Employing the Brahma-viharas with Breathing (Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
- "To work with the breath is to create a space where all the different parts of the mind all the different members of the committee, all the different levels of sensation and activity going on learn how to be with one another in a peaceful spot, working on a common goal. You're showing goodwill for one another because you're cooperating. In that way, interesting things come up and you can deal with them. You can learn new habits in how you relate to your body, new habits in how you think, how you frame an issue in the mind, and how you work through the difficulties in whatever issues you encounter. When you learn how to deal with all the parts of yourself in a healthy way like this, it's a lot easier then to start dealing in a healthy way with other people, too.
So the breath meditation not only helps you. It also helps everybody else you live with, because it gives you paradigms. For one thing, it gives you immediate training in how to employ the brahma-viharas, the sublime attitudes of limitless goodwill, limitless compassion, limitless empathetic joy, limitless equanimity. In other words, you start out with goodwill for yourself, allowing yourself to breathe in a comfortable way. When you see that your breathing is uncomfortable, or that the way you think is causing dis-ease in the body or the mind, you have compassion for yourself: "Let's try to figure out a better way to do this." When it's going well, you don't start feeding on the idea that you're not worthy of this, or that you really shouldn't allow yourself to feel this good. You try to maintain that sense of wellbeing. Appreciate it. Let the ideas of deserving and not deserving just go by the boards. Again, those attitudes are usually based on an idea of what you are deep down inside, that you're the sort of person who deserves to be punished for things you did in the past. That's not how the Buddha's teachings work. Different actions will inevitably lead to different results. There's no question of anyone deserving to suffer. So if you're able to maintain a sense of wellbeing, keep at it. If you're operating from a stable sense of wellbeing, you're going to start acting in more skillful ways all around.
And then there's equanimity for the things that you can't change, the bad habits you aren't able to fully eradicate, or the problems that come in from past kamma that you can't alter. The purpose of equanimity is to keep you focused on the things you //can// change, so that you don't waste energy focusing on the things you can't.
In this way, as the members of your committee work together on the breath in a skillful way, you're gaining some training in what are essentially social virtues, the brahmaviharas. Then you can apply the same lessons to your dealings with people around you."
From: Not What You Are, What You Do by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For Free Distribution, as a gift of Dhamma, from Access to Insight and Thanissaro Bhikkhu
With metta / Antony.