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5. THE MEDITATIVE STABILITIES THAT ATTAIN THE NET OF MAGICAL EMANATION

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5. THE MEDITATIVE STABILITIES THAT ATTAIN THE NET OF MAGICAL EMANATION


The purpose of this chapter is to disclose how spiritual attainments emerge from the cyclical garland of letters. At this juncture, the maṇḍala of meditational deities inherent in the seed syllables is described as a magical emanation (sgyu ’phrul), in which skillful means and discriminative awareness are without duality, and the sequence of meditative attainments corresponding to this cloud mass of letters is then presented

(v. 1).Spiritual accomplishments are to be attained in the following sequence: The true nature of mind is revealed as the basis of spiritual accomplishment

(v. 2); the supreme accomplishment of buddhahood is perfectly present in all maṇḍalas because they unite the maṇḍala of magical emanation (sgyu ’phrul) or seed syllables in the maṇḍala of the net (drva ba) of discriminative awareness

(v. 3); the ordinary spiritual attainments are associated with the four rites of enlightened activity

(v. 4); the attainment known as the consummation of the five elements then ensues

(v. 5), along with the eight lesser rituals, including exorcism and attraction

(v. 6). All these meditative attainments are said to emerge in the manner of light from darkness, like the alchemical transmutation of iron into gold or like the cure of an efficacious medication

(v. 7).There are five prerequisites for yogins seeking this spiritual attainment that accords with the cloud mass of letters: They are required to make offerings to their spiritual teacher, to clearly realize the meditations pertaining to the deities and their seed syllables, to undertake the corresponding commitments, to recite the corresponding mantras correctly, and to securely seal the practice by enacting the corresponding hand gestures

(v. 8). Thereby the essential nature of spiritual accomplishment will be attained

(v. 9).As far as the actual meditative stability or skillful means that brings about such attainments is concerned, initially there is the meditative stability in the cyclical garland of letters

(v. 10). This entails meditation on discriminative awareness that cultivates the nonreferential ultimate truth and nondual pristine cognition associated with the buddha body of actual reality

(vv. 11–12) and meditation on skillful means that cultivates the generation and perfection stages associated with the buddha body of form, securely sealing the display of pristine cognition in the seal of primordial buddhahood

(v. 13). By way of a synopsis, the text emphasizes that supreme accomplishment, the nature of Samantabhadra, is attained through these meditative stabilities and through their ancillary applications of mantra recitation and sealing hand gestures

(v. 14).THE LATTER [part of the maṇḍala of the cloud mass of letters, which is the causal basis, on which see above, p. 160] concerns the sequence of attainment in relation to [the maṇḍala of] the cloud mass of letters (16.1.1.1.2). This [the subject of ch. 5 of the Secret Nucleus] comprises (i) the context (16.1.1.1.2.1); (ii) the explanation of the verses (16.1.1.1.2.2); and (iii) the conclusion (16.1.1.1.2.3).

THE CONTEXT [16.1.1.1.2.1]

The first of these [comments on the verse]:

The tathāgatas then uttered these following aphorisms concerning attainment in which skillful means and discriminative awareness are without duality:

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:1)


Then, manifesting the Magical Emanation from the array of the cloud mass which is the wheel of letters, they uttered these following aphorisms.

Interlinear Commentary

Once the nature of buddha body, speech, and mind had been explained dependent on the [foregoing] display of the letters, then they uttered these following aphorisms, manifesting from the array of the cloud mass which is the wheel of letters, the sequence of attainment associated with the Magical Emanation in whom skillful means and discriminative awareness are without duality.

THE EXPLANATION OF THE VERSES

Second, [the explanation of the verses of ch. 5] comprises (i) the sequence of spiritual accomplishments that are to be attained (16.1.1.1.2.2.1); (ii) the nature of the cloud mass of letters through which these are attained (16.1.1.1.2.2.2); and (iii) a demonstration of the actual skillful means in accordance with which these are attained .

