Buddhist Terms 4


The development of love and compassion is the ground on which our wish to reach full enlightenment must be based, so that we may free all sentient beings from suffering.
Love is the wish that all beings may be happy. Compassion is the wish that all beings may be free from suffering. These two terms are explained in great detail in the Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa. Therefore it is said in the preliminary practices (Tib. Ngöndro):

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all beings not have suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all beings never be without the supreme bliss, free from all suffering.
May all beings live in the great equanimity, free from all attachment and aversion.

These are the “Four Immeasurables,” the expression of love, compassion, joy and equanimity, respectively.


Love - one should practice immeasurable love towards all sentient beings. Compassion - one should practice immeasurable compassion, especially towards one's enemies. Joy - one should wish that all beings experience immeasurable joy just as one wishes it for one's closest friends. Equanimity - one should practice immeasurable equanimity towards all beings, regardless of whether one feels attachment or aversion towards them.

On the Mahayana level the Four Immeasurables correspond to the Four Noble Truths:
1. May all beings be happy and possess the causes for happiness. Here the Truth of Suffering is transformed into the wish for happiness.
2. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. One has compassion for all beings and one especially wishes that they create no new causes of suffering.
3. May they never be separated from the happiness which is free from suffering. The highest state of bliss, which never changes, is the cessation of suffering.
4. May they abide in equanimity, free from attachment to what they like, and aversion towards what they dislike. Here the Truth of the Path corresponds to the attainment of a state free from all disturbing emotions and concepts which obscure the true nature of mind.

On the Tantric level the Four Noble Truths are expressed symbolically through the four arms of Chenrezig - the Buddha of compassion. 1. and 2. The first two hands, which are joined at the heart, holding the wishfulfilling jewel of the mind, symbolize the development of the precious Enlightened Attitude for the benefit of all beings, with its promise to free all sentient beings from suffering and its causes, through loving-kindness and compassion.
3. The second left hand holds an open lotus-flower as a sign that Chenrezig has attained the highest qualities and is free from all kinds of suffering.
4. The string of crystal beads (Skr. mala) in the second right hand symbolizes the Truth of the Path, i.e. the recitation of the mantra:


The Seven Branch Prayer also parallels the Four Noble Truths:

1. To prostrate in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas purifies body, speech and mind, especially the body, which is the physical foundation of suffering.
2. Making offerings purifies attachment, confession of negativity purifies all disturbing emotions, especially aggression, and to rejoice in the positive actions of all beings purifies envy and jealousy. Thus the causes of suffering, the disturbing emotions, are overcome.
3. The request to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not to enter nirvana leads to the cessation of suffering through their continued activity in the world, seeking for the happiness of all beings.
4. Asking them to continue to turn the Dharma-wheel of the highest vehicle furthers the Truth of the Path. The dedication of merit multiplies the good impressions and makes them limitless. This is a method for the realization of highest enlightenment.


There are two kinds of Bodhicitta: the Bodhicitta of Aspiration and the Bodhicitta of Application.The Bodhicitta of Aspiration has five main points:
1. We should never exclude even one sentient being from our thoughts.
2. We should always remember the relative and absolute benefit ensuing from the Enlightened Attitude. Twenty-two similes illustrate the value of developing the Enlightened Attitude.
3. We should accumulate merit and wisdom. In this way the Enlightened Attitude is strengthened and developed.
4. We should practice the source, essence, and conduct of the Enlightened Attitude. The source is the Four Immeasurables, the essence is the wish for the development of the Enlightened Attitude and for enlightenment itself. The conduct is the dedication of all positive things towards the benefit of all sentient beings.
5. We should renounce the Four Black Dharmas and practice the Four White Dharmas.
We decide not to:

The Bodhicitta of Application is the practice of the Bodhisattvas - the practice of the Ten Paramitas.