Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part II, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

On the Full Moon day of Waso, I explained how to develop metta. Most of the teachings I gave then, referred to the derivation of paramita and kusala by way of developing metta. From the point of view of the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification) we have so far only covered the manner of reflecting on the faults of the “anger”, and the advantages of “patience”. So I shall now continue to talk about how to develop metta commencing from where we had stopped.

(17) Way of sitting comfortably

We may add a little more according to the teachings of the Buddha relating to the manner of assuming a comfortable sitting posture for meditation.

The Enlightened One has directed, “Arannagato va” either by going into or residing in a forest, or, “rukkhamulagato va” – by approaching or occupying a position under the shade of a tree or close to the trunk end of the body of a tree, or, “sunnagaragato va’ – by staying in a monastery, or a house, or a building where there are no people, nay, which stands in a solitary place, “nisidati” – should sit down or be seated. Obviously our Lord Buddha in His instructions, has given priority to practising meditation exercise in a forested area. Only when one is unable to proceed to a forest, he is advised to take his seat and meditate at the foot of a tree in a quiet place. Then again, if it is impossible to do so, to practise meditation in a monastery, or a house, or a building uninhabited by people, it would be the best to select a secluded place where there is peace and tranquillity. If, however, there is any other person who is indulging in meditation in the same area it would be better if that person is of the same sex. In any case, the best would be a secluded spot in a remote area where there is no other person except the meditator.

The manner of sitting posture to be adopted is stated as. “Pallankam abhujitva,” ‘i.e., to sit cross-legged. I have already explained about it in full. Furthermore, at the time of sitting, the instruction given is:”‘Ujjumkayam penidhaya” i.e., the upper portion of the body above the waist should be kept erect, straight and perpendicularly. If one sits down loosely bending his back or twisting his body, the strength of his exertion or effort will be weakened. That is the reason why it is necessary to sit erect keeping the body above the waist perfectly upright. After taking a sitting posture as described, the instruction given to be followed is: “Parimukham satam upathepettva”. – which means to fix one’s thoughts ‘only on the object of sensation (sense-object) and to engage oneself in active meditation with fixed concentration without letting the mind go astray. ‘In the present case of practising metta-Kammatthana, the mind should be directed towards people for whom lovingkindness is intended to be developed. It is essential to know and understand from the very beginning as to who are those in whose favour Metta should not be radiated or developed first, and who are those not worthy of receiving Metta.