by Tommy Harrison

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner.  Like any human experience, emotions related to this time of year run the full gamut – from deep gratitude and joy to deep sadness, anger, and resentment.  This can be a blessed time of year for some and a time of great suffering for others.  This offers a rich environment to deepen our practice—to be present with it all, to see these things within ourselves and others, and to honor, respect, and cherish each possibility with the utmost kindness.

This past Wednesday’s (11/7/12) Dharma talk Judy gave was on the Four Divine Abodes, which are Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity.  Cultivating these mind/heart states teaches us to work with whatever arises firmly grounded in the Buddha’s teachings.

Love (Metta)

  • The intention and capacity to bring joy to ourselves and others unbound by desire, unburdened by discontent
  • Freely offered, without want of acknowledgment
  •  Strength that gives strength, joy that gives joy

Compassion (Karuna)

  • The intention and capacity to transform the suffering of ourselves and of others
  • Unwavering, heartfelt, and boundless
  • Freely offered, without want of acknowledgment
  • Serenity and calm for nurturing, care, and love

Joy (Mudita)

  • The opening of our hearts to the joy of others
  • Leading to purer and loftier happiness
  • Supportive to the extinction of suffering

Equanimity (Upekkha)

  • Unshakeable balance rooted in wisdom
  • Unwavering vigilance of mind through life’s rises and falls, successes and failures, losses and gains, and honor and blame.
  • Courage to begin anew, grounded in insight, again and again
  • All-knowing of non-self

These Four Divine Abodes complement, pervade, and strengthen each other as our practices grow.  Here’s hoping that your Thanksgiving can be inspired by Buddha, his teachings of the Four Divine Abodes, and in the presence of loved ones and friends through the ups and downs of it all.

Have a peaceful Thanksgiving,