Giant Super Mega A$$holes
Buddhism teaches us that there are 4 appropriate responses to other people, depending on what they need. We call these the 4 Bramavahiras, or divine abodes. If that sounds woo-woo, don’t worry. It’s pretty straight forward stuff-and it makes a lot of sense. These are guidelines that help us help others, or at the very least avoid getting sucked into needless bullshit.
The first abode is Loving-Kindness (metta). This is a pretty good approach to life in general, but in particular we want to practice this when we encounter someone who is happy or joyful. Meeting them at that same level helps us add to their joy and our own, without making it about ourselves or sucking the energy out of the situation.
When we encounter someone who is suffering, we meet them with compassion (karuna). This means we hold space for them, not necessarily trying to fix or solve their problems, but simply being there. We understand that they are in pain, and we do what we can to alleviate that pain, but we don’t add to the suffering by making it our own.
Next we can practice the 3rd abode: Sympathetic joy (mudita). This is useful when we meet people who are virtuous, truthful, generally in a good place and trying to do good for others. We are happy for those who are in a good place, we delight in their wellness. Again we don’t make it about ourselves, but we share in their joy.
Finally, and probably most challenging: Equanimity (uppeka). When we encounter assholes, people who are lashing out and causing pain to others, fuckheads…that sort of thing. It certainly doesn’t help us to meet them with more assholeness. We also can’t necessarily feel joy or compassion (especially when they’re atatcking us personally) but what we can do is try to be equanimous. This means that we don’t get swept away by their bullshit, we don’t buy into the drama. We don’t wish them pain or suffering in return. We see that they are suffering, and we don’t allow that to make us suffer as well (nor do we delight in their suffering-even if they’re giant super-mega assfuckfaces).
If we want to find real peace in life we’ve gotta get off the drama binge. Loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity are the tools to get us there. Remember, these are just practices, we’re going to suck at them a lot, but as long as we keep trying we will make progress and we will suffer less.
In other news! We have a new Yoga for Punks course launching in January! It’s 31 days of 10 minute classes for $31! Classes are prerecorded so you can do them at your own pace. Check that shit out!