Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “fourth dhyana” 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 was extracted from Chapter XXXIX part 2.7 (The knowledge of the way leading to the various destinies):

“The fourth dhyāna is the culmination of all the concentrations; as is said in the sūtras, the good minds (kuśalacitta), concentrated (samāhita), free of distraction (avikṣipta), collected (saṃgṛhita), all enter into the fourth dhyāna”.

Entry into the dhyānas is the natural culmination of a state of mental concentration. Śākyamuni had this experience on the night of his awakening: Vin., III, p. 4; Majjhima, I, p. 21, 117, 186, 242–243; III, p. 85–87; Saṃyutta, IV, p. 125; V, p. 68, 76, 331, 332; Anguttara, I, p. 148, 282; II, p. 14; Itivuttaka, p. 119–120:

Āraddhaṃ kho pana me viriyaṃ ahosi asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. So kho ahaṃpathamaṃdutiyaṃtatiyaṃcatutthaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihāsiṃ:

“There opened within me an energy without laziness; present, an unfailing mindfulness; my body was relaxed and impassive; my mind, concentrated and one-pointed. This is how I attained and remained in the first… second…third… fourth dhyāna.”

The fourth dhyāna is the best way to nirvāṇa. According to the canonical scriptures (Dīgha, III, p. 106, 228; Anguttara, II, p. 149–152;V, p. 63) there are four ways:

  1. the difficult way for slow intellects (pratipad duḥkhā dhandhābhijñā),
  2. the difficult way for quick intellects (pratipad duḥkha kṣiprābhijñā),
  3. the easy way for slow intellects (pratipad sukhā dhandhābhijñā),
  4. the easy way for quick intellects (pratipad sukhā kṣiprābhijñā).

And the Kośabhāṣyā, p. 382, explains:

Caturdhyāneṣu mārgaḥ pratipad aṅgaparigrahaśamathavipaśyanāsamatābhyām ayatnavāhitvāt:

“The path followed in the dhyānas is the easy path for it proceeds effortlessly, being furnished with the factors [of the dhyānas] and having a complete balance of quietude and insight,.”