Monday, February 3, 2014

Metta and Methods

Alan KoekHi everyone,

i just realised that metta can radiate not only humans, animals but deities too...! Kind of interesting.

Got a couple of questions on loving-kindness... I understand metta can remove ill-will, but can metta also remove fear of unseen beings like ghosts etc...?

For people who aspired to attain once-returners, they should focus more on practising loving-kindness and contemplation of foulness of body...?

Unlike • • January 27 at 12:41am
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Albert Hong Love can also radiate to no objects. Meaning it radiates just to radiate. No subject or object required. Just shining tenderness and warmth.

If there is loving-kindness then there cannot be fear. Fear arises out of expectation. Love itself has no expectations.

Oh a ghost, a demon, etc. we fear the harm. Love in a way is the ability to walk over that fear. Whether or not they harm me, I can still love and be kind.

Its a kind of willingness to extend oneself regardless of the circumstance.
January 27 at 2:34am • Unlike • 6
Albert Hong You can play with it really.

For instance you can focus on an object of love. Then that image or perception creates the feelings of warmth, connectivity, openness, and tenderness.

Then you can focus on the sensations themselves and make the sensations into the object. So it becomes a self replicating loop.

If you have the subject object duality then its like i am looking at love, which is looking at me.

Then cut the thought and sense of I am and just be the radiance of love.

And sometimes thats taking everything I am and everything that I am not and just merging it into the single essence of love.

That has a feeling of love as a container or a kind of vast spaciousness that is inherently warm.

Or you cut all the reference points of this or that and even the reference point of love. That is more like a opening, a radiance of tenderness/warmth that has no center yet encompasses everything. I mean even to say everything is odd because its just mysterious.

So there are no limits to what the heart can and can't do. Its really all open for exploration.

January 27 at 3:30am • Unlike • 2
Soh "
For people who aspired to attain once-returners, they should focus more on practising loving-kindness and contemplation of foulness of body...?

There are many ways, that is certainly one of the effective ways Which way works best depends on the person. It is said that those who have stronger sexual lust may benefit more from the method of contemplating foulness of body. Some who already by nature is without much lust could be asked to focus on another method like anapanasati, which is beneficial to those who are by nature having more discursive thoughts etc. The Buddha gave advise accordingly to the person's inclinations, he taught many many methods not only one, but each practitioner is only asked to focus on one or two at a given time (however he/she may switch later depending on circumstances). Each of these methods when practiced all the way will lead to full liberation
January 27 at 4:56am • Edited • Like • 3
Soh Even in Buddha's days, even before all the Zen/Theravada/Tibetan distinctions came up hundreds/thousands of years later, each practitioner in the Buddha's sangha also had a particular path of practice that may not be exactly the same with the others. Diversity is natural, it is not something that is bad.

In the Buddha's words and observations: "

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference... the four right exertions... the four bases of power... the five faculties... the five strengths... the seven factors for awakening... the noble eightfold path: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of good will... compassion... appreciation... equanimity... [the perception of the] foulness [of the body]... the perception of inconstancy: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of in-&-out breathing." --

Many will argue that certain practices are more powerful than another. Or that certain traditions are more advanced than another. Many are very sectarian about it. I disagree - whether one's method/tradition/practice/etc is the 'best' always depend on the causes and conditions of each individual, their personality make-up, inclinations, capacity, etc. Your best way may not be the best way for another person. His best way may not be the best way for you. You will have to find out what is the best way for yourself with your own discernment.

For example, the contemplation on the foulness of the body was a very effective method that led to many people attaining liberation. But practicing it also led to the suicide of a lot of monks. You may have heard of this story: "

Once while staying at Vesaali[27] the Buddha gave a teaching on the foulness of the body, and on the contemplation of the stages of decomposition of a corpse. These are traditional meditation subjects which help to subdue craving for sensual pleasure. Afterwards he goes into seclusion for two weeks. On returning from his retreat he notices that there are far fewer bhikkhus present than before, musing that formerly the park seemed ‘ablaze with bhikkhus’. When he asks AAnanda about it. AAnanda replies that after the Buddha’s teaching the bhikkhus became ‘repelled, humiliated, and disgusted with this body’ and they had committed suicide. The sutta says that as many as thirty bhikkhus took their lives each day. AAnanda, somewhat mildly perhaps, requests that the Buddha give another teaching. The Buddha calls an assembly of all the bhikkhus in the area and teaches them the mindfulness of breathing meditation. " -

