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Good Will by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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  • Antony Woods
    The intention of good will opposes the intention of ill will, thoughts governed by anger and aversion. As in the case of desire, there are two ineffective ways
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 1, 2005
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      The intention of good will opposes the intention of ill will,
      thoughts governed by anger and aversion. As in the case of desire,
      there are two ineffective ways of handling ill will. One is to yield
      to it, to express the aversion by bodily or verbal action. This
      approach releases the tension, helps drive the anger "out of one's
      system," but it also poses certain dangers. It breeds resentment,
      provokes retaliation, creates enemies, poisons relationships, and
      generates unwholesome kamma; in the end, the ill will does not leave
      the "system" after all, but instead is driven down to a deeper level
      where it continues to vitiate one's thoughts and conduct.

      <snip>

      The remedy the Buddha recommends to counteract ill will, especially
      when the object is another person, is a quality called in Pali metta.
      This word derives from another word meaning "friend," but metta
      signifies much more than ordinary friendliness. I prefer to translate
      it by the compound "loving-kindness," which best captures the
      intended sense: an intense feeling of selfless love for other beings
      radiating outwards as a heartfelt concern for their well-being and
      happiness. Metta is not just sentimental good will, nor is it a
      conscientious response to a moral imperative or divine command. It
      must become a deep inner feeling, characterized by spontaneous warmth
      rather than by a sense of obligation. At its peak metta rises to the
      heights of a brahmavihara, a "divine dwelling," a total way of being
      centered on the radiant wish for the welfare of all living beings.

      <snip>

      The method of development is metta-bhavana, the meditation on loving-
      kindness, one of the most important kinds of Buddhist meditation. The
      meditation begins with the development of loving-kindness towards
      oneself. (This might appear to contradict what we said earlier, that
      metta is free from self-reference. The contradiction is only
      apparent, however, for in developing metta towards oneself one
      regards oneself objectively, as a third person. Further, the kind of
      love developed is not self-cherishing but a detached altruistic wish
      for one's own well-being.)

      <snip>

      Once one has learned to kindle the feeling of metta towards oneself,
      the next step is to extend it to others. The extension of metta
      hinges on a shift in the sense of identity, on expanding the sense of
      identity beyond its ordinary confines and learning to identify with
      others. The shift is purely psychological in method, entirely free
      from theological and metaphysical postulates, such as that of a
      universal self immanent in all beings. Instead, it proceeds from a
      simple, straightforward course of reflection which enables us to
      share the subjectivity of others and experience the world (at least
      imaginatively) from the standpoint of their own inwardness.
      http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/bps/misc/waytoend.html
      From: The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by
      Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Publication Society, http://www.bps.lk
      bps@...
    • Antony Woods
      The intention of good will opposes the intention of ill will, thoughts governed by anger and aversion. As in the case of desire, there are two ineffective
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 1, 2006
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        "The intention of good will opposes the intention of ill will,
        thoughts governed by anger and aversion. As in the case of desire,
        there are two ineffective ways of handling ill will. One is to yield
        to it, to express the aversion by bodily or verbal action. This
        approach releases the tension, helps drive the anger "out of one's
        system," but it also poses certain dangers. It breeds resentment,
        provokes retaliation, creates enemies, poisons relationships, and
        generates unwholesome kamma; in the end, the ill will does not leave
        the "system" after all, but instead is driven down to a deeper level
        where it continues to vitiate one's thoughts and conduct.

        <snip>

        The remedy the Buddha recommends to counteract ill will, especially
        when the object is another person, is a quality called in Pali metta.
        This word derives from another word meaning "friend," but metta
        signifies much more than ordinary friendliness. I prefer to translate
        it by the compound "loving-kindness," which best captures the
        intended sense: an intense feeling of selfless love for other beings
        radiating outwards as a heartfelt concern for their well-being and
        happiness. Metta is not just sentimental good will, nor is it a
        conscientious response to a moral imperative or divine command. It
        must become a deep inner feeling, characterized by spontaneous warmth
        rather than by a sense of obligation. At its peak metta rises to the
        heights of a brahmavihara, a "divine dwelling," a total way of being
        centered on the radiant wish for the welfare of all living beings.
        <snip> The method of development is metta-bhavana, the meditation on
        loving- kindness, one of the most important kinds of Buddhist
        meditation. The meditation begins with the development of loving-
        kindness towards oneself. (This might appear to contradict what we
        said earlier, that metta is free from self-reference. The
        contradiction is only apparent, however, for in developing metta
        towards oneself one regards oneself objectively, as a third person.
        Further, the kind of love developed is not self-cherishing but a
        detached altruistic wish for one's own well-being.)

        <snip>

        Once one has learned to kindle the feeling of metta towards oneself,
        the next step is to extend it to others. The extension of metta
        hinges on a shift in the sense of identity, on expanding the sense of
        identity beyond its ordinary confines and learning to identify with
        others. The shift is purely psychological in method, entirely free
        from theological and metaphysical postulates, such as that of a
        universal self immanent in all beings. Instead, it proceeds from a
        simple, straightforward course of reflection which enables us to
        share the subjectivity of others and experience the world (at least
        imaginatively) from the standpoint of their own inwardness."
        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/bps/misc/waytoend.html
        From: The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by
        Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Publication Society, http://www.bps.lk
      • antony272b2
        The extension of metta hinges on a shift in the sense of identity, on expanding the sense of identity beyond its ordinary confines and learning to identify
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 22, 2010
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          "The extension of metta hinges on a shift in the sense of identity, on expanding the sense of identity beyond its ordinary confines and learning to identify with others. The shift is purely psychological in method, entirely free from theological and metaphysical postulates, such as that of a universal self immanent in all beings. Instead, it proceeds from a simple, straightforward course of reflection which enables us to share the subjectivity of others and experience the world (at least imaginatively) from the standpoint of their own inwardness."
          http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html
          From: The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by
          Bhikkhu Bodhi
          For Free Distribution, as a gift of Dhamma from Access to Insight and the Buddhist Publication Society, http://www.bps.lk

          With metta / Antony.
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