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6. THE DIFFUSION OF THE MAṆḌALA

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6. THE DIFFUSION OF THE MAṆḌALA


The purpose of this and the following two chapters is to project the maṇḍala of buddha mind that is visualized through meditative stability as emerging from the cyclical garland of letters, along with its aspects—the maṇḍalas of buddha speech and buddha body, which are symbolized respectively by mantra recitation and sealing hand gestures.

The focus here is on the emergence of the maṇḍala of meditational deities who are to be visualized by means of meditative stability that accords with the volition of the tathāgatas (v. 1).

The commentator at this point omits Longchen Rabjam’s extensive overview concerning the term maṇḍala. The Sanskrit maṇḍala is generally defined as a principal deity encircled by a retinue, but more specifically classified according to the maṇḍalas of the ground, path, and result. The maṇḍala of the ground is the atemporal presence of the mundane world and its inhabitants as primordial buddhahood. The maṇḍala of the path includes those symbolic maṇḍalas that are drawn on cotton or with colored powders, or laid out schematically with focal points and flower clusters prominent. Yet it also refers to the maṇḍalas of genuine buddha body, speech, and mind, which are to be attained through meditative stability, as well as those of the supporting celestial palace, the meditational deities supported within it, and their nondual pristine cognition. The maṇḍala of the result comprises the effortless, spontaneous presence of the five maṇḍalas of buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities.

The maṇḍalas of ground, path, and result all emanate from the cyclical garland of letters. Among them, the natural and spontaneous maṇḍala of the ground is that in which the elements, psychophysical aggregates, and afflictive mental states of unenlightened beings are primordially present as the female buddhas, the male buddhas, and the pristine cognitions, respectively (v. 2).

The maṇḍala of the path, which is the focus of the yogin’s meditative stability, comprises the actual maṇḍala with its celestial palace (v. 3), ornaments (v. 4), teaching thrones (v. 5), and meditational deities (vv. 6–7), along with their symbolic hand-held emblems (v. 8), body colors (v. 9), and general appearance (v. 10), as well as the effulgence of light rays that they emit (v. 11). Yet it also refers to the fruitional result that is achieved through this attainment, namely, the fruitional buddha body of form (rūpakāya), which arises from the body of actual reality (v. 12) and the consequent illusion-like enlightened activity (v. 13) that it perfoms on behalf of ordinary beings, pious attendants, hermit buddhas, and bodhisattvas (vv. 14–17). Consequently, living beings are liberated, either through the causal paths that gradually refine obscurations (v. 18) or through the fruitional paths and levels associated with the indivisibility and spontaneity of the five buddha bodies (vv. 19–22). In this way, the maṇḍala of the path radiantly emanates throughout all world systems (v. 23).

The maṇḍala of the result is then described as the nondual pristine cognition without objective or subjective referent, which emerges fully manifest and radiant in the context of this maṇḍala of meditative stability (vv. 24–25). The final verse may also be interpreted from the standpoints of ground, path, or result individually.

THE SECOND SECTION [of the general presentation of the nature of the three maṇḍalas of buddha body, speech, and mind, 16.1.1, see above, pp. 159–60] is the presentation of the maṇḍala of meditative stability [that derives from the cloud mass of letters] (16.1.1.2). It comprises (i) a general presentation of the maṇḍala of meditative stability within the expanse [of actual reality] (16.1.1.2.1) [which is the content of ch. 6] and (ii) a detailed exegesis of its branches, namely, the maṇḍalas of the mantras and seals (16.1.1.2.2) [which constitute chs. 7 and 8].

A GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE MAṆḌALA OF MEDITATIVE STABILITY WITHIN THE EXPANSE OF ACTUAL REALITY [16.1.1.2.1]

The first of these [i.e., ch. 6] includes (i) a description of the causal basis for the diffusion of the maṇḍala (16.1.1.2.1.1) and (ii) an exegesis of the actual maṇḍala that is diffused therefrom (16.1.1.2.1.2).

The former [comments on the verse]:

Willing the maṇḍala of meditative stability to emerge, [the tathāgata] then uttered these following aphorisms:

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:1)


Then all [the deities], embodying this intrinsic nature of all the tathāgatas—neither single nor multiple, throughout the entire ten directions of the six realms—willed the maṇḍala of their own greatness to emerge and uttered these following aphorisms.

Interlinear Commentary

Once the maṇḍala of the cloud mass of letters had been arrayed, then all [the deities] who appear as the maṇḍala of Samantabhadra, embodying the intrinsic nature of all the self-manifesting tathāgatas, neither single nor multiple—gazing throughout the entire ten directions of the six realms inhabited by those to be trained—willed the maṇḍala of the tathāgatasown greatness to emerge and uttered these following aphorisms.

