I read the books of Bhante Vimalaramsi that is using the practice of Brahmavihara to reach a state that is called Tranquil Aware Jhana and then to generate insights from the fourth rupa Jhana.

Has anyone of you practiced using this method and reached the Jhanas? Has anyone gotten any insight?

In his site, Bhante Vimalaramsi says that this method is much better and faster than one pointed concentration to reach Jhanas. The Jhanas are less powerful and better manageable and getting attached to the joy of them is much more difficult.

Thank you, metta


5 Answers 5


It seems to be possible. Following elaborates on this.

The “divine abodes” (brahma,vihāra) are so called because these are the qualities of the higher divine beings or brahmas. They are called “immeasurables” (appamāṇā, appamaññā) is another term for the divine abodes because the practice is only complete when we break down the barrier or duality of self and other.

These qualities are lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. When they are practised to dhyanic levels, they are known as “liberation of mind” (ceto,vimutti), or more fully, the liberation of mind by the immeasurable (or the immeasurable liberation of mind) (appamāṇā ceto,vimutti)


The first three divine abodes—that is, the liberation of mind by lovingkindness, by compassion and by appreciative joy—can attain only up to the level of the third dhyana. Only the liberation of mind by equanimity can reach the fourth dhyana.

From the Metta,sahagata Sutta (S 46.54), a few interesting details are worth nothing. The liberation of mind by lovingkindness (mettā ceto,vimutti) has “beauty” (subha) as it highest limit. “Beauty” here refers to any of the form dhyana (rūpa jhāna), while the term “beauty element, or beautiful element” (subha,dhātu), refers to both the dhyana and its object, namely, a dhyana arisen on the basis of lovingkindness (Pm 2:39).

The Attha,sālinī, the Commentary on the Dhamma,saṅgaṇī, however, takes “the beautiful” here as referring to dhyana attainment through a colour device (kasiṇa) that is fully purified (DhsA 191). As Analayo notes, this gloss goes against the teachings of the Paṭisambhidā,magga (2009: 146 f).

The liberation of mind by compassion (karuṇā ceto,vimutti) has the base of boundless space (ākāsâ- nañc’āyatana) is its highest limit. That is to say, dhyana attained by the liberation of mind through the cultivation of compassion can be used to attain to the first formless base or formless attainment (arūpa samāpatti).

The liberation of mind by appreciative joy (muditā ceto,vimutti) has the base of boundless consciousness (viññāṇ’añc’āyatana) as its highest point, that is, it can be the springboard to attain the second formless attainment

The liberation of mind by equanimity (upekkhā ceto,vimutti) has the base of nothingness (akiñcaññâ- yatana) as it highest base, that is, it can be a basis for focus leading up to the third formless attainment

With such an attainment at its best, the practitioner will be able to attain non-return, but not arhathood, because he has yet to abandon all his remaining defilements. An important aspect of this practice is to remind ourselves that all such states are mind-made, and as such are impermanent and liable to ceasing.

Source: Introduction to Mettā Bhāvanā Sutta by Piya Tan

The practice of Loving-Kindness Meditation can lead you directly to the experience of Nibbāna if you follow all of the Brahma Viharas: that is the practice of Loving- Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity. This is mentioned many times in the suttas (the original discourses of the Buddha). Many times other teachers will say that this practice alone doesn't directly lead the meditator to the experience of Nibbāna. And this is true. But, when Loving-Kindness Meditation is practiced as part of the Brahma Viharas then it will take the meditator to the fourth Jhāna or meditation level. This is where the Lord Buddha tried to have all of the students who practiced meditation get to. The fourth meditation level is where the meditator experiences deep states of equanimity.

According to the suttas, there are three different paths that can be taken once the meditator reaches this level. They can take one directly to the experience of Nibbāna. We will not go into more detail at this time, because it may cause some confusion. But if you are interested, in having more information please start reading suttas like sutta 62 The Maharchulovada Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. Or you can read sutta 27 The Culahatthipadopama Sutta in the same book. I sincerely hope that these meditation instructions are helpful to you and that by practicing in this way you will benefit greatly and lead a truly happy and healthy life.

