Four abodes of Brahma

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The Buddhist tradition describes cosmological realms which are the objective correlates of subjective experiences of states of meditative absorption. In other words, the level of consciousness which a person experiences determines their experience of the world, and of the cosmological realm which they occupy. The realms which are correlated in this way with the meditative absorptions are the heavenly realms occupied by deities of Buddhist cosmology. The higher of these realms are the abodes of Brahma, (Tib. ཚངས་པའི་གནས་) the highest deity, and were regarded as the pinnacle of mundane existence.

Typically these are to be reached through the practice of a set of four calming meditations, the brahma-viharas or 'abodes of Brahma' (ཚངས་པའི་གནས་བཞི་ ). These involve the cultivation of love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. Experience of these realms is said to be blissful, and hence very attractive, yet it all remains a part of cyclic existence, and does not lead to enlightenment. Even the gods are victims of past actions and are as in need of spiritual awakening as any other being.[1]


  1. Notes to the translation of the Bodhicharyavatara from the Sanskrit by Kate Crosby and Andrew Skilton, published by Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19 282979 3

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