The 14th Indian Patriarch
Professor Lewis Lancaster has been deeply
involved in Buddhist studies for many years. He began these studies
while working for the Master of Theology degree at the University of
Southern California, and went on to obtain the Ph.D. degree from the
Department of Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, in Buddhist studies.
After completing the work at Wisconsin, Dr.
Lancaster spent two years at the University of Washington in Seattle
working with Leon Hurvitz and Edward Conze, before joining the
Department of Oriental Languages at Berkeley in 1967. The courses he
offers at the University of California at Berkeley are popular and
his students, both graduates and undergraduates, are numerous. This
year he is teaching an "Introduction to Buddhism", "Development of
Buddhism in the Far East", "Reading of Chinese Buddhist Texts", and
"Reading of Tibetan Buddhist Texts". Dr. Lancaster presently sits on
the Board of Directors of the Society for Asian and Comparative
Philosophy, and is a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of the
Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley.
As this issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea is released,
Dr. Lancaster begins a research trip to Japan, Korea, and Southeast
Asia sponsored by a grant from the American Council of Learned
Societies, and a Faculty Research Fellowship from the University. He
returns to resume his teaching duties in October.
The Ta Chih Tu Lun (T. 1509) is a commentary to
The Pancavimsati-sahasrika- prajnaparamita-Sutra and exists only in
Chinese in a text attributed to Kumarajiva and said to have been
composed by Nagarjuna.1 Etienne Lamotte has already provided us with
an excellent translation of the first thirty chapters in his La Traite de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nagarjuna.
Several years ago
I began to translate some of the sections not included in his work.
However, I did not pursue the project when Prof. Lamotte wrote of
his decision to publish at least one more volume of the commentary.
When his Volume III appears, it will certainly provide the scholar
with the annotation for which Lamotte is justly famous. Therefore, I
have not felt it necessary to provide footnotes in this short
section, which will appear in the Vajra Bodhi Sea.
My hope is that this English translation will
be of interest to the readers until the more complete French
- For comments on the problem of authorship see
my review of K. Venkata Ramanan’s Nagarjuna’s Philosophy as Presented in the
Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra, in Philosophy East and West Vol. XVIII, 1968, pp. 97–99.
THE TA CHIH TU LUN
Chapter 31 Chuan 19 "The Thirty-Seven Limbs of Enlightenment"
Composed by Bodhisattva Nagarjuna
Translated on Imperial Command by Kumarajiva,
a Kuchean monk in the service of the State of Latter Ch’in.
Because the Bodhisattva Mahasattva does not
abide in Dharmas he abides in the Perfection of Wisdom. Because of
their non–arising, he should be endowed with the Four Applications
of Mindfulness (smrtyupasthana). Four Right Efforts (samyak–prahana).
Four Bases of Psychic Power (rddhipada). Five Dominants (Indriya).
Five Powers (bala). Seven Limbs of Enlightenment (bodhyanga) and the
Eight Fold Path (marganga).
Dutt’s Edition p. 19.
evam prajnaparamitayam Sariputra
sthitva bod– hisattvena mahasattvena catvari smrtyupasthanani
paripurayitavyani catvari samyakprahanani catvar rddhipada
pancendriyani panca balani sapta bodhyangani aryastangamargah
The Thirty-Seven Limbs of En1ightenment (bodhipaksa)
are (part) of the path of the Sravaka and Pratyeka–buddhas, whereas
the Six Perfections are (part) of the path of the Bodhisattva,
Mahasattva. Why, in relationship to the path of the Bodhisattva, do
you talk of the Sravaka’s teaching (Dharma)?
The Bodhisattva Mahasattva should learn all the
wholesome (kusala) dharmas and all paths, just as the Buddha told
Subhuti: "The Bodhisattva Mahasattva, in practicing the Perfection
of Wisdom, must learn all the wholesome Dharmas,
all the paths." By this is meant from the stage (bhumi) of Pure
Insight up to the stage of Buddhahood. These (first) nine stages
should be learned but (the Bodhisattva) should not grasp the
realization of them. The (tenth) stage of Buddhahood should be both
learned and realized.
