As has been explained in the previous chapter, the Blessed One had taught His disciples many devices and many methods of acquiring concentration of mind. Amongst the practices of meditations mentioned in Bud literature I for one consider that meditation the four divine qualities or Brahmavihars as they are called, is most helpful as by constant meditation on these four virtues man actually becomes divine. Before, however, we come to these meditations it would be desirable that we first deal with the positive aspect of Buddhist morality which consists in the cultivation of ten positive virtues which are called “Paramitas”. Some Buddhist scholars consider Paramitas to be the contribution of Mahayana Buddhism. This may be true of the actual classification but any one who has read the Theravada literature with any care could not failed to notice that the entire teaching of the Lord are impregnated with the spirit of the Paramitas.
Maitri and upeksha form part of the Brhmviharas. Shila is an integral part of the noble eightfold path, as also Dhayana and Pragya. We have to therefore concern ourselves with five remaining paramitas in which Ã¢â‚¬ËœDana’ occupies a very prominent place. It is expected of an earnest Buddhist that he will try to contribute jute to the very limit of his endeavour towards the promotion of the common weal and welfare of all beings. For the achievement of this objective he should shirk no sacrifice and should be prepared to make an offering of all that he has.
The Jataka tales recount many brave acts of ‘Dana’ and no opportunity is lost in bringing home the lesson that true and abiding happiness comes to those who delight in the act of giving and giving in abundance. Acquisitive tendencies, on the other hand, are held in contempt.
Besides, the act of ‘Dana’ has to be selfless and has to be more an offering than a charity. It must be done in a spirit of sincere humility. If ‘Dana’ is done with a view to gain popularity, seek renown or obtain any personal benefit, even spiritual merit, it loses all its virtue. It has to be an act of dedication for the well-being of all living beings, and therefore any merit that may accrue from the act is to be also turned over for the benefit of the world.
The cultivation of this Paramita is an important step in the perfection of man. Nishkama not mean retirement from the world. It actually means renunciation of the fruits of one’s good actions. Man must endeavour to do his duty in accordance with the light thst is given to him and should not concern himself with the success and failures of his efforts. Duty must be done without fear and favour and without regard to any hazards that man may run for himself.
But where others are concerned he must use its forbearance and the gift of persuation to its very limit. He must also wisely avail of all the opportunities that come his way, should these be fair. He should plan and wonk for success, and for achieving it need acquire perfection in his art, but should misfortune assail him, he should remain undaunted and cheerful. He must not on any account lose heart. Nishkama presupposes a spirit of spontaneity in the man. Choice of good should become a habit with him, it must be the natural slant of his nature.
Kshesma & Shanti
Kshema and Shanti are twin virtues which have very little to distinguish one from the other. Forgiveness and forbearance are two faces of the same coin. Both these virtues need be cultivated in abundance. If a man lacks virtues he is truly a very poor and unhappy man. He not only remains miserable himself but he also brings untold misery on others. One has real need to forgive one’s enemies for unless one has done it freely, and in full measure he cannot be at peace with himself and with the world. The virtue of forbearance and patience in difficult circumstances has to be also assiduously cultivated.
Virya is another noble virtue which all men of high endeavour must zealously cultivate. Unless a man is fearless, brave and active he can never accomplish a difficult task. A man is prey to fears, who always tries to save his skin, who is afraid of consequences, is a very poor specimen of humanity. He dies without any accomplishment to his credit. A man who is assailed by fear is a man who has no faith in Dhamma.
Adhishtana can best be translated by high resolve. It is the sign of a truly great man. No man can achieve success in life unless he is devoted to the work he takes in hand. The perfect man need be a man of high resolve who is determined to achieve success and overcome obstacles that may come his way.
Now we come to Brahmviharas the four divine states on which daily meditation is enjoined. These are:-
Maitri in the sense of benevolence and loving kindness for all.
Karuna, compassion and pity for those who suffer.
