Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā


The Buddha spoke to Mañjuśrī, saying, “When cultivating Prajñāpāramitā thusly, how should one abide in Prajñāpāramitā?” Mañjuśrī said, “Not abiding in dharmas is abiding in Prajñāpāramitā.” The Buddha again asked Mañjuśrī, “Why do you say that not abiding in dharmas is abiding in Prajñāpāramitā?” Mañjuśrī said, “Not abiding in appearances is itself abiding in Prajñāpāramitā.” The Buddha spoke to Mañjuśrī again, saying, “When abiding in Prajñāpāramitā thusly, do one’s good roots increase or decrease?” Mañjuśrī said, “If one is able to abide in Prajñāpāramitā thusly, then one’s good roots neither increase nor decrease, just as all dharmas neither increase nor decrease, and the characteristic of the nature of Prajñāpāramitā likewise neither increases nor decreases. Bhagavān, cultivating Prajñāpāramitā thusly is not abandoning the dharmas of ordinary beings, nor is it grasping the dharmas of the noble ones. Why? Prajñāpāramitā does not perceive the existence of a dharma which may be grasped or abandoned. Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā thusly is also not seeing Nirvāa to delight in, nor birth and death to despise. Why? One does not perceive birth and death, much less something to leave behind. One does not perceive Nirvāa, much less something to delight  in.

Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā thusly is perceiving neither impurity or affliction which may be abandoned, nor perceiving merits which may be obtained. Regarding all dharmas, the mind is without increase or decrease. Why? One does not perceive the existence of increase or decrease in the Dharma Realm. Bhagavān, if one is capable of practicing thusly, then this is called cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. 

Prajñāpāramitā is like an undivided Bodhi-Realm unto itself. Abiding in no dharma is its boundless territory. This is contingent upon having no-notion of abiding thus assuring abidance in the no-dharma realm of Prajñāpāramitā. The non-abidance of abiding in boundlessness has no need of any nominal attributes like good roots or merits or measuring the immeasurable-field of Pārāmita’s Wisdom. In this boundless-field there is no need of any discriminatory notions of the dharma or no-dharma of sentient beings nor any grasping of superior-notions of advanced dharma or no-advanced-dharmas of the Noble Ones. Thus any notions of increasing or decreasing merits are superfluous. One who cultivates Prajñāpāramitā in this fashion will never even entertain the conceptual-notions of samsara or nirvana; hence there is never any occasion of despising the one or of desiring the other. There is no need of any discriminatory-perceptional tool that perceives loss or gain, purity or impurity. All dharmas and the Dharma-Realm neither increases nor decreases in the Imageless-Mind of the Non-perceiver.

“Bhagavān, not seeing the existence of the birth and death of all dharmas, is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. Bhagavān, not seeing the existence of increase or decrease, is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. Bhagavān, when the mind is not grasping, not seeing characteristics of dharmas nor one who sees, then this is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. Bhagavān, it is not seeing good or bad, the creation of high or low, and neither grasping nor rejecting. Why? This is because dharmas are neither good nor bad, being apart from all characteristics. Dharmas are neither high nor low, because they are equal in nature. Dharmas are neither accepted nor rejected, because they abide in reality. This is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā.”

Realizing, and yet non-perceiving, the existence and non-existence of samsaric-based dharmas is cultivating Perfect Wisdom; thus there is no increasing or decreasing, arising or cessating in the Element of Truth—as such, one is also cultivating the Dharmadhatu. The Cittadhatu—a Mind aligned with the Element of Truth and devoid of any nominally diseased attributes, is not in the habit of grasping, or comparing, or accepting or rejecting the vicissitudes of discriminatory consciousness.

The Buddha said to Mañjuśrī, “Are the dharmas of the buddhas supreme?”Mañjuśrī replied, “I do not see such an appearance of supremacy amongst all dharmas. The Tathāgata has had self-realization of the emptiness of all dharmas, and this knowledge has been demonstrated.” The Buddha told Mañjuśrī, “Thusly, thusly! The Tathāgata has completely awakened to the self-realization of the emptiness of dharmas.” Mañjuśrī addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, in the emptiness of dharmas, does there exist anything superior which may be obtained?” The Buddha replied, “Excellent, excellent, Mañjuśrī! It is just as you have explained. This is the true Dharma!” 

As all dharmas are self-empty there is no superior-form of dharmas self-existant for the Tathagatas. This is in tune with the Self-realization of emptiness that is part and parcel of the Tathatic-Mind, as Self-confirmed in the True Bodhi-Dharma.

The Buddha again spoke to Mañjuśrī, saying, “Is the Buddha Dharma not described as the Anuttarā?” Mañjuśrī replied, “As the Buddha has explained, the Buddha Dharma is described as Anuttarā. Why? That no dharmas may be grasped is called the Anuttarā.” Mañjuśrī said, “Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā thusly, one is not called a Dharma-vessel, nor is there transformation of mundane dharmas. There is also no Buddha Dharma and no Dharma of purification. This is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. Moreover, Bhagavān, when cultivating Prajñāpāramitā, there is no seeing dharmas which may be divided and distinguished in contemplation.” The Buddha said to Mañjuśrī, “Regarding the Buddha Dharma, do you contemplate it?” Mañjuśrī said, “No, Bhagavān, and such is my contemplation. Not seeing the Buddha Dharma and also not discriminating between it and the Ordinary Person Dharma, the Śrāvaka Dharma, and the Pratyekabuddha Dharma, is thus called the Supreme Buddha Dharma.

Anuttarā samyak-saṃbodhi is in the perfect and unexcelled Prajñāpāramitā; no-thing more to be grasped, accepted or rejected, confined or liberated. There is no need of transformation in THAT which transforms—yea the Element of Transformation Itself. What need of a Buddha-Dharma or a Dharma of Purification in the perfected and undivided Cittadhatu? There can be no contemplation of discriminatory and divided dharmas that are self-empty. Not-seeing the weeds of discrimination is seeing through the Clear-Light of the Supreme Buddhadharma.

“Moreover, when cultivating Prajñāpāramitā, there is no seeing mundane characteristics, nor characteristics of the Buddha Dharma. Not seeing characteristics of the existence of various dharmas is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. Moreover, when cultivating Prajñāpāramitā, there is no seeing the Desire Realm, nor seeing the Form Realm, nor seeing the Formless Realm, nor seeing the realm of Nirvāa. Why? Not seeing characteristics of the existence of dharmas nor their extinction, is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā.  Moreover, when cultivating Prajñāpāramitā, there is no seeing one who gives kindness, nor seeing one who receives kindness.

Contemplating without a mind of duality and discrimination is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. Moreover, when cultivating Prajñāpāramitā, there is no seeing a Buddha Dharma which may be grasped, nor seeing mundane dharmas which may be relinquished. This is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā. 

Seeing with imageless eyes is the cure for the disease of images.

“Moreover, if when cultivating Prajñāpāramitā, there is no perception of mundane dharmas that may be eliminated, nor perception of a Buddha Dharma, then its knowledge is certified. This is cultivating Prajñāpāramitā.” The Buddha said to Mañjuśrī, “Excellent, excellent! You are able to so skillfully expound the characteristics of the extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā thusly. All the learning of the bodhisattva-mahāsattvas has this as its true Dharma seal. Even the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, those with more learning and those beyond learning, do not have a fruit of the path that is apart from this seal.” The Buddha told Mañjuśrī, “If a person is able to hear this teaching without fear, then the seeds of good roots have not only been planted with thousands of buddhas, but good roots have truly been planted with hundreds of thousands of myriads of buddhas. Therefore, one is able to be without alarm and fear of the extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The concluding verses of this section are indicative of a “protection dhāranī” against fear that were interwoven within Sutra Literature. For example, as Paul Copp has written in his masterful account of the dhāranī:

A typical example of a passage in the Scripture of Seven Buddhas and Eight Bodhisattvas mentioning the writing of spells runs as follows: “If practitioners copy (shuxie) or recite (dusong) this dhāranī they will earn the protection of thousands of buddhas in this very lifetime. Such a person at the end of his life will not fall into any of the evil paths of rebirth but will be reborn into Tuśita Heaven and see with his own eyes Maitreya.” (THE BODY INCANTATORY: SPELLS AND THE RITUAL IMAGINATION IN MEDIEVAL CHINESE BUDDHISM, Paul Copp, pg.32)

This is also indicative of hearing and absorbing the given dhāranī as indicated in the above passage; the one hearing it has not only planted good roots in the land of One Thousand Buddhas; “he has actually been planting good roots in the lands of hundreds of thousands of [millions of ] Buddhas for a long time…” (from the translation by the Buddhist Association of the United States)

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2 Responses to Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā

  1. Suki says:

    My ‘conceptual’ understanding is that Prajnaparamita is the pure nondual stateless state. Devoid of knowing, known and knower[Tri-puti]. Undifferentiated existence or Reality. ‘That’ which is there in the absence of the tri-puti cannot be expressed in words of course, hence noble silence.

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