Lovingkindness (metta) is often taught as a concentration practice. And yet, in the Metta Sutta, the Buddha says:
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
(of unconditional, boundless friendliness – metta)
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.
In the process of cultivating metta, we will naturally encounter the other Brahma Viharas: Karuna Compassion), Mudita (Empathetic Joy), Upekkha (Equanimity), and will explore the insight potential of each of these.
The brahma-viharas, or “sublime attitudes,” are the Buddha’s primary heart teachings—the ones that connect most directly with our desire for true happiness. Of these four emotions, Lovingkindness (metta) is the most fundamental. It’s the wish for true happiness, a wish you can direct to yourself or to others.
The next two emotions in the list are essentially applications of Lovingkindness. Compassion (karuna) is what Lovingkindness feels when it encounters suffering: it wants the suffering to stop. Empathetic joy (mudita) is what Lovingkindness feels when it encounters happiness: it wants the happiness to continue. Equanimity (upekkha) is a different emotion, in that it acts as an aid to and a check on the other three. In this course we will practice cultivating metta and will investigate the insights that arise from this practice.
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