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Let's ease off on the "metta", please

LincLinc Community InstigatorDetroit Moderator

Folks, we seem to have a meta metta disease around these parts. :anguished:

Wikipedia said:
Mettā or maitrī means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, good will, and active interest in others. It is the first of the four sublime states and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism.

Mettā is a spiritual term that is a part of practice, making it a technical term on a forum about Buddhism. It's not a natural-language thing most of you grew up with (or else you wouldn't be a "new" Buddhist now would you?). I bet many (most?) of you don't say it when hanging out with friends or family. It's an "in" term for communities like this one.

Here's the problem. It's so easy to say or hear it as sanctimonious. It's a meta-description of what your words SHOULD be instead of what they ARE. I think using it in discussions where you're disagreeing with someone is dangerous and should be highly examined.

I've seen too many Buddhist communities where folks stab each other and then write "Metta" like that makes it OK. It's not. And I'd like us to step back from this idea that by writing "Metta" you're acting within in. If you want to embody Metta, it takes tremendous amount of effort to think about the various tones and ways each post could be made. To sign a post with "Metta" trivializes that effort and is certainly not the essence of it.

You don't look more Buddhist by writing "Much Metta", you look far far less. Be kind, don't wish for it.

CarlitaDhammaDragonSnakeskinFosdickkarastipersonHozanDavidDhammika

Comments

  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited November 26

    This is not a ban on saying "metta" to each other. I'm just requesting greater discretion for its use thru a little personal introspection, not granting license to call each other out on it.

    Snakeskin
  • CarlitaCarlita Om Vajrasattva Hum United States Veteran
    edited November 26

    @Linc said:
    Folks, we seem to have a meta metta disease around these parts. :anguished:

    Wikipedia said:
    Mettā or maitrī means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, good will, and active interest in others. It is the first of the four sublime states and one of the ten pāramīs of the Theravāda school of Buddhism.

    Mettā is a spiritual term that is a part of practice, making it a technical term on a forum about Buddhism. It's not a natural-language thing most of you grew up with (or else you wouldn't be a "new" Buddhist now would you?). I bet many (most?) of you don't say it when hanging out with friends or family. It's an "in" term for communities like this one.

    Here's the problem. It's so easy to say or hear it as sanctimonious. It's a meta-description of what your words SHOULD be instead of what they ARE. I think using it in discussions where you're disagreeing with someone is dangerous and should be highly examined.

    I've seen too many Buddhist communities where folks stab each other and then write "Metta" like that makes it OK. It's not. And I'd like us to step back from this idea that by writing "Metta" you're acting within in. If you want to embody Metta, it takes tremendous amount of effort to think about the various tones and ways each post could be made. To sign a post with "Metta" trivializes that effort and is certainly not the essence of it.

    You don't look more Buddhist by writing "Much Metta", you look far far less. Be kind, don't wish for it.

    You have a point.

    Metta is only the Pali term of love and kindness. If you translate it in English, what Id be more concerned with is why would one say they have love and kindness for a person but at the same time be negative or saracstic in speech; online tone of voice is off probably over fifty percent of the time. Its contradicting the nature of why one would say love and kindness when the words dont reflect it.

    Even more so, when we are told we are hurt, defensiveness goes up. Metta is a word and most appropriately in specific situations but in the other hand the real issue isnt the word but if people really have love and kindness behind their posts. Its also easy to be attached to words based on religion, culture, and healthy pride. Something well acknowledge and also somethjng maybe to watch out for.

    Not many people are "formal" buddhist. Many havent formally taken the five precepts in full and have teachers to show them (and us) what is culturally correct way of practicing the Dharma And that does not mean anything about our spiritual growth.

    It is one thing to be concerned with individuals using the word metta. Its another to question how we practice The Dharma based on how we all react to people on an internet forum.

    I dislike it too. On another site, one man says "hugs" me but disagrees at the same time. Its inappropriate but a concern that could be presented differently without offending a non-cultured buddhist path on The Dharma.

