Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “gates of concentration (samadhi-mukha)” 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.

II. Gates of concentration (samādhi-mukha)

The samādhis ‘concentrations’ are of two kinds: i) samādhi belonging to the śrāvaka system; ii) samādhi belonging to the Mahāyāna system.

1. Śrāvaka concentrations

The samādhis belonging to the śrāvaka system are the three samādhis:

  1. samādhi of emptiness (śūnyatā),
  2. of signlessness (ānimitta),
  3. of wishlessness (apranihita).

There are also three samādhis:

  1. śūnyatāśūnyatā-samādhi,
  2. ānimittānimitta-samādhi,
  3. apraṇihitāpraṇihita-samādhi.[1]

There are also three other samādhis:

  1. with examination and analysis (savitārkasavicāra),
  2. without examination and with analysis only (avitarkavicāramātra),
  3. with neither examination nor analysis (avitarka-avicāra).[2]

There is also the five-membered (pañcāṅga) samādhi,[3] the innate samādhi of five knowledges (pañcajñāna); all are called samādhi.

Moreover, all the absorptions are sometimes called samāpatti and sometimes samādhi. The four trances are sometimes called dhyāna, sometimes samāpatti and sometimes samādhi. The other absorptions with the exception of the four trances are sometimes called samāpatti amd sometimes samādhi, but not dhyāna. The absorptions coming under the ten levels [of the śrāvaka][4] are called samādhi.

Some say that the stage of the desire realm (kāmadhātu) possesses samādhis as well. Why? Since in the realm of desire there are twenty-two auxiliaries to enlightenment (bodhipākṣika), we know that this realm possesses samādhis. If there were no samādhis there, one would not find these profound and wondrous qualities (guṇa) [which are the auxiliaries] there. Moreover, in the Ts’ien-wen ‘Thousand Aporias’,[5] it is a question of the four families of saints (āryavaṃśa): how many belong to the desire realm (kāmadhātvacara), how many to the form realm (rūpadhātvacara), how many to the formless realm (ārūpyadhātvacara) and how many to no realm (anavacara)? The answer is that distinctions (vibhaṅga) are obvious concerning them: sometimes they belong to the desire realm, sometimes to the form realm, sometimes to the formless realm and sometimes to no realm. It is the same for the four foundations of mindfulness (smṛtyupasthāna), the four right efforts (samyakpradhāna) and the four foundations of magical power (ṛddhipāda). Consequently, we should know that the desire realm has samādhis. If it were [exclusively] distracted mind (vikṣiptacitta), how would the wonderful dharmas just mentioned occur there? Therefore the samādhis occur in the eleven levels [of the śrāvaka].[6] These samādhis are fully analyzed in the Abhidharma.

2. Mahāyāna concentrations

a. Lists of Mahāyānist concentrations.

The Mahāyānist samādhis go from the concentration of the Heroic Progress (śūraṃgamasamādhi ) up to the detached liberated unstained concentration like space (ākāśāsaṅgavimuktinirupalepasasmādhi),[7] or the concentrationof seeing all the Buddhas (sarvabuddhadarśanasamādhi),[8] up to the contemplation of the deliverance of all the Tathāgatas (sarvatathāgatavimuktisamanupaśyana), the stretching of the lion’s spine (siṃhavijṛmbhita)[9] and the innumerable incalculable samādhis of the bodhisattva.

b. Examples of bodhisattva concentrations.

[10]

1) There is a samādhi called ‘immense purity’ (apramāṇaviśuddhi): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi can manifest pure bodies.

2) There is a samādhi called ‘mark of power’ (anubhāvanimitta): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi can eclipse the power of the sun (sūrya) and the moon (candra).

3) There is a samādhi called ‘burning mountain’ (ādīptagiri): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi eclipses the power of Śakra and Brahmā.

4) There is a samādhi called ‘removing the dust’ (rajohārin): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi destroys the three poisons (viṣatraya) of all the great assemblies. [268c]

5) There is a samādhi called ‘unhindered brilliance’ (ānantaryaprabhā): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi can illumine all the buddhafields (buddhakṣetra).

6) There is a samādhi called ‘not forgetting any dharma’ (sarvadharmāsaṃpramoṣa): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi remembers the teachings preached by all the Buddhas; moreover, he communicates the Buddha’s words to other people.

7) There is a samādhi called ‘sound like the noise of thunder’ (meghasvaraghoṣa):[11] the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi can fill the buddhafields (buddhakśetra) of the ten directions with brahmic sounds (brahmasvara).[12]

8) There is a samādhi called ‘rejoicing all beings’ (sarvasattvasaṃtoṣaṇin): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi makes all beings take pleasure in their high aspirations (adhyāśaya).

9) There is a samādhi called ‘tirelessly pleasant to see’ (priyadarśa): when the bodhisattva acquires this samādhi, all beings rejoice in seeing him and hearing him, without ever getting tired.

10) There is a samādhi called ‘inconceivable reward of qualities (acintyaguṇacipāka), fortunate in every object’: the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi realizes all the supraknowledges (abhijñā).

11) There is a samādhi called ‘knowledge of all articulated sounds and all languages’ (sarvaghoṣabhāṣyajñāna): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi can produce all articulated sounds and speak all languages; in one single phoneme (akṣara) he produces all the phonemes and in all these phonemes he produces only one.[13]

12) There is a samādhi called ‘accumulation of the fruits of retribution of all meritorious actions’ (sarvapuṇyakarmāṇāṃ[14] vipākaphalasamuccayaḥ): when he acquires this samādhi, the bodhisattva, although remaining silent (tuṣṇībhūta), penetrates into the trances (dhyāna) and absorptions (samāpatti) and makes all beings hear the Buddhadharma, hear the sounds of the śrāvakas, the pratyekabuddhas and the six pāramitās, whereas he himself utters not a single word.

13) There is a samādhi called ‘surpassing the king of all the dhāraṇīs’ (sarvadhāraṇīrājātikakrānta): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi penetrates innumerable infinite dhāraṇīs.

14) There is a samādhi called ‘universal eloquence’ (samantapratibhāna): the bodhisattva who acquires this samādhi is happy to utter all the phonemes (akṣara), all the articulated sounds (ghoṣa), as well as the languages (bhāṣya), the deeds (avadāna) and the stories of events (nidāna).

There are innumerable powerful samādhis of this kind.

c. Concentrations and ‘gates’ of concentration.

Question. – Are these samādhis the samādhimukhas?

Answer. – Yes. These samādhis are the samādhimukhas.

Question. – If that is so, why not simply say samādhi, without adding mukha?

Answer. – The samādhis of the Buddhas are numberless, incalculable and infinite like space (ākāśa). Therefore how could the bodhisattva acquire them in full? Knowing this, the bodhisattva falls back and becomes discouraged. This is why the Buddha here speaks about the ‘gates’ (mukha) of samādhi. By passing through one single gate, one captures innumerable samādhis, just as when one pulls on the corner of a robe the whole robe is pulled off, or when one captures the queen bee (bhṛṅgādhipa) all the other bees are taken as well.

Furthermore, as uninterrupted series (pāraṃparya), the samādhis are gates. Thus, by maintaining pure morality (śīlaviṣuddhi), by being mindful (smṛtimat) and energetic (vīryavat), by diligently reflecting from the first to the last watch (yāma), by abandoning the five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa), by concentrating the mind one-pointedly, in brief, by using all these practices (prayoga), one acquires these samādhis: these are what is called the gates of samādhi. [269a]

Furthermore, the samādhis belonging to the desire realm (kāmadhātvavacara) are the gate of samādhi of the anāgamya ‘vestibule of the first dhyāna’, the samādhis of the anāgamya are the gate of the first dhyāna, the samādhis of the first dhyāna and the second sāmantaka are the gate of the samādhis of the second dhyāna, and so on up to the samādhis of the sphere of neither-awareneness-nor-nonawareness (naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjnnāyatana).[15]

The samādhis of the heats (ūṣmagata) are the gate of the samādhis of the summits (mūrdhan), the summits are the gate of the samādhis of the acquiescences (kṣānti), the acquiescences are the gate of the samādhis of the supreme worldly dharmas (laukikāgradharma),[16] the supreme worldly dharmas are the gate of the samādhi of the duḥkhe dharmajñānakṣānti,[17] and the duḥkhe dharmajñānakṣānti is the gate of the samādhis leading finally to the diamond-like concentration (vajropamasamādhi).[18]

In brief (saṃkṣepena), all the samādhis have three characteristics: they are characterized by i) an entrance (praveśa), ii) a duration (sthiti) and iii) an exit (vyutthāna). The entry and the exit are the gates (mukha); the duration is the body of the samādhi.

