How to understand a mother's love in the Metta Sutta

Dear Ajahn

Thank you very much for the clarifications.

Yes, that is what I was asking.

So I was remembering how you were using sankhara when teaching about DO and how it has this aspect of creation. It got me thinking that sometimes, at least in the coarser stages of out practice, it feels like we are being more creative, more active. Perhaps instead of using the word kamma, I should have used the word cetana?

So in approaching all this, I was placing it all within the context of the 4 Right Efforts, in that the first two, perhaps because still so full of delusion (akusala), feel like, someone is doing something a lot more than the last two because they have less of a sense of self involved in them.

So also I remembered Bhante saying the following about his translation of the Metta Sutta:

To develop, or unfold, seems like, if you are struggling to learn how to do these things still, and they are not yet a habit of personality, that you are still working with the first two and maybe to some extent the 3rd Right Effort.

So I have also been noticing that all this fits within the container of the Gradual Training too; which seems to me must get easier and funner as it progresses but can seem like some more active cultivation is required in the beginning.

As you get more

perhaps this unfolding feels more effortless, and like you say, still kamma, but maybe bound up with a lot less ‘will’ and sense of self.

And there are those beautiful lines in MN 21 - and I love Bhante’s translation:

Our minds will remain unaffected. We will blurt out no bad words. We will remain full of compassion, with a heart of love and no secret hate. We will meditate spreading a heart of love to that person. And with them as a basis, we will meditate spreading a heart full of love to everyone in the world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.’ That’s how you should train.

Our minds will remain unaffected… With them as a basis… For most of us, this is a challenge. It implies work, effort or as I remember you saying, ‘we have to change how we think, we have to learn to think in the right way’. When it’s easy, it’s just being present; but when it’s tough, it means a hindrance has to be removed first.

Also, this activity does take the focus away from our own sense of being

And I also remember you saying that if all we have is this one corner of the mind, then we are in trouble, but if our mind is bigger, then we are more likely to be able to ‘remain full of compassion…with no secret hate’. Again perhaps this indicates the early and maybe middle aspects of the Gradual Training and perhaps the first 3 Right Efforts. (Am I right to see a parallel between the Gradual Training and the 4 Right Efforts?)

So I also noted that similie about the the mothers’ love is just that…a similie. The potential is there for all mothers to experience this immense love and most feel it at some point, I imagine. But also, for a mother, who is usually not enlightened, but has some wisdom, this love is work. It’s effort, not a love she can just identify with and begin to get some sense of ownership around - she would then not be very skilled in goodness.

I’ve observed first mums, with their first borns - it’s all about hovering, protection and an intense interest in this new, precious job. Later, as they have more kids, they’re more experienced and know what they are about…there’s less intensity, less anxiety…less work and commitment.

Ajahn, yourself and @Gillian talked about, ‘commitment’. Commitment requires work. A mothers love, requires work and focus. She also bring to it a sense of indulgence - she let’s her kid do anything, anything (!) and still turns to it with love.

For us, this includes, surely in a big way, being careful with our speech. Being, ‘unburdensome’ means our speech is not a burden to ourselves or others. It’s work.

Perhaps I’ve teased out a bit more of it Ajahn?

Somehow, this has all being very helpful. I no longer have this painful contraction when I hear this sentence, and I have had it for years, even with the other version that’s usually chanted. So I am sincerely grateful to everyone here. :slight_smile:

Ajahn, as an aside, last year I used your old recordings to begin to teach myself Pali, and with all the changes and whatnot lately I had to let it slide. I feel inspired to pick it up again and I will aim to use the Metta Sutta as the first text that I read in Pali. Actually, after hearing Ajahn Brahm say how it used to inspire him to chant it in Pali, made me feel like I really wanted to be able to understand it in Pali.

Thanks again for your time and energy in teaching us by answering questions in this forum also. :pray:t5: :pray:t5: :pray:t5:

Thank you for this…it really helped too…I remember feeling like this. :slight_smile: Our mums have so much to deal with, and they are struggling with their kilesas as we all are…it’s incredible that they can love the way the do.

That’s lovely Stu. I think this indicates how important it is to be present and why that’s such a big part of the work that is required. MN 131 to MN 134 make this so clear. But it really does feel like effort in the beginning, but as we lessen our ‘reliance’ on the hindrances, perhaps it begins to feel more effortless.

Oh…one final (ha! maybe!) thing…

I was listening to an old recording of Ajahn Plien talking about metta. He described what I would have described as sharing merit. That is to recall our goodness and then spread it (well this is how I’m remembering it). To me, when feeling inspired and really connecting with that Silannusati, this feels quite automatic. I’m noticing now more that part of this is, naturally I guess, a desire for the happiness of others.

But my point is that when the whole spatial thing happens (only really a recent thing whilst sharing merit at times), it feels more effortless, automatic, like I’m not there doing so much stuff to make it happen.

This is the crux of the troubled perception I had before. I thought I had to be like this poor down trodden Mum (maybe a recent past life!!!) who had to be there for everyone somehow…!! That without being adequately resourced (with the work done in the early stages of the Gradual Training) she somehow had to spread love for all her kids (beings)…and I just felt…how is that possible?!! I am still in pain, feeling aggrieved and burdened down by hindrances…I don’t have the resources to do that!!! :slight_smile:

I am beginning to realise that’s not what’s being asked of us in the Metta Sutta! But it’s taken me a while to see that!!! Thanks for the beautiful help.