2008.09.15 13:00 - Metta

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    I, Pema, received the following commented log from Stim, who asked me to put it up. I provided the title. From here on the comments are Stim's.

    Brief comments by Stim Morane, even though the others in the group were far more prominent in directing the discussion

    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Stim.
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Umbriel
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Fael
    Adelene Dawner: Hi, folks.
    Stim Morane: HI!
    Fael Illyar: dHi Adelene, Stim, Quilty :)
    Adelene Dawner: Fael is floofy. ^.^
    Umbriel Levenque: Metta
    Fael Illyar is floofy 'Yay!'
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes. Very floofy. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Extranjero
    Stim Morane: Hi Extranjero, welcome
    Fael Illyar: Hello Extranjero :)
    Quilty Bookmite: And bye. :-)
    Wol Euler: good afternoo neveryone
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Wol
    Stim Morane: Hi Wol
    Fael Illyar: Hi Wol :)
    Umbriel Levenque: Metta
    Stim Morane: Yes?

    My query re “metta” was hasty. I thought perhaps Umbriel was raising a point for discussion. My mistake ended up aiming the entire session in the direction of this tradition term for benevolence, and the issue of emotions.

    Quilty Bookmite: Nice wings Wol.
    Stim Morane: Yes, interesting
    Wol Euler smiles. thank you. I found this in my inventory and had no idea waht it was :-)
    Wol Euler: clearly I have too much stuff.
    Umbriel Levenque: :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: Thanks for wearing the tag. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: I must start doing something with that group once I have some time.
    Wol Euler: :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: Need to call a meeting I think.
    Fael Illyar: Hi Threedee :)
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Threedee.
    Umbriel Levenque: Metta
    Wol Euler: hello 3d
    Quilty Bookmite: 4.5 for artistic impression.
    Stim Morane: Hi Threedee
    Adelene Dawner: ^.^
    Stim Morane: OK, yes, let's start
    Stim Morane: Is there a topic that anyone would like to discuss?
    Threedee Shepherd: hi folks
    Stim Morane: I briefly thought Umbriel was suggesting the Buddhist term metta as such a topic, sorry for the confusion.
    Umbriel Levenque: :-) still could be a good topic may I say
    Wol Euler nods, and reaches for her wikipedia
    Fael Illyar: Yes, it could be :)
    Stim Morane: Yes, certainly. But I should leave it up to all of you.
    Quilty Bookmite: I'm happy to discuss it.
    Fael Illyar: should?
    Stim Morane: Would you like to start, then, Quilty?
    Quilty Bookmite: Not really. :-)
    Stim Morane: :)
    Stim Morane: Oh well.
    Faenik: could be
    Quilty Bookmite: The term Metta isn;t used much in my tradition which tends to translate most things.
    Stim Morane: Yes, I know.
    Quilty Bookmite: They prefer to talk about loving-kindness which may not be an accurate translation.
    Adelene Dawner: Wikipedia says: Mettā (Pāli) or maitrī (Sanskrit) has been translated as "loving-kindness,"1]2] "friendliness,"3]4]5] "benevolence,"4]2] "amity,"3] "friendship,"4] "good will,"4] "kindness,"6] "love,"3] "sympathy,"3] and "active interest in others."3] It is one of the ten pāramitās of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four Brahmavihāras. The mettā bhāvanā ("cultivation of mettā") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism.
    Stim Morane: Yup
    Quilty Bookmite: Thanks Adelene. I was looking at that as well. :-)
    Wol Euler nods
    Umbriel Levenque: Metta is often used in Theravadan traditions
    Fael Illyar: so it's the kind of love you can feel towards anything ... compassion?
    Stim Morane: technically that would be a slightly different term, karuna
    Stim Morane: But it's in the same set.
    Fael Illyar: what's the difference?

    We didn’t pursue this question regarding the difference between metta and karuna here, although some interest was expressed. But we could return to it.

