The Buddha referred to deep significance of Brahma Vihara.
Brahma means God the Creator. The word ‘Brahma’ is the same in Sanskrit and Pali, the language of the Buddha.
Brahma has the same meaning as God the Creator, as used in the Christian, Islamic and Jewish tradition.
Vihara refers to abiding or dwelling place. Brahma Vihara can mean Abiding in God, Abiding with God or Kingdom of God.
The Buddha placed emphasis on deep experience rather than belief in a metaphysical entity called God.
He referred to four significant ways to be with God, namely:
Love, Friendship, Kindness
1. LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, KINDNESS
The Pali word metta means love, friendship and loving kindness. The Buddha gave importance to friendship, kindness and love over and above worship, devotion and religious beliefs. He developed friendship in the Sangha of the Wise and the Sangha of practitioners. He regarded the Sangha as his friends and he regarded himself as a friend of others.
Be relaxed and comfortable. Close the eyes and access a warm, caring, loving heartfulness towards life. Be aware of the absence of ill will, and the desire to hurt or hate in the heart, so that you experience an authentic kindness and compassion towards one and all. Generate this warmth to those who are in the immediate vicinity and those who are far away. Develop this meditation so that the kindness of the heart becomes firm and steady in you despite the many vicissitudes of existence.
Remember you can write your own kindness meditations, prayers and chants. Here is one example that you may wish to use.
A Loving Kindness Meditation
May my teachers, community, loved ones, friends, and contacts be free from suffering and pain
May my mother and father be free from suffering and pain
May my brothers and sisters and relatives be free from suffering and pain
Kay my children and grandchildren be free from suffering and pain
May people appreciate their interdependence on each other and the environment
May animals and creatures in the earth, on the ground, in the air, and under water live in safety and security
May I abide with a warm heart, clear mind, and be free from pain
May my daily activities through body, speech, heart, and mind contribute to the contentment, healing, and insight of others
May I find the resources for the welfare of others, and may I be willing to take risks for their well-being.
May all beings know happiness
May all beings know love
May all beings be wisely supported
May all beings be free
May all beings experience awakening
Remember to practise these meditations regularly for all three kinds of people. At times, you will need to concentrate on one of them due to circumstances. When you say the lines of to each kind of person remember to bring in the feeling of the heart to go with the words.
It can be worthwhile memorising the lines or similar lines to enable a loving presence to be steady in the heart whenever we are in contact with any of the three kinds of people.
Meditation on Love, Friendship Kindness
towards Three Kinds of People
TO YOUR LOVED ONES
May I always acknowledge and understand your intentions
May I always be supportive for you in time of need
May I never place demands and pressure on you
May you be well and happy
May your life know contentment and joy
May you be peaceful and steady from one day to the next
May our love and friendship for each other remain steady
May I not rush to judgement on meeting you
May I show friendship and presence for you
May I communicate clearly and wisely in your presence
May your day be rich and worthwhile
May you act mindfully and consciously in all things
May everybody treat you with respect
May you show kindness to everybody that you meet
May your day be free from fear and worry
May you sleep well and peacefully tonight
TO THE UNFRIENDLY
May your anger and resentment subside quickly
May you understand the pain you cause yourself and others
May you explore fresh ways to explore differences
May you see into the fear behind the anger
May you develop equanimity when things do not go your way
May others stop being angry towards you
May you realise that anger does not cease with anger
May others listen to you and you listen to others
Compassion refers to action to relieve or dissolve suffering. The Buddha used two concepts to refer to compassion. Karuna and Anukampa. Both communicate a sense of action – ka-runa and ka-mpa which means being moved to. Anu – in response to. The word kamma also conveys a sense of action.
Compassionate action arises naturally for those who see suffering, know primary causes and conditions for it, see the resolution and the way to resolve. There is no reference in the discourses of the Buddha to self-compassion or the confinement of compassion to meditation.The benefit of meditations on compassion only show in the subsequent action.
We confirm compassion through actions of body (doing), speech and intentions of the mind. Compassion distinguishes itself from metta. Compassion refers specifically to working with levels of suffering, great or small, found among people, animals or the environment.
Compassion reveals itself in action to change the behaviour, beliefs and attitude of harmful institutions, as well as an individual (s).
