Help Understanding SN 46.54


“And how, bhikkhus, is the liberation of the mind by lovingkindness developed? What does it have as its destination, its culmination, its fruit, its final goal? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness accompanied by lovingkindness … the enlightenment factor of equanimity accompanied by lovingkindness, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and in the repulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the repulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘May I dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and in the unrepulsive,’ he dwells perceiving the unrepulsive therein. If he wishes: ‘Avoiding both the unrepulsive and the repulsive, may I dwell equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending,’ then he dwells therein equanimously, mindful and clearly comprehending. Or else he enters and dwells in the deliverance of the beautiful. Bhikkhus, the liberation of mind by lovingkindness has the beautiful as its culmination, I say, for a wise bhikkhu here who has not penetrated to a superior liberation."

Does the passage in bold mean that by practicing metta a monastic can achieve absorption so steady s/he can see things not normally seen in an object?

Is there something special about being able to see the repulsive and unrepulsive where and when you want?

I’ve heard the term “clear comprehension” before does it have a special meaning beyond just seeing something clearly?

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Yes, I think so. It seems the passage is saying by developing metta using the factors of enlightenment, the mind is liberated to such a degree it can performed the mental gymnastics you bolded in your post.

Yes. It seems something special because the mind is free from rigid views and is more open minded.

For example, a male monastic may ordinarily develop the view of the repulsive towards women, or a female monastic vis versa. However, if developing the unrepulsive, the male monastic may view how mother’s care for children and how women are mostly the people offering alms food to the male monks.

‘Clear comprehension’ generally means to see something with wisdom. Thus, in this case, it may possibly mean giving up the perceptions of repulsive & unrepulsive and merely viewing things as emptiness, elements, not-self, the law of nature, etc.

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The way I understand it, it’s just focusing on a particular type of perception. For example, the repulsive in the unrepulsive: one looks at a generally attractive object and focuses on a disenchanting quality. This is explained somewhere in one sutta as a mental training to avoid craving for beautiful objects, aversion for unpleasant objects etc. It’s not necessarily that such a thing is not normally seen in the object, it may be a quality that a mind blinded by craving would normally overlook.

Yes, as I said above this is explained in one sutta, but I don’t have my research tools at hand right now so can’t find it easily.

Normally this stands for sampajaññaa. This term is also defined in the suttas. DN 22 has a definition of term. You may look also for the sati-sampajañña sutta which defines it. As I remember it there are 2 definitions. One says that it refers to continuous practice, in all postures, while bending or extending arms etc. According to the commentary it implies right view and right intention. Also check out SN 36.7

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“I tell you, monks, awareness-release through good will has the beautiful as its excellence”

This is the highest expression of good will. “Beautiful”= Plane 25. These are the five Pure Abodes (suddhavasa), which are accessible only to non-returners (anagami) and arahants.

“This fivefold method of mastering perception is called in Pali:
ariya iddhi, a term which may be rendered as noble power, noble
success or noble magic; or, alternatively, as the power, success or
magic of the noble ones (ariya). In its perfection, this arduous
practice can be ascribed only to Arahats as several suttas and
commentaries indicate. But, as our text shows at the beginning,
the Buddha recommended this training to the monks in general,
including those in whom the three unwholesome roots were still
active. It is eradication of these roots which is said to be the
motivation for taking up this practice.”—Nyanaponika

This practice begins with developing the strategies in Majhima Nikaya 20.

The same passage also appears in MN 152. You might like to read that to understand the context better.


This is the result of the maintaining samma sati/ samadhi in daily life (24/7). The mind can easily switch the mode due to the continuously development before.

So meditation in Buddha teaching is not just sitting and do nothing. The Buddha meditation is active in any postures and can be proven that it has development result.

For instance, if you have developed metta bhavana, if someone called you stupid (repulsive sound/speech), you won’t get angry because you understand that it is just a repulsive sound/speech that enter from ear (senses). So you can just switch the perception as it is just a sound or it is a “good music” in the ear (become unrepulsive to the mind).

Or you can just don’t care stay upekkha, but have established sati that see it with wisdom that it is a repulsive sound/speech. Then the mind has no reaction to the sound/speech. Maintain the satisampajjana.

So, Buddha meditation is a meditation that is active with any postures and one can use 6 senses in daily life. It also can be proven the development result. Not some mystical and cannot be proven. But, it is still super normal for regular folks.

Regular folks typically become annoyed, grumpy, angry. And possibly say something nasty back the other when he/she heard that someone has called him/her as a fool. Hence he/she may have broken precepts in the process. The mind/body become disturb in process as well.

Why one become angry, one might ask? Because he has not understood 4NT. One has taken the 5 khandas as his/her.

For example, when we are falling in love with someone or something, we see only unrepulsive and attractive aspects of it. Oke, only I do :innocent:

That is not developing metta. Metta is not based upon only seeing attractiveness, beauty, and having sympathic feelings for something or someone. Because that is passion/greed and not metta. Metta is also connected to what is perceived as repulsive. If you cannot feel metta for someone the mind experiences as ugly, feel antipathie, who stinks, and embodies all you dislike, why talk about metta?

I believe the fragment says that wisdom sees all aspect of something, freely. It can see the repulsive in what is experienced as attractive and vice versa. It is not blinded, not a one-sided vision.

I believe that all those qualities Buddha describes such as 7 enlightment factors, the noble eightfold path, the 5 powers, the Brahma vihara’s, it is all based upon dispassion. Meaning ( i believe) it is not based upon your likes and dislikes, not based upon attraction nor repulsion. It is not based upon tanha, asava, anusaya. It is not based upon ego. Because all this is passion-based and not based upon dispassion.

Dispassion is, i believe, not only something one achieves after long time practice, but the nature of mind is dispassionate, meaning, passion is not intrinsic to the mind, but it arises all the time as something conditioned and incoming, something adventitious (AN1.51) like mud in water, like anger, like greed, jalousy. It is not always present.

In this way I do not believe that one can say that the mind of a wordling is always passionate, any time, any moment, and only passion and derivative defilements must gives rise to his/her thoughts, speech and actions. No, i believe even a wordlings behaviour can be sometimes based upon dispassion, that is why we can connect to supramundane Path too.