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The laukika-agra-dharma: Significance and Key Attributes——Liew Jew Chong

2009年03月29日 11:50:00 佛教在线 点击:0

The laukika-agra-dharma: Significance and Key Attributes——Liew Jew Chong

Executive Director of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association

1. Introduction

The worldly supreme dharma (laukika-agra-dharma) ? the last constituent of nirvedha-bh?g′ya[1] ? defines the highest stage in the worldly path. The term can be traced back to the sètra-s, however its definition is not explicitly formulated at all in the early canonical texts, a fact recognised by the Sarv?stiv?din-s.[2] Nonetheless according to E. Lamotte,[3] the Sarv?stiv?da articulation of this concept, far from being a ‘creation’ of this sect, can be traced to a passage in the SN[4]:-

He who believes and accepts these doctrines [according to which all dharma-s are transitory (anicca), changing (vipari??min) and perishable (a??ath?bh?vin)] has entered into predestination for nirv??a, has entered into the level of good people and has escaped from the level of worldly people. He is incapable of committing a deed that would cause him to be reborn in hell or among animals or among preta-s. He cannot die without realizing the fruit of entering into the stream.

This passage contains several of the more prominent features that either define, or roughly correspond to the Sarv?stiv?da concept of the laukika-agra-dharma ? i.e., the marking of a point of transition between the worldly and supramundane stages, the initiation of the inevitability of spiritual progress, and the consequent cessation of the threat of retrogression through the worldly stages and, more explicitly, to the evil realms. These and other attributes of the supreme worldly dharma-s will be the subject of lengthier discussions later in this paper.

In the MVS, the worldly supreme dharma-s is first introduced with reference to its explicit appearance in the following sètra passage:

It has been spoken of by the Buddha, the Bhagavat in the sètra:- If one cannot contemplates properly the conditioning forces (MPPS gives conditioned dharma-s ‘saμsk¨ta-dharma’), it is impossible for the laukika-agra-dharma to arise. If one cannot give rise to laukika-agra-dharma, it is impossible for one to enter saμyaktva-ny?ma. If one cannot give rise to saμyaktva-ny?ma, it is impossible for one to obtain the fruits of srota?panna, sak¨d?g?min, an?g?min and arhat.[5]

The MVS drew upon the authority of this short passage to support the Sarv?stiv?da doctrine that the laukika-agra-dharma defined one of the key essential stages ? in fact the first higher stage that made possible the eventual realisation of Arhathood. Reflecting the key significance and elite status of this role, the laukika-agra-dharma is in the MVS the subject of a lengthy commentary, spanning no less than four fascicles,[6] and appears as early as the second fascicle, constituting the first non-introductory topic, or ‘dharma’ to be discussed. The significance of its appearing at the head of the treatise is furthermore explicitly noted by the MVS’s compilers, who state that a treatise that does not discuss laukika-agra-dharma first is guilty of ‘confusion’ (雜亂 ? *saμmè?ha) and ‘loss’ (失 ? *saμpramo·a). The reasons given for this assertion can be grouped and summarised as follows:

(a) It is both the first, and an indispensable stage for the realisation of arhat-hood;

(b) It can both be used to delineate the level of attainment of practitioners, and inspire those who have not yet reached the highest grade of the worldly path (i.e., the ‘supreme’ ? ‘agra’ worldly dharma ? ‘laukika’) to obtain it, and;

(c) Undoubtedly in light of the above, and the fact that it is not discussed extensively (廣辯) in the sètra-s, it is necessary to promptly put an end to an inordinate amount of ‘slander’ (誹謗) regarding its nature, realm, retrogression, manifestation and designation.

Drawing from the MVS, this paper shall discuss the Sarv?stiv?din, and other positions regarding the ‘nature, realm, retrogression, manifestation and designation’ of the laukika-agra-dharma. This discussion will be divided into the following sub-chapters:

1.Controversy regarding the nature of laukika-agra-dharma qua the equal-immediate condition (samanantara-pratyaya) for entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma.

2.The identity of the actual moment of the attainment of, and departure from, laukika-agra-dharma ? relative to entrance into dar§ana-m?rga.

3.Dharma-s that induce entrance into laukika-agra-dharma.

4.Where laukika-agra-dharma-s lead to.

5.The different attributes of laukika-agra-dharma.

6.Views regarding the liability to retrogress upon the attainment of the laukika-agra-dharma.

7. The various functions of the laukika-agra-dharma.

2. Controversy regarding the equal-immediate condition (samanantara-pratyaya) for entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma.

Whilst the Abhidharmika-s generally accepted the ground assertion that worldly supreme dharma-s are of the nature of the five faculties, a number of views existed amongst both different schools, and amongst individual masters within the Sarv?stiv?da, regarding their specific qualities or designations. These views revolved around three main points of contention:

(a) Debate between the Pèrva-?bhidhamika-s and Vibhajyav?din as to whether the five faculties are with or without outflow;

(b) The assertion, held by the V?ts′putr′ya, that the intrinsic nature of the five faculties qua the worldly supreme dharma-s are exclusively wholesome (ku§ala); and

(c) Controversy as to whether the worldly supreme dharma-s also have their nature citta (the position of Buddhadeva), caitta (Dharmatr?ta) or both (K?ty?yan′putra).

2.1. The Designation of Outflow in the Five Faculties: The Debate between the Pèrva-?bhidhamika-s and Vibhajyav?din-s

The Pèrva-?bhidharmika masters (舊阿毘達磨者) held that the worldly supreme dharma-s (laukika-agra-dharma-s) qua the equal-immediate condition (samanantara-pratyaya) for entrance into ‘the perfection which is separation from the raw (saμyaktva-ny?ma 正性離生)’ or ‘the certitude of perfection (saμyaktva-niyama/niy?ma 正性決定)’, belong to two general categories:-

1.The laukika-agra-dharma-s that are of the five faculties ? faith (§raddh?), effort (v′rya), mindfulness (sm¨ti), concentration (sam?dhi), wisdom (praj??);[7]

2.The laukika-agra-dharma-s that are the samanantara-pratyaya for entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma are of the nature of citta-caitta.

In their elucidation of these two categories, the Pèrva-?bhidharmika masters sought to refute this assertion: the Vibhajyav?din view that the five faculties, as the samanantara-pratyaya for entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma, are exclusively outflow-free (an?srava), which would, according to the Pèrva-?bhidharmika-s, deny the spiritual progression and very existence of the ordinary ‘worldling’ (ie, non-saint). The lengthy debate between the Pèrva-?bhidharmika and Vibhajyav?din regarding this assertion is contained in the MVS, and will be the topic of this discussion. The second view formed the basis of Dharmatr?ta, Buddhadeva and K?ty?yan′putra’s theories regarding the nature of the worldly supreme dharma-s that of citta-caitta-s, which I will discuss separately later in this section.

For the Pèrva-?bhidhamika masters, the five faculties must be with-outflow, as they exist in the body of an ordinary, impure worldling. This central view is shown in the MVS:-

In order to refute their (i.e., Vibhajyav?din) view [that the five faculties are necessarily outflow-free], the Pèrva ?bhidharmika masters said:- the worldly supreme dharma-s have the five faculties as their self-nature.[8] The worldly supreme dharma-s are in the body of an ordinary worldling (p¨thagjana), therefore [these] five faculties are also [of the] with-outflow [body of the] p¨thagjana. It is therefore definitely not outflow-free.

The theory that the worldly supreme dharma-s have the nature of the five faculties with-outflows is further advanced by the Pèrva-?bhidhamika through a passage from the sètra discussing the means for the observation of the self characteristics of various dharma-s, and for spiritual progress, in and beyond what the ?bhidhamika-s would regard as the worldly stage. This passage, and an ensuing debate on its meaning, is contained in the MVS:

[The Vibhajyav?din asks:] What is the fault of holding [the view that] the substance of the five faculties is exclusively outflow-free?

[Pèrva-?bhidharmika masters reply:] Then [in that case you] contradict the sètra. As it is said in the sètra: ‘If in the case that of the five faculties… I do not understand as they are their origin (集), their cessation (沒), their taste (rasa味), their fault (do·a 過患), their exit (出離), [then I am] not able to transcend this celestial being, world, m?ra, brahm?, etc., up until I am not able to realize anuttar? samyak-saμbodhi, etc’[9] ? it is not outflow-free dharma-s that have the capacity to investigate such categories…

The Vibhajyav?din-s said thus: The ‘contemplation of self characteristics’ (自相觀) spoken of by the Bhagavat in this sètra means that I, with regards to these five faculties… do not understand as they are the self characteristics of origin, etc, am unable to transcend these [realms] of celestial beings, [the human] world, m?ra and brahm?, etc.

[The Pèrva-?bhidharmika reply:] That is not logical. Why? The sètra says: ‘In the case that I do not understand the five faculties as they are, their origin, cessation, taste, fault, exit, I am unable to realise the anuttar?[-saμyak-saμ]bodhi with the final exhaustion of outflows. [As this infers that] it is not the contemplation of self characteristics that is able to exhaust all outflows, hence what you have said is definitely illogical. From this [we can see] the five faculties are not exclusively outflow-free.