Compassion expresses itself through wisdom, namely the application of the four noble truths. Otherwise we may confuse pity with compassion. We might feel sorry for the plight of others during our meditation or not but that does not confirm compassion. Pity is the short-lived feeling of concern without any action. Compassion is an action.
We can certainly mediate on compassion.
This may lead to a skilful action. The ego has a natural reluctance to make a claim such as “I am a very compassionate person.” Listeners will have their doubt and sense the egotism of such a view.
Meditation on compassion can help to ensure we don’t get lost in self-interest, self-compassion and narcissistic viewpoints, which reduces our concern and responses outside of ourselves.
Meditation on Compassion
May these meditation practices give support to the welfare of others
May I go deep to listen to the voice of compassion in the heart
May I reflect on the suffering of others and on the initiatives to support others
May I extend compassion to animals and the environment
Remember actions that supported another. Visualise the situation. What did you do?
What ways can you extend yourself or follow up with a similar worthwhile action?
Our eco-system is vulnerable. May I reflect on lifestyle to support life on Earth
May I find time for calmness and renewal to sustain support for others
The Buddha said he “acted out of compassion for others.” May I act similarly
The Buddha said he taught for the welfare, benefit and happiness of the many.
May I have the capacity to respond in a similar way.
3. APPRECIATIVE JOY
Appreciative Joy refers to the heart’s capacity to know happiness in a variety of experiences, secular, religious and spiritual. We have the potential to experience a deep happiness for the countless blessings in our life, the lives of others, humans and Gods. Gods refer to those beings with an elevated consciousness, who inspire us and show us ways to transcend mundane situations.
A deep joy can arise from the outcome of events, the variety of precious experiences that arise for others and oneself, often emerging from some kind of inter-action.
All four kinds of profound experience of abiding in the Kingdom of God share much in common – mindfulness, meditation, reflection, receptivity of the senses and capacity to listen to the depths of the heart. Appreciative joy nourishes.
The Buddha did not offer any methods or techniques to experience the Divine. God comes to us, so to speak, when obstructions and hindrances lose their grip over consciousness.
We find renewal through the depths of appreciative joy in countless ways. This joy in life through the senses, insights, blessings and realisations also enables us to support others. We can then stay largely free from stress.
Meditation on Appreciative Joy
What do I deeply appreciate in this period?
Do I allow my heart to rest on the subject matter – a person, activity or place etc.
What touches me?
Do I remain mindful and receptive to what I see, hear, smell, taste and touch?
Do I experience appreciative joy for events in the past, present and future?
Do I allow time for your heart to open and stay open?
Do I extend time in nature, silent retreats, arts and closeness with another or others?
Does happiness flow regularly through my whole being?
Do I welcome the joy of others?
Do I feel an authentic gladness for what others have accomplished?
Am I able to respond with happiness to a situation?
Can I learn to feel happiness more deeply and on more frequent occasions.
Equanimity refers the capacity to stay steady in challenging situations.
We may feel attracted towards a situation, object, story or stream of thoughts in our mind.
Equanimity means not to grab onto that attraction or impulse, when we know it will leader sooner or later to suffering.
We may feel aversion involving a situation, object, story or stream of thoughts. Our mood may darken. Fear, resentment and blame may start filling up the heart and affecting perceptions.
Equanimity means not to grab onto such aversion as it will to lead to suffering.
It is not easy to be as steady as mountain in a hurricane. In the depth of love, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity, we experience a divine abiding with a clear and expanded heart.
The Buddha took the view that the Gods abide with God. Such a divine abiding has a power and depth to it.
Some give a rather superficial interpretation to the four inter-connected divine realms. A shortlived feeling of kindness, act of compassion, appreciative joy or equanimity bears no relationship wto abiding with God.
There is a depth and staying power in abiding in the Divine.For example, a divine equanimity is not easily knocked off balance. The Gods have little ego. The Gods express a remarkable clarity, integrity and heartful presence with very little in the way of demands or reactivity.
Meditation on Equanimity
May I stay steady in the face of the pull towards unhealthy habits and addictions
May I stay stead in the face of fears and blame
May I steady in the times of living with the unknown
May I find another (s) in whom I trust to share my experiences
May I remember to reflect on what I can learn from events
May I remember to breath in and out, long and deep, to dissolve reactivity
Equanimity support clarity and integrity. May I recognise this.
Equanimity supports the needs of others for a stable figure
Equanimity offers presence and steadfastness.
May I offer this.