Wrapping Up

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In a single moment of offering food, the Buddha said, a great part of our spiritual path is fulfilled. All four of the brahma-viharas appear in that moment.

  • Metta, lovingkindness, is there, because we feel goodwill toward the person who is receiving; we want that person to be happy.
     
  • We feel compassion in that moment, because we wish that being to be free from pain or suffering.
     
  • We experience sympathetic joy, rejoicing in the person's happiness and wanting it to increase.
       
  • Equanimity manifests in this act of giving, because we are willing to let go of something we have; we are willing to be without it ourselves. All four of those unique qualities are present right in that one single action.

The arena of intention

In the your development of the brahma-viharas, the arena in which they work is that of our intention.

 

The four brahma-viharas

Theirs is a benevolent alliance to brighten our minds. And because of their brightness, they add richness and joy to our perceptions. We can increasingly open to the happiness that exists. And we can see the suffering that exists as well and maintain an open heart in face of it. In this way, as they share their strengths with one another, the bright forces of mind support us and help us to our own happiness.

With wisdom of equanimity

Equanimity in the face of someone’s pain (or their success) does not mean that we don’t care, by any means, but it gives us the strength of wisdom, the clarity of wisdom, and the balance of wisdom, to recognize what we can do and what we can’t do. Where we need to let go. We need to trust in the purity of our intention, in terms of our action. We need to trust in the unfolding of events. We need to see that, no matter what, there’s going to be some pain in life.

When we feel unhappiness or pain, it is not a sign that things have gone terribly wrong or that we have done something wrong by not being able to control the circumstances. Pain and pleasure are constantly coming and going, and yet we can be happy. When we allow for the mystery, sometimes we discover that right in the heart of a very difficult time, right in the midst of a painful situation, there is freedom. In those moments when we realize how much we cannot control, we can learn to let go.

Metta — the foundation practice

Your practice, your path

Remember, the brahma-viharas are qualities to cultivate, not ideas we "understand" by reading about them. The reflections and meditations in this course are tools for guiding you on your path the qualities of love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.


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Offering ~ support Ashoka and this course

While we are committed to charging as little as we can, Ashoka must support our development efforts and our teachers. Ashoka course tuition will be shared with the teacher.

During our prelaunch period in the winter and spring of 2004, we are offering this courses for a suggested tuition. Now that you have experienced the teachings offered in this Ashoka course, please offer what you think this experience is worth. Compare your experience with a magazine or a book or a tape.

Please support the teacher and contribute to our mission to offer a rich and broad curriculum and reach a wide audience of students around the world. Our ability to serve you and others is dependent upon your generosity.

Suggested tuition: $45


Continue your study

Here are a few of the resources you can pursue to further your study of the brahma-viharas with Sharon (click to purchase):

Lovingkindness- The Revolutionary Art of Hapiness — a primary source for this course (Shambhala Publications)

A Heart as Wide as the World- Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness (Shambhala Publications)
Lovingkindness Meditation audio tape (Sounds True)

A Heart as Wide as the World- Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness audio tape (Sounds True)

Tape sets from Dharma Seed:

- Intensive Metta Instructions Album

- Responding to Life with Equanimity

- Guided Mudita