The first passage is interpreted by the Pèrva-?bhidharmika masters as confirming that one must understand what are the ‘with-outflow’ aspects of the five faculties (i.e., their origin, etc), and that only by means of this can one transcend states that are within and beyond the worldly realms, i.e., celestial being, m?ra, full enlightenment, etc. However the Vibhajyav?din-s, whether on account of possessing a different version of the same sètra or due to possible ambiguity in the original Sanskrit, interpret this passage differently. The Pèrva-?bhidharmika-s, interpreting the twin negation of ‘understanding’ and ‘transcendence’ as denoting a conditional relationship, see the understanding of the ‘origin’ and other ‘aspects’ of the five faculties (‘its’ origin - 於此…五根未如實知是集…) being the precondition for transcending worldly and supramundane states (i.e., If in the case that of the five faculties… I do not understand as they are... [then I am] not able to transcend… - 若…未能…未能). The Vibhajyav?dins, however, state that the context of this passage is an affirmation of the ‘contemplation of self characteristics’ (自相觀) as the means of understanding and progress through the worldly stages. The passage itself is thus not seen in a conditional sense (the ‘if’ ? 若, has indeed been omitted), but as a pure negation of the role of the five faculties in the understanding of the characteristics of ‘with-outflow’ dharma-s, and for the transcendence of worldly states only (the list of states shown omits the supramundane state contained in the Vibhajyav?din-s version, and ends with an ambiguous ‘etc’ 等 乃至廣說). In reply, the Pèrva-?bhidharmika-s state that the sètra’s lists of states unable to be transcended (in their version of this passage) indeed extends beyond the worldly realms, and in fact includes the level of complete enlightenment. As the inclusion of this category in the passage would infer, according to the Vibhajyav?din interpretation, the unacceptable conclusion that one through the ‘contemplation of self-characteristics’ is able to realise the state of complete enlightenment, the Pèrva-?bhidharmika-s state that the Vibhajyav?din position contradicts the sètra-s and is without basis.

The Pèrva-?bhidharmika further quoted other scriptural sources to defend their position that the five faculties serving as worldly supreme dharrma-s are with-outflow. These can be summarised into two arguments. Firstly, they quote two scriptures in which the Buddha spoke of seeing, in one instance before he ‘began turning the wheel of the dharma,’ ‘people of the world’ of various faculties whose ‘faculties’ would be weakened if they ceased listening to the dharma. Their argument concludes that if ‘the five faculties’ are only outflow-free, the ‘people in the world’ referred to would all have to be considered to all be saints (?rya-s), in which case the world would have been full of saints, and the Buddha would never have seen the need to ‘turn the dharma wheel.’[10] Their second argument refers to their interpretation of another passage in the sètra, pointed out by the Vibhajyav?din-s, in which it is mentioned that saints of various grades have the five faculties, and that only ‘outside worldlings’ are without them. The Pèrva-?bhidharmika simply respond to this that ‘outside worldlings’ refers only to those worldlings that have ‘cut off their wholesome roots,’ and thus does not deny the existence that other worldlings could possess ‘with-outflow’ faculties.[11]

2.2. V?ts′putr′ya: the five faculties are ku§ala in their intrinsic nature

The V?ts′putr′ya masters held the view that the five faculties qua the worldly supreme dharma-s are wholesome (ku§ala) in their intrinsic nature. They further state that the designation of these five faculties should serve as the sole standard for the allocation and differentiation of the various categories of ?rya.[12] These key tenets are described in a short passage in the MVS:

These are the tenets of the V?ts′putr′ya masters: the masters of this school hold the view that the worldly supreme dharma-s, which have the five faculties, faith (§raddh?), etc., as their intrinsic nature (svabh?va), [and] these five faculties are exclusively wholesome in their intrinsic nature, [and] whatever else are mixed with it thus also obtains the designation ‘wholesome’. On account of these five faculties (indriya-s), all the different [categories] of ?rya are to be established, not through other faculties.

Despite sharing a great deal in common with the V?ts′putr′ya,[13] the Sarv?stiv?dins strongly disagreed with this school’s tenet that the five faculties that serve as the worldly supreme dharma-s are wholesome (ku§ala) in their intrinsic nature, and in particular the theory that other dharma-s that ‘mix with them’ should also be designated as ‘wholesome’. For the Sarv?stiv?da, the key problem with such a theory is that it would imply that unwholesome (aku§ala) and non-defined (avy?k¨ta) dharma-s, should they be ‘mixed’ with the five faculties, should also be designated as wholesome, thus committing the grave error of not distinguishing the wholesome from the unwholesome, good from bad, etc. This criticism is articulated in a passage in the MVS:

If the five faculties are only wholesome by self-nature, what is the self-nature of the other wholesome dharma-s? If those [other dharma-s] which are unwholesome, non-defined (avy?k¨ta) [by self-nature] are on account of being mixed with the five faculties also called wholesome, [when] these five faculties and these [other unwholesome or non-defined dharma-s] are mixed, for what reason should they not [both] (ie, the other dharma-s and the five faculties) be designated unwholesome [or] non-defined [respectively]?

However, these five[-faculties], §raddh?, etc. and other dharma-s ? having the same basis (?§raya 所依), having the same mode of understanding (?k?ra 行相), having the same object (?lambana 所緣), arise together, abide together, cease together, [have the] same effect (k?rya果), same emanation (ni·yanda等流), same retribution (vip?ka 異熟) ? and you say the five faculties which are by nature wholesome, the other [dharma-s, i.e., unwholesome or non-defined] mixed with [them] must for the sake of argument be designated as wholesome. This is only conducive to topsy-turvyness (vikalpita), and is not in accordance with correct reason. Do not commit this fault! Therefore it should be stated that the worldly supreme dharma faculties are not of the nature of being the root [of wholesome and unwholesome dharma-s]. 

It is clear from this criticism of the V?ts′putr′ya doctrine that the Sarv?stiv?da masters associate the word ‘mix’ ? (雜) possibly saμyukta (sam + √yuj ? to join) ‘conjoined together’ in Sanskrit, with the orthodox Sarv?stiv?da doctrine of ‘conjunction’ (saμprayoga ? sam + pra + √yuj ? described in another part of the MVS as also sharing the same ?§raya, ?k?ra, ?lambana, k?rya, same ni·yanda, same vip?ka, arising and residing together, etc.[14]). By applying such an interpretation to this doctrine ? which would thus be rendered as stating wholesome and unwholesome dharma-s are in ‘conjunction,’ the Sarv?stiv?din-s would likely have believed that the V?ts′putr′ya committed the grave error of not distinguishing between wholesome and unwholesome dharma-s.

2.3. The Views of Dharmatr?ta, Buddhadeva, and of K?ty?yan′putra

Another controversy, this time between eminent Sarv?stiv?din masters, concerned whether worldly supreme dharma-s were of the nature of citta or caitta. Opposing views were held by Dharmatr?ta and Buddhadeva, both foremost Venerable masters among early D?r· ?ntika-s.[15] Dharmatr?ta advocated that since citta-caitta dharma-s are simply specific states of cetan?, the self-nature of worldly supreme dharma-s must therefore be designated as cetan?. Buddhadeva, however, proposed that since the self-nature of citta-caitta-dharma-s are non-other than citta, citta itself must therefore be the correct designation.[16]

These opposing views were furthermore both rejected by Bhadanta K?ty?yan′putra, who is the author of JPS, and who represents the orthodox views of the Ka§m′ra Sarv?stiv?din.[17] K?ty?yan′putra proposed that the laukika-agra-dharma, which he deemed must be both in association with, and not in association with the five faculties, must essentially have both citta and caitta as their nature.

According to Ven. Yin Shun,[18] Bhadanta K?ty?yan′putra’s position harmonizes the views of Dharmatr?ta and Buddhadeva. Ven. Yin Shun states that since the mind (citta) and mental factors (caitta) are mutually conjoined (samprayukta), the samanantara-pratyaya for the entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma must essentially invoke the activity of both. The self-nature of laukika-agra-dharma-s must thus be of both citta and caitta.[19] This is also the view of the Pèrva-?bhidharmika-s.

In conclusion, the MVS discussion of the laukika-agra-dharma, qua the samanantara-pratyaya of entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma, consolidates two main orthodox Sarv?stiv?din doctrines. These are: (1) that the laukika-agra-dharma-s are of the nature of the five faculties ? §raddh?, v′rya, sm¨ti, sam?dhi, praj??, and;[20] (2) that they are of the nature of citta and caitta.[21]

3. The Actual Moment of Entrance into dar§ana-m?rga

Worldly supreme dharma-s induce the attainment of the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti (i.e. the first moment of the Path of Seeing). However there existed two differing views with regards to the timing of the exact moment of entrance into the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti:

(1). The entrance into dar§ana-m?rga occurs after the ceasing of laukika-agra-dharma; or

(2). One enters dar§ana-m?rga whilst abiding in the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti.

