Change in the Object of Metta
One may then proceed with a change of the object, i.e. the individual used as object of metta. This approach of keeping to one person till the mastering of absorption allows one who practises metta bhavana to develop deep concentration.
In usual practice, however, one may not go so far. Often one switches object even on reaching access concentration. Some switch even before that but it is inadvisable as one is still within the power of the defilements and so does not produce appreciable effects.
The practice of metta bhavana is not for deep concentration or absorptions but for the sake of happier living and good kamma or perfections can be done in many different approaches. The change of objects helps us to be flexible and finally universal in the nature of the metta we develop.
We develop metta progressively to all the levels of concentration to the persons in the following order:
1. lovable person
puggala – LOVABLE PERSON
puggala – THE VERY INTIMATE PERSON
puggala – INDIFFERENT PERSON
Another factor contributing to being able to give metta to the neutral individual is by borrowing metta from the metta done to the lovable person. Having done much metta to the lovable person the momentum developed will naturally give such feelings to others. Then one can call on a neutral person. Frequent practice will make the "neutral person" lovable as well.
This habitualisation of metta is important in the development of metta whether towards deeper concentration, wider versatility or applied practice in daily life.
puggala – UNPLEASANT PERSON
We can perhaps begin by asking ourselves why we do not like that person. We would in a lot of cases find the reasons weak or groundless. We can further remove any dislike by seeing into the dangers of dislike or anger. Further seeing into the benefits of metta will provide a strong motivational force. "Borrowing" from the momentum of the previous metta should keep one on in the development of metta to such a person. That is why, if anger arises in giving metta to such a person, return to oneself or the lovable individual. With practice we will be quite adept in overlooking people's faults and be very much a less demanding or fusspot of a person.
puggala – THE ENEMY OR HOSTILE PERSON
The Dhammapada verse 4 says:
"He abused me, he beat
me, he defeated me, he robbed me",
It all boils down to the plain fact that hatred is never justifiable or good. One should never consider another an enemy. If one can think of things in this way it would make it easier. However if the injustice is still being carried out it will be more difficult.
To be able to do metta to such a person, we must firstly make sure that we are morally in the right. Secondly, we should also bear in mind all the reasons to have metta for that person.
For example, we were all close friends in some past life and finally we all want happiness.
If we send metta to
him it also does not mean we condone his bad actions or keep on allowing
him to do the bad things to us. In actuality, giving metta means making
the wish that he no longer does these things but does otherwise.
The saying "To hate is
human, but to forgive is divine", is most relevant to this case. Although
the first part is questionable, metta is certainly a Divine
The mind is the forerunner of all states. And if metta is so powerful it is not surprising it is able to turn enemies into friends.
When one is able to do this, one may proceed on to develop universal and boundless metta to all beings.