by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words
This page describes “precise range of this wish” 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. – You are speaking of succession. This can be a matter of a [Buddha] succession in order of anteriority and posteriority in one single field, or of a [Buddha] series in the universes (lokadhātu) of the ten directions.
Let us suppose that it is a matter of a [Buddha] succession in one single field. Since the great compassion (mahākaruṇā) [of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas] envelops all beings, why does it not extend to other fields as well?
Let us suppose that it is a matter of a [Buddha] series in all the universes of the ten directions. Then what would be the use of other Buddhas and bodhisattvas?
Answer. – The bodhisattva wishes mentally that in all the universes everyone should become buddha. This grand wish is vast and extended and has no limit (maryādā), for it is in this intention that the bodhisattva accumulates the wisdoms (prajñā), immense merit (apramāṇapuṇya) and the power of the superknowledges (abhijñābala). But it is all the beings who have planted the causes and conditions required to become buddha that the bodhisattva wants to lead to this result.
[284c] If, in all the universes, everyone planted the causes and conditions required to become buddha, the other Buddhas and bodhisattvas would be useless. But such a hypothesis cannot be verified.
Furthermore, the universes of the ten directions are innumerable (apramāṇa) and infinite (ananta) and it is impossible that a single bodhisattva is able to travel to them all in such a way that the Buddha lineage is not interrupted (anupacchinna). The other bodhisattvas, each according to his means, play their part [in this great work]. Since his loving-kindness (maitrī) and compassion (karuṇā) are great, the wish (praṇidhāna) of the bodhisattva is great also, and his desire to do good is limitless (maryādā). Nevertheless, as the race of beings is infinite (apramāṇa), they cannot all be saved by a single Buddha or a single bodhisattva.