    Adelene Dawner hmms and tries to work out a good personally-comprehensible definition.
    Stim Morane: to answer would require a discussion about the background of the terms. Is that were we want to go, today?
    Faenik: why not?
    Adelene Dawner: "Positive, nonthreatening, supportive social presentness" seems about right to me...?
    Wol Euler: sure, why not.
    Fael Illyar: yes, sure, let's talk about that :)
    Stim Morane: Well it always is going to come down to the issue of dealing with the ordinary grasping, selfish mind.
    Stim Morane: This mind has its own tendencies, habits, range.
    Stim Morane: Meditation is concerned with becoming aware of that range and its consequences, and finding more authentic alternatives.
    Stim Morane: This is where the 4 brahmaviharas come in, for some groups
    Wol Euler: (Adelene, that sounds pretty good to me)
    Faenik: なるほど^^
    Stim Morane: They are "positive", compared to the usual stuff like anger, etc
    Stim Morane: In fact, cultivation of things like sympathetic joy in others' good fortune, kindness etc., were not emphasized by some of the early traditions.
    Stim Morane: It's a matter of emphasis and orientation. I don't know where PaB would come down on this ...
    Quilty Bookmite: Does PaB have an opinion on it?
    Threedee Shepherd: Perhaps for later, I ask whether "anger" itself is negative, or are there negative things we do in response to our own anger?
    Fael Illyar: PaB doesn't have opinions :)
    Stim Morane: I sometimes wonder about that ...
    Stim Morane: But I'll defer to your judgment.

    The issue of whether PaB has its own inner directive is interesting to me.

    Adelene Dawner: Three brings up a good topic - my thought is that anger is not always, or even usually, negative, though it can have negative consequences.
    Quilty Bookmite: Well, individuals in PaB certainly have opinions. :-)
    Umbriel Levenque: So emotions are not inherently negative. Is this what you mean Adelene?
    Fael Illyar: Quilty, yes, of course.
    Adelene Dawner: Yes-and, Umbriel.
    Stim Morane: And perhaps PaB as a self-organizing thing has a direction, yet to be discerned.
    Wol Euler: experience it and let it go, ThreeD?
    Fael Illyar: negativity and positivity is ultimately a matter judgement.
    Threedee Shepherd: mmhmm
    Wol Euler: mmhmm
    Threedee Shepherd: exactly, Quilty
    Adelene Dawner: It all depends on what you do with it, really. How much weight you give it and what you use it as an excuse for.
    Quilty Bookmite: It's really what you do with them that's important.
    Stim Morane: I am intrigued to wach my avatar hard at work typing when I haven't actually been touching the keyboard
    Adelene Dawner: Current example:
    Quilty Bookmite: SL is playing up today.
    Adelene Dawner: BF and I are having a rough time right now, and I'm really angry at him about some things he's been doing. If I use that anger as an excuse to be vindictive or try to hurt him, that's negative. If I use it to focus myself on trying to fix the problems, that's positive.
    Adelene Dawner: But the anger IS, either way.
    Wol Euler nods
    Quilty Bookmite: Anger is a difficult one. It clouds your judgement very effectively.
    Adelene Dawner: If you let it, yes.
    Stim Morane: Yes, and it's very instructive for that reason.
    Stim Morane: I like to use it as an example.

    Anger is in fact one of my favorite examples of various features of the mind and the need for some sort of meditation practice. But here the discussion took a more varied and complex cast.

