1304Re: [SanghaOnline] Anger / loving kindness
- Apr 5, 2012Dear 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 mettaVen. Dhammasami.....................2. THE PRACTICE OF METTA MEDITATION(This talk was given in Burmese and translated into English by Dr. Kyaw Thinn)SUPPORTIVE MEDITATIONThere are four kinds of meditation we need to practise in order to support Vipassanameditation. They are metta meditation, meditation on the qualities of the Buddha,meditation on the impersonality of the body and meditation on death. These four, ifpractised earnestly and correctly, help in the development of Vipassana practice.Conversely, Vipassana meditation assists us achieve deep understanding of these fourmeditation practices. They are mutually approving and supportive, and that is why thesefour are known as Supportive Meditation.They are largely reflective types of meditation rather than trying to watch sensationand thoughts momentarily as in Vipassana. They help the mind to focus. Once fullydeveloped, they also tend to influence the way we think. Three of them — MettAmeditation on the impersonality of body and meditation on death help us directly toacquire the right thought factor of the Noble Eightfold Path because their nature is that ofgoodwill, non-violence and detachment.METTA MEDITATIONBefore 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 Thaiand Sri Lankans. Actually in many places, by meditation people would immediatelyunderstand it as metta meditation. It is a very popular practice in many traditions. Oftenpeople 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 atthe same time. We have to begin with metta. Whether or not we progress to the other threeelements depends on how we are progressing with metta practice.(1)We could not start offwith karuna and mudita or upekkha because each of the last three is a specializedadvancement of metta. Metta is an inclusive primary practice that develops itself into thequalities of heart such as karuna, and is essential to furthering these qualities.WHAT IS METTAThe desire to see peace and success in your life is metta. The desire to be free fromharm is metta. This good intention is to be developed and extended to members of yourfamily and friends. As it progresses, you have to gradually extend it to all in the worldincluding your enemy. The desire to see them doing well and happy in their life is the spiritof mettaYou want to see yourself progress socially, economically and spiritually. This ismetta. When we wish ourselves good health and prosperity, we are purely developing theawareness of goodwill to ourselves — promoting love for ourselves and avoiding danger,harm and enmity.DO NOT START FROM THE WHOLE WORLDMetta 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 thisfeeling. They should then extend this feeling to those nearby such as parents, familymembers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and teachers. This is the way to start spreadingor expanding metta. There are some, who start by saying, "may all creatures in the East bewell 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 developmetta fully for themselves and their friends, how can one expect to stretch out metta to thewhole world. It is not logical. That could become a futile effort and sometimes almost aprayer intended for mere public display.UNIVERSAL DIMENSION OF METTAAs metta is universal by nature, as said earlier, we have to have a wholesome feelingnot only for ourselves but also for other people as well. Otherwise, metta can lose its truenature and be overcome by its invisible attacker, attachment and selfishness. That is notmetta any more.Metta by its true character gravitates toward a gradual diminishing of the borderbetween 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 amental boundary between those you like and those you do not like. Metta works todiminish and eliminate such bias and discrimination. Metta gives a universal dimension tothe way we think and act. With metta, come virtues such as friendliness and honesty. Onewho has sufficiently developed metta is exceptionally thoughtful, caring and gentle. He ispatient and willing to listen to someone else's point of view.(2)Metta seeks to transform theinner 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. Theydo not strive to improve themselves; they may even harm themselves or place themselves2Suvaco 14in danger. Therefore, those people who seek to improve their life righteously and avoidharming themselves are at least practising the awareness of metta for themselves. Theyneed only proper guidance to extend it to others.VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE ENEMIES OF METTAMetta practice can easily be derailed especially in the absence of mindfulness. Thegoodwill nature of metta could change into that of attachment and lust, both of which havemagnetic potential. They are an invisible hindrance to metta. It is extremely difficult tocombat them.Ill will and anger are the opposite of goodwill and loving-kindness. They havedestructive forces within and without. They are the well-known and visible enemies ofmetta. All the hindrances to metta, both visible and invisible, are direct emotionalresponses from within, which require awareness and concentration to detect and put undercontrol.Actually, metta meditation cannot proceed in the absence of mindfulness. The Buddhahas made it clear that one must establish mindfulness to sustain metta(3). We have to have asustained awareness (sati), indeed, all the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga) todevelop metta.(4)The Buddha has also advised anyone to help his relative or friend, if really concernedfor them, to practise mindfulness meditation (Satipatthana). Metta and mindfulnesspractices are often taught together.(5)NOT JUST RECITATION OF WORDSMetta 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 loveourselves; we do not wish any harm to befall ourselves. Moreover, it is about extendingsuch good thoughts to others. It is also about evolving qualities of heart we mentionedearlier. To do that, right effort must be in place. Nevertheless, without mindfulness, wemay 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 formulastranslated directly from the Pali texts or based on one like "may I be happy", which is awell known formula.(6)It is not enough just to memorize the formula or stanza and recite itlike a mantra. It does not work that way. It requires mindfulness and reflection on theissues such as happiness and suffering, and the person who is the meditation object.3Metta Sutta, Sutta-nipata. pp. 143- 1524Metta -sahagata Sutta, Bojjhanga Samyutta. Samyutta-nikaya5Metta Sutta, Satipatthana Samyutta, Samyutta -nikaya6For the monastic community a formula in Pali like "Aham avero homi, avyapajjo homi, anigho homi, sukhaattanam pariharami" etc is most used. One has to know the meaning and use reflective energy whilechanting it. 15IMMEDIATE RESULT OF METTADeveloping metta is, in fact, instrumental in overcoming frustration within oneself.This gradual reduction of frustration is the first benefit that one reaps from mettameditation.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. Anarrogant attitude that tends to belittle others will also vanish. Contempt and an "I don'tcare" 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 willseek a contented, simple and unconfused life.We need to be introspective to find out whether or not we have any of these qualitieswithin us. To be able to do this, we need to practise Vipassana meditation. If through thismeditation practice, we discover that we lack a certain quality, we should then apply righteffort. We should reflect on the individual words of the Metta Sutta, the Discourse onLoving-kindness, and assess ourselves on whether we possess those qualities. This isanother way of practising mettaKARUNA AND MUDITAWe have to start embracing compassion (Karuna) and joy (mudita) right from thebeginning. In metta meditation practice, there should be a meditation object. The firstobject 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 bemainly put into two categories, one that is suffering and the other that is happy orsuccessful. For example, my mother is chosen as the object of my metta. If she is sufferingfrom a headache, I wish for her to be free from suffering, which is a headache. To have thisgoodwill 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 herhappiness, joy comes into existence. The same object, my mother, is giving rise to bothcompassion and joy. This is due to the fact that I set out with metta practice having adimension that is wide enough to embrace and give rise to both compassion and joy. Theissue of the headache is relevant to develop attentiveness. It is an issue, which is in mymind at the present.When she is anxious, I would say "may you be free from anxiety and may you behappy." My good wish for her to be free from anxiety is a compassionate feeling, whichoriginates from metta while the latter, a wish for her happiness is necessarily a joyous onealso firmly established on metta. Metta sets out, therefore, to develop karuna and mudita. 16In 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 fromhunger, we are observing a suffering object. You immediately develop karuna if metta isalready inherent in you. A person practising metta meditation on a suffering objectdevelops compassion. In another words, metta is transformed into compassion. When youhear that a certain group of people is being oppressed, you develop compassion if mettahas already been developed. Of course, without mindfulness, this metta could lead to angerover the oppressor, and you may react accordingly. Here you can see the importance ofmindfulness.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 seesomeone doing well. In this world, it is quite easy to feel compassionate because sufferingobjects are by nature very moving. It is very powerful. Just observe how the whole countryfelt when the news of Princess Diana's tragic death was announced. Many broke down intears.When she was alive, not all of those people were happy with her; some used tocriticise her or even find fault with her, or magnify her mistakes. Some even made afortune out of her weakness. There was not much mudita at that time. What I mean to sayis that it is more difficult to rejoice in somebody else's achievement.HARD TO FEEL JOYOUS FOR OTHERSCommunism developed as a result of the oppression of the working class. Accordingto Buddhist philosophy, this oppression and poverty led to feelings of karuna, which inturn led to the formation of a system to dispel that oppression and exploitation.Communism was clearly built on compassion. However, the people who followedCommunism did not feel happy when they saw rich people. They, especially theCommunist leaders, had no joyous feeling. If they had feelings of mudita, they might nothave nationalised or confiscated businesses, thus might have prevented the presenteconomic and political collapse. Those leaders might even have survived until now.Therefore, when developing metta, we should assess ourselves to see whether itcontains the necessary fundamentals that also give rise to both compassion and joy.THE ROLE OF SATIThe 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 sufferingobject. 