Monday, January 26

Karuna, Infinite

It feels good to finally have gotten to the place where I feel comfortable taking DaeJa's recommendation to do "liesurely sweeping meditation while lying down." Two days in a row. There continues to be that reticence when I get to the lower abdomen, a reluctace to get near the pubic area... But the sweep continues, and it's fine.

Second meditation session of the day, the sitting session, focused on karuna, and it's continues flowing even now as I type this.

A very interesting notion arose, possibly an insight. It has do with a certain sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya, which says that metta culminates in "the beautiful" (beautiful consciousness), karuna culminates in the sphere of infinite space, mudita culminates in the sphere of infinite consciousness, and upekkha culminates in the sphere of no-thingness. [Will get out Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of The Connected Discourses later on, to look up the reference.] This is an interesting sutta in that it appears to directly contradict the oft-repeated maxim from the Visuddhimagga, that metta, karuna, and mudita can only lead as far as the third jhana, and upekkha can lead to the fourth alone.

In the suttas, the method of extending the Brahmaviharas is spatial, rather than personal. The way metta & the BVs are usually taught these days -- extending it to oneself, to a benefactor, to a dear one, a neutral one, an enemy, and to all beings -- is only to be found in the Visudhimagga. You won't find that explicitly in the suttas. The method you do find in the suttas is directional pervasion. Pervading the first quarter (or direction; this could mean in front of you, or could mean "the East") with a heart imbued with loving- kindness (or compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity), then the second quarter, (behind you, or West), third, fourth, above, below, and all around.

The connection was made when remembering the method Leigh described for entering the sphere of infinite space: pushing at the boundaries of one's sense of oneself, expanding outward, and keep going, and keep going, and... infinitely.


Taking the directional pervasion of compassion, expanding it outward, infinitely... should lead to the sphere of infinite space.

Well, I didn't get there today {aw, shucks}, but the intimations of what did happen were tantalizing. There was a point when the expansion really started to take off, I could feel it heading there and... I flinched. Broke the concentration, like I used to when piti started to arise. Flinching away from the shock of the new.


This looks to be an interesting area to explore. Time to experiment a little and see what comes of it. "Hmm, what happens when I push this button....?"

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