Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Practice Loving Kindness Meditation

by Ven. Dhammapala 

To develop the sublime abiding of...lovingkindness (mettà), you need first of all be aware that it should not be developed towards a person of the opposite sex (lingavisabhàga), or a dead person (kàlakatapuggala).

A person of the opposite sex should not be used as object, be­cause lust towards him or her will probably arise. After you have attained jhàna, however, it is possible to develop lovingkindness towards the opposite sex as a group with, for example, `May all women be happy.' A dead person should at no time be used, because you cannot attain lovingkindness jhàna with a dead person as object.

The people you should develop lovingkind­ness towards are:
  1. Yourself (atta)
  2. A person you like and respect (piya puggala).
  3. A person you are indifferent to (majjhatta puggala)
  4. A person you hate (verã puggala).

In the very beginning, though, you should develop lovingkindness towards only the first two, yourself and the person you like and respect. This means that in the very beginning, you should not develop lovingkindness towards the following types of person: a person you do not like (appiya puggala), a person very dear to you (atippiyasahàyaka puggala), a person you are indifferent to (majjhatta puggala), and a person you hate (verã puggala). A person you do not like is one who does not do what is beneficial to you, or to those you care for. A person you hate is one who does what is detrimental to you, or to those you care for. They are in the beginning both difficult to develop lovingkindness towards, because anger may arise. It is in the beginning also difficult to develop lovingkindness towards a person to whom you are indifferent. In the case of a person who is very dear to you, you may be too attached to that person, and be filled with concern and grief, and even cry if you hear something has happened to him or her. So these four should not be used in the very beginning. Later, though, once you have attained loving kindness jhàna, you will be able to develop loving kindness towards them. You cannot attain jhàna using yourself as object even if you were to develop that meditation for a hundred years.

So why begin by developing lovingkindness to yourself? It is not to attain even access concentration, but because when you have developed lovingkindness towards yourself, with the thought, `May I be happy', then are you able to identify yourself with others; to see that just as you want to be happy, do not want to suffer, want to live long, and do not want to die, so too do all other beings want to be happy, not want to suffer, want to live long, and not want to die. Thus you are able to develop a mind that desires the happiness and prosperity of other beings. In the words of The Buddha:(1)
Sabbà disà anuparigamma cetasà,
Nevajjhagà piyatara mattanà kvaci.
Evam piyo puthu attà paresam,
Tasmà na himnse paramattakàmo.
(Having searched in all directions with the mind, one cannot find anyone anywhere whom one loves more than oneself. In this same way do all beings in all directions love themselves more than anyone else, therefore, one who desires his own welfare should not harm others.)

So in order to identify yourself in this way with others and make your mind soft and kind, you should
first develop loving kindness towards yourself with the following four thoughts:
  1. May I be free from danger (aham avero homi)
  2. May I be free from mental pain (abyàpajjo homi)
  3. May I be free from physical pain (anãgho homi)
  4. May I be well and happy (sukhã attànam pariharàmi)
If one's mind is soft, kind, understanding, and has empathy for others, one should have no difficulty developing loving kindness towards another. So it is important that the loving kindness you have developed towards yourself be strong and powerful. Once your mind has become soft, kind, understanding, and has empathy for other beings, then can you begin to develop loving kindness towards them.

How You Develop Loving kindness Person by Person
If you have attained the fourth ànàpàna-, or white kasina-jhàna, you should re-establish it so the light is bright, brilliant, and radiant. With the light of particularly the fourth white-kasina jhàna, it is really very easy to develop lovingkindness meditation (mettà bhàvanà).(2)

The reason is that with the concentration of the fourth jhàna the mind is purified of greed, anger, delusion, and other defilements. After having emerged from particularly the fourth white-kasina jhàna, the mind is pliant, workable, pure, bright, brilliant and radiant, and because of this, you will in a very short time be able to develop powerful and perfect loving kindness (mettà). So, with the strong and bright light, you should direct your mind towards a person of your own sex, whom you like and respect: maybe your teacher or a fellow yogi. You will find that the light spreads out around you in all directions, and that whomever you pick as object becomes visible. You then take an image of that person, sitting or standing, and select the one you like most, and which makes you the happiest. Try to recall the time when he or she was the happiest you ever saw, and choose that image. Make it appear about one yard in front of you. When you can see the image clearly before you, develop lovingkindness towards him or her with the four thoughts:
  1. May this good person be free from danger (ayam sappuriso avero hotu)
  2. May this good person be free from mental pain (ayam sappuriso abyàpajjo hotu)
  3. May this good person be free from physical pain (ayam sappuriso anãgho hotu)
  4. May this good person be well and happy (ayam sappuriso sukhã attànam pariharatu).