    Adelene Dawner will back out of this segment of the discussion, as she has an unusual experience of emotions in general and her examples are likely to be less than useful.
    Wol Euler finds your examples and analyses spot.on.
    Quilty Bookmite: I suspect your experiences would be more useful than you think Adelene.
    Threedee Shepherd: If you know "any" emotion "clouds judgement" (and perhaps in some sense ALL emotions do. perhaps a good habit to cultivate is not to *respond* immediately, before further reflection.
    Quilty Bookmite: Anger is one of the 3 poisons in Buddhism.
    Adelene Dawner: I don't experience emotions as clouding my judgement in general... even strong ones...
    Quilty Bookmite: So maybe it is more than just an emotion.
    Adelene Dawner: hm
    Adelene Dawner: a thought.
    Adelene Dawner: It seems that most people's reactions to emotion, especially strong emotion and especially anger, is to try to 'get rid of' the emotion - change the situation to the point where the emotion isn't being experienced. I don't do that. Maybe that's the difference.
    Faenik loves wells!
    Quilty Bookmite: I think that is healthy Adelene.
    Stim Morane: Yes, well certainly getting rid of the function of one's nature is not an ideal approach
    Wol Euler: hmm
    Quilty Bookmite: Better to see where the emotion is coming from.
    Stim Morane: and of course it's probably not possible either
    Faenik: ah :)
    Adelene Dawner: Well, it's kind of possible, Stim. If I were to walk away from the relationship in anger, move on, and forget about it, I wouldn't be angry any more. But that's not an ideal solution by a long shot and would definitely hurt BF.
    Stim Morane: I see.
    Quilty Bookmite: Well, that's still letting the anger control you're actions.
    Faenik: could be
    Adelene Dawner: Yup. And I'm not going to do that. But I know that a lot of people would in this kind of situation.
    Threedee Shepherd: Quilty, perhaps it is choosing you action in response to the anger, which is different than being controlled by it?
    Wol Euler: perpahs the problem with intense emotion is just that: it makes us seek quick solutions rather than good ones.
    Adelene Dawner: Yup, Wol. That was my point.
    Quilty Bookmite: How is that different threedee?
    Wol Euler: (reformulating for my own understanding :-)
    Adelene Dawner: ^.^
    Faenik: indeed?
    Threedee Shepherd: reflection versus reflex, everything we do is *caused* or influenced by something that came before.
    Quilty Bookmite: If you're action is in response to the emotion you are still letting it control you.
    Fael Illyar: Hi Corvi :)
    Wol Euler is not sure. I feel that there is a difference, but can'T quite put my finger on it.
    Adelene Dawner: I'm with Three on that, actually.
    Umbriel Levenque: Metta
    Wol Euler: hello corvi!
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Corvi.
    Adelene Dawner: You can take an emotion into account without letting it be the sole factor in what you do.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: /hi all
    Stim Morane: Hi Corvuscorva!
    Quilty Bookmite: What validity does the emotion have?
    Threedee Shepherd: An emotion IS

    Threedee’s point here is one that was echoed several times in what follows. And it would have yet other forms of expression and significance in more traditional expositions.

