This Monday, Mick will facilitate. He shares:
The Four Immeasurables
May all beings enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness
May all beings be free from suffering and the roots of suffering
May they never be separated from the great joy, devoid of suffering
May they dwell in equanimity free from passion, aggression and prejudice
This past week we had Valentine's Day, The Olympics, Chinese New Year/New Moon and another tragic school shooting. In other words, as a whole we have experienced the wide range of emotions around love, renewal and inward looking and great sadness, suffering and more. Our mettle in being present with all of this, without getting pulled from our center, has been greatly tested.
How do we continue on amidst the 10,000 joys and sorrows of life. This past week I received an article from a friend on Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching on The Four Qualities of Love. These qualities are also know as the Four Brahma Viharas, or Four Divine Abodes. The qualities are Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity. They are know in Buddhism as the Four Immeasurables.
These four are called the Four Immeasurables because they are directed to an immeasurable number of sentient beings, and because the wholesome karma produced through practicing them is immeasurable. The four are also called the sublime states of mind because they are like the extraordinary states of mind of the gods. More on the practice here.
Now more than ever we need to breathe through these challenging times present in us and around us. We breathe to settle the mind and body. We breathe to reconnect with ourselves. We breathe to connect with the wider web of suffering and joy through practicing compassion, love, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
When we connect through the Four Immeasurables we are reminded that we are not separate entities, but connected parts of the vast web of life. Our experience of compassion, the wish for another to be free of suffering, reminds us of our interconnectedness or interbeing. We feel the pain of the families in Florida, we feel love towards our family, we feel joy for accomplishments of those close to us, or for an Olympian whose story of resilience and success touches our heart.
Amidst all of the words and teaches let me boil it down to this. We struggle, we thrive, we experience joy, love sadness and suffering, often in one day. It comes back to the ever present question, how do we be with it all?
We are part of a wider web, remember? One way to be with it all is to remember, and connect with the fact that just as I suffer, so do millions of others in the same way. We all experience the wide range of joys and sorrows in the midst of our unique lives. So, then what? We cultivate our connectedness by returning to and connecting first with our body and our breath, then with our smaller circles of support. In these places and spaces we receive support and are reminded of our interbeing. We are not alone. We have our mindfulness practice to come home to, and we have this sangha and the the other sanghas in our life of family and friends.
All of this is very nice food for thought, food for the mind. Because real felt experience is greater than intellectual knowing, this week after our walking meditation we will engage in a meditation in which we will explore and experience Compassion, Loving Kindness, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.
I look forward to our time together.