In Buddhism, the four immeasurables (brahma-viharas) represent the most beautiful and hopeful aspects of our human nature. They are mindfulness practices that protect the mind from falling into habitual patterns of reactivity which contradict our best intentions.
Also referred to as mind liberating practices, they awaken powerful healing energies which brighten and lift the mind to increasing levels of clarity. As a result, the boundless states of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity manifest as forces of purification transforming the turbulent heart into a refuge of calm, focused awareness.
The four immeasurables are:
1. Loving-kindness (Pali: Metta) towards all: the hope that a person will be well; “the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy.”
2. Compassion (Pali: Karuna): the hope that a person’s sufferings will diminish; “the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.”
3. Joy (Pali: Mudita): joy in the accomplishments of a person — oneself or another; sympathetic joy; “the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings.”
4. Equanimity (Pali: Upekkha): learning to accept loss and gain, praise and blame, and success and failure, all with detachment, equally, for oneself and for others. Equanimity is “not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind – not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation.
I wanted to share these with you today, and look at them myself more deeply.
I can see that Upekkha is the one I seem to struggle with the most.
I do see the Upekkha/Equanimity can be misconstrued as indifference. Indifference, is the enemy of Equanimity in my opinion. And for me, this is not an issue, as I don’t think I am capable of indifference. But I need to be vigilant that I do not fall into this trap also.
But I do however, struggle with having calm loving feelings towards someone who is being angry, hurtful or evil.
Once again, I will refer back to Bhante Sujatha’s Meditation CD. He says to think about people that have hurt you or been mean to you. He says “forgive them; they are human beings just like you”.
Well I can honestly say that I do practice this, and it works. But what Bhante does not address in his CD, is what if you have a person who continues to hurt you?
I know that having Right View is key to a situation like this, and I know that being balanced and without attachment is the Right Action.
Yet I have a self preservation aspect that rears its ugly head, and wants to push this pain away from me. To react to it, in an equally negative way.
So this is the part of the Four Immeasurables that I will be looking at more deeply. I know that examining this is Right Effort, and through my practice and meditation I hope to see this struggle more clearly also.
Lastly, I welcome any of you reading this, to offer your thoughts and suggestions.
May you all be well, happy and peaceful. May you live in peace, harmony, and free from any more suffering.