Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Four Sublime States

LOVE ( Metta )

Love, without desire to possess, knowing well that in the ultimate sense there is no possession and no possessor – this is highest love.

Love, without speaking and thinking of “I”, knowing well that this so-called “I” is a mere delusion.

Love, without selecting and excluding; knowing well that to do so means to create Love’s own contrasts: dislike, aversion, and hatred.

Love, embracing all beings: small and great, far and near, be it on earth, in the water, or in the air.

Love, that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.

Love, embracing impartially all sentient beings, and not only those who are useful, pleasing, or amusing to us.

Love, embracing all beings, be they noble minded or low-minded, good or evil. The noble and the good are embraced because Love is flowing to them spontaneously. The low and evil-minded are included because they are those who are most in need of Love. In many of them the seed of goodness may have died merely because warmth was lacking for its growth, because it perished from coldness in a loveless world.

Love, embracing all beings, knowing well that we all are fellow wayfarers through this round of existence – that we all are overcome by the same Law of Suffering.

Love, but not the sensuous fire that burns, scorches, and tortures; that inflicts more wounds than it cures flaring up now, at the next moment being extinguished, leaving behind more coldness and loneliness than there was felt before.

Rather Love that lies like a soft but firm hand on the ailing beings, ever unchanged in its sympathy, without wavering, unconcerned with any response it meets. Love that is comforting coolness to those who burn with the fire of suffering and passion; that is life-spending warmth to those abandoned in the cold desert of loneliness; to those who are shivering in the frost of a loveless world; to those whose hearts have become as if empty and dry by the repeated calls for help, by deepest despair.

Love, that is strength and gives strength, this is highest Love.

Love, which by the Enlightened One was named “The Liberation of the Heart”, “The most sublime beauty”, this is the highest Love.

And what is the highest manifestation of Love?
To show to the world the Path leading to the End of Suffering, the Path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.


The world suffers. But most of men have their eyes and ears closed. They do not see the unbroken stream of tears flowing through life; they do not hear the cry of distress continually pervading the world. Their own little grief or joy bars their sight, deafens their ears. They do not realize that only release from selfish craving will effect their own freedom from suffering. 

It is Compassion that removes the heavy bar and opens the door to Freedom. Compassion takes away from it the inert, weighing, paralysing heaviness, gives wings to those who cling to the lowlands of self.

Through Compassion the fact of Suffering remains vividly present to our mind, even at times when personally we are free from it. It gives us rich experience of Suffering, thus strengthening us to meet it prepared, when it befalls us.

Compassion reconciles us to our own destiny by showing us the life of others, often much harder than ours.

Behold the endless caravan of beings, men and beasts burdened with sorrow and pain! The burden of every one of them, we also have carried it in bygone times during the unfathomable sequence of repeated births. And this misery may well be our own destiny again! 

Whoso himself is without Compassion now, will one day cry for it. If sympathy with others is lacking, it will have to be acquired through a long and painful experience of one’s own. Thus is the Great Law of Life. Knowing this keep guard over yourself!

Beings, sunk in ignorance, lost in delusion, hasten from one state of suffering to another, not knowing the real cause, not knowing the escape from it. This insight into the general Law of Suffering is the real foundation of our Compassion, not any isolated fact of suffering.

Hence our Compassion will also include those who at the moment may be happy, but act with an evil and deluded mind. In their present deeds we shall foresee their future state of distress, and Compassion will arise.

The Compassion of the wise does not render him a victim of suffering. His thoughts, words, and deeds are full of pity. But his heart does not waver, unchanged it remains, serene and firm. How else should he be able to help?

May such Compassion arise in our hearts! Compassion that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.

Compassion that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest Compassion. 

And what is the highest manifestation of Compassion?

To show to the world the Path leading to the End of Suffering, the Path pointed out, trodden and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.

Sympathetic Joy ( Mudita )

Small, indeed, is the share of happiness and joy allotted to beings! Whenever that little of happiness comes to beings, then you may rejoice with them that, at least, one ray of joy has pierced through he darkness of their life, and dispelled the grey and gloomy mist that enwraps their heart.

