Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “third dhyana” 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.

The ascetic sees the defects of pṛīti as he has seen those of vitarka and vicāra: according to the place occupied by the object of enjoyment, sometimes it is joy (prīti), sometimes sadness (daurmansaya) that dominates. Why is that? Thus, for example, when a poor man (daridra) finds a treasure, his joy is immense; but, as soon as he loses it, his sadness is profound. The joy changes into sadness.

This is why [according to the definition of the Buddha], the ascetic: “by renouncing joy, remains in equanimity, reflecting, aware; he experiences this physical happiness which only the saints are capable of renouncing; reflecting, remaining in bliss, he enters into the third dhyāna” (free and faulty translation of the Dhyānasūtra, l.c.: Prīter virāgād upekṣako viharati smṛtimān saṃprajānan sukhaṃ ca kāyena pratisaṃvedayati yat tad āryā ācakṣate “Upekṣakaḥ smṛtimān sukhavihāriti” niṣprītikaṃ tṛtiyaṃ dhyānam upasaṃpadya viharati).

He remains ‘in equanimity’ (upekṣaḥ), for he abandons any feeling of joy (prīti) and feels no regret; he remains “reflecting” (smṛtimān) and ‘fully aware’ (saṃprajānan), for, having obtained the bliss of the third dhyāna, he prevents bliss from arousing torments; he experiences ‘physical happiness’ (sukham kāyena pratisaṃvedayati), for he experiences, with his entire body, the bliss of the third dhyāna;[1] ‘this bliss which only the āryas are capable of abandoning’; this bliss being the most outstanding in the world to call forth attachment of the mind and which ordinary people (pṛthagjana) rarely renounce. Also the Buddha said that the practice of loving-kindness is the foremost in the pure lands.

Footnotes and references:


The third dhyāna has five members: 1) upekṣā, 2) smṛti, 3) saṃprajñāna, 4) sukha, 5) samādhi; they are defined in Kośa, VIII, p. 148. But, whereas the sukha present in the first two dhyānas is simply the good physical state (praśrabdhi), the sukha of the third dhyāna is the feeling of bliss (sukha vedanā); cf. Kośa, VIII, p. 156.