THE SEQUENCE OF SPIRITUAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO BE ATTAINED

The first of these comprises (i) a demonstration of the primordially pure nature of mind, which is the basis of spiritual accomplishment (16.1.1.1.2.2.1.1); (ii) the supreme spiritual accomplishment that derives from it (16.1.1.1.2.2.1.2); (iii) the common spiritual accomplishments that are its branches (16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3); and (iv) the similes that illustrate these attainments


THE BASIS OF SPIRITUAL ACCOMPLISHMENT


The first, concerning the basis of spiritual accomplishment [comments on the verse]:

The nature of mind, the basis of all things, is the cloud mass of letters.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:2)


The nature of mind, without basis,

Is the basis of all things.

The nature of mind is the intrinsic nature of the letters.

The letters are a cloud mass of wish-fulfilling gems.

Interlinear Commentary

It is said in the Supreme Continuum of the Great Vehicle:

Earth is based upon water,

Water on wind, and wind on space,

But space is not based on anything.

Similarly, the aggregates and sensory sense fields

Are based on deeds and afflictive mental states.

Deeds and afflictive mental states are always based on mistaken attention.

Mistaken attention is based on the purity of mind.

But the nature of mind is not itself based on any of these things.384

Accordingly, all things depend on mind, and mind depends on naturally pure inner radiance. Therefore, the nature of mind, like space, without ground or basis in any respect, is itself the basis of all things of cyclic existence and nirvāṇa, in all their diversity, pure and impure. As is said in the [Treasury of] Songs:

The nature of mind alone is the seed of all,

From which the rebirth process and nirvāṇa are diffused.

Homage to mind, which is like a wish-fulfilling gem,

Granting the fruit that is desired.385

Just as fire and water emerge under different conditions from a single lump of crystal, the unique nature of mind appears as cyclic existence and nirvāṇa respectively through the activation and nonactivation of the subject-object dichotomy, and respectively through fundamental ignorance and awareness. But actually there is no dichotomy. The primordially pure nature of mind therefore primordially arises as the intrinsic nature of the letters indicative of inner radiance, and its appearance is without inherent existence. If the nature of mind, comprising the letters that appear as such, is realized, a continuous cascade [of blessings] will manifestly fall, adorned with the wealth of the twofold benefit [of self and others], but even when it is unrealized, this [[[nature of mind]]] is primordially present as the ground from which all that is desirable will emerge. Therefore [the letters] are a cloud mass of precious wish-fulfilling gems.


THE SUPREME SPIRITUAL ACCOMPLISHMENT [16.1.1.1.2.2.1.2]


The second, concerning the supreme spiritual accomplishment [comments on the verse]:

The buddhas of the four times will be accomplished through having experientially cultivated the letters.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:3)


By the manifest perfection of

The forty-two-deity maṇḍala of Magical Emanation

In the maṇḍala of the Net,

All maṇḍalas perfect throughout the ten directions

And four times will be accomplished.

Interlinear Commentary

In the disposition of the inner radiant nature of mind, the essential nature of the forty-two-deity maṇḍala of Magical Emanation, which appears in the form of the letters, naturally and spontaneously present, has primordially attained the actual reality of manifest perfection in the maṇḍala of the Net, the discriminative awareness free from extremes of conceptual elaboration. By virtue of this, when the [inner radiant nature of mind] is experientially cultivated according to the stages of meditative stability, all maṇḍalas perfect in the enlightened heritage and unique enlightened intention of all the buddhas throughout the ten directions and four times will be completely accomplished. This is because the basis of the maṇḍalas, the cloud mass of letters, will itself have been experientially cultivated without error.


THE COMMON SPIRITUAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS [16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3]


The third, concerning the common spiritual accomplishments, comprises (i) a demonstration of the spontaneous accomplishment of the four rites, which is a sign that the pristine cognitions have been accomplished (16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3.1); (ii) an exegesis of the means of attaining the consummation of the five elements, which is a sign that the five psychophysical aggregates are inherently pure (16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3.2); and (iii) a description of the attainment of the eight [lesser] rites, which is a sign that the eight modes of consciousness are pure in the expanse (16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3.3).386


THE SPONTANEOUS ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE FOUR RITES [16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3.1]


The first of these, concerning the accomplishment of the four rites [comments on the verse]:

The four rites will be spontaneously accomplished through having accomplished the pristine cognitions.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:4)


All things will turn into and come forth as nectar,

Alleviating the four hundred four ailments.

Resources will emerge, lower realms of existence will be purified,

And the metamorphosis of all things whatever will be accomplished.

