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Metta in Earliest Texts?

So I didn’t want to derail this thread, so I thought I’d ask, a follow up question to this:

Kay: Is the Metta Sutta not among the earliest strata of texts then?

Are there any EBTs which mention or are about metta, that are among the earliest strata of texts?

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Sure, metta is one of the brahmaviharas, and is mentioned in plenty of passages.

The Metta Sutta, though, is quite a distinctive composition.

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In AN10.211 we find:

“Bhikkhus, one possessing ten qualities is deposited in heaven as if brought there. What ten?
(…)
(9) “He is of good will and his intentions are free of hate thus: ‘May these beings live happily, free from enmity, affliction, and anxiety!’

The question nevertheless is can AN10.211 be considered early? :slightly_smiling_face:

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@sujato, just a follow up question… I can remember that I’ve read suttas where the Brahmaviharas are mentioned but I don’t remember reading about any particular technique? Are the techniques, for instance the beautiful method you yourself have taught, from later commentaries/suttas?

:anjal:

There’s plenty, but a very nice one is AN11.15 about the benefits of metta… :wink:

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@Kay, one could explain the entire path in terms of metta, the core of the teachings in terms of metta, as well.

If we consider one path into the dhamma:

A person experiences suffering - seeks comfort in someone with metta.
The person seeks a solution to the suffering - seek a spiritual friend with metta, who will teach out of kindness and love
He listens with faith and love, with a heart of metta towards the teacher
He meticulously attends to the teaching, with metta and respect. Learns it and contemplates it, and arrives at a correct view of the Dhamma.
Develops love and respect to the Triple gem, borne out of understanding.
Use metta in daily life as a principle to live by- in greeting others, treating others, having gratitude to others, being considerate to others,
Keep precepts due to having metta to oneself and others
Develops kindness, compassion, tolerance, equality, equanimity out of metta to others
Treats oneself kindly, with compassion and is good to oneself (not falling into conceit at the same time),
Works to overcome anger, fear, aversion, the hindrances with metta bhavana, meditation.
Use metta as the object of one’s mindfulness and attains into metta jhana.
With gentleness dissolve ones reality with vipassana and see the aggregates, arising and passing away
Letting go of the world, the Self and anything in between, with compassion.
Finally letting go of all phenomena, to nibbana, the kindest act of all.

with metta

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Standard EBT definition, if you search for “ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā” almost all the references that come up are to the 4bv. It’s a very frequent pericope, like the standard 4 jhana formula, so I assume this is the definitive earliest teaching on the topic.

I chant this every day, and I follow the instructions as I chant. It’s quite striking how different this is to the later teachings on 4bv. Ven. Anālayo wrote a book about this topic. In the EBT, you can see it makes no references to people and beings, it’s an energetic pervasion.

(STED 4bv) Brahma vihāra

1. Mettā

mettā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) good-will-endowed mind,
ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā
(in) one direction pervade,
viharati,
abide [like this].
tathā dutiyaṃ,
likewise (the) second [quarter],
tathā tatiyaṃ,
likewise (the) third [quarter],
tathā catutthaṃ;
likewise (the) fourth [quarter],
iti uddham-adho
Thus above,-below,
tiriyaṃ sabbadhi
across, everywhere,
Sabbat-tatāya
All-places,
sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ
(to the) entire world
mettā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) good-will-endowed mind,
vipulena mahaggatena
vast, exalted,
appamāṇena a-verena
measureless, without-hostility,
abyāpajjena pharitvā
without ill will, pervade.
viharati,
abide [like this].

2. Karuṇā

Karuṇā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) compassion-endowed mind,
ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā
(in) one direction pervade,
viharati,
abide [like this].
tathā dutiyaṃ,
likewise (the) second [quarter],
tathā tatiyaṃ,
likewise (the) third [quarter],
tathā catutthaṃ;
likewise (the) fourth [quarter],
iti uddham-adho
Thus above,-below,
tiriyaṃ sabbadhi
across, everywhere,
Sabbat-tatāya
All-places,
sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ
(to the) entire world
Karuṇā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) compassion-endowed mind,
vipulena mahaggatena
vast, exalted,
appamāṇena a-verena
measureless, without-hostility,
abyāpajjena pharitvā
without ill will, pervade.
viharati,
abide [like this].

