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Cultivating metta or craving

ZaniaZania Explorer
edited August 2016 in Buddhism Basics

What exactly is the difference between intentionally trying to cultivate positive mind states/feelings/emotions using metta practice and craving for something other than what is present? How do I know if my metta practice isn't just more aversion and craving?

personSuiseki7

Comments

  • 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

    Metta includes everyone, you see, meet, know, like and love.
    It also includes those you feel neutral, dislike and intense animosity for.
    But primarily, above all else, before you can truly convey heartfelt Metta, you must direct it at yourself.

    Because if complete unconditional Love is something you cannot have for yourself, its cultivation for others will be much harder....

    karastiZenshinlobsterShoshin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited August 2016

    Metta isn't the absence of negative feelings. It is, in part, recognizing that Metta encompasses those things as well. It is working to expand that Metta to other people, including those who are the most challenging. I actually had to start outside of myself, because I didn't love myself very much. I couldn't relate to loving myself the same way I love my children, or my parents. So I started with them and worked on myself and then expanded it outward.

    I had an interesting discussion with a family member recently about whether love truly has an opposite. I don't think it does. Metta is the same. I don't think you have to worry that you might be doing the opposite of Metta. Because it just is. This is what my uncle had to say about it. He is Sufi and not Buddhist, but there are many similarities.

    "Love permeates the Universe. As one Sufi teacher said, "Love is the 'glue' that holds everything together." And he did meant absolutely everything. In this sense, everything we know and experience is a manifestation of Love. The ideal is to be completely open to the flow of Love. It is also an opportunity and a privilege to be able to direct the flow of Love to where it is most needed, whether within one's self or in some other being or place, and such direction produces a concentration that brings healing and peace."

    I think of Metta as much the same, I guess. I practice it not to push away anything else, but to come to a fuller understanding that it is all there is if you chose to let it be and let it flow.

    ZenshinlobsterJeroen
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Zania said:
    What exactly is the difference between intentionally trying to cultivate positive mind states/feelings/emotions using metta practice and craving for something other than what is present? How do I know if my metta practice isn't just more aversion and craving?

    Something is considered to bring happiness in Buddhism if the more we have of it the happier we become.

    The more metta we cultivate for ourselves and others, the happier we become.

    Don't worry about the aversion and craving questions.

    personDavidnamarupa
  • The Sufi tradition works from the heart, just as the Buddhist tradition is more mind orientated.

    Metta as @Karasti rightly says in its ultimate form has no opposite. Just as Nirvana is samsara. This emptying of duality into oneness and ultimately 'the Truth that surpasses all words', is our plan.

    Imagine a plan that shared itself and became in each a manifestation of its sharing. Wouldn't you just love that?

    @Bunks said:

    The more metta we cultivate for ourselves and others, the happier we become.

    Don't worry about the aversion and craving questions.

    We haz plan! We are the plan ...

  • ZaniaZania Explorer

    Ok so thanks for your answers but nobody has really answered my question. My question is not asking what is it or how to do it. Telling me to not worry about it and just do it is also not really answering my specific question.
    If I feel unhappy and I do metta practice to try to feel happier what is the difference between that and wanting to avoid how I feel and feel something else?

    Is the difference perhaps that with metta practice I am accepting where I am at with kindness and compassion whether that be sad, lonely, angry etc instead of hating it and wanting to feel something else? So I am kind towards myself despite feeling shitty and knowing that this too is impermanent I cultivate positive thoughts and feelings which may or may not change how I feel?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I don't really know how else to explain it. If you are practicing metta with an open heart and mind, then it is quite different from avoiding your feelings and pushing them away. Metta means accepting how you are feeling and experiencing love and compassion no matter whether you identify the feeling as good or bad. It means letting go of those labels and just experiencing. So if you are "doing" Metta, then you aren't avoiding anything. You are accepting everything and loving yourself without trying to replace what you are feeling.

    Zanialobster
  • ZaniaZania Explorer

    @karasti said:
    I don't really know how else to explain it. If you are practicing metta with an open heart and mind, then it is quite different from avoiding your feelings and pushing them away. Metta means accepting how you are feeling and experiencing love and compassion no matter whether you identify the feeling as good or bad. It means letting go of those labels and just experiencing. So if you are "doing" Metta, then you aren't avoiding anything. You are accepting everything and loving yourself without trying to replace what you are feeling.

    I think "accepting how you are feeling" are the operative words that sum it up.

    Bunkslobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Zania said: If I feel unhappy and I do metta practice to try to feel happier what is the difference between that and wanting to avoid how I feel and feel something else?

    This previous thread might be of interest: http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/23932/do-you-just-accept-your-current-state-of-mind-or-do-you-try-to-change-it

    Bunks
  • 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 further see 'accepting' as acknowledging, allowing and embracing. It means seeing your whole, and appreciating that this is it, and it develops from here.
    There's an awful lot of talk currently on "I" and "Self" but in my opinion, before we even get to thinking of the dualistic concepts of our existence, we've first got to get down to the nitty-gritty of seeing ourselves as we really are, now. shift all that esoteric, deep philosophical bundle of tumbleweed to one side for the moment, and just allow yourself to appreciate your present existence.
    Your past got you to here. Something could have gone very, very wrong, but here you are; something went very, very right.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    There are lots of different teachings and qualities to be developed. Accepting and seeing things as they are is only one aspect of Buddhism, it helps develop equanimity and insight. Another important part is developing the heart, so I'd say both are true for different reasons.

