Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “description of the nine successive absorptions (anupurvasamapatti)” 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.

Description of the nine successive absorptions (anupūrvasamāpatti)

Emerging from of the first dhyāna, the yogin then [directly] enters into the second dhyāna in such a way that there is no other intervening mind, whether good (kuśala) or defiled (saṃkliṣṭa). [From the dhyāna into the samāpatti], the yogin continues in this way until the absorption of cessation of concept and feeling (saṃjñāveditanirodhasamāpatti).

Question. – But other things can still follow one another [directly]. Why would just the nine absorptions be successive?

Answer. – There are always foreign minds that happen to be interpolated among the other qualities (guṇa); this is why they are not successive. But here, lofty resolve (adhyāśaya) and wisdom (prajñā) are sharp (tīkṣṇa); the yogin puts his own mind to the test and, coming out of the first dhyāna, he enters directly into the second in such a way that no other mind intervenes. In these very qualities, the mind is supple (mṛduka) and easily cuts through desire (tṛṣṇā): this is why the minds succeed one another.

Of these successive absorptions, two are impure (sāsrava) and the other [217a] seven are sometimes impure and sometimes pure (anāsrava). On the other hand, the dhyānantara ‘variation of the first dhyāna’ and the anāgamya ‘threshold absorption of the first dhyāna’ are without stability (asāra).[1]

Moreover, [the successive absorptions] are acquired by the āryas only, and their great benefits are not found in the samānantaka ‘threshold absorptions’: this is why the latter are not ‘successive’ (anupūrva).

The eight vimokṣas, the eight abhibhvāyatanas, the ten kṛtsnāyatanas and the nine anupūrvasamāpattis have been explained in brief (samāsatas) according to the śrāvaka system.

Footnotes and references:


For detail, see Kośa, VIII, p. 178–181.