    Also, in English it may seem like an insult. Other countries may not be. Depends on the culture and worldview of the buddhist convert. Inside And Outside western culture.

    Snakeskin
  • techietechie India Veteran
    edited November 26

    @Linc said:

    I've seen too many Buddhist communities where folks stab each other and then write "Metta" like that makes it OK.

    Metta is the Buddhist version of 'No offense, dude.'

    LincShoshinSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @techie said:

    @Linc said:

    I've seen too many Buddhist communities where folks stab each other and then write "Metta" like that makes it OK.

    Metta is the Buddhist version of 'No offense, dude.'

    You haven't paid attention to a single word, have you?
    That's precisely what it is NOT a version of.

    image

    DhammaDragonSnakeskin
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator

    I hope, @federica, you may be taking @techie too literally. I didn't read that as a contradiction of what I was saying but rather furthering the point - that it's become a mindless tack-on we should avoid. That's how I chose to read it, anyway. :glasses:

    CarlitaSnakeskinperson
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    @Linc, I found your post incisive, refreshing, right up to the last sentence, where I think you misspoke: “Be kind, don’t [just] wish for it.” The rest reminds me of what writers say: "Show, don't tell."

    DhammaDragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Linc said:
    I hope, @federica, you may be taking @techie too literally. I didn't read that as a contradiction of what I was saying but rather furthering the point - that it's become a mindless tack-on we should avoid. That's how I chose to read it, anyway. :glasses:

    I probably am. It wouldn't be the first time. I must get off my toes...!

    Snakeskin
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator

    @Snakeskin said:
    I think you misspoke: “Be kind, don’t [just] wish for it.”

    I felt that was implicit, but yes, that's a clearer rendering of what I meant.

    Speaking of the difficulty of communicating. :chuffed:

    Snakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Um Metta......

    Perhaps for the members concerned its a case of .....

    "Fake it till you make it !"

    LincSnakeskinDhammaDragonHozan
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    (We need a 'like' button.

    Just sayin'....)

    SnakeskinHozan
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator

    @Shoshin said:
    Perhaps for the members concerned its a case of ..... "Fake it till you make it!"

    A funny sentiment, but let's take care to not wag fingers. It's very easy to turn a discussion about our culture into a discussion about individuals, but only one of those discussions is productive to have.

    Perhaps overusing metta is a case of "Fake it till you make it!"

    That's funny without singling out folks.

    Perhaps us overusing metta is a case of "Fake it till you make it!"

    That's funny while taking responsibility for something greater than yourself, which is what communities are built on.

    I've never signed anything with 'metta' but whatever it's symptomatic of is my own issue as much as it is anyone else's because I help define what this place values.

    Anyway, apologies for belaboring your point, it was simply a useful illustration for me to play with it a bit.

    Snakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    No worries :) ...and Metta back at ya ;)

    LincSnakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Interesting post @Linc thanks for it! It brings to mind to me a bit of passive aggressiveness when it's used in discussions where people are arguing. Like when some say "bless your heart" when they mean "fricky frack you are annoying" or when people declare they will be praying for you to see things their way. It's just so hard to know intention. I do think there are people here who use it like @DhammaDragon mentions or people who truly mean it when they say it. But it does seem to be mindless mention a lot of the time, the same way we sign a letter as "warm regards" when we are angry.

    SnakeskinDhammaDragonHozan
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Did someone mention signing letters....?

    Snakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited November 26

    It’s only something of the last few weeks though, since @bunks week-of-metta challenge. o:)

    May you be well. May you be happy.

    ( Which sounds completely different... there’s something about the brevity of just metta that makes it sometimes sound a bit off-the-cuff and casual. Thanks for the timely reminder @linc )

    CarlitaSnakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:

    Signing off posts with a "metta" is to me a way to tell my interlocutor that even if we disagree, we do not need to harbour ill-feelings.

    Also subconsciously it could be that we use it as a subtle reminder to our self that is...

