Commentary on the Uttaratantra Shastra by Asanga (Excerpt)
A Teaching on the Tathagatagarba by Rangjung Dorje
How the Cause of Liberation is Produced by Longchen Rabjam
Great Madhyamaka by Taranatha
The Lion's Roar Proclaiming Extrinsic Emptiness by Mipham Rinpoche
Great Madhyamaka by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche
Superiority of Great Madhyamaka to Mind Only by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche
The Provisional and Definitive Meaning of the Transmitted Precepts by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche
The Enlightened or Buddha Family by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche
Main Points of the Lineage of Vast Activity by Karl Brunnhölzl
The Lineage of Vast Activity Is Not the Same as "Mere Mentalism" by Karl Brunnhölzl
Commentary on the Uttaratantra Shastra by Asanga (Excerpt)
Those whose minds stray from emptiness are those bodhisattvas who have newly entered the [great] vehicle. They deviate from the principle of what emptiness means in terms of the Heart of the Thus-Gone Ones (tathagatagarbha). [Among them,] there are those who assert the door to liberation that is emptiness due to the destruction of [real] entities, saying, "The subsequent extinction and destruction of an existing phenomenon is perfect nirvana." Or, there are also those who rely on emptiness by mentally focusing on emptiness [as some real entity], saying, "In a way that is distinct from form and so on, what is called 'emptiness' exists as some entity which is to be realized and meditated on." So, how is the principle of what emptiness means in terms of the Heart of the Thus-Gone Ones expressed here?
There is nothing to be removed from it
And not the slightest to be added.
Actual reality is to be seen as it really is—
Who sees actual reality is released.
The basic element is empty of what is adventitious,
Which has the characteristic of being separable.
It is not empty of the unsurpassable dharmas,
Which have the characteristic of being inseparable.
What is elucidated by this? There is nothing to be removed from this basic element of the Thus-Gone Ones that is naturally completely pure, since the emptiness of [all] expressions of afflicted phenomena (the adventitious stains) is its nature. Nor is the slightest to be added to it, since the expressions of purified phenomena (the fact of inseparable dharmas) are its nature. Hence, it is said [in The Sutra of the Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala] that the Heart of the Thus-Gone Ones (tathagatagarbha) is empty of all the cocoons of afflictions, which are separable [from it] and realized as being relinquished. It is not empty of the inconceivable Buddhadharmas, which are inseparable [from it], realized as not being relinquished, and greater in number than the sands of the river Ganga.
Thus, one clearly sees that when something does not exist somewhere, the [latter] is empty of that [former]. In accordance with reality, one understands that what remains there always exists. These two verses unmistakenly elucidate the defining characteristic of emptiness, since it [thus] is free from the extremes of superimposition and denial. Here, those whose minds stray away and are distracted from this principle of emptiness, do not rest [in it] in meditative concentration, and are not one-pointed [with regard to it] are therefore called "those whose minds stray from emptiness." Without the wisdom of ultimate emptiness, it is impossible to realize and reveal the nonconceptual expanse.
I pay homage to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
"Though beginningless, it has an end.
It is pure by nature and has the quality of permanence.
It is unseen because it is obscured by a beginningless covering.
Like, for example, a golden statue that has been obscured."
That was taught (by the Buddha).
"The element of the beginningless time
Is the location of all phenomena.
Due to its existence, there are all beings
And also the attainment of nirvana."
(That was taught by the Buddha.)
"All beings are Buddhas,
But obscured by incidental stains.
When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood."
That is a quotation from a Tantra.
The "element" has no creator,
But is given this name because it retains its own characteristics.
"Beginningless" means that
There is nothing previous to it.
The "time" is that very instant.
It hasn't come from somewhere else.
"Phenomena" are explained to be
Samsara and nirvana appearing as a duality.
This is named "the ground of the latencies of ignorance."
The movement of mental events, correct thoughts
And incorrect thoughts are the cause of that arising (of samsara and nirvana).
The condition for their causes is taught to be the alaya (the universal ground).
The "location" is the Buddha nature.
Incorrect conceptualisation is completely located within the mind's purity.
This purity that exists in that way
Exists, but is not seen due to ignorant conceptualisation.
Therefore, there is samsara.
If they are dispelled, there is nirvana,
Which is termed "the end."
"Beginning" and "end" are dependent upon conceptualisation.
Mental events are like winds
That cause karma and kleshas to arise.
The (karma and kleshas) manifest the skandhas, dhatus,
Ayatanas, and all the phenomena of dualistic appearances.
Someone who strives for and discards these (appearances) is deluded.
What can be negated through rejecting your own projections?
What can be gained by acquiring your own projections?
Isn't this belief in duality a fraud?
Though this understanding is taught as a remedy,
The understanding of non-duality is not truth.
It is not conception of non-conceptuality.
The understanding of emptiness gained through breaking down forms and so on,
Isn't it itself a delusion?
But it is taught so that attachment to things as real will cease.
There isn't anything that is either real or false.
The wise have said that everything is like the moon's reflection on water.
The "ordinary mind" is called
The "dharmadhatu" and "the Buddha nature."
The enlightened cannot improve it.
Unenlightened beings cannot corrupt it.
It is described by many names,
But its meaning cannot be known through verbal expression.
It is unceasing manifestation.
(It is taught) to have sixty-four qualities.
Though this is (just) a simplified description,
It is said that each of the sixty-four has millions (of qualities).
There are ten strengths:
(1) the knowledge of appropriate and inappropriate actions;
(2) the knowledge of the ripening of karma, (3) of natures,
(3) aptitudes, and (5) aspirations;
(6) the knowledge of the destinations of all paths,
(7) (the possession) of dhyana;
(8) divine sight, (9) the memory of previous lives, and (10) peace.
Due to those (ten strengths), there are the four fearlessnesses:
(1) teaching that one abides in enlightenment, within all phenomena,
(2) teaching the path,
(3) teaching cessation, and
(4) being beyond dispute.
Due to those causes there are these eighteen (distinct qualities):
(1) no error, (2) no empty chatter, (3) no forgetfulness,
(5) continuous meditation, (5) the absence of a variety of identifications,
(6) the absence of an undiscriminating neutrality,
(7) the possession of an undeteriorating aspiration,
(8) diligence, (9) mindfulness, (10) samadhi, (11) prajna,
(12) the wisdom that sees complete liberation,
(13)-(15) every action being preceded by wisdom, and
(16)-(18) time being unable to obscure.
If those thirty-two (qualities) are possessed, there is the dharmakaya.
In our present (state), we deny the (presence of the Buddha nature) and these qualities.
There is no understanding of it as it is.
The non-existent "fabrications" are conceived of as existent.
The "completely true" is not known.
Thus we create our own torment.
Oh! Understanding these qualities of the dharmakaya
To be true is the knowledge of truth,
But in their present state, beings with meagre ability
Reject the knowledge of truth and fabricate untruth,
Which is adopted by the agitation that follows it.
Through knowing (the Buddha nature) as it is
One obtains its powers.
There is nothing whatever to be removed;
There isn't the slightest thing that needs to be added.
The truth is truly seen.
If the truth is seen, there is complete liberation.
The "element" is devoid of the incidental impurities,
Which have the characteristic of being separate.
It is not devoid of the unsurpassable qualities,
Which have the characteristic of inseparability.
In (the Buddha nature) are the qualities of the two form kayas:
The thirty-two major and (eighty) secondary signs.
Those qualities that are attained are one's own body.
The body is not created by self, Phwya, Shiva, Brahma, external real particles,
Or by elements beyond experience.
When the impure development of the five senses,
When the (duality) of perceiver and perceived
Is purified, the name "attainment" is given.
Therefore, the purified nadis, vayus, and bindus are the pure form kayas.
The unpurified are the impure form kayas.
For example, the qualities of an encrusted
Beryl are not evident.
When it is cleaned with yak-hair cloth and salty-water,
And cleaned with vinegar and woollen cloth,
Purified, it becomes the jewel that fulfils all needs and desires.
In the same way, for the purpose of clearing away
The three encrustations of the kleshas, knowledge, and meditation
From the aquamarine of the mind,
There is their total cessation through the paths of accumulation and juncture,
The seven impure bhumis and their pure bhumis.
When incorrect conceptualisation
Encounters correct conceptualisation,
Just as both (kindling-) sticks are burned by the fire, there is freedom
from (both) conceptualisations.
There is freedom from the concepts of elimination,
Remedies, suchness, and the idea of a result.
At that time, the flowers of the physical signs blossom
In the one who has the body of space.
The three phases of impurity, both purity and impurity,
And of complete purity are respectively:
(The phases) of beings, Bodhisattvas, and the Tathagatas.
Though this is what is said, Buddhahood is not newly created.
As it was before, it is the same after.
It is the changeless Buddha nature.
The "change" is becoming free of the stains.
If someone has the negative view
That the Buddha qualities have no cause,
Or conceive them not to be within oneself,
But created by external causes and conditions,
What difference is there between that and the eternalist and nihilist views of non-Buddhists?
The apparent momentary birth and cessation of the "mental events" (of Buddhas)
Correspond to the impure mental events (of beings).
If (the mental events of the Buddhas) were not like that,
The activity of the form kayas would cease.
However, they are not given the name "mental events,"
But (the name) "discriminating wisdom."
The nature of material elements
Is (either) accompanied by clinging (or) their powerful essence is manifested.
There is no difference whatsoever in appearances
To the deluded and the undeluded.
The (only) difference is the presence or absence of clinging to dualism.
If that was not so,
How could the Buddhas apply their activity?
The examples of the wish-fulfilling jewel and so on
Are explained to represent the manifestation of non-conceptual power.
However, this does not exist solely within the beings of others.
If that were so, it would be the wisdom of other beings.
And if that were so, then wisdom would be delusion.
If one states that (wisdom) has attachment for its own appearances,
Then a mirror that has appearances within it
Would (also) have thoughts of attachment.
All the delusions that beings have
Appear to (a Buddha's) wisdom.
The wisdom is however unstained by the delusions.
For example, though the material elements
Appear to originate and cease within space,
Space is unstained, is without any origin or cessation.
In that same way, though the wisdom of the Buddhas
Enters beings, it is not stained.
It is not given the name "delusion."
It is called "(the wisdom of) accomplishment of action."
The mind that has the absence of the three obscurations
Is "(the wisdom of) equality" and it is "peace."
Due to having love and great compassion (for beings)
The sambhoga(kaya), etc., appears to them.
This is stated in order to refute those who say
That the attainment of Buddhahood is the same as the Hinayana (attainment).
Wisdom is the three permanences:
Permanence of nature is the dharmakaya;
Permanence of continuity is the sambhogakaya;
Uninterruptedness is the nirmanakaya.
There are three impermanences:
Mentally fabricated emptiness is impermanent;
The mind of moving thoughts is impermanent;
The composite six consciousnesses are impermanent.
However, the three permanences are present.
The three impermanences are stains.
The three permanences are wisdom.
This is not the same as the Tirthika "self,"
Because that is a mental fabrication and (Buddha nature) is not.
This is not the same as the nirvana of the Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas
Because (in that) all the qualities of the form kayas are not manifested.
This is not the same as the body of an (ordinary) being
Because it is not created due to the defilements.
It will not change back to the previous state
Because it has manifested exactly as it is.
There will never (again) be the appearance of the stains
Because there is freedom from differentiating conceptualisation.
Therefore, the mind, this Buddha,
Is present now, but is not known.
(From the "Sutralankara"):
"When there is realization, at that time,
Just as when the heat of metal ceases,
And conjunctivitis in the eyes cease,
Because Buddhahood (has occurred), one cannot say that
Mind and wisdom either exist or do not exist."
(From the "Mahayanavimshika"):
"Because in the pristine meaning there is no birth,
There is also no liberation there.
Buddhahood is like space.
It has the same qualities as beings.
As 'this side' and 'the opposite side' are birthless,
The composites are truly empty.
This is the experience of omniscient wisdom."
(From the "Uttaratantra")
"It is subtle, so it is not the object of learning.
It is ultimate, so it is not the object of contemplation.
The dharmata is profound, so it is not the object of
Mundane meditation, and so on."
This experience of wisdom that knows itself,
This ultimate arises through trust in self-origination.
Oh! Because they do not understand this,
The children wander in the ocean of samsara!
Through the power of great Shakyamuni,
Of Manjushri, Maitreya, and Avalokiteshvara,
This was written by Rangjung Dorje.
May all beings have unmistaken knowledge
And full attainment of the Buddha nature!
This completes the definitive presentation of the Buddha nature,
which is the essence of the vajrayana.
If it is asked on what these goodnesses depend, and from what they are produced, the real goodness in accord with liberation, the true path, is accumulated as a cause of separation [from defilement]. Therefore, it depends on the alaya of the various habitual patterns. The fruition of separation attained by this cause of separation depends on the gotra or the essence. The essence is therefore the true cause of changeless liberation. That is the main point:
The gotra is the support of the goodness of liberation.This is taught as it is in the final Word of the true meaning sutras, the great teachings of all the buddhas. These are:
In having this we have the luminous nature of mind.
Spotless dharmadhatu is the naturally present gotra.
In its apparent aspect this is the two rupakayas.
These are described by the Uttaratantra's nine examples.
This nature of compassion exists eternally.
The Sugata has said that this is the "growable" gotra:
Its root is the luminosity of insight-wisdom.
Its essence is [basic] goodness, that does not have the three poisons.
The Sutra of the Questions of King Dharantsvara,These sutras say that within all sentient beings is primordially existing dharmadhatu, the naturally pure space which is the nature of mind. This is tathagatagarbha. It exists primordially. It is changeless. Its apparent aspect is rupakaya, the source of the major and minor marks. Its aspect of emptiness is dharmakaya, primordially and spontaneously present, free from all the extremes of complexity.
The Glorious Mala of the Lion's Roar Sutra,
The Sutra Requested by the Girl Precious One,
The Sutra Requested by the Goddess Immaculate One,
The Sutra of the Dwarf Angulamala,
The Noble Complete Great Nirvana Sutra,
The Sutra requested by Maitreya,
The Tathagatagarbha Sutra, and
The Sutra of the Wheel Curing Sickness.
Its qualities, in their spontaneous presence are exemplified by a jewel; in their changelessness, by space; In moistening and pervading all sentient beings, it is exemplified by pure water. The Uttaratantra says:
Like a jewel, space, or pure water;Even at the very time it is obscured by defilements, its essence is undefiled suchness. The nature of mind is primordial luminosity. The Gyu Tongpa says:
Its nature has never had kleshas.
Mind is not mind. The nature of mind is luminosity.That is the dhatu of buddhahood, the gotra or enlightened family which all sentient beings possess. The Uttaratantra says:
Because the perfect buddha kaya radiates,This should be known to be the good dhatu of the Dharma. It is fundamentally enlightened from the beginning. The Expressor of Marks says:
Because of suchness being inseparable,
And because of possessing the dhatu every sentient being
Always possesses the very essence of buddhahood.
Buddhahood is without beginning and end.The Two Examinations says:
The primordial buddha is without any bias.
Sentient beings are buddhas, in actuality,Even at the time of being a sentient being, the nature of mind has the apparent buddha qualities of rupakaya and the buddha qualities of the emptiness aspect as dharmakaya; but they are obscured by unremoved defilements. This is called the dhatu or enlightened family.
But obscured by incidental obscurations.
When these are cleared away, then they are buddhas.
At the time of buddhahood mind is free from all defilements is called enlightenment. This difference is merely the appearance or non-appearance of the perfected power of the nature, mind itself. It is not maintained that first, at the time of being a sentient being, the qualities are non-existent, and later they are newly produced. This is because they are changeless. The Sutra of the Supreme Appearance of the Essence says:
The dhatu has no temporal beginning.The luminous nature of mind is not obscured by the kleshas. The Uttaratantra says:
It exists as the true state of all dharmas.
Since it exists, all beings have reached nirvana.
As it was before, it will be later.
So it is in the changeless state of suchness.
The nature of the mind is luminosity.The divisions are the primordial gotra and the removable gotra, whose arising depends on clearing away incidental defilements. As for their beginningless existence as dharmin and dharmata, the Nirvana Sutra says:
It is just as changeless as the space of the sky.
By the rising of false conceptions, desire and so forth obscure it,
But its nature is not obscured by incidental defilements.
O son of noble family, the nature of mind is naturally luminous and naturally essenceless. The way naturally pure mind appears is by participating in buddha qualities that blaze with the major and minor marks, and not being separate from them. Nevertheless its empty and apparent natures are distinguished.The established gotra, superimposed on the primordial gotra, is the incidental upaya and prajña of the four paths of learning. It is produced by mind and so forth. Purification occurs through the activities of the two accumulations of merit and wisdom. The Gandavyuha Sutra says:
Kye, sons of the Victorious One! This which is called the gotra of enlightenment is genuine dharmadhatu. It is vast like the sky. When its naturally luminous nature has been seen, training in accord with the great accumulations of merit and wisdom is purified.The Uttaratantra says:
Like the buried treasure and the fruitSvabhavikakaya is mind itself, the naturally existing gotra. This is like a naturally existing jewel. From within it comes the gotra with the nature of the dharmin. Here there are the universal monarch of sambhogakaya, and its reflected emanation, arising in dependence on it, nirmanakaya, the supreme emanation for those who are to be tamed. At the time of existing as a sentient being, these do not appear, because defilement obscures them.
The two aspects of the gotra should be known
They are the beginningless natural presence
And supremacy that truly is received.
As is taught, arising from these two gotras,
The trikaya of the Buddha is attained.
By the first arises the first of the kayas,
By the second rise the subsequent two.
All the splendor of svabhavikakaya,
Like the precious statue of the Buddha.
Is self-arising and therefore unproduced.
It is a mine of precious qualities.
Because of its great dominion over the dharmin
It is fully expressed, like a universal monarch.
Its phenomenal nature is like a reflection,
With emanation-bodies like forms of gold.
By accumulating merit through visualization and so forth, defilements that obscure rupakaya are cleared away. By the accumulation of wisdom through emptiness meditation and so forth, obscurations are cleared away from the dharmata-svabhavikakaya, the body of the self-existing-essence, the nature of dharmas.
The support, the naturally existing gotra, is like clear water. Within it the supported, the established gotra, rises like a variety of reflections. The two exist primordially, like reflector and reflection.
Within the gotra that exists as the ground, the incidentally established gotra exists as the phenomena of knowing mind, as knowable objects. These are respectively support and supported.
The dharmin exists separably with dharmata, the naturally existing gotra. As a separable fruition, it is non-existent. The produced gotra is an antidote to purify defilements. Though the two kayas exist as if they were produced effect and producing cause, there is no actual causation. That gotra makes the perfect buddha qualities be born as the realization of the paths of learning. This is their liberation or ripening as the level of buddhahood. The Mahayanasutralankara says:
The nature and the vast extent of its blossoming;Sugatagarbha pervades all sentient beings. By the nine examples it is taught to exist within the covering of the kleshas. The Uttaratantra says:
That these exist as support and what is supported;
Their existence and non-existence; their buddha qualities
Are what should be known as the meaning of liberation.
A buddha in a decaying lotus, bees and honey.These nine examples are related to the obscured dhatu as it exists in ordinary individuals, arhats among the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas dwelling on the paths of seeing and meditation. Ordinary people are those who have not entered into the path; or those who have entered but with their being obscured by the assembly of the four obscurations, passion, aggression, ignorance, and all of these together. From the four examples of the dhatu within them, first, as for the example of how the essence exists when obscured by propensities of desire, the Uttaratantra says:
Gold within a covering of an unclean nature.
Treasure in the earth, the germ within a fruit,
An image of the Buddha covered up with rags.
A king within the belly of a poor and ugly woman.
Jewels in the earth, within such forms as these,
Obscured by incidental defilements of the kleshas,
This dhatu so exists inside of sentient beings.
Existing in a lotus that is evil-colored,Second, the example of the dhatu existing in a covering characterized by propensities of aggression:
A Tathagata-statue, blazing with a thousand marks,
Having once been seen with the undefiled eye of the gods,
The statue would be removed from its mud-born lotus cover.
For tathagatas dwelling in places without torment
Their intrinsic buddha eye sees what will later be unobscured.
Their intrinsic endless compassion will free it from obscuration.
Like honey that is surrounded by a swarm of bees,Third, the example of the dhatu existing in a covering characterized by propensities of stupidity:
Capable persons have a wish that they could acquire it.
Having seen it is there, by using skillful means,
They completely free it from the swarm of insects,
By the all-knowing eye of the great Sage himself
Having seen that the honey of the dhatu or gotra,
Has obscurations that are like the swarm of bees,
He makes them be completely abandoned and disappear.
Just as kernels of grain still covered by their husksFourth, the example of the essence existing in a covering manifesting kleshas characterized by the arising of passion, aggression and stupidity all together:
Are not usable in that form by human beings,
And they remove the grain from out of the covering husk.
Using the part they want for food and otherwise
Just so, mixed with defiling kleshas of sentient beings,
As many victorious ones as there are in the three-fold world,
If they are not liberated from being mixed with kleshas,
So many will not be made into victorious ones.
Just as on a journey someone's treasured goldAs for the example of the dhatu existing in a covering of habitual patterns of ignorance, in the arhats of the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas:
In the confusion might fall into a filthy place,
That dharmin by falling there, would not have been destroyed,
Remaining there like that for many hundreds of years.
By a god who had the pure eye of the gods,
If the gold existing there was seen and found
People would say the god established that precious thing,
This supremely precious thing, that actually was abandoned,
So the buddha qualities of sentient beings.
Have sunk and disappeared among the filth-like kleshas.
When that was seen by the Sage, to purify them of filth,
For all beings he caused the Dharma to arise.
Just as in the house of a poor man, under the floor,If the covering is abandoned when seen, here is the first of the two examples of what the essence is like:
An inexhaustible treasure might be lying buried;
But he would not know about the existence of the treasure,
Nor would the treasure say to him that it was there;
So with the precious treasure that is within the mind,
Spotless dharmata, with no adding or taking away,
When it is not realized, we experience
The impoverishment of suffering, continuously arising.
Just as in a mango or in other fruitsAs for the second example:
There are undestroyed dharmas of seed and germination,
And then if there is plowed earth, as well as water and such,
The stuff of a king of trees will gradually be established.
So in the fruit of the ignorance of sentient beings,
Within the covering skin is the excellent dharma-element
Which similarly depending on the condition of goodness
Will gradually become the stuff of a King of Sages.
As a precious statue of the Victorious OneFrom the two examples of how, within the covering of defilements to be abandoned by cultivation, there exists the splendor of the good dhatu of dharmas, as for the first:
Might be covered up in dirty tattered rags,
But still a divine one on the path might see and reveal it,
And then it would be said, "He really dwells on the path."
So the sugata nature, wrapped in beginningless kleshas,
Having once been seen, even within an animal,
There would be a real means by which it could be freed.
Just as an ugly woman with no one to protect herAs for the second example:
Staying in a shelter for the poor and homeless
Might hold a splendid king in the confines her womb,
But would not know this lord of men was in her belly.
In the refuge mission of life within this world,
Defiled sentient beings are like that pregnant woman.
With no more than she has, she will one day have her protector.
Gestation of the spotless dhatu is similar.
Just as gold ore that has a big nugget inside of itThough the obscurations to the pure ground are many, the same text says:
Has a external nature that is very drab,
But, having seen it, those who know it for what it is,
In order to purify the gold that is inside,
Undertake to remove the outer covering.
Having seen the luminous nature that is within us,
Although it has been covered up by the incidental;
The source of seeing what is precious in sentient beings
Removes the obscurations of supreme enlightenment.
Passion, aggression, and ignorance; active or as an imprint;Joining these examples of defilements and the essence to a determination of their meaning, the same text says:
What is to be abandoned by seeing and meditation;
The higher bhumis respectively impure and pure,
Many defilements are taught by the covering lotus and so forth.
Transcending all the divisions of closely-connecting kleshas,
By these defilements fools and those with the learning of arhats,
Are meant by respectively four and one of these examples.
Seeing and cultivation, and the pure and impure levels
Have two and two comparisons to their impurities.
Just as when a lotus arises from the mud,The Enumeration of Dharmas of the Complete Passing Beyond Suffering of the Noble Ones says:
When it first manifests, the mind is very joyful,
But afterward it decays and there is no more joy;
The joy arising from desire is like that.
Just as delicious honey is completely crawling
With irritated bees that sting like an army of spears;
Just so, if aggression rises, and swarms within our minds
Suffering will be produced within our hearts.
Just as the essence, the kernels of rice and other grain,
Is hidden by an external husk which covers it,
So sight of the essential meaning, buddhahood,
Has been obscured within the shell of ignorance.
Just as filth is something that is unsuitable,
So are those who have desire for these poisons.
That is because depending on the cause of their desire,
What is like filth will be arising everywhere.
Just as when wealth is hidden underneath the ground,
One who does not know this will not attain the treasure,
So the self-arising treasure of the nature
Is hidden in the ground of habitual patterns of ignorance.
Just as by gradual growing of the sprout and so forth
The shell of the seed is sundered, and it falls away,
So by seeing the suchness of the natural state
What is to be abandoned by seeing is reversed.
Those who conquer the essence of transitory collections
Through being connected to the path of the noble ones,
Make wisdom the thing to abandon on the path of meditation.
This is taught to be like being wrapped in rags.
The defilements supported by the first seven bhumis,
Are like the defilement found in the covering of a womb.
Non-thought is like being free of the covering of the womb,
This completes the ripening of the insight of wisdom.
Defilements associated with the three highest bhumis
Should be known to like a covering of mud and clay.
By a great being's having attained the vajra view,
The vajra-like samadhi destroys that covering.
Thus the many defilements of desire and so forth
Are like the examples of a decaying lotus and so forth.
Then the Bhagavan spoke to Kashyapa. O son of noble family, it is, for example, like this. A wealthy king had on his forehead a vajra jewel. With other wealthy ones, radiating power, it touched the heads of those other wealthy ones.This has been taught in many ways. The Hevajra says:
Then the jewel on the forehead sunk inside his flesh, and he did not know where it had gone. Because a wound arose, he asked a doctor, "Cure me." From this instruction, a very capable doctor would not treat him for that wound of the jewel going into his flesh, saying these words, "Kye most powerful one, why are you asking about your forehead-jewel?"
That wealthy one, from aversion, would say to the doctor, "Because my forehead jewel should not go anywhere." He would think, "Is it an illusion that it is not there?" This would produce much suffering.
Then that doctor producing joy in that wealthy one would say, "Do not produce suffering like that. If you emanate power, the jewel will sink into your flesh, and a mere reflection will appear externally. If you emanate power, hatred will arise. Though the power of the jewel has sunk into your flesh, you did not feel it."
Not believing these words that were said, the king would say, "Doctor don't lie. If it sinks into my flesh, which is matter and blood that is very opaque, it is not reasonable that a reflection would appear."
Then the doctor would say, "A mirror is likewise opaque, but a jewel will also clearly appear in that. When you have seen that this is like that, a wondrous, marvelous perception will arise."
O son of noble family, all sentient beings are like that. Since they do not venerate the spiritual friend, though they have the buddha nature they cannot see it. It is obscured by passion, aggression, and ignorance. Many different beings who have so been overcome are within samsara and suffering.
From that nature, O son of noble family, from within the bodies of all sentient beings come the ten powers, the thirty-two major marks, and the eighty excellent minor marks.
Within the body there exists the great wisdomThe Precious Mala says:
The truth of this has abandoned all conceptions.
Universal, it pervades all things.
Embodied existence does not arise from the body.
I and limitless sentient beings are primordial buddhas.The Wisdom of the Moment of Death says:
By the power of discursive thoughts there is samsara.
From that I shall produce the supreme mind of enlightenment.
Whoever realizes mind is a buddha. Produce the supreme perception by not searching anywhere else.The Praise of the Vajra of Mind says:
Water that exists within the earthThe Secret Essence says:
Exists there pure without defilement.
Just so, within the covering of the kleshas,
Wisdom exists without defilement.
Throughout the ten directions and four times,So it is taught, there and elsewhere. In brief, by the example of the great billion-fold expanse of the three-fold thousand worlds it should be known that within all sentient beings primordially exists the kayas and wisdoms of buddhahood, without adding and subtracting, like the sun and its light. That dhatu is always naturally pure. Its self-nature never changes. Its defilements are false conceptions and mere temporary changes. The commentary on the Uttaratantra says:
Perfected buddhas are nowhere to be found.
Except for the perfect buddha, the nature of mind,
Do not look for any other buddha.
The victorious ones themselves, if they should search,
Would never find it anywhere else at all.
O great rishi, The kleshas are darkness. Complete purity is light. The kleshas are weak. Clear seeing is strong. The kleshas are temporary. Natural purity is the root.So it is taught there and elsewhere. Since the dhatu is primordially without defilement, it is pure. Since it is changeless, it is the true self. Since it always exists, it is permanent. Though it falls into the sufferings of samsara, it is not overcome by them, and so it is the perfection of bliss. The Uttaratantra says:
Purity, self-nature, bliss, and permanenceThe dhatu of the tathagata pervades all sentient beings.. The Mahayanasutralankara says:
Are the perfect qualities of the fruition.
Just as space is maintained as eternal and omnipresent,When this essence is obscured by clouds, they do not stain it, any more than the sun when is stained when it is obscured by clouds. At the time of primordial buddhahood, the dhatu exists indestructibly and inseparably. The commentary to the Uttaratantra says:
This too is maintained to be eternal and omnipresent.
Just as space is an aspect found within all forms,
This too is in all the assembly of sentient beings.
The dhatu of the Tathagata existing in the three occasions is present within all beings. All their kleshas and phenomenal appearances are composed of this changeless reality.As regards the three occasions, the Uttaratantra says:
These are the three-fold stages of impurity,The impure situation is that of sentient beings. That which is both pure and impure is that of bodhisattvas. Complete purity is the situation of the buddhas. As nothing is like the gotra, it cannot be exemplified by anything at all. The same text says:
Both pure and impure, and being completely pure.
They are said to be the stage of sentient beings,
That of bodhisattvas, and that of tathagatas.
Since it is completely beyond the worldAs to how it is incomparable, it is essentially single. Therefore, to explain it by many examples from different situations would be merely partial characterization of it.
No example is seen within the world.
Therefore the Tathagata and the dhatu
Are taught to be similar in this respect.
It may be asked, "How can this gotra be seen as it is?" Beings who do not see the natural state are accepted by the spiritual friend. Those who have devotion to the vehicles of the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas; and also beings dwelling on the bhumis realize it in a single way. This realization is one with that of the bodhisattvas dwelling on the tenth bhumi. As for this being the way it really is, it is not seen otherwise even by the buddhas themselves. The commentary to the Uttaratantra says:
Seeing clouds and the sun, whether from here on the earth or from the sky above the clouds, we have a similar apprehension. The noble ones whose eye of the mind is pure also see all this very clearly. Bhagavan, your completely pure understanding of dharmakaya sees all the limitless knowable objects pervading the space of the sky.The dhatu or essence is the buddha field of the three kayas of one's own mind itself, along with their wisdoms, existing as the circle of the ornament. How is this seen? Since this is buddhahood, it is properly explained in these texts. By having faith in the paths of learning it is entirely apprehended. The former text says:
The absolute truth of the self-arisen onesThe Sutra on the Essence of Buddhahood says:
Has to be realized by means of faith.
The blazing light in the circle of the sun
Is not seen by those who have no eyes.
No matter what they rely on, individual sentient beings, shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas do not see the essence of the buddhas as it is. For example, as a blind man cannot see what is painted by others in oil colors. When they say, "It is like this pillar," he touches the pillar with his hands and grasps it as cold. They say, "It is like the wings of a swan." By hearing the sound of the wings of a swan the color of a pillar is grasped as a fluttering sound. He asks, "What is the color of those wings like?" "It is like a conch." By touching a smooth conch, he grasps it as smooth. Just as a blind person does not know colors as they are, seeing the highest nature of buddhahood is very difficult.It is also very hard for sentient beings to realize it. The same text says:
A king assembled many blind men, and having shown them an elephant. Asked to describe the characteristics of an elephant, those who had touched the trunk said, "it is like a hook." Those who touched the eye said, "It is like a bowl. Those who touched the ear said, "It is like a winnowing basket. Those who touched the back said, "It is like a tray. Those who touched the tail said, "It is like a rope." These blind men were not talking about anything other than an elephant, but they had not understood its totality.Beings who are noble ones have a little realization of it, but not as it is. The Nirvana Sutra says:
The buddha nature is also like that. Those who have said different things, that it is emptiness, like illusion, luminous and so forth, have not realized its totality.
O son of noble family For example, it is like this. A blind man in order to have his eyes healed went to a capable physician. The physician holding a gold knife removed the hindrance. Having cut off the cataract that obscured the eye. He lifted up a finger. When he showed it, the blind man said, "I do not see it." If he showed two or three fingers, the patient would say, "I see a little bit."If it is asked, "What is the use of teaching this essence that is subtle and difficult to examine, and that is not seen with certainty while we are sentient beings?"
O son of noble family, if this Sutra of Complete great Nirvana is not taught, as many are not among the bodhisattvas, even after they have perfected the ten paramitas, even when they exist on the tenth bhumi, they will not see the nature of buddhahood. It is like that. When this is taught by the Tathagata, they will see it a little.
The birds soaring in the sky above must examine where the pure sky is. If a swan is in the top of a tree it examines whether it is a tree or water, and thinking about the top of a ship on the ocean, or in space, also knows the top of the second. Though by such examples the essence is not seen, it is taught to be the manner of non-ascertaining seeing.
By teaching that the essence of buddhahood exists within the being of oneself and others, having reversed our discouragement, knowing that establishing liberation is not difficult, we gain confidence. Eliminating contempt for other sentient beings, we respect everyone equally with the teacher as buddhas. Having eliminated not knowing that realization of the kayas and wisdoms exists within one as true reality, prajña realizes the space of the absolute. Knowing the natural state like that, it eliminates glorifications and deprecations of is and is not, eternalism and nihilism. Then wisdom realizes true reality, and the supreme self. Having eliminated pride and desire for anything more, it sees self and other as equal. It is taught that these are the five necessities for the arising of the great kindness for others. The Uttaratantra says:
Like clouds, dreams, and illusions, and the other examplesTo answer that question:
All the dharmas of knowables are always emptiness.
When this has been taught by victorious ones to sentient beings
Why do they also teach them that they have the essence?
Contempt for lesser ones and disenheartened beings,As for those who wrongly slight the body, those enslaved by the golden net of wrong view, or those who support realization of the true meaning of the sutras and secret mantra with partialities, their "essential meanings" are really provisional. The intention is taught that, "If the cause occurs, the fruition will arise."
Joining those who grasp untruth to the truth of Dharma,
For those who have abundant faults of ego-grasping
It is taught so that those like that will abandon them.
It is not like that. That is like the eternal self of the Hindu extremists. "The two kayas of buddhahood arise from the two accumulations. This should be stated as definitely true."
O you with your lotus net of eternalism, you truly do not know the intention of saying that there were three turnings to the wheel of Dharma. You are truly grasping the extreme of emptiness.
The first turning of the word, intended for beginners and those of weak mind, made the four noble truths and renunciation into an antidote. This was so that these beings could eliminate samsara, as a means of complete liberation from what is to be abandoned.
In the second turning, intended for them eventually when they had completely abandoned this and for those of intermediate capacity of mind, he taught the eight examples of illusion and emptiness like space. This was a means of liberating them from the bondage of grasping the antidote.
For those who reached that goal and from the viewpoint of those of the highest powers, he taught the self-nature of knowables as it really is. This is not like the self of the heretics. Their impossible self is a nonexistent, exaggerated nature. They make measures of greater and lesser, and therefore they do not maintain the dharmas of the kayas and wisdoms.
The true meaning is not that self and non-emptiness were taught simply as an antidote for you who are attached to egolessness and emptiness. The Nirvana Sutra says:
O son of noble family, moreover it is like this. For example a woman was nursing her small child who was afflicted by mouth rot, and when the child was struck by sickness, that woman too was tormented by suffering, and sought out a physician. The physician gave her as medicine, oil and milk and shakara. When the child was given this to drink, he instructed the woman with these words. "Because we are giving medicine to this child, for a little while until you, the mother, are cured, it shouldn't be given your milk to drink." So he would instruct her.Emptiness expresses the idea that the apparent dharmin, from the time it appears, is empty of complexities grasped as one and many, and empty of individual existences, like the reflections in a mirror, that all extremes are completely non-existent, and that non-existent now and primordially, things are not like their confused appearance. The Heart Sutra says:
Then so that it would not nurse, he put bile on the nipples. The child would have said that her nipple was smeared with poison and not suitable for sucking. The child, tormented by thirst, desired the breast, but having tasted it, would not take it.
After being treated by the physician the woman would wash her breast clean. When the child cried, she would go to it. "Now take the breast and nurse," she would say. That child, though tormented with thirst, because of the former taste it experienced, would not come when called.
In this instance the mother would give these instructions. "You have drunk the medicine I gave you before. With this medicine, until the mother is cured, since it is not proper that the nipple be given for nursing, it was smeared with bile. Now, even taking your medicine, the nipple will have no taste in your mouth." When she said that, gradually approaching as before, the child would drink.
Son of noble family, The Tathagata also, in order to liberate all sentient beings, is the persistent teacher of egolessness to sentient beings. By his having persistently done that, the attitude of "ego" is non-existent. Suffering is completely eliminated. This is in order to clear away the bad views of the worldly charvakas. By meditating on the dharma of egolessness, the body will become completely pure.
Just as that woman, because of her son, smeared bile on her breast, the Tathagata too is like that. So that there will be emptiness meditation, he teaches that all dharmas are selfless.
Just as that woman later washed off the bile and called her child, saying take the nipple and nurse, my teaching tathagatagarbha is like that. O monks so that you will not be afraid, as the mother called the child, and it gradually drank her milk, O monks, you too should make a distinction. Tathagatagarbha should not be said to be non-existent. In my former sayings in the Prajñaparamita Sutras, which taught emptiness, understand that the intention was merely naturelessness. Otherwise by meditating on the emptiness of nothing at all, the fruition produced would accord with the cause, and the kayas and wisdoms would not arise.
Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. Emptiness is nothing other than form. From is nothing other than emptiness. Similarly, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness are empty.The Middle Length Prajñaparamita says:
Every dharmin in its own turn is taught to be empty of essence. But if it is also formless, how will there be the view that form is empty?The Uttaratantra says:
The emptiness that has the supreme of all aspectsAnd also:
Is emptiness that is expressed as form.
Here there is nothing at all that is to be cleared away,Its commentary says:
And nothing that is to be added to what there is.
Within reality the real is what is seen.
If thus we see the truth, we will be liberated.
Of what has the characteristic of separability
The dhatu, pure of the incidental, is empty.
Of that which has the characteristic of being inseparable,
The unsurpassable dharmas, the dhatu is not empty.
Why is this taught here? For the reason that it is not contradictory with saying that this dhatu of the Tathagata is by nature completely pure from all the kleshas that are to be cleared away. It is free from incidental obscurations because it is its nature to be so. Within this there is nothing to be added for reasons of phenomenal appearance. Completely undivided dharmata is also its nature. Therefore, sugatagarbha, which has divisions and what is separable, is empty of all the separable coverings of the kleshas. What is indivisible and inseparable from it is the buddha dharmas beyond being encompassed by thought, surpassing the grains of sand in the Ganges. They are not empty.Though obscurations of the two primordial kayas of buddhahood, are cleared away by the two accumulations, they are not producing cause and produced effect. If they were, dharmakaya and sambhogakaya would be composite productions, and hence impermanent. However, dharmakaya is changeless. The Madhyamakavatara says:
When something does not exist in something else, the latter is said to be empty of the former, but we must subsequently assert that whatever remains there eternally exists and is known truly as it is.
The kaya of peace is like a wish fulfilling tree,The Uttaratantra says:
Like a wish-fulfilling, gem it is inconceivable.
Till beings are liberated, it is always in the world,
And it will appear without complexity.
The Mara of Death has been conquered by the Lord of Dharma.Contradicting this idea that it has cause and effect it also says:
Being without essence, he is the permanent lord of the world.
Uncompounded and self-existing,That refutes its having a producing cause and produced effect. Saying it is "egoless," "emptiness," "non-dual," and so forth should be understood in this way. The Great Nirvana of the Noble Ones says:
Unrealized by other conditions,
Having wise and compassionate power,
Buddhahood has the two benefits.
The secret essence of the Tathagata is shown to be the completely pure buddha nature that neither changes nor transmigrates. If it so exists, it is logically wrong for those who are skilled in prajña not to maintain that. To say it is non-existent would be false speaking, and likewise that it has development or succession. Those of the race of fools espouse nihilism, not knowing the secret essence of the Tathagata.So it should be known. The Sutra of Miraculous Display says:
If it is said to suffer, the blissful nature could not be within the body. Stupid fools think, "All bodies are impermanent." This is like sending the freshness of awareness into clay. Those skilled in prajña make distinctions. They do not say that everything [conncected with body] is impermanent in every way. Why? Because within our bodies there exists the seed of buddha nature.
Stupid fools grasp the thought that all the dharmas of buddhahood are selfless. For those skilled in prajña, selflessness too is just an abstract label. It should be discriminated as having no true existence. Knowing this, one will produce no doubts about the matter.
When someone says that tathagatagarbha is emptiness, stupid fools give rise to views of nihilism and non-existence. Those skilled in prajña make a distinction. Within human beings there is the single Tathagata. It is said to be eternally existent, unchanging, and does not transmigrate.
If by the condition of ignorance, composite things are said to arise, stupid fools, when they have heard this, think that insight and ignorance must be distinguished as two. Those skilled in prajña realize that their natures are non-dual. That which is non-dual is reality.
When someone says that by formations consciousness arises, stupid fools grasp formations and consciousness as two. Those who are skilled in prajña realize their natures as non-dual. Non-duality is purity.
All dharmas have no self, and tathagatagarbha also has no self. When this is said, stupid fools grasp it dualistically. Those skilled in prajña realize that their natures are non-dual. Self and selflessness are intrinsically non-dual. Tathagatagarbha has been supremely praised by the buddha bhagavats as immeasurable, beyond evaluation, and limitless. I too have taught this in all the sutras about the qualities it possesses.
Those who have wrong craving have the characteristic of never transcending suffering.When this is taught regarding these and those of the cut off family, we may think that not all beings are pervaded by the garbha; but it is not like that. The intention is that those with wrong craving who abandon the Mahayana Dharma will not be liberated for a long time. Those who are reversed from the path are only temporarily cut off from the family of those in whom the path is established. They are not cut off from the dhatu, the luminous nature of mind. The commentary to the Uttaratantra says:
"Those who have wrong craving have the characteristic of never transcending suffering." This teaches that wrong craving causes hostility towards the Dharma of the mahayana. This is said with the intention that this hostility to the mahayana Dharma will be reversed at another time. Because the dhatu exists with a nature that is completely pure, it is not proper to say that some will never become pure. Therefore the Bhagavat's intention was that all sentient beings without distinction are capable of being completely purified. Though samsara is beginningless, it does have an end. The naturally pure and eternal is obscured by a covering of beginningless obscurations, and therefore not seen, just as gold might be hidden.Since within the dhatu of dharmas all goodness exists, it can always be purified. Though, samsara is beginningless, it has an end. By that is it established.
The reasons that the two gotras are awakened are two. As for the reason that dharmakaya, the naturally-existing gotra, is awakened, the Madhyamakavatara says:
When people hear about emptiness, as ordinary persons,As for the reason that the dharmin-gotra of rupakaya is awakened, the Mahayanasutralankara says:
The highest joy will arise within them again and again.
Their eyes are wet with tears that flow because of this joy.
The hairs of their bodies rise with wonder and stand on end.
Within them the seed of attaining buddhahood exists!
They have become the vessels of direct and straightforward teachings.
Now the absolute truth has really been taught to them.
Why do we become connected vessels,Regarding the benefits of awakening the gotra, the same text says:
Practicing compassion, and devotion,
With dedication to what is truly good?
This is truly explained as due to the gotra.
The lower realms are far off, and liberation is quick.Once the gotra is awakened, from then on we are liberated from the lower realms, like growing jasmine naturally falling to the ground. There is little suffering. By their intense weariness sentient beings will be ripened.
After that occurs, we experience little suffering.
By sadness sentient beings will then be quickly ripened.
If there were no such gotra within sentient beings, no matter what sufferings arose, we would not be saddened. The attitude that aspires to nirvana and rejects samsara could not arise. The attitude of desiring liberation could also not arise. That in some, without being taught by anyone, compassion for the suffering of others arises, and that some who experience suffering develop renunciation and so forth is also due to the power of goodness of the beginningless dhatu of dharmas. The Uttaratantra says:
If there were no dhatu of buddhahood,Being able to see the comparative attractiveness of samsara and nirvana, seeing their faults and virtues is due to the existence of the gotra. If the gotra did not exist, neither would these.
Suffering would never make us sad.
There would be no longing for nirvana,
Or effort and aspiration to that goal.
Thus from the extensive teaching that by having the gotra the essence of buddhahood exists within us, now some summary verses are interposed:
Without exception all sentient beings have sugatagarbha."If this gotra really exists in everyone, why, pray tell, are we still wandering in samsara?" We exist this way, not knowing our own face, because we vainly grasp at a meaningless ego. We are the lineage-holders of our own kleshas from earlier to later, and as such we are in bad company. We have poverty-mentality. We are conditioned by relative reference point. This is samsara. The Mahayanasutralankara says:
In the covering veil of incidental obscurations,
Exists the primordial lamp, the luminous dhatu of dharmas.
This is the kayas and wisdoms. This itself is the Dharma.
Nothing can be added, and nothing taken away.
Existing within us, this itself is self-existing.
By devoting ourselves to this essence of emptiness and compassion,
Having attained this dhatu, called by the name "enlightenment,"
We benefit all the host of beings without remainder.
Primordially self-arising, like the sun in space,
When it is obscured by clouds, temporarily dimming the daylight,
Then we experience the dreamlike sufferings of samsara.
So make a powerful effort to clear away obscuration.
Confused incidental appearance, appearances of the six realms,
Are emanated like dreams, from habitual patterns and karma,
Appearing as what never was, is not, and shall not be.
The spontaneous presence of wisdom primordially exists.
It is always there, but nevertheless it is not seen.
As what we perceive in sleep, is not seen to be within us,
Dharmas defiled with false conceptions are vain and futile.
Do not grasp them, but train in the luminous nature of mind.
Grasp the two benefits, bringing wealth to oneself and others.
Well-trained in our kleshas, and in bad company.The Details of Light says:
With impoverished attitude, and relative reference point;
Briefly stated, these are the four that should be known.
These are the degradations that have defiled the gotra.
Primordial luminosity itself becomes ignorant.The All-Creating King says:
So-called "rising" of mind produces attachment to ego.
By these objects being grasped as being so-called "others,"
Beings become confused, within the realm of samsara.
Because of their karma of inappropriate joys and sorrows,
They have the experience of individual beings.
This phenomenal play, which is wonderful and marvelous,Also it says there:
Is actionless existence, like the space of the sky.
Ignorance without apprehension of anything,
Rises immediately from nothing but itself.
This is the path that is alike for everyone.
This is the nature as it is within all beings.
Defiled by the removable, it therefore is confused.
By gathering in the light that exists in all directionsThe primordial, luminous nature of mind, empty-luminous self-arising wisdom, is in essence emptiness like the sky. Its nature is luminosity like the sun and moon. The radiance of its compassion arises ceaselessly, like reflections in the surface of an untarnished mirror. The natures of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya come from within sugatagarbha. Sugatagarbha is entirely without bias and partiality. Its empty essence is also the accommodating space of arising. Its luminous nature naturally abides as the five lights, and these naturally appear as objects. Arising as compassion, this cognitive knowledge of insight-wisdom is maintained to be confusion. The Secret Essence says:
To the limits of the four directions, above and below,
In an unpredictable rainbow whose colors are never fixed
The different kinds of gotra will manifest in appearance.
Suchness moves, but particles never move at all.
This is the principle one of all the five elements.
E MA HO! from out of sugatagarbha,At this time, the aspect that does not know its intrinsic wisdom to be its own nature is co-emergent ignorance. The aspect that fixates its own projections as other is the ignorance of false conception. Because of not knowing that all this has arisen within the natural state, by the power of attachment of ego-fixation to its objects, habitual patterns of the vessel, the external world, ripen as body. Habitual patterns of the essence, sentient beings within the world, ripen as mind. This is confusion, the various phenomena of the five poisons. The All-Creating King says:
From out of our karmic relationships comes confusion.
When the nature of me, the doer of all, is not realized,The root of confusion is not knowing what we are. The Prajñapramitsamgatha says:
The dharmas created by me are imputed with fixed existence.
By the force of desire and craving, apparent things exist.
As impermanent illusion their nature is destroyed.
The partless nature becomes like colors to the blind.
As many sentient beings as there may be,The Prajñaparamita in Eight Thousand Lines teaches that confusion is conditioned by dualistic grasping:
Of lesser, middle, or of higher rank,
All of these have risen from ignorance.
So it has been taught by the Sugata.
Grasping an I and a mine, beings whirl in samsara.The Prajñaparamita in Twenty Thousand Lines says:
Childish sentient beings perceive the non-existence of skandhas as skandhas. They perceive the non-existence of ayatanas as ayatanas. They perceive the non-existence of things that arise interdependently as interdependent arising. Therefore, they are completely within the grasp of the ripening karma of all these dharmas that are wrongly perceived in their interdependent arising."The primordial natural state cannot exist within samsara. It is not possibler that sugatagarbha should be samsaric."
As to how these dharmas arise, from the two ignorances come samsaric formations. From that comes the succession of births of individual beings. Name and form are established. When the body has been established by the embryonic stages from an oval to birth, there are contact, perception, feeling, the six ayatanas, and old age and death. So with the twelve links of interdependent arising, we cycle through samsara.
Not so! It is like clear, unmuddied water becoming solid rock-like ice, in a transparent winter wind. From the primordial state, conditioned by the arising of grasping and fixation, confused appearance presents itself as a variety of solid things. A song from the Dohakosha says:
When the wind gets into water and thereby stirs it upSugatagarbha is the primordially pure, changeless essence, dharmakaya, designated as the alaya of reality. When this becomes confused, dharmakaya and the connected wealth of the nature of mind, rupakaya and the buddha fields, all the perfect entities of wisdom, are obscured through the confused grasping and fixation of ignorance.
The softness of the water becomes as hard as rock.
When we are stupefied through being disturbed by concepts,
What was formless becomes completely hard and solid.
This is the due to the alaya of the various habitual patterns. Within sugatagarbha, since beginningless time, have been planted various seeds or habitual patterns of confusion. Their great power becomes individual experiences of the higher and lower realms, and so forth. When we are within dream-like samsara, fixating I and ego, experiencing desire, aggression, and the five poisons, collecting karma and kleshas, from meaningless confusion, we live with a variety of attachments to truly existing entities.
Day and night the wheel of confused appearance continuously turns, and since its succession is groundless, we are never liberated from it. It is like the confusion of a dream. Wandering because of kleshas, because of good and evil, is like a prince wandering along a road, separated from his kingdom. It is intrinsically a time of suffering. Since the prince was born into a royal family, the happiness of true wealth is naturally within him; but now he suffers temporarily. As to what is taught by this example, the Song of the Oral Instruction of the Inexhaustible Treasury, says:
Beings bound in samsara, as if they were tangled in vines,As to the way that tathagatagarbha exists at this time of wandering futilely on the plan of samsara, the Tathagatagarbha Sutra says:
In the desert of ego-grasping are utterly mad with thirst:
Like a prince without a kingdom, separate from his father,
Without a chance for happiness, he gives in to despair.
Kye, Son of the Victorious One, it is like this. For example, the measure of a three-fold thousand world system is one billion. That billion perfectly records the number of all worlds of the three-fold great thousand world system. Similarly the measure of the great surrounding wall of the world is written "the great surrounding wall of the world." The measure of characteristics is written "characteristics." The measure of the second or middle thousand world realms is "the second or middle thousand world realm." The measure a thousand world realms, is "a thousand world realms." The fourth thousand world realms is "the fourth thousand world realms." The measure of the great ocean is "the great ocean." The measure of Jambuling is "Jambuling." The measure of the eastern continent Videha is "Videha." The measure of the western continent, Aparagodaniya is "Aparagodaniya." The measure of the northern continent Kurava is "Kurava." The measure of mount Meru is "Mount Meru." The measure of the palaces of the gods of the terrestrial realm is written "the palaces of the gods of the terrestrial realm." The measure of the palaces of the gods of the desire realm is "the palaces of the gods of the desire realm." The measure of the palaces of the gods who course in the form-realm is written "the palaces of the gods who course in the form-realm."
A billion is the measure of worlds in a threefold-thousand world system. A billion is also the measure of such worlds that enter into a single atom. Just as an atom enters into those billion worlds, similarly all the particles of atoms without remainder enter into the measure of that billion.
Then living, active beings are born on middle earth, learned and wise with clear minds. Their eye is the divine eye. Everything is completely pure and luminous. By their divine eye they view phenomena. They see those billion worlds within this small atom. Some sentient beings cannot fully understand that. They think, "Kye ma, by what Mother, by great force of effort was this billion worlds later put in this atom?" All such beings, thinking that, invented a powerful agent. They thought that atom particle had been opened by a subtle vajra to that billion-fold world system in which all sentient beings lived. From one like that, the rest did the same.
Kye Son of the Victorious One, like that the measureless wisdom of the Tathagata dwells within all sentient beings. Within the mind-continuum of all sentient beings it dwells without deception. These mental continuums of sentient beings do not have a measure like that of the wisdom of the Tathagata. Fools bound by grasping perception do not know the wisdom of the Tathagata. They do not know it at all. They have never experienced or manifested it. Seeing how each sentient being is within dharmadhatu is the perception of a master. It is the desireless wisdom of the Tathagata.
Kye ma, these sentient beings do not know the wisdom of the Tathagata as it is. Those sentient beings in whom the Tathagata's wisdom continues to function were directly taught the path of the noble ones. All the perception-created bonds were cleared away. They were eliminated.
In Tibet, the Great Madhyamaka, which is Yogacara Madhyamaka, is known as Shentong. It was elucidated in the scriptures of Maitreya, Asanga, Vasubandhu and Dignaga. It was also profoundly illuminated in Nagarjuna's Praise to Dharmadhatu. Shentong was the viewpoint of both masters, Nagarjuna and Asanga.
According to Shentong, all the following are regarded as compounded and transient and thereby unreal: the three uncompounded dharmas, regarded as unconditioned by all schools up to and including Cittamatra, but which are actually imputed and insubstantial; all basic samsaric dharmas such as external objects, the eight types of consciousness, and the fifty one dharmas of mental events; and everything included in the path and result, such as all newly arisen aspects within the fruition of Buddhahood and whatever appears to those yet to be tamed. From the vantage point of ultimate truth, whatever appears as sight and sound, all the phenomena within dharma and dharmata, everything included in subject and object, are compounded and transient and thereby unreal.
The ultimate truth is dharmadhatu and self-luminous awareness, which is non-dual pristine wisdom. This is called uncompounded dharmata. When examined by reason, nothing but this can be established as true. However, in the Rangtong way of comparing it to space, it is insubstantial; for that reason, they assert that it is not ultimate truth.
The Shentong school is faultless, endowed with all good qualities
All Mahayanists accept Mahayana sutras as the words of the Buddha. However, Cittamatrins hold four sutras – Sandhinirmocana, Lankavatara, Ghanavyuha and Avatamsaka – as definitive and the rest of them as provisional. The founders of this school are the five hundred masters of the early Mahayana. The holders of the general Madhyamaka consider the Third Turning sutras as provisional and the Prajnaparamita sutras of the Second Turning as ultimate. The real founders of this school are Buddhapalita and so on as mentioned above. Their followers claim that the eight proponents of the 'free of inherent nature,' like Rahulabhadrika, and Nagarjuna adhered to their view alone.
The Great Madhyamaka bases its view on the sutras of all Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. The view that establishes ultimate dharmata as true is presented in a general way in the following scriptures: Katyayana Sutra, Sunyata Nama Mahasutra and many other sutras from the First Turning; the Maitreya Pariprcchanama Sutra, the Prajnaparamita in five hundred stanzas, and many other sutras from the Second Turning; and also many sutras from the Third Turning including the four important ones mentioned above.
The most definitive presentation of this subject is found in the Tathatagatagarbha Sutra, Mahabheriharaka Sutra, Angulimala Sutra, Srimaladevi Sutra, Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Ratnamega Sutra, Prasanta Viniscaya Sutra and so forth. Based on these sutras, the subtle and distinct view reveals pure dharmadhatu as buddha-nature. In a subtle and distinctive way, these secretly whispered teachings describe pure dharmadhatu, buddha-nature, dharmakaya – permanent and unchanging – with all the ultimate qualities of the Buddha, primordially and naturally present.
Arya Maitreya was the author who elucidated the meaning of the sutras through his literature. In the Abhisamayalankara, he gave a brief and general explanation. In the Mahayana Sutralankara, Madhyanta-vibhanga and Dharmata-vibhanga, he clearly explained this view in detail. The extraordinary and most subtle view of these essential sutras is presented in the Uttaratantra. Asanga and Vasubandhu wrote commentaries on these texts. In Asanga’s commentary on the Uttaratantra, this extraordinary view is utterly clear and elaborate. In their entirety, the commentaries of these two brothers are clearly Shentong Madhyamaka. In Vasubandhu’s commentary on the Prajnaparamita in 20,000 stanzas and his commentary on the Dharmata-vibhanga, the Shentong view is extensive and exceedingly clear. His disciples, Dignaga and Sthiramati, and many other good students in his lineages taught widely the doctrine of general Shentong. The subtle Shentong, since it is difficult to fathom, was spread by ear to ear transmission only to the best students.
Later, there emerged many in India who confused the Shentong Madhyamaka and Cittamatra schools. For that reason, the majority of Tibetans misunderstood them as the same. In Tibet, a variety of scholars translated these texts, but translators like Zugawe Dorje and Tsen Khawoche, who were within Maitrya’s meditative lineage, held the pure view. The omniscient Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen spread the lion’s roar of the distinctive and profound Shentong across the land.
The Madhyanta-vibhaga says:
Impure perception exists;While defining the relative truth, impure perception which gives rise to appearance exists on a relative level. Subjective and objective appearances which are manifested to that are just imputations of the mind. For that reason, these are not real, even at the level of relative truth. Therefore, relative truth is freed from both extremes. By accepting that conceptual mind only exists on a relative level, one is freed from the extreme of nihilism. By transcending the imputed subjective and objective poles, one is freed from the extreme of eternalism.
That does not have both.
Emptiness is there,
And that is also there.
It is not emptiness
In that way everything is explained.
It is, it is not, it is –
That is the Middle Way.
The primordial wisdom of emptiness is free of contrivance. It is truly and naturally present within our impure perception and consciousness. When dharmata is covered, obscured consciousness remains as temporary and removable, and the defilements are unreal. Therefore, it is said that ultimate truth is also freed from both extremes.
Because emptiness is truly established and all dharmas – like concepts within the range of subject and object – are unreal, ultimate truth is beyond the extremes of 'is' and 'is not,' eternalism and nihilism. Therefore, subjective and objective duality of the relative level are only deluded appearance. Because nothing is independently established, it is empty of self-nature. When divided into self and other, it is not possible to be another's nature. Therefore, it is never non-emptiness. The nature of primordial wisdom is ever-present and never changes. For that reason, it is not empty of its nature; it is permanent.
Generally, if it is empty and emptiness, it need not be empty of its own nature. Primordial wisdom is empty of all contrivance and dualism which is other than its own nature. That is why it is empty.
The three natures are the imaginary, the dependent, and the perfected.
Whatever is grasped by mental designation is the imaginary nature. Non-entities and the appearances of objects arising in the mind are imaginary. The relationship between name and object, such as grasping the name as the object or mistaking the object as the name, are also imaginary. Outer, inner, fringe and center, big and small, good and bad, space and time, and so on, whatever is grasped by thought is imaginary in nature.
The dependent nature is simply consciousness which arises as subjective and objective poles, based on the habitual tendencies of ignorance.
The perfected nature is self-aware, self-luminous, and free from contrivance. The synonyms of the perfected nature are dharmata, dharmadhatu, suchness, and ultimate truth.
The dependent and imaginary natures are equally false and relative. However, it is necessary to separate them into individual categories. The imaginary nature does not exist even on a relative level. The dependent nature exists on a relative level. The perfected nature does not exist on a relative level, yet it truly exists on an ultimate level. Therefore, imaginary nature exists by designation, and the dependent nature exists as tangible. The perfected nature does not exist in either of these two ways, rather it exists in an uncontrived way.
The imaginary nature is non-existent emptiness. The dependent nature is existent emptiness. The perfected nature is ultimate emptiness.
Lord Maitreya said:
If one understands non-existent emptinessAccording to this system, all phenomena are permeated by emptiness and free of inherent nature; therefore, all phenomena are empty and non-empty. This is the Shentong view. And Shentongpas are the real exponents of 'free of inherent nature.' The Rangtong masters, like Bhavaviveka and Buddhapalita and others, are considered the main teachers of the 'free of inherent nature,' based solely on popular belief.
And likewise existent emptiness
As well as ultimate emptiness,
It is said that one understands emptiness.
The imaginary nature has no characteristics.
The dependent nature has no arising.
The perfected nature ultimately has no nature.
These are the three non-natures.
All phenomena are revealed to be without nature
By establishing the non-natures of the three natures.
Is the perfected nature real? Does it arise, dwell, or cease? Does it come or go? Is it changeable? Is it space or time? Is it one or many? It is none of these. If all of those qualities are present, then the perfected nature would not be real. The perfected nature is unborn, non-dwelling, and unceasing. It does not come or go. It is not one or many. It has no cause and no fruition. Within itself, it is free of the characteristics, the qualities, and basis. It is beyond all space and time. Within itself, it is free of all relative phenomena. It is indivisible because it cannot be separated into distinct parts. Because it is the nature of all phenomena, it is ever-present and all pervasive.
The Meaning of the Great Madhyamaka
Secondly, we will discuss the meaning of the Great Madhyamaka.
The Sutralankara states:
In all suchness there is no differentiation.Suchness and the Tathagata are of the same stuff which is called buddha-nature. The meaning of Tathagatagarbha, Sugatagarbha, and the essence of the Buddha is the same. That abides equally in the Buddha, in all phenomena, and in all sentient beings. In sentient beings, buddha-nature is present as a seed. In the Buddhas, buddha-nature is completely actualized. The ultimate Buddha is the same as the seed in the mindstream of sentient beings. Therefore, all sentient beings have buddha-nature.
The Tatagatha itself is purified;
All beings have the essence of that.
The buddha-nature that is in sentient beings is called gotra and dhatu. If the buddha-nature in the Buddha is not like a seed and buddha-nature in beings is like a seed, are these not two different things? No. Buddha is suchness itself. Even when we talk about Buddhas as people, to them buddha-nature is not hidden and has become actualized. And when we talk about a seed, it gives a meaning of something hidden inside and therefore does not apply to the Buddhas. Although that suchness of the Buddhas always abides in sentient beings, because beings do not see it, it can be described as hidden or as a seed. When the seed is described as unchanging, then it can be said that Buddhas also have the seed of buddha-nature. For that reason buddha-nature is free from both entity and non-entity; that is why it is truly unconditioned and ultimately uncompounded.
In the most profound and subtle understanding, there is no dispute that the dharmadhatu of the Buddha is naturally present with all the qualities of the Buddha. That is inseparable from the dharmadhatu of sentient beings; therefore what is wrong if we say that buddha-nature, which is in sentient beings, is also present with all the qualities of the Buddha.
The Uttaratantra states:
Luminosity is uncreated, inseparable and all-pervasive. Its limitless qualities are more numerous than the grains of sand on the banks of the Ganges.Thus, if the seed of the Buddha is present with all the unconditioned qualities, it has all the qualities of the ultimate Buddha.
The wisdom of all-pervading space (dharmadhatu) entails only ultimate truth. Although the other four wisdoms are mainly ultimate because of primordial nature, they have certain aspects which are newly attained through the practice of the path and which are relative. The ten powers and the four fearlessnesses are similar. Physical qualities such as the major and minor marks, and the sixty attributes of speech, are relative and absolute in equal aspects. The svabhavikakaya is nothing but ultimate truth. The dharmakaya is predominately ultimate. As long as we do not differentiate real and imputed, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya are relative and absolute in equal aspects. What appears to others as Buddha activity is relative. The potency and power of wisdom are absolute. The ultimate aspect of the kayas, wisdoms, qualities and activities is primordially present in buddha-nature. When an individual becomes enlightened, these are not newly attained; they are just freed from the stains that obscure them. Whatever is newly attained is the relative aspect. The ultimate aspect of the qualities of past and future Buddhas are the same nature. The relative aspect of those are also the same after one attains enlightenment, but at the time of enlightenment they are different. Therefore, it is impossible to say that the nature of relative qualities is the same or different.
What is newly attained, or generated by practicing the path, is called the ‘generated result;’ it is not real. The ‘liberated result’ occurs just by removing obscurations from the primordially abiding Buddha. It is not really cause and effect. It is just called 'liberated cause' of the path as a description. The liberated result is explained in the Abhidharma: “When intellect is exhausted, that is freedom.” This is not the cessation of all mental activity. In the Dharanisvaraja Sutra it says, “It is primordially exhausted, therefore it is called cessation.” This is the ultimate liberated result and the truth of cessation. If you ask: is removing obscurations the same meaning as ‘exhaustion of intellect’? The answer is no. From the vantage point of dharmadhatu obscurations are not removed; removing is from the individual point of view. One may sometimes use the term ‘exhaustion of intellect’ to refer to the time of enlightenment, but actually there is nothing to exhaust. Dharmadhatu is primordially pure because it has never been stained; for that reason cessation is not newly created by mind. Buddha-nature which is non-dual wisdom permeates all phenomena equally. It is ornamented with all the ultimate qualities of the Buddha. The great perfected nature is unchanging and free from all contrivances; it is endowed with all aspects of wisdom. This is the only unmistaken reality. The wisdom of the noble ones is undiluted and truly established by experience. Since it is unchanging, it is permanent, stable, and enduring.
Buddha-nature and its qualities such as the marks and signs were taught in the tantras of the Secret Mantrayana in their entirety. Whatever is called relative, dualistic, and diluted appearance, or in short, all phenomena of sight and sound, can not stain the perfected nature. The perfected nature does not exist separately as untarnished dharmadhatu but really abides in relative truth. The imaginary nature is just diluted appearance. Since reality is like the hare’s horns, it is unstained because there is nothing to be stained. Buddha-nature, the perfected nature, is never empty of itself. All that is other and relative is primordially empty. Ultimate truth, the perfected nature, is shentong ‘empty of other’ not rangtong ‘empty of itself.' What is relative is empty of other-nature as well as empty of self- nature. What is ultimate is empty only of other nature. This way of teaching is called Shentong Madhyamaka.
In order to overcome the attachment to worldly dharmas, we practice the renunciation of suffering and impermanence. To renounce selfishness one should bring bodhicitta into the mindstream. In order to renounce gross attachments to relative phenomena, we meditate on understanding relative truth as unreal. In order to renounce subtle attachments we meditate on non-thought by dissolving relative thoughts into space. Through practice we will gradually see the face of buddha-nature, which is non-thought. Whatever path we practice, the purpose is to see the perfected nature.
Now, we will refute the criticisms by others of Shentong Madhyamaka. Although criticisms are addressed in detail in The Ornament of Shentong Madhyamaka, here I include an abbreviated version. Others quote the Lankavatara Sutra to say, “If buddha-nature has all the marks and signs, how is it different from the ‘soul,' or Atman, of non-buddhists? In reply the Buddha said, “It is not the same because of emptiness.” Others interpret the sutras to say that buddha-nature is unreal; if it had marks and signs it would be analogous to non-buddhist traditions. Buddha-nature, they say, is insubstantial like space. To them we reply: to think everything which is empty is untrue, insubstantial and non-existent is a fault of attachment to your own inadequate doctrine.
The reason buddha-nature is not analogous to non-buddhist traditions is this: the sutras say the marks are empty, but they do not say that they are not present. To say that buddha-nature with its radiant, perfected marks and signs is provisional is nothing more than deception. Anyone who criticizes the proponents of ‘the permanent nature’ as non-buddhist likewise reject the Tatagathagharba sutras. It is also incorrect to say that the meaning of permanence refers to continuity. The continuum-permanence is even in samsara and duality. If permanence referred to continuity, then all compounded things would be permanent.
If you think that first it was defiled and later it became pure, it follows that it is impermanent. From the vantage point of dharmata, first it was not impure, later it did not become pure. Whether it seems defiled or pure depends on the individual’s mind-stream. Just because individuals change their perspective, it is wrong to conclude that dharmata is changed.
If people find it unreasonable that sentient beings have the Buddha’s wisdom in their mind-stream, they are contradicting the Buddha’s direct statement “The Buddha’s wisdom resides in the multitude of sentient beings.” They also say: it is incorrect that sentient beings have the Buddha’s qualities, because if sentient beings have the ten powers of wisdom in their mind-stream, then they should have the full power of discrimination. What they say is not correct, because we do not assert that everything in the mind-stream of sentient beings is Buddha. If buddha-nature and its qualities, remaining in the mind-stream of sentient beings, makes sentient beings omniscient, then the Buddha sitting on his throne, would also make the throne omniscient. Of course the eight consciousnesses, in the mind-stream of sentient beings, are not Buddha. The Buddha which remains in the mind-stream of sentient beings is not there as something within something else on a relative level. It remains there as its nature on an ultimate level.
Let’s briefly review the Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. First is the Turning of the Four Noble Truths. Second is the Turning of Emptiness. The Third is the Turning of Full Revelation. The First Turning consists of the sutras taught to the Shravakas, or the sutras of the Hinayana. The Second Turning consists of the root sutras of the Mahayana, but certain points are not fully revealed. The Third Turning is like the commentary of the Second where the most definitive teachings are fully revealed.
Each of three natures – imaginary, dependent, and perfected – have two aspects. The imaginary nature consists of the subjective and objective imaginary natures. The dependent nature consists of the impure and pure dependent nature. The perfected nature consists of the unchanging nature and the unmistaken nature.
The actual imaginary nature is the objective aspect. The actual perfected nature is the unchanging aspect and not the unmistaken aspect, though they are the same nature. The unmistaken aspect of perfected nature is included in the pure dependent nature. The subjective part of the imaginary nature and the dependent nature are identical. If examined by reason, the actual dependent nature is included in the imaginary nature but its natural state is the perfected nature. Therefore, all phenomena are included in the perfected and imaginary natures. All phenomena of samsara and nirvana are classified into the three natures or the two truths, relative consciousness and ultimate wisdom. Relative perception of form, sound, touch, and smell and so forth is unreal. The natural state of the sights and sounds are within the aspect of primordial wisdom. Therefore, they are real. In this way there is no contradiction between relative and ultimate truth.
As requested by some interested students, this was spoken by Taranatha at the hermitage of Cholong Changtse, the North Peak of the Dharma Valley.
May it be Auspicious!
Translated by the Tibetan IV class at The Naropa University under the guidance of Ringu Tulku. May 1, 1999
Read or save as PDF: The Lion's Roar Proclaiming Extrinsic Emptiness
Namo Guru Manjusriye.Here, the philosophers of extrinsic emptiness take the sutras of the final turning, which teach the irreversible, fearless, permanent path of the Victor's teaching of definitive meaning, the Mahayanottaratantrasastra, which is the teaching of the regent Maitreya, the lord of the tenth bhumi, the profound meanings taught by the sublime Asanga and his brother, the scriptural commentaries on the definitive meaning such as the Lord Nagarjuna's hymnic corpus, the tantras, such as the glorious Kalacakra, as well as their interpretive commentaries (dgongs 'grel), which elucidate them, such as the three cycles of commentaries on mind (sems 'grel skor gsurn), as having the same essential significance. Although this [extrinsic emptiness], which causes one to enter the textual system of the great Madhyamaka of profound and definitive meaning, has an extremely profound and vast intention underlying it, nowadays those who undertake to expound philosophy say whatever comes into their mind in this regard, whether they understand it or not. They are extremely deluded.
Respectfully I bow to the lion among men, the Friend of the Sun,
To the great compassionate Maitreya, Asanga, and their lineage,
And to the one who makes the fearless lions roar in Tibet!
The secret treasure of infinite victors and their scions,
The essential nectar of instructions of sutras and tantras of definitive meaning,
The finest of the experience and realization of
The learned and accomplished ones of India and Tibet:
Here I will explain a little of the profound Madhyamika view.
Now, to say a little bit about this system. In order to understand definitively the philosophical system of extrinsic emptiness, one must first understand the absence of inherent existence according to the texts of Nagarjuna. If one does not understand this, one will not understand how deceptive reality is empty with respect to itself, and how ultimate reality is empty with respect to the other. So, one must first understand for oneself the absence of conceptual elaborations.
Having realized the ultimate reality that is free of elaboration by means of subjective (yul can) non-conceptual gnosis, the subject and object that are concordant with respect to the abiding nature of things and the way things appear are together called "ultimate" (paramartha = don dam), and the subject and object for which abiding nature and appearance are discordant are called "superficial" (samvrti = kun rdzob). If one analyzes with a conventional validating cognition, they are, respectively, nonmistaken and mistaken, or nondelusory and delusory. So, whatever is neither mistaken nor delusory is ultimate, and the other is considered deceptive.
Both of these ways of positing the two truths—the well-known distinction of appearance and emptiness, and the harmony and discordance of the abiding and apparent natures as just explained—were originally explained in the sutras and great treatises. These are not the original creations of the philosophers of extrinsic emptiness. They were explained in the Dharmadharmatavibbanga and in the Mahayanottaratantra:
It is empty of adventitious elements,And, in its commentary:
Which have the character of being differentiable;
It is not empty of the unsurpassable dharmas,
Which have the character of being nondifferentiable.
The Buddha essence is capable of being differentiated and separated; it is empty of the shell of negative emotions. It is not empty of the Buddha qualities, which are not differentiable, not separate, and are more numerous than the sands in the river Ganges.The great system-builder Nagarjuna said:
Just as the stains on a fireproof clothThe Dharma king, the awareness-holder Manjusrikirti said:
That is sullied by various stains
Are consumed when the cloth is placed in fire
While the cloth itself is not,
Likewise the stains of the luminous mind
Are consumed in the fire of wisdom;
They are not luminous.
All the sutras on emptiness
Taught by the Victor
Counteract negative emotions;
They do not harm that element [of luminosity].
The emptiness [that results from] analysis of the aggregatesThus, the statement "not empty from its own side" must by all means be understood in terms of the latter way of positing the two truths; this means that it should be understood in terms of the position of the two truths being mutually exclusive, where one is the negation of the other (gcig la gcig dkag). It must never be understood according to the manner of positing the two truths as different isolates of the same essence (ngo bo gcig dang Idog pa tha dad). Accordingly, the delusory appearances of the discordance of abiding nature and appearance appear from the perspective of delusion; because they are not established that way in reality, they are considered deceptive. The other [namely, the ultimate truth] is established as it appears from a nondeluded perspective; since it is not invalidated by valid cognition, it is said to exist ultimately and to be truly established.
Is without essence, like the plantain tree;
The emptiness supremely endowed with qualities
Is not like that.
This [ultimate truth] does not have to be a truly established appearance that is separate from emptiness. Being established from the very beginning as the emptiness supremely endowed with qualities—the coalescence of the expanse of phenomena and emptiness—it has already been accepted as the ultimate reality that is the nature of things. Thus, such an ultimate is not empty from its own side. To take a conventional example, a coiled rope is ultimate reality; a snake should be posited as deceptive reality in relation to it. They should be differentiated as conventionally established and nonestablished, respectively, as it is impossible for them to be either both false or both true.
Thus, the ultimate is not empty of its own essence, because the ultimate has both a nondeluded subject and a nondelusory object, because what exists there cannot be invalidated (gnod pa) by a valid cognition that proves otherwise, because it is what is proven after the reasoning establishing emptiness has already been applied, and because in establishing it according to conventional validating cognition, no one in this world, including the gods, can dispute it in accordance with the Dharma.
Since the ultimate is true and nonmistaken from its own side, it is never empty of dharmas that exist in that way; if it were empty, there would have to be some valid cognition that posited it as deluded and untrue, and that is impossible. If it were possible, and the peace of nirvana were unreliable, then this position would, except for devils and tirthikas bereft of valid cognition, not be something for those with faith in this teaching to expound.
This ultimate reality that is the nature of things exists primordially in this way, but the deluded perceptions that do not realize it are validly established as untrue and deluded and in this context are called "deceptive" (samvrti = kun rdzob), which accords with the meaning of the word [samvrti], which is "having obscurations." So, the ultimate is empty of that deception; it is empty of the very subject and object that comprise the deluded perceptions that are termed "deceptive." For example, a rope is empty of being a snake.
Thus, one is very much compelled to accept [this position]. According to other philosophical systems that claim to refute extrinsic emptiness, truthlessness [in Gelug Prasangika] is the probandum of an ultimate analysis, but one should not take it [i.e., truthlessness] as a negandum. Likewise, [according to other Prasangikas such as Go ram pa,] non-elaboration is the probandum of ultimate reasoning but is not a negandum. So, [according to these interpretations,] if one does not uphold the position of truthlessness and the absence of elaboration, one will not be able to establish anything as "our own philosophical system." Moreover, if ultimate reality were empty of its own essence just like deceptive reality, then one would not be able to establish the ultimate as nondelusory and as the abiding nature of things, nor would one be able to establish deceptive reality as delusory and not established by way of its own essence—for emptiness is here understood in terms of what kind of empty basis is empty of what kind of dharma (chos).
If ultimate reality were empty from its own side, there would be no way to distinguish between deluded and nondeluded appearances by means of a valid cognition of truth and falsity, and it would be just like the rope and snake being either both existent or both non-existent. That emptiness of deceptive phenomena definitely qualifies as emptiness, because that true existence [that is negated in relation to conventional phenomena in the Gelug Prasangika system] is not established, and because the apprehension of true existence is a deluded cognition that is misleading and [causes] wandering in samsara. Thus, since that delusory subject and object [bound up with the misapprehension of true existence] are both considered deceptive reality in this context [of intrinsic emptiness], and since [the ultimate] is empty of them [from the perspective of gnosis], if the fact of [ultimate reality] being empty of that [deluded dichotomy of subject and object] did not qualify as emptiness, then the emptiness of true existence would also not qualify as emptiness, and the elimination of the apprehension of true existence would not qualify as meditation on emptiness.
So emptiness, which is the absence of subject and object [established] with respect to the elimination of the elaborations of object and object-possessor, is perfectly complete in this system. Since all elaborations of the dualistic perception of subject and object are comprised by the delusory object and object-possessor, in this context they are posited as deceptive reality. If the fact of ultimate reality being empty of that [subject-object dichotomy] did not qualify as emptiness, then the absence of elaboration would not qualify as emptiness, and the mind that meditates on non-elaboration would not qualify as meditation on emptiness, either. "Well, isn't that ultimate not truly existent and free of elaboration?" How could something that is neither nontruly-existent nor nonelaborated be the ultimate? It is the same as the case of deceptive reality [as considered in our system, for we, like you, accept that true existence does not even conventionally exist]. "Well, if the ultimate is not truly existent and empty, then how can you say that it is truly existent and not empty from its own side?" Here you have utterly failed to understand that, in this context, true existence and non-emptiness exist and are established from the perspective of conventional validating cognition, so this is just ignorant quibbling on your part.
"Well, then aren't you saying that it is both truly existent and not truly existent, and both emptiness and non-emptiness?" How could that be? You consider appearance to be deceptive reality, and emptiness to be ultimate reality. Just as you consider it inappropriate to eliminate truthlessness and non-elaboration when analyzing ultimate reality, in our system, which considers delusion as deceptive reality and nondelusion as ultimate reality, we do not think it appropriate to negate the nondelusory nature of the ultimate, nor to establish nondelusion as true. Thus, the great system-builder Asanga [sic] said, "When something does not exist in something else, that something is empty of it; whatever is left over there exists."
Thus, when establishing a system (gzhung) of proof and refutation, one must by all means refute what is not established by reasoning, and one should accept what is proven by reasoning, without refuting it. If one were to refute everything, one would reverse the valid cognitions that establish the difference between authentic and inauthentic signifying dharmas (rjod byed chos) and signified meanings (brjod bya'i chos), and it would be impossible to develop any kind of certitude whatsoever.
"Well, don't you have a position about the object of individual cognition, the dharmadhatu that is beyond refutation and proof?" Why do you say that? one should ask. "Because you set forth a system that, on the one hand, negates a negandum and, on the other hand, has a position of establishing a probandum, and thus you abide in a state that reifies something without claiming to negate everything."
Since the dharmadhatu that is realized in an individual's experience is beyond refutation and proof, this we accept as the ultimate reality. In the present context [of extrinsic emptiness], such an ultimate, which is already established [for you, as well as for us], is conventionally established to exist as the ultimate, so these two [positions] of refuting one thing and establishing another are not contradictory. If we did not have this position, which proves that ultimate reality is conventionally not empty of its own essence, then the ultimate that is free of refutation and proof would be non-existent [conventionally]. Therefore, just as reversing the conventional position that things have no inherent existence would be tantamount to establishing that they do have inherent existence, if it were not proven that ultimate reality is not empty from its own side, then that ultimate would not be ultimate, but deceptive.
Given that it is already established that the ultimate is not truly existent from its own side and is without elaboration, one might think that the verbal expression "the ultimate is not empty from its own side" disqualifies it from being empty and is the untenable view that existence and peace are not equal and that the ultimate is isolated (rkyang pa), permanent (rtag pa), and unchanging (ther zug). This, however, is a case of not having even a partial understanding of this great philosophical system.
According to the position that emptiness is the absence of true existence and is free of elaboration, how could it have true existence or elaboration? The mere statement that the ultimate is established as the ultimate is a conventional distinction about what is empty and not empty by means of showing that [ultimate reality] is not deceptive reality; this [conventional distinction between ultimate and relative] is the probandum here. If to accept this [distinction] conventionally were to hold a view that reified emptiness as a thing, then to accept the absence of true existence would be to hold an untenable view clinging to emptiness as a nonthing, and to accept non-elaboration would also be to hold an untenable view reifying emptiness as an inexpressible thing.
In brief, in this context [of extrinsic emptiness] the bases of the designations of ultimate and deceptive are, respectively, the absence of delusion and the distinct apprehension of objects by subjects that are deluded about them. The nondelusory ultimate is the object of a nondeluded mind, is true, and is accepted as being empty of the delusion of deceptive reality. Conventionally, it is not empty [of truth], because it is held to be the experience of sublime beings.
If the ultimate were empty from its own side, then it would not be possible to posit it as the basis for the emptiness of deceptive reality. Since it would not be possible to determine the difference between what exists and what does not exist as an object of sublime perception, the ultimate would not be the ultimate, and the deceptive would not be deceptive but would be entirely on the same level as the ultimate.
Therefore, it is completely inappropriate not to accept this position. Whatever faults are found therein would equally apply to the position of those who expound emptiness as truthlessness or non-elaboration. Also, it is not the case— since samsara and nirvana here have become different [because of being] non-existent and existent, respectively—that there is no equality of existence and peace (srid zhi mnyam nyid). It is utterly impossible even conventionally for [something to be] both a deluded samsara and a nondeluded nirvana. Though samsara appears, it does not exist as such; the nature of samsara is the originally pure ultimate reality that abides in great nirvana, and this is the probandum here, which is termed "the equality of existence and peace." In any system where all phenomena abide primordially in the ultimate expanse, this is called "the equality of existence and peace." There is no position whereby samsara and nirvana have a common basis. Also, the ultimate is not empty of being the ultimate, because if the ultimate were empty of itself, it would not be ultimate, but would become the deluded appearances of deceptive reality.
Listen, you [Gelugpas] who would vehemently dispute this philosophical position! Don't you say that a vase is not empty of being a vase, but is empty of true existence? If it is reasonable to accept that all conventionally existent dharmas are not empty of themselves but are empty of something else—true existence—then you must also accept the position that the ultimate is not empty of being the ultimate, together with the reasoning [that establishes that position, because "ultimate" is no less a conventionality than "vase," etc.]!
"If the ultimate is not empty of being the ultimate, then it would not be empty of true existence"—but the same could be said of vases, etc. Thus, although our ultimate is not empty of being the ultimate, since it is empty of deceptive reality, it goes without saying that it is empty of true existence, [which is a] false, deluded appearance. If the fact that we accept that it is empty of all dualistic appearances of deceptive reality [which are constituted by the misperception of true existence] does not qualify our [conception of ultimate reality] as empty, then how could the elimination of the superimposed, isolated object of true existence—which is not empty of all dualistic phenomena of deceptive reality—possibly qualify as emptiness? Just as you say that true existence is negated, but truthlessness never can nor should be negated, likewise we negate the deluded appearances of deceptive reality, [but maintain that] the nondelusory ultimate never can nor should be negated.
In brief, in your line of reasoning that establishes truthlessness without negating deceptive reality, the basis [for the designation] of emptiness (stong gzhi) winds up being deceptive reality, so ultimate reality is not empty of deceptive reality. We say that the basis [for the designation] of emptiness is ultimate reality, and that it is empty of deceptive reality. You maintain an ascertained (phyang chad) emptiness, which is the emptiness of true existence, with respect to a basis of emptiness, which is truthlessness as absolute negation; and [you maintain] an ascertained deceptive appearance, which is not empty from its own side, but is empty of an extrinsic (yan gar ba) true existence. [Thus, in your system] appearance and emptiness, as bases of emptiness, are never mixed together, and the equality of existence and peace is utterly impossible in either of the two levels of truth. Therefore, please look into the important details of this point.
In our system, both objective emptiness and the subject, which is gnosis, are ultimate. In the final analysis, both of these are the nondifference of the two truths of appearance and emptiness, so the ultimate expanse of phenomena is not an ascertained emptiness. It is not empty of the inseparable Buddha bodies and gnoses, and abides as the primordial, spontaneously present essence body (ngo bo nyid sku = svabhakaya). Your ultimate, which is the ascertained emptiness of absolute negation, is a nonentity (dngos med) that is distinct from conventional appearances; it will never, ever be endowed with even a fragment of the Buddha bodies and gnoses. The conventional appearances that are different from it exist, but they are of no use [for understanding] that emptiness, because [appearances and emptiness] are utterly incapable of being combined. Thus, since the object of the root of samsara—which is the apprehension of true existence—does not exist, the subject and object both are deceptive delusions, so in your system deceptive reality should be considered as just true existence and the apprehension of true existence.
[In your system] conventional appearances are not ultimate, because they are not emptiness, and they are not deceptive reality, because they are nondeluded appearances or are immune to ultimate analysis—because, although they are not immune to analysis with respect to true existence, they are immune to analysis insofar as they are not conventionally empty from their own side. Thus, truthlessness and all conventions would be ultimate reality, true existence alone would be deceptive reality, and the apprehension of true existence would be a substantial entity, like vases and so forth.
Though it is reasonable to assert that the object of truly existing appearance and the subject of apprehending true existence together are the deceptive reality wherein the abiding nature of things and appearances are discordant, and that truthlessness and the apprehension of truthlessness are the ultimate wherein abiding nature and appearance are concordant, it is not reasonable to assert that both subject and object without dualistic appearance are the ultimate, and that the existence [of dualistic appearance] is deceptive reality. If vases and so on were not empty from their own side, the dualistic appearance of existents and the mind that apprehends duality would become the subject and object wherein abiding nature and appearance are concordant, and the absence of dualistic appearances and the apprehension of duality would become delusion, wherein abiding nature and appearance are discordant.
In brief, in your system the rational negandum is only true existence; to meditate on emptiness is to abandon only appearances of true existence and the apprehension of true existence, and nothing else.
"In the meditative absorption of those training on the sublime paths ('phags slob kyi mnyam bzhag), why shouldn't all deceptive appearances empty of true existence be nonapparent? Though they are not objects of rational negation, they are negated on the path, and cease to appear."
That path, which is like a shade tree, causes existent things not to appear. If the fact of non-existence appears, why can one not see what exists? Because one sees their non-existence! As it is said, "What is this form of darkness?" Such a path is amazing!
In our system, when the ultimate is seen directly, the domain (gocara. = spyod yul) is non-conceptual wisdom without the dualistic appearance of subject and object. How can it have the appearance of true existence or the apprehension of true existence? How can it have the objects of elaboration and elaborations [about them]? This is designated as the ultimate. Taking that nondeluded ultimate as the basis of emptiness, it is said that it is empty of the subject and object that comprise the deluded samsaric appearances of deceptive reality.
Though the the ultimate essence is beyond elaborations,In brief, if someone should ask, "What is the meaning of the statement The ultimate is not empty from its own side'?" we reply that it means that the ultimate reality is not empty of being the ultimate reality. To this they reply, "Then, the ultimate would be truly existent," [to which we reply,] "But if a vase is not empty of being a vase, it would be truly existent!" Now they ask, "If a vase were empty of being a vase, then that vase would become a non-vase, so why wouldn't the vase become conventionally non-existent?" Indeed, it would. Thus, if the ultimate reality were empty of being the ultimate reality, the ultimate reality would become nonultimate reality, [for] this would be the same as the ultimate being conventionally non-existent.
When establishing the ultimate, our position is that
What is ultimate and what is deceptive
Are differentiated as nondelusion and delusion;
What is wrong with that?
Although all dharmas are unelaborated because they have no inherent existence,
Those who refute non-elaboration and focus on absolute negation
Maintain a one-sided position of "absence of inherent existence";
They hold these words alone as their philosophical refuge.
But, by taking the position of "truthlessness,"
Even though they do not wish to accept the position
That the ultimate is not empty from its own side,
They cannot avoid it.
If one explains that ultimate reality is not empty from its own side,
It is good to establish the ultimate as the ultimate;
If one were to explain that a vase is not empty from its own side,
All dharmas would be non-empty, would be seen as permanent,
And emptiness would be a trivial nonsubstantiality—
Thus one would establish the basis of the view as a dichotomy of permanence and annihilation.
If the ultimate is established and known by conventional valid cognition
As permanent, real, and non-empty,
One seizes all qualities of the path and eliminates
All base views that cling to the extremes of permanence and impermanence.
"Whatever is permanent is not necessarily a view of permanence,
And whatever is annihilated is not necessarily the extreme of annihilation;
Whatever is existent is not necessarily the extreme of existence,
And whatever is not existent is not necessarily the extreme of non-existence"—
This is [universally] accepted by Tibetans renowned as scholars.
Thus, if one analyzes well with conventional valid cognition,
One can realize with a discriminating mind whether
Permanence, impermanence, emptiness, non-emptiness,
Reality, unreality, existence, and non-existence are extremes.
For the gnosis that analyzes the final ultimate
There are no elaborations of existence, non-existence, and so forth;
This is accepted by all the learned and accomplished philosophers of extrinsic emptiness.
Your position is that, even from the perspective of an ultimate analysis,
There is an elaboration of "truthlessness";
If something exists from the perspective of an ultimate analysis,
And is the object of sublime perception,
Why should it be contradictory to say that it is
Not empty, truly existent, and perceived as such?
Therefore, what contradiction is there in explaining this according to how it is imagined?
If the perception of truthlessness were empty of truthlessness,
How would that be any different than not seeing truthlessness at all?
If you think that truthlessness is seen as empty,
Then why not see a vase and so forth as empty?
You think that vases and so on are empty of true existence but not of themselves—
For if they were, vases and so forth would not exist conventionally—
But why would this be any different than saying that
From the perspective of seeing the ultimate, the ultimate is not empty?
Therefore, if it is reasonable for truthlessness, non-elaboration, emptiness, and the ultimate to be accepted as the probanda of an ultimate rational cognition, but unreasonable for them to be accepted as neganda [of such a cognition], then you must definitely assert that truthlessness and so forth exist. The fact that you do not accept their non-existence means that you accept that [in the perspective of conventional validating cognition] the ultimate and emptiness are true, existent, and non-empty, and do not accept that they are untrue, non-existent, and empty.
The pristine cognition of the equipoise that sees the ultimate must see, apprehend, have as objects, and accept as real the aforementioned truthlessness and so forth. Therefore, it would be wrong to claim that pristine cognition does not see, apprehend, have as an object, or witness the non-existence of that [truthlessness], etc. Everyone accepts that ultimate emptiness is the perspective of sublime vision, exists, is established as true, and so forth.
"If it is accepted as truly existing, clinging to emptiness as true will not be eliminated"—but [you also say] it is not appropriate to negate clinging to it as conventionally true. The thought that what is [in fact] true is established as such is not the clinging to truth (bden 'dzin) that should be eliminated by reasoning or the path, just as apprehending truthlessness as truthlessness is not a negandum.
A true existence that is immune to an ultimate analysis is not something that needs to be analyzed here, for it has already been determined [as false] by the reasoning that establishes the ultimate, and because the emptiness of true existence is included in the explanation of the [ultimate] being empty of deceptive reality. Thus, just as you say that although there is no true existence in truthlessness, the apprehension of truthlessness should never be eliminated, in quite the same way [we assert that] although it is empty of dharmas that are immune to ultimate analysis, the apprehension of that ultimate per se is truly established and not empty of its own essence, is not something to eliminate.
Just as you assert that by analyzing with an ultimate analysis nothing is found to be immune to analysis, and that no dharma that is not negated by such analysis is ultimately established, you likewise maintain that true existence is the only negandum of rational cognition that analyzes the ultimate, and is abandoned by non-conceptual gnosis. [You also say that] if one were to assert that anything that is reified as a dharma is to be negated and abandoned by those two [viz., by analysis and gnosis], that would be the extremely wrong view of Hashang. According to that position, rational cognition (rig shes) and pristine cognition (ye shes) negate and abandon, respectively, the dualistic appearances of deceptive reality. But this establishes well the fact that the objective ultimate that is empty of deceptive reality, the subjective (yul can) pristine cognition, and the ultimate dharmas that are seen by pristine cognition are not negated or abandoned. If all objects (dmigs pa) were always taken as objects of negation and abandonment, all dharmas in their multiplicity and mode of existence (ji lta ba dang ji snyed pa'i chos thams cad) would be the neganda of reasoning and the path, and that would result in a spacelike nihilistic emptiness of complete nothingness.
Thus, by disavowing our position, all those Tibetans who look down on this theory established by exponents of extrinsic emptiness wind up establishing all the theories of extrinsic emptiness automatically. Thus whatever is existent, whatever is non-existent, whatever is real, and whatever is non-empty are not necessarily extremes; nor are all minds that apprehend [things in those ways] the apprehension of extremes. As it is said:
The Buddha thoroughly comprehends what exists as existent,Modes of existence, modes of non-existence, what is truly existent and non-existent, what is empty and non-empty, and so forth, are differentiated and systematized by the analytical wisdom of meditative aftermath (rjes thob shan 'byed pa'i shes rab). As these are established by the valid cognition that investigates the meaning of whatever exists, without confusing any conventionalities and differentiating each [phenomenon], they are not objects of negation.
And what does not exist as non-existent.
The supreme protector, Lion of the Sakyas,
Sounded this lion's roar to his fearless retinue,
Gratifying those who found confidence in it
With prophesies [of irreversibility].
The rivers of the intentions of
The lord of the tenth bhumi, the regent Ajita,
And those dwellers on sublime ground, Nagarjuna and Asanga,
Are united in the expanse of gnosis;
Any contradictions seen therein
Are just the faults of one's own mind.
Although all dharmas are empty of essence,
The element of luminosity, the bodies, and gnosis
Are spontaneously present, like the sun and its rays.
The meaning of the Great Madhyamaka, the coalescence of appearance and emptiness,
Is not deceptive for sublime perception, and is the ultimate truth.
The dualistic appearances of conventional reality are deceptive delusions;
Opening the eyes of wisdom that discern modes of existence and appearance,
This excellent, supreme explanation is like a bejeweled lamp.
For that reason intelligent, honest, and fortunate ones
Will develop eyes to see this profound meaning;
Dwelling in the mansion of the essence of definitive meaning,
May they be rich with the joys of benefiting themselves and others!
Like the fresh brilliance of the harvest moon, may the virtue of this effort
Permanently banish the burning torment of the five degenerations;
May the lily garden of the scriptures and realizations of the Lord of Sages
Explode into blossom, and may the ocean of liberation swell!
In all my lives may I be protected by the Gentle Lord (jam mgon bla ma)
And perfect my skill in scriptures, reasoning, and personal instructions;
From the heights of the peak of the supreme vehicle,
May I proclaim this fearless lion's roar!
To this, the essential abbreviated kernel of a composition spoken by the unique lion among Tibetan philosophers, the Lord Lama, the omniscient Mipham 'Jam dpal dGyes pa'i rdo rje, I added my own words as the introductory and concluding verses. It was edited (zhal bshus) by 'Jam dbyang bLo gros rgya mtsho at his residence, the college of glorious Shechen Tennyi Dargye Ling. May this cause the tradition of the Great Madhyamaka of definitive meaning to spread in all directions, and to persist!