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Real life, real time Metta Practice how to!

seeker242seeker242 ZenFlorida, USA Veteran
@ericcris10sen posted a thread earlier asking about how to deal with irritating people. I discovered a really great way to deal with this kind of situation. This technique works so good I felt it warranted it's own thread! @Karasti apparently knows this technique too!
karasti said:

To learn to put myself in another's shoes. All the moments that cause me anger, frustration, and so on can be almost entirely alleviated by putting myself in that person's position, to think what their growing up was like, that their fears are, and so on.

What I do is this. It works really, really good! Everyone at one point or another encounters other people who are irritating, annoying, people that you don't like that much, perhaps people that you really don't like, maybe even people that you hate, etc, etc.

Most everyone, at least most everyone who is interested in Buddhism, I would argue most people in general, deep down has a genuine concern for other people. We want other people to generally be happy. We want other people to generally not suffer so much. Even people who do bad things because if they weren't suffering, they would not be doing bad things to begin with. We generally want this for others just like we want ourselves to not suffer so much. So what you want to do is tap into this storehouse of genuine concern for others and bring it to the forefront of your mind. In real time. Right here, right now, while you are encountering these kinds of people. The Buddha taught this technique to people and he called it "appropriate attention". He said:
""From inappropriate attention you're being chewed by your thoughts. Relinquishing what's inappropriate, contemplate appropriately."

"With regard to internal factors, I don't envision any other single factor like appropriate attention as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who attends appropriately abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.

"There are objects causing aversion; frequently giving unwise attention to them — this is the nourishment for the arising of ill-will that has not yet arisen, and for the increase and strengthening of ill-will that has already arisen.

"There is the liberation of the heart by loving-kindness; frequently giving wise attention to it — this is the denourishing of the arising of ill-will that has not yet arisen, and the decrease and weakening of ill-will that has already arisen."

So if you encounter a person who is annoying, irritating, etc. This is what you do. You imagine what that person is going to feel when they get old, when they get sick, when they really start dying. You imagine what that person is going to feel when they are on their deathbed. You imagine that person dying of cancer or some similar ailment. You imagine what that person is going to think and feel when they finally realize that they are going to die soon and they can't do anything about it. You see them lying in there in their hospital bed, crying their eyes out, with their whole family doing the same, because they don't want to die. So much suffering there. If you can conjure up this imagery you can tap into that underlying genuine concern and bring it to the forefront thereby shifting your focus of attention from what is "inappropriate" to what is "appropriate". It's like pulling a weed out of the garden the moment it sprouts up. When the weed has just sprouted, it's quite easy to uproot. The roots are very shallow and it comes right out. But if you let the weed sit there and grow for a while, the roots grow deeper, become more established and it becomes more difficult to uproot it. The trick is to uproot it as soon as it sprouts. This of course requires "right mindfulness" or the ability to remember to do this as soon as the weed sprouts up.

It's not all that difficult to imagine because that's the actual reality of what's going to happen to them. They will get sick. They will get old and they will die. This is guaranteed to happen! Imagine what they will experience when it does happen. They aren't going to like it. They will suffer.

By shifting your focus of attention off the irritating things they do or say and onto the suffering that you know they will experience. This changes everything! If you can really connect with that image of them suffering, the irritation completely disappears, just like the Buddha said it would. This technique is how you abide in the "divine abode" of Loving-kindness and compassion and lead you closer to the divine abode of equanimity. It leads you closer to enlightenment itself. Just like the Buddha said it would. Pretty smart guy. :)

:om:
DavetheseekerVastmindriverflowlobsterpegembaraSilouanpouletericcris10senFullCircleShimmisterCopekarastimisecmisc1karmablues

Comments

  • wrathfuldeitywrathfuldeity Veteran
    edited August 2013
    It works...but what is annoying/irritating is that some folks seemingly enjoy being the weed in their garden and they are unwilling to "pull it out"...usually mistakenly think they are the weed instead of the garden.
    ericcris10sen
  • @Silouan - beautiful! Thanks for sharing that! Two religious traditions shedding light on one another!
    Silouankarmablues
  • I've already benefited from peoples ideas here, and I'm REALLY grateful for everyone's help. The posts here are very useful as well and I'm going to try to look at it in that aspect as well :)
    riverflow
  • Thank you @riverflow. I think if we recognize that matters of the heart are our common ground we can perhaps appreciate a different approach, and may even find some of it helpful in our own spiritual development. I know doing so has helped me.
    riverflowlobsterkarmablues
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    Silouan said:

    The following excerpts from Hieromonk Jonah on forgiveness provide great insight, and though from a Christian perspective are very complementary to the topic:

    "...Forgiveness means laying aside our judgments of the other person and our own sinful reactions, and accepting others for who they are... The basic principle of non-reaction, not only in deed, but in thought and feeling, and maintaining a spirit of peace, is the key..."

