Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “preliminary note on sympathetic joy and transfer of merit” 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.

Preliminary note on sympathetic joy and transfer of merit

By means of a simple mind of sympathetic joy in regard to the qualities of another, the bodhisattva gains merit (puṇyakriyāvastu) infinitely superior to the merit of all other beings, for he applies this merit to supreme complete enlightenment. Taking delight in the qualities of another (anumodanā, souei-hi, rjes su yi raṅ bu) and applying the merit to anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi (pariṇāmanā, houei-hiang, yoṅs su bsṅo ba) place the bodhisattva in the first rank of the Buddha’s disciples.

Chapter VI of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā entitled Anumodanāpariṇāmanā (p. 325F) begins as follows:

Yac ca khalu puṇaḥ ārya Subhūte bodhisattvasya mahāsattvasyānumodanāpariṇāmanāsahagataṃ puṇyakriyāvastu yac ca sarvasattvānāṃ dānamayaṃ puṇyakriyāvastu śīlamayaṃ puṇyakriyāvastu bhāvanāmayaṃ puṇyakriyāvaste idam eva tato bodhisattvasya mahāsattvasyānumodanāpariṇāmanāsahagataṃ puṇyakriyāvaste agram ākhyāyate.

Free translation. –

There is in the bodhisattva-mahāsattva, O noble Subhūti, a merit accompanied by sympathetic joy and transfer, and in all beings there are merits consisting of generosity, morality and meditation (cf. Kośa, IV, p. 231) respectively. The first is placed ahead of the following ones.

In the following pages, the Traité will explain how, by a simple thought of sympathetic joy, the bodhisattva surpasses the highest and most meritorious qualities of the śrāvakas and pratykebuddhas, namely:

1. the generosity manifesting by way of material gifts (āmiṣadāna).

2. the five pure elements (anāsravaskandha) turned directly toward detachment from the world, nirvāṇa, characterizing the arhat ‘delivered by means of wisdom’ (prajñāvimukta). These five elements are: śīla, samādhi, prajñā, vimukti and vimuktijñānadarśana.

3. the very profound concentrations (distinct from samādhi included here among the five pure elements), not directly turned toward nirvāṇa and characterizing the ‘doubly delivered’ arhat (ubhayatobhāgavimukta).

The first two points will be dealt with in section I of the present chapter; the third, in section II.

It should be noted that anumodanā is taken here in the strict sense of sympathetic joy toward the qualities of another, as in the Bodhicaryāvatāra, III, v. 1–3. There are, however, other anumodanās, e.g., on a given exposition of the Dharma (dharmaparyāya): cf. Saddharmapuṇḍ. p. 349, l. 6, and they too are very meritorious.

Along with confession of sins (pāpadeśana), anumodanā and pariṇāmanā make up an integral part of the Mahāyānist ceremonialism (Bodhisattvapārimokṣasūtra, IHQ, VII,1931, p. 272–273; Upāliparipṛcchā, transl. P. Python, Paris, 1973, p. 102–103; Śikṣasamuccaya, p. 170). They appear in the spiritual practice of the Triskandhas which the bodhisattva performs three times each day and three times each night (Traité, above, p. 415F, n. 1; 421F; Bodhicaryāvatāra, V, v. 98; Pañjikā, p. 152, l. 11–13; Śikṣasamuccaya, p. 171, l. 5–6; 290, l. 1–3). Finally, they are classified among the seven higher forms of worship: saptadhānuttarapūjā (Dharmasaṃgraha, § 14).

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