3. Muditā

muditā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) altruistic-joy-endowed mind,
ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā
(in) one direction pervade,
viharati,
abide [like this].
tathā dutiyaṃ,
likewise (the) second [quarter],
tathā tatiyaṃ,
likewise (the) third [quarter],
tathā catutthaṃ;
likewise (the) fourth [quarter],
iti uddham-adho
Thus above,-below,
tiriyaṃ sabbadhi
across, everywhere,
Sabbat-tatāya
All-places,
sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ
(to the) entire world
muditā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) altruistic-joy-endowed mind,
vipulena mahaggatena
vast, exalted,
appamāṇena a-verena
measureless, without-hostility,
abyāpajjena pharitvā
without ill will, pervade.
viharati,
abide [like this].

4. Upekkhā

upekkhā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) equanimity-endowed mind,
ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā
(in) one direction pervade,
viharati,
abide [like this].
tathā dutiyaṃ,
likewise (the) second [quarter],
tathā tatiyaṃ,
likewise (the) third [quarter],
tathā catutthaṃ;
likewise (the) fourth [quarter],
iti uddham-adho
Thus above,-below,
tiriyaṃ sabbadhi
across, everywhere,
Sabbat-tatāya
All-places,
sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ
(to the) entire world
upekkhā-sahagatena cetasā
(with) equanimity-endowed mind,
vipulena mahaggatena
vast, exalted,
appamāṇena a-verena
measureless, without-hostility,
abyāpajjena pharitvā
without ill will, pervade.
viharati,
abide [like this].
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In case of interest:

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Brahmaviharas are about generating and developing the emotions of metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha. They do not give rise to panna (wisdom). There for vipassana in the form of seeing tilakkhana must be added to the mix, to lead to liberation:

(Similarly with the second, third, and fourth jhanas.)
.
"Then again, a monk keeps pervading the first direction with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. He reflects on this and discerns, ‘This awareness-release through good will is fabricated & intended. Now whatever is fabricated & intended is inconstant & subject to cessation.’ Staying right there, he reaches the ending of the mental fermentations. Or, if not, then — through this very Dhamma-passion, this Dhamma-delight, and from the total wasting away of the first five Fetters — he is due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes; a non-returner, as also mentioned in the karaniyamatta sutta], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world [the become arahanths there, and doesnt return to the human realm]. AN11.17

How jhana requires vipassana to lead to liberation, is also mentioned in the same sutta, as well as in AN9.36. There is also an interesting suggestion here that it might not be possible to do vipassana in the 8th jhana.

with metta

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Okay, thanks for this, but I think you might be quoting a bit out of context (from a discussion from over a year ago) - also, I wasn’t really aiming to join the discussion, but just wanted to offer Kay a link to a list of suttas that might be relevant to her inquiry which she’s very welcome to set aside if not.

That said, interesting and valuable, reflections as ever, Mat. You’re ‘the path through metta’ presentation is particularly lovely.

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That’s just beautiful Mat. Thank you. :heartpulse:

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To answer your earlier question, most of the details of the methods are later.

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Oh Wow…thanks so much frank!! How wonderful that you chant this everyday - I find this incredibly inspiring. Thank you! :heartpulse:

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That’s awesome, thanks!! :heartpulse:

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What is this method, if I may ask?

Is Ajahn @sujato 's technique unique. I love Metta and am very interested in this.

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See my favourite - SN 46.54 on the development of the bojjhangas accompanied by metta. The “beautiful” here appears to be the 3rd of the Eight Emancipations eg DN 15.

No room for animosity or grunting a la combating defilements, since I can’t locate any instruction to whack defilements when one has progressed to the entrance of the bojjhangas. If I understand SN 46.2 correctly, nourishment of the 7 factors depends on wise attention, ie framing issues within the 2nd and 3rd Noble Realities.

That furnishes the cognitive and hedonic/valence content. I think SN 46.54 points to the affective dimension that is to be also brought to bear to bring it all the way.

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Here a great talk on metta

With metta

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A couple of years ago I surveyed the 4 Nikayas, B. Bodhi translations, using the indeces to look-up all references to “metta”, “loving-kindness”, “brahmaviharas”, etc. (Finding many angles of description, but nothing along the lines of the way it’s commonly taught today: “may I be…, may my teachers…, friends…, neutral people…, enemies…”. Further research found earliest such usage in the Vimuttimagga. )

Here’s the notes, in case anyone wants to check out how it’s treated in the 4 Nikayas
(I was using the convention of doubling vowels to represent long-accent.
Mostly by page number – “p.”; “n” or “fn” means footnote. Bold headings refer to the indexed term. “GB” stands for “Gotama Buddha”. I also similarly scanned the Vimutimagga and Vissudhimagga, and V. Analayo’s two books on Satipatthana, but that would be out of scope here.)

