Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā II

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Painting by Peter Adams

At that time, Mahākāśyapa addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, in the coming age, if the extremely profound true Dharma is spoken thusly, who will be able to believe, understand, accept, and practice it?” The Buddha said to Kāśyapa, “If bhikus, bhikuīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās in this assembly are able to hear this sūtra thusly, then in the coming age, if they hear this Dharma again, they will certainly be capable of understanding the extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā. They will even be able to study, recite, believe, understand, accept, and maintain it, and they will be able to expound it to others and explain it. Consider a householder who is worried and distressed after losing a mai jewel. When it is found again later, his mind will be extremely happy. It is just like this, Kāśyapa. Bhikus, bhikuīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, are also such as this, who have a mind of faith and happiness. If they do not hear the Dharma, then distress will arise, but when they are able to hear it, they will believe, understand, accept, and maintain it, always happy when studying and reciting it, extremely blissful and happy. It should be known that such a person is essentially perceiving the Buddha, and essentially serving and providing offerings to all buddhas.”

Mahākāśyapa: the foremost disciple of Buddha who first recognized the Great Wordless (Silent Transmission) Teaching of the Tathagata, signified by subtly smiling when the Tathagata raised the twirling flower. Also known as the first father of the sangha, after the Buddha entered into parinirvana.

upāsakas, and upāsikās: non-monastic attendants of the Buddha; commonly known today as lay-Buddhists.

The Buddha says to Kāśyapa that those present to the mystical hearing of this profound Prajñāpāramitā sutra will be empowered to recognize it as such in subsequent incarnations. It’s like Recollecting the Majestic-Bodhi-Pearl that is deeply embedded in all manner of defiled-garbha.

The Buddha said to Kāśyapa, “For example, in Trāyastriśa Heaven, when the buds of the supreme Pārijātaka tree begin to emerge, the devas will surround it to watch with great happiness, for this tree will soon be in full bloom. If bhikus, bhikuīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās are able to hear the Prajñāpāramitā, and are able to develop belief and understanding, then it is also like this, and before long, all buddha dharmas will blossom for this person. In the coming age, there will be bhikus, bhikuīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās who hear the prajñāpāramitā, and believe, accept, study, and recite, with a mind not turning back or in regret. It should be known that this person has heard and accepted the sūtra at this assembly. They will also be able to widely expound and teach it to the people of the cities and villages. It should be known that this person is protected and remembered by the Buddha.

Trāyastriśa Heaven: The word trāyastriṃśa is an adjective formed from the numeral trayastriṃśat, “33” and can be translated in English as “belonging to the thirty-three [devas]”. It is primarily the name of the second heaven in Buddhist cosmology, and secondarily used of the devas who dwell there. (Wiki)

Pārijātaka tree: the mystical coral-tree in the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven.

Like other sutras, this passage indicates that hearing and properly cultivating this sutra is likened to being at this present assembly that first heard it.

“In the extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā thusly, able to believe and delight in it without confusion, such a good man or good woman has long cultivated under the buddhas of the past, planting a multitude of good roots. This is like someone stringing beads, who suddenly encounters a supreme true mai jewel, and whose mind is very happy. It should be known that this person has certainly seen one before. Thusly, Kāśyapa, if a good man or good woman is cultivating the study of some other dharma, and suddenly is able to hear the extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā, giving rise to happiness, then it is also such as this, and it should be known that this person has heard it before. Suppose there are sentient beings who are able to hear the extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā, with a mind able to believe and accept it, giving rise to happiness. This is because they have already served the buddhas thusly, from whom they heard Prajñāpāramitā and engaged in its cultivation. 

This passage reinforces the former in that those who have already heard this dharma-sutra in past associations, will suddenly experience again and again its deeply-hidden insight that helps to shed infinite light on other sutras as well. It’s like meditating on a 180-bead Mala and finding the marvelous Bodhi-pearl taking up the center guru-Bead. The Infinite Prajñāpāramitā Unborn Spirit is the Guru.