    On the other hand though one certainly could use pleasant meditative states as a kind of escapism, trying to avoid unpleasant emotions. Walking the path requires discernment and wisdom to know which is which.

    JeroenlobsterShoshin
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Zania said:
    What exactly is the difference between intentionally trying to cultivate positive mind states/feelings/emotions using metta practice and craving for something other than what is present?

    I think trying to cultivate these things with metta practice shows that you are compassionate and are only nurturing what is already within you.

    How do I know if my metta practice isn't just more aversion and craving?

    Those words sound so negative... A desire for positive change for yourself and others is a good thing.

    Isn't that really why Buddha decided not to waste a perfectly good dharma body by letting it rot under a tree?

    Bunks
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @Zania said:

    @karasti said:
    I don't really know how else to explain it. If you are practicing metta with an open heart and mind, then it is quite different from avoiding your feelings and pushing them away. Metta means accepting how you are feeling and experiencing love and compassion no matter whether you identify the feeling as good or bad. It means letting go of those labels and just experiencing. So if you are "doing" Metta, then you aren't avoiding anything. You are accepting everything and loving yourself without trying to replace what you are feeling.

    I think "accepting how you are feeling" are the operative words that sum it up.

    I think it is also about what happens to your previous mind state when you turn your mind to the practice of metta. If you push away what was there and it's root causes are unresolved, then you may be avoiding. Although metta can go quite deep, it has a hard time changing another mind state that has deep roots in you.

    In terms of craving, you can generally recognise craving in yourself. You can kind of tease it out, by holding in front of yourself the promise, we're going to do metta in another five minutes. Just keep doing that, and see if impatience and a greater degree of craving arises. If it doesn't and you just feel equanimity, then you are on the right path.

    It is not wrong to follow a path to more positive mind states, as long as one doesn't fall prey to the temptation to dwell in them all the time. Pleasant mind states can operate as a kind of rose tinted glasses, making everything seem alright while clear vision and discernment may be signalling something differently. Discernment ultimately has to take priority over the pursuit of pleasure.

  • ZaniaZania Explorer

    @David said:

    @Zania said:
    What exactly is the difference between intentionally trying to cultivate positive mind states/feelings/emotions using metta practice and craving for something other than what is present?

    I think trying to cultivate these things with metta practice shows that you are compassionate and are only nurturing what is already within you.

    How do I know if my metta practice isn't just more aversion and craving?

    Those words sound so negative... A desire for positive change for yourself and others is a good thing.

    Isn't that really why Buddha decided not to waste a perfectly good dharma body by letting it rot under a tree?

    Buddhism is so full of paradoxes that it's easy to get confused sometimes

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    It is @Zania and it takes some time to untangle things.

    I'd suggest (as soon as you are ready) that you try and focus on one tradition and even possibly one teacher. I found before I did this I felt a little overwhelmed and bombarded with different points of view / interpretations.

  • Well said @person.
    We are not trying to enter la la land or euphoria. Very nice if they happen but we can become addicted.
    One of the most difficult things to understand is this intense practice without goal. In other words we are intense in application but soft on success or failure.

    person
  • @Zania said:
    What exactly is the difference between intentionally trying to cultivate positive mind states/feelings/emotions using metta practice and craving for something other than what is present? How do I know if my metta practice isn't just more aversion and craving?

    I'd say your heart knows.

    One is an expansion of the heart (compassion). The other is fear (craving).

    DairyLama
  • "And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html

    There is desire and there is craving. It is important to know the difference. As you can see in this sutta, desire is actually needed here to have right effort. Not all desires are bad. It is natural to desire happiness and change from something undesirable. Desire is not the issue.

    Cravings (tanha) are things that are nearly impossible for us to let go of. It is used to describe a kind of thirst where if something does not quench that thirst, the consequences are extreme, and of an epic scale. Our attachment to our looks or appearance is an example. If something were to alter our looks, we will have an extreme craving for a change to our original appearance.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Zania said:
    What exactly is the difference between intentionally trying to cultivate positive mind states/feelings/emotions using metta practice and craving for something other than what is present? How do I know if my metta practice isn't just more aversion and craving?

    You will just know @Zania ...

    Many of us first start out on the fake it till you make it Metta trail...

    After a while one might gradually begins to experience an overall sense of well being, that comes from having an heartfelt/genuine wish/desire for others to be happy/free from suffering...

    Like many Buddhist practices, transformation is a gradual subtle process,( change creeps up on you and the next thing you know this change 'is' you) like replacing the old with the new kind of way of experiencing/seeing things...

    Relax slow down and enjoy the journey of non self discovery....

    lobster
  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran
    edited August 2016

    I think it is practice and not a craving to make our habit to be pleasant to everyone even to them who behaved very bad with us. Whenever we are not good for others in our thoughts or action it is harming us more than that particular person.
    In this way we create more blockage in our body which leads to health issues.

    lobster
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