Cultivating the Four Great Attitudes of Kindness

A mind that is peaceful and purified is “chitta prasādanam”. In plain English, it means a mind that is fit enough to present as a gift to God just like the sweet rice that is prasad offered to the deity in the temple and in turn, given to us as divine food. This ideal state of mind is what we all want and we can cultivate it through several ways.

chitta prasadanam

One, through our yoga sadhana that starts us on the Raja Yoga path by aligning our values to Yama and Niyama. We cultivate our character to adopt more peaceful attitudes. As we progress on the 8-fold path of Raja Yoga, pranayama will also have the effect of stilling the mind through teaching us to transcend the senses. We become less reactive and more responsive in a kindly way. Overall, we want to make the effort to do this because a peaceful mind is very important for all aspects of our life, not just to aid concentration during our meditation. Because you can’t really take to the cushion if you still have all sorts of stuff running in your mind holding hurts, grievances, worries, and doubt. And how to be wise and kind if we are heavy with our own burdens?

Patanjali yoga sutra verse 1.33

Our mind needs to be made into an offering fit for God through cultivating the Four Great Attitudes of Kindness which are friendliness, compassion, gladness, and non-judgement whether it’s with regards to people or events. These are found in Verse 1.33 of the yoga sutras of Patanjali and is translated as, “Friendliness, compassion, gladness, and non-judgement towards any person or object be they happy, sad, virtuous, or not so virtuous, always approaching with a mind that is fit as an offering to God”. Where,

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maitrī is the attitude of friendliness

karuṇā is the attitude of compassion

muditā is the attitude of gladness for the virtuous

upeksāṇāṃ is the attitude of non-judgement to those full of vice or non-virtuous

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sukha is joy or happiness while duhkha is pain or unhappiness

punya is virtue while apunya is non-virtue or vice

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This is the way to an undisturbed and peaceful mind, a mind free from disturbing influences where it helps to create states of introversion that is easy and deep. Unlike a disturbed mind that is like a pond where things are perpetually falling into it disturbing its surface and depth. It would be very difficult to concentrate such a mind. You will find these terms and principles repeated often in the teachings of Vedanta which is very similar to the Buddha’s teachings.

Related article: Life’s vexations – manage them and set yourself free.

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