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I find it very difficult to practice metta because i can't find anyone who has been a benefactor.I don't know a lot of people.Most people i know i find it very difficult to send metta to as a benefactor as their either very dear to me or downright hostile.Can i just imagine a benefactor i never had .Or use a dead person, as my auntie was very kind to me but she's deceased now.

How can i practice metta without a benefactor? How can i find a benefactor to practice metta to?

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    Dead person is fine. It could even be a person you never met, like a book author or a teacher with whom you feel a special connection. Or a series of people over time, linage. Time is a product of mind anyway. – Andrei Volkov Feb 25 '15 at 15:27
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    A lot of people cultivate metta for their pet as an entrypoint. It takes some time and effort to "melt the ice" but it's easy when you start with someone who has helped you, even if in a small way. You're alive, which means somebody fed you and prevented you from being eaten by wild animals, and that is something to be grateful for. – sova Mar 6 '15 at 4:18
  • @sova i guess your right – Orion Mar 6 '15 at 5:31
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You don't need a benefactor to practice that type of metta; you just need someone who is dear to you; it just shouldn't be someone you could potentially desire sexually, or whom you are partial towards, like your children.

The stages, according to the Visuddhimagga are as follows:

  1. cultivate metta towards yourself (useless, but a good example)
  2. cultivate metta towards someone you hold dear
  3. cultivate metta towards a neutral party
  4. cultivate metta towards someone you dislike (optional, only for those who have such a person)

Having someone dear to you seems important, as there is no advice given for what to do if such a person does not exist. Ostensibly, you could skip that step and try to immediately cultivate metta towards a neutral party, but the dear one is useful for returning to when difficulty arises with the other objects.

Alternatively, you could try cultivating metta in order of proximity; may I be happy, may all beings in this room be happy, this building, this city, this country, this world, the universe. Also, by direction; may all beings to the East be happy, etc. Or finally, by class: may all women be happy, men, animals, angels, etc.

Mahasi Sayadaw has a detailed exposition of the four brahmaviharas that is both practical and informative:

http://static.sirimangalo.org/mahasi/Brahmavihara%20Dhamma.htm

As he says,

"Mettā can also be developed towards any other person deserving of affection and respect, if not towards your teacher, grand-parents, mother, father and so on."

  • Hi Bhante, can we just skip all and go straight to the neutral party? I think the coverage will be much more wider. It will probably goes like this, may all beings be happy, may all beings be peaceful....... – Sunset_Limited Mar 28 '15 at 18:38
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A benefactor is not necessary. You can pratice Metta using categories which is the way to pratice Metta without a benefactors. E.g. All beings, all being in front of me, etc. There are 22 such categories in Paisambhidā-Magga.

One objective of Metta Bhavana is to dissolve ego and break down perception and this is my friend and someone is my fore. If some one is better off than you chances is there is some inner resistance to practice Metta or Muditha towards him. If you believe someone has wronged you then the chances are that it will be difficult to spread Metta.

As you progress try to break down negative perception you have build about people. Also look at the impact on other aggregates as you practice Metta. Look at the sensations as you make thoughts off Metta.

Also "A Practical Bare-Bones guide to Metta Meditation" by Bhante Vimalaramsi may be of interest. Page 85, Knowing and Seeing 4th Ed by Pa Auk Sayadaw

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Metta meditation with four nutrimentsWhy it is difficult to spread metta? Because our mind is not ready to do it. Correct metta meditation is not difficult. According to Buddhist teaching, spreading metta to oneself is never taught taught in 'Sutta' or 'Abhidhamma Pitaka'. Because one can't reach measureless state with metta by spreading metta to oneself. Measureless states are the doors to nibbana as Load buddha has Taught us.

Before spreading metta, one must have good qualities, as mentioned in 'karaneeya metta sutta'. Good qualities such as Upright, Exceedingly upright, obedient, gentle and humble, controlled in the senses, prudent, courteous, not hanker after associating with families are meditated and determined before spreading metta. It is a bit complicated at the beginning and later it would become a great platform and make a comfortable position for a meditater to start spreading metta easily. Guided meditation is described in this link - How to meditate metta dhamma talk.

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