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 offbalance emotionally. We may become more disposed towards karuna and become verysad. Alternatively, we may become inclined towards mudita and be pushed towardsattachment (lobha) and pride (mana). You really need something to balance these two 17diametrically opposite emotions, and it is Sati (mindfulness), which brings in somebalance. This is why we need to practise metta along with Vipassana meditation.Having reached this stage, mindfulness helps develop concentration (samadhi). Sucha development is vital because without the presence of strong concentration, the mind canbe off balance. In plain language, upekkha, the last component of metta, can not becultivated unless concentration is developed. However, concentration alone, without metta,karuna and mudita, there does not bring about upekkha.(7)One-pointedness, an aspect ofconcentration, helps the mind to balance itself.When mindfulness is present, our mind is kept in balance. When we meet a personwho is suffering, we can help him without being overwhelmed by sorrow. We are able tokeep ourselves under control. When we meet a happy person also, we can feel happy aswell without forming attachments or craving. People often feel jealous in suchcircumstances. If we can feel suffering without anger and the joy without jealousy, thenthis is what is known as upekkha (equanimity). It is quite different from the Burmese wordupekkha, 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 isdeveloped with it. A person lacking in samcidhi but who claims to be practising upekkha isprobably just trying to ignore things.Why do we need this balance? It is because of the opposition of the two emotions ofkaruna and mudita. In the learning stage, mindfulness balances karuna and mudita, andthereby helps develop upekkha, while in the reflective stage, the awareness of cause andeffect contributes to upekkha practice. I have now briefly explained what metta, karuna,mudita and uppekha are.SPECIFIED AND UNSPECIFIED OBJECTSWhen choosing an object for metta meditation, there are two types of object, aspecified one and an unspecified. A specified object could be a chosen person, whom onespecifies by name or appearance. Try to visualise the person in mind when directing mettato 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 thewhole world be well and happy," then this is an unspecified metta object. This way ofpropagating metta to an unspecified object is only possible and effective if done by aperson who has developed and attained a very powerful degree of metta with a specifiedobject. Otherwise, it will be ineffective.7Concentration that is associated with Upekkha is called Ekaggata in Pali. 18INSTRUCTIONS ON METTA MEDITATION (BASIC TECHNIQUE)IDENTIFYING NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE CONDITIONSI want you to think of two negative conditions that you do not wish to have and twopositive conditions or things that you wish to have. In another words, think of desirableand undesirable things in your life. We will start our practice based on these settings. Togive you an example, I have a gastric ulcer, which wakes me up in the middle of the nightbecause of the pain. I suffer from lack of sleep. Sometimes when I go for dcTha, the foodoffered is very spicy; I end up eating just rice and yoghurt. I have encountered thesedifficulties. So, I have become mindful of these difficulties and with a feeling of metta formyself, my first wish is that I may get rid of the gastric ulcer. Secondly, my wish is to befree from bad company, to be far away from them and not to have to meet them. I willsimply meditate "may I be free from bad company." These are the two most obviouswishes 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 twomost important things, even burning issues, for me at the present. I will incorporate theminto metta practice.STEP ONEI first choose myself as the meditation object. I say to myself in my mind "May I befree from gastric ulcers. May I be free from bad company. May I be able to meditate moreand successfully, and may I be advancing as I wish with my research study." This isrepeated two to five times.STEP TWONext I direct my mind to another person, for example, to my mother, visualising herand wishing thus; "May she be free from gastric ulcers. May she be free from badcompany. May she be able to meditate successfully. May she be advancing in her Dhammastudy."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 positiveI want her to enjoy. Anxiety and worry are things undesirable I do not want her to havethem. We need to choose two negative and two positive issues, and cultivate metta first forourselves and then for a specific person.By this practice, we develop sati (mindfulness) of our feelings of well being, ourdesire to be free from harm and suffering, and this then leads to the development of mettafor ourselves. From then on, we can extend the same metta, first to our parents if they arestill alive, second to our existing families and then close friends. We direct our metta tothem individually, one by one. 19STEP THREEWe next have to choose a neutral person. He or she may be someone from work orsomeone you come across in society. This person has to be known to you but one towardswhom you have not formed any like or dislike. He or she is entirely neutral. We then directour metta to that person in the same way as we did before.THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT YET MEDITATION OBJECTSWe should forget the people we have been in conflict with or had arguments with forthe time being. Only when we have made some progress in our metta meditation, shouldwe include them. Some say that they have just gritted their teeth and cultivated metta topeople they have had a fight with. I cannot imagine what type of metta is being directed tothem. This is just not possible. The border between your acquaintances and the neutralperson has to be eliminated first, before you can effectively cultivate metta towards yourenemy. We do not start with the opposite sex either as this can arouse lust. Nor do webegin 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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