Four joys

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The four joys (Skt. caturānanda; Tib. དགའ་བ་བཞི་, gawa shyi, Wyl. dga' ba bzhi) are four increasingly subtle experiences of bliss-emptiness connected with the advanced practices of tsa-lung; they transcend ordinary feelings of joy or pleasure. They are:

  1. joy (Skt. ānanda; Tib. དགའ་བ།, gawa, Wyl. dga' ba),
  2. supreme joy (Skt. paramānanda; Tib. མཆོག་དགའ།, chok ga, Wyl. mchog dga'),
  3. special joy (Skt. viramānanda; Tib. ཁྱད་དགའ།, khyé ga, Wyl. khyad dga; also དགའ་བྲལ་གྱི་དགའ་བ, gadral gyi gawa, Wyl. dga' bral gyi dga' ba) and
  4. innate joy (Skt. sahajānanda; Tib. ལྷན་སྐྱེས་ཀྱི་དགའ།, lhenkyé kyi ga, Wyl. lhan skyes kyi dga' ba).

They are experienced when the white bodhichitta drop, (also called white essence), ascends from the lowest chakra to the navel, heart, throat, and crown chakras.

In the Longchen Nyingtik practice of inner-heat (gtum mo), the four joys are experienced when the white essence descends and suffuses into the cakras of the crown, throat, heart, and navel.

Eight joys and sixteen joys may also be enumerated in the tantras.[1]

The locus classicus for the four joys is the Hevajra Tantra. Their order was disputed in Indian tantric scholasticism: according to Maitripa, Ratnakarashanti, and a few others, innate joy is experienced in the third position, whereas according to Naropa, Abhayakaragupta, and followers of the Kalachakra system, their order is as presented above.

Because of the ambiguity of the Sanskrit word viramānanda, some, including the translator of the Hevajra Tantra, interpreted the name of the third joy to mean "joy without joy". One may also, perhaps more naturally, interpret the term to mean "joy of cessation".


  1. Robert Beer, The handbook of Tibetan Buddhist symbols.

Alternative Translations

  • Four delights (Dorje & Kapstein)
  • Four ecstasies