Karuna, Metta, Upekka and Mudita are four kinds of Brahma Viharas or heavenly abodes (or states of mind). Essence of any one of them cannot be grasped without knowing the other three Brahma Viharas.
Karuna: Karuna is compassion for all people and beings who are less gifted than us and are suffering. It helps us reduce our pride and greed.
Mudita: Mudita is Sympathetic joy or feeling joy in prosperity and happiness of others. This emotion is developed for people or beings better gifted than us. It helps us reduce our jealously.
Upekka: Upekka is Equanimity. It is, treating all people and all beings equal and accept others as they are. It helps us reduce our indifference.
Metta: Metta is love for all beings. We usually love only those we are related and like. But Metta is loving all beings without any conditions whether they are rich or poor, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, ill & diseased or healthy, whether we know them or not, whether they are humans or animals or other beings. It helps us reduce our hate and anger.
Most of our emotions love, hate, anger, sympathy, etc are for our personal need/greed or towards those we know or love. But these Brahma Viharas are emotions that are noble and encompass all beings and are non-selfish.
These help us overcome greed, anger, hate, possessiveness and jealously. But these emotions or states of mind are uncommon in most of us. Hence they need to be consciously developed.
Metta meditation is a common practice in Buddhist meditation. You can practice meditation on these Brahma Viharas. Here is the instructions you can follow to develop these Brahma Viharas:
Begin by sitting comfortably in traditional meditation posture – legs folded, back straight and head lightly balanced on the shoulder. Those uncomfortable can sit on chair with feets flat on the floor.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Observe each part of your body slowly from head to toe. As you observe each part relax the part relieving any tension on that part.
Then mentally repeat these statements to develop Brahma Viharas:
- May I have
- good health (to do all my tasks, support my family, help society and care all beings),
- wealth (and all resources including money to meet my needs, my family needs and provide for the needy),
- love & respect (for myself, from all relatives, friends and all people I know),
- success (in all things I do and intend to do for myself, for my family and at my profession) and
- mindfulness (and awareness of all actions, speech & thoughts at all time whether I am alone or with my family or at my profession)
- May my family including my spouse, children, parents, in-laws & brothers & sisters have good health… wealth… love… success… and mindfulness.
- May my neighbors, friends, colleagues and all people I know have good health… wealth… love… success… and mindfulness.
- May all human being from my community, my country, my neighboring countries and all other countries on this earth have good health… wealth… love… success… and mindfulness.
- May all beings visible and invisible, on ground and water and air, on earth and everywhere in this universe have good health… wealth… love… success… and mindfulness.
Now slowly bring your body to normal state observing it from toe to head and open your eyes.
This is a combined meditation to develop all the Brahma Viharas. You can change the instructions to develop each Brahma Viharas separately.
This meditation is also in tune with recent science behind brain entrainment, neurolinguistic programming, etc.
Health, wealth, love, success and mindfulness in these instructions are again associated with our five fingers. They are also different aspects of our life we must care for.
- Health is associated with little finger which is weaker finger.
- Wealth is associated with ring finger having our diamond/gold ring.
- Love is associated with middle finger. If you have already read the rest of the book “Attaining Nirvana”, then you are now ready to assign this finger a better and respectful meaning it deserves.
- Success is associated with index finger which is also associated with destiny.
- Mindfulness is associated with thumb. It was associated with drink/intoxicatants in thumbs-up position and loss of awareness. It reminds us to remain always mindful.
The five groups of people in the meditation are also mapped to the fingers, so you do not lose direction in the meditation.
- Little finger denotes you.
- (Engagement)Ring finger denotes your relatives.
- Middle finger (assigning it better meaning again) denotes all the people you know and love.
- Index finger denoting all human beings.
- Thumb (we assigned it to mara observing all world systems and not letting the Cycle of Samsara to stop) denoting all other beings.