Mudita, joyous sympathy with the happiness. ness of all beings and retaining a joyous attitude of mind under all circumstances.
Upeksha or equimindedness, i.e. acquiring an attitude of mind in which one has a sense of detachment and is prepared for all tualities.
It is absolutely necessary to make these basic virtues part of one’s nature. There are other virtues which are equally important as we have shown in our narration of the Paramitas but these four divine virtues are pro-eminent amongst them all, so far as their utility for meditation is concerned, as they are harmonious in their effect.
While meditating on Maitri all thoughts of enmity, ill-will and hostility must be put away and given a final burial. It is with the object separating the heart from enmity, the evil of which is fully recognised, and of uniting the heart with forbearance, the advantage of which is fully appreciated, that the meditation Metta is to be begun. All beings desire hap and therefore we have to seek the happiness, of all and cultivate the spirit of friendliness to wards all. There are some people whom we love as relations, friends, comrades and neighbours. It is not difficult to have loving attitude towards them. All that we need safeguard in these relationships is that our love does not turn into infatuation. It does not become exclusive. It is also not difficult to gradually extend The sphere of love and embrace in it the whole world, nay the entire universe.
Love your Enemies
It would be, however, found difficult to extend our love to those who had harmed us and had done us some mortal harm. We may be able to forget and forgive petty annoyances and inconveniences but some injuries are so grievous that it is really difficult for a person to command sufficient fund of generosity to forgive those who have done him mortal harm. If this difficulty besets us, we have need to pray fervently and sincerely, and we will soon discover that it would enable us to forgive even those men who have done us mortal harm.
A brief resume of the Metta Sutta given here will help to cultivate the spirit of Metta. The man who is wise seeks the good of all and who has obtained peace need accomplish the following. He need be strenuous, upright, sincere, contented and joyous. He need cast off pride, greed for worldly things and riches. He must keep his senses in strict control.
Let him be wise without being conscious of it and let him not spend all his efforts in gathering riches for himself and his family.
Let there be nothing mean in any of his actions.
May all being be happy.
May they be joyous and live in safety.
All being whether weak or strong.
In high or middle or low realms of existence.
Small or great, visible or invisible near or far
Born or to be born
May all beings be happy
Let no one deceive or despise each other or wish each other any harm.
Let there be no anger or hatred amongst people. Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child so with boundless mind which has obliterate all distinction between one’s self and others should one cherish all living beings, suffusing love over the entire world above, below and all around without limit. So let us cultivate an infinite good-will and love towards the entire world.
Let him always cherish thoughts whiles standing, walking, sitting or lying down, that the best way of living is to have love and friendliness ness towards all.
He who has abandoned vain discussion, has acquired a clear vision, has given away craving he is made perfect. He will never know rebirth.
Develop and expand your love and send out your thoughts of love to the four corners of the globe and let these thoughts pervade the east, north and south. Envelop the whole universe and rediate your love everywhere.
Let the entire universe be suffused with your loving kindness. Meditation in this spirit when practised sincerely and persistently will truly break down the barriers of personality. An unusual sense of contentment will be experienced which will be superseded by consciousness of joy and the body and mind would experience a happiness hitherto unknown and mind will become astonishingly dear and serene.
Men of wisdom know just a little, they cannot know in fullness unless they have the strength which comes of love. The true sage is he seer who sees the farthest but is the man who loves the deepest, and therefore comprehends the fullest. True and sincere love for all beings is incompatible with the belief in gross inequalities. If we sincerely love all beings we must promote their material, moral physical and spirit- well-being in the same measure as we seek our own.
One great virtue that the Blessed One had in boundless measure, was His unbounded sympathy with the sufferings of humanity, nay with the sufferings of all creatures. As a child He was moved to pity at the sight of a wounded sawn and nursed it lovingly back to life. As a grown-up boy He felt compassion for the bullocks who were yoked to plough in a hot and sultry day. As a young man it were the visions of old men dire distress and poverty, of men suffering with all manner of diseases and of the windows grieving over their dead that haunted Him. As a path-finder, He carried a wounded lamb in His lap and pleaded for it and other dumb animals in the court of Bimbisar.
