Speaker: Ven Dhammavaro The Practice of Loving Kindness
Speaker: Ven Dhammavaro The Practice of Loving Kindness (Metta) in the Theravada Buddhist TrADITION 1 The practice of loving kindness (metta) is an important daily practice for a Buddhist practitioner, in the Theravada buddhist tradition, it is one out of four sublime states known as Brahma-Vihara:
Loving kindness (Metta) Compassion (karuna) Sympathetic joy (mudita) Equanimity (upekkha) These sublime states can be developed in a systematic way over time. In metta practice, we need to recollect two aspects, i.e; the dangers of anger, and the merits of metta. 2 Intention, anger and Sufferings
All our activities can be divided into two categories: mental and physical. It is the mind which directs all our activities whether it expresses in physical deeds, verbal deeds or mental deeds. Let us investigate our normal human behaviors, in normal human tendency one reacts to anger with anger, before one reacts outwardly in deeds it FIRST GOES THROUGH THE MIND. This is called intention. 3 Intention, anger and Sufferings Before we discuss about the practice of loving kindness (metta), we need to
have a good understanding about suffering. The Arahant Brahmadatta said with reference to the Buddhas teaching: "If anger arises, reflect on the saw simile." (Theragatha 6.12) In that simile Buddha urged us to be patient when the anger arises within us, and to be patient with the anger instigator as he/she is the one who is 4 suffering. Intention, anger and Sufferings In the extreme case when one is angry, it develops into violence action against others, and as a result inflicts
harm on others. In the Sutta Nipta (394) Buddha advised: Laying aside violence in respect of all living beings in the world, both those which are still and those which move, he should not kill a living creature, not cause to kill, nor allow others to kill. 5 Intention, anger and Sufferings Therefore the Buddhist understanding of moral or immoral action, originates from the mind. Buddha said: It is intention that I call action (kamma); having formed an intention one acts.(AN III 415)
Therefore actions which carry moral responsibility which will lead to pleasant or unpleasant consequences in future lives, are those which one does with clear intention beforehand. 6 The remedy of anger The Buddha said categorically: Hatred is never quelled by hatred in this world. It is quelled by love. This is an eternal truth! (Dhammapada 1.5) 7 The remedy of
anger With defiled mind, human being naturally resorts to retaliatory action against their aggressor, and the ill feeling is ever reinforced time and again, not minimizes. Therefore if one who is calm and cool and contemplates about this, one would make a firm resolve in not taking retaliatory action against the aggressor, and replaces it with love and understanding. This subtle quality of metta requires constant mindfulness in nurturing it to fullness. Metta is cultivated in ones heart like a spring; it protects ones mind against ill-will, anger and many other unwholesome thoughts. 8
The remedy of anger In Brahma-vihara sutta the Blessed one advised us how to develop the qualities of metta and karuna: There, O friends, the Bhikkhu with a mind full of friendly loving kindness (metta) pervading first one direction, then a second one, then a third one then the fourth one, as below so above, across and all around, everywhere identifying himself with all sentient beings, he is encompassing the whole world with a mind full of friendly loving kindness, with a mind wide, developed, unbounded, cleared, exalted, pure and bright, free from hate and ill will... 9
The Arahant Brahmadatta said of his attainment of the quality of metta: "You make things worse when you flare up at someone who's angry. Whoever doesn't flare up at someone who's angry wins a battle hard to win. You live for the good of both your own, the other's when, knowing the other's provoked, you mindfully grow calm. When you work the cure of both your own, the other's those who think you a fool know nothing of Dhamma. " (Theragatha 6.12)
10 One is dearer to oneself In Udana 5.1 the Blessed One said to the King Pasenadi of Kosala: "Searching all directions with one's awareness, one finds no one dearer than oneself. In the same way, others are fiercely dear to themselves. So one should not hurt others if one loves oneself!" 11 the practice of metta
The Buddha is comparing the practice of metta to the infinite area of the earth, whoever speaks with the words that is: (1) timely or untimely, (2) true or false, (3) affectionate or harsh, (4) beneficial or unbeneficial, (5) with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. 12 the practice of metta This boundless quality of metta has been cultivated specifically to overcome our mental hatred and jealously to the path so that one can