    Perhaps it's something that we wish for but are not always able to fulfil...
    The mind is more often than not charmed by its negative thoughts (somebody says something we disagree with-it rubs us up the wrong way) and using Metta as a mind space filler softens this negativity somewhat...

    Or perhaps I'm just wishful thinking (in a Metta Kinda way ;) )

    SnakeskinDhammaDragonlobsterHozan
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I like this link. I'm thinking of printing it out (somehow! I have no printer and only a crappy chromebook!) and putting it on my wall....

    SnakeskinDhammaDragonHozan
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    It’s only something of the last few weeks though, since @bunks week-of-metta challenge. o:)

    Ah. yes. When in doubt, blame the Aussie! =)

    ShoshinSnakeskin
  • techietechie India Veteran
    edited November 27

    @Linc said:
    I hope, @federica, you may be taking @techie too literally. I didn't read that as a contradiction of what I was saying but rather furthering the point - that it's become a mindless tack-on we should avoid. That's how I chose to read it, anyway. :glasses:

    Exactly. I was trying to reinforce your point.

    Anyway, metta to @federica. ;)

    Linc
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Bunks said:

    @Kerome said:
    It’s only something of the last few weeks though, since @bunks week-of-metta challenge. o:)

    Ah. yes. When in doubt, blame the Aussie! =)

    Collective Aussie 'convict'- karma perhaps... ;) :lol:

    DhammaDragonHozan
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    @Bunks said:

    @Kerome said:
    It’s only something of the last few weeks though, since @bunks week-of-metta challenge. o:)

    Ah. yes. When in doubt, blame the Aussie! =)

    Collective Aussie 'convict'- karma perhaps... ;) :lol:

    Yep! Convicts on both sides of the family....hide the cutlery if I come for dinner :)

    ShoshinDhammaDragonHozan
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran
    edited November 27

    @techie said:
    Exactly. I was trying to reinforce your point.
    Anyway, metta to @federica. ;)

    Was that a sincere metta-ful wish, @techie, or are you yet once again trying to illustrate for us the example of mindless tack-on?

    Snakeskin
  • @Linc said:
    Folks, we seem to have a meta metta disease around these parts. :anguished:

    The only cure is metta o:)

    DhammaDragonHozanShoshinSnakeskin
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator

    @DhammaDragon said:
    Was that a sincere metta-ful wish, @techie, or are you yet once again trying to illustrate for us the example of mindless tack-on?

    He literally tacked it on via edit AND added a wink emoji. Do we need a special checkbox to self-indicate when someone is goofing? :grin:

  • techietechie India Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:

    @techie said:
    Exactly. I was trying to reinforce your point.
    Anyway, metta to @federica. ;)

    Was that a sincere metta-ful wish, @techie, or are you yet once again trying to illustrate for us the example of mindless tack-on?

    Yes.

    Metta to you too, @DhammaDragon. ;)

    Snakeskin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran
    edited November 27

    @Linc said:
    He literally tacked it on via edit AND added a wink emoji. Do we need a special checkbox to self-indicate when someone is goofing? :grin:

    Edited and deleted
    ;)

    One thing is clear to me now: the word "metta" has a clashing ring when we know the intention of the user does not match the words.
    I'll be more selective in my use of it in the future <3

    BunksHozankarasti
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:

    @Linc said:
    He literally tacked it on via edit AND added a wink emoji. Do we need a special checkbox to self-indicate when someone is goofing? :grin:

    Edited and deleted
    ;)

    One thing is clear to me now: the word "metta" has a clashing ring when we know the intention of the user does not match the words.
    I'll be more selective in my use of it in the future <3

    Me too.

    DhammaDragonkarasti
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Does it even make sense to wish Metta to one person at a time?

    I always thought it was a one-to-all kind of thing like a natural reaction to having the borders fall away.

    I guess it can be translated as loving kindness but it just seems off somehow.

    Maybe it's one of those things like there's metta and then there's Metta.

    O.o

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @David said:
    Does it even make sense to wish Metta to one person at a time?

