Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “generosity informed by the perfection of wisdom” 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.

IV. Generosity informed by the perfection of wisdom

Question. – The person who practices the perfection of generosity (dānapāramitā) obtains immense fruits of retribution (vipākaphala) and can fulfill the wishes of all beings. Why then does [the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra] say that in order to fulfill the wishes of beings, the bodhisattva should practice the perfection of wisdom (prajñāpāramitā)?

Answer. – As I said above, it is by union with the perfection of wisdom that generosity becomes truly ‘the perfection of generosity’. I must repeat myself here.

The wishes of the beings that it is a matter of fulfilling are not those of a single territory nor a single Jambudvīpa. The bodhisattva wants to fulfill completely the wishes of people dwelling in the universes of the ten directions and throughout the six destinies (gati). Such a task cannot be realized by simple gifts but, indeed, by the perfection of wisdom. The latter destroys the notions (saṃjñā) of near and far; it destroys the notions of what is ‘all beings’ and what is not ‘all beings’; it escapes the obstacles (āvaraṇa). This is why, in the time of a fingersnap (acchaṭāsaṃghātamātra), the bodhisattva creates by metamorphosis an immense body that extends everywhere in the ten directions and fulfills the wishes of all beings. Such superknowledge (abhijñā), such benefits (anuśaṃsa), necessarily have their origin in wisdom (prajñā).

This is why “the bodhisattva who wants to fulfill the wishes of all beings [279b] must practice the prajñāpāramitā.”