Mudita is a Sanskrit and Pali term with no English equivalent. It refers to the joy that is sympathetic or altruistic or joy in the good fortune of others. Mudita is crucial in Buddhism as one of the Four Immeasurables (Brahma-vihara).
To define mudita, we might look at its opposites. Jealousy is one among them. Another is schadenfreude, a German word that means “taking pleasure in the misery of others.” Both of these emotions are characterized by selfishness and malice. Mudita cultivation is the remedy to both.
Mudita meditation is intended to create thankful joy for other people’s accomplishments and good fortune.
Lord Buddha, the Awakened One, stated: “Here, O, Monks, a disciple allows his mind to saturate one-quarter of the world with thoughts of altruistic joy, and so on for the second, third, and fourth. And thus he continues to saturate the entire big globe, above, below, around, everywhere and equally, with a heart of altruistic delight, abounding, grown great, measureless, without animosity or ill-will.”
Mudita is interpreted more generally by Buddhist instructors as an inner source of endless joy that is available to everyone at all times, regardless of the situation.
Mudita is described as an inner stream of delight that is always present, no matter what. It applies to all beings, not just those close to you. The Buddha discusses the Mettam Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 46.54). “I declare that the heart’s release by sympathetic joy possesses the region of boundless consciousness for its excellence,” the Buddha declared. English-speaking professors will sometimes broaden the meaning of mudita to include “empathy.”
In his best-known treatise, the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, the 5th-century scholar Buddhaghosa gave guidance on increasing mudita. Buddhaghosa advised someone who is just starting to develop mudita not to focus on someone they love, someone they detest, or someone they are ambivalent towards.
Begin with a joyful person who is also a wonderful friend. Consider this cheerfulness with gratitude and allow it to fill you. When you are in a powerful condition of sympathetic joy, focus it on a deeply loved person, a “neutral” person, and a person who creates problems.
The following stage is to cultivate impartiality among the four: the loved one, the neutral person, the challenging one, and oneself. Then, on behalf of all beings, empathetic delight is offered.
This is not going to happen in the afternoon. Furthermore, only those with developed absorption powers will succeed, according to Buddhaghosa. The term “absorption” refers to the deepest contemplative state, in which the feeling of self and others dissolves.
Mudita is also claimed to be a cure for boredom and disinterest. Boredom is defined by psychologists as an inability to connect with an activity. This could be because we’re being forced to do something we don’t want to do or because we can’t manage to hold our attention for whatever reason.
We’re concentrated on what we’re meant to be doing. And working on this difficult chore makes us feel sluggish and melancholy.
When viewed in this light, boredom is the polar opposite of absorption. Mudita instills a sense of energized care that clears the cloud of monotony.
We learn to appreciate other people as complete and complicated persons as we develop mudita, rather than as characters in our particular play. In this sense, mudita is a requirement for compassion (Karuna) and loving-kindness (Metta). Additionally, the Buddha taught that these activities are required for awakening to enlightenment.
We can see here that the pursuit of enlightenment does not necessitate separation from the world. Although it may be necessary to retreat to quieter areas to study and meditate. We find practice in the world through our lives, relationships, and obstacles.
“H,” said the Buddha “So, O, Monks, a disciple allows his mind to pervade one-quarter of the world with thoughts of altruistic joy, and so on for the second, third, and fourth. And thus he continues to saturate the entire big globe, above, below, around, everywhere and equally, with a heart of altruistic delight, abounding, grown great, measureless, without animosity or ill-will.” —
According to the teachings, mudita practice generates a mental state that is serene, free, and fearless, as well as open to deep insight. Mudita is thus a vital precondition for enlightenment.
Joy is also thought to be the most difficult of the four immeasurables (brahmavihr: also “four sublime attitudes”). To express joy is to enjoy the pleasure and accomplishments of others, even while we are experiencing sorrow ourselves.
Ayya Khema, a Buddhist instructor, believes that displaying enthusiasm toward sadistic pleasure is improper. Instead, there should be compassion (Karu) here.
The “distant foes” of joy are jealousy (envy) and greed, two opposing mental states. Exhilaration, described as a grabbing at good experience out of a sense of inadequacy or lack, is joy’s “near enemy,” the quality that apparently resembles but is more subtly in opposition to it.