Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “seven minds of awakening (sambodhyanga)” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Appendix 1 - The seven minds of awakening (saṃbodhyaṅga)

Note: this appendix relates to the following conversation from Chapter VIII part 3:

Thus the Buddha asked Ānanda: “Ānanda, are you speaking about effort?” – “Yes, Bhagavat.” “Ānanda, are you praising effort?” – “Yes, Bhagavat.” – “Ānanda, one must practice, cultivate and remember effort until one leads men to the attainment of supreme and perfect enlightenment (anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi).”

The Mppś will refer to the same text twice again:

At k. 15, p. 173c: When Ānanda was preaching the seven minds of awakening (kie yi) to the bhikṣus and had come to the mind of awakening called effort (vīrya), the Buddha said to Ānanda: “Are you speaking of the mind of awakening called effort?” Ānanda replied “Yes, I am speaking of the mind of awakening called effort.” [The Buddha asked] the same question three times, [and Ānanda made] the same response three times. Then the Buddha arose from his seat and said to Ānanda: “There is nothing that people who love and practice effort cannot attain; without fail they will succeed in attaining Buddhahood.”

At k. 26, p. 249c: One day the Buddha said to Ānanda: “Proclaim the Dharma to the bhikṣus; my back aches, I am going to lie down for a while.” Then the Bhagavat folded his upper garment (uttarāsaṃgha) in four, spead it on the ground, and with his cloak (saṃghātī) as pillow (bimbohana), he lay down. Then Ānanda preached the seven meanings of awakening (kio yi). When he came to the awakening of effort (vīrya), the Buddha woke up and said to Ānanda: “Are you praising effort?” Ānanda relied: “I am praising it.” And this was repeated three times. Then the Buddha said: “Good! good! Those who cultivate effort well will succeed in obtaining anuttarasamyaksaṃbodhi and, all the more so, all the other bodhis.” [What the Mppś here calls the seven Minds or the seven meanings of awakening (in Sanskrit saṃbodhyaṅga) are the seven saddahammas of Pali scholasticism. They are the possessions of the man of faith (saddho) who is reserved (hirimā), quiet (ottappī), learned (bahussuto), energetic (āraddhaviriyo), vigilant and mindful (upaṭṭhtasati) and endowed with wisdom (paññavā). See Dīgha, III, p. 252, 282, Saṃyutta, II, p. 207; Aṅguttara, IV, p. 109 sq.; Majjhima, I, p. 356.]

The sūtras of which the Mppś gives extracts are the Sekhasutta (Majjhima, I, p. 353–359) which, error excepted, has no correspondant in the Chinese Āgama. But the version used by the Mppś differs somewhat from the Pāli text, of which here are the main lines: The Buddha was dwelling among the Śākyas at Kapilavastu in the Nyagrodhārāma. Having preached to the Śākyas until late in the night, he said to Ānanda: Explain, O Ānanda, the path of practice (sekha pātipada); my back aches, I would like to lie down (piṭṭhim me agilāyati tam ahaṃ āyamissāmi). Ānanda obeyed and the Bhagavat, having folded his cloak in four (catugguṇaṃ saṃghātiṃ paññāpetvā), lay down on his right side in the lion’s pose (dakkhiṇena passena sīhaseyyaṃ kappesi), with one foot on top of the other (pāde pādaṃ accādhāya), attentive, lucid with his mind fixed on the moment of awakening (sato sampajāno uṭṭhānasaññaṃ manasikaritvā). Ānanda then explained to Mahānāman, the Śākyan, how the disciple of the Buddha should be endowed with discipline (sīlasampanna), guarding his senses (indriyesu guttadvāra), measured in his food (bhojane mattaññū), devoted to wakefulness (jāgariyaṃ annuyutta), endowed with the seven good dharmas (sattahi saddhammehi samannāgata), familiar with the four dhyānas (catunnaṃ jhānānaṃ nikāmalābhī). When this sermon was finished, the Buddha arose and congratulated him: Good, good! Ānanda, you have explained the path of practice well to the Śākyas of Kapilavastu.

Thus, in the Pāli Sekhasutta, the Buddha congratulates Ānanda when his sermon is finished. On the other hand, in the version followed here by the Mppś, he interrupts Ānanda at the moment when the latter was speaking of exertion, i.e., when he arrived at the fifth of the seven good dharmas (sattasaddhamma) and when he says (according to the Pāli text (Majjhima, I, p. 356) that the good disciple “rests energetic in order to destroy the bad dharmas and acquire the good ones, remains stable, firm in his demeanor, not rejecting the yoke of the good dharmas” (āraddhaviriyo vihārati akusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ pahānāya kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ upasapadāya, thāmavā daḷhaparakkamo anikkhittadhuro kusalesu dhammesu). By expressing himself in this way, Ānanda was doing nothing other than repeating a phrase that appears in all the sūtras (e.g., Dīgha, III, p. 237, 268, 285; Majjhima, II, p. 95, 128; Saṃyutta, V, p. 197 sq.; Aṅguttara, I, p. 117, 224–246; II, p. 250 sq.; III, p. 2, 11, 65, 152 sq.; IV, p. 3, 110, 153 sq., 234, 352–353, 357; V, p. 15, 24, 27–28, 90–91; Udāna, p. 36). The corresponding Sanskrit formula which differs by only one word, is known to the Sūtrālaṃkāra, ed. Lévi, p. 115: sthāmavān vīryavaÌ utsāhī dṛḍhaparākramo ’nikṣiptadhuraḥ kuśaleṣu dharmeṣu.