Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “preliminary note on the eight classes of supplementary dharmas” 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.

Preliminary note on the Eight Classes of Supplementary Dharmas

The thirty-seven auxiliaries (bodhipākṣikadharma) are not the only ones imposed on the bodhisattva; an infinite number of other dharmas equally conducive to the Path must also be completely fulfilled (paripūritavya) or cultivated (bhāvitavya) by him.

Having mentioned the seven classes of bodhipākṣika, the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra is now going to point out eight new classes of dharmas conducive to the Path and the Traité will study them in detail in the next three chapters.

Chapter XXXII will deal with the first two groups: the three meditative stabilizations (samādhi) and the four trances (dhyāna).

Chapter XXXIII will deal with the third and fourth group: the four immeasurables (apramāṇa) and the four formless absorptions (ārūpyasamāpatti).

Chapter XXXIV will deal with the next four groups: the eight liberations (vimokṣa), the eight spheres of mastery (abhibhvāyatana), the ten spheres of totality (kṛtsnāyatana) and the nine successive absorptions (anupūrvasamāpatti).

Except for the three meditative stabilizations (samādhi) which, as gates of liberation (vimokṣamukha), constitute the goal of the Path, the other classes are lower than the seven classes of bodhipākṣika dharmas discussed in the preceding chapter. In general, it may be said that they prepare for and facilitate the practice of the bodhipākṣikas.

From the Abhidharma point of view, the seven classes of bodhipākṣikas have an objective value in that they are based on the fourth noble truth, that of the Path, and in that they share its efficacy. On the other hand, except for the three meditative stabilizations, the classes of supplementary dharmas in question in the following are subjective practices having no other purpose than the relaxing of the ascetic’s mind and making it capable of traveling on the Path.