Thursday, July 4, 2019

B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Standard Definition of "Love"



an intense feeling of deep affection.
"babies fill parents with feelings of love"
synonyms: deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, endearment; More
a great interest and pleasure in something.
"his love for football"
synonyms: liking, weakness, partiality, bent, leaning, proclivity, inclination, disposition; More


feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).
"do you love me?"
synonyms: be in love with, be infatuated with, be smitten with, be besotted with, be passionate about; More

B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

In his defense, B. Sujato surely does not intend the 'verb' sense of romantic sexual love and lust, but 'love' is a loaded word where that is how most people understand and interpret that word in many, if not most contexts. It's not mutually excluded from the primary definition either.  Most people will not assume B. Sujato is referring ONLY to a Christian Jesus type of brotherly, neighborly love. Most people conflate their idea of 'love' to include both meanings.

The Pali word metta, is closely related to the Pali word 'mitta', which means friend. Metta is 'friendliness.'

'Loving Kindness' IMO is a poor translation, but it's not necessarily 'Wrong'

B. bodhi translates metta as 'loving-kindness', and in Western Buddhism, especially among Mahayana and Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism, that's their translation of choice as well. It has more intimacy and emotional intensity than 'friendliness', 'good-will', and 'benevolence' (3 correct translations for 'metta'), and the 'kindness' in 'loving-kindness' is supposed to divest the 'wrong' part of love, the romantic love and lust.


At of the time of this writing, going by the accepted definition of 'love' in the dictionary, B. Sujato's translation of 'metta' as 'love', is wrong.

Metta in EBT Chinese Agama 慈 (ci)

Post  by sentinel » Sun Jul 07, 2019 7:57 am
In the agama , in dependent origination the tanha ie craving link in Chinese is 爱 (ai) .
In Chinese , love is 爱 (ai) , commonly describe the relationship between a man and a woman .
And 情 (qing) which is the feeling or an affection describing the relationship between parents and children , brother and sister .

Metta in Chinese is 慈 (ci) which means gentle , kindness or benevolence . In Chinese 慈 commonly describe affection of parents towards children .

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:33 am
Maybe this is the source of the disagreement. Perhaps some think that metta is supposed to have a detached feel to it?

In the end, no translation is perfect. ...
The amount of detachment in metta, there can be legitimate differences of opinion and healthy discussion. But metta as 'love' is WRONG. Show me in the EBT where metta has the ambiguity as 'love' does in English (with sexual attraction and romance). With such an important concept like metta, it's negligent and irresponsible for the translator to introduce ambiguity where it doesn't exist from the source material pali with 'metta'.
mikenz66 wrote: 
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:39 pm
... Sometimes it's the Pali word (dhamma, saṅkāra, ... ) that has multiple meanings, and can't be translated coherently to a single English word. In this case, metta has a relatively singular meaning, but any English translation choice (love, benevolence, kindness, goodwill, ...) has various shades of meaning and one could take issue with any of the choices. I see how love raises objections as one of the meanings is: "A strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone". However, in other contexts it works well. The problem with some of the other options, such as goodwill, kindness, or benevolence, is that they can have the connotation of being rather distant and detached: "I showed kindness to the beggar by giving him a dollar"; "I was just being friendly...". Whereas love has a more connected, committed, connotation: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,...". 
With Dharma and Sankhara, they are multi-valenced and ambiguous in Pali, and so if the best one could do in English is also choosing an ambiguous English word, who can blame the translator? But with 'metta', that is not the case. In the Agamas for example, I'm pretty sure the Chinese took great care to make sure 'metta' was not translated with ambiguous Chinese words that crossover into romantic love and sex.

Translating 'metta' as 'love' is in clear category of 'Wrong', not in the category of 'legitimate difference of opinion'.

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:46 am
mikenz66 wrote: 
Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:18 am
Hi Frank,
frank k wrote: 
Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:33 am
Translating 'metta' as 'love' is in clear category of 'Wrong', not in the category of 'legitimate difference of opinion'.
I wonder if there are, perhaps, some variations of interpretation between those of us who speak different varieties of English. Perhaps those of use who are native British or Australasian English speakers don't have the same baggage with regard to the word "love". I certainly don't think it's perfect, but I see flaws in the alternatives as well, as I pointed out above.

