Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part IV

by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(55) The First Metta Sutta

[Reference: Anguttara – P. 4431]

… Bhikkhave – 0, Bhikkhus! Ida – In this world, ekacco puggalo – certain persons, mettasahagatena cetasa – with the thought that arises along with metta, ekam disam – towards one region, pharitva viharati – remain spreading out. Tathadutiyam – In the same manner, they remain radiating the thoughts of loving-kindness towards the Second region. Tatha tatiyam – Similarly remain spreading out towards the Third region. Iti – in this manner, uddham – towards the higher regions above, adho – towards the lower regions below, tiriyam – towards the regions in the opposite direction or across, sabbadhi – towards all the regions, sabbattataya – regarding all beings on the same level with themselves, nay, with all the thoughts that arise, sabbavantam lokam – towards the whole Universe where all beings are inhabited, mettasahagatena cetasa – with a benevolent mind and with goodwill towards all, vipulena – with extensive thoughts, mahaggatena – with the Jhanic-mind called mahaggata, averena with unmalicious thought, abyapajjhena with undejected thought, pharitva- viharati – remain radiating.

The Buddha’s teachings (desana) up to this stage is identical to the Second Metta Sutta. It describes how jhana is radiated after it has been achieved and the manner in which one plunges himself in a trance of jhana. Thereafter, exposition is made of the peculiar characteristic by embracing jhana without contemplating Vipassana, as follows:

So – Such a person or individual, tam – in that metta-jhana, assadeti – has found delight. Tam – To that jhana, nikameti – he has become attached with affection. Tena – with that jhana, vittam ca apajjati he has gained happiness with pleasure. Tattha thito and remains in that jhana, tadadhimutto becoming attached to that jhana with consciousness. Tabbahula vihari – Then, after repeating his absorption many a time in that jhana, aparihino – without being deprived of the faculty of this jhana, kalam kurnmano – when death occurs, brahmakayikanam devanam – in the abode of the First jhana Brahmas, sahbaaytam – he goes into companionship with the Brahma and on the same level as a Brahma upapajjati – and is reborn or becomes a Brahma. (This refers to how it happens relating to a person who has achieved the First Metta-Jhana.) So – A person who attains the Second metta-jhana, tam – in that jhana, assadeti – finds delight. As in the case of the person who has attained the First metta-Jhana, he has found pleasure in that Second jhana, and without being deprived of the faculty of that Jhana, on his death, he becomes a Brahma on the same status as that of Abhassara Brahma. This explains how it happens to a person who has achieved the Second metta-jhana. Of course, in this regard, emphasis is laid on the highest abode of Abhassara Deva of the Brahmaloka out of the three abodes of Second jhana, viz: Parittabha, Appamanabha and Abhassara.

Thereafter, when death takes place after attaining the Third Metta Jhana, the significant point stressed is as to how a person reaches the highest abode of Subhakinha from among the three abodes of Third jhana, namely, Parittasubha, Appamanasubha and Subhakinha. Thenceforth, mention has been made that after attaining the Fourth Jhana through Upekkha-bhavana, etc., he becomes elated, and on death, reaches Vehapphala Abode. This is the highest among, the Rupavacara Abodes. where worldlings can hope to reach. The life span there is 500 kappas. After reaching these a bodes when the life-span, expires, he will be relegated to the life existence of the human world and Kamavacara world of devas. After that, it has been stated as to how one is likely to descend to the Four Apayas. It is described in the following manner:

Tattha – In that Brahmaloka, puthujjana – the ordinary worldling, yavatayukam – throughout the lifetime thatva – will exist or live, yavatakam tesam devanam ayuppamanam, tam sabbam – for the entire life-span of the Brahmas. Khepetva – After that life-span has been spent, nirayamsi gacchati -he is likely to descend to Hell, Tiracchanayonimpi gacchati – (and) may find himself in the Animal World, or rather, become an animal, pettivisayampi gacchati – and may also reach the World of Petas.