Finally when He had tasted of the bliss of ‘Nirvana’ it was the piteous cry of the world in misery which made Him turn back to the and world ceaselessly for promoting its happiness. Last of all and as a supreme gift and sacrifice He turned away from the doorstep of ‘Mahaparinirvan’ to share His grace with the suffering world till all life has been established in ‘Nirvana’.
He, the Supreme Buddha, is still waiting for us till the very last being has attained to the bliss of Nirvana. As sincere and devout followers of the Blessed One we cannot but emulate Him in the cultivation of this virtue. In cultivating this virtue we have to bear in mind the cardinal truth of our Dhamma that suffering is bound up with phenomenal existence.
We need, however, never lament over this fact nor despair of the efforts that are needed to alleviate suffering. Let us think of suffering in all its varied forms, suffering which is man made which is the result of our wrong Way of life, is caused by our lust, greed, ill-will, anger sloth, selfishness, stupidity and unclean ways of living.
Then there is suffering which is due to our ignorance, due to lack of education and knowledge about the workings of the laws of nature and the correct utility of the things that are around us. We have also much suffering which is caused by cosmic forces over which we have little or no control whatsoever, in our present. stage of evolution.
We have to eradicate all causes in the first category which cause the world so much suffering. We have to promote knowledge and devote ourself ceaselessly in the pursuit of knowledge and harness it for the benefit of the world and thus help in eradicating suffering which is caused due our lack of knowledge, our sloth and ignorance. Suffering which comes to us unsought, which is the result of cosmic forces has to be patiently borne. When we sit for our meditation let us turn our thoughts towards beings who suffer in diverse ways and let us send them thoughts of love and compassion. We should also resolve to end their sufferings so far as it lies in our power.
We need also cultivate the spirit of sympathetic joy, with the joy and happiness of others. We have also the need to develop the spirit of joyfulness and good cheer in our ownselves. Deep down in our nature, at our very base and foundation, there is a spring of unbounded joy and happiness and we have to release its life giving waters and bathe ourselves in it daily. Unless we have the feeling of happiness in our ownselves, we cannot grow infectious in this virtue and communicate it to others. To make others happy, we have to be happy ourselves, for if the sources of happiness are dry in ourselves we cannot radiate happiness to others. There is always some joy, some happiness abroad in this wide world. Rejoice in the thought of this happiness. Let this sustain us in our faith and even in hours when darkness surrounds us from all sides and there be just one streak of light. Break down all barriers, suffuse the whole wide world and all beings with sympathetic joy and let them receive our radiation and be happy.
All life is transient as it is a vibrating current pulsating with life but which is also on the move and always in the process of change. There is naught in this world which is permanent. The cosmic forces are beyond us. One change of fortune, one stroke of misfortune can destroy in seconds the work of centuries. Love, compassion and joy are good emotions, they are virtues which need be cultivated, but would these stand us always in good stead if we have not cultivated Upeksha. Unless we have cultivated equanimity we cannot have serenity and our joy and happiness will not be well founded.
We must therefore cultivate the spirit of equanimity. We should keenly seek sere for ourselves and wish it for others. We must cultivate a heart which would remain untouched by worldly things, a heart which is not swayed by sorrows and sufferings, a heart which car remain passionless and secure in all temptations and provocations. We have need to acquire a central position towards the world, see it objectively and acquire a poise in which our inner core, the very flame of life will remain unwavering and steady whatever be the luck that befall us for good or evil.
We should be able to face both triumphs and disasters with the same poise. Without meditating on equanimity we cannot acquire serenity and without serenity we cannot taste the bliss of Nirvana.