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1304Re: [SanghaOnline] Anger / loving kindness

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  • Khammai Dhammasami
    Apr 5, 2012
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      Dear Robert,

      Please refer to my book "Mindfulness Meditation Made Easy" which has a chapter
      on metta. You can google it. I paste it below also.

      With metta
      Ven. Dhammasami

      (This talk was given in Burmese and translated into English by Dr. Kyaw Thinn) 
             There are four kinds of meditation we need to practise in order to support Vipassana 
      meditation. They are metta meditation, meditation on the qualities of the Buddha, 
      meditation on the impersonality of the body  and meditation on death. These four, if 
      practised earnestly and correctly, help in the development of  Vipassana practice. 
      Conversely, Vipassana meditation assists us  achieve deep understanding of these four 
      meditation practices. They are mutually approving and supportive, and that is why these 
      four are known as Supportive Meditation.
             They are largely reflective types of meditation rather than trying to watch sensation 
      and thoughts momentarily as in Vipassana. They help the mind to focus. Once fully 
      developed, they also tend to influence the way we think. Three of them —  MettA 
      meditation on the impersonality of body and meditation on death help us directly to 
      acquire the right thought factor of the Noble Eightfold Path because their nature is that of 
      goodwill, non-violence and detachment. 
              Before practising metta, I would like to discuss what metta is. Practising metta 
      (loving-kindness) meditation is not something new to the Burmese Buddhists or to the Thai 
      and Sri Lankans. Actually in many places, by  meditation  people would immediately 
      understand it as metta meditation. It is a very popular practice in many traditions. Often 
      people it is important to people to know how effective their practice of metta meditation is, 
      and how confident they have become in their metta meditation. 
              Metta meditation comes in a set, comprising four component  metta, karuna 
      (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy) and upekkha (balanced mind). When we say metta, 
      the remaining three are also included. However, in practice, all the four cannot be done at 
      the same time. We have to begin with metta. Whether or not we progress to the other three 
      elements depends on how we are progressing with metta practice.
       We could not start off 
      with karuna and mudita or upekkha because each of the last three is a specialized 
      advancement of metta. Metta is an inclusive primary practice that develops itself into the 
      qualities of heart such as karuna, and is essential to furthering these qualities. 
              The desire to see peace and success in your life is metta. The desire to be free from 
      harm is metta. This good intention is to be developed and extended to members of your 
      family and friends. As it progresses, you have to  gradually  extend it to all in the world 
      including your enemy. The desire to see them doing well and happy in their life is the spirit 
      of metta 
              You want to see yourself progress  socially, economically and spiritually. This is 
      metta. When we wish ourselves good health and prosperity, we are purely developing the 
      awareness of goodwill to ourselves — promoting love for ourselves and avoiding danger, 
      harm and enmity. 
              Metta is a goodwill through which you wish to see welfare and well-being of yourself. 
      In this world, all living creatures love themselves and should have an awareness of this 
      feeling. They should then extend this feeling to those nearby such as parents, family 
      members, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and teachers. This is the way to start spreading 
      or expanding metta. There are some, who start by saying, "may all creatures in the East be 
      well and happy". Some practise metta with only the whole world as their meditation object, 
      overlooking the people nearest and dearest to themselves. Without being able to develop 
      metta fully for themselves and their friends, how can one expect to stretch out metta to the 
      whole world. It is not logical. That could become a futile effort and sometimes almost a 
      prayer intended for mere public display.  
              As metta is universal by nature,  as  said  earlier, we  have  to  have  a wholesome feeling 
      not only for ourselves but also for other people as well. Otherwise, metta can lose its true 
      nature and be overcome by its invisible attacker, attachment and selfishness. That is not 
      metta any more.  
             Metta by its true character gravitates toward a gradual diminishing of the border 
      between you and your family, friends and strangers, and yourself and the enemy. 
      Prejudice, favour and fear are the manifestations of the opponents of metta They create a 
      mental boundary between those you  like  and those you  do not  like. Metta works to 
      diminish and eliminate such bias and discrimination. Metta gives a universal dimension to 
      the way we think and act. With metta, come virtues such as friendliness and honesty. One 
      who has sufficiently developed metta is exceptionally thoughtful, caring and gentle. He is 
      patient and willing to listen to someone else's point of view.
       Metta seeks to transform the 
      inner character of a person while offering peace and a confident outlook on life. 
              There are people, who do not have the feeling of goodwill even for themselves. They 
      do not strive to improve themselves; they may even harm themselves or place themselves 
       Suvaco  14
      in danger. Therefore, those people who seek to improve their life righteously and avoid 
      harming themselves are at least practising the awareness of metta for themselves. They 
      need only proper guidance to extend it to others. 
              Metta practice can easily be derailed especially in the absence of mindfulness. The 
      goodwill nature of metta could change into that of attachment and lust, both of which have 
      magnetic potential. They are an invisible hindrance to metta. It is extremely difficult to 
      combat them.  
              Ill will and anger are the opposite of goodwill and loving-kindness. They have 
      destructive forces within and without. They are the well-known and visible enemies of 
      metta. All the hindrances to metta, both visible and invisible, are direct emotional 
      responses from within, which require awareness and concentration to detect and put under 
              Actually, metta meditation cannot proceed in the absence of mindfulness. The Buddha 
      has made it clear that one must establish mindfulness to sustain metta
      . We have to have a 
      sustained awareness (sati), indeed, all the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga) to 
      develop metta.
             The Buddha has also advised anyone to help his relative or friend, if really concerned 
      for them, to practise mindfulness meditation  (Satipatthana).  Metta and mindfulness 
      practices are often taught together.
              Metta meditation is not merely recitation of the Metta Sutta, the discourse on lovingkindness. It is about bringing  and developing an awareness of the fact that we love 
      ourselves; we do not wish any harm to befall ourselves. Moreover, it is about extending 
      such good thoughts to others. It is also about evolving qualities of heart we mentioned 
      earlier. To do that, right effort must be in  place. Nevertheless, without mindfulness, we 
      may not know where and when to make an effort. It is down to mindfulness again. 
              Metta meditation is not just chanting a formula either. There are many formulas 
      translated directly from the Pali texts or based on one like "may I be happy", which is a 
      well known formula.
       It is not enough just to memorize the formula or stanza and recite it 
      like a mantra. It does not work that way. It requires mindfulness and reflection on the 
      issues such as happiness and suffering, and the person who is the meditation object. 
       Metta Sutta, Sutta-nipata. pp. 143- 152 
       Metta -sahagata Sutta, Bojjhanga Samyutta. Samyutta-nikaya 
       Metta Sutta, Satipatthana Samyutta, Samyutta -nikaya 
       For the monastic community a formula in Pali like "Aham avero homi, avyapajjo homi, anigho homi, sukha 
      attanam pariharami" etc is most used. One has to know the meaning and use reflective energy while 
      chanting it. 15
              Developing metta is, in fact, instrumental in overcoming frustration within oneself. 
      This gradual reduction of frustration is the first benefit that one reaps from metta 
              As one becomes cheerful and hopeful, he is well liked and loved by many. Aversion, 
      irritation, agitation and anger  will be greatly reduced as  the practice goes forward. An 
      arrogant attitude that tends to belittle others will also vanish. Contempt and an  "I don't 
      care"  type of attitude can sour all the good will. Our daily life is often disturbing, 
      disappointing and complicated. If your metta  practice is sufficiently advanced, you will 
      seek a contented, simple and unconfused life.  
             We need to be introspective to find out whether or not we have any of these qualities 
      within us. To be able to do this, we need to practise Vipassana meditation. If through this 
      meditation practice, we discover that we lack a certain quality, we should then apply right 
      effort. We should reflect on the individual words of the Metta Sutta, the Discourse on 
      Loving-kindness, and assess ourselves on whether we possess those qualities. This is 
      another way of practising metta  
              We have to start embracing compassion (Karuna)  and joy (mudita) right from the 
      beginning. In metta meditation practice, there should be a meditation object. The first 
      object is none other than yourself. The second object is people who are close to you. 
             No matter who is chosen to be an object of metta meditation,  all the objects can be 
      mainly put into  two categories,  one that is suffering and the other that is happy or 
      successful. For example, my mother is chosen as the object of my metta. If she is suffering 
      from a headache, I wish for her to be free from suffering, which is a headache. To have this 
      goodwill requires metta (loving-kindness) as its foundation. As I appreciate her suffering, 
      compassion is born. This is because she is a suffering object. 
             When she is happy, I wish her happiness sustained with metta. As I treasure her 
      happiness, joy comes into existence. The same object, my mother, is giving rise to both 
      compassion  and  joy.  This is due to the fact that I set out with metta practice having a 
      dimension that is wide enough to embrace and give rise to both compassion and joy. The 
