The Four Immeasurable Minds


The Four Immeasurable Minds

The fundamental and distinctive mind-set of a bodhisattva, which enables all bodhisattva practices, can be characterized as the four immeasurable minds: kindness, compassion, joy, and impartiality. Here, kindness means helping others attain genuine, lasting happiness by leading them to enlightenment. Compassion means working with sentient beings to free them from all kinds of calamities, pain, and tribulations, and ultimately from the fundamental causes of suffering. Joy refers to the sincere delight in seeing other beings liberated from suffering and successful in self-realization. Impartiality means the perception of friends and foes alike as equally important and precious.

This mind of impartiality comes from breaking the habits of self-servingly helping others in order to angle for personal gain, and of seeing and judging others in a purely self-referential way. Although bringing happiness to others is the primary motivation of a bodhisattva, our deluded tendency to be jealous of others' success and happiness and to favor one person over another nevertheless makes it impossible for us to truly participate in the world and help all beings impartially. For this reason, a bodhisattva practitioner should not only nurture kindness and compassion, but also cultivate the minds of joy and impartiality.

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