Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “definition of the ten powers (bala) according to the dashabalasutra” 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.

III. Definition of the ten powers (bala) according to the Daśabalasūtra

The Buddha has ten powers (bala):

1) He knows, in accordance with reality, that which is possible (sthāna) and impossible (asthāna): this is the first power.

2) He knows the actions (karmasamādāna), past, future and present, of beings and he knows them according to place (sthānatas), cause (hetutas) and retribution (vipākatas): this is the second power.

3) He knows, in accordance with reality, the defilements (saṃkleśa), the purity (vyāvadāna) and the modalities (vyavasthāna) of the trances (dhyāna), liberations (vimokṣa), concentrations (samādhi) and absorptions (samāpatti): this is the third power.

4) He knows, in accordance with reality, the degree of the moral faculties (indriyaparāparatā) of other individuals: this is the fourth power.

5) He knows the diverse aspirations (nānādhimukti) of other beings: this is the fifth power.

6) He knows the world (loka) with its diverse and numerous acquired dispositions (dhātu): this is the sixth power.

7) He knows the route (pratipad) that leads to the different destinies (sarvatragagāmin): this is the seventh power.

8) He remembers his many previous abodes (pūrvanivāsa) with their aspects (ākāra) and their causes (nidāna), namely, one existence (jāti), two existences and so on up to a hundred thousand existences and many periods of [236a] creation (vivarta) and disappearance (saṃvarta) of the world: There, among those beings, I had such and such a family (gotra), such and such a name (nāman), such and such food (āhāra), such and such suffering (duḥkha), such and such happiness (sukha), such and such longevity (dīrghāyus). When I died in this place, I was reborn in that place and when I died there, I came to be born here where I have such and such a name, such and such a family, such and such food, such and such suffering, such and such happiness and such and such a longevity: this is the eighth power.

9) With the divine eye (divyacakṣus), purified, surpassing that of gods and men, the Buddha sees beings dying and being born and knows them to be handsome (suvarṇa) or ugly (durvarṇa), great or small, falling into a bad destiny (durgati) or falling into a good destiny (sugati) and, as a result of the actions they have committed (yathākarmapaga), suffering the appropriate retribution (vipāka). As a result, these beings, burdened with misdeeds of body (kāyaduścarita), burdened with misdeeds of speech (vāgduścarita), burdened with misdeeds of mind (manoduścarita), slandering the saints (āryāṇām apavādaka), having wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi), acting badly because of these wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭikarmasamādāna), for this cause and this reason, at the dissolution of the body after death enter into a bad destiny (durgati) and are born in hell (niraya). On the other hand, these other beings endowed with good bodily actions, endowed with good actions of speech, endowed with good actions of mind, do not slander the saints, having right view, acting well from the fact of their right view, for this cause and this reason, at the dissolution of the body after death enter into a good destiny (sugati) and are reborn in heaven (svarga): this is the ninth power.

10) By the cessation of the impurities (āsravāṇāṃ kṣayāt), having realized, in the present existence (dṛṣṭa eva dharme) by his own knowledge (svayam abhijñāya), the pure liberation by wisdom (prajñāvimukti), the Buddha cognizes in accordance with reality: Birth is exhausted for me (kṣīṇā me jātiḥ), the religious life has been practiced (uṣitaṃ brahmacaryam), that which had to be done has been done (kṛtaṃ karaṇīya), I see no other existence for myself (nāparam asmād bhāvam iti): this is the tenth power.

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