    "The roots of unforgiveness are pride, vainglory, arrogance, and conceit. If I refuse to forgive someone, it is my sin. I can no longer pray the Lord’s Prayer without damning myself, nor approach the Chalice. We refuse to forgive because we feel justified in our resentment and bitterness. We cast all the blame and criticism on the other, and blind ourselves to the reality of our own faults. Thus we live in delusion."

    Thanks for that, Silouan! Here's another quote from the Christian East, from St Isaac the Syrian:

    On Purity:

    "What, succinctly, is purity? It is a heart that shows mercy to all created nature... And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons, and for every created thing; and by the recollection and sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy which grips his heart and from his compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear or see any injury or slight sorrow in creation. For this reason he offers up tearful prayers continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy."

    Talk about Metta practice!



    Silouanriverflow
  • @ Nirvana, that is a very beautiful description of the spiritual fruits of a saintly life, and a humbling reminder of the dryness of my own heart. Thank you so much for posting it.
    riverflow
  • The judging and condemning of others is a disease that unfortunately we all carry and manifest in some form or another, but there may be many among us who think that they never do such things, or if so that it is insignificant.

    However, our thoughts determine our lives, the effects of which don’t happen in isolation because our existence is intertwined, so in that sense we are all responsible for all the horrible things that happen around the world and there is no excuse.

    Many years ago in one of my college classes on U.S. history we watched a video interview of a holocaust survivor. I don’t remember all the details but the end, when the man said that Israel is the best friend the U.S. has, and not like an Arab who will stab you in the back.

    Here was a man who was a victim of such horrific brutality and then passed judgment on another. That is what my professor wanted the class to realize, because that was the essence of the holocaust. If we no longer see another as person we can say and do anything we want about or to them.
    riverflow
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    edited August 2013
    seeker242 said:

    @ericcris10sen posted a thread earlier asking about how to deal with irritating people. I discovered a really great way to deal with this kind of situation. This technique works so good I felt it warranted it's own thread! @Karasti apparently knows this technique too!

    karasti said:

    To learn to put myself in another's shoes. All the moments that cause me anger, frustration, and so on can be almost entirely alleviated by putting myself in that person's position, to think what their growing up was like, that their fears are, and so on.

    What I do is this. It works really, really good! Everyone at one point or another encounters other people who are irritating, annoying, people that you don't like that much, perhaps people that you really don't like, maybe even people that you hate, etc, etc.

    Most everyone, at least most everyone who is interested in Buddhism, I would argue most people in general, deep down has a genuine concern for other people. We want other people to generally be happy. We want other people to generally not suffer so much. Even people who do bad things because if they weren't suffering, they would not be doing bad things to begin with. We generally want this for others just like we want ourselves to not suffer so much. So what you want to do is tap into this storehouse of genuine concern for others and bring it to the forefront of your mind. In real time. Right here, right now, while you are encountering these kinds of people. The Buddha taught this technique to people and he called it "appropriate attention". He said:
    ""From inappropriate attention you're being chewed by your thoughts. Relinquishing what's inappropriate, contemplate appropriately."

    "With regard to internal factors, I don't envision any other single factor like appropriate attention as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who attends appropriately abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful.

    "There are objects causing aversion; frequently giving unwise attention to them — this is the nourishment for the arising of ill-will that has not yet arisen, and for the increase and strengthening of ill-will that has already arisen.

    "There is the liberation of the heart by loving-kindness; frequently giving wise attention to it — this is the denourishing of the arising of ill-will that has not yet arisen, and the decrease and weakening of ill-will that has already arisen."

    So if you encounter a person who is annoying, irritating, etc. This is what you do. You imagine what that person is going to feel when they get old, when they get sick, when they really start dying. You imagine what that person is going to feel when they are on their deathbed. You imagine that person dying of cancer or some similar ailment. You imagine what that person is going to think and feel when they finally realize that they are going to die soon and they can't do anything about it. You see them lying in there in their hospital bed, crying their eyes out, with their whole family doing the same, because they don't want to die. So much suffering there. If you can conjure up this imagery you can tap into that underlying genuine concern and bring it to the forefront thereby shifting your focus of attention from what is "inappropriate" to what is "appropriate". It's like pulling a weed out of the garden the moment it sprouts up. When the weed has just sprouted, it's quite easy to uproot. The roots are very shallow and it comes right out. But if you let the weed sit there and grow for a while, the roots grow deeper, become more established and it becomes more difficult to uproot it. The trick is to uproot it as soon as it sprouts. This of course requires "right mindfulness" or the ability to remember to do this as soon as the weed sprouts up.

    It's not all that difficult to imagine because that's the actual reality of what's going to happen to them. They will get sick. They will get old and they will die. This is guaranteed to happen! Imagine what they will experience when it does happen. They aren't going to like it. They will suffer.

    By shifting your focus of attention off the irritating things they do or say and onto the suffering that you know they will experience. This changes everything! If you can really connect with that image of them suffering, the irritation completely disappears, just like the Buddha said it would. This technique is how you abide in the "divine abode" of Loving-kindness and compassion and lead you closer to the divine abode of equanimity. It leads you closer to enlightenment itself. Just like the Buddha said it would. Pretty smart guy. :)

    :om:
    Morbid fantasies only serve to distract.

    The best thing to do is pay attention and take responsibility. Look inward and try to see what is causing the irritation or anger. Perhaps there are issues, we could be investigated, that are closer to the source and irritation at others is merely an expression of that deeper knot.
  • To understand all is to forgive all.
    French Proverb
    riverflowSilouan
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    edited August 2013
    To the OP; so we're just supposed to allow them to carry on doing hurtful, irritating things and we are just suppose to 'imagin' them suffering, dying of cancer and imagin them crying because they 'dont want to die'... And thats suppose to make everything ok.............. Erm... yeh ok!
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Instead ive got a better way on how to deal with people who are irritating............ Take no more crap, and cut them out of your life! Simple as that... Ive got to a point where ive had enough of playing mr nice guy who gets taken advantage of just because im 'into' buddhism etc etc....

    People (friends and family) take advantage of my kindess and compassion... I get no generosity back. I get no happiness back when these people are in my life...

    Ive realised happiness comes when i have the courage to say how i feel and 'remove' them from my life... Ive done it with a few people and it feels great.

    Theres still a few i need to chat to, and if they are not willing to change then i will be removing them aswell.

    Sometimes we have to stand our ground and be strong enough to know when enough is enough.... Being all buddhist and compassionate doesnt always work for some people... (At least not for me) ive tried for many many many many years..... And all that happens is; "your kindness gets used and abused"
  • SilouanSilouan Veteran
    edited August 2013
    @zenmyste

    Being compassionate doesn't mean to allow others to treat you like a door mat. Sometimes we do have to take appropriate measures, and sometimes not only for our benefit.

    A couple of years ago we had a visitor at our temple. We have visitors all the time and this is no big deal, but towards the end of the service she stole a purse and was caught. The owner of the purse was distraught over whether she should press charges or not, and the person who stole it attempted to make her feel guilty by asking her to forgive and let her go, because it was the Christian thing to do. Well, the owner eventually asked our priest for counsel and he simply asked her, “Do you want her to keep doing that?”, and when the police came they searched her car and found it loaded with purses. The important thing was that even though the owner of the purse pressed charges she did not harbor resentment or bear a grudge, but was more concerned for the well-being of the other person.

    Also, true giving is an act of charity without the expectation of receiving something in return. My former Lama said that once you have committed to and have given something away, like a dollar bill for instance or your time, then let it go. It is no longer yours to keep, and what that other person does with it rests with them, because you have given it away.

    Perhaps if you have any thought of expectation prior then its probably better not to offer at that time. You will be provided many more opportunities to do so in the future, and either way its all part of the spiritual development process, so its okay to say no.
    riverflowNirvanakarmablues
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    zenmyste said:

    Instead ive got a better way on how to deal with people who are irritating............ Take no more crap, and cut them out of your life! Simple as that.

    Neat trick if you could really do that... But you cannot really; that's just a bruised ego speaking, not the rational, caring being that you really are.

    Even with the strictest environmental controls you cannot completely irradicate even pesky insects. So one tiny one starts crawling on you and you accidentally crush it to death while exploring your body for what's happening. It's too bad, really, that that's what happened: But you're not elated on the kill and you don't carry on and on about what a nasty critter that bug was and how it really deserved to die. No, you let it go, realizing that that's just the sort of thing that life in the world brings. You may not think the life of an insect worthy of much Metta meditation, but maybe that's an oversight d/t the self-centeredness of our species???

    You don't dwell on the faults of others, but rather try to lift up these situations in which you find yourself with others by means of your own good cheer and forbearance. Your thought can and will make a difference if a difference is sought. Rather than seeing or hearing irritating things, look for things of beauty instead. Everything has its fine points.

    "Why is it that I allow [him or her] to irritate me?" may very well be a profitable line of inquiry.
    riverflow
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited August 2013
    zenmyste said:

    To the OP; so we're just supposed to allow them to carry on doing hurtful, irritating things and we are just suppose to 'imagin' them suffering, dying of cancer and imagin them crying because they 'dont want to die'... And thats suppose to make everything ok.............. Erm... yeh ok!


    Someone being mean to you because they are having a bad day, I would not consider to be hurtful. :) If they are out there mugging people at gunpoint, that is a different story! If you think you can stop someone from being mean, by being mean back to them, you have a misunderstanding of how this all works!
    zenmyste said:

    Instead ive got a better way on how to deal with people who are irritating............ Take no more crap, and cut them out of your life! Simple as that...

    Good advice to a certain extent. The Buddha recommended to only keep "noble friends". However, that does not work with people who are not "in your life" to begin with!

  • seeker242 said:

    ..... If you can conjure up this imagery you can tap into that underlying genuine concern and bring it to the forefront thereby shifting your focus of attention from what is "inappropriate" to what is "appropriate". It's like pulling a weed out of the garden the moment it sprouts up. When the weed has just sprouted, it's quite easy to uproot. The roots are very shallow and it comes right out. But if you let the weed sit there and grow for a while, the roots grow deeper, become more established and it becomes more difficult to uproot it. The trick is to uproot it as soon as it sprouts. This of course requires "right mindfulness" or the ability to remember to do this as soon as the weed sprouts up.

    From experience I'd say this is the difficult part, that is, having the mindfulness to put the brakes on the chain of angry thoughts quickly before anger has gathered strength. I like the simile of pulling the weed. I think it certainly is very true that the longer we "nourish" anger by giving "unwise attention" to objects causing anger, then the more difficult it becomes to overcome that anger. Meditation practice has definitely helped me in this area, shortening the time it takes me to become aware of my anger and remembering to uproot it.

    As for directing wise attention to loving-kindness and compassion, I think that works very well as you say. Quite often I also like to do a reflection on karma as well. I think this is a good alternative or supplementary theme to attend to for those of us who believe in karma. What I normally do is simply to tell myself that it isn't right to blame the other person for doing something that made me angry because ultimately I am just experiencing the fruit of some action I had myself done in the past. Then I will also reflect on the fact that if I react with anger, then this is just planting more seeds for further suffering in the future. I find this kind of reflection is also effective. It is particularly useful in cases where the object of your anger is someone whom you normally have some trouble developing loving-kindness and compassion towards.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    What I normally do is simply to tell myself that it isn't right to blame the other person for doing something that made me angry because ultimately I am just experiencing the fruit of some action I had myself done in the past. Then I will also reflect on the fact that if I react with anger, then this is just planting more seeds for further suffering in the future. I find this kind of reflection is also effective.

    That sounds effective. :) I reflect on a similar theme sometimes. Not my karma but the karma of the other person. For example, the other person acting they way they are acting is simply their karma playing itself out. Not exactly appropriate to blame another person simply for having their karma play itself out. No one chooses to be ignorant and make bad karma, which later plays itself out. Their agitated state of mind is simply the fruit of their karma. It makes no sense to blame someone simply for experiencing the fruits of their own karma.

  • karmablueskarmablues Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Yes, I also do that sometimes. Though I consider that as part of a loving-kindness/compassion strategy where I try to feel sorry for the other person having accumulated those negative tendencies that s/he has not yet been able to overcome and will also have to continue suffering because of those tendencies. The angle that I described earlier - the "I am the heir of my past actions" one - inclines the mind towards equanimity, a kind of just-accept-things-as-they-are attitude.
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