Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “description of sarvakara (all aspects) and sarvadharma (all dharmas)” 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.

Part 5-6 - Description of sarvākāra (all aspects) and sarvadharma (all dharmas)

Sūtra: The bodhisattva who wants to cognize all dharmas in all aspects must exert himself in practicing the Prajñāpāramitā (Sarvākāraṃ Śāriputra sarvadharmān abhisaṃboddhukāmena bodhisattvattvena mahāsattvena prajñāpāramitāyāṃ yogaḥ karaṇīyaḥ).

Śāstra: See what has been said above on the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the chapter dedicated to the praise of the bodhisattva (Chap. VIII).

Question. – What is it that is called ‘all aspects’ (sarvākāra) and what is it that is called ‘all dharmas’ (sarvadharma)?

V. What is it that is called ‘all aspects’ (sarvākāra):

Answer. – The doors of wisdom (prajñāmukha) are called aspects (ākāra).[1] [138a] There are people who contemplate dharmas under a single prajñāmukha; others contemplate it under two, three, ten, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand prajñāmukhas, even under a number of prajñāmukhas as incalculable (asaṃkhyeya) as the number of sands of the Ganges (gaṅgānadīvālukā). Here, it is by entering by all the prajñāmukhas in all the aspects that we contemplate all the dharmas. This is what is called contemplating under all the aspects (sarvākmaram).

1) Among ordinary people (pṛthagjana), there are three kinds of contemplations (anupaśyanā). To try to escape from desire (kāma) and form (rūpa), they contemplate the coarseness (pāruṣya), deceitfulness (vañcana) and corruption (kaṣāya) of the desire realm (kāmadhātu) and the form realm (rūpadhātu).

2) Among the Buddha’s disciples, there are eight kinds of contemplations (anupaśyanā):[2] [for them, everything is] impermanent (anitya), suffering (duḥkha), empty (śūnya), egoless (anātmaka), like a sickness (roga), an ulcer (gaṇḍa), like an arrow (śalya) stuck in one’s body, like an agony (agha).

3) These eight kinds of contemplations, applied to the four noble truths (āryasatya), make sixteen aspects (ākāra) grouped into fours.[3] These are:

The four aspects of contemplation on suffering (duḥkha): i) anitya, impermanent; ii) duḥkha, suffering; iii) śūnya, empty; iv) anātmaka, egoless.

The four aspects of the contemplation on the origin of suffering (duḥkhasamudaya): i) samudaya, origin; ii) hetu, cause; iii) pratyaya, condition; iv) prabhava, process.

The four aspects of the contemplation on the cessation of suffering (duḥkhanirodha) : i) nirodha, cessation; ii) śānta, tranquility; iii) praṇīta, excellence; iv) niḥsaraṇa, deliverance.

The four aspects of the contemplation on the Path (mārga): i) mārga, Path; ii) nyāya, rational; iii) pratipad, attainment; iv) nairyāṇika, definitive release.

4. In the inbreath and the outbreath (ānāpāna) there are also sixteen aspects:[4] i) attention to the inbreath (āśvasāmīti prajānāti); ii) attention to the outbreath (praśvasāmīti prajānāti); iii) attention to the long breath and the short breath (dīrghaṃ hrasvam āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); iv) [knowledge] that one is breathing in the entire body (sarvakāyapratisaṃvedy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); v) [knowledge that one is breathing] while having eliminated the bodily factors (praśrabhya kāyasaṃskārān āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); vi) [knowledge that one is breathing] while experiencing joy (prītipratisaṃvedy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajanāti); vii) [knowing that one is breathing] while experiencing bliss (sukhapratisaṃvedy āśvasāmi praśvasāmītiprajānāti); viii) [knowledge that one is breathing while feeling the mental factors (cittasaṃskārapratisaṃvedy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); ix) [knowledge that one is breathing] while gladdening the mind (read sin tso hi: abhipramodayan cittam āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); x) [knowledge that one is breathing while concentrating the mind (samādadhah cittam āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); xi) [knowledge that one is breathing] while liberating the mind (vimocayan cittam āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); xii) [knowledge that one is breathing] while contemplating impermanence (anityānudarśy āśvasmami praśvasāmīti prajānāti); xiii) knowledge that one is breathing] while contemplating disappearance (vyavānusarśy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); xiv) [[knowledge that one is breathing] while contemplating renunciation of desire (vairāgyānudarśy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); xv) [knowledge that one is breathing] while contemplating cessation (nirodhānudarśy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti); xvi) [knowledge that one is breathing]while contemplating renunciation (pratiniḥsargānudarśy āśvasāmi praśvasāmīti prajānāti).

