Reply To: Past experiences


I’ve read a few topics here where others shared their personal struggles. I’d get curious because I could relate and would look forward to the answers to get some ideas on how to resolve the situation. Ideal situation would be if we could truly help each individual for their unique situation, a solution customized just for them, a practical solution. Unfortunately that can’t always be done, especially over the internet. So the next best we could do is give advise that we think could most likely help. One of the common answers given for peoples struggles is: cultivating metta. And I know if this is suggested, to many it will probably seem like a broken record or meaningless, or think “this is not gonna be of much practical help.” I know that in my case, whenever I read “metta bhavana” as the answer, I acknowledged that advise and nodded in agreement in my mind, but in reality it went through one ear and out the other. I did not truly take it to heart.

My metta bhavana for the longest time has been a fail and waste of time. I’d have a long list of good wills that I’d wish for all sentient beings. I’d try to say them everyday. But I’d skip a lot of days. I did not stick to it. Even when I did recite the good wills, I said the majority of them with no feeling. There truly was no metta nor karuna in my mind when I recited those. They were empty, meaningless words. Out of all the good wills, I noticed one of them induced a deep noticable feeling within me- when I wished that all would become Sotapanna. I wondered why out of all of them , only this one would consistently evoke an emotion within me. Gave me goosebumps. I felt karuna rise in my mind. I considered this the only successful moment in my entire metta bhavana. I thought if only the rest of the good wills induced the same feeling.

I think the reason wishing the Sotapanna stage for others had more impact on me than the other wishes is because the Sotapanna stage had many important implications: never being reborn in apayas, the worst types of suffering completely eliminated, destined for Paribbana-the ending of all suffering.

While both metta and karuna are similar, they are different. Metta is wanting happiness for others, karuna is wanting the easing/ending of others’ suffering.

While both are good, I feel I can more easily induce karuna within me rather than metta. For example, if I saw two scenarios:
1) A parent giving their child a birthday present
2) Someone giving food to a homeless person

2 would make me more happy.

I feel more happy easing other suffering rather than giving them things that might make them temporarily happy like watch/dress.

So I decided to instead focus on karuna rather than metta. Focus on the suffering of others. Because I noticed this is what triggers/awakens/induces my karuna cetasika, or the sleeping compassion within my mind.

Staying away from dasa akusala is necessary and praise worthy. However it is not everything. This will not be enough to get closer to Sotapanna stage. One can’t simply just stay away from immorality. They have to cultivate good qualities within their minds as well. Anapana: Discard the bad qualities/asobhana cetasika. Cultivate the good qualities/sobhana cetasika. Like removing weeds from someones garden in addition to planting the fruit seeds. One needs to do both. I’ve been doing the “apana” in anapana quite right this time(staying away from dasa akusala, weakening bad qualities), but not doing the “ana” much(cultivating good qualities like karuna).

Some event happened last fall which gave me a sense of urgency. Like there is not much time left. I could go anytime. So I thought that if that time might be coming soon, I need my mind to be in a good state. The most beautiful states of mind one can have is metta/karuna. So I thought I can’t neglect/slack off on cultivating metta/karuna anymore.