Summary counts of references:

Digha: 3
Majjhima: 17
Samyutta: 12
Angutara: 27
Nipata: 1 (+)

Total: 60

Digha Nikaya:

fn 986 p 613 “protective” metta

Divine Abidings:
13.76 p.194
’Then, with his heart filled with loving-kindness, he dwells suffusing one quarter, the second, the third, the fourth. Thus he dwells suffusing the whole world, upwards, downwards, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, unbounded,256, without hate or ill-will.
n.256 These (pre-Buddhist) ‘Divine Abiding’ (Brahmavihaara) are also called the Boundless States (appama~n~naa)

Majjhima Nikaya:

Divine abodes

p. 39f "Another mode for attaining the jhanas mentioned in the sutta-s is the four divine abodes (bv) – boundless loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity (MN 7, MN 40 etc.)

M.7 n.95 & p.120 similar text to Digha
n.526 & p.434 also similar: , (as instructions to bhikkus) “abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, … ; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to yourselves, abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.”

M.83.5ff same text

Loving-kindness

M.7.13 p.120 =
M.40.9 p.374 =
M.55.6ff p.474 =
M.62.18 #62 Maharahulovada Sutta p.530 after breath, body parts,
elements (5), then 17. Rahula, develop meditation on loving-kindness; for when when …, any ill will will be abandoned. … compassion … any cruelty; … altruistic joy … any discontent; … equanimity … any aversion…

M.93.9 p.766 not only Brahmins can develop a mind of loving-kindness towards a certain region…

M.96.14 p.790 = 93.9

M.52.8 p. 456 earlier type text, seen here as impermanent…

M.43.31 p.394 earlier type text, “states different in meaning and different in name” … “This is called the immeasurable deliverance of mind.”

M.127.7 p.1003 "What, householder, is the immeasurable deliverance of mind? …

M.83.5 p.693 instructions on going forth, earlier type text.

M.97.32 p.796 “What is the path to the company of Brahmaa?” … earlier type text

M.99.24 p.816 “…[earlier type] … Just as a vigorous trumpeter could make himself heard without difficulty in the four quarters, so too, when the deliverance of mind by loving-kindness is developed in this way, no limiting action remains there, non persists there. 915 This is the path to the company of Brahmaa.”

M.99.24
p.816 n.915 p.1303 MA limiting action (pamaan.akata.m kamma.m) as kamma pertaining to the sense sphere (kaamaavacara). It is contrasted with a limitless or immeasurable action, namely, the jhaanas pertaining to the fine-material sphere or the immaterial sphere. In this case the brahmaviharas developed to the jhanic level are intended." there, sense-sphere kamma can’t overcome it, produce result; rupa/arupa overpowers sense-spherekamma produces its results… leads to rebirth in the company of Brahmaa.

Samyutta Nikaya: (didn’t try to decode by sutta numbering here)

p.308 vs emnity -> fn.571
fn571 p.478-9 as access to 1st jhana by compassion; … hating mind can nurture enmity to arahant who lacks meditation on metta and karuna, but one can towards one with liberation of mind via metta, karuna. "So powerful is the meditation on the divine abodes (eva.m mahiddhikaa brahmavihaara-bhaavanaa) mahiddhika
– adj. of great magical power.

p. 340 (end of Book of Verses, Book 1) GB quoting Sakka: "Do not let anger
overpower you; Do not become angry at those who are angry. Nonanger and harmlessness always dwell Within [the hearts of] noble ones. Like a mountain avalanche Anger crushes evil people."668
p.502 n.668 SpK: Nonanger (akkodha) is lovingkindness (mettaa) and the preliminary phase of lovingkindness; harmlessness (avihim.sa) is compassion (karun.aa) and the preliminary phase of compassion.

pp.707-8 it is easy for nonhuman beings to assail a bhikkhu who has not developed and cultivated the liberation of mind by lovingkindness. 361. Difficult for nonhuman beings to assail … who has developed. Train thus: “We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by lovingkindness, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stablize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.”

p.1325 different in meaning and different in phrasing… e.g. dwells pervading the 1st quarter… measureless liberaton of mind.“309
fn.309 p.1444 Spk: There are twelve kinds of measureless liberation of mind (appamaan.aa cetovimutti): the four divine abodes, the four paths, and the four fruits. The divine abodes are called “measureless” because of their measureless radiation (towards countless beings), the paths and fruits because they remove the defilements, the causes of measurement.”

p.1344 noble disciple … precepts, via “abandoning”, so devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unconfused, clearly comprehending, ever mindful – dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with lovingkindness…

p.1367-69 “And what, headman, is concentration of the Dhamma?” having abandoned [all conduct vs precepts] … abandoned wrong view -> right view. Then, so devoid … dwells pervading …

p.1369 restrained in precepts, do reborn in a heavenly world. [As he reflects thus] gladness is born. When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is elated by rapture the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated."