These three expressions indicate the possibility of descending to the world of either apaya or animal or Peta for not being free as yet from kamma and kilesa. One cannot, of course, reach the world of Apayas immediately after demise from the Brahma World. It is because of the meritorious result or kamma of upacara-samadhi which he had developed and by virtue of which he had. achieved jhana to be elevated to the World of Brahmas. With this achievement, a person usually will be reborn either in the Human World or, the Celestial World. A noble disciple of Buddha who has achieved ariya-magga-phala through metta-jhana will, after his death, reach the Brahmaloka if he is not yet liberated from the bonds of kilesa. He will enter into Parinibbana while in the Brahmaloka after he has attained Arahatta-magga-phala. This distinguishing feature has been elucidated as follows:

Bhagavato – The Lord Buddha’s, savako pana – noble disciple who is in Ariya (the usage of this word in this regard indicates the attainment of Ariyahood as either Sotapanna or Sakadagami or Anagami by contemplating Vipassana after acquiring the basic achievement of metta-jhana), tattha – in that Brahmaloka yavatayukam – all throughout the life term, thatva – he will live and thereafter, yavatakam tesam devanam ayuppamanam, tam sabbam khepetva – on the expiry of the life-span of those Brahmas, tasamin yeva bhave – in that, very existence of Brahma, Parinibbanati – will enter into Parinibbana. Bhikkhave – 0, Bhikkhus! Ayam -the ordinary worldling who has attained jhana after becoming a Brahma and when his life-span expires, will be, reverted to kamasugati, the world of sensual pleasures, and then, may possibly be reborn in the World of Animals or of Petas; but as regards an Ariya-savaka who has achieved metta-jhana, he will first come into being as a Brahma, and only in that Brahmaloka, will attain Arahatship and then finally enter into Parinibbana. These are the two kinds, viveso – which have the distinctive features.

What is required to be known according to the First Metta Sutta which has just been stated, is that if one is contented with the mere achievement of this metta-jhana which he has attained, he will reach the Abode of Brahmas after his demise. However, since he has not yet achieved ariya-magga-phala, the Special Dhamma, for failing to contemplate Vipassana he will surely be reverted to the world of human beings or of Devas when the life-span in’ Brahmaloka expires. Then, after so becoming, if, he has committed evil deeds that can bring him down to the Nether Worlds, he will again descend to the four Apayas. Hence, despite the fact that he has reached the Brahmaloka by virtue of his attainment of jhana, he will be in the same boat as other ordinary worldlings who are still liable to go down to the four Nether Worlds. However, if Sotapanna is achieved in the least, after his attainment of metta-jhana through Vipassana contemplation, he will reach the Brahmaloka after his death, and will not be reborn in the world of sensual pleasures, and will eventually become an Arahat in that Brahma Abode whereby all miseries will come to an end. Although such a person is not an Anagami, he will not be reborn in the world of sensual pleasures since kamaraga has been dispelled by him with the faculty of jhana. He is called a Jhana-Anagami. Similarly, a Sakadagami who has already achieved jhana, will never be reborn in Kamaloka. He too is known, as a ‘Jhana-Anagami’.

If, however, a person becomes an Anagami after attainment of jhana, there is an opportunity for him to enter into Parinibbana as an Arahat in the lowest abode of Aviha, one of the five abodes of Suddhavasa, where he will be reborn as mentioned in the Second Metta Sutta. If he fails to gain Arahatship after the expiry of a life-span of two thousand kappas in that Abode, he will have his rebirth in the third elevated abode called Sudassa from among the Abode of Suddhavasa.’ There are cases in which Parinibbana had taken place after becoming an Arahat in that abode. If no Arahaship is achieved as yet, he will land in the fourth abode called Sudassi on expiry of the life-span of thousand kappas. In that abode too, there are instances of persons entering into Parinibbana after the attainment of Arahatship. If no Arahatship is achieved, rebirth will take place in the highest Akanittha Abode after the life-span of eight thousand kappas has exhausted. However, Arahatship will definitely be attained in that abode and when its lifespan of sixteen thousand kappas comes to an end final attainment of Nibbana (Parinibbana) is sure to come.

Now that elucidation made in connection with the eleventh advantage with reference to Anguttara Pali Texts has been fairly completed. In Anguttara Pali (3rd 542) it has been preached as: “uttari appati vijjhanto brahmalokupago hoti.” The Commentary has given an exposition of this Pali phrase as: Mettasamapattito – attainment of metta-jhana, uttari – beyond that, arahattam adhigantum – to achieve arahatta-phala; asakkonto – a person who is incompetent, itocavitva – on expiry of this human life existence, suttappabuddho viya – like a person who has risen from sleep brahmalokam upapajjati – reaches. the Brahma World.

In this I regard, the expression – “if Arahatta-phala cannot be reached beyond the attainment of metta-jhana”, embraces all what have, been stated as: “if there is achievement of metta-jhana only, one can reach the Brahmaloka and also “Brahmaloka can be reached by attainment of any one or two or all three of the lower stages of phala based upon the endowment of metta-jhana”. Hence, in the motto which described the advantages of metta, it is, stated as, ‘Happy in sleep and in waking . . . varily destined to become a Brahma; all, constituting eleven attributes in number are the advantages accrued from developing metta.