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"The Four Immeasurable Minds"

From Nagarjuna Bodhisattva's Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom

(T25.208c9-211c27 [fasc.20])

Translated by Bhikshu Dharmamitra


As for the four immeasurable minds, they are loving - kindness,

compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Loving - kindness refers to

being affectionately mindful of [other] beings such that one constantly

seeks to benefit them with situations which induce peace, security and

bliss. Compassion refers to being sympathetically mindful of beings'

undergoing of all manner of physical and mental suffering in the five

paths. Sympathetic joy refers to the desire to cause beings to go from

the experiencing of pleasure to the realization of joyfulness.

Equanimity (she = upek.saa) refers to the relinquishing (she) of the

three [other immeasurable] minds such that one is simply mindful of

beings in such a way that one is not either averse or affectionate

towards them.

One cultivates the mind of loving - kindness for the sake of

getting rid of initial thoughts (vitarka, as opposed to secondary

thought, vicaara) [characterized by] hatred towards beings. One

cultivates the mind of compassion for the sake of getting rid of initial

thoughts [characterized by] affliction towards beings. One cultivates

the mind of sympathetic joy for the sake of getting rid of displeasure

towards beings. One cultivates the mind of equanimity for the sake of

getting rid of affection and hatred towards beings.

Question: (#1/208c12) The four immeasurable minds and so forth

on up to the ten pervasive elements (DFB.137b,180c: yi chye chu /

k.rtsnaayatana) were already treated in the [discussion of] the four

dhyanas. Why then do you now proceed with a separate discussion?

Reply: Although they were already brought up in the [discussion

of] the four dhyanas, if one did not undertake a separate discussion of

the names of these dharmas then one would not become aware of their

merits. This is analogous to having precious things inside of a bag: If

one fails to open it up and bring them out then people will not know of

them. If there be one who desires to gain great blessings and merit one

explains the four immeasurable minds for their sakes. If there be a

person who is distressed by and disgusted with form, [regarding it] as if

imprisoned [by it], one explains for him the four formless absorptions.

[If there is one who] is unable to gain independence in the midst of

conditions such that he can contemplate freely and at will [anything]

which he takes as an [objective] condition, one explains for him the

eight realms of dominance (ba sheng chu = abhibhvaayatana). If there is

one whose path is blocked off such that he cannot achieve a breakthrough,

one explains for him the eight liberations (DFB.136a vimok.sa). If there

is one who cannot proceed sequentially from [one level of] dhyana to

enter another [level of] dhyana, one explains for his sake the nine

sequential absorptions. If there is one who cannot achieve the universal

illumination of all conditions such that he can freely and at will gain

liberation, one explains for his sake the ten pervasive elements.

If one brings to mind the beings of the ten directions, when one

aspires to] cause them to gain happiness, there arises one of the dharmas

associated with mind known as loving -kindness. The dharmas within the

sphere of the feeling, perception, formative factor and consciousness

aggregates which correspond to loving - kindness together with those

physical karmas, verbal karmas and formative factor [dharmas] not

associated with the mind which are generated by this dharma [of loving -

kindness] are all collectively referred to as loving - kindness. Because

they [are generated] on account of loving - kindness they take loving -

kindness as that which is primary. It is for this reason that [they are

all] referred to as loving - kindness.

This is analogous to the case of mind dharmas and dharmas

associated with the mind. Although they constitute karmic causes and

conditions [arising] in subsequent incarnations, still, they are simply

referred to under the rubric of "consideration" (ssu / cetana). This is

because it is "consideration" which possesses the most power in the

creation of karma. The case is the same with compassion, sympathetic joy

and equanimity.

Loving - kindness is [operative] in the form realm. It may be

[characterized as] either "with outflows" or "without outflows," as

"subject to cutting off" or as "not subject to cutting off." It is

present in both the basic - level dhyanas* (gen ben chan) as well as

within the dhyanas proper. It is associated with three faculties. It is

excluded in the faculties of suffering and of worry. The Abhidharma

discusses such distinctions as these.

Because there is a seizing on the appearance of a "being" it is

[characterized as] "with outflows." Because after having once seized on

the appearance of a being one may then [eventually] gain access to the

true character of dharmas it may [also] be [characterized as] "without

outflows." It is for this reason that it says in The Questions of

Inexhaustible Intellect Bodhisattva, "Loving - kindness is of three

kinds. The first takes beings as its [objective] condition. The second

takes dharmas as its [objective] conditions. The third takes nothing

whatsoever as its [objective] condition.

Question: (#2/209a8) How does one go about cultivating these

four immeasurable minds?

[Loving-kindness Which Takes Beings as the {Objective} Condition][209a9]

Reply: As the Buddha explains in many places in the Sutras,

"There are bhikshus who, on account of taking up thoughts associated with

loving - kindness, are devoid of enmity (hwei), devoid of animosity

(hen), devoid of hostility (ywan) and devoid of cruelty (nao). They well

cultivate a mind of loving - kindness which is vast, great and

immeasurable and so realize an understanding which is universally

pervasive. With respect to the beings in the worlds to the east he

generates a mind of loving - kindness [through which] he realizes an

understanding which is universally pervasive. So too does he [carry out

this contemplation] with respect to the beings in the [rest of] the ten

directions: to the south, to the west, to the north, to the four

midpoints, above and below. And so too does he take up in this very same

manner the mind associated with compassion, the mind associated with

sympathetic joy and the mind associated with equanimity."