(Bojjha.ngasamyutta)

p.1600 denourishment of the hindrances – vs sensual desire - the sign of foulness; vs ill will - liberation of mind through lovingkindness; sloth/torpor - arousal, endeavor, exerion; restlessness and remorse - peacefulness of mind; doubt – attention to states, good and bad. n.94 p.1909 (from 1600)
94 Spk: The liberation of the mind through lovingkindness (mettiicetovimutti) is
absorption (= jhana). Six things lead to abandoning ill will: (i) learning the lovingkindness object; (ii) devotion to meditation on lovingkindness; (iii) reflecting on one’s responsibility for one’s own actions; (iv) frequent consideration;
(v) good friendship; and (vi) suitable talk. III will is fully abandoned by the path of nonreturning,

p.1608 wanderers of other sects question, say they have brahmaviharas…

p.1609 GB "And now, bhikkus, 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 … equanimity accompanied by lovingkindness, based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. 109 … [dwelling in repulsive in combinatorics with unreplusive … ] … avoiding both, may I dwell equanimousl, mindful and clearly comprehending 110… “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. 111
n.109 bojjhanga & brahmaviharas is unusual… but can be used to generate concentration of sufficient strength to serve as a basis for insight, which in turn
brings enlightenment. e.g. MN I 351 a monk gets 3 jhanas by metta -> insight ->
arahant.
n.111 Spk: This teaching is brought in for one who is unable to reach arahantship after exploring formations based on jhana through lovingkindness.
Spk explains idhapaiiiiassa as if it were a bahubbthi compound
meaning"one of mundane wisdom” (lokiyapaftftassa); the expression also occurs at Dhp 375b and AN V 300,14. Mp V 78, 10–11 explains it as “wisdom in regard to this teaching” (imasmim siisane panna), which sounds more convincing than Spk’s gloss. In the commentaries the four divine abodes are regarded as practices that lead to form-sphere jhana (see Vism 111,15-16; Ppn 3:107). While the Nikayas do not draw explicit connections between the divine abodes and levels of jhana, in several places they describe the divine abodes as means to rebirth in the brahma world or the form realm (see n. 109). Thus Spk is compelled to give a laboured explanation of the puzzling stipulations made here about the “upper limit” of each meditation subject, particularly in regard to the formless attainments; the passage is also at Vism 324-25 (Ppn 9:120-23). In brief: (i) one who abides in lovingkindness can easily apply his mind to a beautiful colour kasina and quickly attain the beautiful liberation (i.e., jhana based on a colour kasina); (ii) one who abides in compassion recognizes the danger in form and thus develops the base of the infinity of space, which is the escape from form; (iii) one who abides in altruistic joy apprehends the joyful consciousness of beings and thus easily enters the base of the infinity of consciousness; and (iv) one who abides in equanimity is skilled in diverting his mind from pleasure and pain, and thus can easily divert it to the absence of any concrete entity in the base of nothingness.

[ i.e. matching Brahmaviharas with arupa jhanas…]

Anguttara Nikaya:

Loving-kindness
(mettaa)

p.98 ones VI. Luminous 53(3) "Bhikkhus, if for just the time of a finger snap a bhikkhu pursues a mind of loving-kindness, he is called a bhikkhu who is not devoid of jhana, who acts upon the teaching of the Teacher, who responds to his advice, and who does not eat the country’s almsfood in vain.49 How much more, then, those who cultivate it."
n.49 p 1599 Mp: “In this sutta powerful insight (balavavipassanaa) is discussed; but some say tender insight (tarun.avipassanaa).” Here, “tender insight” refers to the early stage of knowledge of rise and fall, while “powerful insight” to the mature stage of knowledge of rise and fall and the higher insight knowledges.

