Buddhism has 2,600 years on the face of the earth. Its definition can encompass both religion, philosophy and psychology. The theoretical corpus of Buddhist psychology is so broad and extensive that modern psychology decided many years ago to begin researching it. What can Buddhist psychology give us? Is it as mystical as it seems or is it more real than you think? For years, certain aspects of Buddhism are being taken to the laboratory, and to the surprise of many, the effectiveness of certain practices such as meditation is being tested. But, What are the immeasurable four?
As the wise Nagarjuna described in the second century: "The practice of the Immeasurable State of Love extinguishes anger in the hearts of living beings. The practice of the Immeasurable State of Compassion extinguishes pain and anxiety in the hearts of living beings. The practice of the Immeasurable State of Joy extinguishes sadness and lack of joy in the hearts of living beings. The practice of the Immeasurable State of Equanimity extinguishes hatred, aversion and attachment of the hearts of living beings ".
In this way, the immeasurable four become a "recipe" to purify our mind, our heart and, ultimately, our life. They are also called the Immeasurable Four of the Mind. Thus, through love, compassion, joy and equanimity, we will reach higher, lasting and permanent states of peace, well-being and happiness.
The immeasurable Four
Love is understood as the aspiration that all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. When reference is made to all beings, they include all those sentient beings: humans, animals, insects. At the same time, they also include family members, friends, strangers and enemies or people who cause us discomfort. It is a genuine intention to offer happiness. However, we should not confuse love with "giving it all".
For example, if a family member is a smoker and asks us for money for tobacco, an act of love might be not giving him that money. We know that tobacco is killing him little by little and that the happiness caused by smoking is not real, it only gives him pleasure when he smokes. In the long term, your life would be improved if you quit smoking. Thus, love does not always coincide with the favors they may ask us, but with the most convenient for their true happiness.
Compassion is the aspiration that all beings free themselves from suffering and the causes of suffering. As in love, all beings include animals, insects, humans and also our loved ones, neutral people and those we consider enemies. Through compassion, we will be able to lessen and transform the suffering of others and relieve their pain. In this case, compassion is not synonymous with grief or pity, but with wanting to eliminate the pain of others.
As Master Thich Nhat Hanh states, "compassion implies a deep feeling of concern for others. You know the other person is suffering, so sit close to her. You watch her and listen deeply to feel her pain. You establish deep communication, you are in intimate communion with her, and that is enough to make her feel better ".
Joy / Rejoicing
When we practice genuine love, we give joy to others as well as ourselves. We enjoy the little things in life, such as a sunset, smell some flowers, drink tea, etc. The key is to open ourselves to these experiences from which we can obtain the nectar of joy in small doses, which in the end, will end up adding up and so we can live our day to day with more fullness.
It also comes into play rejoicing for others. On many occasions, when we see that others are doing better than us, we feel a certain envy, jealousy and resentment. Joy and joy also cost to rejoice for others when something good happens to them. It is important that both the happiness of others and ours fill us with joy.
It is a state in which we are free from attachment, prejudice and discrimination. Some people may confuse it with indifference. If we ask all fathers and mothers who have several children to whom they want more, what will be their response? "I love you all equally". Well, this is equanimity, not having preferences. Yes, it is true that we may like one plate of food more than another, in this case, equanimity would be manifested in the fact that not eating our favorite food plate causes us discomfort.
Thich Nhat Hahn reports that equanimity "It means that in a conflict, even if it concerns us deeply, we are able to remain impartial, loving and understanding both parties. We shed any kind of discrimination or prejudice, and eliminate the borders between us and others ".
The immeasurable four are practices that we can carry out through meditation. There are meditations centered on love, compassion, joy and equanimity. But it will also be important not to leave the practice just for our time of meditation, but also to bring it to our day to day. In fact, Meditation consists of familiarizing ourselves, cultivating and training these very deep states.. So if in a daily situation we are aware of all this and put it into practice, we will be practicing a conscious meditation. Further, we will be sowing a seed towards our well-being.
Thich Nhat Hanh. (2018). Teachings about love. A guide to achieve fullness in human relationships. Barcelona: Zenith.