“For example, a person who has heard this sūtra before is like one who has seen a city before. Following this, suppose he hears others praise that city and its gardens, parks, the various ponds and streams, its flowers, fruits, and forests, and its men and women, all its wonderful things. After hearing this, he is very happy, and will ask the other person to speak more about this city’s gardens, parks, and multitude of good adornments, its flowers, ponds, streams, its many sweet fruits, all its wonderful things. When this person hears about them, he is extremely happy, because he has perceived these things before. Suppose a good man or good woman hears this Prajñāpāramitā, listening and accepting with a mind of belief, able to give rise to joy, delighting in hearing it and without contempt, and asking for it to be spoken even more. One should know that this person has already heard Prajñāpāramitā thusly from Mañjuśrī.” 

Those who are fortunate enough to encounter another like-minded spirit that houses the Bodhi-Mind can profoundly experience and share the inner-revealed truths of the Prajñāpāramitā. Mañjuśrī is like the Great-Inner Spiritual-Director of the Bodhi-Mind who incessantly expounds the Prajñāpāramitā.

Kāśyapa addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, suppose that in the future, good men and good women are able to hear this extremely profound Prajñāpāramitā with faith and happiness, hearing and accepting it. From this characteristic, it should be known that this person has heard, cultivated, and learned it under a buddha of the past.” Mañjuśrī addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, the dharmas that the Buddha speaks are without fabrication and without characteristics, the foremost Nirvāa. If good men and good women are able to understand this truth thusly, and expound it as it was heard, they will be praised by the tathāgatas. It will not be against the characteristics of the Dharma, and will be the word of the Buddha itself. It is the blazing characteristic of Prajñāpāramitā and the blazing totality of the Buddha Dharma. The depths of its true characteristics are inconceivable.”

Mañjuśrī states that the Dharmas that the Tathagatas expound emanate from the foremost Nirvanic-Mind of the Dharmakaya; when taught by such a Mind the Prajñāpāramitā is the blazing totality of the Buddhadharma.

The Buddha said to Mañjuśrī, “When I originally practiced the Bodhisattva Path, I cultivated good roots. Those who wish to abide on the avinivartanīya ground should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Those who wish to accomplish Anuttarā Samyaksabodhi should learn Prajñāpāramitā. If a good man or good woman wishes to understand all characteristics of dharmas, and wish to know the equality of the mind realms of all sentient beings, they should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Mañjuśrī, those who wish to learn all Buddha dharmas without obstruction, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Those who wish to learn every characteristic, deportment, and the limitless Dharma procedures at the time of the Buddha’s accomplishment of Anuttarā Samyaksabodhi, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Even those who wish to learn every characteristic, deportment, and the limitless Dharma procedures at the time when the Buddha had not accomplished Anuttarā Samyaksabodhi, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Why? This is because in the emptiness of dharmas, there is no perception of buddhas, Bodhi, and so forth.

Here the Buddha expounds that those who want the Supreme Gnosis of the avinivartanīya ground, and hence never falling backward into the lower-bhumis, need to channel the Prajñāpāramitā into the very fiber of their being. This is the same measure that needs to be embraced when awakening to Unexcelled and Supreme Enlightenment, or Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi.  In this light the Prajñāpāramitā houses Inseparable-Bodhipower; the no-perception of the lesser-realms, or the emptiness of the Bodhi-store.

“If good men and good women wish to know such characteristics without doubt and confusion, they should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Why? In Prajñāpāramitā, one does not perceive whether dharmas are born or extinguished, impure or pure. For this reason, good men and good women should learn Prajñāpāramitā in this manner. Those who wish to be aware that all dharmas are without past, future, and present characteristics, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Why? This is because the characteristic of the nature of the Dharma Realm is without three phases of time. Those who wish to know that all dharmas similarly enter the Dharma Realm and mind without obstruction, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Those who wish to attain the three turnings and twelve motions of the Dharma Wheel, and self-realization that suffering cannot be grasped, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Those who wish to attain a compassionate mind for all sentient beings without limit, while not composing thought of the characteristic of the existence of sentient beings, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Those who wish to be without the arising of dispute with sentient beings, and also not grasping a characteristic of dispute, should learn Prajñāpāramitā. Those who wish to realize abiding without abiding, the Ten Powers, and fearlessness, abiding in Buddha Wisdom, and attaining unimpeded eloquence, should learn Prajñāpāramitā.”

This passage teaches that those who cultivate Prajñāpāramitā in such a manner will cultivate it in the same-vein as the Maha-Bodhisattvas cultivate it as expounded in the blog Cultivating Prajñāpāramitā in this series.

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