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The Four Immeasurables
by Ven Sangye Khadro
May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss.
Immeasurable joy is wishing all beings to have pure happiness, not only in this life but in the future as well. We wish that as long as they are in cyclic existence, they may take rebirth in fortunate states as humans, or devas (celestial beings) or in pure realms. Beyond that, we wish them to attain the sublime peace and happiness of liberation, never again to suffer death and rebirth. To be able to attain that, they must follow the path to liberation, which consists of ethics, concentration and wisdom. Therefore, we wish all beings to learn, understand and practise the Dharma, the path.
Joy also means taking delight in othersí success, good qualities and positive actions. For example, we share in the happiness of friends or family members when they pass exams, win contests, get promoted or bring a child into the world; and we admire those who work hard to help others in the community or to advance their spiritual practice. This attitude is known as "rejoicing" and it is the best antidote to jealousy. Jealousy is a very painful feeling that makes us tense and closed to others. We cannot be happy when weíre jealous. Rejoicing, on the other hand, is a beautiful feeling of sharing in othersí joy and success. It brings us closer to others. Jealousy is self-defeating. It makes us miserable while others celebrate, and it can lead us to behave in a childish way that attracts criticism rather than the respect we seek.
How do we overcome jealousy? We can reason with ourselves like this:
"Whatever happens is due to causes and conditions. If so-and-so did better than me in an exam or competition, it could be because she was more prepared, better disciplined. Or it could be that she has more natural ability, which is due to karma from previous lives. She must have previously created the causes for her success." It is karma that accounts for differences in intelligence, attractiveness, health, talent and personality. If we are lacking in certain qualities, it is because we failed to cultivate those qualities in previous lives. Being jealous wonít change anything. However, if we can accept ourselves as we are with our faults and limitations and then get on with the work of self-improvement, things will change for the better. Rejoicing actually helps bring about this change. To appreciate othersí positive qualities and deeds is to encourage ourselves to be like them. When we feel, "How wonderful if I could do what heís doing", we are mentally steering ourselves in that direction. Furthermore, rejoicing is a positive attitude that plants positive seeds in the mind, and thatís just what we need to gain qualities and success in the future.