Extend loving kindness towards that person with these four phrases three or four times, and then select the one you like most, for example, `May this good person be free from danger'. Then, with a new image of that person, in this case free from danger, extend loving kindness using the corresponding thought, in this case, `May this good person be free from danger may this good person be free from danger'. Do it again and again, until the mind is calm and steadily fixed on the object, and you can discern the jhàna factors. Then, keep practicing until you reach the second, and third jhànas. After that take each of the other three phrases and develop loving kindness up to the third jhàna. You should have an appropriate image for each of the four phrases, that is, when thinking `May this good person be free from danger', you should have a particular image of that person as free from danger; when thinking `May this good person be free from mental pain', you should have another image, one of that person as free from mental pain, and so on. In this way you should develop the three jhànas, and remember in each case to practice the five masteries (vasã-bhàva). When you have succeeded with one person you like and respect, do it again with another person of your own sex whom you like and respect. Try doing this with about ten people of that type, until you can reach the third jhàna using any of them.

By this stage you can safely go on to people, still of your own sex, who are very dear to you (atippiyasahàyaka). Take about ten people of that type, and develop loving kindness towards them one by one, in the same way, until the third jhàna. Then you can also take about ten people of your own sex whom you are indifferent to, and in the same way develop loving kindness towards them until the third jhàna.

You will by now have mastered the loving kindness jhàna to such an extent that you can in the same way develop it towards about ten people of your own sex whom you hate. If you are a type of Great Being like the bodhisatta when he was Mahàkapi, the monkey king, who never hated anyone who harmed him, and you really neither hate, nor despise anyone, then do not look for someone to use here. Only those who have people they hate or despise can develop loving kindness towards that type.

Practicing loving kindness in this way, that is, by developing concentration up to the third jhàna on each type of people, progressively from one to the next, from the easiest to the more difficult, you make your mind increasingly soft, kind and pliant, until you are finally able to attain jhàna on any of the four types: those you respect, those very dear to you, those you are indifferent to, and those you hate.

How You Break Down the Barriers
As you continue to thus develop loving kindness, you will find that your loving kindness towards those
you like and respect, and those very dear to you, becomes even, and you can take them as one, as just people you like. Then you will be left with only these four types of person:
  1. Yourself
  2. People you like
  3. People you are indifferent to
  4. People you hate
You will need to continue developing loving kindness towards these four, until it becomes balanced and without distinctions. Even though you cannot attain loving kindness jhàna with yourself as object, you still need to include yourself in order to balance the four types.

To do this, you need to re-establish the fourth ànàpàna-, or white kasina-jhàna. With the strong and bright light, extend loving kindness to yourself for about a minute or even a few seconds; then towards someone you like, then someone you are indifferent to, and then someone you hate, each one up to the third jhàna. Then again yourself briefly, but the other three types must now each be a different person. Remember to develop them with each of the four phrases, `May this good person be free from danger' etc. each, up to the third jhàna. Thus you should every time change the person of each of the three types: a person you like, one you are indifferent to, and one you hate. Do this again and again, with different groups of four, many times, so that your mind is continuously developing loving kindness without interruption, and without distinctions. When you are able to develop loving kindness jhàna towards any of the four without distinction, you will have achieved what is called `breaking down the barriers' (simàsambheda). With the barriers between types and individuals broken down, you will be able to further develop your lovingkindness meditation, by taking up the method taught by the Venerable Sàriputta; recorded in the Patisambhidàmagga.(3)

The Twenty-Two Categories
The method in the Patisambhidàmagga involves twenty-two categories by which to extend one's lovingkindness: five unspecified categories (anodhiso pharanà), seven specified categories (odhiso pharaõà), and ten directional categories (disà pharanà).

The five unspecified categories are:
  1. All beings (sabbe sattà)
  2. All breathing things (sabbe pànà)
  3. All creatures (sabbe bhutà)
  4. All people (sabbe puggalà)
  5. All individuals (sabbe attabhàvapariyàpannà)

The seven specified categories are:
  1. All women (sabbà itthiyo)
  2. All men (sabbe purisà)
  3. All enlightened beings (sabbe ariyà)
  4. All unenlightened beings (sabbe anariyà)
  5. All devas (sabbe devà)
  6. All human beings (sabbe manussà)
  7. All beings in the lower realms (sabbe vinipàtikà)

The ten directional categories are:
  1. To the east (puratthimàya disàya)
  2. To the west (pacchimàya disàya)
  3. To the north (uttaràya disàya)
  4. To the south (dakkhiõàya disàya)
  5. To the south-east (puratthimàya anudisàya)
  6. To the north-west (pacchimàya anudisàya)
  7. To the north-east (uttaràya anudisàya)
  8. To the south-west (dakkhiõàya anudisàya)
  9. Downwards (heññhimàya disàya)
  10. Upwards (uparimàya disàya)

How You Develop the Unspecified and Specified Categories
To develop this method of loving kindness meditation, you should as before re-establish the fourth jhàna with the white kasina, and develop loving kindness towards yourself, a person you respect or who is dear to you, one you are indifferent to, and one you hate, until there are no barriers between them and you. Then use the bright and brilliant light to see all the beings in as big an area as possible around you, around the building or monastery. Once they are clear, you can develop loving kindness towards them according to the five unspecified categories, and seven specified categories: twelve in total. You should at each category pervade loving kindness in four ways:
  1. May they be free from danger,
  2. May they be free from mental pain,
  3. May they be free from physical pain,
  4. May they be well and happy.
`They' is in each case one of your twelve categories, all beings, all devas, etc. Thus you will be pervading loving kindness in a total of forty-eight ways ((7+5) x 4 = 48).

The beings in each category should be clearly visible in the light of concentration and understanding. For example, when you extend loving kindness to all women, you should actually see, in the light, the women within the determined area.(4) You should actually see the men, devas, beings in lower realms etc., in the determined area.4 You must develop each category up to the third jhàna before moving on to the next. You should practice in this way until you become proficient in pervading loving kindness in all forty-eight ways. Once proficient, you should expand the determined area to include the whole monastery, the whole village, the whole township, the whole state, the whole country, the whole world, the whole solar system, the whole galaxy, and the whole of the infinite universe. Develop each of the expanded areas in the forty-eight ways up to the third jhàna. Once proficient you may proceed to the ten directional categories.

How You Develop the Ten Directional Categories
The ten directional categories of lovingkindness involve the previously discussed forty-eight categories in each of the ten directions. You should see all beings in the whole of the infinite universe to the east of you, and extend lovingkindness to them in the forty-eight ways. Then do the same thing to the west of you, and so on in the other directions. This gives a total of four hundred and eighty ways to extend loving kindness (10 x 48 = 480). When we add the original forty-eight categories of pervasion, we get five hundred and twenty-eight ways to extend loving kindness (480 + 48 = 528).

Once you master these five hundred and twenty-eight ways of pervading loving kindness, you will experience the eleven benefits of practicing loving kindness, which The Buddha taught in the Anguttara Nikàya:(5) Bhikkhus, when the mind-deliverance of loving kindness is cultivated, developed, much practiced, made the vehicle, made the foundation, established, consolidated, and properly undertaken, eleven benefits can be expected. What are the eleven?
  1. A man sleeps in comfort; wakes in comfort;
  2. and dreams no evil dreams;
  3. he is dear to human beings;
  4. he is dear to non-human beings;
  5. devas guard him;
  6. fire, poison and weapons do not affect him;
  7. his mind is easily concentrated;
  8. his complexion becomes bright;
  9. he dies unconfused;
  10. and if he penetrates no higher, he will be reborn in the Brahma World.
May you have all of these categories very soon !

by Ven. Dhammapala on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 17:13

Quoted ~~
(1) S.I.III.i.8 `Mallikà Sutta' (`Mallikà Sutta')
(2) In this regard, please read these Question & Answer ....

Question: Why don't we, after attaining the fourth jhàna, go straight to discern the five aggregates, their nature of impermanence, suffering, and non-self, and attain Nibbàna? Why do we before attaining Nibbàna need to practise meditation on the thirty-two parts of body, skeleton, white kasina, four-elements, materiality, mentality, dependent-origination, and Vipassanà?
Answer: The Buddha taught the five-aggregates method of practising Vipassanà to three types of person:
those who have sharp wisdom,
those whose insight-knowledge of mentality is not clear,
and those who prefer to practise Vipassanà in the brief way.

What are the five aggregates? What is the difference between the five aggregates and mentality-materiality? Do you know the answer? Before answering your second question, let us discuss mentality-materiality and the five aggregates. There are four ultimate realities (paramattha): consciousnesses (città), associated mental factors (cetasikà), materiality (rupa), and Nibbàna. To attain Nibbàna, the fourth ultimate reality, we must see the impermanent, suffering and non-self nature of the other three, that is, we must see: Eighty-nine types of consciousness Fifty-two associated mental factors
Twenty-eight types of materiality. The eighty-nine types of consciousness are called the consciousness-aggre­gate (vinnànakkhandha). Of the fifty-two associated mental factors, feeling is the feeling-aggregate (vedanàkkhandha); perception is the perception-aggregate (sanàkkhandha); and the remaining fifty associated mental factors are the formations-aggregate (sankhàrak-khandha). Sometimes the consciousnesses (città) and associated mental factors (cetasikà) together are called mentality (nàma). Sometimes they are seen as four aggregates, the feeling-aggregate, the perception-aggregate, the formations-aggregate and the consciousness-aggre­gate, which together are the mentality-aggregate (nàma khandha). The materiality-aggregate (rupakkhandha) is the twenty-eight types of materiality. The consciousnesses, associated mental factors and materiality together are called `mentality-materiality' (nàmarupa). They are sometimes also called the five aggregates: materiality, fee­ling, perception, formations, and consciousness. Their causes are also only mentality-ma­teriality. These five aggregates subject to clinging are Dukkha sacca Dhammà: the dhammas of the Noble Truth of Suffering. They need to be understood as such. In the `Mahànidàna Sutta' of the Dãgha Nikàya, The Buddha explains:

This dependent origination is profound, Ananda, and profound it appears. And, Ananda, it is through not knowing, through not penetrating this Dhamma, that this generation has become become a tangled skein, a knotted ball of thread, matted as the roots in a bed of reeds, and finds no way out of the round of rebirths with its states of loss, unhappy destinations perdition.

