THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES

 Ocean View

Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source both of inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species.

 - His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama  

The Four Immeasurables—Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity—are the sublime expressions of love: the essential nature and radiance of the enlightened heart. They are also known as the Four Limitless Ones, The Four Sublime States, and the Brahmaviharas or Divine Abodes.  

These four qualities of true love are said to be sublime, lofty, noble, and most excellent for they are the right and ideal way of relating with all living beings. These sublime qualities of love provide the answer to all situations we may encounter in our lives. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. These noble qualities of love level social barriers, build harmonious communities, awaken the slumbering generosity within us, and revive the joy and hope long abandoned.  

These four qualities of love are called immeasurable because their capacity to purify the heart and generate positive energy is beyond measure. In addition, as this sublime love grows within us through sincere practice, it extends immeasurably to all living beings throughout all realms of existence.  

Through deep contemplation and dedicated practice of The Four Immeasurables, we transform our delusion, greed, self-centeredness, and negativity. We heal the afflictions of anger, hatred, loneliness, sorrow, and unhealthy attachments.  

In this way of practice, we develop a noble heart filled with the abundance of wisdom, compassion, and love. In time, these sublime qualities of love become natural and spontaneous—a constant life-affirming attitude radiating from our heart bringing benefit and happiness to all.  

These immeasurable qualities of love are also called abodes (vihara) because they should become the constant dwelling places of the heart and mind; where we feel at home. They should not remain merely places of rare and short visits, soon forgotten. In other words, our minds should become thoroughly saturated by these qualities of love. They should become our inseparable companions, and we should be mindful of them in all our daily activities. The Buddha tells us: “Cherish all living beings with a boundless heart, radiating kindness over the entire world.” He suggests we remain in this loving state of being at all times. This he calls the “sublime abiding” (divine abode).

These Four Immeasurables are further described as follows:

In summary, Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity—are the sublime expressions of love: the essential nature and radiance of the enlightened heart. They are also known as The Four Limitless Ones, The Four Sublime States, and the Brahmaviharas or Divine Abodes. These four qualities of true love are said to be sublime, noble, and most excellent for they are the ideal way of relating with all living beings. This is a superb practice/meditation for opening the heart and cultivating bodhicitta.

For a PDF copy of this information, click on The Four Immeasurables: Sublime Qualities of Love

For a PDF one-page summary chart, click on Four Immeasurables

 

Source: Used with permission from Neil Steven Cohen at Naljor Prison Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067. ( http://www.naljorprisondharmaservice.org/whatweoffer.htm)

Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.