Conclusion? A great teaching meeting the wrong audience will cause much harm. Someone's medicine can become another's poison. There is no "one for all" prescription as if one medicine cures the illness of all patients. Prescriptions are always made depending on circumstance and diagnosis. Even if that medicine cures all illness, not all bodies may react to it the same way. If one does a type of practice which does not suit oneself, better find another. That is why Buddha taught many methods not just one. It is not that the teaching is not powerful, it is that another path/practice may be more suited to you.

And ultimately YOU know yourself best, it appears that even the Buddha did not foresee (or maybe he did?) these negative effects or stop the monks from committing suicide after practicing his method. A Master can give advice, but You know yourself, discern yourself.

Ultimately the best teaching/practice/etc is the one that suits you and one that you will practice.

Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing
Now on that occasion ? the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of...See More
January 27 at 6:12am • Edited • Like • 4 • Remove Preview
Soh Another related story, this time between Sariputta (the Buddha's disciple foremost in wisdom), Buddha and a young monk:

7. The Red Lotus

Once the Blessed One lived near Savatthi at the Jeta Grove in Anathapindika’s monastery. At that time the venerable Sāriputta had as his personal attendant a young monk who had been ordained under him and was a goldsmith’s son. The venerable Sāriputta thought: “For young people, the contemplation of the body’s impurity is a suitable subject of meditation,” and for conquering lust, he instructed him in that meditation.

But the young monk’s mind could not get even to the stage of becoming familiar with the subject, and he said so to the venerable Sāriputta: “This is of no help to me.”

But the thera [6] thought: “For young people this is surely suitable,” and he gave him again the very same subject of meditation. But even after four months of effort the monk did not obtain even the smallest result. Thereupon the thera took him to the Blessed One, and the Master said:

“To know what is suitable for him, is not within the range of your capacities, Sāriputta. He is one who has to be guided by a Buddha.”

The monk had been born in a goldsmith’s family throughout five hundred lives. Hence the Blessed One knew: “A red object will be suitable to him.”

And the Blessed One, by his supernormal power, created a red lotus of radiant colour, and placed it into the hands of the monk, saying: “Well, O monk, plant this lotus in sandy soil at a shady spot of the monastery. Then, facing it, sit down with legs crossed, and think, “Red, red.”

The monk did as he was told, and almost immediately he attained, in succession, to all four jhanas, those sublime states of full meditative absorption, and he even was able to enter into them in their reverse as well as their normal order.

Now the Master resolved in his mind: “May the lotus whither!”

When the monk emerged from his meditation, he saw the red lotus withered and discoloured, and he thought: “This radiant form has now been crushed by decay!” Obtaining from that a vivid perception of impermanence, he then applied it to himself, and, continuing his contemplation, he understood: “What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is not self,” and he saw the three planes of existence as if enveloped in flames.

Not far from him there was a lotus pond. Boys had gone into it gathering lotus flowers and had put them on a heap at the shore. When the monk looked at the scene, the red lotus blossoms which were still in the water, appeared to him like tongues of flames in a burning reed thicket; and the falling petals seemed to plunge into a chasm. And among the flowers that were lying on the land, those on top that were withered appeared to him as if seared by fire.

Stirred by that sight he contemplated on life’s processes, and still more the three planes of existence appeared to him like a house enveloped in flames that does not give any refuge and safety.

Then the Blessed One, sitting in his room, emitted his bodily aura that rose above the monk and spread over his face. The monk looked up and thought: “What is that?”

Then it appeared to him as if the Blessed One had come and stood close by. Seeing this, the monk rose from his seat and paid homage with clasped hands. Then the Master, knowing his fitness, taught Dhamma by speaking this illuminating verse:

“Who severs lust entire,
Like into the pond descending
One uproots lotus plants,
Such a monk discards ’here’ and ’beyond’
As snakes slough outworn skin” [Top]
Wh059 — Stories of Old — Plain text
For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted and ...See More
January 27 at 6:33am • Edited • Like • 5 • Remove Preview
Alan Koek Thank you Albert Hong & Soh
Yesterday at 12:22am • Like

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