It seems likely that most people would consider love and compassion as universal qualities of a spiritual person. At the same time, study of the life of prominent spiritual figures such as Jesus and Buddha demonstrate other important attributes of a spiritual being.
The Four Immeasurables, also known as the Four Perfect Virtues, or as I prefer to call them, the Divine Virtues, are part of a more expansive integrated and intertwined spiritual wholeness. In my view, they are the four pillars of spirituality. The Divine Virtues can be seen as composing the “body” of the spirit. They are “internal organs” of the spirit. They keep it healthy, alive, and functioning the way it is intended.
The Divine Virtues of love, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity interact with, and inform one another. They are mutually inclusive. There is no need to reconcile one with the other; they all comprise a single being and a singular way of being.
Our personal joy and happiness arise naturally from practice of the Divine Virtues. Empathetic joy refers to joy in us arising from witnessing the special talents, successes, and good fortune of others. Empathetic joy radiates our love for the person being observed, and our gratitude for their God-given gifts.
Equanimity is mental calm, composure, and even temper in all situations. In the context of spirituality, it is a state of inner peace from which we are able to view the world objectively, without prejudice, judgement, or emotional reaction. It is a place from which love and compassion radiate.
The inner peace that fosters equanimity can be achieved through meditation, prayer, and for some, through Chinese internal energy arts such as qigong which incorporate mindfulness into the practice. All of these serve to calm and nurture the spirit, mind, and body.
Love and compassion go hand-in-hand and lead to joy and happiness. There can be no compassion if the element of love is missing and vice versa.
How can one have empathetic joy for the happiness and special gifts we see in others without love?
How can one have love, compassion, or joy in the midst of one’s own anger, hate, jealousy, greed, fear, or emotional reaction to difficult situations?
Through equanimity, we tame our emotions and reactions so that we can clearly and objectively hear and see what is before us, and seek understanding and appreciation through patience, love, and compassion. Equanimity provides the peaceful environment within which the other three Divine Virtues thrive, grow, and radiate.
As discussion of spiritual radiation can be found here
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