Tāranātha on the Benefits of Love and the Four Immeasurables

Translator snippet Friday!  THE BENEFITS OF LOVING-KINDNESS by Tāranātha.

In his important text on the Six Vajra-Yogas, One Hundred Blazing Lights: A Supplementary Commentary on Seeing the Meaningful, Tāranātha gives several quotes on bodhicitta and the the four immeasurables from Nagārjuna’s texts. He goes into detail about the benefits of loving-kindness quoting from a variety of well-known Buddhist texts. The four immeasurables, which one applies to immeasurable sentient beings, are:

  1. immeasurable love  – wanting all beings to have genuine happiness and not to be separated from that
  2. immeasurable compassion – wanting all beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
  3. immeasurable joy – rejoicing at the positive actions and happiness and good qualities of all sentient beings
  4. immeasurable equanimity – treating all beings the same in terms of the above three immeasurables and not discriminating against them based on whether one is close to them or likes them etc.

According to Tāranātha, and the other great texts he quotes, without the presence of the four immeasurables, one can never be happy and can certainly not be enlightened. He says:

The first point is the fault of not having the four immeasurables. It will lead to one’s mind being completely stirred by afflictive emotions; ill-will and malice, a hostile and resentful mind, disliking it when others have happiness. Without the opposing antidotes to pleasure-seeking out of attachment and desire, the negative and destructive physical, verbal and mental conduct will increase. Due to pleasure-seeking and the mind that wants harm, other afflictive emotions will also increase and flourish. It will cause the arisal of infinite faults and dangers, both now and in the future.

Later he gives a quote  from Nagārjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’.

‘Even giving three hundred pots of food three times per day, every day is nothing compared to the merit of one moment of loving kindness.’


Many might ask how that could be so? The reason being is that if one gives without such a mind of genuine loving kindness there is actually not much benefit, other than temporary satisfaction, and on top of that a strengthening of ego and feeling superior and so on. Immeasurable love itself needs to be combined with the three-fold focus on the objects of love, sentient beings, otherwise it will also be based on attachment and aversion for those we like and don’t like.

What is the three-fold focus? It is focusing on immeasurable sentient beings (1), focusing on phenomena and the five aggregates of body, speech and mind as empty of inherent existence (focusing on phenomena (2)) and focusing on both of these as being completely empty and not separate from oneself (focusing without focus (3)).

So what is the key to being happy, and giving others happiness? Developing the four immeasurables in your mindstream!  May we all be loving and loved and may it be of benefit!

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