The Four Sublime States
The Four Sublime States were a subject very dear to the heart of the Buddha. He spoke of them often. A person can achieve rebirth in a Brahma realm through the practice and attainment of the Four Sublime States; unconditional love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Sometimes called the Brahmaviharas (or divine abodes) they describe an attainable divine state in which your mind, imbued with the virtues of the four states reaches out to embrace the entire world and all of the sentient creatures within it. The Four Sublime States are the best possible relationship with the world and everyone in it. They also offer the possibility of liberation from the cycle of re-birth when your time comes to leave this life. Could there be a more worthy goal in life than this? The Buddha urged people to adopt these sublime states as their habitual state of mind. This book outlines a way for you to cultivate these states of mind which have great practical value for how you relate to the world. They engender harmony and good-will with others and with society as a whole. They act as levellers of social barriers, and makes us feel generous towards others as we widen our circle of care to include everyone in the world, not just our immediate family and friends. A mind that has attained the four states is untroubled by random thoughts and petty considerations. The consciousness that flows through it is calm and majestic, like a mighty river fed from pure mountain springs. The river flows into the sea but the sea level does not rise because an equal amount of water has evaporated, become clouds, and then fallen as rain on the mountain again. This dynamic process illustrates the essence of equanimity. With the four sublime states firmly established and working in dynamic harmony, mindfulness blends with faith, courage with serenity, and insight with strength of purpose. They combine to make you an unstoppable force of nature. You are no longer prone to being trapped in the labyrinth of your own base nature, you have risen above it. Your mind becomes like a facetted jewel. The light that comes into it is reflected back out to the world as a beautiful focussed beam of light; healing, dynamic, divine.
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