I am particularly interested in the relation between Wishlessness and Love. As far as I understand Wishlessness means that there is no suffering or ignorance as such. I'm mainly guiding myself by this quote https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/6rrbl8/any_commentaries_on_the_three_doors_of_liberation/dl7h0e1/

I feel like I get it, like there are no individuals existing as such, there is no suffering as such, but there is still (metta/compassion) the inclination to reducing suffering. But I feel like my words are not very precise. Even contradictory.

4 Answers 4


The words of the Buddha are precise. Yet to connect Love and Wishlessness, we'll need to look at multiple suttas, since your questions span much of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Early on the path, one practices Love, which is one of the four brahmaviharas: love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity.

AN8.63:2.2: ‘I will develop the heart’s release by love. I’ll cultivate it, make it my vehicle and my basis, keep it up, consolidate it, and properly implement it.’

Once established in the four brahmaviharas, one proceeds to the four kinds of mindfulness meditation, which focus on body, feelings, mind and principles:

AN8.63:6.1: When this immersion is well developed and cultivated in this way, you should train like this: ‘I’ll meditate observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.’

Once established in the four kinds of mindfulness meditation, one experiences the three doors to liberation:

MN44:12.3: The four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the foundations of immersion... “They experience three kinds of contact: emptiness, signless, and undirected contacts.”

Passing through the three doors to liberation, one comes to the end of wishes:

AN3.183-352:1.1: “For insight into greed, three things should be developed. What three? Emptiness immersion; signless immersion; and undirected immersion. For insight into greed, these three things should be developed. For the complete understanding of greed … complete ending …

Therefore, Love is a vital condition for Wishlessness. Note that there are other conditions as well. Study the suttas, talk to your teacher and Sangha and see for yourself!

MN60:56.2: They live without wishes in the present life, extinguished, cooled, experiencing bliss, having become holy in themselves.”


The three doors of liberation -- by Vietnamese / French zen master Thich Nhat Hanh

I'm sure he says it a lot better than we could.

If we look at the three as identical and mutually supportive, we may see that with no self, and no form, the aspirants wishlessness is not for others.

What zen master has nothing to teach their students?

Put another way, your nirvana is not my liberation -- so keep on practicing!

  • sorry for the opaque but emphatic answer -- i won\t say it better than a zen master!
    – user2512
    Feb 9, 2020 at 6:51
  • 1
    Your comment got a bit cryptic by the end. Haha... but I'm used to it. I skipped the article several times, but now that you mention it, it's actually useful. No self, no form and wishlessness (for me and others) are identical and mutually supportive. That's nice. I wasn't seeing the big picture here. Thank you.
    – Exequiel
    Feb 9, 2020 at 7:37
  • ok. well if you want a more "fun" answer: not caring is non dual with caring. @ExequielEspósito
    – user2512
    Feb 9, 2020 at 8:48

As far as I understand Wishlessness means that there is no suffering or ignorance as such.

If I were to try to relate that to the language of the suttas, I'd equate "wishlessness" with "non-craving".

And non-craving might exist might exist in two forms -- i.e. with, and without, the conditions for future craving to arise -- the former being intermittent (although also timeless or ever-available) and "a small taste of Nibbana", and the latter being final.

I feel like I get it, like there are no individuals existing as such

I think the Mahayana doctrine, at least as it's explained to beginners by e.g. Thay Thich Nhat Hanh and/or HH the Dalai Lama, is that there are "no individuals existing as separate" (or perhaps, "as individual") -- furthermore than a view of individuals as separate would be a cause for suffering.

there is no suffering as such

By analogy perhaps that means "no suffering as separate" -- i.e. that suffering is conditioned.

there is still (metta/compassion) the inclination to reducing suffering

That's right?

I am particularly interested in the relation between Wishlessness and Love

What can I say. The sutta which narrates the Buddha's becoming liberated says that it was because of compassion that he then decided to teach.

So "the relation between Wishlessness and Love" in a Buddhist context might be that, that's the characteristic of the (perfectly enlightened) Buddha.

You could read a lot of what the suttas say about it, and essays, e.g. by searching https://accesstoinsight.org/ for the word "metta" -- and also more generally "brahmavihara".

The suttas sometimes describe metta is being like a mother's love, who would give her own life for child. I don't know that that's a good analogy -- easily understood by everyone --- because some people's relationship with their mother becomes complicated.

I don't know if you can understand something by understanding its opposite. A hypothetical example of "wishfulness" when parenting could be something like, a mother saying to their child, "The neighbour's child takes ballet lessons, and they're good at it, which makes their proud parents look good, which I envy. So I want you to take ballet lessons too." Whereas instead "wishlessness" might be more like, "may you be well", still providing all the "requisites" that a child can use to develop -- physical requisites like food and shelter, clothing and medicine -- also being a "good friend", age-appropriate lessons, maybe a moral environment.


It sounds to me as though that you cant understand yet because you have not wanted badly enough yet. Have you never had a wish? A wish that was almost a need? A wish that you pray for every day that you meditate on that beg for that you hurt for that you would do anything for? Eventually wanting so badly will lead to destruction. You lose yourself in the wish. You lose sight of whats important around you. And the horrible thing about wishes is that to be guaranteed of the fulfilment of a wish is rare. EVEN RARER is to be guaranteed that you will still be alive by the time the wish fulfillment comes to fruition. so by the time your wish comes true you may have changed so much while waiting that you learned more thru wishing than thru getting the benefits of your wish.

Eventually u see the futility in wanting anything. Manifesting things depletes your power. And you cant control time so maybe better not to involve yourself with wishing in the first place. Wishlessness yes i think non-craving is a good synonym. How can you crave for the specifics of a wish when you know that a better more complete and final solution to all problems come later with nibanna....so rather than actively wishing you go to passively wishing and eventually that turns to compassion for all who wish.

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