Brahmavihara

Definition - What does Brahmavihara mean?

Brahmavihara is a term that refers to the four Buddhist virtues and meditative practices. It derives from the Pali words, brahma, meaning “god” or “divine”; and vihara, meaning “abode.” The brahmavihara are also known as the four appamanna, or "immeasurables," and as the four sublime states.

The Buddhist yogi cultivates these sublime states of brahmavihara through a meditation technique called brahmavihara-bhavana with the goal of reaching jhana (concentration or meditative absorption) and ultimately the state of enlightenment known as nirvana.

Yogapedia explains Brahmavihara

The brahmavihara include:

  • Upekkha – equanimity that is rooted in insight. It is non-attachment, serenity and a balanced, calm mind in which all are treated impartially.
  • Metta – loving kindness that is actively showing good will to everyone.
  • Karuna – compassion in which the Buddhist identifies others' suffering as his/her own.
  • Mudita – empathetic joy in which the Buddhist is joyful because of the happiness and joy of others, even if he/she had no part in creating that happiness.

These same four concepts can be found in yoga and Hindu philosophy. Patanjali discussed these as states of mind in The Yoga Sutras.

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