He shared with us an old tale of the Buddha. The Buddha was asked by a group of Brahmans how they could see lord Brahma, and if the Buddha could show them the way. The Buddha asked them if they had ever seen the lord Brahma, and they said no, because you only see lord Brahma when you die. Then the Buddha asked them if their teachers had ever seen lord Brahma, and they responded no, once again. So the Buddha said, instead of trying to see lord Brahma in the physical, meet him in the heart.
The Buddha’s statement changed the game from looking for evidence to prove the existence of a flawless state, to practicing the qualities they so greatly admired and could cultivate, by practicing four immeasurables.
You may notice that I used the word cultivate instead of achieve. I use it purposefully. The cultivation of the 4 immeasurables causes the practitioner to come to a more elevated way of thinking. It’s not a state you achieve; it’s a state you practice. These practices are immeasurable because your heart and mind know no limits, and can radiate out in all directions without restriction. These immeasurables incline your thinking towards caring. They’re not affirmations, which concentrates your will towards an outcome. They are a prayerful request and intention that in my experience, allows an opening that is both profoundly gentle and revealing.
Here are the four immeasurable practices:
1. Loving Kindness
When you engage with loving kindness your intention is directed to bless yourself and others with happiness, health, safety, and living life with ease. It is good to notice what can masquerade as loving kindness, and also what opposes loving kindness. This practice removes the mask of inauthentic “niceness”, glossing over, or selfish affection as well as the opposing force of feeling ill will towards self or another, allowing a new intention to unfold. When you notice a judgment or a worry, simply practice saying: May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I live with ease. And with others you can say: may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be safe, and may you live with ease. Each request connects with your intention of wishing yourself and others well, and pulls out of your mind and heart anything that is not loving kindness.
The practice of loving kindness washes away any feelings of separation.
When you engage with compassion you allow the release of sorrow and the causes of sorrow. This practice removes the mask of pity as well as the opposing force of a hard heart that can result in cruelty, allowing compassion to take their place. I found that if it was difficult to bring loving kindness to mind with some people who I felt harmed me, I could move to a practice of compassion and say, may I be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. And may you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
The practice of compassion connects you to yourself and to others in a profound state of forgiveness.
3. Appreciative Joy
When you engage with appreciative joy, you are happy for another’s success. You rejoice in the accomplishments of a person. You understand that success and joy are limitless. This practice removes the mask of comparison as well as the opposing force of envy, allowing you to bask in another’s success, knowing that their success creates an opening for all to break through to new levels of awareness, thinking, and performance. Think of Roger Bannister breaking the barrier of the 4-minute mile. He created the opening for others to break through as well.
This practice releases comparisons, and frees you to rejoice in your success and the success of others.
When you engage with equanimity, you release attachment to outcomes, and are present to accept what is, and work with it. This has a powerful impact on your ability to deal with whatever shows up day to day. You learn to accept loss and gain, praise and blame, success and failure, equally for yourself and others. This practice removes the mask of indifference as well as the opposing force of attachment, allowing you to be present to listen and respond with truth and love. With equanimity there is no have to, just the opening for a clear-minded tranquil response.
This practice creates a spacious presence and balance, so you can think before you act, pause before you choose, and listen with interest.
In my work, I find that all people want happiness and fulfillment. It seems to be a connecting point for all human beings. This week use the 4 immeasurables to awaken to a deeper practice of loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. Especially practice where there is strife, conflict, or stress to the best of your ability. The results will bring you greater peace of mind and healing. Bring these practices to the decisions that are in front of you, and open to what’s possible.
Let me know how this works for you. I enjoy hearing from you!
My love goes with you as you work with this uplifting moment.