Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “differences between dharani-mukha and 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.

III. Differences between dhāraṇi-mukha and samādhi-mukha

Question. – The dhāraṇī-mukhas ‘gates of remembrance’ and the samādhi-mukhas ‘gates of concentration’ are either identical or different. If they are identical, why repeat them? If they are different, what is the difference?

Answer. – Above, I spoke of the differences between samādhimukha and dhāraṇīmukha, but I must repeat myself here. The samādhis are associated with the mind only (cittasaṃprayuktadharma), whereas the dhāraṇīs are sometimes associated with (saṃprayukta) and sometimes dissociated from (viprayukta) the mind.

Question. – How do you know that the dhāraṇīs can be dissociated from the mind?

Answer. – If a person who has the dhāraṇī of retaining what one has heard (śrutadharadhāraṇī) conceives wickedness (vyāpāda), the dhāraṇī does not leave him: it always follows this person like the shadow (chāyā) follws the body. [269b] The practice of samādhi (samādhibhāvanā), by being prolonged, ends up by realizing a dhāraṇī. Just as a person who has cultivated pleasures (kāma) for a long time ends up by entering into their nature (svabhāva), so the samādhis joined with the wisdom of the true nature of dharmas (bhūtalakṣaṇa) gives rise to the dhāraṇīs.

On the condition that it is baked in the fire, a vessel of unbaked clay (mṛdghata) can contain water without letting it leak out and can even help a man cross a river. The samādhi lacking wisdom is like the unbaked vessel, but if it obtains the wisdom of the true nature, it is like the baked clay vessel: it can contain the numberless qualities (guṇa), past and present, of the bodhisattva; thanks to that, the bodhisattva can effect the crossing and arrive at buddhahood.

Such are the many differences between samādhi and dhāraṇī.