    I always thought it was a one-to-all kind of thing like a natural reaction to having the borders fall away.

    I guess it can be translated as loving kindness but it just seems off somehow.

    Maybe it's one of those things like there's metta and then there's Metta.

    O.o

    I think perhaps everyone's going a bit overboard now. We got chastised, don't post with metta on here anymore. No biggie...

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited November 28

    @dhammachick said:

    @David said:
    Does it even make sense to wish Metta to one person at a time?

    I always thought it was a one-to-all kind of thing like a natural reaction to having the borders fall away.

    I guess it can be translated as loving kindness but it just seems off somehow.

    Maybe it's one of those things like there's metta and then there's Metta.

    O.o

    I think perhaps everyone's going a bit overboard now. We got chastised, don't post with metta on here anymore. No biggie...

    Where is that rolling eyes icon?

    Did that really need to be said?

    Maybe you were chastised but I wasn't and it is an honest question which I didn't think warranted it's own thread.

    I will post Metta if I choose as I do not use it sarcastically or willy-nilly, thank you very much.

  • techietechie India Veteran
    edited November 28

    This thread is about easing off on metta.

    And yet it's now overflowing with metta.

    Is metta beginning to sound strange to you? O.o

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited November 28

    If we cultivated Metta in a skillful way we wouldn't have to use it as a word except to explain the meaning every now and then or when it's the focus.

    I will try to make it more apparent in my words from here on in but make no mistake, I love you all.

    KeromeDhammaDragonCarlita
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Perhaps @Linc was using Reverse Psychology ;) :lol:

    DavidCarlita
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @David said:
    If we cultivated Metta in a skillful way we wouldn't have to use it as a word except to explain the meaning every now and then or when it's the focus.

    I will try to make it more apparent in my words from here on in.

    That is certainly true... often the use of “with metta” is more an indicator that possibly the writer has not skilfully expressed himself above by saying things that perhaps came across as harsh, with as a result that the whole message now contains contradictory elements.

    In such a case it is better to go and revise the original message so that it does speak of gentleness and kindness. Often the temptation in communication is to “beat the other person over the head with the stick of words” to make sure the message goes in, but that is basically a shock tactic that is unworthy of a good Buddhist communicator.

    DhammaDragonperson
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @David said:
    If we cultivated Metta in a skillful way we wouldn't have to use it as a word except to explain the meaning every now and then or when it's the focus.

    I will try to make it more apparent in my words from here on in.

    That is certainly true... often the use of “with metta” is more an indicator that possibly the writer has not skilfully expressed himself above by saying things that perhaps came across as harsh, with as a result that the whole message now contains contradictory elements.

    In such a case it is better to go and revise the original message so that it does speak of gentleness and kindness. Often the temptation in communication is to “beat the other person over the head with the stick of words” to make sure the message goes in, but that is basically a shock tactic that is unworthy of a good Buddhist communicator.

    To hit your point home, while you were typing, I was editing.

    I need work.

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @techie said:
    This thread is about easing off on metta.

    And yet it's now overflowing with metta.

    Is metta beginning to sound strange to you? O.o

    You should know firsthand, @techie, since you have used the word several times already on the thread.
    I must own that the word sounds suspicious coming from the mouth of certain individuals, especially when we cannot be sure if the general drift is ironic or sarcastic, as is their usual style.

    Hi, @David <3
    I don't want to put words into people's mouths, but I have the feeling @dhammachick was not referring to your post in particular.

    I also had a feeling of being scolded about our use and overuse of the word "metta," though the idea of the thread is probably more to serve as reminder that the use of the word should really stem from a good intention on our part or not.

    dhammachickDavidHozan
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:

    Hi, @David <3
    I don't want to put words into people's mouths, but I have the feeling @dhammachick was not referring to your post in particular.

    :+1:

    DhammaDragon
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Sorry @Dhammachick I shouldn't have even been awake to take undue offense. This time of year screws me over.

    DhammaDragonlobster
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