Non-aversion or non-hate,
is one of the three sobhana hetus, beautiful roots. As we have seen, each
sobhana citta is rooted in non-attachment and non-aversion, and it may
or may not be rooted in Wisdom. We may notice it when we have aversion,
dosa, but we may not know the characteristic of non-aversion, adosa, We
dislike having aversion because it is always accompanied by unpleasant
feeling. When the aversion is gone we may think that there is non-aversion
but is that so? At this moment there may not be aversion but can
we be sure that there is non-aversion. which accompanies kusala citta?
There may be attachment to visible object and then there cannot be non-aversion
at the same time. Whenever there is non-aversion there has to be non-attachment,
alobha, as well and several other sobhana cetasikas which each perform
their own function while they assist the kusala citta.
Adosa can be translated as non-aversion or non-hate, but there are many
forms and degrees of it, loving kindness, metta, is a form of adosa which
is directed towards living beings. Adosa can also be non-aversion with
regard to an object which is not a being and then it can be described as
patience. There can be non-aversion or patience with regard to heat, cold,
bodily pain or other unpleasant objects.
The Atthasalini (I, Book I, Part IV, Chapter 1, 127) defines non-aversion,
adosa, as follows:
of hate has the characteristic of freedom from churlishness or resentment,
like an agreeable friend; the function of destroying vexation, or dispelling
distress, like sandalwood: the manifestation of being pleasing, like the
(XIV, 143) gives a similar definition (1 See also Dhammasangani 33).
Non-aversion has the characteristic of freedom from savagery or violence,
it is gentle like a good friend, We may see the difference between aversion
and non-aversion when they appear in our daily life, We may be very annoyed
about someone or something, but when we see the disadvantage of aversion
there are conditions for patience. At that moment all the harshness which
characterizes aversion has gone and there is gentleness instead. There
is no self who is patient and gentle, but it is the cetasika non-aversion,
The function of non-aversion is the removing of annoyance or vexation and
non-aversion is compared to sandalwood which has a very agreeable odour
and is said to cure fever. When there is aversion we are vexed and annoyed;
we burn with the fever of hate and we may become uncontrolled, we may not
know what we are doing. Aversion is like a fire, it is hard to extinguish.
However, when non-aversion arises we are cured of the fever of aversion,
all annoyance has gone.
Both aversion and non-aversion influence our bodily disposition. We read
in the Atthasalini (I, Book I, Part IV, Chapter I, 129) :
of hate is the cause of youthfulness, for the man of no hate, not being
burnt by the fire of hate, which brings wrinkles and grey hairs, remains
young for a long time...
states that the manifestation of non-aversion is agreeableness like the
full moon. Non-aversion is agreeable both for oneself and for others, it
conduces to harmonious living among people. Through aversion or hate a
person loses his friends, and through non-aversion he acquires friends.
We read in the same section of the Atthasalini (129):
of hate is the cause of the production of friends, for through love friends
are obtained, not lost...
each kusala citta, it performs its function of destroying vexation while
we apply ourselves to dana, observe sila, develop calm or insight. Dana
is an act of kindness. When we are giving a gift with kusala citta we show
kindness. When there is non-aversion there must also be non-attachment
which performs its function of detachment from the object.
When we observe sila there is non-aversion accompanying the kusala citta.
When we abstain from akusala kamma which harms both ourselves and others
we show an act of kindness. The Atthasalini (in the same section)
Good-will is that which does not ruin one's own or another's bodily or
mental happiness, worldly or future advantage and good report.
