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Thread: 'I' in Metta Meditation

  1. #1
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Wink 'I' in Metta Meditation

    Hello to all

    While I may be overthinking this I have a question regarding metta practice. Why in metta do we use the word 'I' ('May I be free from suffering'), but yet are told that we should not associate ourselves with our thoughts? During my nightly practice of metta, I just try not to become to attached to 'I' as Mater Nyuri says in the Ceasing of Notions.

    Any insight is welcome.

    With metta

  2. #2
    Hi,

    In one way of experiencing things in Buddhism, there are no separate beings in need of Metta, no separate "you" or "I", nothing to give, nothing to receive, nothing broken and nothing to fix.

    But from another perspective, there is an "I" and "you" and lots of people in need of Peace and help.

    Traditionally, we recite Metta first for ourself, then family and friends, someone we barely know, a difficult person and all Sentient Beings. We could go in the other direction too, finishing with ourself.

    Today, when we offered Metta during our Zazenkai, I said that doing so has a real effect in the world. A few weeks ago, two young men filled with anger and a lack of peace and discontent put a bomb filled with hate which had effect. It had effect to the people hurt and killed directly, but also all around the world as people reacted.

    So, our wish for health, peace, contentment for others can also have an effect in a like way ... first on those immediately around us, and even spreading out into the world. It is rather the mirror reflection of the anger and discontent in Boston.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-04-2013 at 05:31 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Hello Unknown Person,

    I will just add that, if it helps, think of it like being on an airplane. When you get the instructions on using the air masks in case of an emergency, you are told to put your own mask on first and then help others. It is much the same for metta in my limited experience as a priest in training.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    From what I learned last weekend at the Metta retreat, the use of "I" is just a foundation for learning the practice. A way to point the metta inward, but in the second phase of our training we removed the "May I be" and simply repeated "Free from enmity, free from hatred, free from suffering, filled with happiness" once we had that down we replaced it with "No enmity, no suffering, and so forth" all of this, still in the first verse. The "I" verse. But we did drop the "I", because there is no "I" to be free from enmity. It helped to say it at first, so the focus would be in the right direction.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    From what I learned last weekend at the Metta retreat, the use of "I" is just a foundation for learning the practice. A way to point the metta inward, but in the second phase of our training we removed the "May I be" and simply repeated "Free from enmity, free from hatred, free from suffering, filled with happiness" once we had that down we replaced it with "No enmity, no suffering, and so forth" all of this, still in the first verse. The "I" verse. But we did drop the "I", because there is no "I" to be free from enmity. It helped to say it at first, so the focus would be in the right direction.
    That's a cool variation, a lovely way to go about it.

    Chuck, who was the Teacher at that Retreat?

    "Metta" Verses primarily come from South Asia Buddhism, but have been adopted by many Zen Sangha in America I know as a way to add a bit more Compassion and gentle Loving Kindness to our hard "Japanese Samurai" Zen, which can sometimes be traditionally a bit "Macho" and weighed to the Wisdom (seeing through division) side of things.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    There were two teachers whose main practice is Metta. I believe both reside at a forest monastery in Malaysia, Ven. Bikkhu Kai Yin and Ven. Bikkhu Yuttadhamo

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    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Very interesting, indeed! I am very familiar with Yuttadhammo and I believe he is a great teacher of the Theravada tradition! Just goes to show how things are intertwined, I guess. I also do like the variation on the metta meditation.

    Kind Regards

    Alex

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    sidetracked.. if Yuttadhammo is Bikkhu then doesn't that make "he" a "she" ?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Shonin View Post
    sidetracked.. if Yuttadhammo is Bikkhu then doesn't that make "he" a "she" ?
    A female monastic (a nun, in other words) would be bikkhuni.

    I have listened to some of Yuttadhammo's talks on You Tube and found them very interesting.


    Andy

  10. #10
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    They've been running these Metta retreats for 6 years now. This was the first one in English. It was nice, different but nice. It gave me a different understanding on Metta practice though. Which was helpful. Because sometimes I think to myself "There's no Metta here dude"

  11. #11
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    My two cents, and I am probably wrong here, is that we can all agree that there is no "I," but, for the most part, that is an intellectual understanding only. But, there is a big difference between study and practice. I studied Buddhism and Zen for many years, but I did not practice. In the end, the lack of the "I" needs to be realized through practice and not by a simple intellectual understanding. We have to experience it. Until that time, for most of us anyway, the "I" lingers.

    Gassho,
    William

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