More metta, please

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Steph , modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 6:06 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 12:44 PM

More metta, please

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I think a lot of us here could benefit from more metta incorporated into our practice. It might take practice away from the Dhammalympics many of us have signed ourselves up to race in and instead foster a healthier, more realistic practice. Reading my own posts and others', it's obvious there are intellectual high achiever types here. It's awesome to have an end goal of eliminating suffering (or whatever you're currently practicing towards), but in so doing, it's really important to take it in small steps and be kind about where you're currently at. It can get incredibly self-deprecating when you start to compare where you're at (or where others are at) with where you want to be and notice an incongruity, thus kicking up all sorts of craving & aversion and the harmful "I'm insufficient" game that can come with that. Looking at the bigger picture of why we want to eliminate suffering for ourselves and others - we want to live peacefully with each other.

So then, why such little focus on the simple and powerful type of practice that is specifically designed to curb ill will and cultivate good will & compassion towards oneself and others? It's possible some of you are metta'ing your days away, but I rarely see posts about it so I don't know. How about using metta as the object for jhana instead of the breath for a while to see what happens? Many seasoned monks (Bhante V, Ajahn Brahm, Bhikkhu Bodhi - to name a few) have emphasized that incorporating more metta has been one of the most profoundly transformative points of practice for people they have taught. Heck, there are entire retreats based on metta alone. I have used the traditional metta instruction of wishing oneself happiness, health, and freedom from suffering - then extending it out to someone I'm close with, then a neutral person, then a person I have a difficult relationship with, then all beings. Are there any other metta instructions you have used that you like? Other thoughts on this?
Some Guy, modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 12:54 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 12:54 PM

RE: More metta, please

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Good idea.
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Fitter Stoke, modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 1:25 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 1:25 PM

RE: More metta, please

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I'd be interested to see what practices people share, as the ones that I've tried in the past haven't appealed to me very much.
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PP, modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 2:08 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 2:06 PM

RE: More metta, please

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Steph S:
I think a lot of us here could benefit from more metta incorporated into our practice. .... How about using metta as the object for jhana instead of the breath for a while to see what happens? Many seasoned monks (Bhante V, Ajahn Brahm, Bhikkhu Bodhi - to name a few) have emphasized that incorporating more metta has been one of the most profoundly transformative points of practice for people they have taught. .... I have used the traditional metta instruction of wishing oneself happiness, health, and freedom from suffering - then extending it out to someone I'm close with, then a neutral person, then a person I have a difficult relationship with, then all beings. Are there any other metta instructions you have used that you like? Other thoughts on this?


Hey, your past posts didn't went unnoticed, at least for me. I'm happy to say I did follow your "cheesy" advice, I'm very grateful, thank you! English is not my first language, so I excuse me for not elaborating enough on the subject, but let me say that besides well-being and a stepping stone for further deepening the meditation practice, Metta gave me a boost in my creativity (wrote half an album in less than two months), help me to cope with an hospitalized parent (I could even wrote a song to a distant father) and gave me a closer bond with friends and his children. In fact, I'll become a father (for the first time) in the next months, something that was already planned, but metta gave me an extra boost in confidence.

Regarding the metta instructions, I did follow Bhante V's method, but what really worked for me was Ron Crouch's advise to use pictures of the loved ones (and oneself) when they were (smiling) kids. I like to say that is vital to regain innocence in love ("recuperar la inocencia en el amor"). My girlfriend and friends of mine do noticed changes in me, but neglect anything regarding innocence, as they see it too vulnerable the position.
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Steph , modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 2:11 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 2:07 PM

RE: More metta, please

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What was it that you didn't like about the practices you tried, Fitter?

Here are a couple of issues I have had with it that likely others have had too: The repetition of the mantra can get to be too routine and start to lose its initial "luster" as it were. It's also possible the standard phrasing used isn't necessarily all that specific to what the yogi wants to wish - so there isn't much sincerity behind it and it seems generic or forced. It might take a bit more searching around and effort to come up with a particular way to phrase it so that is very powerfully meaningful to you. If that's the case, what do you genuinely wish for yourself and others?
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Superkatze one, modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 2:44 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 2:44 PM

RE: More metta, please

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I want to recommend this guided metta meditation from bhikkhuni Ayya Anandabodhi , which combines metta and the breath for good concentration.

Guided Metta
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 8:14 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/7/13 8:14 PM

RE: More metta, please

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Metacognition:

Metacognition refers to one’s knowledge concerning one's own cognitive processes or anything related to them, e.g., the learning-relevant properties of information or data. For example, I am engaging in metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; if it strikes me that I should double check C before accepting it as fact.
—J. H. Flavell (1976, p. 232).


It's important to gauge realistically where we are at.

For metta I didn't like the practice so much, partially because I already wish people well, but also because of the fabrication element of it. I do like smiling emoticon sometimes to relieve some of the seriousness of practice and I do the positive psychology prescription of diarising 3 things that were positive during the day before I go to bed. Even during bad days there are some small things to be thankful for. It's a good reminder to me that things could be much worse and taking things for granted is a kind of disease. If I actually wake up in the morning, that is a good thing. Some people literally don't. If I have no terminal disease or chronic disease, then I'm actually doing really well.
Some Guy, modified 9 Years ago at 1/8/13 12:00 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/8/13 12:00 PM

RE: More metta, please

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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 2:02 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 1:57 AM

RE: More metta, please

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I like the idea of metta. I could certainly use a little of the reported healing benefits of such a practice!

Couple of points/questions for anyone experienced in metta...

1) After some time I found the routine of metta practice off putting. It seemed "boring", "painting by numbers" ish..

2) Right now in my own practice the jhana factors often take over all experience within a few breaths, without any real effort. This might be troublesome for traditional metta practice. How would you incorporate metta in such a circumstance?

Thoughts?
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 2:08 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 2:08 AM

RE: More metta, please

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Good post Steph..metta practise does help reduce ill-will.

Would like to throw in a word of caution though :-

Brahmaviaharas are not enough

Its a talk by Thanissaro Bhikku wherein he cautions against Brahmaviharas and Equanimity.
Rod C, modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 2:22 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 2:11 AM

RE: More metta, please

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HI BTG,

I had a similar question a while ago in the following thread:

Metta and Jhana Question

I am experimenting with the answers provided - I am finding so far that performing Metta from the 4th Jhana is working well (Although I am not seeing Gold Buddhas yet) but its early days yet

Rodemoticon
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Steph , modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 3:05 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 2:59 AM

RE: More metta, please

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Sweet, it's good to see all these suggestions so far since apparently there's a few of us who think metta could use more variety.. haha.

Richard Zen:

For metta I didn't like the practice so much, partially because I already wish people well, but also because of the fabrication element of it.


It's necessary to grease the wheels with pleasant mind states (i.e. fabricate them) to help clarify the mind. Metta is just another option to facilitate that. It also might be helpful to use things like metta to investigate how these pleasant states come to be, so essentially, start vipassanizing what comes up during the metta meditations. How or how not are good will and compassion fabricated - or more specifically, what exactly are good will and compassion? Supposedly for an unconditioned mind, good will and compassion are the natural state of things (not there yet, lol, so can't confirm how). But if there is any ill will that still comes up in your experience, it seems likely some of that good will is also fabricated (conditioned by those temporary pleasant mind states).

Have you deeply investigated the wish for peoples' well being? I'm not asking that because I doubt that you have or that you're being insincere. I'm curious and would like to hear what you've done with that. Because I think I wish people well and I don't think I truly want to harm anyone... yet it still happens that I do hurt peoples' feelings sometimes. I realize that with ill will the determining factor is generally whether there is intent to harm. Sometimes a feeling or reaction comes so quickly, though, that it is very easy to skip over/miss the initial intent.
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Pål S, modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 4:18 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 4:18 AM

RE: More metta, please

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Shashank Dixit:
Good post Steph..metta practise does help reduce ill-will.

Would like to throw in a word of caution though :-

Brahmaviaharas are not enough

Its a talk by Thanissaro Bhikku wherein he cautions against Brahmaviharas and Equanimity.


I got 99 problems but the Brahmaviharas ain't one
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 5:03 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 5:03 AM

RE: More metta, please

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Pål S.:
Shashank Dixit:
Good post Steph..metta practise does help reduce ill-will.

Would like to throw in a word of caution though :-

Brahmaviaharas are not enough

Its a talk by Thanissaro Bhikku wherein he cautions against Brahmaviharas and Equanimity.


I got 99 problems but the Brahmaviharas ain't one


oh yes , Thanissaro doesn't deny the importance of Brahmaviharas as a very useful tool along the way.
He just throws caution and to know the caution , you have to hear him out emoticon
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 11:11 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/10/13 11:11 PM

RE: More metta, please

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When I was a child I rarely envied. I was taught it was bad but I understood that happiness and envy don't go well together. When kids attacked me out of envy they didn't get anything other than spreading their own misery. The results were useless beyond that. Anxiety was more the hindrance for me and I suppose everyone has their particular demons to battle but those with an envy streak may need metta more than me and it may be a great help. The reality is that if more people are happier it will lead to a higher chance I'll have better associations with those people. The more envy in society you get the hypocrisy where people do to others what they don't want done for themselves and the world is a suckier place.

I tend toward the cognitive therapy side of things. If you have an emotion it's because of a belief. If the belief is wrong you must investigate until you find a better belief or if there's no answer then have no belief. That way the emotion should change. The Golden Mean. Not too little anger to the point of being a doormat (which is highly possible to become) or so much anger that a person becomes rash (which is even more possible). Aristole's understanding of skillfulness is still appropriate. It's okay to do harm to people if they are going to do harm to you. I've yelled and threatened some narcissistic business types because if you didn't they may actually manhandle you or slander you. It's best to be away from these types if you can but likely we all bump into them in school or work. We need to have balance and reasonableness. Not perfection.

I basically look at my anger now like this: Was I angry for a good reason? If no, then I went too far. If I was angry for a good reason then feeling guilty about it is pointless and obsessing about being right beyond the right situation is also another form of wasted energy. By doing this I can meditate on my anger much better. Until recently it was almost like I was repressing it. Understanding anger, or any emotion, is the important thing. Especially trying to imagine being in the other person's shoes when they have to experience my anger is really important. Concentration and mindfulness practices have created some extra dose of compassion in me in some unexpected ways. I remember doing some mindfulness practice while doing data entry and this obese lady in a near office was hiccuping incessantly for like a half an hour or more after eating too much. I tolerated it well for a while but after a while I starting making petty jokes in my mind about Jabba the Hutt. Because I was letting go faster and faster and looking for elements of pain in my experience I suddenly was flooded with compassion. I started thinking about how her being obese must affect her emotionally. I also was looking directly at the mental stress of even wasting any thoughts on the subject at all. I actually got close to shedding tears it was so strong. Maybe a little too strong but it was my best example of what it's like to drop aversion and watch compassion well up with strength.

I don't know if this is correct but it's where I am now.emoticon
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Jon T, modified 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 7:54 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 7:54 PM

RE: More metta, please

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There's skillful fabrication and ignorant fabrication. Metta is skillful, obviously. Well, i suppose it can be done in ignorance as well. at some point, however, fabrication has to be dropped. To metta away a negative feeling is wise. to deconstruct it's source is also wise. But the method must become automatic at one point. The fabrication is meant to be conditioned into the psyche.

if the fabrication is skillful then it is based on a truth or a useful assumption or a useful behavior. Thus the person with the newly conditioned attribute becomes more skillful, more happier, less miserable. when the fabrication is based on a destructive tendency then the opposite happens. And that is how we got to where we where before we came to this website.

i think that letting go after a suitable period of wise fabrication and getting used to letting go to the point that letting go becomes easier, it gets good results and the identity can trust it because positive things are happening to the point where the identity no longer even has to operate is where we are all trying to go. And if metta gets us there then do it.
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 10:45 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 10:45 PM

RE: More metta, please

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I agree that if people want to do metta they should keep doing it until the habit becomes stronger. Doing it in a half-assed way rather than going deeper will be a waste of time. Doing concentration practices and metta is a hell of a lot better than doing nothing.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 11:08 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 11:08 PM

RE: More metta, please

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Concentration and mindfulness practices have created some extra dose of compassion in me in some unexpected ways.


Hi Richard

With compassion do you mean that you suffer when another one suffers ?
or you are using the word compassion to mean that you simply recognize the suffering in another
or anything else ?
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Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 11:43 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/13/13 11:43 PM

RE: More metta, please

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Shashank Dixit:
Concentration and mindfulness practices have created some extra dose of compassion in me in some unexpected ways.


Hi Richard

With compassion do you mean that you suffer when another one suffers ?
or you are using the word compassion to mean that you simply recognize the suffering in another
or anything else ?


It comes from seeing aversion in another person's behaviour and seeing the pain in dwelling on that and after letting go feeling relief. Then after that if I try and see the problem from the eyes of the other person it's possible to feel sad at what they may go through and how problems they've carried contributed to the current situation. Sympathy from imagining walking in another person's shoes. This is especially if someone has a problem that is not likely under their control. For example a movie that will make me weep every time is the Elephant Man.

It's similar to when I did an exam and the teacher and his wife were handing out exams and a lady in front of me made fun of how ugly the teacher's wife was, but then she stopped short and said "Oh.." like she knew she was being mean as an automatic habit and caught herself. BTW the person making fun of the teacher's wife was ugly too. emoticon Everyone is trying to find happiness whether they are ugly or not. Life isn't a beauty paegent.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 1/14/13 1:57 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 1/14/13 1:57 AM

RE: More metta, please

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Sympathy from imagining walking in another person's shoes. This is especially if someone has a problem that is not likely under their control.


Yes , this is similar to what I've experienced...Inclining the mind to seeing a Dependently Originated 'uncontrolled' person
generates a sort of sympathy (with a tinge of appreciation) and this is not exactly suffering
when the other suffers..

BTW the person making fun of the teacher's wife was ugly too. Everyone is trying to find happiness whether they are ugly or not. Life isn't a beauty paegent.


emoticon so much better though when one cannot see both the pair of opposites