Pathama Metta Sutta

June 7, 2018; revised June 8, 2018; September 13, 2018

1. Pathama Metta Sutta (AN 4.125) clearly states the difference between jhānās cultivated by Noble Persons (Ariyās) and those who are merely on the mundane path (assutavā puthujjano). Here assutavā puthujjano means one who has not comprehended Tilakkhana; one MUST have removed the 10 types of miccā ditthi even to cultivate anāriya jhāna.

  • Since jhānic states represent the same rupavacara realms, the jhānic experience could be the same for both Ariya and anāriya  jhāna (I am not certain).
  • However, the critical difference is that Noble Persons (who have cultivated jhāna) NEVER come back to kāma lōka and attain Parinibbāna, while the anāriyās come back to kāma lōka, and could be born in the apāyās too.
  • That is because the Ariyās have REMOVED kāma rāga (ucceda pahāna), while anāriyās have only SUPPRESSED them (vikkhambana pahāna).

2. The Brahma Vihāra in Buddha Dhamma are four types: mettā (loving kindness), karunā (compassion, the opposite of karunā is anger), muditā (empathetic joy), and upekkhā (equanimity towards all beings).

  • The four realms correspond to the four highest-intensity rupāvacara jhāna levels (in sutta categorization of jhāna).
  • We can clearly see the concept of gati; most translators do not even know what that word means.
  • Instead of translating the sutta word-by-word, I have just provided the meaning of each verse.
 PaliEnglish
1Cattārome, bhikkhave, puggalā santo saṃvijjamānā lokasmiṃ. Katame cattāro?Bhikkhus, there are four types of "cooled down" individuals (santo). Which four?
2Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo mettā­saha­gatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati, tathā dutiyaṃ tathā tatiyaṃ tathā catutthaṃ. Iti uddhamadho tiriyaṃ sabbadhi sabbattatāya sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ mettā­saha­gatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena abyāpajjena pharitvā viharati. So tadassādeti, taṃ nikāmeti, tena ca vittiṃ āpajjati.Bhikkhus, There is an individual who cultivates metta bhavana in four directions. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, and all around the universe with compassion.
3Tattha ṭhito tadadhimutto tab­bahu­la­vihārī aparihīno kālaṃ kurumāno brahma­kāyikā­naṃ devānaṃ sahabyataṃ upapajjati. Brahma­kāyikā­naṃ, bhikkhave, devānaṃ kappo āyuppamāṇaṃ. Tattha puthujjano yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā nirayampi gacchati tiracchā­na­yonimpi gacchati pettivisayampi gacchati. When he dies, he is reborn in the realm Brahmakayika realm. Those devas have a life-span of an aeon (Maha Kappa). An anariya person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, can be reborn in hell, animal womb, or the state of the hungry ghosts.
4Bhagavato pana sāvako tattha yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā tasmiṃyeva bhave parinibbāyati. Ayaṃ kho, bhikkhave, viseso ayaṃ adhippayāso idaṃ nānākaraṇaṃ sutavato ariyasāvakassa assutavatā puthujjanena, yadidaṃ gatiyā upapattiyā sati.But a disciple of the Blessed One (an Ariya), having used up all the life-span of those devas, attains Parinibbana there. The difference is in the gati between a Noble Person and an anariya (assutavatā puthujjanena).
5Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, idhekacco puggalo karuṇā­saha­gatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati,..(rest of the verse same as that of 2 above).Again, Bhikkhus, There is an individual who cultivates karuna bhavana in four directions (rest same as in 2 above).
6Tattha ṭhito tadadhimutto tab­bahu­la­vihārī aparihīno kālaṃ kurumāno ābhassarānaṃ
devānaṃ sahabyataṃ upapajjati. Ābhassarānaṃ, bhikkhave, devānaṃ dve kappā āyuppamāṇaṃ. Tattha puthujjano yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā nirayampi gacchati tiracchā­na­yonimpi gacchati pettivisayampi gacchati.
When he dies, he is reborn in the Abhassara realm. Those devas have a life-span of 2 aeons (Maha Kappa). An anariya person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, can be reborn in hell, animal womb, or the state of the hungry ghosts.
