Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “acala (the eighth bodhisattva bhumi)” 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.

Note: This appendix is extracted from Chapter XXXVIII part 3.2 (The three faculties of understanding according to the Mahāyāna):

“Being supported by these nine indriyas, the Bodhisattva will enter into the assurance of the ultimate attainment of enlightenment of the bodhisattva (bodhisattva-niyāma)”.

In other words, the bodhisattva will enter into the eighth bodhisattva bhūmi, the Acalā, the ‘Unshakeable One’. According to most sources, the Acalā marks an important turning point in the bodhisattva’s career:

1) It is at this point that he enters into definitive possession (pratilābha, pratilambha, pratilambhatā) of the conviction or the certainty that dharmas do not arise (anutpattikadharma-kṣānti): Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 122, l. 2; 131, l. 17; Madhyāntavibhāga, p. 105, l. 11; Bodh. bhūmi, p. 350, l. 27; 351, l. 13–14.

2) The possession of this kṣānti is accompanied by the Great Prophecy (mahāvyākaraṇa) regarding the final triumph of the Bodhisattva: Lalitavistara, p. 35, l. 21; Daśabhūmika, p. 71, l. 24; Saddharmapuṇḍ., p. 266, l. 1–2; Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 20, l. 15; 141, l. 27; 165, l. 12; Madhyāntavinhāga, p. 190, l. 18; 192, l. 1.

3) From that time on, the Bodhisattva’s destiny is assured (niyāma: see below, k. 27, p. 262a18–b2). He is determined as to his future buddhahood: niyato bhavaty anuttarāyāṃ samyaksaṃbodhau (Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 83, l. 24); tṛtīyaniyatipātapatito bhavati (Bodh. bhūmi, p. 367, l. 12).

In other words, he is a non-regressing (avaivartika) bodhisattva having non-regressing conviction (avaivartikakṣāntipratilabdha: Saddharmapuṇud., p. 259, l. 13). As well, the eighth bhūmi is also called Niyatabhūmi ‘Determined Level’ (Bodh. bhūmi, p. 367, l. 11); Avivartyabhūmi, avinivartanīyabhūmi, avaivartikabhūmi “Level without regression’ (Daśabhūmika, p. 71, l. 12; Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 176, l. 22; Bodh. bhūmi, p. 235, l. 18). It marks the beginning of the non-reversible career (abandhyacaryā) which will be followed in the last three bhūmis (Mahāvastu, I, p. 1, l. 3; 63, l. 13–14; Bodh. Bhūmi, p. 290, l. 21).

4) Finally and in particular in the eighth bhūmi, the Bodhisattva’s activity is practiced spontaneously, without action (abhisaṃskāra) or mental changing (ābhoga), for it is unaffected by objects or notions: this is why it is called anabhisaṃskārābhogavihāra or anābhoganirnimittavihāra: Madhyāntavibhāga, p. 105, l. 18–21; Sūtrālaṃkāra, p. 178, l. 3; Bodh. Bhūmi, p. 367, l. 11; Saṃgraha, p. 202.