sitting, so that's 20 min. a day. But I believe it starts with loving yourself before extending it to others, I got my hands full with that at the moment, really hard for me to say: May I be happy etc. and really mean it.
That's what I'm trying to do at the moment, till i can send it to others and really mean it. Plus practicing Metta in daily life is important, like in being mindful, I try to maintain or build that feeling several times a day off the cushion too.

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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby phil » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:37 am

Hi all

May I tell you about something that has really juiced up my brahma viharas practice lately? I find reciting the pali phrases for the sublime attitudes, reciting them so often and actually memorizing them so that they become like a kind of soundtrack to one's life, is really wonderful. You can hear them at this page (and elsewhere, I'm sure) :

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Chants/Chants.html

Scroll down to sublime attitudes, and the text is available in the chanting booklet through the link at the top of the page. Soon enough you drop the English and the Pali phrases really take over your brain the way catchy songs do (it probably helps that I don't listen to music much, so there isn't competition there) and keep you walking through life with eyes of friendliness for the people you come across. (as well as a nice coat of equanimity thanks to the ownership of kamma lines included.)

There is no need to chant them if there is a problem there. (I can't, because it creeps my wife out - in Japan, Buddhist chanting is strictly used at funerals, I think.) Just reciting them softly again and again and reflecting on them really plants a great bhrama viharas seedling in the mind! :console: Of course it helps if there is something of a flower bed laid down through previous metta pratice...

I think with metta practice an "anything that works works" attitude is OK. With metta practice, the proof is the friendliness and attitude of non-harmfulness that comes to predominate, or doesn't.

Metta,

Phil

p.s there are lots of other pali chants and phrases that help in this way, with different aspects of the practice. My personal favourite is from the Mangala sutta - asevana ca balana, pandita nan ca savena (don't associate with fools, associate with the wise) which I find coming up at very helpful times, with "the fools" being unwholesome mind states!
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:38 am

Greetings Chris,

It won't be useless at eradicating those things, it just won't be targeted specifically at it. For example, from AN 3.68...

There may be outsiders, O monks, who will ask you:
‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition whereby
unarisen greed arises and arisen greed becomes stronger and
more powerful?’ ‘An attractive object’, they should be told. In
him who gives unwise attention to an attractive object, unarisen
greed will arise, and greed that has already arisen will become
stronger and more powerful.
‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition whereby
unarisen hatred arises and arisen hatred becomes stronger and
more powerful?’ ‘A repulsive object’, they should be told. In him
who gives unwise attention to a repulsive object, unarisen hatred
will arise, and hatred that has already arisen will grow stronger
and more powerful.
‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition whereby
unarisen delusion arises and arisen delusion becomes stronger
and more powerful?’ ‘Unwise attention’, they should be told. In
him who gives unwise attention, unarisen delusion will arise, and
delusion that has already arisen will grow stronger and more
powerful.
‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition for unarisen
greed not to arise and for the abandoning of greed that has arisen?’
‘A (meditation) object of impurity’, they should be told. In him
who gives wise attention to a (meditation) object of impurity,
unarisen greed will not arise and greed that has arisen will be
abandoned.
Now, friends, what is the cause and condition for unarisen
hatred not to arise and for the abandoning of hatred that has
arisen?’ ‘Loving-kindness that is a freeing of the mind’, they
should be told. In him who gives wise attention to loving-kindness
that is a freeing of the mind, unarisen hatred will not arise and
hatred that has arisen will be abandoned.

‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition for unarisen
delusion not to arise and for the abandoning of delusion that has
arisen?’ ‘Wise attention’, they should be told. In him who gives
wise attention, unarisen delusion will not arise and delusion that
has arisen will be abandoned.’


Or from AN 6.39...

