Title- The Four Divine States of Mind (The Four Brahmaviharas)


 

Metta (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity) are collectively called the Four Brahmaviharas, the four divine or noble states of mind. [Brahma= divine, and vihara= living]. That is to say, “to dwell emanating thoughts of either loving-kindness or any one of compassion, sympathathetic joy and equanimity towards beings is the noble living”. Living such a life is not arid with the heat of hatred, envy and jealousy. It is a life steeped in and imbued with the moisture of four Brahmaviharas.

 

 
In Myanmar such noble states of mind are collectively classified as Brahmaso, (saturated and filled with divine thoughts). But some say the word Brahmaso is derived from the Pali word Brahmacariya.

 

 

 

Developing Metta

 

Keep your mind incessantly occupied with metta and you will really develop metta for all. In other words metta must be developed so that your mind becomes enriched with loving-kindness.

 

 

 

Radiating Metta

 

When you radiate metta directed to someone while concentrating your thoughts on that person and wishing, “May so and so be prosperous”, your metta will communicate with the person on the receiving end. It happens as if your metta has reached that person’s mind. Therefore when you radiate metta directed to someone, people today say “you send metta to someone”.

 

 

The Common Mode of Sending Metta

 

Recite (in Pali) “Sabbe satta avera hontu, Abyapajja hontu, Anigha hontu, Sukhi attanam pariharantu”.

 

This means:

 

(1) May all beings be free from danger.
(2) May all beings be free from domanasa (anger-mental suffering) and have peace of mind.
(3) May all beings be free from physical sufferings and be well.
(4) May all living beings be prosperous and maintain themselves to live a long life.

 

 

 

Effective Sending of Metta

 

Only when you earnestly wish the well-being of someone or some beings can we say that metta has been radiated properly. If you just say avera hontu, etc., by rote learning with wandering mind and without concentration, then you are not sending metta as you intend to do. It is better therefore to recite in one’s own vernacular rather than in Pali so that you really comprehend what you are uttering. You should mention a person by name when you send metta.

 

For example,

 

“May my mother be free from dangers and difficulties; may she attain mental and physical happiness;may she be in good health and may she live long”.

 

 
You should say these words with great enthusiasm and sincerity. The same holds true for your father, teacher, etc. In the case of metta for all living beings also you replace “my mother” with “all living beings”.

 

 
In short, you can just recite: “May my mother be free from danger and may she be well”. “May my father be…..” “May my teacher be…..” The only essential point is to have keen interest and enthusiasm for their welfare, peace and progress.
 

 

 

How To Send Karuna

 

Karuna-cetasika means loving compassion for all beings suffering from misery. The essence is the sincere wish to deliver them from their present woes. Therefore in propagating karuna, people recite in Pali: “Dukkha muccantu” which means “May they get free from prevailing woes”. Real karuna is the profound wish for others to be free from suffering and come to happiness. Wishing “May so and so die quickly” so as to bring his suffering to a quick end is not only not true karuna, but is in reality byapada-duccarita (evil conduct in thought that is ill will) .

 

 
Real karuna means noble attitude of pity for a suffering person or a being. Merely uttering “Dukkha muccantu” will not constitute true karuna.
 

 

 

How To Send Mudita

 

Mudita is sympathetic joy (altruistic joy) at the success, prosperity and achievements of others. It is the sincere wish to let others continue enjoying their wealth, position, progress, happiness, fame, and so on. To send mudita, one should recite wittingly “Yathaladdha-sampattito ma vigacchantu”, which means “May they not lose the success or happiness they have achieved” and radiate sympathetic joy when you witness the well-being of a person. A mere recitation of Pali words does not constitute real mudita.
 

 

 

How To Send Upekkha

 

Upekkha is equanimity, which is viewing rightly and having no partiality. To send upekkha is to reflect, “People have kamma alone as their property; whatever good or bad that happens to them is due to their kamma”.

 

 
That is to say, one should reflect: “Even though I send metta for his happiness, he will be happy only if he had good kamma; even though I feel compassionate for him, he will be free from suffering only if he had good kamma; even though I am happy with his prosperity, and do not want him to lose this prosperity, he will be able to maintain this prosperity and his life only if he had good kamma. Therefore, I should not be concerned about him; he has his kamma as his own property”.
 
 
 
Only when you earnestly wish the well-being of someone or some beings can we say that metta has been radiated properly. If you just say avera hontu, etc., by rote learning with wandering mind and without concentration, then you are not sending metta as you intend to do. It is better therefore to recite in one’s own vernacular rather than in Pali so that you really comprehend what you are uttering. You should mention a person by name when you send metta.

 

 

 

Note On The Four Divine States

 

These Four Divine States of Mind, the Four Brahmaviharas, have different projections. Metta projects loving-kindness and affection on all beings. Karuna projects pity and compassion on beings suffering from misery. Mudita will take successful beings as its objects and projects sympathetic joy. Upekkha views all beings as subject to kamma, and projects equanimity on them.

 

 
Therefore, it should be noted that one cannot project the four Brahmacariya at the same time onto all beings or onto a single person. When you wish to radiate metta through-waves effectively, you ought to recite the four lines in Pali, Avera hontu…..pariharantu, or their vernacular with great concentration of mind.

 

 
Similarly you can project karuna onto suffering beings in Pali or in your language. Merely uttering Pali sentences without understanding their meanings or with no sincere wish, will not be effective. Perfunctory rituals are common among Buddhists nowadays. Therefore the pious and the faithful are duty bound to put more emphasis on setting good examples for the new generation to emulate. 

 

 

 

Doc Version Here In My Group:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/buddhism-for-beginners/title-the-four-divine-states-of-mind-the-four-brahmaviharas/1319970251393093

 

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Related Articles:

 

 

Title- A Way of Life

 

 

 

Title- Metta, Loving-kindness

 

 

Title- Karuna (Pity, Compassion)

 

 

Title- Mudita (Sympathetic Joy)

 

 

Title- Upekkha (Equanimity)

 

 

Title- Brahmavihara Dhamma By Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw E-book

 

 

Title- The Four Sublime States E-book

 

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