Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by 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.

Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby Alobha » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:39 am

I'm looking for an instruction how to train the Brahmaviharas, especially Upekkha by means of meditation.

1. Can anybody tell me what methods the Buddha taught for this purpose?
So far I figured out that the similes the Buddha used to explain these mental qualities can serve as objects of reflection to cultivate these states. (see here for example)
So basically I'd just reflect on these similes and mindstates very often to try to bring them to arise, but I don't know whether this is the method of choice. It certainly keeps the mind directed towards wholesome states and I find myself finding own similes just by being aware of the environment. However, it's not a very common object of reflection (or at least none that is talked about very often) so I wonder whether there are other ways I don't know of.

2. While metta-meditation, wishing all beings to be happy and well, extending love to all beings via mantras, is quite in vogue, meditation on karuna, mudita and Upekkha seem to be never talked about by teachers these days (neither mantra nor others). Is anyone familiar with Dhammatalks by a modern teacher who explains meditation on all the Brahmaviharas?

Thanks for any advice friends!
Alobha
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:48 am

Greetings Alobha,

I practice metta bhavana (Brahmavihara) morning and evening following my normal vipassana practice.
I think also many practitioners of Mahasi-style vipassana begin their practice with metta bhavana before moving on to vipassana.
It might be worthwhile having a look at the Metta Sutta (if you haven't already done so), and the section on Metta Bhavana in the Visuddhimagga.

With regards to upekkha, my vipassana practice also helps to develop upekkha as one attends to sensations that are unpleasant, pleasant and neutral in affective tone.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:59 am

Alobha wrote: Is anyone familiar with Dhammatalks by a modern teacher who explains meditation on all the Brahmaviharas?


Sharon Salzberg's talks might be of intertest:


http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/165/
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:19 pm

I'm not sure if they're online, but S. N. Goenka's metta meditation instructions are the best I've ever come across, and there's no reason they can't be applied to other traditions like Mahasi or Thai Forest or whatever. I am at a loss for how you would find the talks themselves.

Otherwise Vimalaramsi, for all his weirdness, has some great talks too: http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/metta.htm.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby befriend » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:47 pm

dharmaseed.org has sharons talks
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby FatDaddy » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:53 pm

I recently stumbled into this gem:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/brahmavihara.pdf

It is a book by Mahasi Sayadaw titled Brahmavihara Dhamma. It is very in-depth (almost 500 pages). It even gives instructions for brahmavihara Jhana.
Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large,
middling, short,
subtle, blatant,
seen & unseen,
near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.
— Sn 1.8
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:58 pm

You should be able to expand them in a limitless way just like metta. I try to give rise to karuna, mudita and upekkha as the situation demands/opportunity arises. I am trying to stay with metta on my mind as long as possible through the day.

With metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby befriend » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:51 pm

samatha suppresses unwholesome tendencies so if your doing metta for like 4 days all day long, when you stop, the defilements come back like 10 times harder, so i think its best to have some vipassana in there, any other wiser persons want to share? i know this from experience i did metta for hours a few days in a row, then one day i did none, and that day i was like BOOM i need pleasure, my mind didnt even know what exactly it wanted but it wanted pleasure, i was like a crack head.
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Re: Cultivation of the brahmaviharas by meditation

Postby Alobha » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:27 am

befriend wrote:samatha suppresses unwholesome tendencies so if your doing metta for like 4 days all day long, when you stop, the defilements come back like 10 times harder, so i think its best to have some vipassana in there, any other wiser persons want to share? i know this from experience i did metta for hours a few days in a row, then one day i did none, and that day i was like BOOM i need pleasure, my mind didnt even know what exactly it wanted but it wanted pleasure, i was like a crack head.


I don't draw a distinction between samatha and vipassana in my practice. However, I'm familiar with the dangers of Metta-meditation and this is one of the reasons why i'm more interested in Upekkha than Metta right now. Mettabhavana is most fruitful for the production of mundane merit. It can lead the mind to wholesome states and thus make the mind very sensitive, too. The brahmaviharas lead to good conditions for samadhi, but especially Metta practiced without a certain calmness and Upekkha developed is, at least from my point of view, something to be careful about. People often identify strongly with feelings and the line between desire for wholesome states (chanda) and the desire and craving for feelings (tanha, Upadana) may not be so easy to see.

Ben wrote:It might be worthwhile having a look at the Metta Sutta (if you haven't already done so), and the section on Metta Bhavana in the Visuddhimagga.

Thanks for the advice about the Visuddhimagga! I started reading the section on the brahmaviharas now and it seems to be a good source for practical, detailed instructions and explanations :smile:

FatDaddy wrote:I recently stumbled into this gem:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/brahmavihara.pdf

It is a book by Mahasi Sayadaw titled Brahmavihara Dhamma. It is very in-depth (almost 500 pages). It even gives instructions for brahmavihara Jhana.


Oh, didn't know there was a book by Mahasi Sayadaw on the Brahmaviharas! I bet it will also be a huge help, thanks!

Best wishes,
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