5. Furthermore, there are six recollections (anusmṛti).[5] The recollection of the Buddha (buddhānusmṛti): “The Buddha is arhat, samyaksaṃbuddha …”: ten epithets of this kind [in all]. For the five other recollections, see below.

6. Mundane knowledge (laukikajñāna), supramundane knowledge (lokottarajñāna), the knowledge of the arhats, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, Buddhas and the other knowledges of this type cognize dharmas ‘in all their aspects’ (sarvākāram).[6]

VI. What is it that is called ‘all dharmas’ (sarvadharma):

1. The expression sarvadharma means all the dharmas that are the object (ālambana) of the consciousnesses (vijñāna):

The visual consciousness (cakṣurvijñāna) concerns color (rūpa); the auditory consciousness (śrotravijñāna) concerns sound (śabda); the olfactory consciousness (ghrāṇavijñāna), odor (gandha); the gustatory consciousness (jihvāvijñāna), taste (rasa); the tactile consciousness (kāyavijñāna), touch (spraṣṭavya); the mental consciousness (manovijñāna), dharmas. [This last one] concerns equally the eye (cakṣus), color (rūpa) and the visual consciousness (cakṣurvijñāna), the ear (śrotra) and sound (śabda), the nose (ghrāṇa) and smell (gandha), the tongue (jihvā) and taste (rasa), the body (kāya) and touch (spraṣṭavya), and so on up to: it concerns the Manas, dharmas and mental consciousness (manovijñāna).[7] This is what is meant by ‘all dharmas’: these are the dharmas that are the object of the consciousnesses.

2. Furthermore, ‘all dharmas’ means the dharmas that are the object of the knowledges (jñāna); the knowledge of suffering (duḥkhajñāna) knows suffering; the knowledge of the origin (samudayajñāna) knows the origin (samudaya); the knowledge of cessation (nirodhajñāna) knows cessation (nirodha); the knowledge of the Path (mārgajñāna) knows the Path (mārga);[8] the mundane knowledge (laukikajñāna) knows suffering, the origin [of suffering], the cessation [of suffering] the Path, and also space (ākāśa) and the apratisaṃkhyānirodha. These are the dharmas that are the object of the knowledges.[9]

3. Furthermore, the groups[10] of two dharmas include (saṃgṛhṇanti) ‘all dharmas’. These are the dharmas having form (rūpadharma) and the dharmas without form (arūpidharma); the visible (sanidarśana) dharmas and the invisible (anidarśana) dharmas; the resistant (sapratigha) dharmas and the non-resistant dharmas (apratigha); the impure (sāsrava) dharmas and the pure (anāsrava) dharmas; the conditioned (saṃskṛta) dharmas and the unconditioned (asaṃskṛta) dharmas; the dharmas associated with the mind (cittasaṃprayukta) and the dharmas not associated with the mind (cittaviprayukta); the dharmas associated with action (karmasaṃprayukta) and dissociated from action [138b] (karmaviprayukta); near dharmas (antike dharmāḥ) and distant dharmas (dūre dharmāḥ)]. These various groups of two dharmas include all dharmas [Note: close dharmas are present dharmas (pratyutpanna) and the Asaṃskṛta; distant dharmas are future (anāgata) and past (atīta) dharmas)].

