Introduction to the Meditations on Loving Kindness, Compassion, Empathetic Joy and Equanimity: The Four Immeasurables

'Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source both of inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species.' - His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.

May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.

May all beings never be separated from the bliss which is without suffering.

May all beings live in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.

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I have never found that it helped me to listen to those endless voices (most of which were in my own head) that told me that I ‘ought to’ or ‘should’ have more compassion or loving kindness. In fact, this just made me feel miserable, and daunted by what I saw as my failings. What has helped me, was learning that there is a series of very practical meditations which teach how to systematically develop loving kindness, compassion, equanimity and empathetic joy.

This set of four meditations date back to the Buddha’s lifetime. They were not designed for ‘special’ people, but for ordinary people like you and me. The Buddha said that the reality is that we all have and have always had all of these four qualities; the meditations enable us to recognize them and set aside the obstacles to having them present.

Each of the meditations uses a series of small steps to enable us to understand what the words might mean, and to demonstrate these qualities first towards ourselves, and then towards others.

We are all confronted at least some time in our daily lives by circumstances where our ability to access Loving Kindness, Compassion, Empathetic Joy and Equanimity is called upon. This series of meditations is designed to open the door within ourselves so we might access those states more readily. The series is called variously: the ‘Four Immeasurable Meditations’, the ‘Four Boundless Meditations’ or the ‘Four Divine Abidings’.

There are now more than seven billion of us on the planet. Every day we meet, even if only for the shortest moment, new people: in the supermarket, at work and so on. Each of these encounters is an opportunity in which to practise these meditations. These opportunities are immeasurable, boundless, limitless…

The course will run over 10 weeks. The meditations are broken down into small steps which are easy to learn and practise. The emphasis will be largely experiential including regular practice at home and opportunities for feedback. The course is suitable both for beginners and for experienced meditators with an interest in a systematic approach.

It does require a commitment both to attend the classes and, for the period of the course, to try out the meditations at home between classes. However, the time commitment is not designed to be arduous and takes into account that most people who will be enrolling for the course have busy lives. On average the practices take from 30 to 45 minutes.

Michael Bobrowicz has been studying Buddhist meditation and philosophy for more than 25 years. He has a degree in western philosophy and in drama. He studied for over 20 years with the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche. Having worked in private enterprise, owning companies, and in the public sector managing waste and recycling for the city of Brisbane, Michael has a good understanding of how to integrate meditation with a busy career. Stepping out of the workforce in 2006, he studied and did long retreats with the Venerable Cecilie Kwiat. Michael loves meditation and is keen to share that love with other people, “I try to work from experience, which in my case is very ‘nuts and bolts’ based on what I learned from long silent retreats; how to meditate and why, has been very important to me. I was lucky enough to have teachers who not only loved meditation but had the skill to explain why they loved meditation. My aim is to try to show people what a joy meditation can be.”

Dates: 10 Monday evenings: 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th May, 10th, 17th, 24th June, 1st, 8th, 15th July. Note: No class public holiday 3rd June

Time: 7.30 to 8.45pm

Bookings: As this is a series, please plan to be present for every class. Bookings are required: please register your interest in attending by emailing Victoria Creech: calmabidingmed@hotmail.com

Cost: By dana. Class cards are not applicable for this class. Dana is often taken to simply mean donation or gift. Dana is a Buddhist teaching about generosity of spirit or the sharing of blessings, the aspiration to generate health and goodwill in all the cycles of giving and receiving; the transactions of daily life. In reflecting on the practice of dana one begins to understand the interdependence of life. Traditionally, dana is a gift that supports the livelihood of the teacher and his family. In turn the teachings offered are to support you in meeting life with wisdom and compassion. Each participant arrives at the amount of dana voluntarily. Teachers of the Dharma are supported by considerate donation. Following Buddhist tradition, Michael charges no fee for teaching and will distribute the dana to support others. It is customary to offer dana at the beginning of the class (there is usually a bowl near the entrance). Giving prior to the teaching supports the experience of openness and generosity.