In the śrāvaka system, these things are the gates of concentration (samādhimukha). As for the gates of concentration in the Mahāyāna system, see (p. 1043–1057F) the explanations relative to dhyānapāramitā where the concentrations are fully analyzed and described.

d. The perfections are also gates of concentration.

1) The perfection of morality (śīlapāramitā) is a gate of concentration. Why? Three elements make up the Buddhist path (mārga): the morality element (śīlaskandha), the concentration element (samādhiskandha) and the wisdom element (prajñāskandha).[19] The element of pure morality (viṣuddhaśīlaskandha) is the gate of the concentration element (samādhiskandha) and produces samādhi. The concentration element produces the wisdom element. These three elements destroy the conflicting emotions (kleśa) and give nirvāṇa.

This is why the perfection of morality (śīlapāramitā) and wisdom (prajñā) are called gates close to (saṃnikṛṣṭamukha) samādhi.

2) The other three perfections, while being gates, are called distant gates (viprakṛṣṭamukha) of samādhi.

Thus, as a result of generosity (dāna), one gains merit (puṇya); as a result of merit, vows (praṇidhāna) are realized; as a result of vows, the mind becomes gentle (mṛduka); by thoughts of loving-kindness and compassion, one fears wrong-doing (āpatti) and one thinks of other beings.

Having determined that the world is empty (śūnya) and impermanent (anitya), one concentrates one’s mind and practices patience (kṣānti). Thus patience also is a gate of samādhi.

Exertion (vīrya) in the face of the five objects of enjoyment (pañcakāmaguṇa) controls the mind, removes the five obstacles (nīvaraṇa),[20] concentrates the mind and prevents distractions (vikṣepa). When the mind wanders off, exertion brings it back and prevents it from scattering. It also is a gate of samādhi.

c. The bodhisattva levels are also gates of concentration.

Finally, the first bhūmi [of the bodhisattva is the gate of concentration of the second bhūmi, and so on up to the ninth bhūmi which is the gate of concentration of the tenth. The tenth bhūmi is the gate of the innumerable samādhis of the Buddha. This is how the bhūmis are samādhimukhas.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Cf. p. 1094F, and Kośa, VIII, p. 187–190.

2.

Cf. p. 1487F.

3.

Cf. p. 1028F, n. 1.

4.

These ten levels are the anāgamya, the four dhyānas, the dhyānāntara and the four ārūpyas: cf. p. 1185F.

5.

See p. 1186F.

6.

The eleven levels of the śrāvaka are the kāmadhātu, the four dhyānas, the dhyānāntara and the four ārūpyas.

7.

Classic list of the 108 or 118 bodhisattva samādhis, enumerated and defined in the large Prajñās:

Pañcaviṃśati, ed. Dutt, p. 142, l. 6–144, l. 7; T 221, k. 3, p. 16b; T 222, k. 4, p. 172b–173a; T 223, k. 3, p. 237c–238a; T 220, vol. VII, k. 409, p. 50c–51b.

Pañcaviṃśati, ed. Dutt, p. 108, l. 11–203, l. 21; T 221, k. 4, p. 23b–24c; T 222, k. 6, p. 190a–193a; T 223, k. 5, p. 251a–253b; T 220. vol. VII, k. 414, p. 74a–77c.

Śatasāhasraika, ed. Ghosa, p. 825, l. 16–835, l. 22; T 220, vol. V, k. 41, p. 220c–230b.

Śatasāhasrikā, ed. Ghosa, p. 1412, l. 7–1426, l. 14; T 220, vol. V, k. 52, p. 292a–297b.

Mahāvyut., no. 506–623

8.

Mentioned in Aṣṭasāhasrikā, p. 942, l. 5.

9.

A samādhi already appearing in the list of the 108 samādhis; it can also mean ‘concentration of the lion’s yawn’.

10.

Unidentified list; the retoration of the proposed Sanskrit terms is purely conjectural.

11.

Cf. Mahāvyut. no. 478.

12.

See p. 279F.

13.

On the single and multiple sound, see p. 1380F, n. 1.

14.

Adopting the variant fou-tö-ye.

15.

For details, see p. 1027–1034F.

16.

These are the four nirvedhabhāgīyas of the prayogamārga.

17.

The first moment of the darśanamārga.

18.

Before the first moment of the bhāvanamārga.

19.

Cf. p. 1183–1184F.

20.

Cf. p. 1013–1020F.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: