Divine abidings


When a person is practicing the divine abidings to what agregate should one direct one’s Metta, compasion, symapthetic joy, and equanimity. Should one direct ones divine abiding to form , to felling, to perception, to mental processes, or to consciousness.
I ask this because it seems that the only logical agregate to direct it toward would be consciousness because with out it the other agregates would be insentient. To direct love toward the body or mind seems as useless as directing it toward a rock or other insentient phenomena. Perhaps one is to direct it to a fase conception of a self. However, this seems to condone wrong view.
I realize that Buddhagosa stated that “Their is no ONE suffering but their is suffering”. However, is this an injuction to feel compasion for suffering. That seems a little odd simply because suffering is what an aryan destroys. Thus, how could anyone get rid of suffering if they felt compasion for thier suffering.

Hi Johnny,

Nice to meet you, hope you don’t mind if I attempt a reply to your question.

In samatha bhaavanaa, as I understand it, the aaramma.na is a concept, not a paramattha dhamma such as any of the aggregates. I agree with you (I think) that it doesn’t make sense to extend any of the brahma vihaaras to a paramattha dhamma as opposed to another sentient being which is, in this context at least, a concept or designation.

If this is correct, then the brahma vihaara meditations may lead to calm and/or jhaana (if the necessary condtions are present) but not to insight as I understand it (as concepts, designations, beings etc. are not among the foundations of mindfulness).

I hope this is of some use and welcome any corrections.

Dear Mike and Johhny
That is correct. Metta takes a concept (a human being) as object whereas vipassana always has a paramttha dhamma (i.e the five khandhas ) as object.

from the Lovingkindness Discourse in
Khuddakapaa.tha (Minor Readings). This is interesting because in the last
stanza and commentary to it, we read (quoting from PTS translation now):
“And now, since lovingkindness is near to [wrong] view of self because it has creatures for its object, he therefore completed the teaching with the following stanza:

“But he that traffics not with views
Is virtuous with perfected seeing
Till purged of greed for sense-desires
He will surely come no more to any womb.”

“He did this as a preventative against [their straying into] the thicket of [speculative] views (see Mi 8) by showing those bhikkhus how the Noble Plane is reached through making that same loving-kindness jhana the basis for insight.

“Its meaning is this. After emerging from the abiding in lovingkindness jhana, which was specified (detailed) thus ‘ This is Divine Abiding here, they say’, [he discerns] the [non-material-form] ideas there [in that jhana] consisting in thinking and exploring and the rest [S: i.e jhana factors][which he defines as ‘name’.][S: namas]Then, following on the defining, etc, of these [jhana factors as ‘name’], he discerns the ideas of [material] form there, [which he defines as ‘form’.][S: rupas]

“By means of this delimitation of name-and-form ‘he traffics not with views (di.t.thi~n ca anupagamma), [avoiding that by discerning] in the way stated thus ‘A heap of mere determinations; No creature can be found herein’ (S i 135), till he eventually becomes virtuous (siilavaa) with the kind of virtue that is supramundane since he is now perfected (sampanno) in the right view belonging to the Path of Stream Entry, which is called seeing (dassanena), and which is associated with that supramundane virtue”

Later in the conclusion…
“There the bhikkhus maintained lovingkindness in being, making that the basis, they established insight [into the three general characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not-self,] till all of them reached Arahantship….”


Hi Sarah,

Great stuff–are the [bracketed bits] yours or in the PTS translation?

I agree that using a Concept of a person as an arama.na for the divine abidings could work.
Though I believe this begs the question of conventionaly speaking what is properly called the self.
I seems to me that a concept has no feeling or awareness/awakeness. A concept is dependent on the citta for its awareness/awakeness, therefore, I am not so sure that I could feel a genuine sense of compassion or metta for something that on its own is no more alive/aware than a rock or a clump of dirt.
I think it makes more sense to side with the sa.mkya philosophy on what could be conventionaly called the self. Though I dont beleive that citta is permanent or transcendent.
It seems to me that lord buddha revealed to us the agregates and that these help us to have true love and compassion by showing us what is alive and what is dead. What is worthy of love and what is worthy of compassion and also that all is imperment, dukkha, and nonself. Even what lives and espcially what is dead.
Please correct me if I have added to the buddhasasanaa and have gone astray.
A being is said to be a concept. – An aggregate is said to be ultimate reality.

I strongly believe that as long as one has not experienced oneself what actually is meant with this differentiation – both remain concepts!

Now my unorthodox way of metta:

the sending of metta is a concept to describe immeasurable risings and passings moments of rupa, sanna, vedana, sankhara and vinnana. They all arise mutually dependent – to think the aggregates as independent entities is concept, naming immeasurable rising and passing moments of rupa, sanna, vedana, sankhara and vedana.

being is a concept to describe immeasurable risings and passings moments of rupa, sanna, vedana, sankhara and vinnana. None of them arise independent of any one of the other. All these incredibly fast arising and passing rupa, sanna, vedana, sankhara and vinnana – IF DIRECTLY EXPERIENCED (otherwise they remain concepts, just like ‘being’) will take on the all pervading taste of ANICCA, DUKKHA, ANATTA.

all pervading, because if one is to follow the arisings and passings – conceptualization as we know it has to come to a full stop.

after some time one might come to senses and be able again to name what one has experienced with the concepts of the pali language as – anicca, dukkha, anatta.

but no question anymore that there would be anything anywhere within the all – the 5 aggregates, inside and outside – not of the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta.

so Johnny, mike, RobertK and Wolfgang are concepts, where we can differentiate these 4 guys. Ultimately experienced they all taste like anicca, dukkha, anatta – with no difference, no demarcation between them.

now to experience all pervading dukkha really does hurt. And there grows the attitude of being done with those 5 aggregates (which is a concept that describes incredibly fast arising and passing rupa, sanna, vedana, sankhara and vinnana – which, if taken as atta, hurt so much) This ‘being done with’ brings ease. However, all of that is so subtle, it happens in complete silence of thought, still so pregnant with meaning. One can only be misunderstood if one tries to describe it with language, as I try it here. (ridiculing myself as anyone drunken with love

Never forget, this whole reading of this text is only on the level of concept, but if one is really able to look into it – merely rapidly arising and passing rupa, sanna, vedana, sankhara and vinnana, which don’t even remain for a millisecond.

And because there is no differentiation, no demarcation between these 4 guys – in such a conceptless state – the immensity of hurt, and the ease of being done with – might appear to flow all by itself. We might be able to conceptualize afterwards on the level of concepts again.

But I must be really unorthodoxly in love – no where in the Sutta I read that it is possible to experience metta, karuna, mudita together with upekkha all at once as an offspring of insight meditation.

Dear James

>James: How much of the Tipitaka should one study?

JK: As long as one can approach to clear comprehension of that topic.

> James: How long should one discuss with others?

JK: As long as one has more and more clarification of the ambiguous issue from discussion.

> James: How do you know one has reached a clear and reasonable conclusion?

JK: When the conclusion conforms thoroughly to Tipitika and leaves no doubt.


> James: I do have to give you that at least you admit real practice should begin at some point.

JK: Maybe you a bit rush to this conclusion. My real practice maybe not the same as yours.

> James: Most of the students of KS believe that studying is the whole of the practice and that no one in this day and age has the proper accumulations to begin real practice (a rather defeatist philosophy if you ask me).

JK: I’d rather leave teachers, masters or schools whether Theravada or Mahayana alone from discussion because it misleads us fall into particular camps and try to offend or defend camp idea which most of the time reasonable explanation is ignored. For example, when you label “defeatist philosophy”, it reflects the idea of big atta to win or defeat which is not the case of dhamma realities.


> James: Personally, I believe that if you have studied the Buddha’s teaching enough to even know about the Brahmaviharas; know what they are; and know that you want to practice them; then you have studied enough and it is safe to proceed.

JK: Many people understand that Brahmaviharas are four immeasurables of a Brahma realm. They are Metta (loving-kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (joy with others) and Upekkha (equanimity). Many modern texts suggest that these four immeasurable or divine states are to be cultivated in meditation practices.

But do they really know the realities of Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha? Or they just know the words and their meaning. In normal life, if one never actually has loving-kindness, compassion, joy with others and equanimity, how can one even cultivate these four immeasurables? In meditation practices? No, no, no way.

These four immeasurables have many level starting from the normal state in daily life to the highest state in Brahma realm. If one can understand and realize the benefit of Brahmavihara dhamma, one will develop them with right understanding as usual in daily life. It is so natural without doing something out of ordinary. In daily life, when some certain situation occurs (homosexuals or hippies maybe), one who understands can have all loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity to others. He will have no hatred, selfishness, envy or annoying to others at all. When he experiences more and more of these four emotions, more and more he accumulates and moves toward higher and higher state. This is the foundation of developing four immeasurables before four immeasurables can be the object of samatha bhavana to the highest state which is the other topic needed more discussion and understanding.


> James: The only danger of practicing the Brahmaviharas is that one will be reborn in the deva realms and could miss out on the opportunity to study the dhamma with the next Buddha as a human being. However, since we don’t know when the next Buddha will appear, or even if a deva rebirth will occur, that is not a very pressing danger.

JK: I’m no worry about that at all. But I’m just worry about not understanding the reality of Brahmavihara dhammas well enough.



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