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Metta Bhavana (Part 2)

The Commentary said that the first person of Metta meditation should be the preceptor or a person like the preceptor, who is much respected, who is endowed with Sila, Samadhi and Panna; and with purified mind. Such a person must be the first object of specific loving-kindness meditation because you feel respectful towards that person because of his virtue and his generosity, so it's easier for you to have the spirit of loving-kindness in you, directing your loving-kindness towards this person.

However the Commentary said first of all you should direct your loving-kindness, Metta towards yourself, reflecting like this, "May I be free from all kinds of mental and physical suffering. May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from distress. May I be free from afflictions. May I be free from hostility." In this way you should develop loving-kindness towards yourself for a moment, maybe for one or two minutes as an example. Only after that should you develop loving-kindness towards your preceptor or the respected person. Then you say in your mind, "Just as I want to be free from all kinds of suffering, may my preceptor (or this good man) be free from all kinds of suffering. Just as I want to be free from hostility so also may my preceptor (or this good man) be free from hostility. Just as I want to be free from affliction. Just as I want to be free from distress, so also may my preceptor (or this good man) be free from distress" and so on. But after one or two minutes, you should drop the first clause which denotes the example, that is "Just as I want to be free from hostility". That clause should be dropped but continue to say "May my preceptor be free from hostility, free from animosity, free from all kinds of suffering, free from both mental and physical suffering" and so on, directing your loving-kindness towards your preceptor or the respected person.

You should not try to visualize the face or the form of the body of the object. It may appear in your mind or it may not appear; but

you should not try to visualize it in your mind because visualization of the face or the form of the body is not important. What is important is to feel Metta or loving-kindness in you, reflecting upon the virtues of this person and wishing his welfare. That is the most important point. Sometimes if you try to visualize the person of the meditation object you find it difficult to visualize. So you try hard; you try again and again. Then you become sweaty because you get tired. Metta makes you feel happy, serene, peaceful, calm and composed. But here you become hot with tiredness and disappointment because you could not visualize the object. So you need not visualize the object. It is not important.

But sometimes the object may appear in your mind in person. It's good but if the face or bodily form of the object later disappears it doesn't matter. What does matter is to feel the loving-kindness in you abundantly. So whether you have his image in your mind or not it doesn't matter. What you should do is just to feel loving-kindness in you, reflecting upon the virtues of this person and wishing him to be happy, peaceful, prosperous and so on. So in this way you develop your loving-kindness towards this person.

He may be with you in the same monastery or he may be in a village or town far away from you. It doesn't matter. What you should do is just to direct your loving-kindness towards him, wishing his welfare. Then gradually your mind will be able to concentrate on the welfare of this person which is the object of meditation; then you feel happy, serene, clear minded and tranquil. When this kind of feeling becomes stronger and stronger, your body may be suffused by a very soft sensation of serenity or tranquility. Then you may sometimes feel goose pimples; sometimes you may feel your body is covered with a very soft blanket which is soaked in cold water; then you feel cold, calm and serene. Some meditators at this stage of meditation may pick up a blanket to cover themselves because they feel very cold even in the hot season such as April or May. So Metta is the best meditation for Westerners to develop in the hot season. You need not go to Maymo or Taungyi. (These are places in the higher regions and have cooler climates.)

For some meditators, after 20 days of Metta Meditation they feel like that. Concentration is very good. As soon as they sit for meditation their concentration comes up. Sometimes they can visualize the object of Metta Meditation. They have the image of the person who is the object of meditation, smiling; sometimes talking to them. Then they also respond to this smiling person or face. Unconsciously that meditator smiles in his sitting. The onlooker can also see his smile. Sometimes also he is conscious that he is smiling. So he feels ashamed of being looked at by the onlooker so he changes his facial expression. You see, if you see a smiling face you also feel like smiling because that smiling face radiates some force to you that affects your mind. Then your mind tends to smile. Then the face also smiles. That is what the Commentary said when it described the eleven benefits of Metta Meditation.

