Buddhism and Meditation

Mudita & The Divine Abodes


This week the Milton Keynes Meditation Association came together to continue our series exploring the Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes.

These are a series of Buddhist Meditations which date right back to the time of the historical Buddha 2500 years ago. They consist of the cultivation of positve mental states.

The third of these meditations is Mudita – Sympathetic Joy or  rejoicing in the happinnes and good qulaities of people.

We practiced some Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation and the Mudita Bhavana Meditation as well as studying and discussing Mudita. We also took the time to get into pairs and rejoice in the good qualities of a friend.

Here is the handout for the evening:

 

Mudita Bhavana – Cultivating Sympathetic Joy

Metta – (friendliness, openness, goodwill, loving kindness) is the basis of all the Divine Abodes. Not a passive experience, done consciously. Active.

Mudita – Sympathetic Joy. The experience of Metta coming into contact with the happiness, good qualities and good fortune of others.

Happiness – cultivating sympathetic joy in any everyday joy or pleasure that does not have an unskilful (un-ethical) cause. A nice holiday, a new job, good friends or a happy family. Can un-ethical behaviour lead to real happiness?

Positive Qualities – pleasure is transitory & fickle. Skilful Mental States (positivity) is a more durable and deeper form of happiness. Positive qualities (like Metta) are cultivated through our own efforts – can be increased and are more reliable.

 

Positive Qualities in others may not be immediately obvious (patience, integrity, faithfulness). Do not confuse with extroversion e.g. a way with people.

 

Balance in the Brahma Vihara Meditations

 

Karuna (Compassion) focuses on the darker side of life. Mudita focuses on the brighter more positive side. These two balance each other out. Mudita counteracts the Near Enemy of Karuna – Horrified Anxiety/Gloom.

 

Rejoicing in Merits – a Buddhist practice of appreciating the good qualities in others –and expressing it! Encourages receptivity, gratitude and connection with those around us. Counteracts overly critical mind, competitiveness and insensitivity. A heroic activity – putting others before self.

The “Enemies” (blockages) to Sympathetic Joy

Far Enemy:

Resentment or Envy – Comparing ourselves with others and seeing ourselves as inferior or less fortunate. Counteracted by cultivating Metta (self & others).

Near Enemies:

Vicarious Satisfaction – getting a kick out of our emotional connection with another person & their good qualities – hero worship, hangers on and groupies. Feeling their qualities reflect well on us e.g. through children’s achievements & teachers/gurus (on a pedestal)

Flattery – insincere praise (do we want some back?)

 

 

Mudita Bhavana Meditation

 

The Working Principle – cultivating skilful, positive, friendly mental states (Metta), then on this basis, looking directly at a person’s positivity or happiness.

 

Need to be constantly aware of your mental state and maintain friendly positivity in the face of pain.

 

Important to work from where you really are, acknowledging your actual experience, not trying jump ahead or conjure up something that isn’t there.

 

Start by looking for any signs of positivity, goodwill, openness, receptivity, contentment, concentration. Give attention to what you find and build on them.

 

Stage 1 – Get in Touch With Metta. For yourself particularly and also for others, use body awareness, visualisation, phrases. Bring to mind a good friend if this helps to get things going. Include an element of universal Metta if this seems appropriate.

 

Stage 2 – A Boon Companion – someone you know personally, preferably a friend, who is emotionally positive and has obvious good qualities. Someone it is easy to rejoice in. They don’t have to be perfect, just have good qualities that we can appreciate.

 

Stage 3 – A Good Friend – Focus on the happiness and good qualities of your friend.

 

Stage 4 – Neutral Person – All beings have some good qualities. Tip: it may be helpful to choose someone who is on a spiritual path – offers a lead in.

 

Stage 5 – Difficult Person – Looking for a more balanced view of this person. Put some energy into being aware of whatever good you can see or know about.

 

Stage 6 – Equalise/Spread – “the upside” of the human race. Empathise and emphasise all the simple good in the world – friendliness, generosity, courage, care for children and pets. Even animals enjoy simple pleasure.

 

Post-Meditation

Take time to absorb the practice. Don’t get up and rush off. Notice how you are, how you feel. If possible take a few minutes to “Just Sit” in an open, receptive state, don’t “do” anything, just “be”. Simply rest in the experience of the senses (sound, taste, touch etc.) including the mind sense (thoughts/emotions).