    Adelene Dawner: Indeed
    Threedee Shepherd: that is different than any judgements about it
    Quilty Bookmite: That doesn't make it valid.
    Threedee Shepherd: breathing is valid
    Wol Euler: what does valid mean in this context?
    Adelene Dawner: You seem to be saying that emotions aren't valid, Quilty; Why?
    Quilty Bookmite: Thinking of how to express this. :-)
    Fael Illyar: what makes it invalid?
    Adelene Dawner needs to afk for 10 minutes or so.
    Quilty Bookmite: If you take an action based on an emotion then you are implicitly saying that the emotion is somehow important in determining the right action.
    Quilty Bookmite: OK.
    Umbriel Levenque ponders on Threedee's comment, "an emotion is"
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: so...you are saying that it might BE....but is not a basis for action?
    Quilty Bookmite: But you can't know that unless you see where the emotion is coming from.
    Threedee Shepherd: Quilty, I do not mean to say that ONLY the emotion is to be considered when reflecting on responses/actions.
    Quilty Bookmite: It's not a basis for right action.
    Quilty Bookmite: So why should the emotion be considered at all?
    Wol Euler: it might prompt you to an action that is right. Should you not perform that right action?
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: but...i think there is a good point hidden in all that...it is a clue..the emotion is a clue..to tell us to look for it's source
    Threedee Shepherd: by itself, an emotion is not a basis for anything
    Quilty Bookmite: How do you know it is prompting you to an action that's right?
    Faenik: ah :)
    Stim Morane: brb
    Wol Euler: the same way I know htat any action is right or wrong, I'd guess :-) By guessing, doing the best I can with what I am.
    Wol Euler: I cannot ever _know_ than any action is absolutely right.
    Umbriel Levenque: Through mistakes and being more aware Quilty
    Threedee Shepherd: I am suggesting red IS, hot IS, anger IS, etc (of course not getting into the *illusion* tangent at this point:)
    Quilty Bookmite: So what information does the emotion add to your decision?
    Wol Euler: it prompts me to make one in the first place. I experienced a middling-strong emotion earlier today
    Stim Morane: back
    Wol Euler: and rather than giving in to anger, looked at why I felt it, and decided to practice metta instead.
    Wol Euler: wb stim
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: ulp..what is metta?
    Stim Morane: benevolence or kindness towards all beings
    Quilty Bookmite: You effectively took a step back and looked at the root of the emotion, then ignored the emotion itself, right?
    Threedee Shepherd: from log: ] Adelene Dawner: Wikipedia says: Mettā (Pāli) or maitrī (Sanskrit) has been translated as "loving-kindness,"1]2] "friendliness,"3]4]5] "benevolence,"4]2] "amity,"3] "friendship,"4] "good will,"4] "kindness,"6] "love,"3] "sympathy,"3] and "active interest in others."3] It is one of the ten pāramitās of the Theravāda school of Buddhism, and the first of the four Brahmavihāras. The mettā bhāvanā ("cultivation of mettā") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: Thaks.
    Wol Euler: yes, worked around it. Calmed myself.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: Emotion to me, is a pointer, and a stimulus to action.
    Threedee Shepherd: It seems to me the emotion was NOT ignored, it was used
    Wol Euler: yes, there is a difference. thanks.
    Quilty Bookmite: Used only to see where it comes from.
    Quilty Bookmite: Maybe we are saying the same thing. :-)
    Wol Euler chuckles
    Threedee Shepherd: I'm not sure,yet
    Quilty Bookmite: In voilent agreement. :-)
    Wol Euler: lol
    Stim Morane: :)
    Quilty Bookmite: Maybe but we aren;t as far apart as I first thought.
    Umbriel Levenque: :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: To me, once you identify the emotion and see it's root, it no longer has an influence on the decision.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire nods. It isn't the cause in itself...if one is using it as a tool.
    Umbriel Levenque: Well each of us apporaching from a different spot then meeting somewhere inthe middle it seems
    Wol Euler suspects that her apparent disagreement is only a question of vocabulary.
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes. :-)
    Threedee Shepherd: OK, we disagree about "has an influence" I suggest that potentially everything that came before X (temporally) can influence X.
    Wol Euler: what we do when examining our emotions is to adjust the relative weighting of those influences.
    Threedee Shepherd: mmhmm
    Wol Euler: "was that really so terrible, or am I just overtired and hungry?"
    Threedee Shepherd: :)
    Umbriel Levenque: :-)
    Stim Morane: :)
    Fael Illyar: :)
    Adelene Dawner: :)
    Wol Euler: wow , a fullround of smilies!
    Quilty Bookmite: :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: It is now.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire laughs.

    The participants had followed quite a tortuous path to arrive at this agreement.

    Adelene Dawner: I will add that emotion does seem to have a further purpose, though.
    Faenik: indeed?
    Threedee Shepherd: So, if Buddhism refers to anger as a poison, I wonder if the word/concept is being properly translated into English.
    Quilty Bookmite: Well, some talk about hatred being the poison.
    Stim Morane: Yes, there's no problem with translation in this case. It's the context that needs more unpacking.
    Quilty Bookmite: But to me it's not much of a distinction.
    Stim Morane: ANd that may be a digression for us ...
    Adelene Dawner: Emotions 'hang around' to remind us of relevant things... like in my example, the anger, that little blip on my internal radar, reminds me that I still need to give attention to the issues with BF, because they're not resolved yet.
    Wol Euler nods
    Stim Morane: Yes
    Stim Morane: it is useful, illustrative, instructive, many things ...
    Threedee Shepherd: I don't know enough to know if Buddhism distinguishes between the *raw* being/feeling of any emotion, versus how one responds to it?
    Quilty Bookmite: Absolutely it does.
    Stim Morane: Yes it does distinguish along those lines, in great depth
    Quilty Bookmite: :-)
    Stim Morane: That is why I was musing earlier about how it fits within PaB ... because in much more direct ways of appreciating anger, it bears Being in full measure

