Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “the ground of presence (abhimukhi)” 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 6: the ground of presence (abhimukhī)

Sūtra. – Punar aparaṃ subhūte bodhisattvena mahāsattvena ṣaṣṭhyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena ṣaḍ dharmāḥ paripūrayitavyāḥ | katame ṣaṭ | yaduta ṣaṭ pāramitāḥ paripūrayitavāḥ || tathā hy āsu ṣaṭsu pāramitāsu sthitvā buddhā bhagavantaḥ śrāvakapratyekabuddhāś ca pāraṃgatāḥ |

Apare ṣaḍ dharmāḥ parivarjayitavyāḥ | yad uta

1) śrāvakaprateykabuddhacittaṃ parivarjayitavyaṃ || yad bodhisattvasyaivaṃ bhavati | yad śrāvakapratyekabuddhacittaṃ naiṣa mārgo ’nuttarayai samyaksaṃbodhaye |

2) dāne paritarṣaṇācittaṃ parivarjayitavyam || tata tasyaivaṃ bhavati | naiṣa mārgo ’nittarāyai samyaksaṃbodhaye |

3) yācanakaṃ dṛṣṭvā nāvalīnacittam utpādayitavyam || tat tasyaivaṃ bhavati ‘ naiṣa mārgo ’nuttarai samyaksaṃbodhaye |

4) sarvavastūni parityajyāni || bodhisattvena prathamacittotpādam upādāya dānaṃ dadatā tad deyaṃ tan na deyam iti na vaktavyam |

5) sarvavastūni parityajya na daurmanasyacittam utpādayitavyam || maitrīkaruṇābalam upādāya |

6) na gambhīreṣu dharmeṣu vicikitsācittam utpādāyotavyam || śraddhāguṇabalam upādāya | ime subhūte ṣaḍ dharmā bodhisattvena mahāsattvena ṣaṣṭhyāṃ bhūmau vartamānena paripūrayayitavyāḥ | apare ṣaḍ dharmāḥ parivarjayitavyaḥ |

Furthermore, O Subhūti, the bodhisattva-mahāsattva in the sixth ground (abhimukhī-bhūmi) should completely fufill six dharmas. What are these six? They are the six perfections. – Indeed, it is by keeping these six perfections that the blessed Buddha, the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas have reached the other shore.

Six other dharmas are to be avoided, namely:

1) The bodhisattva should avoid thinking like the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. – The bodhisattva says to himself that the way of thinking of the śrāvaka and the pratyekabuddha is not the path that leads to supreme complete enlightenment.

2) By giving, he must avoid any sadness. – He says to himself that actually this is not the path that leads to supreme complete enlightenment.

3) Seeing a beggar, he must avoid any discouragement. – He actually says that this is not the path that leads to supreme complete enlightenment.

4) He must abandon all his possessions [without distinction]. – Practicing generosity since his first production of the mind of bodhi, the bodhisattva should not say: “This may be given away; that may not be given away”.

5) After having given away all his possessions, he must not feel any regret. He does this by the power of his loving-kindness and compassion.

6) He must not have any doubt about the profound teachings. – This due to the quality of his faith.

These, O Subhūti, are the six dharmas which the bodhisattva-mahāsattva must fulfill when he is on the sixth ground (abhimukhī-bhūmi), and the other six dharmas that he should avoid.

Śāstra (p. 416a6). – For the six perfedtions (pāramitā), see above (chapters XVII-XXX). Here the Buddha specifies the six perfections by which the adepts of the three Vehicles all reach othe other shore (pāra).[1]

Question. – But the present chapter deals with the grounds of the bodhisattva; why then does it speak of the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha attaining the other shore?

Answer. – Here the Buddha is speaking of the great power held by the six perfections. The Mahāyāna in its system contains the whole Hīnyāna, but the Hīnayāna does not contain the whole Mahāyāna. Here the bodhisattva in the sixth ground completely fulfills (paripūrayati) the six perfections. He sees the emptiness of all dharmas (sarvadharmaśūnyatā), but, as he does not yet have the power of skillful means (upāyabala), he risks falling back into the rank of śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha. And so the Buddha, to protect him, orders him here “to avoid the manner of thinking of the śrāvakas and pratyhekabuddhas.”

This bodhisattva thinks about beings profoundly, feels great compassion for them (mahākaruṇācitta) and understands the absolute emptiness (atyantaśūnyatā)[2] of all dharmas. When he gives, he saves nothing; when he sees a beggar, he has neither anger (krodha) nor sadness (daurmanasya); after having given, he feels no regret. Since his merits are great, the power of his faith (śraddhābala) is great as well. In his profound pure faith, he venerates all the Buddhas and completely fulfills (paripūrayati) the six perfections.

Although he has not yet acquired [skill] in means (upāyakauśalya), or the conviction that dharmas do not arise (anutpattikadharmakṣānti), or the concentration [of the visualization of the Buddhas] of the present (pratyutpannasamādhi), he feels no doubt (vicikitsā) about the profound Dharma (gambhīradharma).[3] He makes the following reflection: “All teachings (upadeśa) have faults (dośa); only the wisdom of the Buddhas (buddhaprajñā) destroys the futile proliferation (prapañca) and has no lapses (vaikalya).” And so, thanks to skillful means (upāya), he cultivates the good dharmas (kuśaladharma) and this is why he does not doubt.

Footnotes and references:


The Śatasāsrikā, p. 1465, l. 14–17 is more detailed: Tathā hy āsu ṣaṭsu pāramitāsu sthitvā buddhā bhagavantaḥ śrāvakapratyekabuddhaś ca pañcavidhasya jñeyārṇavasya pāraṅgatā gacchanti gamiṣyanti ca | katamasya pañcavidhasya | yadutātītasyānāgatasya pratyutpannasyāvaktavyasyāsaṃskṛtasya | Actually, by keeping these six perfections, the blessed Buddha, the śrāvakas and the pratyekabuddhas attain and will attain the other shore of the fivefold ocean of the knowable, namely, the past, the future the present, the unspeakable and the unconditioned.

This is the pañcavidhaṃ jñeyam, five categories of things capable of being known: cf. Kośa, IX, p. 237; Kośabhāṣya, p. 463, l. 1.


Ninth emptiness, p. 2085F.


Upāyakauśalya and complete anutpattikadharmakṣānti are acquired in the seventh and eighth grounds repectively. The bodhisattva of the sixth ground does not yet possess them, but he uses the prajñāpāramitā by virtue of which he has no doubts about the profound teachings related to emptiness.

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