From non-greed, O monks, no greed will arise; it is nongreed
that arises from non-greed. From non-hatred no hatred
will arise; it is non-hatred that arises from non-hatred. From nondelusion
no delusion will arise; it is non-delusion that arises from
non-delusion. Due to actions born of non-greed, non-hatred,
and non-delusion, neither the hells will appear, nor the animal
kingdom, the realm of ghosts, nor any other kind of woeful
existence. Rather divine beings, humans or some other kind of
happy existence will appear due to actions born of non-greed,
non-hatred and non-delusion.


Metta,
Retro. :)

These are, O monks, three other causes for the origin of actions.
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 as my main practice

Postby cooran » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:01 am

Hello all,

8. The Power of Metta
The subjective benefit of universal love is evident enough. The enjoyment of well-being, good health, peace of mind, radiant features, and the affection and goodwill of all are indeed great blessings of life accruing from the practice of metta-meditation. But what is even more wonderful is the impact which metta has on the environment and on other beings, including animals and devas, as the Pali scriptures and commentaries illustrate with a number of memorable stories.
Once the Buddha was returning from his almsround together with his retinue of monks. As they were nearing the prison, in consideration of a handsome bribe from Devadatta, the Buddha's evil and ambitious cousin, the executioner let loose the fierce elephant Nalagiri, which was used for the execution of criminals. As the intoxicated elephant rushed towards the Buddha trumpeting fearfully, the Buddha projected powerful thoughts of metta towards it. Venerable Ananda, the Buddha's attendant, was so deeply concerned about the Buddha's safety that he ran in front of the Buddha to shield him, but the Buddha asked him to stand aside since the projection of love itself was quite sufficient. The impact of the Buddha's metta-radiation was so immediate and overwhelming that by the time the animal neared the Buddha it was completely tamed as though a drunken wretch had suddenly become sober by the magical power of a spell. The tusker, it is said, bowed down in reverence in the way trained elephants do in a circus.
The Visuddhimagga records the case of one landlord of Pataliputra (modern Patna), Visakha by name. It seems he had heard that the island of Sri Lanka was a veritable garden of Dhamma with its innumerable shrines and stupas adorning the isle. And blessed with a favorable climate, the people were highly righteous, following the Teaching of the Buddha with great fervor and sincerity.
Visakha decided to visit Sri Lanka and spend the rest of his life there as a monk. Accordingly, he made over his great fortune to his wife and children and left home with a single gold coin. He stopped for some time at the port town of Tamralipi (modern Tamluk) waiting for a ship, and during that time engaged himself in business and made a thousand gold coins.
Eventually he reached Sri Lanka and went to the capital city of Anuradhapura. There he went to the famous Mahavihara and asked the abbot's permission to enter the Sangha. As he was led to the chapter house for the ordination ceremony, the purse containing the thousand gold coins dropped out from under his belt. When asked, "What is it?" he said, "I have a thousand gold coins, sir." When he was told that a monk cannot possess any money, he said, "I don't want to possess it but I wanted to distribute it among all who come for this ceremony." Accordingly he opened his purse and strewed the entire yard of the chapter house, saying, "Let no one who has come to witness Visakha's ordination depart empty-handed."
After spending five years with his teacher, he now decided to go to the famous Cittalapabbata forest, where a good number of monks with supernatural powers lived. Accordingly, he went to the jungle-monastery of Cittalapabbata. On his way he came to a fork in the road and stood wondering which way to turn. Since he had been practicing metta-meditation assiduously, he found a certain deva living in the rock there, holding out a hand pointing the road to him. After reaching the Cittalapabbata jungle-monastery, he occupied one of the huts.
Having stayed there for four months, as he was thinking of leaving the next morning, he heard somebody weeping, and when he asked, "Who is that?" the deva living in the manila tree at the end of the walkway said, "Venerable sir, I am Maniliya (i.e., belonging to the manila tree)."
"Why are you weeping?"
"Because you are thinking of going away from here."
"What good does my living here do you?"
"Venerable sir, so long as you live here, the devas and other non-human beings treat each other with kindness. When you are gone, they will again start their wrangling and quarrels."
"Well, if my living here makes all of you live at peace, it is good." And so he stayed on for another four months. It is said that when he again thought of going, again the deity wept. So this Elder stayed on permanently and attained Nibbana there. Such is the impact of metta-bhavana on others, even among invisible beings.
http://online-dhamma.net/nanda/AccessTo ... el365.html

metta
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:13 am

Visakha's story is beautiful
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 as my main practice