7Bhagavato pana sāvako tattha yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā tasmiṃyeva bhave parinibbāyati. Ayaṃ kho, bhikkhave, viseso ayaṃ adhippayāso idaṃ nānākaraṇaṃ sutavato ariyasāvakassa assutavatā puthujjanena, yadidaṃ gatiyā upapattiyā sati.But a disciple of the Blessed One (an Ariya), having used up all the life-span of those devas, attains Parinibbana there. The difference is in the gati between an the noble ones and an anariya (assutavatā puthujjanena).
8Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, idhekacco puggalo muditā­saha­gatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati,..(rest of the verse same as that of 2 above).Again, Bhikkhus, There is an individual who cultivates mudita bhavana in four directions.
9Tattha ṭhito tadadhimutto tab­bahu­la­vihārī aparihīno kālaṃ kurumāno Subhakinha
devānaṃ sahabyataṃ upapajjati. Subhakinha, bhikkhave, devānaṃ cattāro kappā āyuppamāṇaṃ. Tattha puthujjano yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā nirayampi gacchati tiracchā­na­yonimpi gacchati pettivisayampi gacchati.
When he dies, he is reborn in the Subhakinha realm. Those devas have a life-span of 4 aeons (Maha Kappa). An anariya person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, can be reborn in hell, animal womb, or the state of the hungry ghosts.
10Bhagavato pana sāvako tattha yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā tasmiṃyeva bhave parinibbāyati. Ayaṃ kho, bhikkhave, viseso ayaṃ adhippayāso idaṃ nānākaraṇaṃ sutavato ariyasāvakassa assutavatā puthujjanena, yadidaṃ gatiyā upapattiyā sati.But a disciple of the Blessed One (an Ariya), having used up all the life-span of those devas, attains Parinibbana there. The difference is in the gati between an the noble ones and an anariya (assutavatā puthujjanena).
11Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, idhekacco puggalo upekkhā­saha­gatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati,..(rest of the verse same as that of 2 above)Again, Bhikkhus, There is an individual who cultivates upekkha bhavana in four directions.
12Tattha ṭhito tadadhimutto tab­bahu­la­vihārī aparihīno kālaṃ kurumāno vehapphalānaṃ devānaṃ sahabyataṃ upapajjati. Vehapphalānaṃ, bhikkhave, devānaṃ pañca kappasatāni āyuppamāṇaṃ. Tattha puthujjano yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā nirayampi gacchati tiracchā­na­yonimpi gacchati pettivisayampi gacchati.When he dies, he is reborn in the Vehapphala realm. Those devas have a life-span of 500 aeons (Maha Kappa). An anariya person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, can be reborn in hell, animal womb, or the state of the hungry ghosts.
13Bhagavato pana sāvako tattha yāvatāyukaṃ ṭhatvā yāvatakaṃ tesaṃ devānaṃ āyuppamāṇaṃ taṃ sabbaṃ khepetvā tasmiṃyeva bhave parinibbāyati. Ayaṃ kho, bhikkhave, viseso ayaṃ adhippayāso idaṃ nānākaraṇaṃ sutavato ariyasāvakassa assutavatā puthujjanena, yadidaṃ gatiyā upapattiyā sati.But a disciple of the Blessed One (an Ariya), having used up all the life-span of those devas, attains Parinibbana there. The difference is in the gati between an the noble ones and an anariya (assutavatā puthujjanena).
14Ayaṃ kho, bhikkhave, viseso ayaṃ adhippayāso idaṃ nānākaraṇaṃ sutavato ariyasāvakassa assutavatā puthujjanena, yadidaṃ gatiyā upapattiyā sati. Ime kho, bhikkhave, cattāro puggalā santo saṃvijjamānā lokasmin”ti.Bhikkhus, this is the difference in outcomes due to difference in gati between a Noble Person and an anariya (assutavatā puthujjanena).

Notes:

1. The four jhānic states attained by an Ariya discussed in this sutta are from anāriya jhāna. Therefore, they are jhānic states attained specifically by a Sōtapanna, by SUPPRESSING kāma rāga. If a Sōtapanna attained even the first Ariya jhāna, then he/she would be born not in those four realms, but in the realms reserved for those who attained the Anāgami phala (realms #23 through #27; see, “31 Realms of Existence“.

2. Note that by cultivating metta, karuna, mudita, and upekkha bhāvanā, one is born in Brahmakāyika, Abhassara, Subhakinha, and Vehappala Brahma realms with lifetimes of one, two, four, and 500 Mahā Kappa.

3. For more information on jhānās, see “Samādhi, Jhāna (Dhyāna), Magga Phala” and “Power of the Human Mind“.

4. Information on 31 realms comes from suttas like this one. I have corrected the lifetimes of these four rupavacara realms in the post, “31 Realms of Existence“.

5. Discussion at : “Pathama Metta Sutta (AN 4.125)“.

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