Source: "A Practical Bare-Bones guide to Metta Meditation" by Bhante Vimalaramsi

  • I wonder where in the Metta Bhavana Sutta does it say that the practitioner will be able to attain non-return, but not arhanthood. This is only an incorrect interpretation by Piya Tan. Practicing Brahmavihara to may get insights into leading to Rupa/Arupa Jhana, not leading to Nibbana. But there are other 4's that if practiced will lead to Nibbhana. The OP has accepted, and see things otherwise. So I will not elaborate any further on this. With metta.... Mar 17, 2017 at 3:11
  • It is not in the Sutta. Above is quoted from the introduction which discusses the commentarial literature and scholarly literature around the Suttas. What has been discussed is: Metta,sahagata Sutta, Attha,sālinī, Com. on Dhamma,saṅgaṇī Mar 17, 2017 at 7:10
  • Maybe you can try answering this: References on Rupa and Arupa Jhana through Brahma Vihara Mar 17, 2017 at 12:47
  • I am very tight for time, and the little time that I have this weekend, I already have marked 3 questions to answer. The rest of the time I will observe 24+ hour Uposatha Sill at a temple - so the weekend is full. If we stick to the 3 sections - 40 volumes - 57 books, that has around 18,000 discourses, they are all about Nibbhana. But Bhante Vimalaramsi has distorted it by saying a half truth. Hindus practice Brahmavihara and attend rupa / arupa jhana - but theirs is only micca samadhi that will not bring Nibbhana. So for this answer I'd say C'est la vie - such is the way life goes. w/ metta. Mar 17, 2017 at 13:26

It's certainly possible. The brahmaviharas are one of the methods one can use to achieve jhana. Past the first jhana, however, jhana practice is more or less indistinguishable no matter which method you use to establish that initial base of concentration. E.g. the fourth jhana is still the fourth jhana regardless of whether I'm practicing breath perception, kasina meditation, or contemplating karuna. Some people find some methods easier than others. That's why the Buddha gave us three dozen of them!


Brahma viharana is something Buddha practiced even as a Bhodisatva and helped many reach higher realms. They are meritorious and definitely insufficient to reach Nirvana.

There is only one way to reach Nirvana, and that's the Arya Ashta Angika Magga (the Noble Eight fold Path).


It is very possible to attain Nibbana by practicing Brahmavihara.

In MN 97 Dhananjani Sutta, Brahmana Dhananjani was instructed to practice brahmavihara by Ven Sariputta and before he died he was reborn as a brahma in lower BrahmaLoka which is the realm of 1st Jhana. Meaning by doing this you can achieved Jhana.

Samatha-Vipassana is the best way to attain nibbana as what the buddha describe about PannaVimutti / wisdom according to buddha.

A person need to get into Jhana 1 2 3 4 and to the bases then you'll be able to see the links of dependent origination. When you attained nibbana, you'll realized that the way that leads to the end of suffering opened up for you.

I'm a Brahmavihara's Practitioner and one of Bhante's Student


Read majjhima nikaya 52.8 it is clearly mentioned that one will reach either arahat or anagami stage if anicca is practised with brahmaviharas. So it is clear that practice of brahmavihara along with appreciation of anicca definitely leads to awakening. Bhante Vimalaramsi says that many of his students have experienced awakening i e nibbana.

  • Link to MN 52: accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.052.than.html
    – SarathW
    Jan 2, 2019 at 8:46
  • This sutta was spoken by Ananda, who wasn't an Arahant. What do you mean by practising anicca? Loving-kindness obviously cannot lead to nibbana because it's not insight into anicca and anatta. It might work as a spring board and makes the mind calmer, which in turn facilitates to see things clearly (due to the stilling of mental fabrication), but the brahmaviharas in & of themselves DO NOT lead to direct insight, and no insight means no possibility of enlightenment.
    – Val
    Jan 5, 2019 at 21:56
  • @Sarathw pl read karaniya metta stta and mn 52.8 Oct 4, 2020 at 13:26

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