Interlinear Commentary

When the mirrorlike pristine cognition has been accomplished, all things that are poisonous will turn into nectar, which is a medication for the relief of living beings, and it will come forth for the benefit of oneself and others, thereby alleviating all the four hundred four ailments and enhancing well-being.

Concerning the four hundred four ailments, Caraka says [in the Carakasaṃhitā]:

One hundred one are imaginary ailments caused by spirits,

One hundred one are ailments caused by immediate conditions,

One hundred one are the basic [treatable] ailments

Caused by the elements and humoral combinations,

And one hundred one are naturally caused by past deeds.387

Alternatively, it is explained that each of the four categories of wind, bile, phlegm, and their combination possesses one hundred one disorders.388

When the pristine cognition of sameness has been accomplished, the resources of the celestial treasure store, which is inexhaustible because anything that is desirable may be extracted from space, will spontaneously emerge and fulfill hopes, surpassing the [meager] resources of gods and humans. When the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse has been accomplished, the obscurations covering the minds of all living beings within the lower realms of existence will be purified, and they will be established in the bliss of the higher realms. When the pristine cognition of discernment and the pristine cognition of accomplishment have been accomplished, the miracle of the metamorphosis of all things will be accomplished, whatever their appearance. This is because there are miraculous abilities to make the visible invisible and the invisible visible, to transpose the actual appearance assumed by an entity—as when fire is turned into water, and earth revealed as space—to subjugate others, bringing them under one’s sway, and to resurrect the dead, and so forth. The Pagoda of Precious Gems accordingly says:

The perpetual range and also the miraculous abilities of mind

That are accomplished in meditative stability are inconceivable;

The attributes of sacramental substances, medicines,

Mantras, and gemstones too are inconceivable;

The scrutiny of transits (’phyugs dpyad) and coincidental power

Associated with the planets, stars, and time are also inconceivable;

And the perceptual range of empowered bodhisattvas389

And the tathāgatas is also inconceivable.390


THE CONSUMMATION OF THE FIVE ELEMENTS [16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3.2]


The second, concerning the consummation [of the five elements, comments on the verse]:

The consummation of the five elements will be accomplished through having purified the five psychophysical aggregates.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:5)


Space will emerge solid as indestructible reality.

[The body] will blaze with fire,

And then even the inferno will be incinerated.

[[[Appearances]]] will turn to water and even cascade in the same manner.

This world system will be dispersed.

All will be emptied and collapse.

Interlinear Commentary

When the meditative stability of the consummation of the earth element has been acquired owing to the inherent purity of the aggregate of physical forms, space will be consecrated and it will accordingly emerge in a solid state, as the terrain of indestructible reality.

By acquiring power over the meditative stability of the consummation of the fire element owing to the inherent purity of the aggregate of feelings, the body will blaze with fire and then turn all appearances into a mass of fire, so that even the hottest inferno of the sentient denizens of hell will be incinerated, releasing them from that suffering.

When power has been acquired over the meditative stability of the consummation of the water element owing to the [[[inherent]]] purity of [the aggregate of] perceptions, all appearances will turn to water, sink into the ground, and demonstrably everything will even cascade in a single flow of water, removing the sufferings of others, in the same manner as the action of the fire element. This is because these will have been conjured through meditative stability in which there are no afflictive mental states.

When the meditative stability of the consummation of the wind element has been mastered owing to the [[[inherent]]] purity of [the aggregate of] formative predispositions, this world system of coarse and subtle appearances will be dispersed into atomic particles, diffusing miracles and benefiting sentient beings.

Then, when the meditative stability of the space element has been acquired owing to the [[[inherent]]] purity of consciousness, all world systems will be emptied and miraculous abilities will be acquired, so that even the sun and moon will collapse to earth.

In this context, there are some who would meditate that the five elements emerge in this manner from the heart centers of the deities of the five enlightened families, but that is unconnected with the textual exegesis of the present [[[chapter]]]. The former refers to a particular means of attainment, whereas the present description is more general.391


THE ATTAINMENT OF THE EIGHT LESSER RITES [16.1.1.1.2.2.1.3.3]


The third, concerning the attainment of the eight lesser rites, which is a sign that the eight modes of consciousness are pure [in the expanse, comments on the verse]:

Summoning, expulsion, bondage, liberation, alleviation, killing, vanquishing, and conquering will [also] be accomplished.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:6)


Summoning, expulsion, bondage, liberation,

Alleviation, killing, vanquishing, and conquering

May be activated by means of this meditative stability.

Interlinear Commentary

When power has been acquired over awareness or pristine cognition, owing to the [[[inherent]]] purity of the eight [modes of consciousness], including the substratum consciousness (kun gzhi’i rnam shes), all [the lesser] rites may be activated by means of this meditative stability of the cloud mass of letters. These include the rites of summoning, which draws a target into one’s presence; expulsion, which exorcises [negative forces]; bondage, which fetters enemies, thieves, and so forth; liberation, which offers release from all imprecations and harmful forces; alleviation, which dispels plague, poison, and so forth; killing, which eliminates opposing foes and obstructors; vanquishing, which defeats hostile factions; and conquering, through which one’s own faction triumphs.

THE SIMILES THAT ILLUSTRATE THESE ATTAINMENTS [16.1.1.1.2.2.1.4]

The fourth part [of the sequence of spiritual accomplishments to be attained, see above, p. 211], concerning the similes [that illustrate these attainments, comments on the verse]:

[These accomplishments] resemble light, nectar, alchemical transmutation into gold, and medication.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:7)


These [accomplishments] whereby the names, words, forms, and so forth

Of the self-manifesting pristine cognition

May [be achieved] at will

Are likened to a light that shines in the dark.

They will transform [[[poison]] into nectar]

In the manner of alchemical transmutation into gold

Or [act] in the manner of an efficacious medication.

Interlinear Commentary

As for the similes illustrative of these accomplishments, there are outwardly visible miraculous reflections of this accomplishment attained through meditative stability, which arise as the originally pure self-manifesting pristine cognition. In this regard, the distinctive forms of each garland of letters, comprising vowels and consonants represented by names and words, along with the [appropriate] colors and light rays that conform to [specific] enlightened activities, as implied in the words and so forth, are experienced. One should therefore know that this wheel of letters, whereby the result of this meditative stability may be achieved at will, is likened to a light that shines in the dark, rendering visible all that is desired.

[This accomplishment] will transform the outer and inner poisons into nectar, without renouncing them, and thus it also resembles the catalyst in the alchemical transmutation [of base metals] into gold, or else it will act in the manner of an efficacious medication that pacifies and alleviates distempers, right where they are.


THE NATURE OF THE CLOUD MASS OF LETTERS THROUGH WHICH THESE ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE ATTAINED [16.1.1.1.2.2.2]


The second part [of the explanation of the verses of ch. 5], concerning the nature of the cloud mass of letters through which these accomplishments are attained, comprises (i) the individuals by whom these are attained (16.1.1.1.2.2.2.1) and (ii) the essential nature that is attained (16.1.1.1.2.2.2.2). The former [comments on the verse]:

Those who maintain the six branches will become accomplished,

And those who lack them will be lost.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:8)


To persevere in making offerings to those who reveal [the path],

To have clear realization,

To keep the commitments, to [recite] the mantras,

And to understand the seals without defect—

Those who possess the requisites will become accomplished.

Those who lack them will be unsuccessful and lost.

Interlinear Commentary

The first branch for attaining the accomplishment of the [cloud mass of] letters is to persevere in making offerings with reliance on an extraordinary object [of refuge], to the masters of indestructible reality (rdo rje slob dpon) who reveal the path to liberation and to the deities of the maṇḍala. In this regard, the spiritual teacher (bla ma) is identified with the most sacred and supreme focal point of the field [of refuge], as is said in the Sūtra That Gathers All Enlightened Intentions:

One should know the spiritual teacher to be more awesome

Than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons;

For the buddhas of those aeons emerge

Dependent on their own spiritual teachers.

I have not explained that a buddha emerges

Who has previously not had a spiritual teacher.392

And:

Even though one is ignorant and unrealized

With respect to all things,

When one has greatly served a genuine spiritual teacher with veneration,

The ocean of cyclic existence will be traversed.

For seeds vastly multiply when planted in fertile fields,

And even a sesame seed in an excellent field of genuine merit

Will not be wasted but will multiply and ripen.393

And in the [[[chapter]] on] vows, from the Net of Magical Emanation:

The spiritual teacher is identified with the principal deity of all maṇḍalas.

