What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas?

baddul, modified 6 Years ago.

What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 10/19/14 Recent Posts
I'm wondering if people can share their experiences of meeting someone who has had a lot of practice in Metta.

Do such people exude warmth and friendliness, or do they seem a bit "buzzed" and strange?

Can you actually feel their unconditional love towards you? And if so, what does that feel like?
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas?

Posts: 1633 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Best thing for you is to try it yourself and see if you're buzzed out or compassionate. What you think conditions you so if you think of well wishing for long periods of time and applying it in your life it's likely you'll have those habits. Those who are good at it really practice intensively. I find that many meditation practices take 2 years to penetrate the brain because in science it often takes 2 years of repetition to move information from short-term to long-term memory.

My guess is that most people don't do practices that long and give up way before that time. Insight practice took around 5 years for solid equanimity, and after 8 years it's much more stable than even then. I hear that after 20 years it's even better.
Richard Zen:
My guess is that most people don't do practices that long and give up way before that time. Insight practice took around 5 years for solid equanimity, and after 8 years it's much more stable than even then. I hear that after 20 years it's even better.


This is so true, with so many things in life. I'm definitely incorporate Metta in my daily practice, but right now I'm trying to solidfy my pure Vipassana practice (as per the other thread I posted). 

I asked this question because I'm wondering if metta can be used to increase one's charisma. I've heard accounts of people meeting president Bill Clinton -- generally considered to be a profoundly charismatic man -- and everyone says that he is UTTERLY genuinely friendly and warm, and almost has a gravitational pull around him. And that when you meet him, his focus of his attention on you is so intense thatyou feel as if you're the ONLY person in the whole world important to him. 

I wonder, therefore, what happens if someone practices metta for so long that one's entire demeanor/body language changes due to increased concentration power and positive mental states. Any thoughts? 
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas?

Posts: 1633 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
baddul:
Richard Zen:
My guess is that most people don't do practices that long and give up way before that time. Insight practice took around 5 years for solid equanimity, and after 8 years it's much more stable than even then. I hear that after 20 years it's even better.


This is so true, with so many things in life. I'm definitely incorporate Metta in my daily practice, but right now I'm trying to solidfy my pure Vipassana practice (as per the other thread I posted). 

I asked this question because I'm wondering if metta can be used to increase one's charisma. I've heard accounts of people meeting president Bill Clinton -- generally considered to be a profoundly charismatic man -- and everyone says that he is UTTERLY genuinely friendly and warm, and almost has a gravitational pull around him. And that when you meet him, his focus of his attention on you is so intense thatyou feel as if you're the ONLY person in the whole world important to him. 

I wonder, therefore, what happens if someone practices metta for so long that one's entire demeanor/body language changes due to increased concentration power and positive mental states. Any thoughts? 


Be careful. What you described is like Textbook Narcissist Personality Disorder. BE VERY CAREFUL. Once people get addicted to serotonin (pride) it's really hard to cure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8Mi3fJdTMw
matthew sexton, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas?

Posts: 313 Join Date: 1/14/14 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:
... in science it often takes 2 years of repetition to move information from short-term to long-term memory....
Hi Richard,

Do you have references for studies that support the 2 year thing?  I'd love to be able to convince people they should take my class for 2 years. :-|
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas?

Posts: 1633 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I read it in a brain book. I'm trying to remember it...

I'm pretty sure it was this book I glanced at the library:

The Human Brain Book - Rita Carter
http://www.amazon.com/Human-Brain-Book-Rita-Carter/dp/1465416021/ref=sr_1_23?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430889230&sr=1-23&keywords=map+of+the+brain
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Chris J Macie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: What is it like to meet someone who has mastered the Brahma Viharas? (Answer)

Posts: 863 Join Date: 8/17/14 Recent Posts
re: baddul (5/5/15 7:43 PM)
"Can you actually feel their unconditional love towards you? And if so, what does that feel like?"

