Buddhism and Meditation

Tranquility & The Divine Abodes

On Tuesday 12th October, the Milton Keynes Meditation Association met to practice and study the last of the Divine Abode (Brahma Vihara) Meditations – Tranquility (Upeksha).

A Tranquil Night at Gampo Abbey


Here are the notes for the evening:


The First 3 Brahma Viharas:

Metta – (friendliness, openness, goodwill, loving kindness) is the basis of all the Brahma Viharas.

Karuna – Compassion – Metta in contact with suffering. A genuine empathy and a desire for beings to be free from suffering.

Mudita – Sympathetic Joy – Metta in contact with Skilful qualities and happiness in beings. Rejoicing in their good fortune.

Karuna and Mudita exist as potentials within Metta.


3 Uages of the term Upeksha:

1.Equality of Mind a non-reactive state of being – not being pulled around by likes and dislikes or bored with neutrality. Even minded. Like an island.

2. The Enlightened State – a synonym for Bodhi – full and perfect Enlightenment. Freedom from greed, hatred and spiritual ignorance/delusion.

3. In the Barhma Viharas – a link between the first two usages. A gateway into experiencing Awakened Compassion. The word “Equinimity” does not do it justice.


Metta, Karuna and Mudita exist as implicit within Upeksha – they are fully present and developed, integrally & equally.


In Addition:


  • An Element of Reflection – on Conditioned Arising – looking into the nature of things – impermanent and insubstantial (like a dream, a rainbow, froth on water an magic show)


  • Profound Positivity – as with Metta, Karuna & Mudita


  • Non-Reactivity – things are constantly moving – a state of flow. The pain or pleasure we meditate on is impermanent, not the whole picture, not ultimate. Letting go of fixation with what is happening now we see a broader context and are less caught up in reactions.


The “Enemies” (blockages) to Equinimity:


Far Enemy: cold deliberate indifference or ignoring (subtle aversion or ill-will)

Near Enemy: dull indifference, abstraction, lack of involvement, alienated complacency – “there is nothing to worry about”, “it’s all OK as it is”.



The Upeksha Bhavana Meditation:


In all of the stages:


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


2. Bring to mind the person’s difficulties and/or unskilful qualities – Metta will tend towards Compassion (Karuna)


3. Bring to mind the persons joys/happiness and/or skilful qualities – Metta will tend towards Sympathetic Joy (Mudita)


4. Work towards developing a fuller picture. Continue to cultivate Metta while aware of the ups and downs of the person – allowing it to respond to the whole person.


5. Reflect that the ups and downs have arisen out of conditions. They are transitory phenomena and will give way to new phenomena as conditions change.


The Stages:


1. Metta for Ourself. If already present then develop Upeksha for our ups and downs.


2. Neutral Person (out of the usual order). Their ups and downs will trigger less response in us than the Friend. A better chance to contact Equinimity.


3. A Good Friend.


4. A “Difficult” Person.


5. Equalise Upeksha for all of them then radiate out to all beings.




Take time to absorb the practice. Don’t get up and rush off. Notice how you are, how you feel. Take time to “Just Sit” in an open, receptive state, don’t “do” anything, simply rest in the experience of the senses/thoughts/emotions.


As an Insight/Reflection Practice (Vipassana)


Implicit in Metta, Mudita, Karuna – thinking about others we go beyond our own self-interest – we begin to realise we are not the centre of the universe.


Explicit in Upeksha – looking at the nature of experience (i.e. reality), disassociating from reactivity to the present, seeing through the momentary phenomena to a broader picture, a deeper, more fluid reality.