I think mudita is likewise related to reflection on one’s own virtue but it’s virtue of all beings that is perceived.
Mudita, perhaps, is what I felt when reading your description … thanks for making my heart rejoice!
After all that has been said so far, maybe we can say that mudita is characterized by
- it’s cause: something good and positive that someone else receives or achieves;
- a joyful and positive emotional quality;
- and the result: the heart becomes peaceful and is inclined to Samadhi.
Not an EBT, but you might find this booklet by Ajahn Amaro helpful
Thank you for the link, Venerable @Khemarato.bhikkhu!
@Nessie - I found your description of dogs playing wonderful. Thank you.
The one teacher I’ve heard talk about mudita used the example of the feeling that arises when we watch children or animals playing joyfully.
@cdpatton What would your translation of muditā from MA 20 be?
喜 just means feeling good, glad, happy, pleased about something. The translators are offering a technical interpretation by adding “empathic” to the term.
Like @sujato, I prefer to keep my ideas and later technical definitions out of the translation and just translate the Chinese for the four as kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
That’s quite illuminating in itself. @sujato said rejoicing, an accurate rendering without an extra connotation.
I’ve edited / re-worded my response here - sorry… I just felt it needed better clarity of expression, and have tied myself in knots It is such a complex and inter-related topic
There is a variety of different ways/perspectives to look at these things.
- give/send/extend/radiate metta to all beings
- see, acknowledge and understand, and experience (deepest empathy) the suffering of others (karuna).
- see, acknowledge and understand, and experience (deepest empathy) the joy of others (Mudita)
- understand, and remain/abide ‘peaceful/un-agitated’ in the face of all emotional movements (Upekha)
Depending on a range of things, one will be able to access the different levels from simply seeing and acknowledging, through to co-experiencing.
Furthermore, I find that Mudita and Karuna, (and even more so Upekha), has a direct relationship with Self/identity view.
A self centred perspective limits the degree to which one can co-experience the joy and pleasure of other beings, and may limit it to the lower levels. EG it is easier to feel the joy in the pleasure a dog takes, (or someone that doesn’t impact on sense of sense), as opposed to feeling Mudita for a rival at work who got the promotion ahead of you. The less the sense of self, the less constraint in accessing the joy here.
Great topic for contemplation!
Note - these observations come from practice - I have no idea if they are stated anywhere in written form…
Now I understand. Now the question is. Not everyone seems recommended in Nettippakarana to have to practice it. It seems we need a Bhikkhu that can recognize if we need it. But Learnings of our temperaments. Although we know how we are. But it seems the Trainings in these can still bother the path if for example the training in two brahmavihara that doesn’t go good with each for your type of person.
Thank you! That’s a really intriguing insight.
I’ve always thought in terms of Mudita, Karuna, and Metta being externally focused, generating positive feelings towards people’s joy and good fortune (Mudita), towards people’s suffering (Karuna), and towards people in general (Metta). And I’ve seen Upekha as the odd one out by not focusing on positive feelings towards others, but on an internal non-reactive acceptance of whatever comes.
I’d just like to add, that one of the things that seems to get forgotten in discussions about meditation is that it is a means to an end. I’ve found having an attitude of exploration of the deeper states of mind to make all the difference.
Then the focus isn’t on attaining specific pre-defined states, but on understanding and penetrating the whole of mind. As one goes deeper, this is when the amazing things happen
So whether the characterisation I gave above is “correct” or not doesn’t matter - what is important is the process of exploration, and what one finds on the way
If one is just focused on measuring what one experiences against prescriptive texts this gets lost and even, in my opinion, hindered! And this is why I prefer the Buddhas suttas, to anything else… Here it is clear that the purpose of meditation is to ‘crack’ the shell of conditional view (dispell delusion)… And there is so much fun to be had!!!
Added: Care needs to be taken not to keep adding more layers of conditioned view, by having such ‘faith’ in the views of others, that it just obscures the Buddhas message of putting things into practice and seeing for oneself… I often think that too many books/texts/articles/opinions etc etc etc just make it into a super-shell that becomes almost impossible to crack
It’s true. It’s like science experiments. I think that’s the way actually to atleast learn about the teachings and have same attitude as the bodhisatta did. Figuring everything by himself. Being your own Refuge.
I’d say that we need to have faith in Buddha’s words and try to understand them, but the most important thing is to check everything out by ourself.
And don’t get lost in all those details, translations and other small things, but remember were all of this should lead - real insight and final cessation😊
First I want to say “thank you” for so many and nice comments, especially that real nice compliment of Sabbamitta
From Viveka’s post I like the term “co-experience”
which is a very straight formulation of what my feeling, and intention in this discussion, has been.
However, the question is really, what the Buddha meant with “mudita”, and whether that sort of deep joy, which is reflected and resonated by several friends here, is really meant in the texts and tradition.
Of all, what I’ve seen so far, the texts seem to not to support this interpretation of the term “mudita” - I now see essentially two situation-descriptions:
- the joy one can have, when they reflect their achievements on the path (for instance Eric’s mention of MA20 , but as well in the palikanon.com -text.