" I wonder, therefore, what happens if someone practices metta for so long that one's entire demeanor/body language changes due to increased concentration power and positive mental states. Any thoughts?"

"Unconditional love" is stretching new-age and/or a modern psychological understanding into the original dhamma. Think more "unbounded good-will / benevolence". Echoing Than-Geof (Thanissaro Bhikkhu), 'love' in Pali is 'pema', affection, and is not recommended, as it, more often than not, implies wanting something, often for oneself. 'Metta' is closely related to 'mitta', friendship; 'noble' friendship, like they don't want anything from you, but rather wish something for you, and in particular, wish for you to find it in yourself.

As in baddul's second question (above), I think of highly developed metta as going along with, inseparable from a high degree of awakening, comprising sila, concentration and understanding. Metta is foremost a sila (virtue) attainment. But maybe that's probably going too far afield of the question.

Concretely, with the people I've met who probably qualify (who have been largely highly accomplished monastics), the sense is that they are deeply stable within themselves, so don't need or want anything from you, but rather want to offer. Another way of putting that is they impart a sense of safety. That's important, because feeling safe allows more uncolored participation, actually an ability to concentrate on the present opportunity, rather than expecting, as in fearing or desiring. (The whole thing about overcoming the 'hindrances' in developing jhana has to do with this – the mind can't fully open unless it feels safe, not looking over it's shoulder in those ornery states of mind.)

That implies overall mental attainment, equanimity, maturity, things like that.

Secondly when they direct their attention to one, it's full and immediate, with a kindness and concern, but in a sense impersonal. I mean, when one (speaking from my experience) gets that kind of attention, there's the potential to feel 'Oh, he/she likes me', of feeling that it's personal, that it's supporting my own specialness. That's speaking of the way I've noticed reaction in the past. Now-a-days the hint of that still arises, but if I can quickly 'see through myself', keep perspective on the situation, i.e. note that it (myself) is not the central issue, can distract from fully being present in the situation.

So, that actually echoes what I think Richard Zen was bringing up – that one's reaction will be conditioned by 'who one is', what one brings to the situation. With some toe-hold on practice / path-stuff, one can use such encounter as a mirror, an opportunity for insight.

Deep metta-informed attention can make one 'feel good', but, I believe, is best used to try to reflect it, to emulate what one's finds in that person's attitude. Metta has that quality of being contagious, so to speak, like a couple of things in the practice. Another is 'gratitude' – as described somewhere in the suttas, having two aspects: 1) recognizing that one has received benefit, and 2) returning it in kind, or spreading it further around. A third example is that when one has deeply established peace of mind, that will radiate on it's own to others, even when not being directed in anyway at them. Just as, more commonly, being blown around by neurotic reactivity will tend to subliminally cause the jitters in others.
Richard and Chris -- Thank you both so much for replying. 

Richard: I think Narcissitic Personality Disorder has many attributes, of which "irresistible charm" is just one factor. All the same, I agree that being addicted to external approval is an unhealthy thing. I'm curious about all this because everyting I have heard about Clinton, as well as other "people persons", suggests that they have many qualities which are by-products of a metta practice. 

Chris: Thank you. Your insights about what you perceive/feel while meeting highly-attained monastics is quite illuminating. 

--

To give context: My interest in this topic comes from wondering what happens when one systematically and incessantly trains a certain state of mind (either by their one's own volition or due to external circumstance). 

For example, I recall Shinzen saying once that Joshu Sasaki Roshi had the "body language of a blind man"...meaning that present-moment awareness was so suffesed in his daily life that every second seemed new and fascinating to him. Certainly a by-product of the 90+ years of hardcore Zen practice. 

On the other hand, I once met a guy who had been part of an elite counter-intelligence squad. Very nice person, but he had an incredibly intimidating aura about him (before I even knew what he did for a living). No doubt because he'd spent over 10 years dealing with shady characters and most likely inadvertently cultivated certain aggressive mental states. 

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