Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “introduction (why is the donor non-existent)” 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.

Introduction (Why is the donor non-existent)

Why is the donor (dāyaka) non-existent? Because, like the cloth (paṭa), he exists as a result of the complex of causes and conditions (hetypratyayasāmagrī). If we examine the cloth part by part (bhāgaśaḥ), we see that it is non-existent; it is the same for the donor. We call a portion of space (ākāśa) enclosed within the four great elements (mahābhūta) body (kāya); when this body thinks, moves about and acts, when it walks, stops, sits down or arises, we commonly (prajñaptitaḥ) call it a man (pudgala). But considering it part by part, it is non-existent (anupalabdha).

Moreover, the ātman is absent in all the aggregates (skandha), elements (dhātu) and bases of consciousness (āyatana). Since the ātman does not exist, the donor does not exist. Why? Because the ātman is given all kinds of names (nāmasaṃketa): man (manuṣya), god (deva), male (puruṣa), female (strī), donor (dāyaka), recipient (pratigrāhaka), suffering person (duḥkhasaṃvedin), fortunate person (sukhasaṃvedin), animal (tiryagyoni), etc.; there are only names (nāman), there is no true reality in them (bhūtadharma).

[148b] Question. – If the donor does not exist, who is this bodhisattva who is practicing the virtue of generosity (dānapāramitā)?

Answer. – He is a simple name (nāmasaṃketa) existing as a result of the complex of causes and conditions (hetupratyayasāmagrī), but with no more reality than a house (gṛha) or a chariot (ratha).