Postby cooran » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:36 am

Hello JC, all,

If you have the Visuddhimagga, you will find Metta in Chapter IX Description of Concentration --- The Divine Abidings -- pp. 321 to 340
Other links to the Benefits of practising Metta:-

AN 11.16 Metta (Mettanisamsa) Sutta - Discourse on Advantages of Loving-kindness
Translated from the Pali by Piyadassi Thera

Thus have I heard:
On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery. Then he addressed the monks saying, "Monks." — "Venerable Sir," said the monks, by way of reply. The Blessed One then spoke as follows:
"Monks, eleven advantages are to be expected from the release (deliverance) of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness (metta), by the cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice, and by establishing them. What are the eleven?
1. "He sleeps in comfort. 2. He awakes in comfort. 3. He sees no evil dreams. 4. He is dear to human beings. 5. He is dear to non-human beings. 6. Devas (gods) protect him. 7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him. 8. His mind can concentrate quickly. 9. His countenance is serene. 10. He dies without being confused in mind. 11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.
"These eleven advantages, monks, are to be expected from the release of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness, by cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice and by establishing them."
So said the Blessed One. Those monks rejoiced at the words of the Blessed One.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .piya.html

27. The Development of Loving-kindness {Iti 1.27; Iti 19}
This was said by the Lord...
"Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.
"Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon's radiance, but the moon's radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness...
"Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness...
"And just as in the night, at the moment of dawn, the morning star shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant."
For one who mindfully develops
Boundless loving-kindness
Seeing the destruction of clinging,
The fetters are worn away.

If with an uncorrupted mind
He pervades just one being
With loving kindly thoughts,
He makes some merit thereby.

But a noble one produces
An abundance of merit
By having a compassionate mind
Towards all living beings.

Those royal seers who conquered
The earth crowded with beings
Went about performing sacrifices:
The horse sacrifice, the man sacrifice,
The water rites, the soma sacrifice,
And that called "the Unobstructed."

But these do not share even a sixteenth part
Of a well cultivated mind of love,
Just as the entire starry host
Is dimmed by the moon's radiance.

One who does not kill
Nor cause others to kill,
Who does not conquer
Nor cause others to conquer,
Kindly towards all beings —
He has enmity for none.
This too is the meaning of what was said by the Lord, so I heard.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-027

metta
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby zavk » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:46 am

Hi jc,

In this instance I'd invoke the Jedi, 'Trust your feelings'. I once practiced only metta. And when I wanted to practice vipassana I'd start with metta. This was at time when my life circumstances required more feelings of goodwill than 'insight'. Not that one doesn't gain insight from metta... Where vipassana is sharp and penetrating, metta is more like tilling the soil. That's how it feels to me anyway.

Metta,
zavk
With metta,
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:21 pm

retrofuturist wrote:‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition for unarisen
hatred not to arise and for the abandoning of hatred that has
arisen?’ ‘Loving-kindness that is a freeing of the mind’, they
should be told. In him who gives wise attention to loving-kindness
that is a freeing of the mind
, unarisen hatred will not arise and
hatred that has arisen will be abandoned.
‘Now, friends, what is the cause and condition for unarisen
delusion not to arise and for the abandoning of delusion that has
arisen?’ ‘Wise attention’, they should be told. In him who gives
wise attention, unarisen delusion will not arise and delusion that
has arisen will be abandoned.’


