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Also known as the Four Noble Dwellings or the Buddhist Virtues or the Brahmaviharas. Where in the Pali Canon are these described?

  • Pali canon is not systematized by topic, like this part only talk about that subject, so brahmaviharas could be anywhere and manywhere in it. It's mostly systematized by length of texts and other theme-less classificators. – catpnosis Jun 27 '14 at 8:53
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    @catpnosis except Samyutta Nikaya which is systematized by topic. – Andrei Volkov Jun 27 '14 at 14:01
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According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmavihara the Four Noble Abodes are:

  1. Loving-kindness (Pāli: mettā, Sanskrit: maitrī) towards all: the hope that a person will be well; "the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy."

  2. Compassion (Pāli and Sanskrit: karuṇā): the hope that a person's sufferings will diminish; "the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering."

  3. Empathetic joy (Pāli and Sanskrit: mudita): joy in the accomplishments of a person—oneself or another; sympathetic joy; "the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings."

  4. Equanimity (Pāli: upekkhā, Sanskrit: upekṣā): learning to accept loss and gain, good-repute and ill-repute, praise and censure, sorrow and happiness (Attha Loka Dhamma), all with detachment, equally, for oneself and for others. Equanimity is "not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind—not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation."

According to the Metta Sutta, Shākyamuni Buddha held that cultivation of the four immeasurables has the power to cause the practitioner to be reborn into a Brahma realm (Pāli: Brahmaloka)

According to: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html:

These four attitudes are said to be excellent or sublime because they are the right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings (sattesu samma patipatti). They provide, in fact, the answer to all situations arising from social contact. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. They level social barriers, build harmonious communities, awaken slumbering magnanimity long forgotten, revive joy and hope long abandoned, and promote human brotherhood against the forces of egotism.

They are found in the Pali Canon in Digha Nikaya 13:

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

The Basic Passage on the Four Sublime States from the Discourses of the Buddha

I. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with loving-kindness, likewise the second, the third, and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

II. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with compassion, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with compassion, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

III. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with sympathetic joy, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with sympathetic joy, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

IV. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with equanimity, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with equanimity, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

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The four Brahmaviharas are four moods to be deliberately generated as antidotes against certain negative states of mind (longing, covetousness, ill will, malevolence, conceit, distress, enmity, negativity -- towards the world).

  1. Loving-kindness. According to Chogyam Trungpa, as well as my current teacher, this is directed at self and is a foundation of compassion.
  2. Compassion. An attitude of good king toward his subjects -- lack of harshness despite their shortcomings. Bodhisattva understands that people are different only because of their different backgrounds and experiences. In principle, there is nothing substantial that makes Bodhisattva "better" than others, beside the luck of having encountered, and benefited from, the genuine teaching. Even though Bodhisattva realizes Emptiness, s\he sees that other sentient beings still suffer because they assume things to be real. Bodhisattva understands that the subjective experience of each sentient being is basically the same, and therefore can relate to everybody's dukkha.
  3. Empathetic joy. Feeling glad when seeing others succeed. Antidote for jealousy and competitiveness.
  4. Equanimity. A mood that comes from an objective impersonal point of view.

Cultivation of Brahmaviharas culminates in the "state of Brahma" -- direct experience of unity with the world (AN 4.190).

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It is also in the Kalama Sutta, AN 3.65:

"Then, Kālāmas, that noble disciple, who is thus devoid of longing, devoid of ill will, unconfused, clearly comprehending, ever mindful, dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness … with a mind imbued with compassion … with a mind imbued with altruistic joy … with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without enmity, without ill will."

http://suttacentral.net/en/an3.65

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The way that I explain it to folks is:

Buddhist Virtues (The Four Immeasurables)

  1. Compassion: The intention and capacity to relieve the suffering of oneself and all other living beings.

  2. Loving Kindness: The intention and capacity to bring joy and happiness to oneself and all other living beings.

  3. Empathetic Joy: Rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of another living being

  4. Equanimity: Accepting loss or gain, praise or blame, success or failure with detachment. Regarding all living beings equally. Being clear-minded and tranquil but not dull.

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