Nirvana is not a destination; it’s a natural state of sacred peace. The word “nirvana” means “blowing out” because in this inner realm we have extinguished like a flame the trappings of the ego. Practicing the four elements of love sustains us in the nirvana mindset.

First there is maitri, loving-kindness for all. Then karuna, compassion and the desire that everyone be liberated from pain. Third is mudita, our delight in others’ joy. Finally there is upeksha, the peaceful equanimity that enables us to love everyone unconditionally. Emphasis on everyone, including our enemies.

I struggle with this and know that it’s exactly what I need to work on the most. Those who trigger uncharitable emotions and thoughts in me are actually holding up a mirror to my own faults and fears. It’s easy to love those who are good to us; nirvana is the place in our hearts where we find compassion for those on the outskirts – the damaged who cause damage and most desperately need to be healed.

Perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being, something that needs our love.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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