An EXEGESIS OF THE ACTUAL MAṆḌALA THAT IS DIFFUSED THEREFROM [16.1.1.2.1.2]

The latter comprises (i) a general presentation of the natural and spontaneous maṇḍala of the ground (16.1.1.2.1.2.1); (ii) a detailed exegesis of the maṇḍala of meditative stability that forms the path (16.1.1.2.1.2.2); and (iii) a synopsis of the maṇḍala of the fruitional great pristine cognition (16.1.1.2.1.2.3).414

A GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE NATURAL AND SPONTANEOUS MAṆḌALA OF THE GROUND [16.1.1.2.1.2.1]

The first of these [comments on the verse]:

The five material elements, aggregates, and poisons are respectively the five female buddhas, male buddhas, and pristine cognitions.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:2)


Pristine cognition is designated according to its four directions and also its center.

This inconceivable, spontaneous maṇḍala constitutes the Great Perfection.

May the yogins who realize this conduct themselves

In that great maṇḍala—the origin of all [things]!

Interlinear Commentary

Pristine cognition is designated according to its four directions because the [four] outer elements of earth, water, fire, and wind; the [four] inner aggregates of physical forms, feelings, perceptions, and formative predispositions; and the four secret poisons of delusion, pride, desire, and envy are primordially and spontaneously present, respectively as the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse, the pristine cognition of sameness, the pristine cognition of discernment, and the pristine cognition of accomplishment. And pristine cognition is also designated according to its center because hatred, space, and consciousness, these three, [naturally] abide as the mirrorlike pristine cognition.415 This maṇḍala wherein the five material elements essentially abide as the five female buddhas, the five psychophysical aggregates as the five male buddhas, and the five poisons as the five pristine cognitions is inconceivable. It constitutes the natural Great Perfection inasmuch as all things of phenomenal appearance, cyclic existence and nirvāṇa, are spontaneously present within it from the beginning. May the yogins who realize this conduct themselves in the great maṇḍala of pristine cognition, natural in origin, where all things of phenomenal appearance, cyclic existence and nirvāṇa, are neither renounced nor accepted, neither refuted nor proven. Actually, whatever appears and whatever arises, all things are revealed as the emanational display of this maṇḍala, without being renounced or accepted.

A DETAILED EXEGESIS OF THE MAṆḌALA OF MEDITATIVE STABILITY THAT FORMS THE PATH [16.1.1.2.1.2.2]

The second comprises (i) the actual maṇḍala of meditative stability (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1) and (ii) an exegesis of the fruitional maṇḍala accomplished thereby (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2).

THE ACTUAL MAṆḌALA OF MEDITATIVE STABILITY [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1]

The former also has two sections: (i) the maṇḍala of the supporting celestial palace (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1) and (ii) the maṇḍala of the supported deities (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2).

THE MAṆḌALA OF THE SUPPORTING CELESTIAL PALACE [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1]

The first of these, in turn, comprises (i) the celestial palace (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1.1); (ii) its ornaments (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1.2); and (iii) its thrones (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1.3).

THE CELESTIAL PALACE [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1.1]

First [the section on the celestial palace comments on the verse]:

[The celestial palace comprises an inner] wheel and square walls with four corners and four entrance gateways.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:3)


[The palace comprises] a four-spoked [inner] circle,

Along with its perimeter rim

And a [surrounding] courtyard, adorned with four corners.

[Its outer walls] are entirely square, with entrance gateways.

Interlinear Commentary

The celestial palace (gzhal yas khang) comprises an [inner] four-spoked wheel symbolizing that fundamental ignorance has been severed by the four pristine cognitions, along with its perimeter rim, which is white and circular, symbolizing that it itself is the pristine cognition free from conceptual elaborations. And outside that, there is a courtyard surrounding it on all sides, which symbolizes that pristine cognition is not limited or biased, and it is adorned with four corners to symbolize the four immeasurable aspirations. The shape of [the outer walls] of the celestial palace is entirely square to indicate the extensive enlightened attributes of its greatness. These are endowed with [four] entrance gateways, which symbolize the four modes of liberation, their eight pedimental steps (rta babs) symbolizing the eight aspects of liberation.416

In this context, the maṇḍala of the peaceful deities is visualized with two-story gateways. The outer and inner walls and their shape are indicated in the [above-cited root verses, which conclude]:

And a [surrounding] courtyard, adorned with four corners.