p.275 3s, # 63 how GB can gain “such a celestial high and luxurious bed” am alms seclusion, sit, etc.–> pervading one quarter … all 4 brahmaviharas … then in such a
state walking is divine, standing, sitting, lying down… at will, without trouble or difficulty

p.282 Kalamas … do not go by oral tradition… know for yourselves… blameless, praised by the wise, lead to welfare and happiness… so noble disciple, devoid
of … dwells pervading one quarter…

p.456 4s, snakes - pervade four royal families of snakes with a mind of loving-kindness, for your own - security, safety, and protection… May all beings, all living things, all creatures, every one, meet with good fortune; may nothing bad come to anyone. Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha = measureless; creeping things … are finite. I have made a safeguard, I have made protection. Let the creatures retreat,…

p.560 4s How has a bhikkhu attained the state of a deva? secluded… enters dwells in 1st jhana… How has a bhikkhu attained the state of a brahma? dwells pervading one quarter… 4 BV How has a bhikkhu attained the imperturbable? complete surmounting forms… enters dwells in the arupa ayatana… How has a bhikkhu attained the state of a noble one? understands as it really is … 4NT

p.865-66 6s II. Cordiality. bodily/verbal/mental acts of loving-kindness toward
fellow monks…

p.985 6s Triads. 3 things, lobha dosa, moha; 3 other for abandoning: asubha vs raga; metta vs dosa; panna vs moha

p.1062 7s merit, 7 years developed a mind of loving-kindness… entered cosmological dimensions…

p.1111-1112 Book of Eights – I. Loving-Kindness…

p.1273 9s 9 factors of observing uposatha. 9) dwells pervading… loving-kindness

p.1276 9s in series of things for householder to do … alms… 5 precepts … develop a mind of loving-kindness even for the time it takes to pull a cow’s udder.

p.1542 10s devoid of longing, ill-will, unconfused… dwells pervading … ‘Previously, my mind was limited and undeveloped, but now it is measureless and well developed. No measureable kamma remains or persists there.’

p.1575 11s
security from bondage? 1st jhana as impermanent, … 2nd jhana 3rd, 4th likewise; dwells pervading one quarter… loving-kindness also impermanent …

liberation of mind by

p.92 1s ill-will abandoned by liberation of mind by loving-kindness

n.31 (p.1594 from p.92) "mettaacetovimutti. Mp: ‘Loving-kindness pervades all beings with [the wish for] their welfare. Since the mind associated with it is liberated from the opposed states such as the hindrances, it is called liberation of mind (cetovimutti). Specifically, this ‘liberation of mind’ is liberated from obsession by ill will. Here, what is intended by ‘liberation of mind’ is absorption (appanaa) by 3 or 4 jhanas [depending on which scheme…].’ Mp-t: ‘[This is said] because there is no thorough liberating [of the mind] by loving-kindness until one attains absorption.’

At 6:13 1 loving-kindness is taught as the escape from ill will.

At 9:1 7 and 9:3 7, it is recommended for abandoning ill will.

8:63 1 teaches different approaches to developing the liberation of mind by loving-kindness, and 8:1 and 11:15 explain, respectively, 8 and 11 benefits of mastering the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness. The 4-fold scheme of jhanas is typical of the Nikaayas; the 5-fold scheme appears in the Abhidhamma by dividing the second jhaana into two: the second with examination but without thought, the third without thought and examination."

p.290 3s
no hatred, by liberation of mind by loving-kindness

p.867 6s
escape from ill-will liberation of mind by loving-kindness
n.1263 nissaaran.iiyaa dhaatuyo “elements of escape” then other 3 BV, + markless liberation, + the notion ‘I am’ to escape conceit = 6 escapes

p.1111-12 8s
8 benefits of loving-kindness: 1) sleep well, 2) awakes happy, 3) no bad dreams, 4) is pleasing to humans, 5) pleasing to spirits, 6) deities protect, 7) fire, poison, weapons don’t injure, 8) move on to brahma world (unless moved further on). + poem on metta

p.1205 asked for dhamma in brief… train mind firm and settled internally; develop and consolidate the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness, make it a vehicle and basis… When this concentration has been developed and cultivated … then concentration with thought and evaluation; without same; with rapture; without rapture; accompanied by comfort and equanimity.

p.1542 10s
persisting of measurable kamma… noble disciple devoid of … dwells pervading…

p.1573-74 11s
11 benefits of metta: 1-7 as above; 8) mind becomes quickly concentrated; 9) facial complexion is serene, 10) dies unconfused, 11) fares on to brahma world (unless further)

rebirth and

p.507-8 4s
Four kinds of persons… 1) dwells pervading… with a mind imbued with loving-kindness… & the other BV

p.509-10 similar but only 1st two.

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This was very helpful. Thank you.

Other than Buddha’s Map by Doug Kraft, does anyone have any books or Dhamma talks they recommend about Metta?

:anjal:

and

EDIT: @amimettalove, as this is slightly off topic, I’ve started a new thread here.

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