The Brahma Viharas - An Overview of the 4 Heart Qualities: A 10 Session Series

IMCC teachers are presenting a ten-part series on Tuesday nights focusing on active engagement with the Brahma Viharas. 

The Brahma Viharas (a Pali phrase for “heavenly abidings”) are a prominent part of the Buddha’s teaching. These refer to four natural heart qualities which, when cultivated, enlarge and sweeten our lives. The qualities are:

  • Lovingkindness—A tender regard for all. A wish for true happiness for ourselves and others.
  • Compassion—The natural response of lovingkindness when it encounters suffering in others or in ourselves (self-compassion).
  • Sympathetic joy—The natural response of lovingkindness when it encounters happiness in others or ourselves.
  • Equanimity—Even-mindedness. Not to be confused with indifference or apathy. A sensitive acceptance of the constant changes in life, including acceptance of suffering that is beyond our ability to alter.

Ours is a culture of violence. We are fed it daily in so many ways, blatant and subtle, that we may to some degree normalize it, even as we know it to be totally unacceptable. In this context, practicing the Brahma Viharas is a radical act, one that requires perseverance and courage. In practice, we work to express the heart qualities in our personal relationships as well as through the grit of social action.

Brahma Viharas Overview

PDF of Overview of Brahma Viharas

Lovingkindness Part I, Exploration


Lovingkindness Part II, Practice Exercises
PDF of Sangha Lovingkindness Poem

Compassion Part I, Exploration

Compassion Part II, Practice Exercises
PDF of Compassion Practices

Sympathetic Joy Part I, Exploration

Sympathetic Joy Part II, Practice Exercises
PDF of Sympathetic Joy Practice Exercise

Equanimity Part I, Exploration
Gil Fronsdal talk on Equanimity

Equanimity Part II, Practice Exercises
PDF of Practice Exercises

Brahma Viharas—Assessments and the Way Forward
Brahma Viharas Quotes

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