Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “a a mirage (marici)” 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.

Second comparison or upamāna: A a mirage (marīci)

When the light of the sun (sūryāloka) and the wind (vāyu) stir up the dust (rajas), there is a mirage; in the desert (kāntāra), it appears as if there were gazelles (ghoṭakamṛga) and, on seeing them, not knowing, we assume the presence of water (vāri). It is the same for the characteristics of male and female (strīpuruṣa): when the sun of the fetters (saṃyojana) and the afflictions (kleśa) has heated up the dust of the formations (saṃskāra) and the wind of bad thoughts (mithyā-manasikāra) swirls in the desert of transmigration (saṃsāra), the person without wisdom asserts the characteristics of male and female (strīpuruṣa). This is a mirage.

Furthermore, if the sight of the mirage from afar (viprakṛṣṭa) calls up the notion of water (vārisaṃjñā), from close up (saṃnikṛṣṭa) this notion disappears. In the same way, when the ignorant person is far away from the holy doctrine (āryadharma), he is ignorant of the non-existence of self (anātman), the emptiness of dharmas (dharmaśūnyatā), and attributes to the aggregates (skandha), the elements (dhātu) and the bases of consciousness (āyatana) the characteristics of a person, male or female [which are foreign to it]. But when he has come close to the holy dharma, he discovers the true nature of dharmas (dharmasatyalakṣaṇa) and scatters the illusions (vañcana) and false notions (mithyāsaṃjñā). This is why the bodhisattvas regard dharmas as a mirage.