      issue of the headache is relevant to develop attentiveness. It is an issue, which is in my 
      mind at the present. 
              When she is anxious, I would say  "may you be free from anxiety and may you be 
      happy." My good wish for her to be free from anxiety is a compassionate feeling, which 
      originates from metta while the latter, a wish for her happiness is necessarily a joyous one 
      also firmly established on metta. Metta sets out, therefore, to develop karuna and mudita.  16
              In metta meditation, both feelings of being compassionate and joyous come into play. 
      When we look at the famine in Sudan and  see the people and children starving from 
      hunger, we are observing a suffering object. You immediately develop karuna if metta is 
      already inherent in you. A person practising metta meditation on a suffering object 
      develops compassion. In another words, metta is transformed into compassion. When you 
      hear that a certain group of people is being oppressed, you develop compassion if metta 
      has already been developed. Of course, without mindfulness, this metta could lead to anger 
      over the oppressor, and you may react accordingly. Here you can see the importance of 
              When we hear of someone's success in the recent GCSE examination, we feel happy. 
      In this instance, the feeling developed is mudita, a joyous feeling. You are happy to see 
      someone doing well. In this world, it is quite easy to feel compassionate because suffering 
      objects are by nature very moving. It is very powerful. Just observe how the whole country 
      felt when the news of Princess Diana's tragic death was announced. Many broke down in 
              When she was alive, not all of  those people were happy with her; some used to 
      criticise her or even find fault with her,  or magnify her mistakes. Some even made a 
      fortune out of her weakness. There was not much mudita at that time. What  I mean  to  say 
      is that it is more difficult to rejoice in somebody else's achievement. 
             Communism developed as a result of the oppression of the working class. According 
      to Buddhist philosophy, this oppression and poverty led to feelings of  karuna, which in 
      turn led to the formation of a system to dispel that  oppression and exploitation. 
      Communism was clearly built on compassion. However, the people who followed 
      Communism did not feel happy when they  saw rich people. They, especially the 
      Communist leaders, had no joyous feeling. If they had feelings of mudita, they might not 
      have nationalised or confiscated businesses, thus might  have prevented the present 
      economic and political collapse. Those leaders might even have survived until now. 
              Therefore, when developing metta,  we should assess ourselves to see whether it 
      contains the necessary fundamentals that also give rise to both compassion and joy.
              The role of mindfulness in metta practice has already been discussed earlier. 
      Nevertheless, I should mention it again here. You are moved when you see a suffering 
      object. You are happy to see some one doing well. You become joyous because of mudita. 
      Emotionally, these two, compassion  (karuna)  and joy  (mudita)  are opposites. 
      Consequently, when we encounter both emotions at different times, we can be put off 
      balance emotionally. We may become more disposed towards karuna and become very 
      sad. Alternatively, we may become inclined towards mudita and be pushed towards 
      attachment  (lobha)  and pride  (mana).  You really need something to balance these two 17
      diametrically opposite emotions, and it is  Sati  (mindfulness), which brings in some 
      balance. This is why we need to practise metta along with Vipassana meditation. 
              Having reached this stage, mindfulness helps develop concentration (samadhi). Such 
      a development is vital because without the presence of strong concentration, the mind can 
      be off balance. In plain language, upekkha,  the last component of metta, can not be 
      cultivated unless concentration is developed. However, concentration alone, without metta, 
      karuna and mudita, there  does not bring about upekkha.
      One-pointedness, an aspect of 
      concentration, helps the mind to balance itself. 
              When mindfulness is present, our mind is kept in balance. When we meet a person 
      who is suffering, we can help him without being overwhelmed by sorrow. We are able to 
      keep ourselves under control. When we meet a happy person also, we can feel happy as 
      well without forming attachments or craving. People often feel jealous in such 
      circumstances. If we can feel suffering without anger and the joy without jealousy, then 
      this is what is known as upekkha (equanimity). It is quite different from the Burmese word 
      upekkha, which means to ignore. An ignoring attitude cannot become an offshoot of metta. 
      The Pali  "Upekkh&'  is, as discussed earlier, related to  samddhi  (concentration) and is 
      developed with it. A person lacking in samcidhi but who claims to be practising upekkha is 
      probably just trying to ignore things. 
             Why do we need this balance? It is because of the opposition of the two emotions of 
      karuna and mudita. In the learning stage, mindfulness balances karuna and mudita, and 
      thereby helps develop upekkha, while in the reflective stage, the awareness of cause and 
      effect contributes to upekkha practice. I have now briefly  explained what metta, karuna, 