achieve states of highly refined meditative concentration (jhanas). This highly treasured pure mind is crucial in cultivating right understanding and right view. 13 How to Practise? In the famous text of Metta Sutta the Blessed One taught: "What should be done by one whos skilled in wholesomeness to gain the state of peacefulness is this: He must be able, upright, straight, and not proud, easy to speak to, mild and well content. Easily satisfied and not caught up in too
much bustle, and frugal in ones ways, with senses calmed, intelligent, not bold, not being covetous when with other folk. Not even doing little things that other wise ones blame, and this the thought that one should always hold: may beings all live happily and safe and may their hearts rejoice within themselves. 14 What the Buddha taught in the text: 1. Cultivates virtues through the training of Morality. 2. Cultivates compassion by first making their hearts rejoice within themselves. 3. Generates boundless love to all beings like a mother who risks her life to loves and
protects her only child. 4. Extending metta to all beings in all directions free from hate and enmity. Pervading first one direction, then a second one, then a third one then the fourth one, as below so above, across and all around, full of friendly loving kindness, with a mind wide, developed, unbounded, cleared, exalted, pure and bright, free from hate and ill will. 5. Practice this mindfulness all the time.15 In our daily practice, metta should be practised as such: Comparing oneself with others, one should practise loving kindness to all beings, realising that all beings desire happiness. (Attupamaya sabbesam,
sattnam sukha kamatam, passitva kamato mettam, sabba sattesu bhvaye ) 16 KNOW YOURSELF Again in the text of Kakacupama Sutta (MN21) the Buddha taught the monks how to cultivate metta: "You should train yourselves this way: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person's welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing
world with an awareness imbued with good will abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves." 17 KNOW YOURSELF The cultivation of metta requires the awareness of our states of the mind, this awareness is called sati in Pali as explained in detail by the Buddha, the developing of sati leads to the discerning mind which could discern affliction within our mind, it promotes concentration which again reinforces discernment. 18
KNOW YOURSELF There are hindrances that could hinder the development of metta, these are five: sensual craving, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubts. For the sublime quality of metta its direct enemy is ill-will or hatred, it obstructs the development of metta in oneself, therefore it is very important to understand ones heart, recognise the arising of these defiled states of mind, weigh the cost of these negative thoughts by considering it from the point of kammic retribution, samsaric existence, dhamma practice, the doctrine of anatta, then learn to
19 cultivate metta and forgive others. The benefits of metta practice In Anguttara Nikaya V.342 the Buddha mentioned there are eleven benefits in cultivating the boundless quality of metta: "Friends! Eleven advantages are to be expected as effect from the release of mind into friendliness, by the practice of goodwill, by cultivating amity, by making much of it frequently, by making friendliness the vehicle, the tool, a basis, a medium, a foundation, by persisting in it, by making it a familiar habit, by being well established in it.
20 What are the eleven benefits ? 1. One sleeps happy! 2. One wakes happy! 3. One dreams no evil dreams! 4. One is liked and loved by all human beings!
5. One is liked and loved by all non-human beings too! 6. One is guarded and protected by the divine devas! 7. One cannot be harmed by fire, poison or weapons! 8.
One swiftly attains the concentration of absorption! 9. Ones appearance becomes serene, calm and composed! 10. One dies without confusion, bewilderment nor panic! 11. One reappears after death on the Brahma 21 level level if one has penetrated to no higher in life! Conclusion Human societies everywhere are plagued by violence and great sufferings,
this is due to the absence of love and compassion, many victims are trying to get even with their enemies, this would only prolong the antagonistic situation, human sufferings and tragedies only show a deficiency in our love and compassion to all beings. The love and compassion is a real human possibility which can be cultivated gradually, day by day, by everyone who aspires happiness, and it does not confine to the Buddhists only, all human beings who aspire happiness should cultivate the boundless love and compassion. 22 Thank You
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