The Four Divine Abodes

Splendour of a FlowerIn meditation, two basic types of approach exist: (1) techniques that develop the ‘head’ aspects – such as analysis and concentration; (2) techniques that open up the ‘heart’. Both head and heart practices are needed. Gaining skill in different techniques allows one to work more effectively in the different circumstances.

For this reason, the four divine abodes (brahmavihāras), or boundless states (apamaññā), complement well the Mindfulness of Breathing technique (which is a core technique of Buddhist meditation). The boundless states (referred to in the Pāli Canon) are:

  • Mettā: lovingkindness
  • Karunā: compassion
  • Muditā: appreciative joy
  • Upekkhā: equanimity

For a PDF file describing the four divine abodes, click The Four Immeasurables.

Kind permission has been granted by Neil Cohen at SourcePoint Global Outreach. Visit their website at

For a PDF file with a table very briefly explaining the four divine abodes, click The Four Divine Abodes.

Kind permission was granted to use the table here by the Noble Path Buddhist Education Fellowship (the source was Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi’s Lectures at Chuang Yen Monastery).