4. Early Mahayana: Nagarjuna & the Prajna-Paramita Tradition

4.1 Mahayana Buddhism Introduction - February 13, 2020



4.2 Prajnaparamita verses - February 20, 2020


The Perfection of Wisdom


Homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!
Not seeking wisdomNot seeking perfectionNot seeking transcendenceNot seeking enlightenmentAbiding in non-abidingThe Bodhisattva does not go astray
Not obscured by formNot obscured by feelingNot obscured by perceptionNot obscured by mental elaborationNot obscured by consciousnessThe one who is clear and at easeDiscovers the boundlessAppearances are vivid, but always in fluxThe Bodhisattva does not grasp at them
Transcending the worldThe Bodhisattva becomes invisibleGone to Nirvana but where?A fire is extinguished but where?No one knows A Bodhisattva has no past A Bodhisattva is not bound by time at allPure, free from conditions, without obscurationA Bodhisattva lives wisdomThe highest perfection

A Bodhisattva abides in non-arisingAnd goodness radiates in all directionsBenefiting countless beingsFree from names, resting in the namelessA Bodhisattva lives wisdomThe highest perfection
Knowing that everything is uncreatedKnowing words do not reach it at allKnowing the world flows from within They reside in the deathless This is perfect wisdom
Forms are not wisdom, nor is wisdom formThe original nature is like space Without a break or crackBoundless, without limit

4.3 The Prajna Podcast - February 27, 2020

The Perfection of Wisdom in a Few Words


Thus have I heard, at one time the Lord dwelt at Rajagrha on Vulture Peak, seated on the glorious Lion Throne, together with a large gathering of monks, with 1,250 monks, with hundreds of thousands of niyutas of kotis of Bodhisattvas, surrounded and revered by thousands of niyutas of kotis of gods, world guardians and others.
Then Lord Avolokiteshvara, the Bodhisaattva-Mahasattva, rose from his seat, put his upper robe over one shoulder, placed his right knee on the earth, bent forth his folded hands towards the Lord, and with a smiling face said to the Lord.
“Demonstrate, O Lord, The Perfection of Wisdom in a Few Words, which is of great merit; when beings merely hear it, all obstacles arising from their past deeds will be extinguished, and they will definitely awaken to enlightenment. And the mantras of those beings who labor zealously at the recitation of mantras will succeed without fail.”
Thereupon the Lord gave his approval to the greatly compassionate Lord Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva,
“Well said, well said, son of good family, you who have been engaged for a long time in furthering the benefit of all beings, their welfare and their happiness. Therefore, son of good family, listen and attend well! I will teach you The Perfection of Wisdom in a Few Words, which has great merit. When beings merely hear it, their obstacles will be extinguished and they will definitely awaken to enlightenments and the mantras of those beings who labor zealously at the recitation of mantra will succeed without fail.”
Thereupon Lord Avolokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, said to the Lord: “Teach it then, Blessed One, for the benefit of all beings, for their welfare and happiness!”
Thereupon the Lord at that time entered into the Samadhi called, “The Liberation from all Suffering”. When he had entered into that Samadhi, many hundreds of thousands of niyutas of kotis of rays issued from the hair-tuft between His eye-brows, and all the Buddha-fields were filled with these rays, and all the beings who were touched by that radiance became fixed on the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment, even as far as the beings in the hells. And all the Buddha-fields shook in six ways, and showers of heavenly sandalwood powder rained down on the ground at the feet of the Lord.
Thereupon the Lord at that time taught the Perfection of Wisdom as follows: “The Bodhisattva-Mahasattva should possess equanimity, he should have a friendly thought towards all beings, he should be thankful, he should be grateful, and he should desist in his heart from all evil.
“And this Heart of Perfect Wisdom mantra should be repeatedly recited:
NAMO SAKYAMUNAYA TATHAGATA ARHATE SAMYAKSAMBUDDHYAYAOM MUNE MUNE MAHAMUNAYA SVAHA
(Homage to Sakyamuni, the Tathagata, the Fully Enlightened One, OM Sage, Sage, Great Sage, All hail!)
“Through this Perfection of Wisdom, I have reached the utmost, right and perfect enlightenment, and from it all the Buddhas have come into being. And all those who hear this this subtle dharma, bear it in mind, recite it, write it and explain it in detail to others and who when this has been made into a book, preserve and treasure it, they will, even through learning just a single syllable of what is written here, become Tathagatas.
OM JEYA JEYA PADMABHE, AVAME, AVAME, SRASARANI. DHIRI DHIRI, DEVATA, ANUPALANI YUDDHAT-TARINI PARA-CAKRA-NIVARINI PURAYA PURAYA BHAGAVATI SARVA-ASA, MAMA CA SARVA-SATTVANAN CA SARVA-KARMA-AVARANANI VISOHAYA, BUDDHA-ADHISTHITE SVAHA
(OM may I conquer, may I conquer! O you who are in the likeness of a lotus! Hold me close, hold me close! O you the path for going forward! Possessor of Wisdom, Possessor of Wisdom! Goddess! Protectress! You who rescue us from strife, who ward off the harmful actions of others! Fulfill, Fulfill, Lovely Lady, the hope of all! Clean away all my karmic coverings and those of all beings! You who are sustained by the Buddhas. All hail!)
“This, O Son of Good Family, is the Perfection of Wisdom in the ultimate sense, the Mother of all the Buddhas, the Mother of all the Bodhisattvas, the bestower of enlightenment, remover of all evil. Even all the Buddhas are unable to express in words her advantages, even after hundreds of kotis of aeons. Where it is merely being recited there all the Assemblies are consecrated, and all the Mantras are realized.”
Thereupon the holy Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattava-Mahasattva, said to the Lord, ”For what reason, O Lord is this the Perfection of Wisdom in a Few Words?”
The Lord said: “Because it is an easy means. If there are beings who are dull and lazy, and if they will bear in mind this Perfection of Wisdom in a Few Words, will recite it, read it, cause it to be read, they will, through an easy means, end up in enlightenment. For this reason, son of good family, has this Perfection of Wisdom been compressed into a few words.”
The Holy Avolokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, then said to the Lord: “It is wonderful, O Lord, that for the benefit of all beings this discourse on dharma has been pronounced, for the sake of sentient beings who are lazy and have need of an easy practice, for their welfare, for their happiness.”
Thus spoke the Lord Enraptured, the Holy Lord Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, and the monks, and the Bodhisattvas, and the whole world with its gods, men, asuras and gandharvas rejoiced in the Lord’s teaching.
Adapted from the translation of Edward Conze