Metta and forest spirits

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Nibbida
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Metta and forest spirits

Postby Nibbida » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:08 pm

Many times I hear teachers speak of the original time that the Buddha taught that meditation to the monks. They were meditating in a forest and were scared away by spirits who resented their presence. So he instructed them to go back and meditate on metta. The spirits were pleased and allowed the monks to stay, protecting them.

Does anyone know from which sutta this originates? I can't seem to find it.

Thank you!
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Cittasanto
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Re: Metta and forest spirits

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:29 pm

Nibbida wrote:Many times I hear teachers speak of the original time that the Buddha taught that meditation to the monks. They were meditating in a forest and were scared away by spirits who resented their presence. So he instructed them to go back and meditate on metta. The spirits were pleased and allowed the monks to stay, protecting them.

Does anyone know from which sutta this originates? I can't seem to find it.

Thank you!

It isn't from a sutta but a commentary to the The Karaniya Metta Sutta -Khp9
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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Nibbida
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Re: Metta and forest spirits

Postby Nibbida » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:34 pm

Thank you Cittasanto. I just came across that as well. Since that is in the Sutta Nipata, the commentary must be in Buddhaghosa's Suttanipata-atthakatha. It would be interesting to read.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Nibbida
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Re: Metta and forest spirits

Postby Nibbida » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:46 pm

I wish these commentaries were more available. Some of them are out-of-print, and some of them are extremely expensive.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Cittasanto
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Re: Metta and forest spirits

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:50 pm

I personally do not know where this particular commentary can be found and hopefully someone can share a link to an available version.
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 and forest spirits

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:27 pm

Hello all,

This might help:

Dhammapada Verse 40 - Pancasatabhikkhu Vatthu
Kumbhupamam kayamimam viditva
nagarupam cittamidam thapetva
yodhetha maram panna vudhena
jitanca rakkhe anivesano siya1.

Verse 40: Knowing that this body is (fragile) like an earthern jar, making one's mind secure like a fortified town, one should fight Mara with the weapon of Knowledge. (After defeating Mara) one should still continue to guard one's mind, and feel no attachment to that which has been gained (i.e., jhana ecstasy and serenity gained through meditation).
________________________________________
1. anivesano siya: not to be attached; in this Context not to be attached to jhana ecstasy and serenity gained through meditation, but to proceed further with Insight meditation practices until the attainment of arahatship. (The Commentary)
________________________________________
The Story of Five Hundred Bhikkhus
[ Read longer version of story here ]
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (40) of this book, with reference to five hundred bhikkhus.
Five hundred bhikkhus from Savatthi, after obtaining a subject of meditation from the Buddha, travelled for a distance of one hundred yojanas* away from Savatthi and came to a large forest grove, a suitable place for meditation practice. The guardian spirits of the trees dwelling in that forest thought that if those bhikkhus were staying in the forest, it would not be proper for them to live with their families in the trees. So they descended from the trees, thinking that the bhikkhus would stop there only for one night. But the bhikkhus were still there at the end of a fortnight; then it occurred to them that the bhikkhus might be staying there till the end of the vassa. In that case, they and their families would have to be living on the ground for a long time. So, they decided to frighten away the bhikkhus, by making ghostly sounds and frightful apparitions. They showed up with bodies without heads, and with heads without bodies, etc. The bhikkhus were very upset and left the place and returned to the Buddha, to whom they related everything. On hearing their account, the Buddha told them that this had happened because previously they went without any weapon and that they should go back there armed with a suitable weapon. So saying, the Buddha taught them the entire Metta Sutta (discourse on Loving-Kindness) beginning with the following stanza:
Karaniyamattha kusalena
Yanta santam padam abhisamecca
Sakko uju ca suhuju ca
Suvaco c'assa mudu anatimani.
[The above stanza may be translated as: "He who is skilled in (acquiring) what is good and beneficial, (mundane as well as supra-mundane), aspiring to attain Perfect Peace (Nibbana) should act (thus): He should be efficient, upright, perfectly upright, compliant, gentle and free from conceit."]
The bhikkhus were instructed to recite the sutta from the time they came to the outskirts of the forest grove and to enter the monastery reciting the same. The bhikkhus returned to the forest grove and did as they were told. The guardian spirits of the trees receiving loving-kindness from the bhikkhus reciprocated by readily welcoming and not harming them. There were no more ghostly sounds and ungainly sights. Thus left in peace, the bhikkhus meditated on the body and came to realize its fragile and impermanent nature.
From the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha, by his supernormal power, learned about the progress of the bhikkhus and sent forth his radiance making them feel his presence. To them he said, "Bhikkhus just as you have realized, the body is, indeed, impermanent."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 40: Knowing that this body is (fragile) like an earthern jar, making one's mind secure like a fortified town, one should fight Mara with the weapon of Knowledge. (After defeating Mara) one should still continue to guard one's mind, and feel no attachment to that which has been gained (i.e., jhana ecstasy and serenity gained through meditation).
At the end of the discourse, the five hundred bhikkhus attained arahatship.
* yozana: a measure of length about twelve miles.
http://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/ve ... ?verse=040

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Nibbida
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Re: Metta and forest spirits

Postby Nibbida » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:39 pm

Wonderful! Thank you.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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