When offerings have been made with veneration,

All maṇḍalas will be delighted

Not to mention the maṇḍala that is at hand!394

The second [branch for attaining the accomplishment of the letters] is to have clear, unwavering realization of the meditation associated with the deities and the syllables. Accordingly, the Introduction to the Conduct of a Bodhisattva says:

The All-Knowing One has said that all the recitations and austerities Of one whose mind has been distracted are pointless,

[Even though they may have been practiced for a long time].395

The third [branch for attaining the accomplishment of the letters] is to keep the basic and ancillary commitments. Accordingly, the Supreme Wheel says:

Keeping the commitments, all mantras will be accomplished.396

The fourth branch [for attaining the accomplishment of the letters] is to recite the secret mantras purely—not too swiftly or slowly, without omissions or additions, and not too loudly or too quietly.397 Accordingly, it says in the Supreme Commitment:

Mantras too will be pure in sound and word.

One endowed with all the six branches will be accomplished.398

The fifth branch [for attaining the accomplishment of the letters] is to understand the seals, namely, the doctrinal seal, the action seal, the commitment seal, and the great seal, and to understand and execute them, along with their aspects, precisely and without defect. Accordingly, it says in the Supreme Conqueror:

Accomplishment will be attained

By one who has mastered the four seals.399

Those who possess the five requisites for attainment,400 along with [appropriate] place and time, which comprise their subsidiary branches, will become accomplished in the aforementioned [[[attainments]]]. Conversely, it is said that the individuals who lack them will be lost because, even though they would attain the accomplishment of these [letters], they would not only be unsuccessful, but also end up being roasted in the lower realms of existence. Accordingly, the Tantra of the Secret Vital Essence says:

One who does not venerate a spiritual master,

Who has not obtained the empowerments,

Who is without commitments and devoid of mantras,

And whose supreme branches of attainment are defective

Will assuredly have no accomplishment in this world

And end up being roasted in future lives

Within the lower realms of existence.401


THE ESSENTIAL NATURE THAT IS ATTAINED [16.1.1.1.2.2.2.2]


The latter, the essential nature that is attained [comments on the verse]:

The nucleus [of all accomplishments] is the [[[wheel]] of] letters,

The inexhaustible treasury of the three buddha bodies.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:9)


The supreme nucleus of all accomplishments

Comprehended by the conquerors of the three times

Is a wish-fulfilling treasury, inexhaustible in time.

[This essential nature] emerges without increase or decrease.

From the immaterial there is a material cloud

That proliferates and transforms.

Interlinear Commentary

The supreme fruit and the nucleus of supreme and common accomplishments, comprehended by the conquerors of the three times, past, future, and present, is the wheel of letters. Therefore its essential nature is a genuine wish-fulfilling treasury, inexhaustible in time, because all that is desirable emerges spontaneously, in the manner of precious gemstones. This essential nature is naturally pure, for the buddha body of actual reality is without increase in the manner of space; the buddha body of perfect resource is without decrease in the manner of rainbow colors; and, from this disposition, there emerges the proliferating display of the buddha body of emanation. So it is that, from the disposition of the immaterial buddha body of actual reality, there is a material cloud of appearances, comprising the two apparitional buddha bodies of form, that proliferates enlightened activity for the sake of living beings, corresponding to the intelligence of those to be trained, and then transforms into a spontaneously present emanational display. This is the essential nature of the cloud mass of letters.

A DEMONSTRATION OF THE ACTUAL SKILLFUL MEANS IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHICH THESE ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE ATTAINED [16.1.1.1.2.2.3]

The third part [of the textual exegesis of ch. 5, see above, p. 211], demonstrating the actual skillful means in accordance with which these accomplishments are attained, comprises (i) a brief introduction to meditative stability (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.1); (ii) an extensive demonstration of its nature (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2); and (iii) a synopsis of the unique meditative equipoise (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.3).


A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO MEDITATIVE STABILITY [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.1]


The first of these [comments on the verse]:

This entails refinement and mastery with regard to the diffusion and absorption of nonentities.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:10)


Once entities are in reality [known to be] nonentities,

There ensues meditative stability—the mastery of realization.

