Woven within Buddhist teachings and the Buddha’s path of Awakening the student will find the process of developing the ‘boundless heart’.
These are governed by the brahma viharas – or Four Immeasurables, which offer guidance for the cultivation of equanimity, joy, kindness and compassion.
In her book on the subject, Boundless Heart, cofounder of the Gaia House retreat center in the U.K and established spiritual author Christina Feldman, explains that the word brama refers to the ‘noble tenet’ of these qualities whilst vihara is roughly translated as ‘the place we abide and make our home.
She explains how it is these qualities of kindness and compassion that form the embodiment of liberation.
In her book Feldman qualifies her interpretation of this Buddhist path in the following way;
“The cultivation of the brahma viharas is a training in intentionally inclining the heart toward emotional and psychological maturity and freedom, inclining the heart toward the possibility of befriending the moment, cultivating compassion, remembering joy, and placing the heart upon the steady ground of equanimity.”
In her book Feldman dedicates a chapter to each of the viharas; starting with an examination of immeasurable kindness, then compassion, followed by joy, and equinimity.
An Awakened Heart, An Awakened Life
Having explored the essence behind each process Feldman talks about the process of awakening the heart and then closes out by examining the part played by the brahma viharas within more general terms. At this point she also rencapsulates the meaning behind each one and the results to be gleaned from their practice.
In summarising the universal as well as personal benefits from following this path she observes that the heart becomes liberated through “the cessation of greed, hatred, and delusion’
Who would not want that for our world?
Our Review of Boundless Heart by Christina Feldman
Boundless Heart is, sadly, not the joyous expression of love and light that its title suggests it might be.
Whilst an author writing from a Western perspective might approach this subject from a lighter perspective this is not the one taken by this author who, quite naturally, presents her material within those traditional core Buddhist principles of suffering and limitation.
That, in of itself is not an issue but the book does endlessly cover the same dark ground and subsequently fails to balance this with an antidote to the old ‘life is suffering’ mantra so inherent within Buddhism teachings.
That apart Boundless Heart does a good job in outlining and explaining the key principles of the brahma viharas. These are progressed in a clear and well-developed way.
For those within the Buddhist movement there will, I am sure, be many who appreciate the tone and dynamic of this publication and for that reason I feel it to be a worthwhile addition to an understanding of such an important, and even some would argue, fundamental part of Buddhist teachings and practice.