Practice of 4 Brahmavihara

Are the 4 Brahmavihara to be practiced sequentially or together or can they be practiced independent of each other? For example can someone develop equanimity without compassion? The meaning of equanimity is composure under difficult situation or not being shaken by events. Compassion on the other hand is being moved by the suffering of others.

Would the practice generate conflicting emotions?


hope you’ll excuse me for quoting myself

it seems to me that inaccurate translation of the term in the brahmaviharas context causes confusion with readers, me included, as to the nature of upekkha as a brahmavihara

as far as compassion is concerned, in my understanding development and practice of upekkha as a brahmavihara is there to make sure that compassion is unbiased, impartial and universal

i understand this upekkha as identical treatment of everybody

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Dear benlim,

From my understanding, upekkha is better translated as “watching carefully and ready to act”. Think of a mother watching her children. She will never take action unless needed. Why? Because sometimes, her children needs to learn by themselves. But when the occasion comes that they do need her in a situation, she will readily be there for them.

May you be well.

with añjali and mettā,




Learning the “dhamma and Pātimokkha” to Buddhist monks.

You stay in a quiet and secluded place, isolated from the body and mind earthly things.

While preserving the way of life of a hermit “and to the Dhamma along remember & the Dhamma along consider”

Then “satisambojjhaṅga … Omitted … Samādhisambojjhaṅga … Upekhāsambojjhaṅga” are springing up, being carried out, is achieved.

I used the Google translator and English Dictionary.

Hi Lom,

Are you sure? You seem very certain of yourself, but I would caution you against this. The jhānas are very profound, and the Buddha says as much. To me what you describe does not sounds like jhāna, but you are certainly on the right track.


Dear Bhante,

Actually i didn’t really believe this until i tried to look into my past life. I read about mostly in the Sutta that if you want to look into Past Life or use Psychic Power, you have to do that in the 4th Jhana. Which I did try and it really works with “Uppekha as my Object of meditation” and stayed in the 4th Jhana.

Through trial and error in meditation i build up the knowledge. I don’t read commentaries and i know it’s quite different than what people said about Jhana as i didn’t use Anapanasati or Kasina as my Object, but it works as what the buddha says in MN4 and i found out it’s not that different if i start from Uppekha.

"With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.’ Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives."


Note: What i shared there is the overall view if i start from Metta. If i start from Uppekha, it’s exactly as what in the sutta said.
Note: I’ll send you my note Bhante.


Bhikkhu Khantipalo interprets upekkha as lack of involvement with and attachment to others

I am very interested in Brahmaviharas and trying to practice them a lot. For me the first three are pretty separate from upekkha. Upekkha feels for me like peace born from wisdom. It is a readiness for action if needed (panna).
So I can fit all my practice into Brahmaviharas as practicing upekkha involves 4 Noble Truths and understanding of Dukkha anicca anatta and Eightfold path.
I also noticed that serenity is a sublime form of all of them in the same time. At least that’s my feeling :slight_smile:
I also substitute them for feeling connected with peaceful goodness. Love and Peace.
This practice brings me a lot of happiness which feels pure, not brought by sensuality.

Love and Peace:-)

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The brahmaviharas are a result of not having hostility and ill-will in regard to all beings, they are a result of having abandoned the wrong view. Therefore instead of trying to practice them, one should develop the right view, and the factors for the right view do not include ‘doing’ brahmaviharas, because you can’t ‘do’ them. You can only abide (recognise them) in them as a result of understanding ill-will and non-ill will.

The boundless states “performed” or practised are not then boundless, they are limited because you are trying to create them on top of your experience of ill-will, non-equanimity, unfriendliness etc
Having freed oneself from ill-will for example, then your mind has the boundless quality of non-ill-will automatically, without being bounded by you, without having to be performed by you.

The Metta is not a medicine for ill-will it’s the result of not having ill-will.

Of course one should be kind whenever possible, but kind acts do not purify one from the possibility of acting unkindly. Restraint and understanding of the non-doing of unwholesome actions will reveal your limiting choice, your responsibility in acting unwholesomely or not. Simply not acting out of ill-will and fully understanding what ill-will is based on, can reveal the boundless nature of non-ill-will and recognising that one abides ‘divinely’ / like Brahma.

It is a divine abiding because you do not ‘do’ it or create it.
You can only recognise it, and keep recognising (being mindful) until the mind turns away completely from that which is limiting i.e self, conceit, ill-will, hostility etc.

Stop doing unwholesome and look what is left…the effortless wholesome, which doesn’t need your input.

This is why the Brahma viharas can lead to arahantship because the knowledge of anatta can be understood through them.


Practicing or “doing” them means abiding in them as I think there are natural qualities of all human beings. But you can do formal practice to make them grow and become boundless. Understanding wrong and right view and ill or non-ill looks more like quality of wisdom and can lead to equanimity, peace or indifference.
Metta is not a medicine for ill will but good profilactic when karuna and panna works better in this regard.

