Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “removing laziness-torpor” 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 B.3 - Removing laziness-torpor

The obstacle of laziness-torpor (styānamiddha) can destroy the threefold benefit of the present world, namely, the happiness of pleasure (kāma), the happiness of wealth (artha) and merit (puṇya); it can destroy the definitive happiness (niṣṭhasukha) of the present and the future life; it differs from death only by the presence of breathing. Here are the stanzas addressed by the Buddha to reproach a lazy disciple:

“Get up! Don’t stay lying down, overprotecting your rotten body! It is impurities of all kinds that are called a person. If you were struck by serious illness, if an arrow was shot into your body, if all the sufferings were piled upon you, would you be able to sleep in peace?

If the entire world were burning with the fire of death and you were trying to escape, would you be able to sleep in peace? When a man, laden with chains, is led to his death and misfortune menaces him, could he sleep in peace?

[184c] The chains, the enemies, are not destroyed; the torments have not been removed. If you were spending the night in the same room as a poisonous snake, or if you were going to engage in battle with a bladed weapon, would you then sleep in peace?

Sleep is this deep darkness where nothing is seen. Each day it comes down [over us] and steals one’s clarity. When sleep covers the mind, nothing more is known. In the face of such a great loss, could you sleep in peace?”

It is for all these reasons that the obstacle of laziness-torpor (styānaniddhanīvaraṇa) is condemned.