Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the ground of fiery wisdom (arcishmati)” 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.

Bhūmi 4: the ground of fiery wisdom (arciṣmati)

1. Sūtra.

Punar aparaṃ subhūte bodhisattvena mahāsattvena caturthyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena daśadharmān samādāya vartitavyaṃ tena ca na parityaktavyāḥ | katame daśa | yadutāraṇyavāsāprityāgitā | tatra katamā bodhisattvasyāraṇyavāsāparityāgitā | yā sarvaśrāvakapratyekabuddhabhūmer atikramaṇatā | iyaṃ bodhisattvasyāraṇya vāsāparityāgitā |

Furthermore, O Subhūti, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the fourth bhūmi (arciṣmati) should take up the ten dharmas and never give them up. What are these ten?

1) Never giving up living in the forest.

In the bodhisattva, what is this faithfulness to staying in the forest? – Bypassing the stage of all the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas is not renouncing the stay in the forest.

Śāstra (p. 415a29). – “Staying in the forest” (araṇyavāsa) is staying away from crowds and dwelling alone. For the bodhisattva, bypassing the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha stage is staying away from crowds.

2. Sūtra.

Alpecchatā || yad bodhisattvo ’nuttarāṃ samyaksaṃbodhim api necchati prāg evānyārtham |

Little desire. – The bodhisattva does not even desire supreme complete enlightenment and, still less, any other thing.

Śāstra (p. 415b2) – By virture of the emptiness consisting of the non-apprehension of dharmas (sarvadharmāṇām anupalabhaśūnyatā),[1] the bodhisattva does not seize any characteristic marks (na nimittany udgṛhṇāti) and does not become attached to them. It is the same up to anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi: he practices detachment of mind (niḥsaṅgacitta).

3. Sūtra.

Saṃtuṣṭiḥ || yaḥ sarvākārajñatāyāḥ pratilambhaḥ |

Satsifaction. – The acquiring of the knowledge of all the aspects.

Śāstra (p. 415b4). – The bodhisattva who always accumulates the qualities (guṇa) without ever getting tired is “satisfied” (saṃtuṣṭa) when he has attained supreme enlightenment (anuttarā bodhi), for there is no dharma superior to it.[2]

As for satisfaction (saṃtuṣṭi) in regard to food, clothing, beds, seats (piṇḍapātavīvara-śayanāsana), etc., it is a cause and condition of good dharmas, but, as it does not consider it to be important, the sūtra does not speak of it here.

4. Sūtra.

Dhūtaguṇānutsarjanatā || yā gambhīreṣu dharmeṣu nidhyānakṣāntiḥ |

Not neglecting the ascetic rules. – Patience in meditating on the profound teachings.

Śāstra (p. 415b7). – In a following chapter, the Kiue-mo p’in (Mārāvabodhaparivarta),[3] we will speak about the acquiescence that dharmas do not arise (anutapattikadharmakṣānti). In the present passage, the sūtra, by dhūta, means this anutpattikadharmakṣānti. During the course of the preparatory convictions (anulomikī kṣānti),[4] the bodhisattva contemplates the anutpattikadharmakṣānti. The twelve dhūtas produce purity of morality (śīlapariśuddhi), purity of morality produces concentration (samādhi), and concentration produces wisdom (prajñā). But true wisdom is anutpattikadharmakṣānti. Therefore anutpattikadharmakṣānti is the fruit of maturation (vipākaphala) of the dhūtas. [Actually, here the sūtra metaphorically is designating the effect by the cause (kārye kāraṇopacārāt).[5]

5. Sūtra.

Śikṣāyā aparityāgitā || yaḥ sarvaśikṣānām apracāraḥ |

The non-abandoning of the moral dictates. – This is the non-observance of all the moral regulations.

Śāstra (p. 415b12). – The bodhisattva who understands the true nature of dharmas (dharmāṇāṃ dharmatā) sees neither morality (śīla) nor immorality (dauḥśīlya).[6] Although, for many reasons he does not violate morality, what is important for him is to cross through the gate-of-deliverance called emptiness (śūnyatāvimokṣamukha).[7]

6. Sūtra.

Kāmaguṇajugupsanatā || yaḥ kāmacittasyānutpādaḥ |

Disgust for the [five] objects of desire. – Not producing even the idea of desire.

Śāstra (p. 415b15). – See above. Here the Buddha would say: When one knows that the nature of the mind (cittalakṣaṇa) is deceptive and unreal, one no longer produces even the idea of desire (kāmacitta) and all the more so, one no longer experiences the [five] objects of desire (kāmaguṇa).