4. Furthermore, the groups of three dharmas include ‘all dharmas’. These are good (kuśala), bad (akuśala) and indeterminate (avyākṛta) dharmas; the dharmas of the śaikṣa, the aśaikṣa and the naivaśaikṣanāśaikṣa; the dharmas to be abandoned by seeing the truths (satyadarśanaheya), to be abandoned by meditation (bhāvanāheya) and not to be abandoned (aheya). There are again three sorts of dharmas: the five aggregates (skandha), the twelve bases of consciousness (āyatana) and the eighteen elements (dhātu). These various groups of three dharmas include all dharmas.

5. Furthermore, there are groups of four dharmas: past (atīta), future (anāgata), present (pratyutpanna) and neither past nor future nor present dharmas; dharmas belonging to the desire realm (kāmadhātvavacara), to the form realm (rūpadhātvavacara), to the formless realm (ārūpyadhātvavacara), belonging to no realm (anavacara); dharmas resulting from a good cause, a bad cause, an indeterminate cause, a cause neither good nor bad nor indeterminate; dharmas that are object condition (ālambanapratyaya), that are not object condition, that are both object condition and not object condition, that are both neither object condition and not object condition. These groups of four dharmas include all dharmas.

6. There are groups of five dharmas: substance (rūpa), mind (citta), dharmas associated with the mind (cittasaṃprayukta), dharmas dissociated from the mind (cittaviprayukta) and unconditioned (asaṃskṛta) dharmas. These various groups of five dharmas include all dharmas.

7. There are groups of seven dharmas: dharmas to be abandoned by seeing suffering (duḥkhadarśanaheya); dharmas to be abandoned, respectively, by seeing the origin (samudaya), the cessation (nirodha) and the Path (mārga); dharmas to be abandoned by meditation (bhāvanāheya) and dharmas not to be abandoned (aheya). These various groups of six dharmas and the innumerable other [groups] of dharmas include all dharmas.

That is what is meant by sarvadharma

Question. – The dharmas are very profound (gambhīra), subtle (sūkṣma) and inconceivable (acintya). If all beings together do not succeed in cognizing them, how then could a single person claim to cognize them all? It is as though one wanted to measure the earth (pṛthivī), count the drops of water (bindu) in the ocean (samudra), weigh Mount Sumeru, know the limits of space (ākāśānta) and other similar things, likewise unknowable. How can all dharmas be known in all their aspects?

Answer. – The darkness of ignorance (mohatamas) is very painful (duḥkha), and the brilliance of wisdom (prajñāprakāśa) is very blissful (sukha). Now all beings try to avoid suffering and seek only happiness. This is why the bodhisattvas wish above all to have great wisdom (mahāprajñā) and wish to know all dharmas from every point of view. The bodhisattvas who have produced the great mind (mahācittotpādika) seek great wisdom in the interest of all beings. This is why they wish to know all dharmas in all their aspects. If a physician (vaidya) takes care of one or two sick people, it is enough for him to use one or two remedies (bhaiṣajya); but if he wishes to cure all beings who are sick, he has to use all the types of remedies. In the same way, the bodhisattva who wishes to save all beings wishes to know all dharmas in all their aspects and, since the dharmas are profound (gambhīra), subtle (sūkṣma) and innumerable (apramāna), the wisdom of the bodhisattva, it too, will be profound, subtle and immense. Above, (Traité, I, p. 153F), in replying to attacks directed against the Omniscient One (sarvajñā), we have already treated the subject fully: [there we commented] that if the letter is big, the envelope also will be big.

[138c] Furthermore, if all dharmas are examined unsystematically (nyāya), nothing will be found; but if the search is methodical, the results will be faultless. In the same way, if in order to produce fire by friction, araṇi is used, fire is the result; but if one tries to make fire with damp wood, the fire will not catch. Similarly also, the great earth (mahāpṛthivī) has limits (anta); but, if one is not omniscient (sarvajñā) and one does not have great miraculous power (ṛddhibala), one will not know them. On the other hand, if the power of the superknowledges (abhijñābala) is great, one knows that the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu is the limit of the earth, that this great earth rests on [the circle] of diamond (vajramaṇḍala) and that at the four sides of the trisāhasramahāsāhasralokadhātu there is space (ākāśa).[11] This is knowing the limits of the earth. And it is the same when one wishes to weigh Mount Sumeru. As for wishing to measure space, that is out of the question [for the question does not come up] “Space not being a dharma, there can be no question of measuring it.”

Footnotes and references:

1.

Actually, the aspects (ākāra) by nature constitute the mental factor called prajñā or discernment; cf. Kośa, VII, p. 39.

2.

As the scriptures repeat ad nauseam: Bhikkhu … te dhamme aniccato dukkhato rogato gaṇḍato sallato aghato ābādhato parato palokato suññato anattato samanupassati. See, e.g., Majjhima, I, p. 435, 436, 500; Aṅguttara, II, p. 128; IV, p. 422.

3.

For the sixteen aspects of the four truths, cf. Kośa, VI, p. 163; VII, p. 30–34; Mahāvyutpatti, no. 1190–1205; Obermiller, Doctrine of P. P., p. 18.

4.

The sixteen aspects of ānāpānasmṛti are enumerated in many texts, e.g., Majjhima, I, p. 425; Saṃyutta, V, p.311–312; Pañcaviṃśati, p. 204–205; Tsa a han, T 99, no. 83, k. 29, p. 206a–b; Mahāvyutpatti, no. 1173–1188: they fully commented on in Visuddhimagga, I, p. 266–293. For a modern adaptation, see G. C. Lounsbery, La méditation bouddhique, Paris, 1935, p. 161–169.

5.

The six recollections have as object, respectively, the Buddha, the Dharma, the Saṃgha, śīla, tyāga, and the devatās (cf. Dīgha, III, p. 240, 280; Aṅguttara, III, p. 284, 312 seq., 452; V, p. 329 seq.); Visuddhimagga, I, p. 197–228, dedicates a chapter to them.

6.

Cf. Kośa, VI, p. 142.

7.

Classical theory of consciousness frequently explained in the scriptures, e.g., Majjhima. III, p. 221. There are six consciousnesses. The first five, viz., the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactile, each depends on a particular organ simultaneous with it (eye, ear, nose, tongue and body) and each bears upon a special object (color, sound, smell, taste and tangible). The sixth consciousness, the mental consciousness (manovijñāna), depends upon the Manas, i.e., on whichever of the six consciousnesses that has just occurred and which immediately precedes it in time (cf. Kośa, I, p. 31): ṣaṇṇām anantarātītaṃ vijñānaṃ yad dhi tan manaḥ); it has as object all dharmas, viz., the six consciousnesses, the six organs and the six objects, perceptible objects, color, etc., as well as non-perceptible objects (dharmas properly called the 46 caittas, the 14 cittaviprayuktas, the 3 asaṃskṛtas and the avijñapti): cf. Stcherbatsky, Central Conception, p. 97. Thus, whereas the first five consciousnesses are strictly limited to their own object, the mental consciousness also bears upon the objects of the other five consciousnesses. This is expressed in an oft repeated canonical formula (Majjhima, I, p. 205; Saṃyutta, V, p. 217–218): “The five organs, each their own object and their own field, do not perceive the object-field of the others, whereas the Manas perceives the object-field of all of them.” (pañc’ indriyāni nānāvisayāni nānāgocarāni na aññamañnnassa gocaravisayaṃ paccanubhonti … mano ca nesaṃ gocaravisayaṃ paccanubhoti). See W. Geiger, Pāli Dhamma, München, 1926, p. 80).

8.

On these four knowledges, see Kośa, VII, p. 5.

9.

Obviously the mundane knowledge (laukikajñāna) acquired consecutively (prṣṭhalabdha) to the supramundane knowledge (lokottarajñāna); cf. Kośa, VI, p. 142.

10.

The Treatise, I, p. 53–54F, has already enumerated these various groups of dharmas.

11.

See Kośa, III, p. 138 seq.

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