A Question about Self Love

Copied from “Linked discourses 3”

  1. shackles

4. Loved-Piya Sutta SN 3.4 SN i 164

“Reporting on a reflection that arose while on retreat, Pasenadi says that those who do bad deeds treat themselves as enemy. The Buddha expresses his agreement in verse… ‘Who are those who love themselves? And who are those who don’t love themselves?’”

I am hoping for some explanation or discussion regarding the nature of self love. I do not want to beat the dead horse known as The SELF, but do admit to some confusion over the linking of self and love. I am probably not clear to which self Buddha was referring. But isn’t the self an illusion? Or is self love in this context more akin to compassion? And why the confusing conflation? Or is this an admonition to love our ‘self’ as the primary cause of suffering so that we may extend that love or compassion to others? W/Metta


Thank you for the very interesting question.

It seems to me the ‘self’ (attā) here being referred to is that I-construct which is the heir to kamma (cf. the 5/10 daily reflections in AN 5.57/10.48).

If we love another being, we don’t act in ways intended to harm them. Similarly, if we truly love our ‘self’, we refrain from acting in ways that will result in its future suffering.

What do you think of this interpretation?

1 Like

Hello, yes…thank you I believe this is exactly what the approach was, and I tried to find my own reference and apparently do not know the right way to search. But the essence described how compassionate love-not self centered love- contributes to the well being of everyone. Thanks!

I would say instead of self-love I try to develop self-compassion.

IMO there is a subtle meaning hidden under those words. For example when the king says that those who do bad things by body, speech and mind do not love themselves, he means that by doing those bad things they end up in a bad birth resulting in suffering. Even though every birth results in suffering, here the allusion is that by doing good things one can be borne in a happy destination in Samsara which is better than being borne in a bad destination.
That means if you love yourself you need to do good things so that you are borne in a good destination. Here IMO the Buddha approves what the king says without telling him that even a good destination is bad perhaps with the intention of encouraging the king to do good things.
With Metta