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KoolAid900
12 Dec 10, 20:39
Just contemplating the 4 immeasurables... I have always been a little confused by Joy. The others are all clear:

Equanimity is obvious & clear: all beings equal, no-bias
Loving-kindness: beings to have happiness
Compassion: beings to be free of suffering

Joy... combination of loving-kindness & compassion? is it an entirely separate thing... are we just rejoicing in those beings who are happy... if so isn't this pretty much the same as loving-kindness, and why not add lamenting about those beings suffering? Your thoughts please...

Aloka
12 Dec 10, 21:14
Joy... combination of loving-kindness & compassion? is it an entirely separate thing... are we just rejoicing in those beings who are happy... if so isn't this pretty much the same as loving-kindness, and why not add lamenting about those beings suffering? Your thoughts please...

Joy which is rejoicing in the spiritual qualities, happiness and good fortune of others is a little different to feeling kindness - and is also an antidote to jealousy.

Seeing the suffering of others is included within compassion. 'Lamenting' seems to me to imply an emotional response, which isn't really the aim.

Glow
13 Dec 10, 05:19
The following answer is based on a Theravadin commentary, but I think the four immeasurables are common to all schools and defined in pretty similar ways.


Just contemplating the 4 immeasurables... I have always been a little confused by Joy. The others are all clear:

Equanimity is obvious & clear: all beings equal, no-bias
Loving-kindness: beings to have happiness
Compassion: beings to be free of suffering


In the Visuddhimagga there is a very interesting parsing of the brahmaviharas through the metaphor of a mother with four sons:

1.) Lovingkindness - as a mother relates to a young, dependent child.
2.) Compassion - as a mother relates to a son with a physical disability.
3.) Joy - as a mother relates to a son in the prime of his youth.
4.) Equanimity - as a mother relates to a grown child, busy with his own affairs.

Earlier, Buddhaghosa lays out the cultivation (bhavana) practices, defining them thusly with what he considers the person towards whom one is likely to already have a natural feeling of this sort as a starting point:

1.) Lovingkindness - "May you be happy." <- Discovered from directing this sentiment towards oneself. Then, "Just as I wish to be happy, may other beings be happy as well."
2.) Compassion - "May you be free from suffering." <- Discovered from directing this sentiment towards one who is experiencing misfortune.
3.) Joy - "May your happiness and good fortune continue and not wane." <- Discovered from directing this sentiment towards someone who is fortunate. As Dazzle mentioned, it's an antidote to jealousy.
4.) Equanimity - "All being are the inheritors of their karma. Their happiness or suffering depend on their karma and not my wishes for them." <- Directed towards someone for whom there is neither great passion or aversion. The "neutral person."

Equanimity, for me, was actually much trickier than the others. I like how Sharon Salzberg phrases this aspiration: "I care about you, but I cannot keep you from suffering." It's not only about regarding all beings as worthy of happiness and freedom from suffering, but also an expression of detachment in a world of causes and conditions: life is full of ups and downs, suffering as well as joy. Equanimity is the ability to take these natural ebbs and flows in stride.



Joy... combination of loving-kindness & compassion? is it an entirely separate thing... are we just rejoicing in those beings who are happy... if so isn't this pretty much the same as loving-kindness, and why not add lamenting about those beings suffering? Your thoughts please...

Buddhaghosa goes into various methods for directing these feelings towards people for whom it does not flow naturally. In the case of extending sympathetic joy, the difficult person would be one who is currently experiencing a lot of suffering. For this, Buddhaghosa suggests trying to find some semblance of happiness in their life. If this isn't possible, he suggests imagining the person's past happiness, and wishing for them to experience such fortune again. If this isn't possible, he suggests imagining the possibility of future happiness for them.

Sympathetic joy is a sort of "counterbalance" to compassion. Compassion and its focus on suffering can often leave one's practice one-sided and not be enough to animate one towards a skillful attitude towards others. Sympathetic joy, by gladdening the heart and mind, offer the possibility of not just the freedom from suffering, but also of happiness. Classically, sympathetic joy is not expressed towards oneself, but a parallel practice that has similar effects in relation to one's own mind is the cultivation of gratitude.

londonerabroad
13 Dec 10, 13:06
Joy means joy at other's progress or good fortune - it is the opposite to jealousy. In Mahayana Buddhism the four immeasurables are contemplated in order to arouse bodhiciitta - the wish for ourselves and all sentient beings to be enlightened.

Esho
13 Dec 10, 23:23
The four are indeed a whole. They are not separate teachings. If one, then the others. They are gates to reach boddhichita in words of londonerabroad. Each gate is given to fit the temper of the practitioner. For example... a given practitioner has the special ability to develop equanimity; through the patient development of equanimity it can be reached the other three. A dispassionate disposition is about a mind that is not attached or do not tries to run away. This mind can be in deep touch with somebody. In absolute mindfulness toward the "other". Indeed there is no more "otherness" This gives you Joy and the practice of a clear form of compassionate love toward the need of that "other".

;)

Ngawang Drolma
22 Dec 10, 23:35
'Lamenting' seems to me to imply an emotional response, which isn't really the aim.


This is really true and it's not quite deconstructed in my mind yet, as a habit, so it's a challenge to keep it in check. But of coz these things take time ;-)

Good subject! These were the first teachings I was exposed to in my real-life sangha and I found them to be so useful for contemplation.

Best,
Laura