Buddhism Reader Brahmaviharas
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   1 Course ID: BUD150 The Four Wholesome Qualities of the Mind Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, and Equanimity Study and Practice Engaged Buddhist Alliance 1409 N. Walnut Grove Ave. Rosemead CA 91770   2 Table of Content  Introduction   3 Introduction By Bhikkhu Analayo  When due to prolonged distraction the divine abode has been completely lost, whatever aid one has used to arouse the brahmavihāra can be brought in again  briefly to re- establish one’s meditative dwelling. But the actual form of practice, when momentum has been established, is just to be with a mind that is imbued with mettā, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. With progressive practice, whatever tool one may have chosen will come to be used less and less, until it eventually becomes possible to arouse each  brahmavihāra at will, without any need to formulate words or bring to mind images. The actual experience of each divine abode has a distinct feel to it, and it is familiarity with this distinct feel that will eventually enable a practitioner to a rouse each brahmavihāra without needing to rely on phrases or images. To illustrate this distinct quality of each divine abode and their radiation in all directions, I would like to propose a simile based on the sun. This simile is  based on imagining that one is in a place that has a cool climate, where sunshine is experienced as something pleasant and agreeable rather than as something oppressive. An aspect of the simile relevant to all four brahmavihāras is based on the way sunlight srcinates. In the center of the sun a constant process of thermonuclear fusion takes place. This fusion results in the release of photons whose motion out into space is responsible for the phenomenon of sunlight. In actual meditation practice there is a similar combination of an inward fusion of the mind in concentration that results in the outward radiation of each of the  brahmavihāras. The more the mind is fused in deep concentration, the more  powerful and pervasive the radiation of any brahmavihāra becomes. Regarding the distinct quality of each divine abode in the context of the sun simile, mettā would be like the sun at midday in a cloudless sky, illuminating everything equally and providing warmth in all directions. Just as the sun shines on what is high and low, clean a nd dirty, so mettā shines on all without making distinctions. The sun keeps shining independently of how its rays are received. It does not shine more if people move out into the open to be warmed by its rays, nor does it shine less because people move bac k indoors. Similarly, mettā does not depend on reciprocation. Its rays of kindness shine on others out of an inner strength that pervades all bodily activities, words, and thoughts, without expecting a return. From the center of one’s heart mettā shines it s rays on anyone encountered, just as the sun shines in all directions from its position in the midst of the sky. Compassion in turn would be like the sun just before sunset. Darkness is close, almost palpably close, yet the sun keeps shining. In fact it shines all the more  brilliantly, beautifully coloring the sky at sunset. Similarly, when being face to face with suffering and affliction, the mental attitude of compassion shines even more brilliantly, undeterred by all the darkness found in the world. At sunset the   4 sun appears as if it were moving downwards. So, too, compassion is willing to reach out to those in a less fortunate position. Continuing with the sun imagery, sympathetic joy would be comparable to sunrise in the early morning. The birds are singing merrily, the air is fresh, and the surroundings are illuminated by the rising sun and appear as if pervaded by  joyful delight. At times the rays of the sun touch a dewdrop on a flower or tree and break into a myriad of colors. In the same way, the joy of others can  become the source of a myriad of joyful rejoicings within oneself. At sunrise the sun appears as if it were moving on an upward trajectory. This mirrors the disposition of sympathetic joy to direct positive feelings towards those who are in a better position than oneself. The fourth of the divine abodes, equanimity, is then like the full moon on a cloudless night. Just as the sun and moon are both up in the vast sky, in the same way the four brahmavihāras share with each other the boundle ss nature of a mind that has become vast like the sky. The moon is not itself a source of sunlight, unlike the sun. So, too, equanimity is not actively involved with others in the way the other three brahmavihāras are. At the same time, however, the moon does reflect the light of the sun, just as equanimity reflects within itself the positive disposition of the other divine abodes. VII.3 THE RADIATION PRACTICE Proceeding from the initial arousing of the divine abodes to their boundless radiation, it may be advisable to engage with each of the brahmavihāras for some time, until each is well established,  before moving on to the next one. This will soon give place to a practice that effortlessly moves through all four divine abodes even in a short sitting. The arising of mettā can be physically felt as a warm feeling of softnes s located somewhere in the center of the chest.10 So one simply allows the mettā that wells up from the heart to radiate in the different directions. Actual practice of the radiation begins by pervading the front, then the direction to the right, the  back, and the left. Having in this way established pervasion of the four directions one radiates mettā upwards and then downwards. Here is the instruction again from the Madhyama- āgama parallel   to the Karajakāya -sutta, for ease of reference:11 One dwells having pervaded one direction with a mind imbued with mettā, and in the same way the second, third, and fourth.  Analayo. Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation (Kindle Locations 3683-3727). Windhorse Publications. Kindle Edition.
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