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Relationship between Sila and the Brahmaviharas - What did the Buddha say?


#44

Earlier, I quoted AN 9.20, which says that lovingkindness is more valuable than taking the 5 precepts (though developing the perception of impermanence is more meritorious than both).


#45

Thanks


#46

No, it is not.

The term Brahamavihara linked to the cultivation of metta etc. (i.e. the 4 Brahmaviharas) is not found in the SN/SA, particularly not found in the so-called sutra-anga portion of SN/SA (See Choong Mun-keat, The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A Comparative Study Based on the Sutra-anga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Samyukta-agama (Series: Beitrage zur Indologie Band 32; Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000).

Also, Appamāṇā cetovimutti (the four immeasurables)/Brahmavihara is also regarded as a “family-meditative state” (kullaka-vihara) (Choong Mun-keat, The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism (1995; second revised edition, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1999), p. 62.


#47

What does that mean please?


#48

It refers to the laypeople state, a practice that is not leading to liberation ‘vimutti’ ( about kullaka, cf. SuttaCentral),
such as the practice of mettā.

Brahmavihara is not part of the bodhipakkhiyā dhammā.


#49

But Choong Mun-keat offers that merely as a conjecture, not as an established fact.

Choong

It should be noted that the term kullaka isn’t found at all in the suttas, but only in a late part of the Vinaya: the account of the Council of Vesalī. And there only once. And only in connection with mettā, not the other three illimitables. And so though Mun-keat’s conjecture isn’t implausible, it’s only very weakly substantiated.

Cūḷavagga, Sattasatikakkhandhaka


#50

I might have preferred to have been quoted more representatively as I was careful to say: “By my own … reading, it is absolutely clear…”, but that aside, of course, everyone is at full liberty to draw whatever conclusions they think fit.

With respect to the interest in specific terminology, yes, my search didn’t find the specific term “Brahamavihara” linked to metta+ in the SN. However, as I said, the search did yield four results for the “mettāsahagatena formula” (just an improvised term I’m using here) in the SN. The formula includes all four qualities (see details box below).

Full mettāsahagatena formula

“meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. Meditate spreading a heart full of compassion to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, spread a heart full of compassion to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. Meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, spread a heart full of rejoicing to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. Meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.’

Again, this “formula” (or a variation of it) containing all four qualities is found in sn46.54, sn42.13, sn42.8, sn41.7 (sn42.13 and sn42.8 include other description between this basic instruction for all four qualities). Across the whole Pali canon it is found 31 times: sn46.54, sn42.13, sn42.8, sn41.7, an3.63, an3.65, an3.66, an10.219, an11.16, an5.192, an4.125, an4.126, an4.190, an9.18, dn25, dn33, dn26, dn19, dn17, dn13, mn97, mn83, mn21, mn50, mn43, mn55, mn52, mn40, mn127, mn99, mn7.


Bending things back to more directly respond to the original question, in my adventures I found that sn42.13 has something quite interesting to say on the relationship between sila and the brahmaviharas (and right view, particularly the doctrine of kamma). From § 22 onwards it describes how after having given up the ten unwholesome qualities one does brahmavihara meditation and then reflects on the different views about the consequences of doing harm and non-harm.


#51

Great Find :female_detective: :smiley:
Thank-you! :pray::dharmawheel:


#52

Do you suggest that Appamāṇā cetovimutti (the four immeasurables)/Brahmavihara should be seen as essential to liberation according to EBTs?


#53

Many thanks for your findings and reply.

Your findings indicate that the formula of the four qualities (love, compassion, rejoicing, equanimity) is in fact not called Brahmavihāra in the SN.

Brahmavihāra in the SN (such as SN 54.11-12) refers to Anapana breath meditation.


#54

No. My own view, as it happens, is that they are not essential. In this thread, however, it hasn’t been my intention to champion any particular view on this topic but merely to remark on the merits (or otherwise) of the arguments of others.