Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “a hundred thousand samadhis” 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 29: a hundred thousand samādhis

29. samādhiśatasahasrābhinirhāravikrīḍana-kuśala:

Sūtra: They excelled in producing and playing with a hundred thousand samādhis (samādhiśatasahasrābhinirhāravikrīḍanakuśalaiḥ).

Śāstra: By the power of dhyāna and mental discipline (cittaniyama), by the power of pure wisdom (viśuddhaprajñā) and skillful means (upāya), these bodhisattvas produce (abhinirharanti) all kinds of samādhis.

What is samādhi? It is the fixing on one point of a good mind (kuśalacittaikāgratā), the immobility of the mind (cittācalatā).

There are three kinds of samādhis: i) samādhi with vitarka (investigation) and vicāra (analysis); ii) samādhi without vitarka but with vicāra; iii) samādhi with neither vitarka nor vicāra.[1]

There are four other kinds of samādhi: i) samādhi connected with the world of desire (kāmadhātvavacara); ii) samādhi connected with the world of form (rūpadhātvacara), iii) samādhi connected with the formless world (ārūpyadhātvacara); iv) samādhi not connected with anything.

Here it is a question of the bodhisattva samādhis that have already been mentioned. They are not as complete (paripūrna) as those of the Buddhas. The bodhisattvas produce them (abhinirharanti) by the practice and cultivation of effort (prayatna).

Question. – Why do the bodhisattvas produce (abhinirharanti) and play with (vikrīḍanti) these [110c] hundred thousand samādhis?

Answer. – Beings are innumerable (apramāṇa) and the functioning of their minds (cittapravṛtti) differs: some have sharp (tīkṣṇa) faculties, others have weak (mṛdu) faculties; the fetters (saṃyojana) are heavy among some, light among others. Therefore the bodhisattvas use the hundred thousand kinds of samādhis to cut through the disturbances of the passions [among beings]. Thus, those who wish to enrich the poor (daridra) must first gather all sorts of wealth (vasu) and provisions (saṃbhāra) to be able then to go and help the poor; those who wish to cure sick people (vyādhita) must first prepare all kinds of drugs (bhaṣajya) to be able then to cure the sick. In the same way, the bodhisattvas who wish to save beings use hundreds of thousands of samādhis.

Question. – Why are they not content with just producing (abhinirhāra) these samādhis, but they also play (vikrīḍana) with them?

The bodhisattvas who produce these samādhis amuse themselves by entering into (praveśa) and emerging from (vyutthāna) them; this mastery (vaśita) of the samādhis is called play (vikrīḍana). This play is not attachment to desire (tṛṣṇābandhana); it is a mastery (vaśita). Thus the lion (siṃha) who appears as a fearless sovereign (īśvara) among gazelles (mṛga) is called mṛgarati (the one who plays with the gazelles). In the same way, these bodhisattvas who have mastery of these samādhis go in and out of them at will. [Other people do not have such mastery over the samādhis]: some enter into them at will but remain there and do not emerge easily; others remain there at will but do not enter and emerge freely; others enter and remain freely but do not emerge easily; finally, others remain and emerge at will, but do not enter freely. Because the bodhisattvas have the threefold power over these samādhis of entering, remaining there and emerging at will, the sūtra says that they produce a hundred thousand samādhis and play with them.

Footnotes and references:


See references in Kośa, VIII, p. 183.

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