Brahmavihara Bhavana as Vipassana

S M, modified 2 Months ago at 3/16/23 11:21 AM
Created 2 Months ago at 3/16/23 11:20 AM

Brahmavihara Bhavana as Vipassana

Posts: 11 Join Date: 12/30/22 Recent Posts
In Mahasi Sayadaw's Brahmavihara Dhamma, There is a section on how cultivating the brahmaviharas can have elements of insight in them. Anicca can be contemplated on the sound of the wishes for others to be happy, on page 113:
Applying this method to develop insight knowledge we will develop loving-kindness. Let’s recite, radiating loving-kindness, and at the same time, contemplate the characteristic of impermanence of the sense-object-the sound of our chanting...

Dukkha can be contemplated on the arising and dissolution of our wishes, on page 114:
Let us now recite by developing loving-kindness as: “May all be happy” while contemplating the oppression caused by the arising and dissolution of phenomena, while developing the contemplation of suffering.

Anatta can be contemplated based on the knowledge of the efforts in wishing others happiness, on page 115:
Though one may wish to develop loving-kindness throughout the day and night, when radiating loving-kindness mentally or verbally as “May all beings be happy,” it will not be possible to do so if perseverance and energetic effort are lacking. It would only be possible if there is full accomplishment of strong will, diligence, and resolution. Hence, it is something that does not occur according to one’s wish. In order to follow up with an action to contemplate the nature of not-self, let us develop loving-kindness...

Lastly, Mahasi Sayadaw concludes that when insight knowledge is mature, contemplating on anicca, dukkha, and anatta on the brahmaviharas can lead to the end, on page 115:
It would amount to wholesome kamma of the sensual realm (kāmāvacara kusala) if sincere contemplation of loving-kindness is done to realise the characteristics of impermanence,etc., by sincerely reciting: “May all beings be happy.” The contemplation of the jhānic-mind by one who has achieved absorption is contemplating a state of mind that is highly meritorious (mahaggata-kusala). The only difference is between the nature of kāmāvacara and mahaggata kusala. However, the way of contemplating loving-kindness is identical. Hence, while contemplating the virtuous thought of loving-kindness, etc., when insight-knowledge becomes mature, the complete cessation of mind and matter (nibbāna) will be realised through the knowledge of the Noble Path. Following this path knowledge, the knowledge of Fruition will be attained.

Bhikku Analayo also toys with the idea in his amazing Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation, where he states that the brahmaviharas can be cultivated for all of the awakening factors, on page 68:
The cultivation of compassion could even be used as one’s main vehicle of practice. The Aṭṭhakanāgara-sutta and its parallel describe the way this can be done, showing how the absorptions and each of the four brahmavihāras can be used as alternative routes to the final goal. In the case of compassion, according to the Aṭṭhakanāgara-sutta the experience of the boundless radiation should be contemplated as conditioned and therefore as subject to cessation.40 Two Chinese parallels present the cultivation of insight in a more succinct manner, indicating simply that one should contemplate dharmas as dharmas.41 This appears to be a reference to the fourth satipaṭṭhāna. A central aspect of the fourth satipaṭṭhāna found alike in the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta and its parallels is the awakening factors, those qualities that need to be brought into being for awakening to take place.

So with all these references, can it be safe to say that one can practice brahmavihara bhavana as an insight practice? For example, one can pervade metta in all body, speech, and mind actions and this can be noted as usual as "sitting", "walking", "smiling", "warmth", etc. but with the added notes of "soft" when treating everything with kindness, and/or "light" as the softening of everything seems to lighten the body. Furthermore, if one were to engage in the mental wishing of others' happiness, one can note the intent to wish the happiness, the act of wishing, the cessation of it, the subsequent happiness that pervades the mind, and the mind itself that is doing the noting. In other aspect, one can note the fire element of the warmth generated in the chest region, the earth element of the softened body while doing all actions through the act of the metta pervasions. Underlying all this, one can see the act of pervading the brahmaviharas as anatta and absent of self as alluded to by Mahasi Sayadaw above.

Is this a correct understanding of the above?

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