With regard to this statement, the commentaries explain: There is no one, even in a dream, who has got out of the fearful round of rebirths, which is ever destroying [beings] like a thunderbolt, unless he has severed with the knife of knowledge, well whetted on the stone of sublime concentration, this Wheel of Becoming [Dependent-Origination], which offers no footing owing to its great profundity and is hard to get by owing to the maze of many methods. This means that the yogi who does not know, and has not penetrated Dependent-Origination by the different stages of insight knowledge, cannot escape from the round of rebirths. And in the `Titthàyatana Sutta' of the Anguttara Nikàya, this was said by The Buddha:
And what, bhikkhu, the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering? With ignorance as condition, [there are] volitional formations; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, mentality-materiality; with mentality-materiality as condition, the six sense-bases; with the six sense-bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering.
This is also called dependent origination. And The Buddha says dependent origination is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering (Samudaya Sacca). The Noble Truth of Suffering, which is the five clinging aggregates, and the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, which is dependent origination, are called formations (sankhàrà). They are the object of Vipassanà, insight knowledge. At the different stages of insight knowledge you comprehend these formations as impermanence (anicca), as suffering (dukkha), and as non-self (anatta). Without knowing and penetrating them, how can you comprehend them that they are impermanent etc.? That is why we teach Vipassanà systematically. To know ultimate materiality, the materiality-aggregate of clinging, you must practise four-elements meditation till you see that materiality consists of small particles that we call rupa-kalàpas, and you need to see the four elements in those small particles. And you need to discern both the base and its object together. Without discerning materiality this way, you cannot discern mentality, the four mental aggregates of clinging. That is why we teach Vipassanà stage by stage.
Now your second question. According to the Theravàda tradition, there are two types of meditation subject (kammaññhàna): pàrihàriya kammaññhàna and sabbatthaka kammañ­ñhàna. Pàrihàriya kammaññhàna is the meditation subject by which the individual yogi develops concentration to be used for Vipassanà. The yogi must always use that meditation subject as his foundation. Sabbatthaka kammaññhàna, on the other hand, is the meditation subjects to be developed by all yogis alike. They are the four protective meditations:
  1. Lovingkindness meditation (mettà bhàvanà)
  2. Recollection-of-The-Buddha (Buddhànussati)
  3. Recollection-of-death (maraõànussati)
  4. Foulness meditation (asubha bhàvanà)
So although a yogi uses ànàpànasati (mindfulness-of-breathing) as his pàrihàriya kammaññhàna, he must practise the four protective meditations before going on to Vipassanà. This is the orthodox procedure. To develop lovingkindness meditation up to jhàna, it is better if the yogi has already developed the white-kasina meditation up to the fourth jhàna. An example of this is the five hundred bhikkhus to whom The Buddha taught the `Kara­nã­yamettà Sutta'. Those bhikkhus were expert in the ten kasiõas and eight attainments (samàpatti), had practised Vipassanà up to the Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (udayabbaya nàna), and had gone to the forest to meditate further. But they returned to the Buddha, because the devas resident in the forest had become annoyed and had frightened the bhikkhus. The Buddha taught the bhikkhus the `Kara­nã­yamettà Sutta' both as a meditation subject and as a protective chant (paritta). As a meditation subject it is for those who have already attained lovingkindness jhàna (mettà jhàna), and have broken down the barriers between the different types of person. The `Karanãyamettà Sutta' is a more specialized practice of lovingkindness, in which one practises up to the third jhàna by extending lovingkindness to eleven categories of beings with the thought: `Sukhino và khemino hontu, sabbe sattà bhavantu sukhitattà' (May all beings be happy and secure etc.). The Texts say The Buddha knew those five hundred bhikkhus would very easily be able to do this, because they were already expert in the ten kasinas. And how is lovingkindness jhàna made easier by kasina meditation? In the Anguttara Nikàya, The Buddha taught that of the four colour kasinas, the white kasina is best. The white kasiõa makes the yogi's mind clear and bright. A clear and tranquil mind is superior and powerful. If a yogi practises lovingkindness meditation with a clear mind, free from defilements, he usually attains lovingkindness jhàna within one sitting. So if one enters the fourth white-kasina jhàna, and after emerging from it, practises lovingkindness jhàna, it is very easy to succeed. In order to attain the fourth white-kasina jhàna, a yogi should first practise skeleton meditation internally and externally, because this makes the white-kasina meditation very easy. Therefore, after the fourth ànàpàna jhàna we usually teach yogis to do the thirty-two parts of the body, skeleton meditation and white-kasina meditation. In our experience, most yogis say that the fourth white-kasina jhàna is better than the fourth ànàpàna jhàna, because it produces a clearer, brighter and more tranquil mind, which is also very helpful for practising other meditation subjects. So we usually teach white-kasina meditation before lovingkindness meditation. There is also a problem common to beginners. You may have practised lovingkindness meditation. Did you attain jhàna? In practice, if a yogi wants to extend lovingkindness to someone of the same sex, he should first take the smiling face of that person as object, and then develop lovingkindness towards him with: `May this good person be free from mental suffering, etc.' With a beginner that smiling face very soon disappears. He cannot continue his lovingkindness meditation, because there is no object, and so he cannot attain loving kindness jhàna or anything. If he uses the fourth white-kasina jhàna, it is different. He emerges from the jhàna, and when he develops lovingkindness, then because of the preceding concentration the smiling face will not fade away. He is able to concentrate deeply on that image, and able to attain up to the third lovingkindness jhàna within one sitting. If he practises systematically up to the breaking down of barriers between the different types of person, he can even prac­tise the eleven ways of the `Karaniyamettà Sutta', and five hun­dred and twenty-eight ways mentioned in the Pañisambhidà-magga Pàli Text.
For this reason too, we usually teach the white-kasina meditation before lovingkindness meditation. You may also have practised recollection-of-The-Buddha (Buddhànussati). Did you attain access concentration? When those who have succeeded in lovingkindness jhàna practise recollection-of-The-Buddha, they are able to reach access concentration within one sitting, again because of the preceding concentration. Foulness meditation (asubha) too becomes easy. If a yogi practises foulness meditation up to the first jhàna, and then recollection-of-death (maranànussati), he is able to succeed within one sitting. That is why we teach the white-kasina meditation before the four protective meditations. If, however, a yogi wants to go straight to Vipassanà, without practising the four protective meditations, he can do so: no problem.

(3) Ps.II.iv `Mettà Kathà' (`Lovingkindness Explanation')
(4)This does not mean that the yogi can actually see every single woman, man, deva etc. within the determined area: it means that the yogi should extend lovingkindness with the intention that it is for every single woman, man, deva etc., and that insofar as he can, he should see them all.
(5) A.XI.ii.5 `Metta Sutta' (`Metta Sutta')