Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “classification and distribution of the eighteen special attributes” 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.

Part 3 - Classification and distribution of the eighteen special attributes

Summary: Classification and distribution of the eighteen special attributes of the Buddha recorded in the Mahāyānist list.

1. According to the A-p’i-t’an-fen-pie (Abhidharmavibhaṅga), the eighteen special attributes [of the Mahāyāna list] are included (saṃgṛhīta) in the five aggregates (skandha):

a. The absence of physical fault (no. 1) and of vocal fault (no. 2), the physical action accompanying knowledge (no. 13) and the vocal action accompanying knowledge (no. 14) are included in the aggregte of form (rūpaskandha).

b. The absence of the concept of variety (no. 4) is included in the aggregate of concept (saṃjñāskandha).

c. The absence of non-concentrated mind (no. 5) is included in the aggregate of consciousness (vijñānaskandha).

d. The other attributes are included in the aggregate of volition (saṃskāraskandha).

2. All the attributes are in the fourth dhyāna for it is in the fourth dhyāna that the Buddha attained enlightenment (saṃbodhi) and attained nirvāṇa.

3. Some say that the four material special attributes (no. 1, 2, 13, 14) are included in the desire realm (kāmadhātu) and the form realm (rūpadhātu) and that the other attributes are included in the nine levels [rūpadhātu, 4 dhyānas, 4 samāpattis].

4. All the attributes are good (kuśala) and are pure dharmas (anāsravadharma).

5. The four material dharmas (no. 1, 2, 13, 14) are the result of two conditions (pratyaya): the causal condition (hetupratyaya) and the goverining condition (adhipatipratyaya). – The other attributes are the result of four conditions [by adding to the previoue two the immediately preceding condition (samanantarapratyaya) and the object condition (ālambanapratyaya).

6. Four attributes (no. 1, 2, 13, 14) are without object (anālabana); the other four have an object (sālambana).

7. Four attributes are accompaniments to mind (cittānuparivartin) but are non-associated with mind (na cittasaṃprayukta). – Thirteen attributes are associated with mind (cittasaṃprayukta) and accompany mind (cittānuparivartin). – [256b] One attribute is non-associated with mind (na cittasaṃprayukta) and does not accompany mind (na cittānuparivartin).

All of this is explained in the Abhidharmavibhaṅga. To understand this is to penetrate into the Perfection of Wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) and the true nature (bhūtalakṣaṇa) of dharmas. All these dharmas have a single nature (ekalakṣaṇa), namely, the absence of nature (alakṣaṇa): in the mind of the Buddha, they have one characteristic, namely, pacification (śanta). 

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