One young monk was practising Metta Meditation at that time in Chitalabota. In the past he lived in a place for four months. After 4 months he moved to another place and lived there for another 4 months. In this was he lived in several places for just 4 months in each place. Then at the latest place, Chitalabota, there too he lived for 4 months. After completion of the 4 months, the next day he would leave the place. That night he was practising walking meditation. At the end of the walk there was a tree. It was called Manirukkha in Pali. When he was walking he heard a man crying very loudly. Then he asked "Who is that crying?" Then the person who was invisible to him said, "Venerable Sir, I am the deva who lives in this tree. I am the one who is crying." "Why do you cry?" "Because you are leaving tomorrow for another place so I feel very sad." Then the deva continued, "Before you came here and lived in this place, all devas around here were fighting each other, quarelling. No unity at all. No peace at all. Then when you came here and lived here, all devas loved one another. We lived very happily. No quarelling, no fighting. So I request you, Venerable Sir, to continue living here for the benefit of all the devas around here."

There when the Commentary described the benefits of loving-kindness meditation it said that a meditator who practises loving-kindness meditation is loved by devas and human beings. Why? Because his mind is clear and serene. It affects his facial expression. His face is very glorious, gracious, smiling, calm and composed. Then everyone has the spirit of loving-kindness. That is why these devas loved each other, without quarreling and without fighting. So in Chanmyay Yeiktha too there is no fighting, no quarreling because all of you develop loving-kindness. During Vassa, three months period, every Uposatha day (four Uposatha days in a month which are the 8th, 14th (or 15th), 22nd and the last day of the Lunar month), all meditators who are practising at the Centre and also those who come to observe the Sila, including those school boys, have to develop loving-kindness meditation, observing 9 precepts and taking vegetarian food. Do you know what is the 9th precept? Practising of Metta Meditation is the 9th precept. So the whole compound is suffused with the feeling of loving-kindness, then you are smiling.

The name of that young monk was Visakha. He had to continue to live in Chitalabota because not only one deva but all the other devas also begged him to continue to stay there; so he had to stay there. But after another 4 months, he again intended to move to another place. Again on the last night, the day before he left, many devas came to him, crying and requesting him to continue to stay there. In this way he had to live there for life. He couldn't move to another place. So loving-kindness meditation is so effective that every deva who used to fight with each other became united and felt happy and peaceful with no fighting or quarelling.

Then when you have a great deal of feeling of loving-kindness in you, your mind becomes calm, concentrated and very subtle, very serene, composed, pliable, malleable. Then you should change to another object of meditation, not the same person. But before that, you should direct your loving-kindness towards this same person, the preceptor repeatedly: today, tomorrow, 3 days or 4 days. After you have such a feeling as tranquility and serenity, then you should change to another object, that is, another person in the same class. That means another respected and beloved person who is like a preceptor, who is endowed with virtues such as Sila, Samadhi and Panna. Later on when you have the same feelings in you (calm, serene, tranquil, etc) as a result of repeated reflection upon the welfare of the second respected person, then you should change to another person (i.e. the third person in the respected person class). In this way your object should be changed from one person to another until about 10 persons in the same class, the respected person.

Then in that case too when you feel concentrated, happy, rapture, tranquil and serene, at that time you have attained Jhana concentration; the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Jhana. In the 1st Jhana your mind is endowed with 5 factors: initial/applied thought, sustained thought, rapture, happiness and one-pointedness. But in that stage the noting mind is not very stable, it's shaky because it has that applied thought and sustained thought. When you pass the 1st stage of Jhana, then you drop these two factors: applied thought and sustained thought. You feel rapture, happiness and one-pointedness, only 3 factors. In the 2nd stage of Jhana, your mind becomes more tranquil, more stable, firm. After you have passed this stage of Jhana, you drop rapture. Then you have happiness and one-pointedness, only 2 factors in the 3rd stage of Jhana.

