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[ Sitting Practice ]

Metta, Karuna, Mudita, Upekkha

Metta Sutta[1]

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:

Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.

Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.

This is said to be the sublime abiding:
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

 


 

The Four immeasurables:[2][3]

Here friends, a beggar lives suffusing[4] the first quarter with thoughts of friendliness; and so also the second, third, and fourth quarters. Thus he lives suffusing the world all-over, all-through, encompassing all, above, below and across. Thus he lives a suffusing that is bountiful, widespread, immeasurable, friendly, without injury.
 
He lives suffusing the first quarter with thoughts of sympathy; and so also the second, third, and fourth quarters. Thus he lives suffusing the world all-over, all-through, encompassing all, above, below and across with thoughts of sympathy. Thus he lives a suffusing that is bountiful, widespread, immeasurable, friendly, without injury.
 
He lives suffusing the first quarter with thoughts of empathy; and so also the second, third, and fourth quarters. Thus he lives suffusing the world all-over, all-through, encompassing all, above, below and across with thoughts of empathy. Thus he lives a suffusing that is bountiful, widespread, immeasurable, friendly, without injury.
 
He lives suffusing the first quarter with objectively detached thought; and so also the second, third, and fourth quarters. Thus he lives suffusing the world all-over, all-through, encompassing all, above, below and across with objectively detached thought. Thus he lives a suffusing that is bountiful, widespread, immeasurable, friendly, without injury.[5]

 


 

Six elements of extraction:[6][7]

Here friends a beggar says this: 'I have become freed-in-heart, friends by making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Friendliness, yet anger continues to rise up and take hold of my heart.' At that, he should be spoken to in such a way as this: 'You should not say this. This should not be said thus, elder, the Bhagava would be scandalized,[8] and it is not something that is "well done" to have scandalized the Bhagava, nor would the Bhagava say this. The Bhagava would not say such a baseless and impossible thing. This making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Friendliness that brings about freedom-in-heart and yet having anger continue to rise up and take hold of the heart is a thing that cannot be. It is, friend, just this cultivation of freedom-of-heart through friendliness that extracts one from anger.'

Here again friends a beggar says this: 'I have become freed-in-heart, friends by making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Sympathy, yet cruelty continues to rise up and take hold of my heart.' At that, he should be spoken to in such a way as this: 'You should not say this. This should not be said thus, elder, the Bhagava would be scandalized, and it is not something that is "well done" to have scandalized the Bhagava, nor would the Bhagava say this. The Bhagava would not say such a baseless and impossible thing. This making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Sympathy that brings about freedom-in-heart and yet having cruelty continue to rise up and take hold of the heart is a thing that cannot be. It is, friend, just this cultivation of freedom-of-heart through sympathy that extracts one from cruelty.'

Here again friends a beggar says this: 'I have become freed-in-heart, friends by making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Empathy, yet disgust continues to rise up and take hold of my heart.' At that, he should be spoken to in such a way as this: 'You should not say this. This should not be said thus, elder, the Bhagava would be scandalized, and it is not something that is "well done" to have scandalized the Bhagava, nor would the Bhagava say this. The Bhagava would not say such a baseless and impossible thing. This making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Empathy that brings about freedom-in-heart and yet having disgust continue to rise up and take hold of the heart is a thing that cannot be. It is, friend, just this cultivation of freedom-of-heart through Empathy that extracts one from disgust.'

Here again friends a beggar says this: 'I have become freed-in-heart, friends by making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Objectivity, yet passion continues to rise up and take hold of my heart.' At that, he should be spoken to in such a way as this: 'You should not say this. This should not be said thus, elder, the Bhagava would be scandalized, and it is not something that is "well done" to have scandalized the Bhagava, nor would the Bhagava say this. The Bhagava would not say such a baseless and impossible thing. This making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Objectivity that brings about freedom-in-heart and yet having passion continue to rise up and take hold of the heart is a thing that cannot be. It is, friend, just this cultivation of freedom-of-heart through Objectivity that extracts one from passion.'

Here again friends a beggar says this: 'I have become freed-in-heart, friends by making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Signlessness, yet signs continue to rise up and take hold of my heart.' At that, he should be spoken to in such a way as this: 'You should not say this. This should not be said thus, elder, the Bhagava would be scandalized, and it is not something that is "well done" to have scandalized the Bhagava, nor would the Bhagava say this. The Bhagava would not say such a baseless and impossible thing. This making much of, making a vehicle of, making a foundation of, practicing and mastering Signlessness that brings about freedom-in-heart and yet having signs continue to rise up and take hold of the heart is a thing that cannot be. It is, friend, just this cultivation of freedom-of-heart through Signlessness that extracts one from Signs.'