[Its outer walls] are entirely square, with entrance gateways.

Strictly speaking, the buddha body of perfect resource appears within the inner gates while the buddha body of emanation appears in the courtyard outside. It is therefore essential that these maṇḍalas remain distinct. Otherwise the maṇḍala of the buddha body of perfect resource that manifests in and of itself, and that of the buddha body of emanation that appears to others would be confused, and the class of the maṇḍala could not be determined. Such flaws would occur.417

THE ORNAMENTS [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1.2]

The second section, concerning the ornaments [of the celestial palace, comments on the verse]:

It has billowing clouds of offerings and forty-two individual seats.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:4)


[The palace has] a diverse display of trappings, like billowing clouds, And it is adorned with forty-two maṇḍalas.

Interlinear Commentary

In order to symbolize the thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment and so forth, [the palace has] a diverse display of trappings—parasols, victory banners, and so forth, densely arrayed like billowing clouds. And it is adorned with the forty-two maṇḍalas—the individual seats that beautify it, equal in number to the locations of the deities. There is no occasion for the deities themselves to be included here, among the ornaments of the celestial palace.

THE THRONES [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.1.3]

The third section, concerning the thrones [of the celestial palace, comments on the verse]:

[The great thrones, resting upon animal figurines of] the lion, the elephant, the horse, the bird, and the cīvaṃcīvaka, have sun, moon, and lotus [cushions].

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:5)


The great thrones of the lion, the elephant,

The horse, the garuḍa, and the cīvaṃcīvaka

Have sun, moon, and lotus [cushions]

And gemstone throne legs.

Interlinear Commentary

In order to symbolize the four assurances and so forth, these seats include the great thrones that are supported respectively by animal figurines of the lion, the elephant, the horse, the garuḍa, and the cīvaṃcīvaka. These also have [stacked cushions representing] the sun of discriminative awareness, the moon of skillful means, and the lotus untainted by flaws, and they are supported by throne legs (khri rkang) fashioned of gemstones because all that is desirable emerges from these [cushions].

It is explained that [the thrones of the buddhas of] the five enlightened families have all of those five stacked components; those of the male and female buddhas Samantabhadra, who are their incandescence, have four stacked components; those of the bodhisattvas have three stacked components; while the six sages each have a lotus base, and the gatekeepers each have a single sun cushion. As is said in the Sequence of Light:

At the center, in the middle of the palace,

[The throne motif] depicts the eight lions, symbolizing assurance.

At the center, in the east [of the palace],

[The throne motif] depicts the elephant, symbolizing great power.

[At the center,] in the south [of the palace],

[The throne motif] depicts the eight horses, symbolizing miraculous ability.

[At the center,] in the west of the palace,

[The throne motif] depicts the peacock, symbolizing powers,

And [at the center,] in the north [of the palace]

Are the eight cīvaṃcīvaka, symbolizing buddha activity.

The throne legs are also embellished,

[And so these thrones all] have five stacked components,

Including sun and moon [cushions].

[The thrones of] the bodhisattvas

Have three stacked components: sun, moon, and lotus [cushions],

While [those of] the wrathful gatekeepers have a single sun cushion,

And [those of] the sages have a single lotus base.

The male and female buddhas Samantabhadra,

Who respectively represent the active subjective polarity

And the passive objective polarity,

Have sun, moon, and lotus [cushions], with elaborate gemstone [[[Wikipedia:legs|legs]]].

As such they are seated in meditative equipoise.418

There is no contradiction [between these two descriptions] because the peacock and the garuḍa are said to have the same function, symbolizing that the poisons have been pacified.419

THE MAṆḌALA OF THE SUPPORTED DEITIES [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2]

The second section [of the actual maṇḍala of meditative stability, see above, p. 239] concerns the maṇḍala of the supported deities. This has six aspects, the first of which, concerning the postures [of the forty-two peaceful deities] (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2.1) [comments on the verse]:

Seated in the manner of kings, ministers, and generals . . .

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:6)


On these seats, [seated] in the manner of the perfect buddhas

And of the bodhisattvas,

Interlinear Commentary

On these seats the twelve perfect male and female buddhas, comprising the male and female buddhas Samantabhadra and the [five] tathāgatas [with their consorts], are seated in the posture of indestructible reality (vajraparyaṅka, rdo rje skyil krung), in the manner of kings, spontaneously accomplished in the two kinds of benefit. The male and female bodhisattvas, arrayed in their retinue in the manner of ministers, are seated in the posture of the bodhisattvas (sattvaparyaṅka, sems dpa’i skyil krung), with the right leg extended and the left leg contracted. Along with these, the gate-keepers, in the manner of generals, assume an outward gaze (phyir gzigs) and a vigorous gait (gyad kyi dor thabs) because they eradicate obstructing and misguiding forces. The sages assume a standing posture because, in the manner of chieftains, they appear as leaders among their respective classes of living beings.