      mudita and uppekha are. 
              When choosing an object for metta meditation, there are two types of object, a 
      specified one and an unspecified. A specified object could be a chosen person, whom one 
      specifies by name or appearance. Try to visualise the person in mind when directing metta 
      to that person and wishing him good health and happiness. 
              Without particularising any person, if we just say "may all beings in the East or in the 
      whole world be well and happy,"  then this is an unspecified metta object. This way of 
      propagating metta to an unspecified object  is only possible and effective if done by a 
      person who has developed and attained a very powerful degree of metta with a specified 
      object. Otherwise, it will be ineffective. 
       Concentration that is associated with Upekkha is called Ekaggata in Pali. 18
              I want you to think of two negative conditions that you do not wish to have and two 
      positive conditions or things that you wish to have. In another words, think of desirable 
      and undesirable things in your life. We will start our practice based on these settings. To 
      give you an example, I have a gastric ulcer, which wakes me up in the middle of the night 
      because of the pain. I suffer from lack of sleep. Sometimes when I go for dcTha, the food 
      offered is very spicy; I end up eating just rice and yoghurt. I have encountered these 
      difficulties. So, I have become mindful of these difficulties and with a feeling of metta for 
      myself, my first wish is that I may get rid of the gastric ulcer. Secondly, my wish is to be 
      free from bad company, to be far away from them and not to have to meet them. I will 
      simply meditate  "may I be free from bad company."  These are the two most obvious 
      wishes for me as far as negative situations are concerned. 
              The two positives are to be able to meditate and study success fully. These are my two 
      most important things, even burning issues, for me at the present. I will incorporate them 
      into metta practice. 
      STEP ONE  
              I first choose myself as the meditation object. I say to myself in my mind "May I be 
      free from gastric ulcers. May I be free from bad company. May I be able to meditate more 
      and successfully, and may I be advancing as I wish with my research study."  This is 
      repeated two to five times. 
      STEP TWO  
              Next I direct my mind to another person, for example, to my mother, visualising her 
      and wishing thus;  "May she be free from gastric ulcers. May she be free from bad 
      company. May she be able to meditate successfully. May she be advancing in her Dhamma 
              Actually, it should be a relevant issue for her. I may say, may she be well and happy, 
      may she be free from anxiety and worry. Good health and happiness are something positive 
      I want her to enjoy. Anxiety and worry are things undesirable I do not want her to have 
      them. We need to choose two negative and two positive issues, and cultivate metta first for 
      ourselves and then for a specific person. 
             By this practice, we develop  sati  (mindfulness) of our feelings of well being, our 
      desire to be free from harm and suffering, and this then leads to the development of metta 
      for ourselves. From then on, we can extend the same metta, first to our parents if they are 
      still alive, second to our existing families and then close friends. We direct our metta to 
      them individually, one by one. 19
             We next have to choose a neutral person. He or she may be someone from work or 
      someone you come across in society. This person has to be known to you but one towards 
      whom you have not formed any like or dislike. He or she is entirely neutral. We then direct 
      our metta to that person in the same way as we did before. 
              We should forget the people we have been in conflict with or had arguments with for 
      the time being. Only when we have made some progress in our metta meditation, should 
      we include them. Some say that they have just gritted their teeth and cultivated metta to 
      people they have had a fight with. I cannot imagine what type of metta is being directed to 
      them. This is just not possible. The border between your acquaintances and the neutral 
      person has to be eliminated first, before you can effectively cultivate metta towards your 
      enemy. We do not start with the opposite sex either as this can arouse lust. Nor do we 
      begin with those who have died, for this can stir up sorrow.  

      On 1 April 2012 23:25, cammack51 <cammack@...> wrote:

      Dear venerable monks

      When feeling anger or hate towards some enemy one should generate thoughts of loving kindness. Must these be towards the one you hate? This is very difficult. Is it sufficient to think loving thoughts towards a neutral person or a loved one? I try to feel compassion towards my enemies, thinking of the negative Karma they are accumulating but is this enough?

      Blessings to you all


      Venerable Dr. Khammai Dhammasami, DPhil (Oxford)
      Executive Secretary, International Association of Buddhist Universities (www.iabu.org);
      Executive Secretary, Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities (www.atbu.org);
      Trustee & Fellow, Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Oxford;
      Professor, ITBMU, Yangon;
      Abbot, the Oxford Buddha Vihara, UK, Singapore & Malaysia

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