seeking the path
than by another. There are no get-rich-quick methods in the Buddha’s teaching, and to suggest that there are is to sow the seeds of disappointment and discouragement. Mr. Baptist contends that the brahmavihåras are less elaborate than other forms of meditation, and the brevity of his instructions for their practice may seem to bear him out. But in fact he is mistaken. If instructions for the practice of ånåpånasati are reduced to this one sentence ‘Fix your attention on the passage of the breath in and out of the nose’, it might well be argued that ånåpånasati is the simpler. And it is perhaps worthy of note that the detailed exposition of the brahmavihåras in the Visuddhi Magga is actually a little longer than the corresponding exposition of ånåpånasati meditation (30 pages as opposed to 27 in the P.T.S. edition). Mr. Baptist’s account of the brahmavihåras has in fact sacrificed precision to brevity; and his rather generalized instructions are too vague to be a satisfactory practical guide, especially for beginners, who need fairly detailed indications to get themselves started. Reference to Chapter IX of the Visuddhi Magga will make this point clear. But not only are these instructions of his inadequate: they are also positively misleading. Mr. Baptist says: ‘Then concentrate thoughts of goodwill on to yourself, saturating your whole being with thoughts of love and goodwill. The idea here being that it is possible to transmit thoughts of love to the outer world only if you yourself are full of love within. Thereafter concentrate your thoughts upon ideas of loving-kindness and imagine a ray of love going out from your heart (which is now full of love), and embracing all beings in the Eastern Quarter of the world.’ This suggests that we are to charge ourselves, like some kind of storage battery, with love; and then, being fully charged, to radiate it, as it were the light from a lighthouse, in various directions. In the first place, the purpose of starting the meditation by thinking kindly thoughts towards oneself is certainly not in order to ‘saturate your whole being with thoughts of love’. The Visuddhi Magga says: ‘He who cultivates the wish, ‘May I be well!’ appeals to himself as testimony that ‘as I wish to be happy, have a distaste for misery, wish to live, do not wish to die, so other beings also wish for the same’’.’ In other words, what you propose to wish for others you must first wish for yourself; for, if you wish for others what you do not sincerely wish for yourself, your thoughts cannot be entirely free from some trace of illwill. It is a safety measure to ensure that you really are wishing well, and not ill, to others. In the second place, there is no question of actually broadcasting or transmitting thoughts of mettå like wireless or light waves (the phenomenon of telepathy has nothing to do with the physical propagation of waves). In
Published on Jun 26, 2013
Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...