C) The Four Immeasurables
(3) Sympathetic joy
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.
The opposite is wanting
others to be unhappy: anger, hatred.
A result which one needs to avoid is: attachment.
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 the unselfish interest in others' welfare.
'Even offering three hundred bowls of food three
times a day does not match the spiritual merit gained in one moment of love.' Nagarjuna
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, and does not
urge one to help.
The opposite is wanting others to suffer, or cruelty.
A result which one needs to avoid
is sentimentality. 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 (enlightenment).
(3) Sympathetic joy
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 easily turn into
Note: sympathetic joy is a great antidote to depression for oneself as well, but this should not be the
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. In this
case, it also refers specifically to rejoicing in the high rebirth and enlightenment of others.
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, mental dullness or agitation.
The near enemy is indifference. It is tempting to think that just 'not caring' is equanimity, but that is just a form
The opposite is anxiety, worry, stress and paranoia caused by dividing people into 'good' and 'bad'; one
can worry forever if a good friend may not be a bad person after all, and thus spoiling trust and friendship.
which one needs to avoid is apathy as a result of 'not caring'.
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.
"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
Wise ones are never attached to food, clothing or reputation, nor to friends or enemies.
father becomes the son in another life,
Mother becomes the wife,
Enemy becomes friend;
It always changes.
Therefore there is nothing definite in samsara."