Metta Sutta and the end of rebirths

Dear Friends, you might find this essay by Dhammadinna Bhikkuni on Appamanas aka Brahmaviharas in EB interesting

http://www.academia.edu/6747478/Semantics_of_wholesomeness_purification_of_intention_and_the_soteriological_function_of_the_immeasurables_appam%C4%81%E1%B9%87as_in_Early_Buddhist_thought

you’ll find this practice is being discussed in the context of the ariya disciple’s further training towards liberation.

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Thanks, it’s a very interesting article that goes into several topics like brahmaviharas, intention, and karma. The author is very precise (which I am grateful for), but since it’s an academic article it’s also not a fun read. I liked the following paragraphs on p.104:

“As far as the meditative mechanisms are concerned, as all mental states, the appamāṇas entail a process that includes concepts (in the sense of conceptual identifications, saññā) that develop into fully formed conscious experiences (viññāṇa). The appamāṇa radiation is essentially a tranquillity-type meditation exercise that relies, however, on a certain degree of mindfulness directed to the body and to the presence/absence of hindrances, which is necessary in order to be-come aware of the impediments to the meditative radiation.
The appamāṇa radiation can be employed for subsequent progression of insight, either by way of reviewing the concentration attainment with insight into the three characteristics of the conditioned, or else, instead of proceeding to absorption, by way of developing liberation of the mind through benevolence etc.”

Also p.113 f
"…based on a right understanding of causality that is both the premise for and the result of the gradual training, the movement of identification with and appropriation of a self is all the while depotentiated by genuine appamāṇa [i.e. brahmavihara] practice."

Yup!!! Along a rather deviant line, I lean towards the notion that the work required is sufficiently punishing to render it impossible without the Brahmaviharas.

I’m especially fond of how Ayya Khema frames the Brahmaviharas around right effort.

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Only one mention of the gradual training in the SN? :confused:

Presuming this is in reference to Leigh Brasington’s chart, I’m not at all sure that his list of 32 suttas is presented as exhaustive. :slight_smile:

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Some aspects of gradual development were collected in this thread:

But, these conditionality chains are not called “gradual path” or “gradual training” in the SN, as far as I can tell. Even in the AN it’s not quite the same as what can be found in the MN; most references are to the general fact that progress is gradual without setting out detailed stages.

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Hello Aminah,
I too am a fan of the Brahmaviharas. It is by far the most recommended practice in the suttas. As for MN 83 and 97, I think these show that the Brahmavihara meditation taken out of the context of the Noble Eightfold Path, results in attainment of the heavenly realms. For his followers, Gotama Buddha put the Brahamviharas firmly within the context of the Noble Eightfold Path, and when practiced in this way, the meditation leads to liberation.
However, in the highest jhana, the object of meditation becomes mind itself. This is also true if the object of meditation is anapana, so Brahamavihara is no lesser in this way, only the same as any other object of meditation. This observing of mind itself can only happen with the attainment of equanimity.
peace and metta,
mark johnson

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Dear Mark,

Thank you SO much for your reply! Your reflection makes such a great deal of sense and really brought a smile to my face. Again my thanks.

Metta,
Aminah

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Hi Aminah,
I am very happy that my reflections resonated with you. and especially for the smile! I could feel the Loving kindness emanating!
There is an instance in the suttas where some monks come to the Buddha and relate that the ascetics from other sects are asking what is so special about the Brahmavihara practice. After all, they also have the same practice. The Buddha basically answers that it is due to the practice being placed in the context of the Noble Eightfold Path that makes it effective for attaining Nibbana.
One way in which the Brahmavihara meditation is part of the Noble Eightfold Path is when it is seamlessly integrated with satipatthana. I think AN 8.63 (BB trans. page 1205 “In Brief” , PTS IV 300) points to this integration of the practices.
With the feeling of Loving Kindness, etc. as our object of meditation, if we are open, relaxed, and alert, our good friends the hindrances will show up and show us exactly where we are attached. If we neither push them away nor embrace and feed them, they will eventually lose their power, fade away, and our mental formations which keep us on the wheel of samsara will weaken and begin to disintegrate.
All the while, we are smiling and spreading good energy to ourselves and others.
The perfect practice. The Buddha explained how to do it, we just have to do our part and be diligent.
Somehow, I think you already know all this and can be teaching me about it!
peace and metta,
mark

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Dear Mark,

More resonance, more smiles, more thanks!

metta,
Aminah

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Hi Aminah. Thanks for the thanks!

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the invitation, it’s very generous of you. Sutta Central, however, is exactly the place for Dhamma discussion.

There are, indeed, some fine teachers swimming in these waters, but as far as I understand, much of what happens here is friends sharing perspectives, so the concern of being a teacher or not seems to be null and void.

Happy studies - I trust the lack of official credits in no way preclude the possibility of enjoying a gown one day.

Metta,
Aminah

Dear Aminah,
I like Sutta Central too. It IS a great place for dhamma discussions, and I like that people are gathered at Sutta Central from many different traditions and perspectives. If we only hear from those who agree with our point of view, how can we broaden our perspective?
peace and metta
mark

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Yes, Erik. I agree. And as Bhante Vimalaramsi points out in the above talk, Anupada Sutta (MN 111) talks of satipatthana in each of the jhanas. This is the union of samatha and vipassana in one integrated practice. MN 111 ends with the attainment of arahantship by Ven. Sariputta, who is following this method.

Hi markedsel

Thanks for the great reference, isn’t this Sutta linking the 4 foundations of mindfulness to the Jhanas? It seems to indicate that in the Jhanas you practice the foundations, I never read anything like it, specially considering the absence of direct reference to this in MN 10.

smile
dhammarelax

Hello Dhammarelax,
Yes, MN 111 seems to indicate a direct link between the two practices, that of satipatthana and jhana.
If we are following the Visuddhimagga method of meditation, jhana is used primarily as a samatha practice, and the definition of samatha in Vsm being single pointed concentration that supresses all hindrances and absorbs the mind into the object of meditation to the exclusion of all else.
The prestige of the Visuddhimagga in Theravada is such that the jhanas are often translated as ‘the absorptions’ and samadhi is translated as ‘concentration’, with the type of concentration meant actually being a type of suppression of the hindrances, the aggregates (which also means suppressing the 4 satipatthanas/the 5 aggregates) and all else.
After this super concentrated and purified (through suppression) mind is achieved, there is usually a switch over to vipassana/insight, as it is recognized that suppressing the hindrances is only a temporary solution.
However, this is obviously not the approach being taken by Ven. Sariputta on his three week journey to awakening, and the Buddha is using Sariputta’s experience as an example to the monks of how to integrate the practices.
That is, how to integrate samatha and vipassana, and integrate the jhanas and the satipatthanas.
In the video, Ven Punnaji states that they are to be practiced all together, and I think he was the one who encouraged Ven. Vimalaramsi to take up a sutta-based practice.
You are correct that MN 10 Satipatthana Sutta sounds a lot different from MN 111 Anupada Sutta. MN 10 is a theoretical analysis, a systematization of the practice for the ideal monk. There is a lot of repetition of language, as this sutta was edited by later generations to include a lot of standardized language and instructions, as so many other suttas were also edited.
MN 111 also has the standard list of jhanas, not found in MN 10, but after the standard list of jhana factors, at each jhana, the actual factors that arose for Ven. Sariputta are also listed. So it is a sort of biographical account, and as such is unique, and has a different feel and flow from the systematized, purely theoretical suttas.
Some scholars believe the extra factors listed by the Buddha in MN 111 are an add on from later generations, but it seems to me that they are precisely what the Buddha was trying to get across here.
It is a lovely sutta, which sums up our practice: Whatever arises, it is impermanent, suffering, and impersonal. Let it go, let it go, one by one as it occurs.
Can anyone think of a better summary of our practice?
MN 10 lets us know what is going to come up for us, what it is that will draw us away from our object of meditation and try to fool us into believing it is I, me, mine and so on.
Everyone’s past kamma is slightly different, but we are all fundamentally alike, so there will be nothing arising that is not one of the satipatthanas, one of the aggregates. So the Buddha advises us to not be fooled, and to follow Ven. Sariputta’s example.
Just let it go, relax and open up.
What do you think?
all the best,
mark

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I agree, I had the question of why on MN 10 the Jhanas are not prominent but then I saw MN 125, which seems to be very clear in that the 4 foundations are conducive to Jhana, I would think then that every one of the practices recommended lead to Jhana.

smile
dhammarelax

Thanks for the reference to this sutta (SN46.54) - much appreciated! I think you’re quite right, it offers a very helpful view of bhramavihara practice specifically in the context of the Buddha’s overall teaching. It’s also highly intriguing to see the factors of enlightenment brought into the picture.

Thanks again.

Metta,
Aminah

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Hello Aminah,
I see that you found the reference before I tracked it down and sent it to you. I think it is clear that the ascetic wanderers of other sects were practicing Brahmaviharas in a different context of practice, so the result would likely be different. However, doing such practice in any context must be beneficial!
peace and metta

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Well… most motives have the result “he is a returner, coming back to this world.” Considering that “when one lays down this body and takes up another body, then I say one is blameworthy,” some motives for the brahmaviharas are indeed problematic…

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