Thursday, August 9, 2012

Attaining Brahmavihara

“May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes
May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.”

Brahmavihara are the four states that needs to be cultivated using meditation for attaining a higher state of being. These are called the four immeasurable. In simpler terms the initiate has to radiate the following four mental states of loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity.
In Brahmavihara Sutta, Sakyamuni explains that one should be devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful.

When one is born in this world, karmic causes endow certain attributes due to which one has to experience suffering. Accumulated causes should be followed by resultant experiences in this life.
In the karmic body, the development of the Ego gives rise to subjective experience and all other observation are externalized. In Anguttara Nikaya V.161, this gap that develops between the subject and the object is referred to as the emotion of ‘annoyance’.

But we are endowed with the capability to free ourselves from the suffering and its causes.
Through constant meditation one should attain an expansiveness of consciousness which leads to all-encompassing awareness devoid of ill will and in the knowledge of equanimity of all creation, one can attain the highest state of mind which leads to union with the Divine.

This thought is not unique to Buddhism. We find in  Patañjali's Yoga Sutras the following exposition:
“maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam”….. Verses 1.33
“In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.”
The Sanskrit words ‘maitri’ means friendliness, pleasantness, lovingness ‘karuna’ means compassion, mercy ‘mudita’ means gladness, goodwill and ‘upekshanam’ means acceptance, equanimity, indifference, disregard, neutrality. Each of these four attitudes (friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and neutrality) is, in a sense, a meditation unto itself.
Towards those who are happy or joyful, we may feel resistance/distance but we should cultivate, friendliness/kindness. Towards those who are in pain or suffering, we may feel imposition/frustration but we should cultivate, compassion/support. Towards those who are virtuous or benevolent, we may feel inadequate/jealous but we should cultivate, happiness/goodwill. Towards those who we see as bad or wicked, we may feel anger/aversion but we should cultivate, neutrality/acceptance.

During our daily meditation, it would be beneficial to spend some time reflecting on these four attitudes. You might do them all, or you might practice with only one of them for an extended period of time. Simply choose one of the four attitudes and allow a relation to be established  with an object through which your negative reaction arises in the mind field. You will start to notice your reactions and the ego dominated judgemental bias arising. As your attention rests on that inner impression of that object, allow yourself to cultivate the positive or useful attitude. Gradually, the negativity and the bias weakens and attenuates. This is part of the preparation for meditation. Through constant practice one’s expanded awareness removes all the unnecessary qualifications we have bestowed upon an objective relationship. This when constantly practiced leads to the identification of the subject with what has so far been an external object, destined to judgement and evaluation.

This is the primary objective of our meditative practice.

Love to you all. 


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