Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “fourth 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 sukha as he has seen those of prīti; he knows that immovability of the mind (cittāiñjyatā) is very superior to that, for wherever there is movement, there is suffering (duḥkha). Since he is moved by the sukha of the third dhyāna, the ascetic seeks non-movement.

[According to the definition of the Buddha] “by the cessation of bliss and by the cessation of suffering, by the previous suppression of joy and sadness, the ascetic enters into the fourth dhyāna, free of suffering and bliss, purified in renunciation and reflection” (Dhyānasūtra, l.c: Sukhasya ca prahāṇād duḥkasya ca prahāṇāt pūrvam eva saumansayadaurmansayayor astaṃgamādadhuḥkhāsukham upekṣāsmṛtipariśuddhaṃ caturthaṃ dhyānam upasaṃpadya viharati).

In the fourth dhyāna, there is no more suffering or happiness, but only non-moving wisdom (āniñjyaprajñā); this is why the fourth dhyāna is called ‘purified as to renunciation and reflection’.[1] By contrast, the third dhyāna, because of the movement evoked by the bliss, is called suffering. Therefore the fourth dhyāna is “free of suffering and bliss” (asuḥkhāsukha).

Footnotes and references:


It would be tempting to translate Chö nien ts’ing tsing by “purity in renunciation and reflection”; but these four characters give the Sanskrit expression upekṣāsmṛtipariśuddhi: 1) upekṣāpariśuddhi is indifference for whatever the object may be (anābhogalakṣaṇa); 2) smṛtiparihuddhi consists of not losing sight of the nimitta (the motive, the reason) for this indifference (upekṣānimittāsaṃpramoṣa): cf. Kośa, VIII, p. 148.