Interlinear Commentary

While all things of phenomenal appearance, cyclic existence and nirvāṇa, appear as entities, exemplified by the appearance of the cloud mass of letters during the generation stage [of meditation], at that very moment, the reality of all these things is naturally uncreated. This nature, in which things are nonentities, is known in the context of the primordially pure perfection stage [of meditation].

Once the [[[techniques]] of] diffusion and absorption have been refined, without attachment to true existence, from within the disposition of the generation stage in which [the maṇḍala] appears but is not recognized [to exist inherently], there then ensues the meditative stability of the wheel of letters. This entails the repeated refinement of meditative stability—consisting of the realization of the diffusion and absorption of letters in conformity with a specific ritual activity, and the emanational display of its mastery in awareness.402


A DETAILED EXEGESIS OF THE NATURE OF MEDITATIVE STABILITY [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2]


The second [the detailed exegesis of meditative stability] comprises (i) the meditative stability that is a meditation on discriminative awareness, the buddha body of actual reality or emptiness (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.1) and (ii) the meditative stability that is a meditation on skillful means, the buddha body of form or appearance (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.2).


THE MEDITATIVE STABILITY THAT IS A MEDITATION ON DISCRIMINATIVE AWARENESS [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.1]


The former comprises (i) a general presentation of the instruction on the nonreferential truth (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.1.1) and (ii) a detailed exegesis of non-dual pristine cognition (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.1.2).


A GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE INSTRUCTION ON THE NONREFERENTIAL TRUTH [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.1.1]


The first [comments on the verse]:

Since the ignorant do [not] know this, they should know appearances and mind through investigation.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:11)


Whoever knows not the nonreferential

Does not know the expanse of actual reality.

For this reason, one should know the nonreferential

By destroying entities and nonentities.

Interlinear Commentary

Whoever as an individual knows not the nature of all things to be nonreferential and signless does not know the abiding nature of the expanse of actual reality, free from conceptual elaboration. As is said in the Sūtra That Gathers All Enlightened Intentions:

Without seeing the inconceivable,

The child who sets its intellect

On the inconceivable is foolish.

That will become a veritable sense field of darkness.403

For this reason it is taught that one should know the nonreferential reality, the nature of all things, by analyzing and destroying the deluded ideation that apprehends the subject-object dichotomy. For, when the dreamlike and diverse entities that appear to the mind are investigated and analyzed, they do not exist, either externally or internally, and are similar to space; and when the nonentity—colorless consciousness that makes that realization—is analyzed, the subject, too, is essenceless because it is not found anywhere, externally or internally. At this juncture there is no reference to anything apart from the mind and mental appearances. The Introduction to the Conduct of a Bodhisattva accordingly says:

When entities and nonentities both

Are absent from before the intellect,

There is nothing else to do

But rest in tranquillity, without objective reference.404


A DETAILED EXEGESIS OF NONDUAL PRISTINE COGNITION [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.1.2]


The second, the detailed exegesis of nondual [[[pristine cognition]], comments on the verse]:

The nature of mind is the actual expanse [of reality], without class, color, or shape.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:12)


The nature of mind, groundless and baseless,

Is neither male nor female nor neuter.

It is not signless, nor is it classified according to families.

It is colorless and shapeless.

It is not an abode, nor is it anything at all.

This pristine cognition of the real expanse

Is the causal basis giving rise to all seals of skillful means.

Interlinear Commentary

The nature of mind, primordially groundless and baseless like space, does not exist as any substantial entity or sign. This is the case because it is neither designated as male nor as female, nor is it referred to, in terms of color and shape, as neuter. The nature of mind exists from the present moment without cyclic existence or nirvāṇa, good or evil. This nature is not even referred to as signless because it transcends extremes of being and nonbeing. Nor, in this respect, is the nature of mind classified according to the different spiritual families, comprising buddhas, sentient beings, and so forth, or according to the different social classes, such as the ruling classes (kṣatriya), the outcastes (caṇḍāla), and so forth. It is colorless in terms of white and so forth, and shapeless in terms of square and so forth, because it is essentially empty and signless. Furthermore, the nature of mind is not existent as a buddha field or as an abode of sentient beings. Nor is it existent as anything at all that can be specifically identified. The Sūtra of the King of Meditative Stability accordingly says:

Mind is nonreferential and not conceivable.

Naturally pure and essentially empty,

It is the primordial, selfless, profound reality,

Profound, quiescent, and unelaborated, as space.405

This nature of mind is actual reality, the pure pristine cognition of the real expanse. Owing to this, its abiding nature, it acts as the causal basis for executing all the seals of skillful means, and it acts as the causal basis giving rise to all discriminative awareness. It is the expanse [of actual reality] wherein all excellences are accomplished, bringing about auspicious connections and all genuine results. This is because there are no divergent phenomena that have a ground, path, and result extraneous to the truth of the naturally pure nature of mind.


THE MEDITATIVE STABILITY THAT IS A MEDITATION ON SKILLFUL MEANS [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.2]


The latter [part of the detailed exegesis of meditative stability, see p. 225], concerning the meditative stability that is a meditation on skillful means, the buddha body of form or appearance, comprises (i) a presentation of the meditative stability of the deities according to the generation and perfection stages [of meditation] (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.2.1) and (ii) an exegesis of phenomenal existence as the seal of Samantabhadra (16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.2.2).


THE MEDITATIVE STABILITY OF THE DEITIES ACCORDING TO THE GENERATION AND PERFECTION STAGES [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.2.1]


The former [comments on the verse]:

It is the mind through which the undifferentiated deities and mantras are diffused and absorbed.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:13)


From skillful means emerges skillful means.

This skillful means is inconceivable.

The inconceivable internal and externalized maṇḍalas,

Which are not differentiated but become differentiated,

Constitute the emanational display of pristine cognition.

This is the supreme seal of fearless Samantabhadra.

Interlinear Commentary

From this natural appearance of skillful means, which is one’s own nature of mind manifesting as the letters endowed with inner radiance, the [secondary] skillful means then emerges—comprising the letters that issue from the tips of the rays of light. This skillful means then becomes inconceivable and inestimable owing to countless diffusions. There are not any extraneous existents that are actually differentiated through this transformation, but rather, in the mind one meditates on oneself as an emanational display of male and female deities, from which the emanational display of mind then becomes differentiated in the visualization of the containing celestial palace and buddha field. During meditation therefore, there is an internal diffusion and absorption [of light rays] through which oneself becomes manifest as the deities and the letters, and there is an externalized diffusion and absorption that entails meditation on the celestial palace and buddha field, generated by the mind, as well as on the countless, inconceivable maṇḍalas arrayed by the mind among buddhas and sentient beings, which are the basis of this diffusion and absorption. However, all these constitute the emanational display in which self-manifesting pristine cognition is itself arrayed. This nature of buddhahood is fearless in all respects, inasmuch as it is the nature of mind, pure from the beginning, and it is secured by the supreme authentic seal of Samantabhadra, the abiding nature, primordially without deeds and afflictive mental states.406

Since the generation stage [of meditation] is also spontaneously present in the perfection stage [of meditation], wherein there is no inherent existence, one should become meditatively equipoised in this disposition and abide in it, without conceptual elaboration.407


AN EXEGESIS OF PHENOMENAL EXISTENCE AS THE SEAL OF SAMANTABHADRA [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.2.2.2]


The latter, the exegesis of how phenomenal existence is secured by the seal of Samantabhadra [interprets the same passage, commenting on the verse]:

This diffusion and absorption of the letters is none other than the nature of mind.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:13)


From skillful means emerges skillful means.

This skillful means is inconceivable.

The inconceivable internal and externalized maṇḍalas,

Which are not differentiated but become differentiated,

Constitute the emanational display of pristine cognition.

This is the supreme seal of fearless Samantabhadra.

Interlinear Commentary

From the skillful means of the luminous nature of mind, which manifests as the letters, there emerges the [secondary] skillful means through which one’s own real nature manifests to the mind as an object. This skillful means then arises inconceivably, proliferating as phenomenal existence. And yet, all these skillful means are not differentiated objectively but rather the proliferation of appearances that become differentiated arises as the emanational display of pristine cognition—the inconceivable maṇḍalas, namely, those of internal mind and of externalized phenomena of diverse flesh-colored appearance. Therefore, it is said to have been “secured by the supreme seal of primordial buddhahood, the fearless Samantabhadra.”

Furthermore, [the following interpretation] may also be applied, in the context of meditation on the letters: From the wheel of letters which is skillful means, [the secondary] skillful means is diffused and absorbed, so that this skillful means, associated with the letters, becomes inconceivable. But these are not differentiated from the mind. Rather, it is the intellect that differentiates the source and object of their diffusion. When one meditates on the emanational display of pristine cognition—the inconceivable maṇḍalas wherein one’s own internal mind and all the externalized things that appear to the mind are controlled by diffusion and absorption, transforming them into letters—this is called the supreme seal of fearless Samantabhadra.408


A SYNOPSIS OF THE UNIQUE MEDITATIVE EQUIPOISE [16.1.1.1.2.2.3.3]


The third section [of the demonstration of the actual skillful means in accordance with which these accomplishments are attained, see p. 224], comprising a synopsis [of unique meditative equipoise, comments on the verse]:

Those whose minds have been tamed and who have relied on the mantras will, without exception, attain this accomplishment.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:14)


Once those whose minds resemble an inebriated elephant’s

Have been tamed by means of meditative equipoise

And have resolutely relied on the mantras and the seals,

They will obtain the amazing great accomplishment.

Interlinear Commentary

The yogins who would realize this garland of letters have minds that resemble that of an elephant inebriated by wine. They move about and suffer in cyclic existence, intoxicated by the wine of reliance on unworthy egotistical views and the apprehension of signs. Once their minds which apprehend entities and signs have been tamed by means of meditative equipoise in the truth of the abiding nature, combining calm abiding and higher insight, and if they have then meditated on the extraordinary generation and perfection stages [of meditation], associated with nondual pristine cognition, and have resolutely relied on and experienced their branches, namely, the reality of the mantras and the intrinsic nature of the seals, they will obtain the amazing great accomplishment, the nature of Samantabhadra.

The five branches of mantra comprise the realities of (i) self [generation]; (ii) deity [generation]; (iii) the secret mantra; (iv) recitation; and (v) the diffusion and absorption [of light rays]. Calm abiding is the quiescence of mental elaboration, and higher insight is the discriminative awareness that realizes that objects are radiant and without inherent existence. In this context according to the generation stage [of meditation], calm abiding should be known as the mind not digressing elsewhere, and higher insight should be known as the focusing on the nature [of mind], without conceptual elaboration.409 As is said in the Analysis of the Middle and Extremes:

Discursiveness does not occur and discernment is indeed present.410

And:

With respect to any single object of reference whatever,

The mind should be focused in meditative stability.411

Therefore, in this context, the meditative stability of the letters is the skillful means that gives rise to calm abiding, and from its disposition the uncreated nonconceptual discriminative awareness and meditative stability are both dispositionally accomplished. Hence its profundity!

The Lamp [for the Eye] of Meditative Concentration says:

Whoever relies on an object of reference

Thoroughly generates the nonreferential.

Whoever relies on the nonreferential

Attains the realization called nothing-at-all.412

Whoever experiences that called nothing-at-all

Subsequently abandons that as well.413


THE CONCLUSION [16.1.1.1.2.3]


The third section [of ch. 5] is the conclusion of the chapter [which comments on the verse]:

Saying that all things abide in the cloud mass of letters, [the tathāgata] was delighted.

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:15)


So saying, the tathāgata himself was delighted by that vision.

Interlinear Commentary

So saying that the nature of all things abides in the cloud mass of letters, the tathāgata Samantabhadra himself was delighted by that vision in which the excellent accomplishments emerged spontaneously from the wheel of letters.

CHAPTER ENDING

This completes chapter 5 [of the Secret Nucleus], concerning “The Attainment of the Letters.”

Root Tantra (Ch. 5:16)


This completes the fifth chapter from the Secret Nucleus Definitive with Respect to the Real, entitled “The Meditative Stabilities That Attain the Net of Magical Emanation.”

Interlinear Commentary

This completes and establishes the exegesis of the fifth chapter from the primordial Secret Nucleus, concerning the wheel of the cloud mass of letters, Definitive with Respect to the Real, where excellent accomplishments emerge, entitled “Enumerating the Meditative Stabilities of the Letters That Attain the Net of Magical Emanation.”


Source