Rapture is Piti. That piti is not still. It shakes your mind, sometimes your body. When that piti has been dropped, then you attain the 3rd stage of Jhana, then your mind is more stable, calm and more composed. Sometimes you may feel as if no one is around you, you are alone feeling joy and peace. That is the 3rd stage of Jhana. You can attain this even in directing your loving-kindness to the person of the first class. However, after that you should change your object to the second class person, that is the beloved ones. The one you love should be the object of meditation, but not yet in an advanced stage. It's fragile. If you direct your loving-kindness towards a beloved person such as your wife, the opposite sex, you may feel upset. Sometimes you may fight the wall. So in this stage of meditation you should not direct your loving-kindness towards the opposite sex. It should be the same sex. Then you develop loving-kindness towards persons of the second class, changing one after another.

Sometimes in a sitting you may direct your loving-kindness towards a person of the first class say for about 5 or 10 minutes, then change to a person of the second class say about 10 or 15 minutes. Then change to another person of the first class. In this way you can make loving-kindness very interesting and be very happy with it. In the same way those who are successful in attaining Jhana Concentration by means of Samatha Meditation play with Jhana. Sometimes psychical power, supernormal power.

After the second class person (i.e. after about 10 persons) then you go on the third class person, that is the neutral person. Develop your loving-kindness one after another. After that the fourth class person, the hostile person. You are able to develop your loving-kindness towards this hostile person because at this time your meditational practice is matured. It is in an advanced stage. You can develop your loving-kindness towards this hostile person. No anger at all, just Metta, loving-kindness. At times also very happy because before you start to meditate on loving-kindness, whenever you think about this person anger arises. You are angry with him in your mind. But now in this stage of loving-kindness meditation you feel no anger towards him. You feel loving-kindness towards him. This is successful. 

Then after that you should develop your loving-kindness towards all these persons in the four classes in a sitting, mixing here and there. Then if you can do it, feeling tranquil, serene and peaceful, mix the objects in different order. In a different order you should direct your loving-kindness towards these persons. If you feel serene, tranquil and concentrated then you may be able to break the barrier. The barrier means you identify "You are my beloved person, you are my hostile person, you are my enemy". There is a barrier in your mind.

If a bandit comes to us and asks for someone to sacrifice to his deva for success in the robbery, "One of you must come with me. I'll sacrifice you to my deva in that tree. Who will come with me?", then if your Metta Meditation is successful in the advanced stage, you don't say, "Take him, take them". Instead you would say "No, you take no one. Tell your deva I don't have anyone to sacrifice to you." Then it means you have broken the barrier among these classes: "Me or you or hostile person or beloved person". There is no barrier. It is called Sima sambheda. Sima is barrier, sambheda is breaking. Then the Commentary said, if you are able to break the barrier you attained some of the Jhana. But the Commentary takes a safe side. After you have completely and fully developed your loving-kindness towards all the four classes, it's sure you have attained access concentration. Actually we can say you have attained Jhana concentration, absorption concentration too. No one disputes over it.

This is specific development of loving-kindness meditation. But when you limit your object of meditation, say to a village or a town, a state, a country, it is also specific loving-kindness meditation. Say if you develop loving-kindness meditation towards the people of Burma then it is also specific. Then you develop loving-kindness towards the people of the United States taking Clinton first. That is also loving-kindness meditation. And also we can do specific loving-kindness meditation with directional radiation. You direct your loving-kindness towards, say, the people in the East direction, West direction, South direction, North direction. These are also specific loving-kindness meditation. How many directions can we direct in developing loving-kindness meditation? Ten. What are they? North, South, East, West, North-East, South-East, North-West, South-West, Nadir, Zenith. When you have directed your loving-kindness towards all these, then you can direct your loving-kindness towards all living beings in the world, that is unspecific loving-kindness meditation. In that case you are able to concentrate your mind well because your meditational experience is in an advanced stage. So you direct your loving-kindness towards all living beings. That is unspecific loving-kindness meditation.

Notes on Metta

The Commentary said that if a meditator has reached this stage of concentrated mind developed by means of loving-kindness meditation, it is called Upacara Samadhi, Access Concentration or Neighbouring Concentration (to Jhana or Absorption Concentration). Then if he proceeds with his Metta Meditation he can attain Jhana or Absorption Concentration very soon. First of all he enters into the first stage of concentration, then the second stage and then the third stage of concentration.

