The Brahma Viharas are the 4 divine emotions tor divine abodes that make up, what we call in Western Psychology, our emotional intelligence. These four qualities are cultivated in traditional Buddhist meditation for obvious reasons.
- Metta – Loving Kindness
This is an emotion directed to the self as well as to others. Giving love and affection without expecting anything in return. Not to be confused with clinginess or dependence in love.
The opposite of love is anger and contempt.
“The practice of being alone with yourself and accept who you are, faults and all, being comfortable with who you are, will lead to self-love and subsequently love towards others.”
- Karuna – Compassion
Compassion allows for an unobstructed presence of mind as the darker side of life is lifted into the light of awareness. Compassion requires the courage to accept the vulnerabilities in life, to forgive the past and feel commiseration from the heart in the present moment. Compassion is not to be confused with pity which is about denial of these vulnerabilities and self protection.
The opposite of compassion is cruelty, being devoid of mercy.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, suffering, struggle and loss. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.’ – Elizabeth Kubler- Ross
- Mudita – Joy shared with others
Joy shared with others confirms the connection we have with other people. This connection is an important in experiencing happiness.
This type of joy is not to be confused with exuberance, a form of joy only related to the self or the ego.
The opposite of joy is resentment.
“Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” – Swedish Proverb
- Upekka – Equanimity
Calmness and composure, especially in difficult circumstances or an unshakable balance of mind is what we all like to achieve. Buddhist label equanimity as the sublime emotion, which is the ground for wisdom and freedom, the protector of compassion. Equanimity is not to be confused with indifference, which is expressing a lack of interest and concern.
The opposite of equanimity is craving, clinging, the ‘monkey mind’.
“Whatever type we may think we are, it is important to recognize that we are all entrapped in some way or antoher by our conditional minds. Mindfulness is the agent of our freedom. Through mindfulness we arrive at faith, we grow in wisdom and we attain equanimity. No matter which avenue we come by, our liberation is achieved through being mindful of every moment.’ – Sharon SalzbergThe 7 qualities of Equanimity are:
2. Trust and confidence
3. Well-developed mind
4. Sense of well-being
5. Understanding, wisdom, taking responsibility for own actions
6. Insight – well developed intuition
7. Freedom which comes from letting go of our reactive tendencies, clinging to control.