Sunday, January 06, 2008

Faces of Love: The Four Immeasaurable Minds

Some people use the term love rather loosely. They love their pet, rainbows and rainy days. Many of us sometimes (myself included) use the word love in place of lust.

Love is such a broad term, it is easy to misconstrue it or twist its meaning, even though our intentions are good. So what is love, anyway?

In Buddhism, there are several different words for love, all describing a different aspect:

maitri/metta*: love or lovingkindness
karuna/karuna: compassion
upeksha/upekka: equanimity
mudita/mudita: joy

While all of these words do not directly translate to the English word love, they are all essential to true love. One of these cannot exist without the other.

If our love is not compassionate, it is not true love. The same is also true is we do not bring the other person joy or allow them the freedom to be themselves. And although this may seem glaringly obvious on paper but harder to practice in real life, true love also means that we must be kind to one another.

Many people do not learn this type of love growing up, and all of their relationships suffer as a result. It is unfortunate that these same people will pass these unhealthy characteristics down to their children. And as spiritually mature as I may seem at this point in my life, I know I am included in this group.

That's why its so important to change these habits, as they affect not only us, but generations to come. We will talk about these aspects of love, also called the Four Immeasurable Minds, in the next few days.

*the first word is the Sanskrit translation, while the second is the Pali. Pali is usually the more widely-used term.

Full Text of the Four Immeasurable Minds

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