The Four Divine Abodes (Satara Brahma Viharanha)



Namo Buddhāya!


Loving-kindness meditation (Mettā Bhāvanā)


The way to cultivate the mind with loving-kindness…


Mettā (Maitri) or loving-kindness is the true friendship that one exercises toward oneself and others. If one is friendly to oneself, that person will not harm himself/herself. If a person is friendly to others, that person would not harm others’ lives. Therefore, the friendship that brings good to oneself and others is called Mettā.


Two ways of cultivating the loving-kindness meditation are mentioned in Anuruddha Sutta in Majjima Nikāya. Arahant Anuruddha Thero has explained those two ways of cultivating the loving-kindness meditation. These two methods are Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti and Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti.


The way to cultivate Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti…


Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti means spreading loving-kindness direction-wise without any limit. That is, spreading loving-kindness to all ten directions (all beings in ten directions). Ones who like Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti method can remember the following sentences by-heart and practice the loving-kindness meditation.

1. May all beings in north direction be free of enmity… May they be free of anger… May they be free of jealousy… May they be free of suffering, harm… May they live well and happy… May they become peaceful…


2. May all beings in northeast direction…


3. May all beings in east direction…


4. May all beings in southeast direction…


5. May all beings in south direction…


6. May all beings in southwest direction…


7. May all beings in west direction…


8. May all beings in northwest direction…


9. May all beings in up direction…


10. May all beings in down direction…


The way to cultivate Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti…


In Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti, loving-kindness meditation is cultivated by expanding the area of focus progressively. That is, one cultivates loving-kindness to oneself first. Then to beings in the village, in town, in province/state, in the country, , and in the whole world. Ones who like Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti method can remember the following sentences by-heart and practice the loving-kindness meditation.


1. May I be free of enmity… May I be free of anger… May I be free of jealousy… May I be free of suffering, harm… May I live well and happy… May I be peaceful…


2. I and all beings in this village…


3. I and all beings in this town…


4. I and all beings in this province/state…


5. I and all beings in this country…


6. I and all beings in this world…


7. I and all beings…


Toward Maitri Jhāna…


Actually, a mind can be developed up to the third contemplation (Dhyāna) with loving-kindness meditation. In order to attain a Dhyāna from the loving-kindness meditation, one needs to meditate according to the instructions of the Supreme Buddha. When the loving-kindness meditation is cultivated in this manner, one’s mind get concentrated on loving-kindness by suppressing five hindrances. When the loving-kindness meditation is further cultivated with that concentrated mind, the first contemplation with thoughts (vitakka), consideration (vicāra), dispassionate rapture joy (nirāmisa prītiya), and concentration (ēkaggatā) will be attained. That person could cultivate the loving-kindness meditation further and attain second and third contemplations.


Benefits of the loving-kindness meditation


Benefits of practicing the loving-kindness meditation are clearly shown in the Mettānisansa Sutta in Anguttara Nikāya. Those benefits are:

A person who cultivates the loving-kindness meditation


1. Sleeps well

2. Wakes up well

3. Does not dream nightmares

4. Becomes likable to humans

5. Becomes likable to ghost beings

6. Gets protected by divine beings

7. Does not come any harm from poisons or weapons

8. Can attain concentration quickly

9. Gets his/her body colorful/bright

10. Dies consciously

11. Will be born in Brahma world if he/she did not attain Arahantship in this life.


Altruistic-joy meditation (Muditā Bhāvanā)


Cultivate Muditā to get rid of discontent about wholesome actions…


Loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity are known as “the Four Divine Abodes (satara brahma viharanha)”. This name is given to these four qualities because the Mahā Brahma has these qualities. If we as humans also develop these four qualities in our lives regularly, we will also be able to be born in Brahma worlds after we die.


