Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of the corpulent sheep without fat” 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.

Story of the corpulent sheep without fat

A king had a prime minister (mahāmātya) whose faults he himself concealed so that they remained unknown.

He said to him one day:

“Go and find me a big sheep but that has no fat; if you don’t find one, I will inflict punishment on you.”

The prime minister was learned: he chained up a big sheep, fed it with grass and grains; but three times each day, he frightened it with a wolf. Thus the sheep, in spite of all the food that it received, was big but had no fat. The minister brought the sheep and presented it to the king who commanded his people to kill it; it was big but had no fat. The king asked how that was done, and the minister gave him the reason we have just described. The bodhisattva acts in the same way: he contemplates (samanupaśyati) the wolf of impermanence (anityatā), suffering (duḥkha) and emptiness (śūnya) in such a way that the fat of the passions (saṃyojanameda) melts while the flesh of the qualities (guṇamāṃsa) becomes solid.

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