These two views are briefly discussed in the MVS as follows:

[Question:] Laukika-agra-dharma-s which is the samanantara-pratyaya for duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti, is called the entrance into dar§ana-m?rga?on account of this [the moment denoting the laukika-agra-dharma] having [already] ceased is called the entrance into dar§ana-m?rga; on account of this the [moment] stage [denoting] the abiding in [duúkhe dharma-j??na k·?nti] is called the entrance into dar§ana-m?rga. [Yet] if this [moment in which the laukika-agra-dharma] has already ceased is itself called the entrance, for what reason should [the moment] herein not [instead] be called [the moment in which one] has already entered [the dar§ana-m?rga]? If the abiding state itself is called the entrance, [then] the p¨thagjanaand ?ryawould come to be confused.[22]

Thus for the compilers of the MVS, both of these views are problematic. We could assume that the first more specifically relates to the problem of a gap between temporality in everyday language and the momentary doctrine of the Sarv?stiv?da. Because there can be ‘no gap’ (samanantara) between the successive moments delineating departure from laukika-agra-dharma-s and entrance into dar§ana-m?rga, if the former ‘has already’ (i.e., gerund ‘having’) ceased ? implying one ‘has already’ entered into the moment anteceding the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti, then one must be said to have ‘already’ entered the dar§ana-m?rga.

[Question:] If so, this text should call it ‘[that which] has been entered’, then dar§ana-m?rga is called as ‘that which has been arisen.’[23]

[Answer:] ‘One who has entered’ should be mentioned as one enters… like it is said in the world, where did the great king come from? Even though he has come, but [we] say he now comes. Further, ‘one who has abandoned’ should be mentioned as now he abandons.

It has been said in the sètra: ‘abandon sukha, abandon duúkha, etc. etc.’[24] When one detaches from k?ma, the faculty of duúkha has been abandoned, he is separated from third dhy?na now. When one abandons the faculty of defiled-sukha, it is mentioned also as he abandons. Surely one who has abandoned is mentioned as now he abandons. Furthermore, one who has liberated is mentioned as now he liberates.

It has been said in the sètra: ‘the mind liberates from k?ma-?srava, bhava-?srava and avidy?-?srava.’[25] When he detaches from k?ma, his mind obtains liberation with regard to k?ma-?srava. When he separates from the defiled naivasaμj??-n?saμj??yatana, his mind obtains liberation with regard to bhava-?srava and avidya-?srava ? it is then called one who liberates. With regard to one who has liberated, it is mentioned as now he liberates, further one who has experienced, it is mentioned as now he experiences.

It has been said in the sètra: ‘when one delights (pr′?ayati), he knows the delights as it is, etc.’[26]One who has experienced is mentioned as he experiences. It is not the case that when with regard to experience, he discerns [it]. Likewise, this is also the case. Even though one who has entered, it is mentioned as now he enters.[27]

The second view ? that the moment of abiding in duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti in fact denotes entry into the dar§ana-m?rga, is even more problematic, in that it would denote a co-occurrence, or ‘mixing’ of the mundane and supramundane stages, which could undermine the crucial distinction between ordinary worldlings and saints.

Some say: It is at the moment of abiding at duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti is called the entrance.

[Question:] If so, p¨thagjana should be known as ?rya, because of his entrance into ?rya-m?rga.

[Answer:] There is no such fault. [From] the laukika-agra-dharma-s up to the abiding state, duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti is in the state of being arisen. (utpadyam?n?vasth?). Because of not accomplishing it, it is not spoken of as an ?rya. Even duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti has not arisen, it is called samanantara at the [state] of being arisen. Laukika-agra-dharma is then a samanantara-pratyaya for it, hence it is called as an entrance [into dar§ana-m?rga]. Therefore, it has been spoken of, citta-caitta dharma-s which serve as samanantara-pratyaya for the entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma, is the laukika-agra-dharma.

[Question:] If citta-caitta dharma-s, having entered saμyaktva-ny?ma, or will enter, aren’t they also laukika-agra-dharma?

[Answer:] Yes.

[Question:] If that is the case, why it is not spoken of herein?

[Answer:] If it is spoken of being entered, it should be known as that which has been entered, and will enter. If it is spoken of a present, then it should be known as a past, and a future. It is because their characteristics are identical.[28]

In summary, the Sarv?stiv?dins analyzed in precise detail the timing of the very moment marking entrance into dar§ana-m?rga. After rigorous debate, the orthodox school adopted the position that the fruits of recluseship (§r?ma?yaphala) manifest with the laukika-agra-dharma-s which have citta-caitta dharma-s as the samanantara-pratyaya, and that one upon emerging from laukika-agra-dharma immediately enters into duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti, which marks the commencement of the noble Path of Seeing (dar§ana-m?rga).[29]

4. Where Laukika-agra-dharma-s Lead to

A variety of explanations regarding where worldly supreme dharma-s lead to were also examined in the MVS. The first of those theories represented the orthodox view of the Sarv?stiv?da, which the text, of course, deemed to be the most superior. This theory stated that the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti (i.e. the initial thought moment of the dar§ana-m?rga), arises immediately after the cessation of the laukika-agra-dharma. The justification for this position is that only the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti is capable of sustaining the Noble Path (?rya-m?rga ‘聖道’) in its entirety.[30]

In addition to the orthodox Sarv?stiv?da position, six other explanations regarding where the worldly supreme dharma-s lead to were also enumerated:

1.Other masters: vajra-upama-sam?dhi (金剛喻定), because [only] it is capable of obtaining the exhaustion of all fetters (saμyojana-s), and realising completely the fruition.

2.Some say: the beginning of the knowledge of destruction (k·aya-j??na ‘初盡智’), because this is able to sustain the whole of a§aik·a-dharma.

3.Some say: anuttar? saμyak-saμbodhi, because it is excellent (superior 最勝) with regards to all conditioned dharma-s.

4.Some say: nirv??a-dh?tu, because this is excellent with regards to all conditioned and unconditioned dharma-s.

5.Some say: the last thought of the ?rya-m?rga of the arhat. Just as the last thought (k·a?a) of the citta of the worldling is called laukika-agra-dharma, likewise the last thought of the arhat is the outflow-free thought, which is called the exit from laukika-agra-dharma.

6.Some say: the last thought of the arhat. Just as the last thought of the p¨thagjana is called laukika-agra-dharma, likewise the last thought of the arhat is called the exit from laukika-agra-dharma.

[Comments:] … Among these theories, the first theory (i.e., the orthodox Sarv?stiv?da position) is good. Therefore, it is capable of sustaining all ?rya-m?rga-s.

5.The Different Attributes of laukika-agra-dharma-s

That these citta-caitta-dharma-s were known as ‘worldly supreme dharma-s’ was, according to Sarv?stiv?da interpretations, because they were in comparison to other worldly dharma-s the ‘best’ (最), ‘excellent’ (勝), ‘senior’ (長), ‘chief’ (尊), ‘superior’ (上), and ‘wonderful’ (妙).[31] According to some Sarv?stiv?din-s, though these attributes are listed separately, they do not denote separate dharma-s, but are merely synonyms, or perhaps hyponyms, of the word ‘supreme (agra 第一)’.[32] The term ‘supreme (agra),’ however, is interpreted in the MVS by ‘some’ (有說) and other masters (餘師) as describing different aspects of the laukikra-agra-dharma-s:[33]their allowing one to obtain the ‘supreme’ fruit; their being the citta-caitta-dharma-s that accomplish the abandonment of ‘supreme-existence’ (第一有); their constituting the final thought-moment citta (最後心) of an ordinary worldling.

However, according to ‘some’ (有說), and reflecting the common hermeneutic style of the Sarv?stiv?da, the six names shown above (ie, ‘best’, etc) are not synonyms, but serve to distinguish, by means of comparison with other worldly dharma-s, different qualities of the worldly supreme dharma-s. The quality referred to by each respective term furthermore differed according to which aspect of the laukika-agra-dharma-s was being discussed. In the MVS, five such schemas, representing five different aspects of the laukika-agra-dharma-s in accordance with which its six qualities are described and differentiated, are presented:[34]

1. The qualities of the laukika-agra-dharma in comparison to the different wholesome-roots (ku§ala-mèla ‘善根’): they are said to be the ‘best’ in comparison to §ruta-may′; ‘excellent’ in comparison to cint?may′; ‘senior’… to a§ubha-bh?van?, ?n?p?nasm¨ti, etc.; ‘chief’… to u·magata; ‘superior’… to mèrdhan; ‘wonderful’… to k·?nti.

2. In terms of their Supporting-base-stage ‘?§raya-bhèmi (所依地)’: they are said to be the ‘best’ when based on an?gamya; ‘excellent’, when based on first dhy?na; ‘senior’, when based on dhy?n?ntara; ‘chief’, when based on 2nd dhy?na ; ‘superior’, when based on 3rd dhy?na; ‘wonderful’, when based on 4th dhy?na.