- the joy a mendicant feels in a company of other mendicants which stay in harmony and “create a field of loving kindness”, so to say… which I understand here rather as a simple, deep feeling “without word” - perhaps best described in A.III.96 (the three assemblies) and or in the sutta about the three bhikkhus living together in harmony and whom the Buddha has visited one day, than a joyful reflection on what one has achieved (but I recall that report of the Buddha’s awakening, when part of the process has been, that he had reflected, whether, and that, he had indeed realized the conditions for the full awakening, liberations by selfinspection: because I’ve lived the 8-fold path, I can trust myself that this awakening is the true and full one (or so). We can see the “achieve”-aspect here in a much more elaborated and deeper way, and so it as well might be a/the core of the emotion/mood “mudita”).
The second description resonates in me much stronger than that which arises, “when I see” that I’ve abandoned such unwholesome things (but still a deep joy, sometimes…).
Draft conclusion: I don’t -as yet- see something in the texts so far which is remotely like what I’ve described about the joy induced by some resonance from one deeply joyful sentient being to that one which gets in resonance with it - which is nothing primarily about achieved things, but rather, as Viveka so well introduced it: “co-experience”.
At the moment I thus tend to accept, that my deep and elementary impulse (and which many of here appreciate) might not be meant/included/covered with/by that concept of “mudita” in the texts.
But let’s see, perhaps we’ll find something more…
Does the definition you are looking for stem more from the commentaries? In the section on Mudita in the Visuddhimagga (Chapter 9, 84 - 87) there is this passage (this is the translation by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, which translates Mudita as Gladness):
Or on seeing or hearing about a dear person being happy, cheerful and glad, gladness can be aroused thus: “This being is indeed glad. How good, how excellent!” For this is what is referred to in the Vibhaṅga: “And how does a bhikkhu dwell pervading one direction with his heart endued with gladness? Just as he would be glad on seeing a dear and beloved person, so he pervades all beings with gladness”
Note: As a newbie to the study of the EBTs, going beyond the EBTs and tooling about the Visuddhimagga is way beyond my pay grade. Please feel free to correct if I’ve totally misunderstood.
Link to PDF of full translation here:
I’ve actually ‘clarified’ (clear as mud ) my post, to which you refer. I just meant to give that break-down as an example - but the more I looked at it, the more problematic that particular grouping was. The point still stands - but I had conflated levels/degrees of each state… so it became less clear.
this still totally applies, but that each can be taken to a deeper level. see post above
just goes to show how deficient a 2 paragraph response to a complicated issue can be
Exactly, practice needs to be tailored to individual needs
There are certainly some aspects which aren’t that suitable for certain types. For example if one has a tendency to depression, care and balance needs to be applied when immersing oneself in Karuna inducing conditions… This ‘danger’ is absent from the positive and joyful states.
However, I would disagree that it needs to be a Bhikkhu. One benefits from a skilled teacher, whether that teacher is ordained or not. It is the skills and experience of the individual that are key, whether they are Bhikkhuni, Bhikkhu, lay woman or lay man… The ordination ceremony doesn’t imbue a person with skills or wisdom… Afterall, the vast majority of monks in the world have neither read the Pali canon, nor developed a meditation practice. So use the Buddhas advice and criteria to find a good teacher
Just to add, that we are so lucky here at SC and the forum, in that we are led by such wise and skillful Ajahns and that there are so many skilled, learned and diligent people, both lay and monastic that contribute
Sorry to be so picky
I like how you’ve boiled the brahmaviharas down. The only observation I made was with karuna. I’ve understood that karuna is nuanced as the concern for others to be free from affliction and dukkha, the wish and vision of relief from suffering. And importantly, karuna needs to be differentiated from the act of seeing the suffering of others, which would fall under contemplation of dukkha. So one would take the vision of freedom from affliction as the object rather than dukkha, thus avoiding sadness. This brings joy and encouragement rather than sorrow or pity.
I just came across this passage
Nyanatiloka seems to see such a relation. In the dictionary “pali-german” in palikanon.com I find (german):
anumodaníyena anumodi - (meist ‘anumodaná’ genannt)
Danksagung, wörtlich: «Mitfreude»,
nämlich mit dem vom Spender erworbenen sittlichen Verdienst. Die Texte hierfür enthalten keinen Dank, sondern den Wunsch, daß der Spender die Früchte seiner guten Tat ernten möge, in glücklicher Wiedergeburt und schließlich im Gewinn der Erlösung (Nibbána).
Eine ‘Anerkennung’ des durch Gaben erworbenen sittlichen Verdienstes wird auch heute noch in den südbuddhistischen Ländern nach einem Spendenmahl oder anderen Gaben für die Mönchsgemeinde von einen der anwesenden Mönche feierlich rezitiert.
Eine solche ‘Anerkennung’, häufig in feststehender Formulierung, mag ganz kurz sein oder auch den Umfang einer kurzen Predigt haben oder von einer solchen eingeleitet werden. Der Geber wird darin an die mannigfachen guten Folgen seiner verdienstlichen Handlung erinnert: in diesem Leben, in künftiger Existenz und als helfende Bedingung für die Erreichung des Nibbána. Das anumodana nimmt die Stelle einer Danksagung oder eines Segensspruches ein, hat aber inhaltlich keineswegs einen solchen Charakter.
Siehe auch anumodati <wtb02_ar.html> :
anu-modati, wörtl. “Nach-Freude” bedeutet Zustimmung, Billigung Mitfreude, Dankbarkeit, Segen, so wie wir sagen, daß jemand seinen Segen zu etwas gibt. Es ist die herzliche Billigung einer guten Tat, so die Mönche nach dem Mahle.