Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “the equalities (samata) and the patiences (kshanti)” 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.

Bodhisattva quality 3: the equalities (samatā) and the patiences (kṣānti)

3. samatākṣāntipratilabdha:

The bodhisattvas have acquired the equalities (samatā)[1] and the patiences (kṣānti).

Question. – What are the equalities and what are the patiences?

Answer. – There are two kinds of equalities (samatā): equality toward beings (sattvasamatā) and equality toward dharmas (dharmasamatā).[2] There are also two types of patiences (kṣānti), patience towards beings (sattvakṣānti) and patience towards dharmas (dharmakṣānti).

1) What is sattvasamatā? This is to share one’s thoughts (citta), memories (smṛti), affection (anunaya) and benefits (arthakriyā) equally with all beings.

Question. – By the power of loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā) one grants an equal part in one’s memories to all beings, but one cannot consider all in the same way. Why? [97b] The bodhisattva follows the path of truth (satyamārga), is free of error (viparyāsa) and is in accord with the nature of phenomena (dharmalakṣaṇa). How could he consider the good person and the evil person, the great man and the small man, a human and an animal (tiryañc), as identical (eka) and equal (sama)? In the evil person there is really an evil nature (akuṣalalakṣaṇa); in the good person there is truly a good nature (kuśalalakṣaṇa); the same for the great man and the small man. The specific nature of the cow (golakṣaṇa) occurs in the cow and that of the horse (aśvalakṣaṇa) occurs in the horse. The specific nature of the cow does not occur in the horse and that of the horse does not occur in the cow, for the horse is not the cow. Each being has its own specific nature. Would not the bodhisattva be making a mistake in considering all as identical and equal?

Answer. – If the good nature and the evil nature truly existed, the bodhisattva would be making a mistake [in confusing the good person and the evil person], for he would be misconstruing the nature of dharmas (dharmalakṣaṇa). But phenomena are non-real: the good nature is not real, the evil nature is neither many nor rare. That which is not a human is not an animal. [Among phenomena] there is neither identity (ekatva) nor difference (pṛthaktva). This is why your objection is not valid. Some stanzas define the nature of dharmas as follows:

Non-arisen (anutpanna), non-destroyed (aniruddha),
Unceasing (anucchinna), non-eternal (aśaśvata),
Neither identical (eka) nor different (anya),
Without coming or going,

Dharmas resulting from causes (pratītyasamutpanna)
Escape from all vain prolixity (prapañca).
The Buddha is able to define them;
I pay homage to him.

Furthermore, in regard to beings, [the bodhisattva] is not attached (nābhiniviśate) to a nature (lakṣaṇa) of any kind of nature; beings are empty of characteristics (lakṣaṇaśūnya); from this point of view, they are identical (eka), equal (sama), without difference (ananya). Seeing this is sattvasamatā. The person who maintains an unfettered equality of mind (cittasamatā) toward them enters directly into the absence of regression (avinivartana); he is called samatākṣāntipratilabdha. The bodhisattva who has acquired the equalities and the patiences experiences no hatred or anger toward beings. He loves them like a loving mother loves her son. A stanza says:

To consider sounds as echoes (pratiśrutka)
And bodily actions as reflections (pratibimba);
The person who sees things thus,
How could he not be patient?

This is what is called sattvasamatākṣānti.

2) What is dharmasamatākṣānti? [The bodhisattva] is established in the doctrine of non-duality (advayadharmaparyāya) and the doctrine of the true nature (satyalakṣaṇadharmaparyāya) in respect to all dharmas, good (kuśala) or bad (akuśala), impure (sāsrava) or pure (anāsrava), conditioned (saṃskṛta) or unconditioned (asaṃskṛta), etc. Then when he has penetrated deeply into the true nature of dharmas (dharmāṇām satyalakṣaṇam), his patience of mind (cittakṣānti) enters directly into the elimination of controversy (nirdvandva) and the absence of obstacles (anāvaraṇa). This is what is called dharmasamatākṣānti. A stanza says:

Dharmas are non-arisen (anutpanna) and non-destroyed (aniruddha),
Neither unborn nor non-destroyed,
Both non-arisen and non-destroyed, neither non-arisen nor non-destroyed,
Both neither non-arisen nor non-destroyed, nor arisen nor destroyed.

[97c] Those who have acquired deliverance (vimokṣapratilabdha) [Note: deliverance is the suppression of wrong views] reject all vain prolixity (prapañca). When the path of discourse (vādamārga) is suppressed (samucchinna), one penetrates deeply into the Buddha’s Dharma. The mind is penetrating, free of obstacles (anāvaraṇa), immoveable (acala) and non-regressing (avinivartana). This is what is called anutpattika[dharma]kṣānti. This is why it is said that the bodhisattvas are samatākṣāntipratilabdha.

Footnotes and references:


For the equalities, see Hôbôgirin, Byôdô, p. 270–276.


Sattvasamatā and dharmasamatā are well described in Bodh, bhūmi, p. 286: bodhisattvo ’nukaṃpāsahagatena cittena samacitto …cetasā sarvasattveṣu samacitto vihārati.

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