May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from supreme joy beyond all sorrow.
May they abide in equanimity free from attachment and aversion.
— Buddhist Prayer
I’m currently watching a beautiful anime called “The Heike Story”, based on the Japanese Tale of the Heike. The central character is a child plagued with the ability to see visions (usually of death and destruction) of the future and remote events. She is anguished to witness these and is powerless to do anything about them, but finally (spoilers!) determines that she might ease her mind by praying for those involved.
This character is not portrayed as any sort of religious individual, so I wondered what kind of prayer might be appropriate for her. Searching for an “Atheist Prayer”, I quickly found the Buddhist Prayer above that might be something like she would say, that encodes the “Four Immeasurables” of Buddhist thought. This prayer is not offered to any god or gods, but just a wish and hope for those in mind and indeed for all sentient beings.
The Four Immeasurables of Buddhism are
- Maitri: Loving kindness
- Karuna: Compassion
- Mudita: Sympathetic Joy
- Upeksha: Equanimity
The Four Immeasurables
Pause only for a moment to contemplate Ashtamangala, or the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism:
- The Endless Knot
- The Treasure Vase
- The Lotus Flower
- Two Golden Fish
- The Fancy Parasol
- The Conch Shell
- The Victory Banner
- The Dharma Wheel
The Whitewater Rafter’s Guide to the 8 Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism
We can live with no fear if we remove these four pairs of opposites and have Right View.
— Thích Nhất Hạnh
- No Birth
- No Death
- No Sameness
- No Otherness
- No Coming
- No Going
- No Being
- No Non-being
The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism (八正道):
- Right View (also Understanding) (正見)
- Right Intention (also Thought) (正思唯)
- Right Speech (正語)
- Right Action (正業)
- Right Livelyhood (正命)
- Right Effort (正精進)
- Right Mindfulness (正念)
- Right Concentration (正定)
I’ve also translated the diagram into Chinese.
The Noble Eightfold Path
This fourfold of duals from Buddhism lists the hopes and fears that bind us to the world and our culture. They are known as the eight worldly winds, concerns, or dharmas. Both hopes and fears, wanting and not wanting, can be seen as negative.
- Hope for Pleasure and Fear of Pain
- Hope for Gain and Fear of Loss
- Hope for Praise and Fear of Blame
- Hope for Prestige and Fear of Disgrace
HEALING THE EFFECTS OF EVIL
What Are the Eight Worldly Concerns?
The four Noble Truths of Suffering are
- Dukkha: the truth that suffering exists.
- Samudaya: the truth that suffering has a beginning.
- Nirodha: the truth that suffering can end.
- Magga: the truth that there exists a path for the end of suffering.