Namo Dharmaya !
Hail to the Teachings
THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES
The four immeasurables are found in one brief and beautiful prayer:
May all sentient beings have happiness and its' causes,The Buddha taught the following to his son Rahula (from "Old path white clouds" by Thich Nhat Hahn):
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its' causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.
"Rahula, practice loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.
Practice compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return.
Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred. Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success.
Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice. Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because that is. Myself and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.
I call these the 4 immeasurables. Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others."
If you are interested in meditating on these and many other subjects, see the List of Sample Meditations.
The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy.
This love is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance (including self-acceptance).
The "near enemy" of love, or a quality which appears similar, but is more an opposite is: conditional love (selfish love, see also the page on attachment).
The opposite is wanting others to be unhappy: anger, hatred.
A result which one needs to avoid is: attachment.
This definition means that 'love' in Buddhism refers to something quite different from the ordinary term of love which is usually about attachment, more or less successful relationships and sex; all of which are rarely without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to de-tachment and unselfish interest in others' welfare.
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The definition is: wanting others to be free from suffering.
This compassion happens when one feels sorry with someone, and one feels an urge to help.
The near enemy is pity, which keeps other at a distance.
The opposite is wanting others to suffer, or cruelty.
A result which one needs to avoid is sentimentality. (See also the page on compassion.)
Compassion thus refers to an unselfish, de-tached emotion which gives one a sense of urgency in wanting to help others. From a Buddhist perspective, helping others to reduce their physical or mental suffering is very good, but the ultimate goal is to extinguish all suffering by stopping the process of rebirth and the suffering that automatically comes with living.
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The definition is: being happy with someone's fortune/happiness. Sympathetic
joy here refers to the potential of bliss and happiness of all sentient beings,
as they can all become Buddhas.
The near enemy is hypocrisy or affectation.
The opposite is jealousy, when one cannot accept the happiness of others.
A result which one needs to avoid is: spaced-out bliss, which can turn into laziness.
Note: sympathetic joy is a great antidote to depression for oneself as well, but this should not be the main goal.
By rejoicing in others' progress on the spiritual path, one can actually share in their positive karma.
Sympathetic joy is an unselfish very positive mental attitude which is beneficial for oneself and others.
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The definition is: not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but
regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of
mind - not being overpowered by delusions, no mental dullness or
The near enemy is indifference.
The opposite is anxiety, worry, stress and paranoia.
A result which one needs to avoid is apathy.
Equanimity is the basis for unconditional, altruistic love, compassion and joy for other's happiness and Bodhicitta.
When we discriminate between friends and enemies, how can we ever want to help all sentient beings?
Equanimity is an unselfish, de-tached state of mind which also prevents one from doing negative actions.
The Buddha taught:
"If one tries to befriend an enemy for a moment, he becomes your friend.
The same thing occurs when one treats a friend as an enemy.
Therefore, by understanding the impermanence of temporal relations,
Wise ones are never attached to food, clothing or reputation, nor to friends or enemies.
The father becomes the son in another life,
Mother becomes the wife,
Enemy becomes friend;
It always changes.
Therefore there is nothing definite in samsara."
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Last updated: April 28, 2001