    My latter comment was related to the Being emphasis in PaB, but follow it up would be perhaps a next step beyond the session’s emphasis.

    Threedee Shepherd: That is what I meant about the "translation" of anger being complex
    Adelene Dawner: Further question then, did the translator distinguish them? Western thought does seem to conflate anger and agression.
    Stim Morane: where are you looking, Adelene?
    Wol Euler: yes! exactly! well said Adelene
    Adelene Dawner: Right here, Stim. I haven't studied Buddhism.
    Wol Euler: it is the presumed default response.
    Wol Euler: IMHO
    Quilty Bookmite: I'm pretty sure it is talking about the emotion rather than the action...
    Quilty Bookmite: But that isn;t to say you can avoid it happening.
    Quilty Bookmite: Anger is a spur to wrong action. What it is saying is that we can't really avoid feeling anger but we can avoid acting on it.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: oh god!
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: I can't agree with that.
    Adelene Dawner: Agreed, Corvus.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: Anger...is a spur to...action.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: and a very useful one at times.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: it inspires one to change something.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: or to look to see what must be changed.
    Wol Euler: to look at somthing, fisrt: yourself
    Corvuscorva Nightfire blushes...sorry.
    Adelene Dawner: Nothing to be sorry about, Corvus. Thanks for the words. ^.^
    Quilty Bookmite: Sorry for what?
    Quilty Bookmite: Well, we will have to agree to disagree. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: Actions based on anger are usually misplaced.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: I guess...for me..not using anger as a spur to action...tamping it down instead...
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: and trying to be good and kind...
    Quilty Bookmite: I'm not suggesting you surpress it.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: has been problematic.
    Quilty Bookmite: _supress_
    Adelene Dawner: Then what are you suggesting, Quilty?
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: but not to use it?
    Quilty Bookmite: I'm suggesting you see where it is coming from.
    Adelene Dawner: and then...?
    Quilty Bookmite: Anger is often rooted in fear.
    Quilty Bookmite: See what it is that you are afraid of and see if it is a rational fear.
    Adelene Dawner: And then , if it is...?
    Faenik: indeed?
    Fael Illyar: rational is a bit off there. The key is whether it's imagined or real threat.
    Quilty Bookmite: Then decide on the right action to protect yourself with as little harm as possible.
    Wol Euler: "factually based"?
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes. That is a better way of expressing it Fael.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire: hmmm. yes.
    Adelene Dawner: And the anger would be the original trigger of that course of action - that action would come, indirectly, from anger.
    Corvuscorva Nightfire nodsnods.
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes, that is the semantics. :-)
    Adelene Dawner: The intermediary steps are whate we were talking about when we said that the emotion was not the only factor.
    Quilty Bookmite: It is important not to take action directly based on anger.
    Quilty Bookmite: Fair enough. :-)
    Quilty Bookmite: But you can;t just say "I am angry, and there are other things to consider, therefore I should do this".
    Wol Euler frowns. Did someone propose that?
    Corvuscorva Nightfire nods. I don't mean that I think it's good to fly off the handle when I am angry...but that it works better for me to use at as a tool than to ignore it.
    Quilty Bookmite: No. I'm clarifying.
    Adelene Dawner: What you said earlier about not acting on anger seemed to mean that one shouldn't use it as a trigger to that introspection, which is not good, and not what you meant.
    Umbriel Levenque: brb
    Threedee Shepherd: Quilty, a bit of research found this at the web site thebuddhisttemple.org: Anger or violence of mind is called dosa (hatred). Dosa is not only violent but it also soils the mind. It is not only wild and rude, but also depressive resulting in inferiority complex and living in fear; they all belong to the category of dosa or hatred (ill will).

    In brief sorrow, grief, fear, depression, anger, grudge, frightening others with abusive language, attacking, planning to kill other people - all of these are dosa. Since dosa is with both fear and violence, the angry, violent person is also easily frightened. Be aware of such persons. (Violence is called ascending hatred, whereas fear is called descending hatred.) This seems to clearly say the emotion itself is to be avoided. In that, I simply do not agree.
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes.
    Adelene Dawner: ...actually, Three...
    Stim Morane: But again, context is important.
    Stim Morane: The larger context of the sort of thing you're quoting offers other, more mature options that are consistent with what you are discussing, and ultimately welcomes things like anger in a very profound way.
    Adelene Dawner: the things that it talks about - violent thoughts - I'd agree that they're negative and dangerous. But they're not the same as the raw experience of feeling-angry, and more than an apple is the same as red.
    Stim Morane: The quote is just the beginning of a maturation process.
    Faenik: なるほど^^
    Stim Morane: Yes, Adelene, you are right ... there are yet other angles on this along the lines you mention. It's a complex subject.
    Stim Morane: ANyway, we seem to have started, at least ...
    Quilty Bookmite: It isn;t saying that you must avoid anger. I think that isn't humanly possible,
    Umbriel Levenque: back
    Stim Morane: Right. Nor is it denying that anger is part of something profound. It's just the beginning of a process of taking responsibility for one's own mind.
    Wol Euler: wb
    Quilty Bookmite: I also think that it is possible to make those decisions without the anger.
    Quilty Bookmite: You don't have to make yourself feel it.
    Fael Illyar: but you can feel it while still making the decisions without delusion.
    Umbriel Levenque: ty Wol (was reading back)
    Quilty Bookmite: Maybe but I think that would be difficult.
    Fael Illyar: if you accept the anger, entirely possible.
    Umbriel Levenque: Difficult but not impossible. In fact PaB helps me to do that a lot
    Quilty Bookmite: And you can;t just not feel it. If you look at the cause of the anger that will often help diffuse it,
    Stim Morane: It is possible ... but that doesn't mean one shouldn't mature into that possibility by being a bit cautious on the more ordinary levels
    Stim Morane: It's just a matter of being honest

    What I meant here was simply that people must be honest about their own capacity for connecting to the Being in emotions like anger, and not espouse a view of such emotions that is beyond their capacity.


    Quilty Bookmite: Society teaches us that anger is good and productive. Buddhism I think is quite radical in that respect.
    Stim Morane: Yes
    Stim Morane: I will have to leave now. Are many of you likely to stay on for a while?
    Quilty Bookmite: I must go also.
    Threedee Shepherd: and me as well
    Faenik: indeed?
    Quilty Bookmite: I have been asked to hunt down rovers.
    Threedee Shepherd: rovers?
    Wol Euler: ooh
    Stim Morane: I was just asking because, as always, I will need the last bit of the log sent on to me if the discussion is going to continue.
    Wol Euler: non-violently I hope
    Quilty Bookmite: It's a long story. Large white bubble like things.
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes. :-)
    Wol Euler: "I am a free man"?
    Quilty Bookmite: I am not a number. :-)
    Wol Euler: stim, I'll send you the rest.
    Quilty Bookmite: Bye.
    Umbriel Levenque: Metta
    Wol Euler: well, if there is a rest.
    Stim Morane: Thanks, Wol!
    Threedee Shepherd: thanks everyone
    Threedee Shepherd: bye
    Stim Morane: Bye, everyone. Thanks for the lively discussion!
    Adelene Dawner: bye all :)
    Corvuscorva Nightfire smiles. Thank you!
    Wol Euler: it was a great discussion, I am so glad I caught you and Adelene here tonight

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