1

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are the Four Immeasurables, as follows:

The Four Immeasurables as a Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Prayer

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.

May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.

May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.

May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.

https://www.padmasambhava.org/sermon/four-immesurables/

What is the meaning above of "the supreme happiness which is without suffering"?

Does it refer to Nirvana?

Or does it refer to any type of wholesome happiness?

If possible, please offer Tibetan or Sanskrit linguistic support for the answer.

3

In Tibetan Buddhism, there is no single fixed form of The Four Immeasurables Aspirational Prayer. There are countless variations that interpret and expand the basic list of four items. They are not even always listed in the same order.

In your passage above the order is: Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity. So the phrase you're asking about corresponds to Joy.

Other variations give different interpretations of Joy. For example this one:

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were never parted from upper rebirth and liberation’s excellent bliss. May they never be parted. I shall cause them never to be parted. Guru Chenrezig, please inspire me to be able to do so.

As you can see here instead of "the supreme happiness which is without suffering" they speak about "upper rebirth and liberation’s excellent bliss". In both cases the emphasis is on "never be parted" or "never be dissociated".

I've seen other variations that speak along the same lines. The basic idea is clear: the Immeasurable Joy is what we cultivate towards those who already have some measure of happiness, either the worldly happiness, or the spiritual happiness of encountering the true Dharma, or the pure happiness of Supreme Enlightenment.

The emphasis is definitely on whatever happiness they have, regardless of how much or how "refined" it is. These beings may be somewhat healthy, live in somewhat comfortable conditions, somewhat not poor, somewhat without a conflict, somewhat educated, somewhat familiar with Dharma etc. - whatever happiness they may have we are happy on their behalf and wish them to never lose that happiness and ideally even increase it, up until "liberation’s excellent bliss".

1
  • 1
    If this answer is true & correct, then the verse is merely about standard mudita. We discussed this in a zoom this morning. – Dhammadhatu Jun 20 at 9:28
1

The Four Immeasurables (Sanskrit: apramāṇa, Pāli: appamaññā) or four infinite minds (Chinese: 四無量), also called Brahmavihara

  • Loving-kindness (Pāli: mettā, Sanskrit: maitrī) is active good will towards all -> have and be the cause of happiness;
  • Compassion (Pāli and Sanskrit: karuṇā) results from metta, it is identifying the suffering of others as one's own -> free from (the cause of) suffering;
  • Empathetic joy (Pāli and Sanskrit: muditā): is the feeling of joy because others are happy, even if one did not contribute to it, it is a form of sympathetic joy -> feeling the joy of others = supreme happiness;
  • Equanimity (Pāli: upekkhā, Sanskrit: upekṣā): is even-mindedness and serenity, treating everyone impartially -> stated pretty much the same way in your quote.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.