The second aspect, concerning which deities are present in which locations (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2.2) [comments on the verse]:

There are the [five] enlightened families [of male and female buddhas], the [eight] bodhisattvas, Samantabhadra [and Samantabhadrī], the six sages, and the eight gatekeepers.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:7)


There are the kings and queens on the wheel,

Then, starting from the right, there are respectively

Those of indestructible vision, hearing, fragrance, and savor,

Along with the assembled host of their queens;

And in the corners between these are respectively

Those of indestructible eyes, ears, nose, and tongue,

Along with the assembled host of their queens.

In the courtyard are the six sages,

While present to the front and rear are the pair

Who represent the active subject and the passive object.

At the four gateways stand the subjugators,

Along with the assembled host of their queens.

Interlinear Commentary

At the hub and on the four spokes of the central wheel, there are the kings or five male buddhas, beginning with Vairocana, and the queens or five female buddhas. Then, starting from the right or the southeastern direction of the principal deity Vairocana and at the four intermediate spokes (rtsibs mchan bzhi), there are respectively Kṣitigarbha, the bodhisattva of indestructible vision; Vajrapāṇi, thebodhisattva of indestructible hearing; Ākāśagarbha, the bodhisattva of indestructible fragrance; and Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of indestructible savor, along with the assembled host of their queens, namely, Lāsyā, Mālyā, Gītā, and Nartī.

Similarly, in the four corners between these, starting from the southeast, there are respectively Maitreya, the bodhisattva of indestructible eyes; Nīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, the bodhisattva of indestructible ears; Samantabhadra, the bodhisattva of indestructible] nose; and Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattva of indestructible tongue, along with the assembled host of their queens, namely, Dhūpā, Puṣpā, Ālokā, and Gandhā. [All of these] are seated in union. [See plates 1a–2h.]

In the outer courtyard are the six sages of the gods and so forth, whose respective positions accord with the following description from the Sequence of Light:

In the southeast are the gods.

In the south are the human beings.

In the southwest and northwest respectively

Are the anguished spirits and animals,

And in the north and northeast respectively

Are the demigods and the denizens of hell.420

While present to the front and rear of the principal deity, in the eastern and western directions of the inner courtyard are the pair representing the active male subject and the passive female object, namely, Samantabhadra who activates the incandescence that arises (mdangs kyi ’char byed), and Samantabhadrī who is the basis for the incandescence that arises (mdangs kyi ’char gzhi). This is to symbolize that all maṇḍalas arise from these two. [See plates 4a and 4b.]

There are some who hold that these two are present to the rear and front of the principal deity, some who hold that they lie to the east and west of the courtyard, and some who hold that they are within the heart center of the principal deity. However, these statements do not arrive at the definitive essence, which is as follows: In this context, the male-female Samantabhadra, who are the basis for the incandescence that arises, are explained to be in the courtyard. The male-female Samantabhadra who are associated with the principal deity of the maṇḍala are not differentiated [in this context] because they are themselves [the buddhas of] the five enlightened families. Also, when they are explained to be among the forty-two deities, this refers to the description of the peaceful deities of the buddha body of perfect resource in their apparitional mode, and not to the teaching concerning the principal deities who are the active subject and passive object. Then, when the male-female Samantabhadra are visualized in the heart center of the principal deity during meditative stability, at that time when the mind apprehends the inner radiance of the nucleus, the inner radiance is sustained by visualizing the buddha body of actual reality, the male-female Samantabhadra, an inch in size (tshon gang ba).421 So this refers to the apparitional aspect of the perfection stage.

As has previously been indicated, the male-female Samantabhadra are present in the field of the buddha body of actual reality because they are free from conceptual elaboration. Thence, in the spontaneous Bounteous Array which is the pristine cognition of sameness throughout the four times, the male and female buddhas of the buddha body of perfect resource are present, forming the five enlightened families. And thence, in the world systems of those to be trained, the intrinsic natures of Vajrapāṇi, Vajrasattva, the six sages, and so forth are present. For example, in this buddha field the transcendent lord known as Śākyamuni was seen as the buddha body of emanation by pious attendants, hermit buddhas, ordinary folk, and those who were on the paths of provision and connection, but he was seen as the buddha body of perfect resource by sublime bodhisattvas; and so forth.

