Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “method of non-dwelling” 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 2 - The method of non-dwelling

“Abiding in the Prajñāpāramitā by the method of non-dwelling (asthānayogena), the bodhisattva is able to perfect (paripūri) the six virtues (ṣaṭpāramitā).

Question. – What does this phrase mean?

Answer. – The bodhisattva who sees (samanupaśyati) that all dharmas are neither eternal (nitya) nor transitory (anitya), neither painful (duḥkha) nor pleasant (sukha), neither empty (śūnya) nor real (bhūta), neither with self (ātman) nor selfless (anātman), neither arising-ceasing (utpannaniruddha) nor unborn-unceasing (anutpannāniruddha), dwells in the profound Prajñāpāramitā without grasping at its characteristics (nimittodgrahaṇa). This is called residing in it by the method of non-dwelling (asthānayoga); if one grasped the characteristics of Prajñāpāramitā, that would be residing in it by the method of dwelling (sthānayoga).

Question. – If one does not grasp the characteristics (nimitta) of Prajñāpāramitā, the mind is without attachment (āsakti, adhyavasāna). Thus the Buddha has said: “All dharmas have desire (kāma) as their root.” How can the person who does not grasp [the characteristics] perfect (paripūri) the six virtues?

Answer. – Out of compassion (karuṇā) for beings, the bodhisattva first makes the vow (praṇidhāna) to liberate all beings. By the virtue of exertion (vīryapāramitā), and even though he knows that all dharmas are unborn (anutpanna), unceasing (aniruddha), like nirvāṇa (nirvāṇasama), he continues to exert his qualities (guṇa) and he fulfills the six virtues. Why? Because he abides in the Prajñāpāramitā by the method of non-dwelling. This is what is called abiding in the Prajñāpāramitā by the method of non-dwelling.