Interesting, observing Metta and its effect on the mind when it occurs.

Vipassana & Metta at the same time, no?
With Metta
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:24 pm

there is some metta meditations mentioned in a thread I started a while ago here
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: metta as my main practice

Postby Ravana » Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:58 pm

I'm also considering a main metta practice.

Are there guides that describe the meditation in stage-by-stage levels? I mean, for example, if you take Ajahn Brahmavamso's meditation instructions for Anapanasati, he describes gradual stages of present moment awareness, silent present moment awareness, silent present moment awareness of breath, full sustained attention on the breath, full sustained attention on the beautiful breath, etc. Are there any guides on metta that describe development in a similar step-by-step manner? I've seen some guides, including, Mahasi Sayadaw's "Brahmavihara Dhamma" but they did not seem to offer much of a gradual path - in which case, I'm not sure how to see whether one is progressing or not.

Also, if you consider a classification like this -

May all Ariyans be happy
May all non-Ariyans be happy
May all Brahmas be happy
May all Gods be happy
May all Humans be happy
etc

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/buddharakkhita/wheel365.html#ch6


Should such methods be kept away until a good level of progress is made? Or can it be used at a beginner level too?
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:21 pm

Hi Ravana

Go to Chris' first post in this thread. The formulation Chris describes is suitable for a beginner.
You need to develop Metta and the other Brahmaviharas expecting nothing in return, not even progress.
Kind regards

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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:16 pm

Greetings Chris,

Chris wrote:I think if you look at 14, 15 and 16 in the link above, you will see that the Buddha teaches that it does remove greed, hate and delusion.


I don't want to rain on this metta parade, because I'm a big fan of metta, but my reading of those examples does not suggest in any way that metta itself removes greed and delusion. The cure to those ailments, is generosity/renunciation and wisdom respectively. Metta alone will take one to the heavenly realms, not nibbana - hence its status as a brahma-vihara.

Lovingkindness practices exist outside Buddhism (as demonstrated by the fact the earlier content is hosted by a Hindu website), but it's only within Buddhism that the Noble Sangha exists. It is important to reflect on the reasons for this.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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 as my main practice

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:05 am

In my opinion loving kindness meditation is fertile territory for insight practice. If the practitioner pays close attention to the changeability of attitude in regards to the changing perceptions she has as metta cultivation progresses, there can be insight into the non self and impermanence of the aggregates.


Metta

Gabriel
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:12 am

yeah i was going to add that, since metta is a feeling it could lead into insight much the same as the feeling of the breath comming in and out of the nose could.. maybe.. i guess its all just progressive..

i guess the zen koan would be "who is it that is radiating metta?"
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 as my main practice

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:21 am

It seems to me that some discussions of metta overlook that it is a perfectly good samatha practise that can take the practitioner to Jhana. It is therefore just as valid (and some would argue easier) object as attention to the breath for developing concentration. As I understand it, at the Jhana level it becomes irrelevant what the initial object was - the mind is fixed on a purely mind-created object.

Sure, for destruction of the taints insight is necessary, but developing some level of concentration, whether from metta, "foulness", breath, kasina, or whatever, is an aid to that. I don't think it's helpful to think in terms of "metta or insight", it's a matter of development of concentration and insight.

My teachers instruct primarily Mahasi-style vipassana, but will often recommend metta to deepen samadhi, particularly for someone who is having problems with the Mahsi approach.

Finally, I have not practised it myself so I may be misunderstanding it, but Bhante Vimalaramsi http://www.dhammasukha.org/ teaches what one might interpret to a sort of "Metta-vipassana" approach, where metta takes the place of the breath or abdominal motion or walking as the primary object.

Metta
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Re: metta as my main practice

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:25 am

Greetings Mike,

Yes, I would consider that to be a balanced approach because it's also looking at insight, which promotes wisdom and thereby counters the delusion which underpins all mindstates rooted in greed or aversion.

Metta,
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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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