Here again friends a beggar says this: '"I am"' this gone in me, "I am this" is not something I even consider, yet wavering, questions of how?...how? rise up, pierce, and take hold of my heart.' At that, he should be spoken to in such a way as this: 'You should not say this. This should not be said thus, elder, the Bhagava would be scandalized, and it is not something that is "well done" to have scandalized the Bhagava, nor would the Bhagava say this. The Bhagava would not say such a baseless and impossible thing. This state where "I am" is gone, where "I am this" is not something that is even considered, yet where wavering, questions of how?...how? rise up, pierce, and take hold of the heart is a thing that cannot be. It is, friend, just this state where "I am" is gone, that extracts one from being pierced by wavering and questions of how?...how?'

 


 

M: "I have a difficulty with the middle two.

Karuna - sympathetic vibrations, pity, compassion
mudita - happiness at others happiness, empathetic joy

These two assume a certain state of the object/person towards which you direct these godly thoughts. If I perceive somebody to be wracked with dukkha, then karuna comes easily. However, then it is difficult to have mudita towards the same person. Do I then forget my previous perception and see the target as happy and joyous? Is this an excercise in switching gears?"

 

Just because you noticed this and it causes you to stop and question, I would suggest that you do exactly as you suggest: use what you might call the "gear-switchings of Brahma" technique:
 
"Hello My Friend! I see your pain. I see your joy. And Now it's time to say Goodbye."
 
Always end with upekkha.

This is the practice which is intended to harmonize the mind with that of Brahma, and Brahma is able to encompass in mind a multiplicity of facets of each individual.

There is no one way to do this; and many times in the suttas we encounter the practice of only Metta.

My personal practice has been to combine all four in one: "May all beings feel friendly vibrations, sympathetic vibrations, happiness at the happinesses of others and objective detachment."

And a very potent "method" I have found is to use the "widespread" technique but in stead of using an area, focus round and round on the individuals you are aware of that inhabit an ever widening area. Look them in the eye (in your mind) and wish them well, etc. (This would not be considered a very powerful technique by real seers who would rightly point out that this method skipped more beings than it included...but I am not strongly motivated to do this practice, and doing it my way I have managed it on a fairly regular basis for decades, and even in this slip-shod way I have benefitted greatly from the practice.)

Also I switch back and forth between "May all beings feel..." and "May all beings feel my..."

More recently [Tuesday, January 19, 2010 5:03 AM] I have constructed a version of this 'wish' that seems to me to be more satisfactory:

Do you see?

Best Wishes:
"May I act with friendliness in thought, word and deed
towards all living things including myself,
whether far or near,
in whatsoever of the ten directions they may abide;
may I sympathize with their pains and sorrows;
may I empathize with their situations;
and may I be at all times objectively detached."

 


 

M: "Re: Always end with UPEKKHA.

My difficulty with karuna and mudita actually drives me to Upekkha.
I am unable to conjure these vibrations into existence without first imagining the target as experiencing dukkha (for karuna) or sukha (for mudita). I also find it impossible to imagine the same target with both dukkha and sukha at the same time. So I find myself doing what amounts to a visualization exercise of one then the other, viewing it as hollow (because these deep feelings can be brought by simple visualizations that cannot both be true at once), and Upekkha resulting. Metta is not the same for me and comes easily regardless of the specificity of the target."

 


 

This does not sound like a problem (of method) to me. You can do the exercises sequentially, that is the usual practice.

Seeing these deep feelings as hollow is really just seeing things as they are; this entire world is a work of the imagination and is hollow (not-self natured; impersonal...) so it is not a matter of having "false" feelings of sympathy.

Also, remember, this is an exercise which is aimed at generating mental good kamma (very powerful good kamma) for yourself; with (hopefully) the intent of clarifying your mind; this is not a practice which will, in and of itself, be of any use to the objects of your concentration (so you do not need to concern yourself with how they may perceive your degree of sincerity).[9]

You want to end with upekkha so that as the time subsequent to the exercise begins to constrict your mind, you do not, through being unaware that you have left off with, say, sympathetic vibrations, start to see yourself getting worked up and depressed with the sorrowful nature of everything around you. You want to end up letting go; that is the final result you are seeking in this system and it is "helpful in the beginning" as well.