I wonder this partly because, not being a native American English speaker, I sometimes find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's writing style very obscure, whereas some think it's wonderfully clear.

Metta :heart:
As a native American English speaker, I can totally see there are differences between American English and different International versions of English. But but again, for 'Love', Oxford English dictionary, Merriam English dictionary, and probably every other English dictionary, place romantic attraction, sexual and lustful attraction, in a very prominent place, and I believe the dictionaries under sell its prominence by not placing it in the #1 position. Just look at classic English language literature from any era, how is 'love', romantically, regarded? How do modern westerners react every time they hear that word, 'love'?

And not even English speakers, I believe it's a universal phenomena, you ask most people what is the meaning of life, what's the purpose for existence, probably most of them are going to rank romantic/sexual 'love' as #1.

'metta' does not have romantic love in there.
the English 'love' does.
It's very clear cut 'right' and 'wrong' situation, (as of the current time and conventional agreed dictionary definition of 'love'), unlike many pali word translation choices.

When I first saw B. Sujato's translation of metta as 'love' a couple of years ago, I too thought, 'okay, that's interesting.' And being liberal myself and appreciating people risk taking and exploring different possibilities, I just sat with my opinions. But recently when I researched into metta and its counterparts such as vihesa, ill will, and the other brahmaviharas, when I researched carefully I realized metta as 'love' is just plain wrong. It's very clear cut if you think it through carefully.

I talked to some Chinese friends and asked them about how metta was translated in the Agamas, and the result is very telling.
Like the Pali metta, the Chinese word used to translate metta absolutely has no romantic or sexual lust associated with it. In classical Chinese, it's more of a paternal and grandparent having care and regard for their younger relatives.

Now here's the real kicker. You know how the Agamas translate the word 'tanha', thirst/craving, the source of dukkha? The Chinese word they use, is the Chinese word for 'romantic Love'!
Now while I don't exactly agree with that, I definitely agree with the part where there's a clear division between friend-kindness and romantic love & lust, and the the latter is a defilement, in no way to be ambiguously associated with 'metta' and brahma viharas.

Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:03 am ... k-secrets

British-born guru Sangharakshita was mired in allegations of abuse for years. Now it seems the scandal in his wealthy order went far wider than previously acknowledged

(article is about sexual abuse in tiratana organization, including how how Sangharakshita preyed on heterosexual men into having homosexual sex with him)

Metta = "love" is a horrible and wrong translation.
You can almost guarantee someone in the future (or many people throughout history already), will use metta and 'love' as part of the justification for sexual predators to prey on victims. You really don't want to give them easy ammunition like that.

So you need to to clearly separate the romantic, sexual, and passionate aspect of love out of 'metta'. Metta is friendly kindness, it's not love.
B. Sujato's translation, by virtue of being free, easily accessible, is likely to become a defacto standard for English sutta translation.

Just because many of you may be came from a religious upbringing where Christ's 'love', has a clear and separate category different from romantic love, understand most of the rest of the world does not, and when they hear 'love', romance & passion & lust & sex is part of the package.

Re: What Buddhism says about self-love?

Post by frank k » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:10 am
On a thread asking about 'self-love' in the context of Theravada Buddhism, I had the same question as James, as I'm sure many others. This is because the English word 'love' is ambiguous, loaded, unclear, even in a religious context. The OP still hasn't clarified how he understands "self-love". Is it masturbation? Self-esteem? Kindness (metta) directed towards oneself? Or all of the above?

This is why it's important to translate 'metta' correctly. B. Sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. It's horrible, ambiguous, confusing, and wrong.
JamesTheGiant wrote: 
Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:29 pm
Do you mean spanking the monkey?
The five knuckle shuffle?
Choking the chicken?
Shaking hands with the milkman?
Rubbing one out?
Let's speak plainly. :tongue:

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SN 12.63: B. Sujato 🤦 can't tell the difference between metta, 'love' and 'lust'.

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