"There is no love in 'Loving-kindness'" video

“There is no love in ‘Loving-kindness’” Video Title is almost click-bait rhetoric. But interesting talk, and I’m curious how Pali scholars especially might comment.

metta, mudita, karuna, upekkha

Hillside Hermitage Mar 14, 2020

His explanation of Brahmaviharas matches the ones given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu in The Sublime Attitudes

The Pali word for love is not mettā. It’s pema. As the Buddha points out, pema is partial by nature. When you love people, you tend to love anyone who treats them well, and to hate anyone who mistreats them. And there are cases where you love anyone who mistreats the people you hate (§1.1). For this reason, love is not a good basis for an attitude that is universally skillful toward all.
Because mettā is essentially an impartial wish for happiness, it’s best translated as goodwill.

The same discourse (§1.2) goes on to say that when you’re developing this attitude, you should protect it with all your vigilance and strength.
As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.

This passage has to be read carefully and in context. It’s sometimes understood as saying that we should be willing to sacrifice our lives to protect all others, in the same way that a mother would sacrifice her life for the sake of her child. Putting aside the fact that such a requirement is simply impossible to carry out, there is nowhere in the Canon where the Buddha states this as a moral responsibility.

Personally I find it more convincing, especially since it works better for my own Brahmavihara practice to follow the instructions in the suttas than following the instructions of the Visuddhimagga.


Hi, while I am not a Pali scholar but merely a Pali student, I have found that video dialogue also interesting with some helpful advise relevant to my practice. There is a discourse by Buddha, on the topic of developing the 4 Brahma Viharas (sometimes called 4 Sublime states of mind, or 4-Aspects of the Universal Love), which leads to Cetovimutti. It is SN 46: 54

That discourse helped me to understand what the Buddha meant by that practice and its outcomes, and to improve my practice That Sutta is unique, I have not heard any Buddhist teacher use it in explaining the practice of these 4 states of mind.


The wordless interaction of the dog was priceless in its metta. :pray:
:service_dog: :heart:


Riffing on a english language saying and disney movie - all dogs get fortunate rebirths.

They don’t intellectualize; most of them just try to be Good and to give and inspire generosity, in all directions, as best they understand. Sadhu, ajahn doggies.

I think its true that metta may not ultimately depend on identification with or relationship to other beings. However, the story about the baby was disturbing. There’s i-making in arrogance.


I think the two monks (like Ajahn Thanissaro before them) are quite correct in their reading of Mettasutta’s “mother and her only child” simile. The grammar does indeed require that one’s unlimitedly mettāful state of mind (not “all beings”) be taken as corresponding to “the only child”.

As for their claim that there’s no love in lovingkindness, this strikes me as only trivially true. Ven. Ñāṇamoli has apparently decided from the outset that he’s going to limit the meaning of “love” to those senses that correspond to the Pali term pema (i.e., affection involving attachment). If you do that, then it does indeed follow that “there’s no love in lovingkindness”, but only because you’ve made it so by arbitrarily limiting the semantic range of “love” and disregarding all the reported senses of the word that don’t correspond to pema.


This is precisely what I was thinking about when I saw this. It seems like he’s limiting the semantic range of the word love to strictly mean a worldly kind of love. But the word love in English is used broadly, and in many contexts, especially religious ones, it has different, more refined meanings.


yes, and, AFAIK, that sort of broad usage is also not unique to english. I am thinking of philia and agape in greek, but I think many other languages might have examples.

:anjal: :meditation: