For the next few weeks this blog will include teachings about the four immeasurables. We will explore what teachers from various traditions say about these fundamental heart-opening practices – lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. We invite you to read along with us during the next several weeks, and you can catch up on previous weeks here. And be sure to comment below and let us know how these practices resonate with you.
“The second element of true love is compassion. Compassion is the capacity to understand the suffering in oneself and in the other person. If you understand your own suffering, you can help him to understand his suffering. Understanding suffering brings compassion and relief. You can transform your own suffering and help transform the suffering of the other person with the practice of mindfulness and looking deeply.” — Thich Nhat Hanh (from How to Live #BK558)
In this video from Stanford University, Thich Nhat Hanh describes the energy behind Compassion, and how the Four Immeasurables work together.
- Gilded Copper Chenrezig Statue #ST385
The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion
Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara, Skt.) is the bodhisattva, the embodiment of unending compassion. This Chenrezig statue shows the deity depicted in his four-armed aspect. He holds a wish-granting gem in his first two hands, so that the wishes of all beings are kept close to his heart. The mala in his third hand shows that he is always reciting mantras and sending compassion out into the world. His mantra Om Mani Padme Hum translates to “The Jewel is in the Lotus.” Prayer wheels contain this mantra and help to send the energy of compassion out into the world. His fourth hand holds a lotus, the symbol of our innate ability to transcend from the mud.
How to use a 108-bead mala for counting mantras
Mala means “garland” in Sanskrit. Hold the mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Start near the tassel on the first small bead next to the large (guru) bead, use your thumb to count each bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Going all the way around will be 108 recitations of the mantra. At the end you may finish, or reverse direction. It is traditional to not pass over the guru bead. A traditional mala is made of 108 beads because each mantra recitation is said to purify one of the 108 levels of mind. The mala pictured has Om Mani Padme Hum handpainted on each carnelian bead.