7. Sūtra.

Lokanirvedacittotpādaḥ || yaḥ sarvadharmāṇām anabhisaṃskāraḥ |

Śāstra (p. 415b17). – See what has been said above (p. 1457F and following) about the notion of displeasure in regard to the world (sarvaloke ’nabhiratisaṃjñā). Here the Buddha wants to talk about the fruit of maturation (vipākaphala) resulting from disgust for the wotld (lokanirveda), namely, the gate-of-deliverance called wishlessness (apraṇihitavimokṣasamukha).[8]

8. Sūtra.

Sarvāstiparityāgitā || yādyātmikabāhyānāṃ dharmāṇām agrahaṇatā |

The rejection of “everything exists”. Not holding either inner dharmas or outer dhrmas.[9]

Śāstra (p. 45b18). See above (p. 2044).

9. Sūtra.

Anavalīnacittatā || yad dvividhāsu vijñānasthitiṣu bodhisattvasya cittaṃ na tiṣṭhati |

The mind without dullness. – The bodhisattva’s mind does not remain on duality levels of consciousness.

Śāstra (p. 415b19). – We have already spoken about this above several times. The bodhisattva is informed about the nature of this non-slackening (anavalīnatā) and this absence of fear (abhaya) and “does not remain (pou tchou, na tiṣṭhati) on twofold levels of consciousness (vijñānasthiti).” On these twofold planes of consciousness, in the sense that he does not produce visual consciousness (cakṣurvijñāna) in regard to the eye (cakṣus) and visibles (rūpa), and so on up to: in regard to the mind (manas) and dharmas, he does not produce mental consciousness (manovijñāna). The bodhisattva remains (tiṣṭhati) in the non-duality (advayamukha) [of subject and object]. Determining that the objects (jñeya) of the six consciousnesses (ṣaḍvijñāna) are false and deceptive, he makes the great vow to lead beings to remain in non-duality and to become separated from the six consciousnesses.

10. Sūtra.

Sarvavastvanapekṣatā || yā sarvavastūnām amanasikāratā || ime subhūte daśadharmā bodhisattvena mahāsattvena caturthyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena na parityaktavyaḥ |

Disdain for everything. – The bodhisattva does not think about anything.

These ten dharmas must not be abandoned by the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the fourth ground (arciṣmati-bhūmi).

Śāstra (p. 415b24). – There are many reasons for this disdain for everything, but here the main one is that the bodhisattva, knowing the absolute emptiness (atyantaśūnyatā)[10] of all dharmas, no longer thinks about these dharmas and eliminates any grasping at characteristics (sarvanimittograhaṇa). This is why he does not expect any gratitude (kṛtajñatā) from those who are indebted to him (pratigrāhaka) and does not feel any pride (māna) in his own generosity. In this way he completely fulfills the pure perfection of generosity (pariśuddhā dānapāramitā).

Footnotes and references:


The fifteenth emptiness, p. 2145F.


Only arrival at abhisaṃbodhi is fully satisfying to the bodhisattva. The śrāvaka, on the other hand, is content with modest material advantages: Saṃyutta, II, p. 208; Anguttara, II, p. 27.


Chapter of the Pañcaviṃśati entitled Kieu-mo p’in in T 221, k. 10, p. 72c–74b; Mo-che p’in (Mārakarmaparivarta) in T 223, k. 13, p. 318b–320b. – Compare the Mārakarmaparivarta of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā, ed. U. Wogihara, p. 771–784.


Acquiescences favoring the seeing of the noble truths (cf. Divya, p. 80, l. 1: satyānulomāḥ kṣāntayaḥ) and being part of the four roots of good leading to penetration of the truth (kuśalamūla nirvedhabhāgiya): cf. Kośa, VI, p. 163–167.


For the expression kārye kāraṇopacārāt, see above, p. 1932F, n. 1. Not neglecting the ascetic rules is not neglecting the anutpattikadharmakṣānti resulting from the long-term observation of these rules.


By means of the Prajñāpāramitā, the bodhisattva penetrates the true nature of things (dharmāṇāṃ dharmatā), namely, the absence of any nature; by means of the śīlapāramitā, he makes no distinction between wrongdoing (āpatti) and its opposite (anāpatti): cf. p. 770F, 861F). In no way does it follow that he violates morality.


See p. 1216F.


See p. 1219F.


Already in the canonical sources, the expression sarvam asti concerns the twelve āyatanas, six inner and six outer: Saṃyutta, IV, p. 15. The first three emptinesses (cf. p. 2044F) counteract them.


The ninth emptiness: p. 2085F.

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