Do not look at anybody in terms of friend or foe, brother or cousin; do not fritter away your mental energies in thoughts of friendship or enmity. Seeking the Self everywhere, be amiable and equal-minded towards all, treating all alike. -Shankara
Our minds are fickle things. They tend to fly from one thing to another. We oscillate from one role to the next. One moment we are an employee, the next we might be a mom, we don all these different masks and our minds go with us. Our identity bounces constantly, as do our thoughts.
Rarely are we truly, actually present in the moment. We are where we are physically. But our minds are not. Our minds are thinking about the next thing we have to do. The next place we need to go. The next thing we have to get done. And we tend to think that this next thing is going to make us happy. We forgo happiness consistently and push it off to the future, never meeting it here, as we are never really here.
This brings with us a sense of separation from the world and from others. We get sucked into this unconscious idea that, somehow, “I” am the only “I” that matters. My needs and my wants should take priority and the others, those whom we are separate from, must find their own way. Of course, this is a lie. In truth, we are all intrinsically interconnected, but when we act from our unconscious trances, we behave otherwise.
Mysticism of every tradition strives to alleviate this sense of separation and the peripatetic wonderings of the mind. It seeks to remind us of the which is sacred and that which truly matters. One of the tools that Buddhism uses for this is called the Brahmaviharas, which are also known as the Divine Abodes or the Four Immeasurables. These are:
1. Loving Kindness: We desire to see all beings in the light of loving kindness We wish for all of them, without exception, to have happiness. Because, isn’t this what we all want on our deepest levels?
2. Compassion: We see others in the light of compassion and hope that their suffering diminishes.
3. Empathetic Joy: We take joy in the accomplishments of ourselves and others.
4. Equanimity: This is our learning to accept loss, gain, praise and blame, success, and failure for ourselves and others.
What these tools are doing is bridging that unconscious tendency of separation. They are attempting to show us that we, ourselves, are not the only ones that matter and that all of those around us are human too. They help us to see that we all want happiness and that we are all, deep down, the same.
We all have our suffering, our joys, and our hardships. When we are able to pull ourselves out of our unconscious, myopic view of self-centeredness through practices such as the Brahmaviharas, we can see our fellow beings with love, consciousness, and compassion. In turn, this feels our lives with more joy and bliss.
Originally published at www.scottgoolsby.com.
Originally published at medium.com