They do. They teach me more then hours of formal meditation. They become right action when actively pursued. Although is very important to use them together with mindfullness and wisdom.
Anyway as we agree that they are natural and not created qualities and states we can connect with them through different ways. My personal choice is to do it through practicing them.
I think they are very underestimated by many practitioners.

May you stay connected with goodness
Be a lamp for those in need
Be a bed for sick and weary
Be a bringer of love and peace:-)

They are already boundless, or if one would translate them as ‘divine’, they are already divine. If it were up to a self to create them then they would not lead to freedom from conceit.

The natural qualities, the ones that make us human i.e ignorance and craving are the ones that keep us going on in samsara. The Dhamma is completely against the flow of the natural tendencies (ignorance and craving), if we were naturally boundless, or free from ill-will then we would not have any problems.
We have the possibility to discern the brahmaviharas, but they cannot be appropriated, they cannot be owned.

If I stop ill-will, or stop craving to get rid of a painful feeling, then if one chooses to, one can discern what is now present because of the absence of ill -will, which is NON- ill-will, it is there by default but one will not abide in it unknowingly. It must be recognised as a valid phenomenon and made much of, so to speak. Mindfulness of non-ill-will is thus effortless/doing-less, except for the discerning of it, one must discern it and thus it becomes a known phenomenon that can be abided in whenever one wants.

Through its recognition it becomes real or realised, more accessible.

But an act of kindness comes from you and is subject to your will, subject and dependent on how you feel. The phenomenon of Metta is a result of not being unfriendly, there is no need to do anything, no need to act friendly, it is by default there by way of not acting harmfully.

I do think also that the brahmaviharas are underestimated because they are usually seen as active actions towards others.

The natural qualities that make us humans are Brahma-viharas. The Dhamma is completely with the flow of this natural tendencies. Unfortunately, conditioning and ignorance create OUR personality, cravings and attachments. We practice to transcend suffering, replace ignorance with wisdom, ill-will with Brahmaviharas and embrace the Natural state which we called Nibbana.

Does not stealing make us generous? No, but we can practice this way. The same way not harming doesn’t make us compassionate. Not doing something can ends up in just observing, which is fine but that is not practicing BV.

One act of kindness can change a life around.

The only reason I write all this is that I found wonderful base in Sila and Brahmaviharas for my practice. And yes, recently it pushes me towards Action.

Then there is no problem to solve, and on top of that, we are then just naturally developing infinite amounts of merit. Sit back, relax and go with the flow.

If the natural state is Nibbana, yet it is oppressed by ignorance etc then it’s not that great. If you were to reach such a state as in this theory then what would stop ignorance from not re-emerging in the future?
In Nibbana and then out of Nibbana, then back in Nibbana…and so on.

Not stealing means that one is not a thief; recognising that state means seeing that it is not dependent on your actions, it is infinite, my non-thiefy-ness is infinite as opposed to your finite intentional act of stealing.
Not harming does not make you cruel either, it is the opposite of harming, the absence of harming, and if we can recognise the abundance of that absence, we develop BV automatically. The mind is not hemmed in by greed, hatred or delusion thus such a person has no NEED for compassionate acts, but this does not mean that he won’t be helping anyone when asked to, he just won’t need to.

The effects of acting kindly is not in dispute, but I am disputing the idea that a kind act constitutes a BV.
Because as I pointed out, in the suttas, one who abides in BV, is one with right view. People can perform kind acts but that doesn’t mean they have the right view. If this were so that right view is a natural consequence of being human, then the Buddha would have been preaching to the choir, so to speak.

That doesn’t sound right to me. If mettā were ‘already’ — which is to say inherently — boundless, then it would be redundant to instruct someone to pervade the four directions with it, for it would be already pervading all four directions on any occasion that it happened to arise. And yet such an instruction is one of the commonest sutta formulas dealing with these four dhammas.

Come, bhikkhus, abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to yourselves, abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.

The Aṭṭhakanāgarasutta describes the appamaññās as “conditioned and volitionally produced”.


With a mind imbued with Metta, one looks at the whole of experience, from the most particular i.e me and others, to the most general i.e the world.
By surveying the world or its parts, me and others, with a mind imbued with Metta, one sees that in all directions, this mind imbued with Metta is unhindered by anything.
The more one dwells on that quality, by way of seeing it in relation to things of a more particular nature, the more it is recognised/developed.

I read it as an instruction for one with right view to recognise that quality of his mind(that is there, but not knowingly dwelt in).

The word abhisañcetayitā is used which means to “Think it out”, and abhisaṅkhatā which also means to " produce artificially".
The abstract thought of a boundless mind is produced intentionally and then one thinks about, dwells on that thought which is abstract and if one thinks correctly, or sees things in the correct way, then he can recognise that thing which is already there more and more…that mind is then apparent, it’s no longer just an abstract theory.
So still I read that he does not create that mind, but he would not have understood or recognised it if he didn’t think about it. So one could say that the discernment of the appamaññās is dependent on one’s abstract thinking, amongst other things.

Also, I am not declaring that the appamaññās are permanent, they are dependent on and determined by other things like this conscious body being here etc

I have come across an essay ,written by a certain bhikkhu,which might be of interest, it is part of a larger piece but this section seems most relevant for this discussion:

"An enlarged mind vs. An unenlarged mind

The term mahaggata is generally used to refer to a mind that has somehow grown, expanded, become larger, but what this actually means is far from self-evident. One place that we often meet the term is in the stock expression that describes the cultivation of the brahmavihārā , such as here in MN 7.

so mettāsahagatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati, tathā dutiyaṃ, tathā tatiyaṃ, tathā catutthaṃ. iti uddhamadho tiriyaṃ sabbadhi sabbattatāya sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ mettāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena abyāpajjena pharitvā viharati; karuṇāsahagatena cetasā…pe…. muditāsahagatena cetasā…pe…. upekkhāsahagatena cetasā ekaṃ disaṃ pharitvā viharati, tathā dutiyaṃ, tathā tatiyaṃ, tathā catutthaṃ. iti uddhamadho tiriyaṃ sabbadhi sabbattatāya sabbāvantaṃ lokaṃ upekkhāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena abyāpajjena pharitvā viharati.

He dwells having pervaded one direction with a mind endowed with loving-kindness; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth. Thus he dwells having pervaded up-&-down, horizontally, spread out over the entire world with a mind that is endowed with loving-kindness, large, enlarged, unbounded, immeasurable, without anger, without ill-will. He dwells having pervaded one direction with a mind endowed with compassion … sympathetic joy … equanimity; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth. Thus he dwells having pervaded up-&-down, horizontally, spread out over the entire world with a mind that is endowed with equanimity, large, enlarged, unbounded, immeasurable, without anger, without ill-will.

MN 7

Cultivating mettā means pervading the mind with the intention of good-will for all beings. The phenomenon of ‘person’ (which arises for the puthujjana , and includes ‘this-person-who-I-am’) and the phenomenon of ‘individual’ are simply phenomena which arise. They arise against a background which is the mind, and this will have certain underlying or latent tendencies (unless one is an arahat ) which pull the experience in certain directions. For instance, as we have seen, a mind infected with paṭighānusaya (the underlying tendency to ill-will) will be affected by the arisen phenomena and will tend towards an aversive response. One is more likely to perceive the unpleasant and to be repelled. One who cultivates mettā works at changing the underlying tendencies. By pervading the background (i.e. the mind) with a sense of acceptance, benevolence, amity, whenever the phenomenon of other people (or the phenomenon of this person) arises, this will be manifested on a background of mettā . The tendency will be to respond to people on the basis of this quality of mettā .

The Buddha encouraged his disciples to develop a mind endowed with loving-kindness ( mettāsahagata citta ), but it is important to understand that one cannot do this without first knowing what the mind is. It is only once one has discerned what citta is, once one has grasped the nimitta of citta, that it becomes possible to endow it with certain qualities such as loving-kindness, compassion, or simply to brighten or gladden it. How could it be possible for one to gladden the mind without knowing what the mind is? It is perhaps worth noting here that this also applies to ānāpānassati . Before one can develop mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, one first needs to have discerned the phenomenon of mind.

‘cittapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘cittapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; ‘abhippamodayaṃ cittaṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘abhippamodayaṃ cittaṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; ‘samādahaṃ cittaṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘samādahaṃ cittaṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati; ‘vimocayaṃ cittaṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘vimocayaṃ cittaṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati.

One trains thus: “I will breathe in as one who experiences the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe out as one who experiences the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe in having gladdened the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe out having gladdened the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe in having composed the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe out having composed the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe in having liberated the mind”. One trains thus: “I will breathe out having liberated the mind”.

MN 118

When the quality of mettā is fully established one knows that any being that one might encounter—any being at all—can only be encountered within this field of mettā . One now knows that it is not possible to experience any being (whether, in the case of the puthujjana , my self or others, or whether, in the case of the arahat , this individual set of the five aggregates or five aggregates externally) without them being there within this context of good-will. The mettā is now all-pervasive, unbounded, infinite. It is in this way that the mind can be reckoned in terms of its size and can be described as vipula (large, extensive, abundant), mahaggata (enlarged, expanded, become great) or even appamāṇa (immeasurable, unbounded, unlimited, infinite). When one has discerned the mind, and knows that the mind is always the larger background within which more particular phenomena arise, then one knows that whatever particular thing I attend to, the mind is always bigger than that. In this sense, the infinity of the mind can be known. That is why the arahat , one who has fully understood the mind, can be described as one with an immeasurable mind."

Forgive my ignorance if it should be obvious, but who is the “certain bhikkhu” you are quoting? It would be nice to have a link to the piece to which you are referring.


citta_by_Ariyavamsa.pdf (288.5 KB)

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