Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “knowledge of the paths” 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.

1. Simple Path.

There is a simple path (ekayāna) to go directly to nirvāṇa: this is mindfulness (smṛti) and heedfulness (apramāda) applied to the good dharmas, the path conforming to mindfulness of body (kāyasmṛtyupasthāna).[1]

2. Twofold paths

There are also twofold paths: 1) bad path (akuśalamārga) and good path (kuśalamārga); 2) worldly path (laukikamārga) and supraworldly path (lokottaramārga); 3) path of concentration (samādhimārga) and path of wisdom (prajñāmārga); 4) impure path (sāsravamārga) and pure path (anāsravamārga); 5) path of those who practice (śaikṣamārga) and path of those who no longer practice (aśaikṣamārga); 6) path of seeing (darśanamārga) and path of meditation (bhāvanāmārga); 7) path of those who seek the truth as a result of faith (śraddhānusārin) and path of those who seek the truth as a result of scripture (dharmānusārin); 8) path of those who are candidates for the fruit of the religious life (phalapatipannakamārga) and path of those who are in possession of these fruits (phalaprāptamārga); 9) path of expulsion of the conflicting emotions (ānantaryamārga) and path of deliverance from the conflicting emotions (vimuktimārga); 10) path of whose who are convinced by means of faith (śraddhādhimuktamārga) and path of those who have the speculative view (dṣṛṭiprāptamārga); 11) path of those who are delivered by means of wisdom (prajñāvimuktamārga) and path of those who are doubly delivered (ubhayatobhāgavimuktamārga).[2] There are innumerable twofold paths of this kind.

3. Threefold paths.

There are also threefold paths:

1) path of the damned (nārakamārga), path of the animals (tiryaṅmārga) and path of the pretas.

The three kinds of hells are the hot hells, the cold hells and the dark hells.[3] The three kinds of animals are those that live on the earth, those that live in the water and those that live in he air. The three kinds of pretas are the [258a] emaciated pretas, the pretas that eat filth and the divine pretas.[4]

2) Three kinds of good paths (kuśalamārga): the path of humans (manuṣyamārga), the path of the gods (devamārga) and the path of nirvāṇa.

There are three kinds of humans: those who commit wrong-doings (āpatti), those who earn merit (puṇya) and those who seek nirvāṇa, There are three other kinds of humans: those who taste the objects of desire (kāma) and do wrong; those who taste the objects of desire and do not do any wrong; those who do not taste the objects of desire and do not do any wrong.

There are three kinds of gods: gods of the desire realm (kāmadeva), gods of the realm of subtle form (rūpadeva) and gods of the formless realm (ārūpyadeva).

There are three kinds of paths of nirvāṇa: the path of the śrāvakas, the path of the pratyekabuddhas, and the path of the Buddhas. The path of the śrāvakas is of three kinds: the path of those who practice (śaikṣamārga), the path of those who no longer practice (aśaikṣamārga) and the path of those who are neither the one nor the other (naivaśaikṣanāśaikṣamārga). It is the same for the path of the pratyekabuddhas. The path of the Buddhas is of three kinds: the path of the perfections (pāramitāmārga), the path of skillful means (upāyamārga) and the path of the pure lands (viśuddhakṣetramārga). The Buddhas have three other paths: the path of the first production of the mind of awakening (prathamacittotpādamārga), the path of the practice of benefit (kuśalacaryāmārga) and the path of converting beings (sattvaparipācanamārga).

There are three other threefold paths: the path of morality (śīlamārga), the path of meditative stabilization (samādhimārga) and the path of wisdom (prajñāmārga). There are innumerable threefold paths of this kind.

4. Fourfold paths.

There are also fourfold paths: 1) the path of worldly people (pṛthagjanamārga), the path of the śrāvakas, the path of the pratyekabuddhas and the path of the Buddhas; 2) the path of the śrāvakas, the path of the pratyekabuddhas, the path of the bodhisattvas and the path of he Buddhas; 3) the path of the śrāvakas is of four kinds: the path of suffering (duḥkhamārga), the path of the origin (samudayamārga), the path of the cessation (nirodhamārga) and the path of the way (pratipanmārga); 4) the paths of the four fruits of the religious life (catuḥśramaṇyaphalamārga); 5) the path contemplating the true nature of the body (kāyadharmatānupaśyanamārga) and the paths contemplating the true nature of feeling, the mind and things (vedanācittadharmadharmatānupaśyanāmārga);[5] 6) the four paths by means of which evil bad dharmas that have not yet arisen may not arise (anutpannānāṃ pāpakānām akuśalānāṃ dharmāṇām anutpādāya), so that the bad wicked dharmas already arisen may be destroyed (utpannānāṃ pāpakānām akuśalānāṃ dharmāṇāṃ prahāṇāya), so that good dharmas that have not yet arisen may take birth (anutpannānāṃ kuśalānāṃ dharmāṇām utpādāya) and so that the good dharmas that have already arisen may increase (utpannāāṃ kuśalānāṃ dharmāṇām vaipulyāya);[6] 7) the four paths predominating respectively in zealousness (chanda), exertion (vīrya), mind (citta) and examination (mīmāṃsā);[7] 8) the paths of the four lineages of saints (āryavaṃśa) consisting of losing interest in clothing (cīvara), food (piṇḍapāta), beds (śayanāsana) and medicines (bhaiṣajya) and taking enjoyment (rāmatā) in the cessation of suffering (duḥkhaprahāṇa) and the practice of the Path (mārgabhāvanā);[8] 9) the paths of the four ways (pratipad): the difficult way of slow understanding (duḥkhā pratipad dhandhābhijñā), the difficult way of quick understanding (duḥkhā pratipat kṣiprābhijñā), the easy way of slow understanding (sukhā pratipad dhandhābhijñā), the easy way of quick understanding (sukhā pratipat kṣiprābhijñā);[9] 10) the four paths of meditation (bhāvanāmārga) aimed at happiness in the present lifetimes (ihasukha), knowledge of births and deaths (cyutyupapādajñāna), destruction of the impurities (āsravakṣaya) and analytical knowledge (vibhaṅgajñāna) respectively; 11) the four divine paths (devamārga), namely, the four trances (dhyāna); 12) the four kinds of paths: paths of the devas, the Brahmās, the āryas and the Buddhas. There are innumerable four paths of this type.

5. Fivefold paths.

There are also fivefold paths: 1) path of the damned (nārakamārga), path of the animals (tiryaṅmārga), path of the pretas, path of humans (manuṣyamārga) and path of the gods (devamārga); 2) paths of the five elements belonging to those who no longer practice (aśaikṣaskandhamārga), from the aśaikṣaskandha of morality (śīla) up to the aśaikṣaskandha of the cognition and vision of deliverance (vimuktijñānadarśana);[10] 3) paths of the five kinds of Śuddhāvāsikadeva;[11] 4) paths of the five objects of desire (kāmaguṇa);[12] 5) five paths of words in harmony with the Dharma and five paths of words of adharma; 6) five paths: those of the pṛthagjanas, the śrāvakas, the pratyekabuddhas, the bodhisattvas and the Buddhas; 7) paths of the five [258b] destinies (gati) 8) paths analyzing material things (rūpa), the mind (citta), mental events (caitasika), dharmas disassociated from the mind (cittaviprayuktasaṃskāra) and the unconditioned dharmas (asaṃskṛta) respectively; 9) five paths concerning things to be destroyed (praheya) by the truth of suffering (duḥkhasatya), the truth of the origin (samudayasatya), the truth of cessation (nirodhasatya), the truth of the path (pratipatsatya) and meditation (bhāvanā) respectively. There are innumerable fivefold paths of this kind.

6. Sixfold paths.

There are also sixfold paths: 1) path of the damned (nārakamārga), path of the animals (tiryaṅmārga), path of the pretas, path of humans (manuṣyamārga), path of the gods (devamārga) and path of the arhats; 2) paths of abandonment of the six objects (ṣaḍviṣayaparityāga); 3) paths of the six comities (sārāyaṇīya);[13] 4) paths of the six superknowledges (abhijñā);[14] 5) paths of the six kinds of arhats;[15] 6) paths of development of the six stages (bhūmi); 7) paths of the six meditative stabilizations (samādhi); 8) paths of the six perfections (pāramitā), each of them including six paths in turn. There are innumerable sixfold paths of this kind.

7. Sevenfold paths.

There are also sevenfold paths: 1) paths of the seven factors of bodhi (saṃbodhyaṅga); 2) pure paths (anāsravamārga) of the seven stages (bhūmi); 3) meditation paths of the seven notions (saṃjñā);[16] 4) paths of the seven purities (viśuddhi);[17] 5) paths of the seven virtuous people (satpuruṣa);[18] 6) paths of the seven riches (dhana);[19] 7) paths of the seven riches of the Dharma (dharmadhana);[20] 8) paths of the seven auxiliary meditative absorptions. There are innumerable sevenfold paths of this type.

8. Eightfold paths.

There are also eightfold paths: 1) noble eightfold path (āryāṣṭāṅgamārga);[21] 2) paths of the eight liberations (vimokṣa).[22] There are innumerable eightfold paths of this kind.

9. Ninefold paths.

There are also ninefold paths: 1) path of the nine successive absorptions (anupūrvasamāpatti);[23] 2) pure paths (anāsravamārga) of the nine stages (bhūmi); 3) paths of cessation (prahāṇamārga) of the nine views (dṛṣṭi); 4) paths of the nine classes of arhat;[24] 5) nine paths of the bodhisattvas, namely, the six perfections (pāramitā), skillful means (upāya), conversion of beings (sattvaparipācana) and the purification of the buddhafields (buddhakṣetrapariśodhqana). There are innumerable ninefold paths of this kind.

10.Tenfold paths.

There are also tenfold paths: 1) paths of the ten aśaikṣas;[25] 2) paths of the ten notions (saṃjñā);[26] 3) paths of the ten bases of the spheres of totality (kṛtsnāyatana);[27] 4) the ten bad paths of action (akuśalakarmapatha), the ten good paths of action (kuśalakarmapatha);[28] and so on up to 162 paths.[29] These are the innumerable headings concerning the paths.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Cf. Dīgha, II, p. 290; Majjhima, I, p. 55, 63: Saṃyutta, V, p. 141, 167–168; Kathāvatthu, p. 158: Ekāyano ayaṃ bhikkhave maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā sokapariddavānaṃ samatikkamāya dukkhadomanassānaṃ atthagamāya ñāyassa adhighamāya nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya, yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā.

2.

For these various categories of saints, see above, p. 1389–1391F, n.

3.

The hells have been described above, p. 955–968F.

4.

For the pretas, see p. 954–955F.

5.

The four smṛtyupasthāsa: cf. p. 1150–1176F, 1187–1194F.

6.

The four samyakpradhāna: cf. p. 1176–1177F.

7.

The four ṛddhipāda: cf. p. 1177–1179F.

8.

The four āryavaṃśa; cf. Dīgha, III, p. 224; Anguttara, II, p. 27–28; Kośabhāṣya, p. 336.

9.

The four pratipad: cf. Dīgha, III, p. 106, 228; Anguttara, II, p. 149, 154; V, p. 63; Kośabhāṣya, p. 382.

10.

The five aśaikṣaskandha also called anāsrava-, dharma- or lokottara-skandha: cf. p. 1233F, n. 3, 1349 -1361F.

11.

Deities dwelling on the five upper stages of the fourth dhyāna.

12.

Adopting the variant wou yu tao.

13.

These are the cha sārāṇīya dhammā of the Pāli sources: cf. Dīgha, III, p. 245; Majjhima, I, p. 322; II, p. 250; Anguttara, III, p. 288. See the dictionaries of Rhys Davids (s.v. sārāṇīya) and Edgerton (s.v. sārāyaṇīya).

14.

For the five and six abhijñā, cf. p. 328–333F.

15.

The six kinds of arhats, parihāṇadharman, etc.; cf. Kośa, VI, p. 251, 253, 266.

16.

On the group of the seven saṃjñā, see references above, p. 1311F.

17.

The seven viśuddhi, śīla, etc.: cf. Majjhima, I, p. 148; Tchong a han, T 26, k. 2, p. 430b–c.

18.

The sapta satpuruṣagatayaḥ: cf. Anguttara, IV, p. 70 seq; Tchong a han, T 26, k. 2, p. 427a; Kośavyākhyā, p. 270.

19.

The sapta dhanāni, śraddhā, etc.: f. Dīgha, III, p. 163, 251; Anguttara, IV, p. 4,; Mahāvyut., no. 1566–1572; Tchong a han, T 26, k. 35, p. 649c22–23.

20.

Probably the sapta aupadhikāni puṇyakriyāvastāni, meritorious material works: cf. Tchong a han, T 26, k. 2, p. 428a–b; T 125, k. 35, p. 741b–c; Kośavyākhyā, p. 352–354.

21.

Cf. p. 1181–1185F, 1203–1207F.

22.

Cf. p. 1291–1299F.

23.

Cf. p. 1308–1309F.

24.

Cf. Kośa, VI, p. 273.

25.

Cf. Kośa, VI, p. 295.

26.

Cf. p. 1431–1463F.

27.

Cf. p. 1474–1483F.

28.

Cf. p. 501F.

29.

The 162 mārga (81 prahāṇa or ānantaryamārga and 81 vimuktimārga) practiced in the course of the bhāvanāmārga to break the conflicting emotions: cf. p. 1104F