The happiness we feel about others’ progress/wellbeing is Muditā. One can thrive with money, lands, vehicles, and so on by earnest and righteous livelihoods. If we can be happy by seeing such development of others without getting angry about it, it is Muditā. Also, one can grow with education, fame, praise, and body color. At all these situations, we should be talented to be happy about their growth. Sometimes, one could be jealous of another person’s beauty, good education, fame, or praise. One should try to be happy in such occasions by removing unwholesome thoughts from one’s mind.


The Supreme Buddha preached to cultivate Muditā to get rid of discontent (aratiya) about wholesome actions. The mental concentration one acquires by cultivating Muditā is Muditā Chētō Vimukti, and it can also be developed by appamānha and mahaggata methods. Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti can be spread to areas around oneself gradually. In Appamāna Chētō Vimukkti, one can cultivate Muditā on to oneself first and to beings in ten directions as north, northeast, and etc.


The way to cultivate Mahaggata Muditā Chētō Vimukkti…


1. May I grow with lifespan… power… color… pleasure… fame… praise…wisdom…


2. May I and all other beings living in this house…


3. May I and all other beings in this village…


4. May I and all other beings in this city…


5. May I and all other beings in this province/state…


6. May I and all other beings in this country…


7. May I and all other beings in this world…


8. May I and all other beings…


The way to cultivate Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti…


1. May I grow with lifespan… power… color… pleasure… fame… praise…wisdom…


2. May all beings in north…


3. May all beings in northeast…


4. May all beings in east…


5. May all beings in southeast…


6. May all beings in south…


7. May all beings in southwest…


8. May all beings in west…


9. May all beings in northwest…


10. May all beings in up direction…


11. May all beings in down direction…


Compassion meditation (Karunhā Bhāvanā)


Be kind to others…


One’s kindness toward others’ bodily and mental affliction is compassion (Karunhā). We all who live in the human world suffer from various pains, sorrows each moment. When sicknesses, natural disasters hit, most people suffer physically and mentally. When one kindly treats a person who suffers from such pains, it is Karunhā that builds within that first person. One can build Karunhā Chētō Vimukti within oneself by developing Karunhā.


Karunhā Chētō Vimukti can be cultivated with respect to both Mahaggata and Appamāna methods. Also, one can acquire the ability to eradicate defilements by cultivating Vidarshanā based on that chētō vimukti.


The way to cultivate Karunhā meditation…


May I be free of bodily pains… May I be free of mental pains… May I be physically healthy… May I be mentally healthy… May I live well and happy…


I and …


(Karunhā meditation can be cultivated in Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti and Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti methods similar to the Mettā and Mudita meditations.)


Equanimity meditation (Upēkshā Bhāvanā)


In order to not get upset from the eight vicissitudes of life…


We sorrow when we face of our everyday sufferings and troubles. And we joy when we face the moments of pleasure and happiness. When we behave indifferently in front of such pleasure/joy or sufferings/troubles it is equanimity that we are cultivating. One who practices equanimity will not mourn when sufferings, troubles find that person. He will not get excited when pleasure, happiness find him. He/she will feel all with an indifferent mentality. What we all have to face is the eight vicissitudes of life (ata lō dahama). One shall cultivate equanimity in order to not to worry or sorrow from the eight vicissitudes of life. The mental concentration one acquires by cultivating equanimity is Upekkhā Chētō Vimukti. It is also of two types: appamānha and mahaggata. One has the capability to eradicate defilements by cultivating Vidarshanā based on the Upekkhā Chētō Vimukti.


The way to cultivate Upekkhā meditation…


May I not be joyful because of gain… May I not be sorrowful because of loss… May I not be joyful because of praise… May I not be sorrowful because of dishonor… May I not be happy because of fame… May I not be sorrowful because of disgrace… May I not be happy by bodily pleasure… May I not be sorrowful by bodily suffering… May I not be happy by mental pleasure… May I not be sorrowful by mental suffering… May I be peaceful…


I and …


(Upekkhā meditation can be cultivated in Mahaggata Chētō Vimukkti and Appamānha Chētō Vimukkti methods similar to the Mettā and Mudita meditations.)



By Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero