As we prepare ourselves for the 24hr Metta event on December 27 & 28, we should mindfully remind ourselves of what metta is – its place in the four Brahmaviharas; what it means; how we can practise it on a daily basis; its benefits; and what we can do to radiate metta for world peace, harmony and stability. Beginning today, we will bring you a series of articles on metta. We hope you will join us on this journey.
THE SUBLIME STATES OR FOUR IMMEASURABLES
In his landmark book, “The Buddha and his Teachings”, Ven Narada Maha Thera of Sri Lanka writes that man is a mysterious being with inconceivable potential. Do you agree?
Why is man mysterious? That’s because he is a complex machine, a storehouse of virtue and a rubbish heap of evil. So he can be either a blessing or a curse to humanity. Which would you rather be?
One powerful destructive vice is anger (dosa). The sweet virtue that subdues this evil force is loving-kindness (metta).
Cruelty (himsa) is another vice that is responsible for many horrors and atrocities prevalent in the world. Compassion (karuna) is its antidote.
Jealousy (issa) poisons one’s system and leads to unhealthy and dangerous rivalries. The most effective remedy for this toxic drug is appreciative joy (mudita).
There are two other universal characteristics that upset man’s mental balance. They are: attachment to the pleasurable; and aversion to the non-pleasurable. These two opposite forces can be eliminated by developing equanimity (upekkha).
These four sterling virtues are collectively termed “Brahmavihara”, which may be translated as Modes of Sublime Conduct, Sublime States, Divine Abodes or the Four Immeasurables.
The four sublime virtues are also termed illimitables (appamanna). They are so called because they find no barrier or limit and should be extended towards all beings without exception. They embrace all living beings, including animals.
Irrespective of religious beliefs, one can cultivate these sweet virtues and be a blessing to oneself and all others.