Honoring Love (Metta: The First of the Four Brahma Viharas)
In Buddhist studies The Four Brahma Viharas are the four divine qualities or states of mind. The Sanskrit, Brahma, meaning divine, and Vihara meaning state of mind. These innate qualities are also known to westerners as the “The Four Immeasurables” and rightly so, as we will see in our discussion of them. These divine qualities are more fully realized through the practice of meditation. They may also become methods of meditation through which our mind can pervade the universe with our concentrated thoughts of Metta (Love), Karuna (Compassion), Mudita (Appreciative Joy), and Upekka (Equanimity or serenity). We will begin our four part series with a discussion of Metta or love.
Metta: The First Of The Four Brahma Viharas
When we reflect on Love's true significance in our lives, it’s easy to see why Love or Metta is the first of the Four Immeasurables. As spiritual practitioners it is essential that we never accept the devaluation of Love's true meaning. We first accomplish this by being vigilant in not allowing ourselves to be led in error. In Modern times we have experienced the commercial exploitation of Love's actual significance simply for the venal purpose of monetary gain. Even the very word “love” is oftentimes diminished through repetitious, superficial discourse. Through the deliberate practice of meditation, we cultivate Love's compassionate essence in our lives. Accordingly, we come to realize that to experience love in this life is not only our destiny, but our birthright, and we honor love in our life through this validation of Love's precious merit.
Throughout recorded history Love has been at the center of the human experience. In fact our ability to love has come to define us as being human. The Christian Apostle Paul tells us that love never fails. That love is always hopeful and never loses faith. That in love, we may discover the inner strength we need to endure all things (I Corinthians 13:1-13). If we choose to believe this, then we must also accept the realization that Love is our greatest gift and our greatest ally in this life. It is our guide and our Guru, always offering us honorable direction while having our worthiest concerns at heart. Revealing to us the just way to proceed forward along our chosen path to self-realization and transcendence. It is no wonder then that the very notion of God is synonymous with Love. As we experience life’s many trials and tribulations we soon come to see that Love's direction may not always be the easiest for us to follow, despite it unfailingly being the wisest. Although we all must accept the reality of our personal suffering, we must simultaneously realize that with Love's guiding principle in our life, these struggles take on a deeper sense of meaning and purpose that continuously strengthen us to endure. Experience will always teach us that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing what we know in our hearts is wrong.
It is through fervent reflection that we enhance our awareness of Love's ability to shape and give meaning to our lives. It is also through our consciousness of love that we come to discern the heart's inherent unity with all life around us and we experience an authentic selfless joy in the happiness of others. With this accurate knowledge comes an inevitable appreciation and respect for our world that will engender an innate desire to dissolve all barriers that would serve to impede our love. It is by virtue of our regular meditation practice that we acquire the ability to see beneath the surface of things, thus realizing the heart and soul of the love we come to honor.