3. On the basis on different attributes (依義不同): they are said to be the ‘best’ because they go the very top end (至邊頂); ‘excellent’ because they are subsumed under the high category (上品攝); ‘senior’ because [they mark] the beginning (*?- ?rabh) of success (作吉祥); ‘chief’ because of the advancement of substance (體昇進); ‘superior’ because of their nature is firmly consolidated (性堅牢); ‘wonderful’, because of the perfection of vows (滿所願).

4. In terms of differences with regards to its substance and efficacy (體用有異): they are said to be the ‘best’ because they [serve] as the samanantara-pratyaya for duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti (此能作苦法智忍等無間緣); ‘excellent’, because they transcends all the ku§ala-mèla of p¨thagjana (超過一切異生善根); ‘senior’ because they remove all worldly ku§ala-mèla (映奪一切世俗善根); ‘chief’ because they can reach the superior virtue (能逮勝德); ‘superior’ because of the absence of the two parts (無二分); ‘wonderful’ because they are similar to [the state of being] outflow-free (似無漏) [dharma-s].

5. Difference with regards to its characteristics and efficacy (相用有異): they are said to be the ‘best’ because they constitute the last thought-moment of p¨thagjana (異生最後心); ‘excellent’ because they can open the gate of ?rya-m?rga; ‘senior’, because their indriya-s are sharp (根猛利); ‘chief’ because they are the highest with regards to all nirvedha-bh?g′ya; ‘superior’ because they subdue all kle§a-s (折伏一切煩惱冤); ‘wonderful’ because they induce the desirable fruit (引愛果).

6. Views on Non Retrogression from the Laukika-agra-dharma-s

In the Sarv?stiv?da schema of the spiritual path, as soon as a practitioner enters into laukika-agra-dharma-s, progress to the supramundane path is inevitable, and he is incapable of retrogressing. Having arrived at the laukika-agra-dharma stage, the practitioner will definitely be led to the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti without interruption, and will without fail enter, and attain the insight of the dar§ana-m?rga, being the direct-comprehension (abhisamaya) of the four truths over sixteen thought moments ? the first fifteen thought moments belonging to the Path of Seeing, and the sixteenth marking the first attainment of the Supramundane Path of Cultivation.

6.1. Laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to the truths, enter into the truths, incline towards the truths.

Several explicit reasons in support of the Sarv?stiv?din denial of the possibility of retrogression from the laukika-agra-dharma, up until the completion of the dar§ana-m?rga, are stated in the MVS. The first is that worldly supreme dharma-s have as their nature the conforming, entering, and bending towards the direct-comprehension of the four truths. Thus as a result of the forward (i.e., future) projection of the laukika-agra-dharma-s, a similar thought induces the arising of duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti. This theory is discussed in detail in the MVS in the following passages:

Laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to the truths (隨順諦), enter into the truths(臨入諦), incline towards the truths (趣向諦). It is not possible that there could come to be, in their intermediary, the arising of a thought dissimilar [to these] that is [in contrast to them] unable of entering into the direct-comprehension of the Noble Truths.[35]

[Question:] What do these [statements] ‘conforming to the truths’, ‘entering into the truth’, and ‘inclining towards the truths,’ mean?

Some say: Laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to direct-comprehension, enter into direct-comprehension, and incline towards direct-comprehension.

Some say: laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to m?rga-satya, enter into m?rga-satya, and incline towards m?rga-satya.

Some say: laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to dar§ana-m?rga…

Some say: laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to duúkha-satya…

Some say: laukika-agra-dharma-s conform to duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti…

However, with regards to these [three phrases], ‘conformity’ has two [meanings]:

1. conformity [in the sense] of entering;

2. conformity [in the sense] of inclining towards.

Laukika-agra-dharma-s which serve as the samanantara-pratyaya [of duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti] possess two conformities with regards to duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti. Because of the projection of that [which conforms], it is impossible that there could come to be the arising of dissimilar thoughts ‘in between’ ? that is, in between the laukika-agra-dharma-s and the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti. It is impossible that there could come to be the arising of ‘with-outflow’ [from a ‘outflow-free’ antecedent, which would constitute] falling into ‘dissimilar thoughts’ (墮有不相似心), [which would thus] cause the non obtainment of entrance into direct-comprehension of noble truths ? that is to say ? causing the non manifestation of duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti.[36]

6.2. Laukika-agra-dharma-s Manifest Rapidly

The second is that laukika-agra-dharma-s manifest rapidly without the slightest interruption ? which would be needed to accommodate the arising of dharma-s conducive to retrogression. It is therefore impossible to retrogress from the worldly supreme dharma-s.

Furthermore, laukika-agra-dharma-s are the equal immediate condition (samanantara-pratyaya) of duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti. There is not a single dharma that can travel more rapidly than the mind that could be capable of hindering, and causing the inability to enter into, the direct-comprehension of the Noble Truths. Hence these dharma-s are definitely not [capable of being the site of] retrogression.[37]

6.3. The Consolidation of Extensive Preparatory Efforts and ‘Securing Firm Footing’

Thirdly, the MVS states that the consolidation of extensive preparatory efforts, such as the practice of giving (d?na), morality (§′la), etc, in addition to ‘securing firm footing’ (安足堅牢) such as the predominant receptivity (adhipati k·?nti), serve to ‘secure’ one at the stage of the laukika-agra-dharma-s from the liability to retrogression:

[Question:] For what reason is [it to be considered that] there is definitely no retrogression from laukika-agra-dharma-s?

[Answer:] Because the preparatory effort is great, and one ‘has secured firm footing’. ‘Preparatory effort is great’ refers to the repeated practice of d?na, §′la, wholesomeness derived from listening, wholesomeness derived from thinking, and wholesomeness derived from cultivation [of meditation], being all inclined towards the liberation of nirv??a, in which the mind is without any attachments (aparig¨h′ta-citta心無所著).

D?na is that which adorns the giving of the mind (莊嚴心施).

§′la refers to restraint in the form of undertaking ordination vows (pr?timok·a-saμvara).

From understanding derived from listening, one comes to investigate the words and meanings of the noble teachings.

From understanding derived from thinking refers to the practice of the contemplation on the impure (a§ubha-bh?van? ‘不淨觀’), mindfulness of breathing (?n?p?nasμrti ‘持息念’), the foundation of mindfulness (sm¨tyupasth?na ‘念住’), contemplation of the three meanings (triprak?ra-bh?van? ‘三義觀’), skilfulness with regard to the seven abodes (sapta-sth?na-kau§ala ‘七處善’).

From understanding derived cultivation [through meditation] refers to u·magata, mèrdhan, low and medium k·?nti.

‘Securing firm footing’ refers to adhipati-k·?nti.

On account of laukika-agra-dharma-s, the preparatory effort is great, [and one has] secured firm footing, hence there is definitely no falling away.[38]

6.4. Defilements abandon-able through the Path of Seeing are completely abandoned after laukika-agra-dharma

The MVS further states that retrogression is impossible when one reaches after the laukika-agra-dharma-s because after that stage, defilements abandon-able through the Path of Seeing (dar§ana-m?rga-prah?tavya) that pertain to the three dh?tu-s come to be completely abandoned:

Furthermore, after [laukika-agra]-dharma-s, one realizes completely the abandonment of [defilements] abandon-able through seeing that pertain to the three dh?tu-s. …[39]

Furthermore, after these dharma-s, one realizes completely the abandonment [of defilements] abandonable through seeing pertaining to the bhèmi of naivasaμj??n?saμj??…[40]

6.5. Complete Insight into each of the four Noble Truths is achieved in two moments ? k·?nti and j??na

In the Sarv?stiv?da school, complete insight into each of the four Noble Truths is achieved in two moments. In the first moment, called the unhindered path (?nantarya-m?rga), the receptivity (k·?nti) to knowledge arises, and with this, the defilements abandon-able through the seeing into the particular truth are abandoned. In the second moment, called the Path of Liberation (vimukti-m?rga), knowledge (j??na) arises. Therefore, upon the complete direct-comprehension into the four Truths pertaining to both k?madh?tu and the upper two spheres there arises eight receptivities (k·?nti-s) and eight knowings (j??na-s). In the contemplation of the four truths pertaining to the k?madh?tu, the receptivities and knowings are called dharma-j??na-k·?nti and dharma-j??na respectively. Those pertaining to the upper two spheres are called anvaya-j??na-k·?nti and anvaya-j??na respectively. The MVS states that ‘on account of these, there arises definitely the k·?nti and j??na…[41] Since the Path of Seeing moves rapidly for sixteen thought moments, there is impossibility of their falling back to the worldly path after entry into dar§ana-m?rga.

6.6. A Milestone ? a Transition from Mundane Path to Supramundane Path

The laukika-agra-dharma-s serve as the samanantara-pratyaya of entrance into the Path of Seeing. A practitioner is no longer liable to retrogress for it is a great milestone ? a transition from mundane path to supramundane path ? in which a person starts a supramundane path definitely leading to ultimate realization.

Furthermore, on account of these, there arises definitely the dar§ana-m?rga as the great milestone (重鎮). There is definitely no retrogression from dar§ana-m?rga…[42]

6.7. Laukika-agra-dharma-s are of the Nature of the Wholesome Roots

Lastly, laukika-agra-dharma-s are of the nature of the wholesome roots. However, they last for only a k·a?a. Upon the cessation of laukika-agra-dharma-s, the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti rises immediately. There is not even a slightest moment between them, i.e. half-k·a?a, in which there could be retrogression. Furthermore these laukika-agra-dharma-s resemble the Unhindered Path (?nantarya-m?rga), from which outflow-free k·?nti arises, and with it, the abandonment of those defilements abandon-able by seeing into the truth of unsatisfactoriness pertaining to k?madh?tu. As there can be no retrogression of one who dwells in Unhindered Path, there can neither be retrogression by those that have reached the laukika-agra-dharma-s:

Some say: on account of this ku§ala-mèla lasting exclusively for [only] one k·a?a, there is no [possibility that there could be] retrogression [as it would have to occur during] the half-k·a?a [in between laukika-agra-dharma-s and the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti].[43]

Some say: On account of this ku§ala-mèla, which resembles the unhindered path (?nantarya-m?rga), there is no retrogression for one who dwells in the ?nantarya-m?rga.[44]

In summary, seven main points concerning the non-retrogressibility from laukika-agra-dharma-s are discussed above: (1) that of conforming to the truths, enter into the truths, incline towards the truths; (2) that of manifesting rapidly; (3) that of consolidating extensive preparatory efforts and ‘securing firm footing’ ; (4) that of complete abandoning defilements abandon-able through the Path of Seeing after laukika-agra-dharma; (5) that of achieving k·?nti and j??na in each of the four Noble Truths pertaining to three spheres of existence in the Path of Seeing; (6) that of a milestone ? a transition from mundane path to supramundane path; and (7) that of pertaining to the nature of the wholesome roots. A practitioner at the stage of laukika-agra-dharma-s is certain to instantaneously, without the possibility of failure or retrogression, to reach the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti. From this moment he enters the supramundane path and becomes an ?rya.

7. The Various Functions of the Laukika-agra-dharma-s

The MVS[45] describes the laukika-agra-dharma as having six distinct functions. These are:

(1) The abandonment of the quality of an Ordinary Worldling;

(2) The acquiring of the quality of an ?rya;

(3) The relinquishing of wrong-ness;

(4) The acquiring of saμyaktva;

(5)Entry into saμyaktva-ny?ma, saμyaktva-niy?ma, *saμyaktva-dh?ra?a ‘正性任持’, *saμyaktva-visaμyoga ‘正性離繫’, *saμyaktva-agamana ‘正性不往’; and

(6) *sama (equality ‘平等’).

7.1. The Abandonment of the Quality of an Ordinary Worldling

As I have discussed above, Pèrva-?bhidharmika masters generally accepted two views regarding the samanantara-pratyaya for entrance into saμyaktva-ny?ma: one is that it is of the nature of citta and caitta, and the other is that it is of the five faculties. On the basis of the first view, there are three theories regarding the attribution of the function of abandoning of the quality of an ordinary worldling (p¨thagjana). These are (1) they are abandoned via the laukika-agra-dharma, (2) they are abandoned only upon realizing the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·??ti, or (3) they are abandoned through both. These three are discussed in the MVS:

Abandoning the quality of an Ordinary Worldling:- these thought and thought-concomitants (citta-caitta dharma-s) are capable of abandoning the quality of p¨thagjana. In what sense are they able to abandon the quality of p¨thagjana correctly ? by laukika-agra-dharma, or by duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti? And what then? …

(i). Some say: [only] laukika-agra-dharma-s are capable of abandoning the quality of p¨thagjana correctly.

(Question:) These are dharma-s of the p¨thagjana. How can they, as such, be capable of abandoning it (i.e., the quality of p¨thagjana)?

(Answer:) There is no contradiction. An elephant-driver on an elephant tames the elephant, a rider controls his horse, a pilot directs his ship, the charioteer drives the chariot, … as a wood-cutter climbs a tree and cuts [that very] tree; in this way the laukika-agra-dharma, depending on the quality of p¨thagjana, abandons it.[46]

(ii). Some say: duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti is [alone] capable of abandoning the quality of p¨thagjana correctly. That is to say, in its state of arising, it (i.e. duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti) abandons the quality of p¨thagjana; in its state of perishing, it is capable of abandoning ten defilements (anu§aya-s) which are abandon-able through seeing of unsatisfactoriness (duúkha) pertaining to the k?madh?tu. For example, when there is the arising of lamp, it illumines light and destroys the darkness; when ceasing, the burning-wick exhausts the oil in the lamp.[47]

(iii). Some other masters say: laukika-agra-dharma and duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti give mutual-assistance [to effect] the abandonment of the quality of p¨thagjana. Though laukika-agra-dharma-s are in contradiction to the quality of p¨thagjana, their strength is weak, and [they are] not capable, in themselves, of abandoning it. However, they induce from this [laukika-agra-dharma] the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti. They [thus] mutually-assist each other to abandon the quality of p¨thagjana.

Example: A weak person is dependent on a strong one. They mutually-assist one another to conquer their enemy. In light of this reasoning, laukika-agra-dharma-s which are similar to ?nantarya-m?rga, and duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti which is similar to vimukti-m?rga, abandon the quality of p¨thagjana. Hence laukika-agra-dharma [causes] the cessation of the possession of endowment (samanv?gama-pr?pti ‘成就得’) of the quality of p¨thagjana. Duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti [causes] the arising of the possession of non-endowment (asamanv?gama-pr?pti ‘不成就得’) of the quality of p¨thagjana.[48]

One notably remark observed from the above third view is that of the Sarv?stiv?da’s important notions of co-existent-cause (sahabhè-hetu) and the notion of possession (pr?pti). There seems to be a conciliation of the first two views, according to some other masters, to combine the laukika-agra-dharma-s and duúkhe dhamaj??na-k·?nti, mutually dependent and strengthened to accomplish the abandoning of the nature of p¨thagjana. This is the notion of sahabhè-hetu. Furthermore, with the intervention of pr?pti which is in nature dissociated from the citta-caitta-s, it becomes important tool to severe the pr?pti linking the defilements to an individual series, that is to say, to effect the abandoning of defilement, the ceasing of the pr?pti of the possession of a particular defilement is following by the arising of the pr?pti of the non-possession of that particular defilement. Similarly in the case of the abandoning of the nature of p¨thagjana at the final stage of laukika-agra-dharma, two moments are necessarily involved: in the first moment, laukika-agra-dharma which is resemble to ?nantarya-m?rga, causes the pr?pti of the possession (samanv?gama-pr?pti) of those defilements to cease, and in the second moment, duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti which is resemble to vimukti-m?rga causes the pr?pti of the non-possession (asamanv?gama-pr?pti) of those defilements to arise.

7.2. Laukika-agra-dharma-s are Capable of Acquiring the Quality of ?rya

Laukika-agra-dharma-s are the highest ku§ala-mèla of the worldly path. However since these laukika-agra-dharma-s, which are of the nature of citta and caitta, are capable of serving as the equal-immediate condition (samanantara-pratyaya) for entrance into the noble path (i.e. duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti), which means, in turn, that they directly induce the ?rya-m?rga, they must, essentially, obtain some of the qualities of the ?rya-m?rga. This theory is explained in a passage appearing in the MVS:

Acquiring the quality of ?rya: these citta and caitta dharma-s are capable of acquiring the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti which is able to sustain the whole of noble dharma-s. Therefore, first of all, they are said to have the quality of ?rya. Other remaining noble paths are subsumed under the quality of ?rya, however [those noble paths] are not to be obtained here.

(Question:) Laukika-agra-dharma-s are only capable of inducing the obtainment of duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti. [However] they can not obtain duúkhe dharma-j??na yet, how much more so [can they be] capable of obtaining the remaining [k·?nti and j??na]? …

(Answer:) All noble m?rga are capable [of inducing one] to become an ?rya. They are [thus] exclusively said to be of the quality of ?rya, because of the fact that [they] are of the same species as that (tajj?t′yatva). [Similarly] laukika-agra-dharma-s obtain a portion of [noble path], they are also called the obtainment [of noble path].[49]

7.3. Laukika-agra-dharma-s are Capable of Relinquishing the Mithy?tva (捨邪性)

Laukika-agra-dharma-s are capable of relinquishing the ‘wrong-ness’ (mithy?tva) of the five grave sins, three evil planes of existence and five topsy-turvy views. Since defilements dependent on the quality of an ordinary worldling (p¨thagjanatva) and which are unveiled-undefined (aniv¨ta-avy?k¨ta ‘無覆無記’) are what forces sentient beings to endure the cycle of birth and death. Furthermore laukika-agra-dharma-s induce the arising of duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti, which serves as the counteragent by means of which one can relinquish the quality of an ordinary worldling.

Relinquishing the mithy?tva: these citta-caitta dharma-s [pertaining to the laukika-agra-dharma-s] are capable of relinquishing three kinds of mithy?tva.

1. karma mithy?tva業邪性

2. gati mithy?tva趣邪性

3. d¨· i mithy?tva見邪性

Karma-mithy?tva refers to the five ?nantarya-karma-s. Gati-mithy?tva refers to the three evil planes of existence. D¨· i-mithy?tva refers to the five topsy-turvy views.

(Question:) With regards to this stage (ie, the laukika-agra-dharma), [one] prior to [reaching it] is [already] not endowed with karma[-mithy?tva] and gati-mithy?tva. [It is also not until that time] when m?rga-anvaya-j??na [the 16th and final thought moment of the abhisamaya arises] that he relinquish the d¨· i mithy?tva, until perfection. How can you say that this stage (ie, laukika-agra-dharma) is capable of relinquishing these three mithy?tva?

(Answer:) This stage is called relinquishing on account of these three conditions:.

(1). Because of not doing [i.e., five ?nantarya-karma-s], it is called relinquishing. That is karma-mithy?tva.

(2). Because of not going [i.e., to three evil planes of existence], t is called relinquishing. That is gati-mithy?tva.

(3). Because of not practicing [i.e., five topsy-turvy views], it is called relinquishing. That is d¨· i-mithy?tva.

(Question:) Having accomplished three conditions when k·?nti is predominant, why is this stage still called relinquishing mithy?[tva]?

(Answer:) Now that it (ie, mithy?tva) has been destroyed, depending of that, it is called the ‘relinquishing of that.’

(Question:) What is “depending on that”?

(Answer:) Unveiled-undefined (aniv¨ta-avy?k¨ta ‘無覆無記’) is of the nature of p¨thagjana. That is to say, defilements dependent on p¨thagjanatva harm sentient beings, causing them to suffer in the [cycle of] birth and death. Like Siμha-r?ja, dependent on cavern which is of the nature of aniv¨ta-avy?k¨ta, capable of harming various kinds of animals (tiryag-yoni), etc. Laukika-agra-dharma-s are capable of abandoning that, depending on the nature of p¨thagjana. Hence it is called relinquishing of that [p¨thagjana].

Some other masters say: duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti is the counteragent of that (i.e. p¨thagjanatva). Laukika-agra-dharma-s induces its (ie, duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti) arising; hence it is called the relinquishing of that (i.e. p¨thagjanatva).

(Question:) Karma[-mithy?tva] and gati-mithy?tva are abandonable through [the Path of] Cultivation. How is duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti capable of counteracting [them]?

(Answer:) duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti is capable of serving as a five-fold counteragent:

1. Relinquishing counteragent (捨對治): it is capable of relinquishing the quality of p¨thagjana.

2. Abandoning counteragent (斷對治): it is capable of abandoning the ten anu§aya-s which are abandonable through the seeing of duúkha[-satya] pertaining to the k?madh?tu.

3. Maintaining counteragent (持對治):- it is capable of maintaining the subsequent states of ?rya-m?rga-s in [their] entirety.

4. Non-doing counteragent (不作對治):- it is capable of bringing about the absolute non-doing of the five ?nantarya[-karma-s].

5. Not-going-to counteragent (不往對治):- it is capable of bringing about the absolute not-going-to the three evil destinies.[50]

7.4. Laukika-agra-dharma-s are Capable of Acquiring Saμyaktva

Laukika-agra-dharma-s induce the attainment of duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti, which is capable of sustaining the entirety of righteous dharma-s (saddharma). Therefore they are of the ‘right nature’ (saμyaktva).

Acquiring saμyaktva ? these citta-caitta dharma-s are, by maintaining all saddharma, capable of obtaining duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti,…

Some say: dar§ana-m?rga itself is of the saμyaktva….

(Question:) Laukika-agra-dharmas are only capable of inducing duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·??ti. With regards to the duúkhe dharma-j??na, it itself has not [at the thought-moment of the laukika-agra-dharma] been obtained. [As this is the case,] how could there be [at this stage] the obtainment of the remainders…

(Answer:) All ?rya-m?rga-s are separated from topsy-turvy views. They are saμyaktva, because of the fact of [their] being similar to that (ie, saμyaktva) kind (tajj?t′yatva). Laukika-agra-dharma-s obtain one part of [saμyaktva], hence it is also called the obtainment [of saμyaktva]. [This is] like what has been said of a burned-robe (dagdha-c′vara 燒衣).[51]

7.5. Laukika-agra-dharma-s are Capable of Entering into Saμyaktva-ny?ma, or Saμyaktva-niy?ma, *Saμyaktva-dh?ra?a, *Saμyaktva-visaμyoga, *Saμyaktva-agamana

Several terms in the MVS designate the point of departure from laukika-agra-dharma-s to the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti. These are saμyaktva-ny?ma, saμyaktva-niy?ma, *saμyaktva-dh?ra?a, *saμyaktva-visaμyoga, *saμyaktva-agamana. Among these, saμyaktva-ny?maand saμyaktva-niy?maare used interchangeably in AKB[52] especially in Xuan Zang’s translation.[53]

Laukika-agra-dharma-s induce the immediate, uninterrupted entrance into the duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti. This entrance is given another name called the ‘entry into perfection which is the separation from the raw (saμyaktva-ny?ma-avakr?nti)’.[54] The MVS provides a detailed description of saμyaktva(正性) and ny?ma(< ni + ?ma‘離生’). The word ‘saμyaktva’ is described thus: ‘the wrong views are absolutely abandoned through the Path of Seeing. Hence it is called saμyaktva.’[55] The AKB cites the sètra-sas equating nirv??awith saμyaktva,[56] or as ‘referring to the noble paths.’[57] With regards to the word ny?ma, ‘?ma’ (literally ‘raw,’ ‘un-digested’) is in the MVS said to denote those defilements causing the immaturity of the skillful roots that in turn give rise to faults. Elsewhere in MVS,[58] defilements are called ‘?ma’ for these defilements cause sentient beings to fall into the painful realms of rebirth, and endure intense suffering. An example is cited to illustrate this understanding: ‘Eating raw food which remains for a long time in the body produces various types of sharp suffering. Hence these defilements are called ?ma.’ The Path of Seeing that serves as their counteragent is capable of abandoning them. Therefore the Path of Seeing is said to be separated from the raw. Several other understandings regarding the saμyaktva-ny?ma are also described in the MVS:

Furthermore, satk?yad¨· i etc. are very strong and violent, as difficult to put down as a savage beast (如獸[怡-台+龍]悷). Hence it is called ?ma(raw). Dar§ana-m?rga, which destroys them, is [thus] called ny?ma (separated from the raw). Furthermore, the term ?ma herein shows the p¨thagjanatva…

The heap of defilements abandon-able through [the Path of] Seeing and through [the Path of] Cultivation support each other to induce the incessant ‘raw’. Dar§ana-m?rga, having arisen, destroys their force, causing them to be incapable of inducing the incessant faults of ‘raw.’ Hence dar§ana-m?rga is exclusively called the ‘separation from the raw.’

Furthermore, in the body of worldlings, defilements and evil karma-s are extremely untamable. Hence it is called ‘raw’. Yog?c?rya [says an ordinary worldling] submerges due to [defilements and evil-karma-s], the dar§ana-m?rga removes them, setting [the practitioner] in the noble state. Hence it (dar§ana-m?rga) is called the ‘separation from the raw.’

Furthermore, defilements abandon-able through seeing are like the cutting of the root. ‘Raw’ [gives rise to] incessant faults. Dar§ana-m?rga removes [faults] permanently. Hence it is called the ‘separation from the raw.’[59]

Another corresponding term is saμyaktva-niy?ma (or saμyaktva-niyama, Certitude of Perfection 正性決定). The MVS states that ‘entry into the Certitude of Perfection’ denotes an ordinary worldling abandoning the ‘improper certitude’ (邪定聚), and entering into the proper certitude (niy?ma-avakr?nti ‘入正定聚’). According to Xuan Zang’s translation of AKB,[60] the path is called ‘certitude’ for two reasons: first, it definitely leads to the attainment of nirv??a (能決趣涅槃); second, it decisively discerns the characteristic of truths (決了諦相).

Other masters: this word should be mentioned as the entry into saμyaktva-niy?ma. Why? Therein, [a practitioner] exits from the improper certitude and enters into the proper certitude.

Furthermore, a practitioner relinquishes the improper certitude which is of the basis of the nature of p¨thagjana. He enters the proper certitude which is of the basis of dar§ana-m?rga. Hence it is called the entry into saμyaktva-niy?ma.

MVS further states that the entry into the Certitude of Perfection can also be understood thus: improper certitude gives rise to five nik?ya-sabh?ga, i.e. five mortal transgressions; and proper certitude gives rise to eight homogeneities, i.e. four candidates and four fruitions. An ?rya abandons the portion of improper certitude and enters into the proper certitude.

A practitioner relinquishes five homogeneity (*nik?ya-sabh?ga), and enters into eight homogeneity. Five nik?ya-sabh?ga are those p¨thagjana having all homogeneity, depending on them capable of committing five ?nantarya[-karma]. Eight homogeneities are those ?rya-s having all homogeneity, depending on them capable of obtaining four candidates and [four] fruitions. Therein, he relinquishes the portion (*bh?ga) of improper certitude and enters into the portion of proper certitude. Hence it is called the entry into saμyaktva-niy?ma. [61]

The following four terms are, however, rarely used: they are *saμyaktva-dh?ra?a, *saμyaktva-visaμyoga, *saμyaktva-agamana, *saμyaktva-yoni§o. The compilers of MVS show that the first three terms derived out of these fanciful derivations of ‘niy?ma’; and the last which is associated with truth is called the entry into ?rya-m?rga.

(1) Some say: *saμyaktva-dh?ra?a正性任持

Some say: this word (§abda) shows the entry into *saμyaktva-dh?ra?a. The word ‘niy?ma’ also shows the ‘holding’. Like [holding of] cows, horses, etc. to protect the abode of provision, holding such kinds will not lead to negligence. Yog?c?ra masters [say] in exactly the same way, having dwelt in dar§ana-m?rga, will never [lead to] negligence. Laukika-agra-dharma is spoken of as entry into saμyaktva-dh?ra?a.[62]

(2) D?r· ?ntika say: *saμyaktva-visaμyoga 正性離繫

D?r· ?ntika say thus: this word shows the entry into saμyaktva-visaμyoga. ‘y?ma’ also show the meaning of ‘saμyoga’. ‘ni’ means obstruction, it also shows the meaning of ‘separation’. For all noble paths are absolutely separated from bondage (bandhana). It is called niy?ma.[63]

(3) ê?bdika聲論者 : *saμyaktva-agamana正性不往

ê?bdika say: this word shows the entry into *saμyaktva-agamana. The word ‘y?ma’ also shows the ‘gamana’. ‘ni’ means obstruction, it also show the meaning of negation. Yog?c?ra masters [say], having obtained the ?rya-m?rga, [an ?rya] is absolutely not going to asatpuru·a-gati不善士趣. Hence ?rya-m?rga is called ‘niy?ma’.[64]

(4) Some say: *saμyaktva-yoni§o/ yoga正性如理

Some say, this word should be mentioned as the entry into *saμyaktva-yoni§o, for all ?rya-m?rgais associated with truth (理). Hence it is called yoni§as.[65]

7.6. Laukika-agra-dharma are known as *sama (平等), not as saμyaktva(非正性)

Laukika-agra-dharma-s are also called equality (sama ‘平等’) for they abandon unwholesome dharma-s, i.e. anu§aya-s. MVS further states that since Buddha, Pratyeka-buddha and §r?vaka are equally dwelling in high-high category, they are called sama.

(Question:) Why are laukika-agra-dharma-s called sama and not saμyaktva?

(Answer:) From beginningless time, citta-caitta dharma-s have been afflicted by defilements, by bad-conducts, and by upside-downness views. Hence they become deceitful (不正直a-sama). Laukika-agra-dharma-s subdue and remove them, causing the citta-caitta [dharma-s] to operate upright, hence they are called sama (平等). However there exist ?srava-s, there exist anu§aya-s. Hence it is called asama (不正性).

Furthermore, Buddha, Pratyeka-buddha and êravaka-gotra, are similar with regard to this stage, dwelling in high-high category (adhim?tr?dhim?tra上上品), hence it is called sama…

Laukika-agra-dharma-s locate in the middle in between an ordinary worldling and an ?rya. It is on the basis of this ‘sama’ that a practitioner is able to repel p¨thagjana and becomes an ?rya. It is further said that laukika-agra-dharma-s and duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·??ti, are equal in four thing (vastu四事), they are called sama.

Furthermore, laukika-agra-dharma-s locate in a middle state. Like drooping of equal rope (如懸稱繩).It is called sama… in the same way laukika-agra-dharma-s are located in between ?ryaand p¨thagjana. If the duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?ntihad arisen, it inclines to ?rya. If predominant k·?nti (增上忍) is being ceased, it reclines to p¨thagjana. Hence it is called the stage of sama. 

(Question:) At that time, it is like included in the stage of p¨thagjana, why it is still called dwelling in the stage of sama?

(Answer:) At that time, though [a practitioner] remains in the stage of p¨thagjana, but he repels p¨thagjana, goes and seeks the stage of ?rya. Hence it is called sama…

Furthermore, laukika-agra-dharma-s and duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·??ti, are equal in four thing (vastu四事), they are called sama.

1.Bhèmi-sama (地等): dependent on this bhèmi, there arises duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti; laukika-agra-dharma is only dependent on this bhèmi.

2.Indriya-sama (根等): if duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti is conjoined with this indriya, laukika-agra-dharma-s are also conjoined [with this indriya].

3.?k?ra-sama (行相等): if there is ?k?raof duúkhe dharma-j??na k·?nti, in that very place, there is ?k?raof laukika-agra-dharma.

4.?lambana-sama(所緣等): if he takes this vi·aya(境) as an object, there arises duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti, he is also taking the same vi·aya, arises laukika-agra-dharma.[66]

8. Conclusion

MVS provides a considerable body of materials for studying the laukika-agra-dharma-s’ nature, attributes and controversies. Through this lengthy commentary, a clear picture of what Sarv?stiv?da’s focus and intent of worldly supreme dharma-s is delineated at the very beginning of MVS in order to avoid a practitioner falling into confusion and loss.

The laukika-agra-dharma takes the unsatisfactoriness (duúkha) pertaining to k?madh?tu ? together with retinues, and the five skandha-s (rèpa, citta, etc,), which could be interpreted to include the (‘conditioning forces’) as an object, with the exception of acquisition (pr?pti), one of the conditioning forces dissociated from thought (citta-viprayukta-saμskāra). However, though pr?pti is a conditioned force neither mental nor material in nature, it effects the process of abandoning of the nature of p¨thagjana thus: laukika-agra-dharma which is resemble to ?nantarya-m?rga, causes the pr?pti of the possession (samanv?gama-pr?pti) of those defilements to cease, and subsequently followed by duúkhe dharmaj??na-k·?nti which is resemble to vimukti-m?rga causes the pr?pti of the non-possession (asamanv?gama-pr?pti) of those defilements to arise.

The laukika-agra-dharma is furthermore the pinnacle of the worldly path and roughly denotes the initial entry point into the supramundane path on virtue of its being the essential equal-immediate condition (samanantara-pratyaya) for entrance into dar§ana-m?rga (which the Sarv?stiv?da equates to saμyaktva-ny?ma or saμyaktva-niy?ma/niyama). Having ascended into the laukika-agra-dharma a practitioner also no longer need fear retrogression into the earlier stages of the worldly path.[67]

In the schema of the spiritual path of the Sarv?stiv?da, once a practitioner enters into k·?nti and laukika-agra-dharma, the last two of nirvedha-bh?g′ya, he can never again commit ?nantarya-karma and fall into the evil planes of existence.[68] Hence it is importance of this cardinal stage i.e. laukika-agra-dharma-s that induce the attainment of duúkhe dharma-j??na-k·?nti, i.e. the first moment of dar§ana-m?rga; without which, there is impossibility of obtaining the noble fruitions, until the attainment of arhat-ship.

[1] A detailed description of nirvedha-bh?g′ya is articulated in the AKB as follows:-

What is the meaning of nirvedha-bh?g′ya? Vidha (penetrating) is in the sense of distinction (vibh?ga). Nirvedha is a decisive comprehension. This is the noble Path. Through that, because of the abandoning of vicikits?, and because of the distinguishing of the truths:- this is duúkha, up to, this is the path. Its portion (nirvedha = ?ryam?rga) refers to one part of dar§ana-m?rga. They are called nirvedha-bh?g′ya, because of the fact of being beneficial in terms of bringing about of it. And that the whole of 4 fold nirvedha-bh?g′ya are bh?van?may′ praj??, not of the nature of §ruta and cint?may′ praj??.

[2] MVS, 5b.

[3] MPPS (tr.), 835-6.

[4] SN, III, 225: Yo bhikkhave ime dhamme evaμ saddahati adhivuccati... okkanto sammattaniy?maμ sappurisabhèmiμ okkanto v′tivatto puthujjanabhèmiμ. abhabbo taμ kammaμ k?tuμ yaμ kammaμ katv? nirayaμ v? tiracch?nayoniμ v? pettivisayaμ v? upapajjeyya. abhabbo ca t?va k?laμ k?tuμ y?va na sot?pattiphalaμ sacchikaroti.

[5] MVS, 5b. The same sètra quoted in MVS is also cited by MPPS (T25, 192c) to show the importance of laukika-agra-dharma in Abhidharma study connected with its soteriological function, and not just a mere scholastic study.