There are four stages of Jhana or Absorption to be attained by a Samatha meditator. In another way also there are five stages of Absorption Concentration. If we take this Jhana as four stages of concentration then the first stage has as its factors, initial thought (Vitaka), sustained thought (Vicara), rapture (Piti), happiness (Sukha) and one-pointedness of mind (Ekaggata).When you have attained the first stage of Concentration, that concentration is not as deep and powerful as the other three higher stages of concentration because it includes initial thought and sustained thought. Here thought does not refer to what the common people know. Instead it means a mental state which directs or leads the mind to the object of meditation. This mental state is known as initial thought. When the noting mind goes out or wanders, one of the mental states which is included in the noting mind is Vitaka, initial thought. It is distinct here because it directs the noting or developing mind to the object of meditation. Vicara or sustained thought is another factor that arises together with the consciousness. It keeps on directing the noting mind to the object of meditation so that the mind doesn't wander about. So by the power of this Vitaka and Vicara, the mind becomes gradually concentrated on the object of meditation. When the concentration becomes deep then the mind gradually becomes calm, serene and composed. And then you feel very tender feeling of rapture because of deep concentration on the object of meditation. Deep concentration means one-pointedness of mind, Ekaggata. So in the 1st Jhana, because the initial thought and sustained thought do their work together with this concentrated consciousness, the concentration is not so good enough. These two 'thoughts' have the nature of shaking the mind to a certain extent.

When you proceed with your practice by developing loving-kindness towards the person whom you select as the object of meditation, gradually concentration becomes deeper and stronger. So the consciousness becomes more deeply concentrated on the object of Metta meditation. There is no initial thought and sustained thought at this stage of concentration because concentration has become deeper and stronger. This stage of concentration includes or consists of rapture, happiness and one-pointedness: piti, sukha and ekaggata. This is the 2nd stage of Jhana or Absorption Concentration. However rapture or Piti itself is not so stable, not firm enough. It also shakes and trembles to a certain extent. When you proceed with your practice, concentration becomes deeper than in the 2nd stage of Jhana, almost absorbed into the object. So in this stage of Jhana, there is no rapture in it. Then this 3rd stage of concentration consists of happiness and one-pointedness.

When you proceed with your practice putting in more effort, then concentration becomes deeper and deeper, more and more powerful. Then the noting mind is entirely absorbed into the object, so concentration is at its highest degree. It dosen't move, shake or tremble. It becomes quite quiet, calm, serene and tranquil; without any disturbances. So in this stage of Jhana, the meditator need not make any effort to concentrate his mind on the object of meditation. The mind itself very readily concentrates on the object of meditation as if there is no effort on the part of the meditator. Equanimity or equilibrium arises in this 4th stage of Jhana. But the happiness has gone. There is no happiness because in this stage the meditator doesn't feel happy or unhappy. So he has the characteristic of equanimity or equilibrium and the deep concentration of mind. Metta is the benevolence wishing the welfare of living beings or unselfish love. However with equanimity or equilibrium, you don't have any love for any beings, so Metta meditators cannot attain this 4th stage of Jhana which consist of equanimity and one-pointedness of mind as its factors. Therefore Metta meditators can only attain up to the three lower stages of Jhana. When you develop Metta well your body is suffused with a very tender feeling of rapture and happiness. The more you can develop the feeling of loving-kindness, the more the tender feeling of rapture and happiness you have. The 4th stage of Jhana which has equanimity and one-pointedness mind as its factor cannot be attained by a Metta meditator.

After the retreat you can develop this Metta meditation in all your daily life, all the day and night because it changes your enemy into friend; it changes your negative thoughts into positive thoughts; it changes your negative emotional state into positive ones.

This is theoretical knowledge of Jhana but practical knowledge of Jhana is also not so difficult if you take keen interest in the practice, after this retreat.


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