In terms of being able to see individuals both suffer and experience joy simultaneously: This is not a matter of what the beings are subjectively experiencing. In the end you are trying to see a paradox: beings come into existence as a consequence of wanting to exist at any cost. Therefore for them on one level any form of existence, no matter how painful, is a matter of joy. On the other side, beings for the most part here are unconscious of their transience and behave as though Time were standing still and they were going to live forever. But we know this is not the case and that in spite of their outer joys they all fear death and continued rebirth. So the trick is not to visualize what beings may be subjectively feeling, but the situation which they occupy, and that is dual by nature. For a study in this take a look at the way the section on sense experience is set up in the BuddhaDust version of the Satipatthana (different than the standard treatment, but still from the suttas): ../../dhammatalk/the_pali_line/course/thegreatmasterssatisfactionpastures.htm#SatisfactionwithSenseExperience

 


 

H: "I just came across a topic related to this discussion of compassion.
When asked about his illness the householder/Bodhisattva Vimalakirti said something like, "My sickness comes from ignorance and thirst for existence and it will last as long as do the sicknesses of all living beings."
So by alleviating the suffering of the world by teaching the Dhamma, the great Vimalakirti is also alleviating his own sickness.
His sickness arises from compassion for all living beings.
All living being suffer from the illness brought on by ignorance.
Just as Vimalakir' ti. illness is not real and self imposed, so, too, is the suffering of all living beings not real and self imposed.
In essence the saver is the saved,
This is the way I see the importance of compassion."

 


 

It is not always easy when you are first getting into this system to distinguish the differences between the various schools of Buddhism. The beginning practices of most schools are the same and are largely focused on giving and compassion and ethical culture (all of which are non-threatening to those raised in a Judeo/Christian/Islamic/Taoist/Confucian/Bon/Shinto/Animistic/Shaministic/Hindu culture). It is when one ventures into broad general statements about life and "things" that the differences show themselves, but in ways that might not be immediately apparent.

In the material you quote, we find a householder/Bodhisattva, and the statement: "My sickness...will last as long as do the sicknesses of all living beings." And from these two we can deduce that the individual speaking is from one or another of the Mahayana schools of Buddhism.

I believe your point in the post had more to do with the idea that our suffering is self imposed, but since a prescription for the cure is also given here, we must deal with it.

The Bodhisatva Vow is one of two ideas in the Mahayana schools of thought which are troublesome in relation to the type of Buddhism that we are studying here (the other is the idea of "Buddha Mind, or a reconfigured "self" for which see the articles on Viññāṇa Anidassana.). With regard to the Bodhisatva vow:

The Bodhisatva vow is a practice of the Mahayana schools which asks that all disciples take this vow, which entails putting off accomplishing the goal until such time as all beings are ready to attain Nibbana. There are several things problematic about this:

First is the fact that to postpone Nibbana means one must stop one's progress prior to becoming a Streamwinner. Subsequent to becoming a Streamwinner attaining the goal within a limited (perhaps 7) number of lifetimes is inevitable. Short of becoming a Streamwinner there is no real understanding of what Nibbana means or how the goal is to be attained.

This forces us to ask the question: who is telling us to take this vow? Someone who has attained the goal for himself and is telling others not to attain it? (Absolutely out of the question! One only needs to consider the thousands of suttas where the Beggars are told "Enough is Enough! More is the blood you have shed in battles and executions and as animals at the slaughter than is there water in the oceans 4! You have experience enough to let it all go!" and dozens of other similar similes.) Or someone who has not attained it for himself and is telling others not to attain it for reasons he has thought up not based on this system at all? (I liken this to the cigarette smoker who teaches not smoking...why should he be believed simply because he says "I can quit any time."?)

There is one more aspect of this vow which is off the mark: The real Bodhisattva vow[10] is to be made at the feet of a living Buddha. There is a reason for this: People are weak-willed. To take a vow like this is a monumental undertaking. To break such a vow would not be a good bit of work.
Breaking the vow would be easy on two grounds...just simply forgetting about it when life as a bug is hard enough to cope with; and giving up when one accidently sees the real proposition here. Making such a vow should be something that itself takes a huge amount of dedication and needs the support of having seen with one's own eyes that the goal is possible by way of having seen a living Buddha for one's self.

And one more: In the suttas the Buddha himself says: "Seek not to become Buddhas, Beggars! There is setback and reversal even for Buddhas!"

The other end makes the vow equally absurd: the idea that there will ever be a time when all beings are ready to attain Nibbana (The real Bodhisattva vow makes no such proposition, it is simply the vow to become a SammasamBuddha; a fully self-awakened one capable of teaching and leading others). The vow to save all living beings presupposes, first of all, that there is a finite number of beings in the world. Secondly it shows a lack of real life experience of astronomical proportions: how many are the systems out there trying to convert people to their way of seeing things? What is their rate of success? Here, in this system which has been so masterfully constructed, how many actually follow the instructions? And that is to speak of Human beings. This world is thick with beings; not only those such as animals and insects, but the very air is densely populated...I for one am not hanging around waiting for some little red bug sitting under a mushroom down Mexico way to get motivated to give up pleasure-seeking! One might as well be speaking of Samsara itself as the time it would take, even given 100% success at converting every individual that reached human status.