What does the teaching of the Abhidharma mean? Sometimes the Buddha himself defined the meaning of the dharma-s [that he was teaching], sometimes he was content to give their names (n?man) and his disciples explained the meaning by all kinds of descriptions. Thus, the Buddha said: “If a bhik·u is unable to correctly understand conditioned dharma-s (saμsk¨tadharma) and if he wants to obtain the worldly supreme dharma-s (laukik?gradharma), that will be impossible for him. If he has not obtained the worldly supreme dharma-s and he wants to enter into the perfect state (samyaktva), that will be impossible for him. If he has not entered into the perfect state and he wants to become a srota?panna, a sak¨d?gamin, an an?gamin or an arhat, that will be impossible for him. On the other hand, if a bhik·u understands correctly conditioned dharma-s, he will have the possibility of obtaining the worldly supreme dharma-s; if he has obtained the worldly supreme dharma-s, he will enter into the perfect state; if he enters into the perfect state, he will certainly have the possibility of becoming srota?panna, sak¨d?gamin, anāgamin, or arhat.” … this is what is called the Teaching of the Abhidharma.

[6] An extensive and detailed treatment of the nirvedha-bhāgīya is preserved in fascicles 2-5 of MVS.

[7] MVS, 7b-c

[8] Cf. Study, 242.

[9] Cf. S?g, 183a

[10] MVS 8a: As it is [also] said in the sètra: ‘It is excellent indeed that the Bhagavat expounds the core teachings of the dharma (法要). Why? There are sentient beings dwelling in the world, whether [as a result of] birth, or growth [after their birth], [come to] possess sharp-faculties, possess medium faculties, possess weak faculties, etc. Furthermore, it is said in the sètra: ‘O Bhik·u-s, you should know, in the past, when I had not yet turned the wheel of the dharma (dharma-cakra), I had perceived through the Buddha-eye (buddha-cak·u) that sentient beings who are dwelling in the world, whether [as a result of] birth or growth, had come to possess different [distinct categories of] faculties - sharp, medium [or] weak; of good appearance, well tamed [in their mind and demeanor], who are of few defilements; if [they] don’t listen to dharma-s, [they] retrogress from the superior faculties - faith, etc.’ [10] If [the five faculties] are exclusively outflow-free, [then] it should [be the case that] the [those of the] sharp-faculty are arhat, [those of] the medium faculty are An?g?min, [those of] the weak faculty are sak¨d?g?mi and srota?panna. If that is the case, [the time in which] the Bhagavat had not yet turned the dharma-cakra should already have be called [the time in which it had been] turned, for all [types] of ?rya-s should have already filled the world (ie, they would be the very ‘sentient beings dwelling in the world’ referred to above). Furthermore there would be no use in turning the dharma-cakra (ie, people have already acquired the means to gain enlightenment).

[11] MVS, 8a-b9: [Vibhajyav?dins question:] If it is with-outflow, how should you explain the citation of the sètra?

[Answer by Pèrva-?bhidharmika-s:] 

1. Five faculties, §raddh?, etc are indeed with-outflow. Why it has been said categorically in that sètra as outflow-free? Because there are differences in ?rya, it has been established basing on the outflow-free faculties.

2. Some say: That sètra only speaks of ?rya-path. Why? The differences of ?rya are spoken of depending on ?rya-m?rga, not on worldly[-path].

[Question:] That sètra also says: If there is no five faculties, §raddh?, etc. at all, I say he dwells in heretic worldling. How to understand it?

[Answer:] The cutting off of ku§ala-mèla (ku§ala-mèla-samuccheda, 斷善根) is known as outside ordinary worldling (外異生).

An ordinary worldling is of twofold: 1. Inside; 2. Outside. 

1. The non cutting off of ku§ala-mèla is known as inside.

2. The cutting off of ku§ala-mèla is known as outside.

The intention of that sètra is that, if there is no five faculties, §raddh?, etc., at all, I call it as the cutting off of ku§ala-mèla. Hence there is no fault with regard to my citation of the sètra.

[12] It has been said in the sètra: in the case that one has five indriya-s that are predominant and sharp, equal, accomplished and repeatedly cultivated, he therefore comes to be liberated doubly. Dragging down [a level] from this he becomes a praj??-vimukta. Again dragging down a level below this he becomes k?ya-s?k·in. Again dragging down a level below this he becomes d¨· ipr?pta. Again dragging down a level below this he becomes §raddh?dhimukta. Again dragging down a level below this he becomes dharm?nus?rin. Again dragging down a level below this he becomes §raddh?nus?rin. Cf. T02, 183b.

[13] MVS, 8b.

[Question:] of what kind the teachings of Sarv?stiv?dins and V?ts′putr′ya are connected with?

[Answer:] It is for the sake of certitudeness of those having sceptical doubt 為令疑者得決定故…. In spite of many similarities, but there are small differences.

1. Laukik?gradharma, having exclusively the five faculties, §raddh?, etc. as the [self-]nature.

2. Because p¨thagjana-s are categorically defiled ? conjoined with k?ma-dh?tu, abandonable through the seeing of duúkha, having 10 anu§aya-s ? as their own-nature.

3. The substance of anu§aya is of citta-viprayukta-saμsk?ra.

4. Nirv??a is threefold: §aik·a, a§ak·a, naiva§aik·?n?§aik·a.

5. Establish asura as the sixth gati.

6. The substance of pudgala is real.

They have such [teachings] etc., if six or seven which are different with this. The remaining many characteristics seems similar, let it not be any doubts. Because of the similarity of this and that. This is to refute that proposition narrated, and to show their differences.

[14] See also MVS, 112a.

[15] Cf. Sarv?stiv?da Abhidharma, 87.

[16] MVS, 8c.

[17] See MVS, 8c-9a. According to K?ty?yan′putra, as non-associated mental dharma-s can not arise concomitantly with other mental dharma-s, such an assertion would necessarily imply that one could only enter into dar§ana-m?rga with merely one faculty as the equal-immediate condition, thus negating the soteriological need for the development of the other four faculties. This would imply, in the instance that the faculty of ‘faith’ (§raddh?) is present, that the practitioner can still retain, immediately prior to entry into the dar§ana-m?rga, those negative attributes of which the other four faculties (i.e., effort, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom) are the counteragent ? indolence, loss of mindfulness, distraction, and ignorance respectfully. To resolve this problem K?ty?yan′putra provided an alternative position: that the laukika-agra-dharma is not the five faculties per-se, but a dharma both conjoined with the five faculties, and another/other indistinct ‘non-faculty’ dharma/s, and is of the nature of both citta and caitta.

[18] Study, 242.

[19] MVS, 8c-9a

[20] MVS, 7b-c

[21] See also, JPS, 918a.

[22] MVS, 9a.

[23] MVS, 9a.

[24] Cf. M?g, 714a

[25] Cf. S?g, 219c; E?g, 687b

[26] M?g, 583c

[27] MVS, 9a.

[28] MVS, 9a-b.

[29] MVS, 9c-11b.

[30] MVS, 11a.

[31] MVS, 918a.

[32] MVS, 11c.

[33] MVS, 11c.

[34] MVS, 11c-12a.

[35] MVS, 21a

[36] MVS, 21a-b

[37] MVS, 22a-b

[38] MVS, 22b:

[39] MVS, 22b

[40] MVS, 22b

[41] MVS, 22b

[42] MVS, 22b

[43] MVS, 22c

[44] MVS, 22c

[45] MVS, 12a

[46] MVS, 12a

[47] MVS, 12a

[48] MVS, 12b

[49] MVS, 12b

[50] MVS, 12b-13a

[51] MVS, 12c-13a

[52] AKB (C), 121b.

[53] T29, 121b: 此名入正性離生。亦復名入正性決定。由此是初入正性離生亦是初入正性決定故。 Lit: This is called ‘entry into saμyaktva-ny?ma’ as well as ‘entry into saμyaktva-niyama’. For, through it, one enters for the first time into saμyaktva-ny?ma and also into saμyaktva-niyama.

[54] MVS, 13a: 世第一法無間引起。故說能入正性離生。

[55] MVS, 13a: 諸不正見。要由見道。能畢竟斷故名正性.

[56] AKB, 350: saμyaktvaμ nirv??amuktaμ sètre. Vy, 541 glosses the term ‘saμyaktva’ as “yat tat pary?d?ya r?ga-prah??am iti vistaraú” (lit: having seized the abandonment of r?ga, etc. )

[57] In AKB (X),121b: Xuan Zang gives an additional explanation to ‘saμyaktva’ as that noble path. (Xuan Zang’s translation gives thus: ‘經說。正性所謂涅槃。或正性言因諸聖道.’)

[58] MVS, 13a: 復次見所斷惑。令諸有情墮諸惡趣受諸劇苦。譬如生食久在身中。能作種種極苦惱事。是故此惑說名為生。

[59]MVS, 13a-b

[60]AKB (X), 121b: 經說。正性所謂涅槃。或正性言因諸聖道。生謂煩惱。或根未熟。聖道能越故名離生。能決趣涅槃。或決了諦相故。諸聖道得決定名。至此位中說名為入。

[61] MVS, 13b

[62] MVS, 13b

[63] MVS, 13b

[64] MVS, 13b

[65] MVS, 13b

[66] MVS, 13b-c

[67] Samaya (X), 16a.

[68] Cf. MVS, 30b-c.

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