We continue to explore how we might practice metta (and other heart practices) in a way integrated with mindfulness, wisdom, and insight, building on last week's session. We begin looking at some of the ways historically and culturally that the "mind" and "reason" have been separated from emotion, dating from Plato and the Greeks, and continued in the modern world with the understanding of reason and science as separate from emotion (and the body). This has been a major part of our social and cultural conditioning, evident in how mainstream education occurs, and also linked with gender conditioning. We also examine how, dating from Buddhaghosa's text, the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification), from the 5th century, metta and compassion has been labeled as practices leading to concentration, and not as linked directly with wisdom and awakening. This has been the basis for the 20th century Burmese approaches to metta and mindfulness, which have been the main influences in the West.
However, when we look to the Buddha's actual teachings, as well as later Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, we find much more of a connection between metta, compassion, and wisdom. We can see this in a number of texts which we explore, including ones in which the heart practices are seen as leading directly to wisdom, and development in awakening.
In the last part of the talk, we explore ways that we can, in our formal and informal practices, integrate metta and wisdom. The talk is followed by discussion.