Hi @Sovatthika, thanks for sharing my video.
Firstly it’s important to remember that the Brahma Viharas pre-date the Buddha’s time, so there may be many methods of developing these beautiful minds from countless other teachers that have been lost in time - who knows! And remember, too, that the practices of love and compassion are not just Buddhist things, but shared by all peoples across all cultures and all times. So, there is likely more than one way to practice, right?
Secondly, don’t get too stuck on the idea that there is only one true correct meditation technique, or that there is ever only one way to do things. After all, even with a simple and quite natural thing like breath mediation there is a huge debate and wide variety of opinions, with everyone insisting that their teaching is “the only one true correct method” of how the practice should be done.
Meditation is a process and the way we begin to develop it can actually be pretty flexible. Guided meditation is just the basic inspiration that will propel the mind deeper into the subject. How we get there can actually be quite varied as see in the suttas with something like the samadhi sequence, where different wholesome objects (such as generosity / sila / the Buddha’s qualities / friendship) lead to joy > rapture > bodily tranquillity > bliss > samadhi etc.
Another thing that happens (as any long term practitioner will tell you) is that our meditation tools can sometimes become a bit blunt from time to time, and so we need to approach things a bit differently otherwise we can become stuck in habits and a bit dull. So, maybe you can ask yourself why reputable teachers take different approaches with various mediations and whether it’s really true that they are being “false” or heretical or if they are still practicing love but merely developing these states in different ways? Also, please be a bit careful about thinking that there is only one way to do something and that you are the only person who knows what it is!
The Buddha’s meditation instructions tend to be quite brief and not very detailed but the Buddha himself taught a huge variety of practices and different methods, and seemed quite flexible at times in how he presented them for different people. Teachers from the past and present have always developed methods to help people touch into the subject of meditation. This doesn’t mean that the teacher is being fraudulent or heretical it’s just a way of helping people understand the practice in different ways that might work for them. I actually teach metta practice in a variety of ways but I have my favourite approaches that have been handed down from various teachers I’ve learnt from and seen for myself that they work, which is why I teach them. (I see that you’ve been going through my YouTube channel and commenting here and there - I actually deleted some of your comments because it seemed like you were trolling but if youre genuine, please keep looking and you’ll see that I’ve got some videos introducing metta and other guided meditations where I approach it in different ways.) But yes, many teachers start with the idea of happiness and they do that because it is skillful and has been proven to work and be of benefit to developing metta.
What’s important in developing a mind of love/friendliness/ kindness is that it is not an intellectual or dry theoretical thing, nor a rigid technique with strict rules, but rather it is all about the emotion and the instructions or method are only there so that people feel the actual emotion of love and get familiar with it. Then they can know when it is absent and when it is present and how to develop it. Love needs to be firstly felt in oneself before it can be shared with others. A big problem for many people is that due to depression, low self esteem, anger, emotional numbness etc, they can’t get in touch with this feeling and they find metta practice to be frustrating or challenging, or dry and boring. So teachers develop skillful means to help people uncover love within themselves and allow it to bubble to the surface.
At the root of this is the Buddha’s realisation that all beings wish for happiness, and that we love ourselves. So, it is in our best interests to be happy and free from suffering, and this will help us have love for others too. This is of course the sentiment in the Mallika sutta where the Buddha acknowledges the link between self love and not harming others:
“Having explored every quarter with the mind,
one finds no-one dearer than oneself.
Likewise for others, each holds themselves dear;
so one who loves themselves would harm no other.”
I’d like to respond to your characterisation of what metta is here:
This is a bit of a simplification of what love is in Buddhist thought. Remember that the background to the Metta Sutta is that the monks were in the forest and scared, so the Buddha taught this sutta both as a meditation subject but also as a personal protection. This form of love isn’t the same as the Christian type of martyred self sacrifice.
In my own practice, I practice the simple 4 directions method of metta, which is found in the suttas. But note that there is no sense of love being about self-sacrifice here:
They 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, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.
I often teach this approach too. But I also find useful the techniques of the commentaries, such as the four types of people, as this has so many wonderful practical applications and also shows a skillful way of developing metta that starts with developing a solid base, in order to have the strength to deal with enemies after being safely generated for loved ones (including oneself). This might not be in the suttas but it is certainly effective and has been practiced and valued by countless people.
I also like other commentarial divisions, such as classes of beings, (size, number of legs etc), or planes (creatures that live in water, underground, on earth and in the sky) as these can help give a visual focus to the development of metta in the mind.
We see the basis for this approach in something like the Khandha Parittam where the types of beings to whom metta is being developed are divided into categories:
I love the footless creatures,
the two-footed I love,
I love the four-footed,
the many-footed I love.
Similarly, just like the background to the Metta Sutta, in the sutta I just quoted above we see that metta is being encouraged as a self protection, rather than just sacrificing oneself up to the animals. Self-interest is at play:
May the footless not harm me!
May I not be harmed by the two-footed!
May the four-footed not harm me!
May I not be harmed by the many-footed!..
I’ve made this safeguard, I’ve made this protection:
go away, creatures!
So, you can still have love for creatures but not want to be eaten by them.
This type of vested self interest is also shown in the Benefits of Metta Sutta which is often used as a motivation for developing the practice.
You sleep at ease. You wake happily. You don’t have bad dreams. Humans love you. Non-humans love you. Deities protect you. You can’t be harmed by fire, poison, or blade. Your mind quickly enters immersion. Your face is clear and bright. You don’t feel lost when you die. If you don’t penetrate any higher, you’ll be reborn in a Brahmā realm.
There are so many methods teaching love. Some teachers, like Ajahn Brahm, even use teddy bears to encourage people to open up to a mind of love, something that really horrified me seeing it at first but then people reported how much easier it was for them to develop metta in this way, so if it works for them; great! I also encourage people to watch youtube videos of people doing acts of kindness to others, or videos of animals of different species being friends (such as cats who are friends with birds, or lions that are friends with lambs etc ) because these show how even animals that would normally be adversaries can actually be friends - if only humans could overcome the artificial divisions that block our love!
So, whilst I appreciate that you are concerned about textual authenticity, these are just words on a page. What brings them to life is the experience of love, and what makes it wisdom is when people realise it for themselves in ways that make sense to them. So, maybe you can try to separate meditation method from subject, and to be a bit more flexible in your thinking about how people should practice, as certain things will work for others in different ways.
Lastly, I would very much encourage you to share with us your own video of you teaching metta in the way you think it should be done. That would be a wonderful addition to the practice of love in the world and I look forward to practicing your method.