Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “who can hear the voice of the buddhas?” 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.

Question. – If the voice of the Buddhas always fills space, why do actual beings not always hear it?

Answer. – For incalculable eons (asaṃkhyeyakalpa) beings have been clouded over (āvṛta) by the bad actions they have committed. This is why they do not her it. Just as the rumble of thunder and lightning is not heard by the deaf (badhira) without the thunder being diminished by that, so also the Buddhas, like the dragons discharging great bolts of thunder, are always preaching the Dharma to beings but the latter, due to their sins (āpatti), are not in a position to hear them.

However, in the present lifetime, some zealous (vīryavat) and moral (śīlavat) beings enter into the concentration of the recollection of the Buddhas (buddhānusmṛtisamādhi). At the moment when their mind acquires this concentration, the defilements of their faults (āpattimala) are no longer an obstacle (āvaraṇa) and henceforth they get to see the Buddhas and to hear distinctly the sounds of their preaching.

Of the three kinds of voice [mentioned above], the bodhisattva wishes to acquire the [last] two, for these two voices are very hard to obtain (durlabha) and are miraculous (āścarya), whereas [the first voice] is the fruit of actions (karmaphala) and is acquired spontaneously (svarasena).

This is why the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra says here: “The bodhisattva-mahāsattva who wishes [to emit] a single sound articulated in such a way that the universes of the ten directions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges can hear this sound, must practice the perfection of wisdom.”