As for the mind associated with loving - kindness, loving -

kindness is a dharma belonging to the mind. It has the ability to get

rid of befuddlement and turbidity in the mind, namely the so-called

afflictions of hatred (chen), animosity (hen), niggardliness (jyan),

desire (tan) and so forth. It is analogous to the water - purifying

jewel which when placed in turbid water causes that water to immediately

become clear.

As for being devoid of enmity (hui) and animosity (hen), if, with

or without reason, one feels hatefulness (chen) towards beings or if one

is desirous of cursing, scolding, vilifying, killing, injuring,

plundering or pillaging, this is referred to as hatred (chen). If one

waits for the opportune time or place when one possesses the requisite

power whereupon one will inflict injury, this is referred to as animosity

(hen). To employ loving kindness to get rid of these two phenomena is

what is meant by being without hatred (chen) or enmity (hen), without

hostility (ywan) and without cruelty (nao).

Animosity (hen) is just cruelty (nao). The initial stage of

aversion is animosity (hen). When animosity (hen) goes on for a long

time then it becomes hostility (ywan). The inflicting of injury through

karma of the body or mouth is referred to as cruelty (nao).

Then again [another explanation has it that] the initial

generation of the fetter of hatred (chen jye) is what is referred to as

hatred (chen), while when that hatred (chen) increases and endures and

when it is accompanied by scheming and by a holding on and attaching to

it, as long as this has not yet been resolved in the mind this is what is

known as animosity (hen). It is also referred to as hostility (ywan).

If the mind has already become fixed [in it] and one has no fear or

anxiety [about acting on it], then this is what is referred to as cruelty

(nao). If one employs the power of the mind of loving - kindness to get

rid of these three matters, this is what is meant by being without hatred

(chen), without animosity (hen), without hostility (ywan) and without

cruelty (nao).

It was on account of [the virtues of] being without hatred

(chen), without animosity (hen), without hostility (ywan) and without

cruelty (nao) that the Buddha praised the mind of loving - kindness. All

beings fear suffering while being desirous of and attached to pleasure.

Hatred (chen) is the cause and condition for suffering. Loving -

kindness is the cause and condition for pleasure. When a being hears

that this samadhi of loving - kindness is able to get rid of suffering

and is able to provide pleasure he [may] single - mindedly, earnestly and

vigorously cultivate this samadhi and on account of this may be without

hatred (chen), without animosity (hen), without hostility (ywan) and

without cruelty (nao).

As for [the mind of loving - kindness] being "vast, great and

immeasurable", [this] single great mind, when analyzed, possesses [these]

three names. "Vast" refers to a single direction. "Great" refers to

being lofty and far - reaching. "Immeasurable" refers to the direction

of the nadir as well as the [other] nine directions.

Then again, [it may be explained that] the inferior direction is

described as "vast", that which is in between is described as "great" and

that which is above is "immeasurable". Yet again, [one may say that] a

mind which takes the beings of the four directions as the [objective]

condition may be referred to as "vast", a mind which takes the beings of

the four midpoints as the [objective condition may be referred to as

"great" and a mind which takes the beings of the superior and inferior

directions as the [objective] condition may be referred to as

"immeasurable". Then again [one may say that] the mind which destroys

hatred and animosity (chen hen) may be described as "vast", the mind

which destroys hostility (ywan) may be described as "great", and the mind

which destroys cruelty (nao) may be described as "immeasurable". Then

again [one may say] that all minds characterized by afflictions may be

referred to as petty because they are carried on by petty people and

because they produce [only] petty matters. Among these [afflictions],

hatred (chen), animosity (hen), hostility (ywan) and cruelty (nao) are

even pettier yet. That which destroys these pettiest among the petty is

referred to as "vast, great and immeasurable." Why is that? Because

great causes and conditions are always able to destroy petty matters.

As for the mind which is "vast," because it fears [creating]

offenses and because it fears falling into the hells, it gets rid of the

evil dharmas in the mind. As for the mind which is "great," because it

has faith in and takes pleasure in the resultant retribution of blessings

and merit, it gets rid of the evil mind. As for the mind which is

"immeasurable," it gets rid of the evil mind on account of the desire to

realize nirvana.

Then again, [one may also say that] because the practitioner is

pure in his upholding of the prohibitions, this mind is "vast," because

dhyana absorption is perfected, this mind is "great," and because wisdom

is brought to completion, this mind is "immeasurable."

One employs this mind of loving - kindness to be mindful of those

sages who have realized the Way. This is referred to as the

"immeasurable" mind. This is because one employs the immeasurable

Dharma(s) to make distinctions among the sages. Because it is mindful of

the honorable and noble points of gods and humans, [this mind] is

referred to as a "great" mind. Because one is mindful of all of the

other inferior and base beings as well as [those abiding in] the three

paths of evil, this [mind] is referred to as a "vast" mind.

When it is directed towards those beings for which one holds

affection, because the thoughts of loving - kindness are more vast than

when one is mindful [only] of oneself, [this mind] is referred to as a

"vast" mind. When one employs loving - kindness in being mindful of

people who are "in between," this [mind] is referred to as a "great"

mind. When one employs loving - kindness to be mindful of people towards

whom one feels hostility and whom one detests, because its merits are

manifold, [this mind] is referred to as an "immeasurable" mind.

Then again, where it is employed for the sake of a mind which is

narrow, it is referred to as "vast," where it is employed for the sake of

a mind which is small, it is referred to as "great," and where it is

employed for the sake of a mind which is of limited capacity, it is

referred to as "immeasurable." One may make distinctions such as these

with regard to the meanings.

As for [the words] "well cultivates," this mind is enduring.

When the mind of loving - kindness is [only] first realized it is not

described as "cultivated." It is not when directed solely towards beings

of whom one is affectionately mindful, not when directed solely towards

beings who are good, not when directed solely towards beings who are

beneficial to oneself, and not when directed solely towards beings of a

single region that it is described as "well cultivated."

When one practices [loving - kindness] for a long time one

develops a deep affection and a feeling of pleasure which is correct,

equal and undifferentiating in its extending towards the three categories

of beings: those towards whom one has felt affection, those whom one has

detested and those towards whom one has been neutral. In beholding all

of the beings of the ten directions and the five paths of rebirth one

employs a singular mind of loving - kindness, [regarding them all] as

one's father, as one's mother, as one's brothers, as one's sisters, sons,

nephews, [nieces], and friends. One constantly looks for their good

aspects, and wishes to bring about their benefit, their peace and their

security. In this fashion one's mind [of loving - kindness] universally

pervades to all of the beings of the ten directions. [When one employs]

the mind of loving - kindness in this fashion this is to take beings as

the [objective] condition. For the most part it is [the level] practiced

among common people or perhaps among those with more to study who have

not yet brought outflows to an end.

[Loving-kindness Which Takes Dharmas as the {Objective} Condition][209b29]

Those whose practice takes dharmas as the [objective] condition

include those arhats who have put an end to outflows, the pratyeka

buddhas and the buddhas. Because all of these sages have destroyed the

characteristics of a self and have extinguished the characteristics of

unity and difference, they simply contemplate that it is from an

[apparent] continuity of causes and conditions that all desires are

generated. When they take up loving - kindness in their mindfulness of

beings, [they observe] that they are produced from an [apparent]

continuity on the part of a conjunction of causes and conditions and

[observe that] it is only five empty aggregates which constitute beings.

In their mindfulness of the five aggregates they take up loving -

kindness and [so] are mindful that beings are unaware of this emptiness

of dharmas. Thus [beings] constantly and single - mindedly seek after

pleasure. The sages have sympathy for them and so cause them to gain

pleasure according to their aspirations. Because this [practice is

carried out] for the sake of mundane worldly dharmas it is referred to as

[practice which takes] dharmas as the [objective] condition.

[Loving-kindness With Nothing Whatsoever as the {Objective} Condition][209c6]

As for [the loving - kindness] which takes nothing whatsoever

as the [objective] condition, this loving - kindness is possessed only by

the buddhas. Why is that? The mind of the buddha does not abide in

either the conditioned or unconditioned nature. It does not rely upon

or rest in the past, the future or the present eras and is aware that no

conditions are real [as their existence] is a result of the

deceptiveness of inverted views. The [Buddha's] mind has nothing

whatsoever which it takes as a condition. Because beings are not aware

of this true character of all dharmas and so come and go in the five

paths [of rebirth], their minds attaching to dharmas and making

distinctions whereby they either seize upon or avoid [them], the Buddha

employs this wisdom [which perceives] the true character of all dharmas

to cause beings to realize it [themselves]. This is what is referred to

as [the loving - kindness which takes] nothing whatsoever as the

[objective] condition.

[Three Kinds of Loving -kindness Like Three Levels of Giving][209c12]

This is like providing for a person who is poor. Perhaps one

gives him money and material things. Perhaps one gives him gold, silver

and precious valuables. Or perhaps one gives him an actual "as- you-

wish- it" pearl. [The loving - kindness practice which] takes beings as

the [objective] condition, [the loving - kindness practice which] takes

dharmas as the [objective] condition and [the loving - kindness practice

which takes] nothing whatsoever as the [objective] condition are just

like these. This constitutes a summary discussion of the meaning of the

mind of loving - kindness.

[The Mind of Compassion][209c14]

The meaning of the mind of compassion is just like this. With a

mind of sympathy and pity one universally contemplates the sufferings of

the beings of the ten directions and then composes this thought, "Beings

are pitiable. Don't allow them to undergo all of these various kinds of

suffering." And so in the same way [one takes up] the mind devoid of

hatred (chen), [the mind] devoid of animosity (hen), [the mind] devoid of

hostility (ywan), and [the mind] devoid of cruelty (nao) and so proceeds

forth until [one directs these thoughts] towards [the beings of] the ten

directions in like manner.

Question: [#3/209c17] There are three kinds of beings: There

are those [beings] such as the gods and a minor fraction of humans who

experience pleasure. There are those [beings] such as [the inhabitants

of] the three paths of evil and a minor fraction of humans who experience

suffering. There are those constituting a minor fraction [of the

inhabitants] of the five paths [of rebirth] who experience neither

suffering nor pleasure. Why then is it that the practitioner of loving -

kindness contemplates all beings as experiencing pleasure and the

practitioner of compassion contemplates all beings as experiencing

suffering?

Reply: When the practioner desires to study this immeasurable

mind of loving - kindness, he first formulates an aspiration wherein he

wishes that all beings may be able to experience all manner of pleasure.

He takes up this image of people experiencing pleasure, focuses his mind

and then enters dhyana [meditation]. This image gradually increases in

its breadth such that he then perceives all beings as experiencing

pleasure.

[Loving-kindness Contemplation Like Lighting a Fire][209c24]

This is analogous to using drilling to ignite a fire. First one

fuels it with tender hay and dry cow pies. When the intensity of the

blaze grows great it is able to consume even huge wet logs. The samadhi

of loving - kindness is just like this. When one first generates the

loving - kindness aspiration it extends only to one's relatives, one's

clan and one's friends. When the mind of loving - kindness grows vast

[in its scope], enemies and friends alike are identically and equally

seen as achieving happiness. This is on account of the consummation of

increase and growth in the dhyana absorption of loving - kindness. [The

development of] the mind of compassion, the mind of sympathetic joy and

the mind of equanimity is just like this.

Question: [#4/209c28] In [cultivating] the mind of compassion one

takes up the image of people undergoing suffering and in [cultivating]

the mind of sympathetic joy one takes up the image of people experiencing

joy. In [cultivating] the mind of equanimity, what sort of image does

one take up?

Reply: One takes up the image of people undergoing neither

suffering nor pleasure. On account of this mind's gradually increasing

and growing more vast the practitioner perceives absolutely everyone as

undergoing neither suffering nor pleasure.

Question: [#5/210a2] There ought to be blessings and merit

inherent in [the cultivation of] each of these three kinds of mind. What

benefit does [cultivation of] this mind of equanimity hold for those

beings beset by neither suffering nor pleasure?

Reply: The practitioner formulates this thought: "Whenever any

being leaves behind pleasure he experiences suffering. Whenever he is

undergoing suffering, that [too] is just suffering. Whenever he gains

[the state of] neither suffering nor pleasure then he is peaceful and

secure. It is with this [result] that benefit is achieved.

When the practitioner cultivates the mind of loving - kindness or

the mind of sympathetic joy there may be times when the mind of desire

and attachment arises* (*see the counteractive siddhaanta's warnings

about the sometimes pathogenic effects of loving - kindness practice).

When cultivating the mind of compassion there may be times when the mind

of worry and distress arises. On account of this desire or worry the

mind may become disturbed. When one accesses this mind of equanimity one

gets rid of this desire and worry. It is because desire and worry are

gotten rid of that [this mind] is referred to as the mind of equanimity.

Question: [#6/210a9] It is obvious that there are distinctions

between the mind of compassion and the mind of equanimity. [However],

the mind of loving - kindness [aspires] to cause beings to develop [a

state of] pleasure [while] the mind of sympathetic joy [aspires] to cause

beings to develop [a state of] joy. What sorts of differences are there

between pleasure and joy?

Reply: Physical pleasure (shen le) is referred to as "pleasure"

(le), [whereas] mental pleasure (syin le) is referred to as "joy" (syi).

Pleasure (le) which corresponds to the five [sensory] consciousnesses is

referred to as "pleasure" (le), [whereas] pleasure (le) which corresponds

to the intellectual consciousness is referred to as "joy" (syi).

Pleasure (le) which arises from among the five [types of sense] objects

is referred to as "pleasure" (le), [whereas] pleasure (le) which arises

from among the dharmic objects [of mind] is referred to as "joy" (syi).

Initially, one seeks [to bring about] pleasure, wishing to cause

beings to be able to follow up on that pleasure so that because of it

they are influenced to realize joy. This is like when a person takes

pity on someone who is impoverished, first providing precious things.

This corresponds to "pleasure." Afterwards he teaches the person how to

go into business [for himself], thus enabling him to gain the pleasures

of the five kinds of desire. This corresponds to "joy."

Then again, [one may explain that] "pleasure" refers to that

pleasure of the desire realm which one wishes to cause beings to gain,

[whereas] "joy" refers to that pleasure of the form realm which one

wishes to cause beings to gain.

Then again, [one may explain that] "pleasure" refers to those

desire realm pleasures corresponding to the five [sensory]

consciousnesses, to those pleasures of three consciousnesses

[experienced] in the first dhyana and to all bliss [experienced] in the

third dhyana, [whereas] "joy" refers to that pleasure which corresponds

to the intellectual consciousness in the desire realm up to the first

dhyana and all pleasure experienced in the second dhyana.

[Pleasure & Joy Compared to Phases of Medicinal Action][210a20-23]

[One may also explain that] coarse pleasures constitute

"pleasure" whereas subtle pleasures constitute "joy," that in the realm

of cause it is referred to as "pleasure" [while] in the realm of effect

it is referred to as "joy," or that when one first gains pleasure, that

is referred to as "pleasure," whereas when the delighted mind generates

characteristics of pleasure inwardly [while also] outwardly bringing

forth singing, dancing and leaping about, that is referred to as "joy."

This is analogous to when one first takes medicine. This corresponds to

"pleasure." [Then}, when the medicine becomes active and permeates the

entire body, that corresponds to "joy."

Question: [#7/210a23] If this is the case why are these two

minds not conjoined into a single immeasurable [mind], but rather are

instead distinguished into two separate dharmas?

Reply: In the beginning, because the practitioner's mind is not

yet focused he is not yet able to develop a deep affection for beings

and so is only [able to aspire to] bestowing pleasure. When his mind

becomes focused, because he then possesses a deep affection for beings

he [aspires to] bestow joy. It is on account of this that pleasure is

placed first and joy is placed after it.

Question: [#8/210a27] If that is the case, why then are [the

mind of] loving - kindness and [the mind of] sympathetic joy not [listed]

in sequential order?

Reply: When cultivating the mind of loving - kindness one holds

an affection for beings like for [one's own] child. One wishes to bestow

pleasure [upon them]. Because when one emerges from the samadhi of

loving - kindness one observes beings undergoing all sorts of sufferings

one develops a mind of deep affection which feels pity for beings and

which [aspires] to cause them to achieve profound [levels of] pleasure.

This is analogous to parents who, although normally feeling affection for

a child, find that if he develops an acute illness their mind of

affection grows more intense. The bodhisattva is just like this. When

he accesses the mind of compassion and contemplates the sufferings of

beings a mind of pity arises and he then [aspires to] bestow profound

[levels of] pleasure. It is for this reason that the mind of compassion

is placed in between [the mind of loving - kindness and the mind of

sympathetic joy].

Question: (#9/210b4) If one possesses a deep affection for

beings like this, how then does one cultivate the mind of equanimity?

Reply: The cultivator contemplates thus: "I must never [retreat

into] equanimity as regards beings, but should only establish equanimity with respect to

these [other] three kinds of [immeasurable] mind." Why? This is to

prevent the deterioration of other dharmas. It is also because although

one employs the mind of loving - kindness in aspiring to cause beings to

experience pleasure, still, one is unable to cause them to experience

pleasure. Although one employs the mind of compassion in aspiring to

cause beings to transcend suffering, still, one is unable to cause them

to succeed in transcending suffering. Nor when one cultivates the mind

of sympathetic joy is one able to cause beings to achieve great joy.

These are only reflective contemplations. They have not yet become

actual circumstances. If one desires to cause beings to be able to

achieve these as actual circumstances, one must bring forth the mind to

become a buddha, cultivate the six paaramitaas, and bring to completion

the dharmas of a buddha [whereby one may] cause beings to gain real

happiness (le). It is on account of this that one develops equanimity

with respect to these [other] three [immeasurable] minds and accesses the

mind of equanimity.

Then again, [it may be explained that] when practicing in accord

with loving - kindness, compassion and sympathetic joy it is difficult to

develop equanimity with respect to beings. [But] because one accesses

this mind of equanimity it becomes easy to transcend.

Question: [#10/210b14] Even when the bodhisattva cultivates the

six paaramitaas and even when he has gone so far as to realize

buddhahood, he is still unable to cause all beings to transcend suffering

and gain happiness (le). Why is this the case? Because one only speaks

of these three [immeasurable] minds. A mind of reflective contemplation

arises. [But] there are no actual [corresponding] circumstances.

Reply: When this bodhisattva becomes a buddha, although he is

unable to cause all beings to achieve happiness , still the bodhisattva

generates the great vow. From this great vow he gains as retribution the

effect of great blessings and merit. Because he gains great retribution

he is able to greatly benefit common people.

When the Hearers cultivate these four immeasurable minds they do

so for the sake of self discipline and self benefit. In that case too

there is only an empty mindfulness of beings. When the bodhisattva

cultivates this mind of loving - kindness, it is out of a desire to cause

beings to transcend suffering and gain happiness (le). From the causes

and conditions of this mind of loving kindness he not only creates

blessings and merit for himself. He also instructs others in the

creation of blessings and merit. When one receives the resultant

retribution perhaps one becomes a wheel - turning sage king. Or perhaps

the bodhisattva leaves behind the home life and cultivates dhyana, leads

forth and guides beings, instructing them and influencing them to

cultivate dhyana [so that they] succeed in being born into pure realms

where they experience immeasurable mental happiness (syin le). If when

one becomes a buddha one makes offerings to immeasurable asemkyayas of

beings and then enters into the nirvana without residue, when one

compares this with empty mental altruistic aspirations, this is a great

benefit. And it extends on to the point of the shariira and remaining

Dharma being of great benefit.

Moreover, if one single buddha completely brought to deliverance

all beings, other buddhas would then have no one further to bring to

deliverance. In this case then there would be no buddhas of the future

and so this would constitute the cutting off of the lineage of the

buddhas. There are faults such as these. For these reasons one single

buddha does not bring all beings to deliverance.

Moreover, this nature of beinghood exists on account of delusion

(chr). It is not actually a fixed dharma. Even if all of the buddhas of

the three periods of time and ten directions sought to find some reality

in beinghood, still, it could not be found. How then could there be a

complete bringing to deliverance of all of them?

Question: [#11/210c3] If it is the case that they are empty and

so cannot all be brought to deliverance, then even in the case of a

lesser number of them they will all still be entirely empty. How then

could one cross over even a lesser number [of beings]?

Reply: I said that because even if all of the buddhas of the ten

directions and three periods of time sought [to discover the reality in]

all beings, they would be unsuccessful and so therefore there are no

[beings] whatsoever who are brought to deliverance. You had posed the

difficulty in which you had asked why they are not all brought to

deliverance. This amounted to your having fallen into defeat. You were

unable to extricate yourself from that situation of defeat, but then

posed [another] difficulty in which you asked, "Among those nonexistent

beings how could one cross over even a few of them?" This amounts to

having fallen into a double defeat.

Moreover, if looked at from the standpoint of the true character

of all dharmas and the supreme meaning then there are not only no beings,

but there is no "bringing to deliverance" either. It is solely based on

Worldly mundane dharmas that one speaks of there being a bringing to

deliverance. You are seeking for the supreme meaning in the sphere of the

worldly and mundane. This is an impossible endeavor. This is analogous

to the impossibility of succeeding in finding precious jewels among tiles

and stones.

Moreover, all of the merit which accrues to the buddhas from the

time of first bringing forth the mind [intent on bodhi] to the time when

their Dharma has come to an end, all of it , because it has a beginning

and an end, exists within the sphere of created dharmas which are finite

and measurable. And so the number of beings crossed over ought to be

measurable. It should not be the case that one employs a measurable

dharma in the sphere of causes, conditions, effects and retributions to

entirely bring to deliverance an immeasurable number of beings.

[The Falling Arrow Analogy]

This is analogous to [the circumstance of] a great warrior.

Although the power of his bow is great, once the arrow has flown far, it

is [still] bound to fall [to the ground].

[The Kalpa-ending Fire Analogy]

It is also analogous to the great conflagration at the end of the

kalpa which incinerates the trichiliocosm and which possesses brightness

which is immeasurable in its illumination. Although it goes on for a

long time, still, it is bound to finally be extinguished. The

bodhisattva's realization of buddhahood is just like this. From the time

he first brings forth the intention, he grasps the bow of vigor, uses the

arrow of wisdom [which plunges] deep into the Buddha Dharma [and so]

greatly accomplishes the work of the buddhas. But still, this too is

bound to finally be extinguished. When the bodhisattva realizes the

knowledge of all modes his body puts forth light which illuminates an

immeasurable number of worlds. Every single ray of light transforms into

an immeasurable [number of] bodies. They bring to deliverance an

immeasurable number of beings throughout the ten directions. After the

nirvana, the eighty - four thousand fold accumulation of dharmas and the

shariira [continue to] transform and bring beings to deliverance.

[However], like the illumination from the fire at the end of the kalpa,

though it goes on for a long time, still, it is finally extinguished.

Question: [#12/210c22] You yourself stated that the rays of

light transform into an immeasurable number of bodies which bring to

deliverance an immeasurable number of beings throughout the ten

directions. Why then do you now say that because the causes and

conditions are measurable, those who are brought to deliverance ought

also to be measurable in number.

Reply: There are two types of "immeasurability." The first

refers to actual immeasurability. It is such that the sages cannot even

measure it. For example, empty space, nirvana, and the nature of beings

are all such that one cannot measure them. In the case of the second

[type of immeasurability] there do exist methods whereby they can be

measured, however, those of lesser power are unable to measure them. For

example, the weight of Mount Sumeru and the number of drops in the great

ocean. The buddhas and bodhisattvas are able to know them. But they are

such that the gods and worldlings cannot know them. A buddha's bringing

to deliverance of beings is also like this. The buddhas are able to

know. But it is not a thing such as the likes of you might be able to

reach up to it. And so therefore we say, "immeasurable."

Then again, because dharmas are the product of the coming

together of causes and conditions they are devoid of an inherent nature.

Because they are devoid of an inherent nature, they are eternally empty.

It is impossible to get at any being in the sphere of eternal emptiness.

This is as declared by the Buddha:

When I sat in the place of enlightenment (bodhima.n.da)

It was such as wisdom could not realize.

[As] with an empty fist tricking little children,

It was done to bring all to deliverance.

The true character of all dharmas

Is just [identical to] the characteristic of beinghood.

If one seizes upon the characteristic of beinghood,

Then one strays far from the Way of reality.

If one constantly bears in mind the characteristic of eternal

emptiness,

This person contradicts the practice of the Way.

[Though] among the dharmas which are neither produced nor

destroyed,

[He] nonetheless makes discriminations among characteristics.

If one makes discriminations or engages in reflective

intellection,

This then is the net of Mara.

To be unmoving, nondependent and have nothing in which one rests:

This then is the imprint of Dharma.

Question: [#13/211a] If it is the case that [concern with]

"pleasure" (le) has a two - fold division [under the] mind of loving -

kindness and [under the] mind of sympathetic joy, why is not the

contemplation of suffering on the part of the mind of compassion not

[also] divided into two?

Reply: Because pleasure is that which all beings love and and

esteem as important it is divided into two. Because this suffering is

disliked and not born in mind it is not divided into two.

Moreover, when one experiences pleasure, the mind is pliant.

When one suffers, the mind is rigid. Take for example Viitashoka, the

younger brother of King Ashoka who became the king of Jambudviipa for

seven days during which he was able to freely indulge in all of the most

marvelous experiences of the five desires. After seven days had passed,

King Ashoka asked him, "Did the ruler of Jambudviipa experience

flourishing pleasure and delight or not?"

He replied, "I did not see it, I did not hear it and I was not

aware of it. Why? Because every day the ca.n.daala rang a bell and sang

forth in a loud voice, 'Of the seven days, yeah many days have already

gone by. After the seven days have past you will die.' When I heard

this voice, even though I was the King of Jambudviipa [and in possession

of] the most marvelous [experiences of the] five desires, because the

suffering of distress was so profound, I neither heard nor saw."

From this we can know that the power of suffering is greater and

the power of pleasure is weak. [Even] if a person experiences pleasure

which permeates his entire body, if he experiences one needle prick in

one place [on his body], all of the manifold pleasures are lost and he

experience only the pain of the puncture. Because the power of pleasure

is weak the two - fold division [is employed] making it more potent.

Because the power of suffering is greater treating it in a single place

is adequate for clarification purposes.

Question: [#14/211a24] What sorts of resultant retributions are

gained from the practice of the four immeasurable minds?

Reply: The Buddha stated that if one enters this samadhi of

loving - kindness, one gains five types of merit in the present: One can

enter fire and not be burned, be poisoned and yet not die, be attacked by

the blades of the army and not be injured, be immune in the end from

violent death, and be guarded by good spirits. On account of benefiting

an immeasurable number of beings one gains these immeasurable blessings

and qualities. On account of employing this outflow - level

immeasurable mind while taking beings as the [objective] condition, one

is born into a pure place, the so-called form realm.

Question: [#15/211a29] Why did the Buddha state that it is the

retribution for loving - kindness to be reborn in the Brahma heaven?

Reply: This is because the Brahma heaven is revered and prized

by beings and because everyone has heard of it and everyone knows of it.

The Buddha resided in the country of India. In India, the Brahmans are

always numerous. According to the dharma of the Brahmans, all blessings

and merit are entirely dedicated to the aspiration to be born in the

Brahma heaven. If beings hear that cultivating loving - kindness results

in being reborn in the Brahma heaven, then they will have faith in and

cultivate the dharma of loving - kindness. It is for this reason that it

is said that cultivating loving - kindness results in being born in the

Brahma heaven.

Then again, those heavens in which sexual desire is cut off are

all referred to as "brahman." Whe one speaks of "brahman" it subsumes

the entire form realm. It is for this reason that the dharma of cutting

of sexual desire is referred to as "brahman conduct" while transcending

desire is also referred to as "brahman." If one speaks of "brahman" this

subsumes then the four dhyanas and the four formless absorptions.

Then again, because initial and discursive thought are difficult

to extinguish, he did not mention the names of higher grounds. This is

analogous to the case of the five precepts where in speaking of the

regulations regarding verbal conduct one speaks only of one type, "false

speech," while actually subsuming therein three [other] matters*

(*abusive speech, duplicitous speech, and frivolous speech).

Question: [#16/211b10] [The practice of] loving - kindness is

possessed of five meritorious qualities. Why is there no discussion of

meritorious qualities with respect to compassion, sympathetic joy and

equanimity?

Reply: It is just as with the above analogy wherein one matter

subsumes three others. If one speaks of loving - kindness one has

already thereby spoken of compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.

Moreover, loving - kindness is truly immeasurable. Loving - kindness is

like a king whereas the other three follow along like [the king's]

subjects. How is this so? One first employs the mind of loving -

kindness and so aspires to cause beings to gain pleasure (le). Because

one observes that there are those who do not succeed in gaining pleasure

one develops the mind of compassion. Because one wishes to cause beings

to transcend suffering so that their minds gain Dharma bliss one develops

the mind of sympathetic joy. Because with respect to these three matters

one [wishes to be] without aversion, without affection, without desire

and without worry, one develops the mind of equanimity.

Then again, [one may explain that] it is because [the practice

of] loving - kindness involves taking that which is pleasurable and

bestowing it on beings [that it is singled out as possessing meritorious

qualities].

The Item Added Agama does speak of the mind of compassion being

possessed of five meritorious qualities. Its meritorious qualities are

spoken of in many places in the Mahayana scriptures. For instance, in

The Brilliant Net Bodhisattva Sutra it states, "The bodhisattva dwells

among beings and carries on the practice of thirty-two kinds of

compassion. [This practice] gradually increases, becomes vast and

transforms into the great compassion. The great compassion is the root

of the meritorious qualities of all buddhas and bodhisattvas. It is the

mother of the Praj~naapaaramitaa and the grandmother of the buddhas. It

is on account of the mind of great compassion that the bodhisattva

realizes the Praj~naapaaramitaa and it is on account of gaining the

Praj~naapaaramitaa that he realizes buddhahood." In all manner of cases

such as these praises are proclaimed for the great compassion. In other

places the mind of sympathetic joy and the mind of equanimity are also

praised. Because the two matters of loving - kindness and compassion are

universal and great the Buddha praised their meritorious qualities. This

is because the meritorious qualities of loving - kindness are rare and

because it is on account of compassion that one perfects the great karma.

Question: (#17/211b26) In discussing the meritorious qualities

of the four immeasurables, the Buddha stated, "If one cultivates

assiduously and cultivates well the mind of loving - kindness, the

blessings [accruing therefrom] culminate in the heaven of universal

purity. If one cultivates assiduously and cultivates well the mind of

compassion, the blessings [accruing therefrom] culminate in the station

of empty space. If one cultivates assiduously and cultivates well the

mind of sympathetic joy, the blessings [accruing therefrom] culminate in

the station of consciousness. If one cultivates assiduously and

cultivates well the mind of equanimity, the blessings [accruing

therefrom] culminate in the station of nothing whatsoever." Why then is

it said that the resultant retribution of loving - kindness corresponds

to birth in the brahma heaven?

Reply: The Dharma of the Buddhas is inconceivable and ineffable.

It is explained like this to accord with what is appropriate for bringing

[particular] beings to deliverance. Furthermore, it is because when one

arises from the loving - kindness based meditative absorption it is easy

to return towards the third dhyana. [It is because] when one arises from

the compassion - based meditative absorption one tends towards the

station of empty space. [It is because] when one arises from the

sympathetic joy based meditative absorption one enters the station of

consciousness. [And it is because] when one arises from the equanimity

based meditative absorption, it is easy to enter the station of nothing

whatsoever.

Then again [it may be explained that when one cultivates] the

mind of loving kindness, one aspires to cause beings to gain pleasure

(le). The resultant retribution [from such cultivation] ought naturally

to be that one experiences pleasure. It is because the [heaven of]

universal purity is the most pleasurable place in the [entire] triple

world that it was stated, "the blessings culminate in [the heaven of]

universal purity.

[When one cultivates] the mind of compassion one contemplates the

suffering of old age, sickness, and cruel injury experienced by beings.

A mind of pity arises on the part of the practitioner [and he thinks], "How

can I cause them to succeed in transcending suffering? If one acts for

the sake of getting rid of inner suffering, then the external suffering

will come yet again. If one acts for the sake of getting rid of external

suffering, then the internal suffering will come yet again." The

practitioner ponders, "If one possesses a body it is definite that one

will experience suffering. It is only in the absence of a body that one

will then succeed in being without suffering." [The station of] empty

space is capable of breaking [the constraints of] form. Therefore [it

was stated that] the blessings [of cultivating compassion] culminate in

the station of empty space.

[When one cultivates] the mind of sympathetic joy one aspires to

provide beings pleasure on the level of the mind and consciousness. As

for pleasure on the level of the mind and consciousness, [it corresponds

to] the mind succeeding in leaving the body just as a bird escapes from a

cage. Although at the station of empty space the mind does succeed in

escaping from the body, the mind is still tied to abiding in empty space.

The station of consciousness is immeasurable. The mind and consciousness

exist in all dharmas [and so] the consciousness gains unlimited

independence. It is for this reason that [it was stated that] the

blessings of [cultivating] sympathetic joy culminate in station of

consciousness.

As for the mind of equanimity, one develops equanimity with

respect to the suffering and pleasure among beings. It is on account of

developing equanimity with respect to suffering and pleasure that one

realizes the dharma of true equanimity, the so-called station of nothing

whatsoever. It is for this reason that [it was stated that] the

blessings of [cultivating] the mind of equanimity culminate in the

station of nothing whatsoever.

Only the sages [are capable of] realizing the four immeasurables

in this fashion [described above]. It is not the case that common people

[are capable of this].

Additionally, the Buddha was aware that the disciples of future

generations, on account of their dull faculties, would make

discriminations and become attached to dharmas and [on account of this]

they would engage in erroneous explanations of the characteristics of the

four immeasurables, [claiming that] these four immeasurable minds are

only [in effect on the level of] those with outflows because they take

beings as the [objective] condition, [claiming that] because they can

only take the desire realm as the [objective] condition they are

nonexistent in the form realm. Why? Because in the form realm one does

not take the desire realm as [an objective] condition.

In order to cut off erroneous views on the part of people such as

these it is explained that the four immeasurable minds [are even in effect]

in the formless realm. Because in the Buddha's implementation of the

four immeasurable minds, he universally takes all beings of the ten

directions as [objective] conditions, it ought to be the case that he

also takes [beings abiding] in the formless realm as [objective]

conditions. This is as in The Questions of Inexhaustible Intellect

Bodhisattva wherein it states, "Loving - kindness is of three kinds: That

which takes beings as the [objective] condition, that which takes dharmas

as the [objective] condition, and that which takes nothing whatsoever as

the [objective] condition."

[In this regard], the author of this commentary declares, "Where

beings are taken as the [objective] condition, that is [on the level of]

outflows. Where nothing whatsoever is taken as the [objective]

condition, that is [on the level of] no outflows. Where dharmas are

taken as the [objective] condition, that is sometimes [on the level of]

outflows and sometimes [on the level of] no outflows."

And so all kinds [of explanations] such as these [offered above

collectively] constitute a summary explanation of the four immeasurable

minds.

Copyright 2001. Bhikshu Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.