Mettābhāvanā in Traditional and Popular Buddhist Contexts (English)

In: Asian Philosophy   ;  23 ,  4  ;  323-340  ;  2013

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Some have referred to relatively recent forms of popular Buddhism as an ‘engaged’ Buddhism that has revived or redirected traditional Buddhist ideas and practices found in meditation texts to reflect a greater social or worldly emphasis than suggested in earlier historical moments. One of these ideas is the quadripartite framework of the ‘immeasurable states’ (aprameya/appameya) or ‘divine abidings’ (brahmavihāra), the most prominent of which in popular Buddhism is mettā (friendliness/loving-kindness). This article traces the philosophy of the ‘immeasurable states’ found in meditation texts from various Indic traditions (Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu) and then presents the ways in which these traditional ideas (especially mettā) have informed popular Buddhist movements in the twentieth century. Points of discussion include: ‘engaged’ Buddhism's relationship with traditional Buddhist ethics; arguments concerning the coalescence of monastic-centred meditation practices with popular Buddhist notions of social service; and the distinct utilization of mettā in contemporary Buddhist societies in contrast to the mobilizing impulses of comparable religious communities (Hindu and Jain) with a similar heritage of mettā discourse in South Asia.

Table of contents – Volume 23, Issue 4

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Buddhist Impact on Chinese Culture
Guang, Xing | 2013
Mettābhāvanā in Traditional and Popular Buddhist Contexts
Patel, Deven M. | 2013
Fields of Merit, Harvests of Health: Some Notes on the Role of Medical Karma in the Popularization of Buddhism in Early Medieval China
Salguero, C. Pierce | 2013
Re-Creation of Rituals in Humanistic Buddhism: A Case Study of FoGuangShan
Yu, Xue | 2013
Buddhist Conceptual Rhyming and T.S.Eliot's Crisis of Connection in TheWaste Land and ‘Burnt Norton’
Bruno, Tim | 2013
Editorial Board
| 2013