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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
spring 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 35 T hreaded through the entirety of the Bud- dha’s pathway of awakening are the teach- ings on cultivating the boundless heart— immeasurable kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. These qualities are referred to as the brahma viharas. Brahma refers to the sublime or noble tenor of these qualities; vihara originally comes from the word for “monastery,” or the place we abide and make our home. We are encouraged, whether standing or walking, sitting or lying down, whenever we are awake to make kindness, compas- sion, joy, and equanimity the home of our heart. The brahma viharas are relational qualities. They are the foundation of all respectful, healthy, and dignified societies, communities, families, and relationships. Kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are virtues, wholesome qualities that are the foundation of all ethical thought, speech, and action. They are qualities to be cultivated in all moments, in the midst of all the conditions and events that touch our lives. They are pathways of awakening and liberation encouraging us to inves- tigate anguish and its origins and to cultivate the path to the end of struggle and discontentment. These ennobling qualities are also the embodied expression of the awakened heart describing the deepest emotional and psychological freedom and maturity of a human being. When these qualities are brought to fruition, they are described as immeasur- able, without conditions, and unshakeable. They are the landscape and embodiment of liberation. The experiential taste of the brahma viharas is not a stranger to us. Each of us has encountered moments of unhesitating friendliness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. At times we have been the recipients of these qualities—offered to us by loved ones and by strangers. Equally, we have all known moments when we have responded to others with unreserved kindness and compassion. At times we unexpectedly encounter moments of profound appreciation and joy. In some of the most challeng- ing moments of our lives, we surprise ourselves with our capacity to be balanced and steady. These moments make a powerful imprint on our minds, revealing to us an inner potentiality and way of being in the world that is responsive and liberated. Too often these moments feel accidental, windows that open to an ennobled way of living that too easily seem to close again. Once more we find ourselves self-absorbed, fearful, and forgetful, lost The Heart of This Moment the practice of metta doesn’t require an ambition to save the world, says christina Feldman. it just requires us to bring forth kindness one moment at a time. PaiNtiNgS | kenJi yoshida (Opposite) La Vie, 2003 courtesyoctoberGallery,london