Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “definition of the various dhyanas and samapattis” 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 3 - Definition of the various dhyānas and samāpattis

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Notes on the Dhyānasūtra:

This section is limited to commenting on a very old Dhyānasūtra where the nine successive absorptions (navānupūrvasamāpatti) are defined in precise terms: cf. Vinaya, III, p. 4; Dīgha, I, p. 37, 73, 172; II, p. p. 313; III, p. 78, 131, 222, 265; Majjhima. I, p. 21, 40, 89, 117, 159; II, p. 15, 204, 226; III, p. 4, 14, 25, 36; Saṃyutta, II, p. 210, 216, 221; III, p. 225; IV, p. 225, 26, 262; V, p. 10, 198, 213; Aṅguttara, I, p. 53, 163, 182, 242; II, p. 126, 151; III, p. 11, 119; IV, p. 111, 176, 229, 410; V, p. 207, 343; Kathāvatthu, II, p. 484; Milinda, p. 289.

– For the Chinese sources, see, e.g., Tch’ang a han, T 1, k. 8, p. 50c; Tchong a han, T 26, k. 47, p. 720a; Tsa a han, T 99, 41, p. 302a.

– For the Sanskrit version of this sūtra, see Lalitavistara, p. 129; Pañcaviṃśati, p. 167, Daśasāhasrikā, p. 98–99; Mahāvyutpatti, no. 1478–1481, 1492–1495; extracts in Kośavyākhyā, p. 665, 666, 673.

Following is a translation of this sūtra:

“Here, the monk, having avoided the desires, having avoided the bad dharmas, enters into the first dhyāna, furnished with examination, furnished with judgment, coming from detachment and which is joy and happiness.

– By suppressing examination and judgment, he enters into the second dhyāna, internal peace, one-pointed mind, without examination, without judgment, arisen from concentration, which is joy and happiness.

– By renouncing joy, he remains indifferent, reflective, aware; he experiences happiness in his body; he enters into the third dhyāna that the saints call ‘indifferent, reflecting, dwelling in happiness’.

– By destroying happiness and by destroying pain, by the previous suppression of joy and sadness, he enters into the fourth dhyāna, free of pain and happiness, purified in renunciation and reflection.

– Having surpassed any notion of matter, suppressing any notion of resistance, neglecting any notion of multiplicity, he cries out: “Infinite space” and penetrates into the sphere of infinite space.

– Surpassing the sphere of infinite space. he penetrates successively the sphere of infinite consciousness, the sphere of nothingness, the sphere of neither awareness nor non-awareness and finally, the absorption of cessation of awareness and sensation.”

For this technique of dhyāna, see the explanation of M. Eliade, Techniques of Yoga, 1948, p. 158–164.