Your life will gain in joy by sharing the happiness of others as if it were yours. Did you never observe how in moments of happiness men’s features change and become bright with joy? Did you never notice how joy rouses men to noble aspirations and deeds, exceeding their normal capacity? Did not such experience fill your own heart with joyful bliss? It is in your power to increase such experience of Sympathetic Joy, by producing happiness in others, by bringing them joy and solace.

Life, though being full of woe holds also sources of happiness and joy, unknown to most. Let us teach men to seek and to find real joy within themselves and to rejoice with the joy of others! Let us teach them to unfold their joy to ever more sublime heights!

Noble and sublime joy is not foreign to the Teaching of the Enlightened One. The Dharma leads from step to step to an ever purer and loftier happiness.

Noble and sublime joy is a helper on the Path to the Extinction of Suffering. Not he who is depressed by grief, but one possessed of joy may find that serene calmness leading to a contemplative state of mind. And only a mind serene and collected is able to gain the liberating Wisdom.

The more sublime and nobler the joy of others is, the more justified will be our own Sympathetic Joy. A cause for our joy with others is their noble life securing them happiness here and in lives hereafter. A still nobler cause for our Joy with others is their faith in the Dharma, their understanding of the Dharma, their following the Dharma. Let us give them the help of the Dharma! Let us strive to become more and more able ourselves of rendering such help!

Sympathetic Joy, meaning a sublime nobility of intellect which knows, understands, and is ready to help!

Sympathetic Joy that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest joy.

And what is the highest manifestation of Sympathetic Joy?

To show to the world the Path leading to the End of Suffering, the Path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.

Equanimity (Upekkha)

Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in Insight.

Looking around us into the world and within us into our own heart, we see clearly how difficult it is to attain balance of mind and to maintain it.

Looking into life we notice its changeful nature continually moving between contrasts. We notice rise and fall, success and failure, loss and gain; we meet honour and blame and we feel how our heart responds to all that with happiness and sorrow, delight and despair, disappointment and satisfaction, hope and fear. These waves of emotion carry us up, and fling us down; and no sooner we find some rest, than we are in the power of a new wave again. How can we expect to get a footing on the crest of the waves? How shall we erect the building of our life in the midst of this ever-restless ocean of existence, if not on the Island of Equanimity?

A world where that little share of happiness allotted to beings is mostly secured after many disappointments, failures, and defeats; a world where only the courage to start anew, again and again, promises success; a world where scanty joy grows amidst sickness, separation, and death; a world where beings who were a short while ago connected with us by Sympathetic Joy, are at the next moment in want of our Compassion – such a world needs Equanimity.

But the kind of Equanimity required has to be based on vigilant presence of mind, not on indifferent dullness. It has to be the result of deliberate and hard training, and not the casual outcome of a passing mood. Equanimity would not deserve its name, if it had to be produced by exertion again and again. In that way it is sure to be weakened and finally defeated by the vicissitudes of life. True equanimity, however, should be able to meet all these severe tests and to regenerate its strength from sources within. But it will possess this power of resistance and self-renewal only if it is rooted in Insight.

To establish Equanimity as an unshakable state of mind one has gradually to give up all possessive thoughts of mine, beginning with little things from which it is easy to detach oneself, up to possessions and aims to which our whole heart clings. Moreover, one has to give up step by step all “thoughts of Self”, beginning with a small section of one’s “personality”, with qualities of minor importance. With small weaknesses clearly seen by oneself, up to those emotions and aversions which are regarded as the centre of one’s “Self”. Thus detachment should be practiced.

To the degree we forsake thoughts of “Mine” or “Self” Equanimity will enter into our hearts. For how can it be that, what we realize as something foreign and void of a Self shall cause us any agitation, be it of lust, of hatred or of grief? Thus the Teaching of Non-self will be our guide on the Path to Deliverance, to the Equanimity of holiness.

But its perfection and its unshakable nature are not lifeless rigidity; they are not like the inert gravity of matter. Equanimity is not dullness, heartlessness and frigidity. Its perfection is not due to an emotional ‘emptiness’, but to a ‘fullness’ of understanding, to its being complete in itself. Its unshakable nature is not the immovability of a dead, cold stone, but the manifestation of highest inner strength.

- Author Unknown 

No comments: