Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “rejecting colors” 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.

Section A.1 - Rejecting colors

How to reject colors [taken here in the sense of female beauty]? By considering the damage (upaghāta) done by color. When a man is attached (abhiniviśate) to colors, the fire of the fetters (saṃyojana) burns him completely and consumes his body, like a fire that consumes gold and silver. Boiling broth, hot honey, have color and taste, but they burn the body and take the roof off your mouth; one must hurry to reject them: it is the same for attachment to beautiful colors and exquisite tastes.

Furthermore, the fact of loving or detesting depends on the person; color in itself is indeterminate (aniyata). How do we know that? When we see a man at a distance whom we like, we have feelings of joy and affection; when we see at a distance an enemy or adversary, we have feelings of anger and hostility; when we see a a man who is indifferent to us, we have neither anger nor joy. If we want to expel this joy or this anger, it is necessary to reject bad feelings and colors, abandon them together at the same time. When molten gold burns your body and you want to get rid of it, it is not possible just to want to avoid the fire while keeping the gold; you must avoid both the gold and the fire.

[Bimbisāra at Āmrapāli’s home].

[Udayana and the five hundred ṛṣis].

For all these reasons, desire for colors (rūpakāmaguṇa) is condemned.