The Buddha reminded the
monks to show acts of kindness to one another, both privately and in public
and this is to be applied by laypeople as well. When there is true kindness
it appears in our manners and speech. When someone else speaks harshly
to us it is difficult not to have aversion and retort his speech with angry
words, We are attached to pleasant objects and when there is an unpleasant
object our attachment conditions aversion. When we see the ugliness of
aversion and its disadvantages there are conditions to refrain from harsh
speech. When we have aversion on account of what other people are doing
or saying we forget to be mindful of our own cittas. When there it mindfulness
it prevents us from wrong speech and then there is also non-aversion which
We read in the Kindred Sayings (I, Sagatha-vagga, Chapter XI, Sakka
Suttas, I, 4) that Sakka, ruler of the gods, was reviled by Vepacitti,
an Asura (a demon). Sakka explained to Matali, the charioteer, that it
was not because of weakness that he showed forbearance. He praised patience
and forbearance and he said:
of the two is he who, when reviled,
There are many opportunities
for being impatient with people We may be irritated about someone's faults
and mistakes, about his way of speech or his appearance. We may be irritated
because someone moves slowly and is in our way when we are in a hurry Most
of the time we are concerned about ourselves but not about someone else.
When we find ourselves important aversion can arise very easily and then
there is no kindness. Selfishness and lack of consideration for others
stands in the way of kindness. When there are conditions for kindness and
patience there is peace of mind and then we can see the difference between
kindness and the harsh moments of aversion.
Reviles again. Who
does not, when reviled,
Revile again, a twofold
Both of the other
and himself seeks
The good: for the
other's angry mood
Does understand and
grows calm and still.
He who of both is
a physician, since
Himself he heals
and the other too,
Folk deem him fool,
they knowing not the Dhamma...
Kindness, metal, is a form of adosa which is directed towards living beings.
Patience, as we have seen, is another aspect of adosa. There can be patience
with regard to beings and also with regard to objects which are not beings,
thus with regard to all objects which can be experienced through the six
doors. When there is aversion towards unpleasant objects there is no patience.
When we have to endure hardship it may be difficult not to have aversion,
but when non-aversion arises we can endure what is unpleasant. The Buddha
exhorted the monks to endure unpleasant objects. We read in the Middle
Length Sayings (I, no. 2, Discourse on All the Cankers) that the Buddha
spoke about different ways of getting rid of the cankers and he explained
that one of these ways is endurance. It is to be understood that the cankers
cannot be eradicated unless right understanding is developed. We read:
And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by endurance? In this
teaching, monks, a monk wisely reflective, is one who bears cold, heat,
hunger, thirst, the touch of gadfly, mosquito, wind and sun, creeping things,
ways of speech that are irksome. unwelcome: he is of a character to bear
bodily fillings which, arising, are painful, acute, sharp, shooting, disagreeable,
miserable, deadly. Whereas, monks, if he lacked endurance, the cankers
which are destructive and consuming might arise. But because he endures,
therefore these cankers which are destructive and consuming are not. These,
monks. are called the cankers to be got rid of by endurance.
When we feel sick or when
we experience another unpleasant object through one of the senses we may
feel sorry for ourselves and complain about it. We give in to aversion
and we are apt to put off the development of kusala until we are in more
favourable conditions. Then we overlook the opportunity for the development
of kusala which he right at hand: when there are unpleasant objects there
is an opportunity to cultivate patience. We all are bound to suffer from
hunger and thirst, heat and cold; these things occur in our daily life
time and again. The experience of an unpleasant object through one of the
senses is vipaka, the result of kamma, and we cannot avoid vipaka. After
the moments of vipaka have fallen away, there are kusala cittas or akusala
cittas, depending on whether there is "wise attention" or "unwise attention"
to the object. If we see the benefit of patience in all circumstances there
are conditions for non-aversion instead of aversion.
One of the hardest things to endure is the separation from those who are
dear to us. We read in the Gradual Sayings (IV, Book of the Sevens,
chapter V, $ 10) about Nanda's mother, an anagami, who had through the
development of right understanding eradicated aversion. After she had offered
dana to the monks with Sariputta and Moggallana at their head she testified
to Sariputta about marvellous things which had happened to her We read:
for some reason, took by force and slew my only son, Nanda, who was dear
and precious to me; yet when the boy was seized or being seized. bound
or being bound, slain or being slain. I knew no disquietness of heart."
Nanda's mother then spoke
about her purity of sila, her attainment of the different stages
of jhana, and she declared that she had eradicated the "five lower fetters".
These fetters are eradicated at the attainment of the state of anagami.
marvellous and wonderful, O mother of Nanda, that you should have so purged
the surges of the heart."
is that all, reverend sir... When my husband died, he rose among the yakkas
(1 Non human beings) ; and he revealed himself me in his old form; but
l knew no disquietness of heart on that account."
The anagami or "non-returner", who has attained the third state of enlightenment,
has no more attachment to sensuous objects and thus, when there is an unpleasant
object instead of a pleasant object, he has no conditions for aversion.
Nanda's mother who was an anagami, had no sadness, fear or anxiety, no
matter what happened to her. If we understand that attachment to people
can lead to utter distress when we lose them, we may see the danger of
attachment, and then we can be reminded to develop right understanding
which leads to the eradication of all defilements.
In the development of right understanding patience has to be applied. When
there are many moments of akusala citta we should have patience to be mindful
even of akusala citta. When there is aversion we may be annoyed about it,
or we may take it for my aversion". When there is mindfulness of aversion
it can be known as only a type of nama which has arisen because of its
appropriate conditions. At the moment of mindfulness there is non-aversion,
adosa, instead of aversion, dosa.
Loving kindness, metta, is, as we have seen, a form of adosa which is in
particular directed towards living beings. The Visuddhimagga (Chapter
lX, 93) gives, apart from the definition of non-aversion, a definition
of loving kindness or metta :
As to characteristic,
etc., loving kindness is characterized here as promoting the aspect of
welfare. Its function is to prefer welfare. It is manifested as the removal
of annoyance. lts proximate cause is seeing lovableness in beings. It succeeds
when it makes ill-will subside, and it fails when it produces (selfish)
Loving kindness can arise
with right understanding or without it. Someone may be kind to others because
he has accumulated kindness, but there may not be right understanding.
If there is right understanding of the characteristic of loving kindness
it can be developed. It can be developed as a subject of samatha, but one
cannot succeed if one does not practise it in daily fife.
The "near enemy" of loving kindness is selfish affection, attachment. Attachment
tends to arise very closely after moments of loving kindness but we may
not notice this. We should find out whether we want to be kind only to
people we particularly Like, or whether we are kind to whomever we meet,
because we are truly concerned for his welfare. From our own experience
we can learn to see the difference between loving kindness and selfish
affection. If we are attached to someone we will miss him when he is no
longer with us; attachment conditions aversion. When there is loving kindness
we do not think of our own enjoyment in someone's company. When loving
kindness arises, there is detachment, alobha, and also equanimity or impartiality
When we are giving a gift to someone or when we are helping someone, there
may be pleasant feeling. However, instead of pure loving kindness there
can be attachment. We should remember that pleasant feeling can arise with
kusala citta as well as with citta rooted in attachment. We find pleasant
feeling very important and we tend to think that it is kusala all the time,
but we can easily be misled by pleasant feeling.
When loving kindness arises there is not necessarily pleasant feeling all
the time. Kusala citta can be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent
The Visuddhimagga (Chapter IX) gives advice for the application
of loving kindness for someone who is inclined to give in to anger. He
should review the danger in hate and the advantage of patience. A person
harms himself when he is angry. When he is angry with someone he should
not pay attention to the bad qualities of that person but only to his good
qualities, and if he has none he should be compassionate instead of angry.
That person's accumulation of akusala will bring him sorrow. We should
remember that we all are "heirs" of our deeds, we will receive the results
of our deeds.
We could also regard the person we are angry with as five khandhas (aggregates)
or as elements which are impermanent These arise and then fair away immediately
and thus what is then the object we are angry with? The citta of the other
person which motivated unpleasant speech or an unpleasant deed has fallen
away already and thus it belongs to the past. Another way of overcoming
anger is giving a gift. We can learn from experience that, when we give
a gift, there are conditions for kusala citta both for the giver and the
receiver. Giving and receiving mellows the heart and thus the relationship
between people can be improved
We could also, in order to have less anger and more loving kindness, reflect
on the virtues the Bodhisatta accumulated. We read in the Visuddhimagga
(IX, 26) about the way of reviewing these:
... is it
not the fact that when your Master was a Bodhisatta before discovering
full enlightenment, while he was still engaged in fulfilling the Perfections
during the four incalculable ages and a hundred thousand aeons. he did
not allow hate to corrupt his mind even when his enemies tried to murder
him on various occasions? For example, in the Silavant Birth Story (Jatakas
I, 26I ) when his friends rose to prevent his Kingdom of three hundred
leagues being seized by an enemy king who had been incited by a wicked
minister in whose mind his own queen had sown hate for him, he did not
allow them to lift a weapon. Again when he was buried. along with a thousand
companions, up to the neck in a hole dug in the earth in a charnel ground,
he had no thought of hate. And when, after saving his life by a heroic
effort helped by jackals scrapping away soil when they had come to devour
the corpses, he went with the aid of a spirit to his own bedroom and saw
his enemy lying on his own bed, he was not angry but treated him as a friend,
undertaking mutual pledge, and he then exclaimed:
However, only reflecting
on loving-kindness is not enough, it should be practised. For example,
when others talk to us we can listen to them with loving kindness. When
there is more right understanding of realities there are more conditions
for loving kindness in our relationship with others. When we cling to a
concept of "people" we tend to be attached to an idea of having friends.
We feel lonely when we are without friends. In the ultimate sense there
are no friends who exist, there are only citta, cetasika and rupa, and
these arise and then fall away immediately. Actually, friendship or loving
kindness can arise with the citta which thinks of a being. Loving kindness
can be extended to whosoever is in our company and then there is a moment
of true friendship. At such a moment there is no thought of self who wants
friendship from others, no feeling of loneliness or worry about the attitude
of others towards us. If we consider more the reality of loving kindness
instead of clinging to an idea of friendship there are more conditions
for unselfish love.
"The brave aspire, the wise will not lose heart
I see myself as I
had wished to be. " (Jatakas I. 267)
Loving kindness is one of the meditation subjects of samatha. Those who
have accumulated conditions for the development of calm to the degree of
jhana can attain jhana with this meditation subject (1 With this subject
different stages of rupa-jhana can be attained ,but not the highest stage,
since the jhanacittas of the highest stage (the fourth in the fourfold
system and the fifth in fivefold system) are accompanied by indifferent
feeling. Loving kindness can be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent
feeling and thus it is not the object of the highest stage of jhana.) .
Loving kindness (metta) is among the four meditation subjects which are
called the " divine abidings" (brahma-viharas). The other three "divine
abidings" are: compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity
(upekkha). They are called divine abidings because they are excellent and
of a "faultless nature": those who cultivate them live like the "Brahma
divinities" (Atthasalini, I, Book I, Part V, Chapter XII, 195).
The divine abidings are also called "Illimitables" (appamannas) because
they arise in an immeasurable field, their field or object is beings without
Iimits. Loving kindness, for example, can, when jhana is attained with
this subject, be extended to all beings, none excepted.
Loving kindness is sublime and it can be illimitable, but even the most
excellent qualities are impermanent and dukkha. Without the development
of right understanding good deeds, excellent virtues or even jhana cannot
lead to the end of defilements. The final goal of the Buddha's teachings
is the eradication of defilements and this means the end of dukkha.
Through the development of fight understanding the clinging. to the self
can gradually decrease, and as a consequence there will be more conditions
for loving kindness and patience. One will be more inclined to help others
without selfish motives. There are many degrees of non-aversion, adosa,
and in the arahat non aversion has reached perfection. Those who have attained
enlightenment, the ariyans, do not have wrong view of people who exist;
they have realized that there are only nama and rupa, but they can still
think of the concept "being". The arahat can think of "being" but he thinks
of beings without any defilements Those who have eradicated defilements
ate truly kind to all beings.
must there be right understanding of the characteristic of loving kindness
in order to develop it as a subject of calm?
ii Why is the
"near enemy' of loving kindness attachment?
iii Can there be kindness
with indifferent feeling?
iv Can there
be non-aversion, adosa, towards an object which is not a being?