So No! Though our sickness is self imposed, it does not last as long as the sickness of all living beings...the cure too is self imposed; our sickness lasts as long as our own personal laziness lets it.

This is an absolutely critical earmark of this system: You are on your own! Your salvation depends on no one else but you.

 


 

There are some teachers who teach that when practicing Friendly Vibrations or Sympathetic Vibrations, or Empathetic Vibrations one should avoid making a bad man the object of such. How come?

Because a bad man, will use these attentions to entrap the unwary in their downbound ways, that's how come.

The Bad man will notice friendly vibrations and take it as agreement with his views and draw near and encourage participation in bad actions; the bad man, even while undergoing punishments will use his pain to entrap the sympathetic.

But I do not say avoid making a bad man the object of Friendly Vibrations or Sympathetic Vibrations, or Empathetic Vibrations, but when you do so, do so with extreme awareness, caution and vigilance and do not deviate from what you know is good behavior of mind, speech and body simply for the sake of pleasing another, for companionship, or to avoid unpleasantness.

 


[1]Adopted from Access-to-Insight, A Chanting Guide - Pali Passages with English Translations: The Discourse on Lovingkindness
Copyright Ō 1994 The Dhammayut Order in the United States of America, for free distribution

[2]Digha Nikaya III.33: Sangiti Suttanta

[3] appamaññāyo: mettā, karuṇā, muditā, upekkhā
PED: a+pamaññā: 1. measure, size, amount; 2. measure of time, compass, length duration; 3. age; 4. limit; 5. standard, definition, description, dimension, of characteristic, of the character of, measuring or mesured by,taking the standard of boundlessness, infinitude
mettā:
karuṇā:
muditā:
upekkhā:
see: The Four Godly Thoughts

[4]pharati: suffuses

[5]This has been made into a "Web Poster," with, hopefully a slightly more attractive presentation and with the phrases broken up to more clearly indicate meaning.
It is available at:
../../dhamma-vinaya/bd/dn/dn.33.04.olds.bd_immeasurables.htm

[6]Digha Nikaya III.33: Sangiti Suttanta: 6.17

[7]Nissarana going out, departure; issue, outcome, result; giving up, leaving behind, being freed, escape, salvation. Nissaraniya connected with deliverance, leading to salvation, able to be freed. The 3 n. dhatuyo (elements of deliverance) are nekkhamma (escape from cravings), aruppa (from existence with form), nirodha (from all existence). Nissarati to depart, escape from, be freed from. Sarati to go, flow, run, move along. Abbhacikkhati to accuse, slander, calumniate.

[8]Walshe has: "...Do not misrepresent the Blessed Lord, it is not right to slander him thus..." and Rhys Davids has "...Do not misrepresent the Exalted One! It is not well to calumniate the Exalted one." But this beggar, however far off the track he is here, is not, as we understand this in English, misrepresenting, slandering, or calumniating the Exalted one. He is speaking about his own condition. I understand that this is being spoken by the Buddha, and is in essence saying "This man should be told that such a statement, made by one of my followers, insofar as he claims to represent me, slanders me," but this does not come across clearly in translations. I have recast this to make sense today sticking as closely as I can to the original.

[9]New Agers and fad-following shrinks and physicians will object to this, pointing to numerous studies that "confirm" the benefits to others of prayer, visualizations, and so forth. Their view does not accord to the laws of kamma (which they will also asert they follow!). This is just like what happens when one person gives another a gift. There is a cooperation of kammas as it were: the one decides to give, the other deserves to receive. The problem picturing this comes in when one clings to the idea of "me" and "them"; when one sees that both "sides" were just "that". It's like water flowing from some river into the sea -- the sea water evaporates and becomes rain, the rain falls on the mountain and flows back down into the sea. The mountain did not "give" the water to the sea, it was the vehicle for the exchange. Any truly effective practitioner of visualization techniques or healing will tell you that what they feel when it is working is that a force is using them, it is not that they, themselves, are exerting any power, it is only that they are allowing this force the use of themselves as a vehicle.

[10]For a look at the (real) Bodhisattva vow and what it entails, check out Warren, Buddhism in Translations, The Story of Sumedha (you are permitted to skim this tedious poem, but the details of what is involved are "orthodox"; read the footnotes.)

 


 

References:

BD: The Four Godly Thoughts

ATI: The Sublime Attitudes
Conditions for Amiability

ATI: The Power of Good Will by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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