Furthermore, where is it taught that the
Thirty–Seven Limbs of Enlightenment only (belong) to the teaching of
the Sravakas and the Pratyeka–buddhas and not to the path of the
Bodhisattva? In the chapter (titled) "Mahayana" of The Prajnaparamita
Sutra (i.e. Chapter 16 of the Panca.) the Buddha
taught (them all) from the Four Applications of Mindfulness up to
the Eight–fold Noble Path. They are therefore in the Tripitaka of
the Mahayana, and it is never taught that they are only the teaching
of the Hinayana. The Buddha, because of the Great Compassion (karuna)
has taught the Thirty–seven Limbs of Enlightenment as the path to
Nirvana. Every sentient being (sattva) in accord with his original
intention and causal background (karma) attains his path. Those who
seek to be Sravakas attain to the path of the Sravaka. Those persons
who have planted the wholesome roots (kusala–mula) of the Pratyeka–buddha
attain the path of the Pratyeka-buddha. Those who seek the path of a
Buddha attain the path of a Buddha. It depends on their original
intention, the sharpness or dullness of their faculties, and whether
or not they have the Great Compassion. For example, the Dragon (Naga)
king sends the rain down from heaven all over the earth. The rain
does not discriminate; the big trees and the large plants since they
have large-roots, receive the most. The small trees and small plants
because of their small roots receive the least.
Although it is not stated anywhere in this
sutra that the Thirty–Seven Limbs of Enlightenment belong only to
the Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas and not to the path of the
Bodhisattva, it is possible to infer it from the meaning. The
Bodhisattva dwells for a long time in birth and death (samsara) and
repeatedly comes from and goes to the Five destinies (gati) and does
not immediately grasp Nirvana. Since the Thirty–Seven Limbs of
Enlightenment only concern the method which leads to Nirvana and do
not teach the Perfections or anything about the Great Compassion, we
know (by inference) that they are not the path of the Bodhisattva.
Even though the Bodhisattva dwells for a long
time in birth and death, he should know what is the true
(bhuta) and what is not the true path, what is of the world
and what is of Nirvana. Knowing this he makes the Great Vow:
"Since sentient beings are indeed pitiful, I will pull them out and make
known the unconditioned (asamiskrta) place."
With this true Dharma, the one who practices these
Perfections will be able to reach the path of the Buddha.
Although the Bodhisattvas learn and know this
true Dharma, they do not complete the Six Perfections and therefore,
they do not grasp the realization of them. As the Buddha said:
If one should shoot arrow after arrow into
the sky, the arrows would be mutually supporting each other and
would not fall down again to the ground. Likewise, the Bodhisattva
with the arrow of the Perfection of Wisdom shoots into the sky of
the "Three Doors of Deliverance". He uses the arrow of upaya to
shoot the arrow of prajna and thus keep it from falling upon the
ground of Nirvana.
Again, if, as you have said, the Bodhisattva
remains for a long time in birth and death, he would suffer all
kinds of suffering of body and mind. If he does not possess the true
wisdom, how could he bear it? Therefore, the Bodhisattva when he
seeks the true wisdom of the Thirty–Seven Limbs of Enlightenment,
can transform the world (of samsara) into Nirvana, the fruit of the
Path, through the power of the Perfection of Wisdom. Why is this the
case? The three realms all arise from co–conditions and that which
is born from co–conditions does not have own–being. Without
own–being, it is empty (sunya). Because it is empty, it cannot be
grasped. And the mark of being ungraspable is Nirvana.
Therefore, it is said: Because the Bodhisattva Mahasattva does not abide in
Dharmas he abides in the Perfection of Wisdom. Because of their non–arising, he should be endowed with the
Four Applications of Mindfulness.
In addition, in the teachings of the Sravakas
and the Pratyeka–buddhas, it is not taught that the world is
Nirvana. Why? It is because their wisdom cannot penetrate deeply
into all Dharmas. On the other hand in the
teaching of the Bodhisattva it is taught that the world is Nirvana
since his wisdom can penetrate deeply into all dharmas.
For example, the Buddha told Subhuti:
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.
Feeling, ideation, impulse and awareness are likewise emptiness.
Emptiness is feeling, ideation, impulse and awareness. Emptiness
is Nirvana; Nirvana is emptiness.
In the Sastra of the Madhyamikas it says:
Nirvana is not different from the world,
The world is not different from Nirvana,
The limit of Nirvana is the limit of the world,
Because there is one limit, there is no difference.
The Bodhisattva Mahasattva having attained this
true reality (bhutatathata) is not disgusted with the world nor does
he desire Nirvana. The Thirty–Seven Limbs of Enlightenment are the
basis of true wisdom.