Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “first samapatti” 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.

According to the definition of the Buddha, the ascetic “having surpassed any notion of matter, neglecting any notion of multiplicity, suppressing, any notion of resistance, enters into the sphere of infinity of space” (Dhyānasūtra, l.c.: Sa sarvaśo rūpasaṃjnāṃ samatikramān, nānātvasaṃjñāām amanasikārāt, pratighasaṃjñānām astaṃgamād “Ānantaṃ ākāśam iti” ākāśānantyāyatanam upasaṃpadya viharati).

The ascetic thinks thus: “Wherever matter is absent, there one escapes from the sufferings of hunger (kṣudh) and thirst (pipāsā), cold (śīta) and heat (uṣṇa); physical matter is coarse, bad, deceptive and unreal: it is as a result of the complex of causes and conditions (hetupratyayasāmagrī) of the former life that we inherit this body, the receptacle of all sorts of pains. How can these bodily torments be avoided? The space (ākāśa) present in the body must be considered.” Then the ascetic ceaselessly considers the space of the body like that in a cage or a pot; by endlessly thinking thus, he is freed from matter and no [186c] longer sees the body. And the same for external matter (bāhyarūpa) as for the inner bodily space. Then the ascetic can contemplate immense infinite space (apramāṇānantākākāśa). When he has mastered this contemplation, he feels neither sadness nor happiness, and his mind progresses: he is like a bird closed up in a cage that finds its freedom when the cage is broken. This is the ākāśasamāpatti.