The Brahma Viharas


Happiness is only possible with true love. True love has the power to heal and transform
the situation around us and bring a deep meaning to our lives. There are people who
understand the nature of true love and how to generate and nurture it. The teachings on
love given by the Buddha are clear, scientific, and applicable. Every one of us can benefit
from these teachings.

During the lifetime of the Buddha, those of the Brahmanic faith prayed that after death
they would go to Heaven to dwell eternally with Brahma, the universal God. One day a
Brahman man asked the Buddha, “What can I do to be sure that I will be with Brahma
after I die?” and the Buddha replied, “As Brahma is the source of Love, to dwell with him
you must practice the Brahmaviharas: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.”


Metta (or Maitri) is a Pali word that is most commonly translated as loving-kindness. It
also means friendship and gentleness. It is a quality of the heart that we cultivate toward
all sentient beings (including ourselves). Put most simply, Metta is wishing well for others.
It is a friendliness, or a gentleness that we offer.

Karuna or Compassion is caring about and being present for the pain we all experience.
Whether it is our own suffering, or the suffering of another, we have the voice to offer a
heartful response.

Mudita is translated as sympathetic or appreciative joy. It is the simple practice of
appreciating the joy and the happiness around us. The quality of mudita is a present while
sharing in joy, and it is an antidote to jealousy and envy. We can simply rejoice because
someone else is experiencing happiness.

Upekkha is equanimity, the quality of remaining calm and stable in the midst of
everything, without having our happiness depend on the actions and feelings of others.
It is a container of balance that helps hold all of the other three Brahma Viharas. Words
often used in association with equanimity include detachment, acceptance, patience and

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