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Thread: With much metta

  1. #1

    With much metta

    I've been noticing that I have a large amount of ill will pent up inside me. A lot of this stems from certain family relationships or past history. But, a big chunk of it just there simmiring inside . . . and surprises me out of the blue when someone/something triggers it.

    I'm trying to recognize this hindrance when it occurs and believe I am getting better at spotting it and changing my behavior.

    From a Zen perspective what have you guys done to work with this hindrance. I know that the Theravada tradition teaches Metta/loving kindness meditation techniques. These have been helpful to me. Has anyone else had a positive experience with this? I realize that such an approach is hardly Shikantaza. But for me the real interesting part is, As I start with one of these Theravada/Insight meditation focuses, I eventually end up letting go and having the exact same experience as Zazen. . . However, I do believe there is some significant benefit to the metta work and how it translates into Buddhist ethics training.

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Stephanie
    Guest
    Working with the four brahma-viharas (equanimity, selfless joy, love or loving-kindness, and compassion) is, along with the practice of zazen, the foundation of my Buddhist practice. One of the things I find so useful about working with the brahma-viharas is that you can't fake them. I mean, you can, but you have to be working really hard to deceive yourself. When I naturally experience the arising of one of the brahma-viharas, I know I'm doing something "right."

    It's a great way to do 'self-experiments'--seeing what allows you to release the ill will and for loving-kindness to arise in its place tells you a lot about what is and will be most effective in your own practice. Plus, the brahma-viharas are pretty blissful! The more you experience them, the less you want to experience their opposites. It's harder to stay angry when you've got that animal memory of what it feels like to relinquish the anger and what it feels like to experience its 'opposite.'

    I find extending love and compassion toward one's own self to be immensely beneficial when experiencing or working with negative mind-states. It hurts to be angry, and we're often angry because of an experience in which we were or are being hurt, and holding oneself in a space of tenderness can help alleviate those painful feelings. A lot of the time, we're just looking to be comforted, and so being able to comfort ourselves is invaluable. Even better if you've got loved ones who can comfort you as well!

    Of course, the ego can get in the way of this sort of work if feeling anger or ill will makes one feel powerful. Being gentle with oneself can be an uncomfortable experience for some personality types. But I've found that getting in a battle with oneself almost always sets up an obstacle to peace, rather than promoting peace. It just makes one's subjective experience that much more stressful and uninhabitable.

  4. #4
    I've been trying to work on building compassion, too and have performed a variety of practices. One that seemed helpful to me is the following

    1. Think of yourself. Wish yourself happiness and health
    2. Think of a person close to you and wish them the same
    3. Think of someone you know but are neutral about and wish them the same
    4. Think of someone you dislike (or dislikes you) and wish them the same.

    Of course, I always get stuck on #4 when I think about George Bush (just kidding). But it helps if you can really generate the feeling of truly wishing them good will. Actually, some of my more difficult sessions have been truly feeling compassion for family members. I guess it is because I expect more of them than of strangers.

    A Tibetan practice is Tonglen, which is slightly different. Here is a link to Pema Chodrons teaching http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.php.

    Good luck with this practice. It is a hard one.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  5. #5
    A Tibetan practice is Tonglen, which is slightly different. Here is a link to Pema Chodrons teaching http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.php.
    I became deeply acquainted with tonglen meditation some years back. Traumatic memories had surfaced of a beloved family member having been sexually inappropriate with me when I was a young person. The memories, and their incongruence with my high regard for this person, were so difficult to deal with that I began to suffer anxiety attacks. Perhaps my sitting meditation was not sufficiently developed, but it didn't seem to help me come to terms with this. Over time the attacks only intensified.

    I became aware of tonglen and decided to try it. Within a month of practice, the anxiety attacks had almost completely subsided. In addition, my unexpressed rage at the perpetrator (who at the time was still alive and still believed himself to be my dearest relative) was transformed. Not immediately, but with time, I made peace with the past.

    So here's a reply to your question, Gregor, as to whether anybody has had a positive experience with metta meditation and such....

    Gassho,
    PCD

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