This article discusses the “four immeasurable minds” from a range of perspectives beginning with their standard description in an early fifth-century meditation treatise called the Dámóduōluó Chánjīng 達摩多羅禪經. After mentioning the only comprehensive commentary on the Chanjing by the Japanese Rinzai teacher Tōrei Enji 東嶺圓慈(1721–92), it argues that one of Tōrei’s major insights into the significance of the immeasurables is their role as devices pushing the mind to overcome its discursive limitations. Eventually, this piece moves beyond Tōrei’s interpretation to engage in a broader conversation about the implications of the four immeasurables for us here and now. It suggests that the Chanjing sheds light onto early practices at the juncture between Indian and Chinese Buddhism, and could lead to reexamine the links between traditional sources and contemporary meditation practices. The immeasurables could even serve as a focal point for bracketing sectarian or national differences between Buddhist traditions. Furthermore, the various levels at which these devices are understood and translated into action provide tools for engaging communities beyond scholarly circles because of their crucial ethical implications.
1. Introduction 65 1.1 Scope of this Article 65 1.2 Objectives 67 1.3 Available Research 67 1.4 Considerations Guiding this Article 68 2. Peeling off Some of the Chanjing’s Historical Layers 70 2.1 Indian Buddhist Literature and the Yoga Sūtras 70 2.2 Scholastic Buddhism in the Fifth Century and Huiyuan’s Preface 74 2.3 Chan in the Song Dynasty and Fori Qisong’s Take 76 2.4 Japanese Adaptations in the Eighteenth Century 78 3. Toward the Rediscovery of the Chanjing beyond Dharmatrāta 79 3.1 Tōrei’s Central Argument 80 3.2 The Link to Meditation 84 4. Conclusions 87