Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us—the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Loving-kindness (metta), Compassion (karuna), Sympathetic Joy (mudita), Equanimity (upekkha). In Pali, the language of the Buddhist scriptures, these four are known as Brahmaviharas—Divine (Brahma) abodes (vihara) or more commonly, high or sublime states of mind/heart—safe home.
These four attitudes are ubiquitous in the teachings because they are key to establishing internally sublime relationship to the external world and living beings (that includes ourselves!). They provide, a way of relating to all beings that is deeply aligned with, and rooted in, our practice. These states of heart/mind remove tension, are great peace-makers in social conflict and healers of wounds suffered in our life path. Approaching life in this way, social barriers are leveled, foundations for harmonious communities are established, generosity naturally awakens, joy and hope are revived, and human connection is established and cultivated.
They are called abodes because in developing them, they become the mind’s dwelling-place where we feel at home. These Divine Abodes should not remain merely places of rare and short visits, soon forgotten. Rather, they can become the constant safe place of our mind/heart, our refuge—our minds thoroughly saturated by them. They are then our inseparable companions, our default setting, whereby we are constantly mindful of them in all our common activities.
In the coming weeks, we will take them up, one by one, see the deep potential for establishing our Divine and safe home.