At the four entrance gateways, starting from the east, in a display of the nine dramatic airs, stand the subjugators of the four demonic forces, namely, the four wrathful deities Yamāntaka, Mahābala, Hayagrīva, and Amṛtakuṇḍalin, along with the assembled host of their queens, namely, Aṅkuśā, Pāśā, Sphoṭā, and Ghaṇṭā. [See plates 3a–3d.]

These nine dramatic airs (gar dgu’i nyams) are described as follows in the Garland of Lightning:

Sensual, heroic, and ugly,

Jovial, fierce, and fearsome,

Compassionate, awesome, and peaceful

These nine dramatic airs are possessed.422

At this juncture, there are some agitated by the mirage of wrong view whose excellent resources have been depleted and who are stranded in the desert sands of error, hard to traverse, saying that the principal deity and the retinue are erroneous because Samantabhadra the teacher of this tantra has been ejected to the periphery of the maṇḍala, while Akṣobhya has been installed at the center. In response to this, there are some who say that Samantabhadra brings out the greatness of the retinue, just as a father promotes his own child, and there are some who say that this resembles a fortune-teller casting lots, with the object of the prognosis arrayed at the center and the subject who makes the prognosis at the periphery. And there are yet others who say that Akṣobhya is depicted in the center because in the situation of the ground, the principal deity is mirrorlike; in the situation of the path, the substratum becomes the basis of buddha body and pristine cognition; and in the situation of the result, the mirrorlike pristine cognition is revealed as the principal deity. However, the excellent points made in all these statements have not been properly understood.

It is not even certain that [a deity] will emerge at the center because he is the expositor [of a particular tantra]. Otherwise, Śākyamuni would implicitly appear at the center [of the maṇḍala] in the Net of Magical Emanation of Mañjuśrī and in the Purification of All Lower Realms, whereas it is Vairocana and Jñānasattva who respectively appear. That would be defective because the principal deity and the retinues of these tantras would be reversed. In some maṇḍalas of the Kriyātantras too, it is implicit that the sage Śākyamuni and Vajrapāṇi appear at the center, but [in that scenario], Vairocana or Akṣobhya would appear [in their place] because they are the expositors. One could not deny the implications that would follow if these tantras also had their principal deities and their retinues reversed.

Rather, it is the case that the male-female Samantabhadra arrayed in the courtyard is revealed as the basis for the incandescence that arises, but is never depicted as the principal deity. Nor is Akṣobhya positioned at the center, because it is Vairocana, the deity of buddha mind, who is so depicted. Indeed, this very defect [of an erroneous principal deity] does not arise because he himself is the teacher, the male-female Samantabhadra. You sophists are extremely deluded with regard to the fruitional vehicle of indestructible reality. Since your intellects do not focus even on the merest descriptions of Samantabhadra as the principal deity and as the basis for [the incandescence] that arises, how can you contradict the meaning of these secret mantras? You are instead suited to pursue paths revealed by cowherds!423

The third aspect [of the maṇḍala of the supported deities], concerning the symbolic hand emblems that they hold (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2.3) [comments on the verse]:

[These classes of deity respectively hold hand emblems, beginning with] the vajra, the blue lotus, the mirror, the lute, and the club.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:8)


[The male buddhas hold] a vajra, wheel, gemstone, lotus, and sword,

[While the female buddhas hold] a blazing bell.

[The male bodhisattvas hold] symbols

Such as the lily, the orange bush, and so on,

[While the female bodhisattvas] hold delightful implements, in a beautiful manner.

Interlinear Commentary

As for the hand emblems that they hold, Vairocana, representing the buddha mind, holds a vajra in his main right hand to symbolize that emptiness and compassion are without duality. Akṣobhya similarly holds a wheel to symbolize that he has cut through the net of afflictive mental states and turns the doctrinal wheel. Ratnasambhava holds a gemstone to symbolize that he fulfills the hopes of living beings and is spontaneously accomplished in enlightened attributes. Amitābha holds a lotus to symbolize that he has purified desire in the expanse [of actual reality] and that his enlightened intention is directed toward living beings who discriminate, and Amoghasiddhi holds a sword to symbolize that he has cut through the afflictive mental states of living beings by means of the four rites of enlightened activity. In their main left hand they each hold the bell, embracing their consort with hands crossed at the heart. Their other [two pairs of hands] hold the hand emblems that have previously been indicated [in ch. 1, p. 77].424

The female buddhas, in their right hand, hold the same hand emblems as the male buddhas, and in their left hand they also hold a bell, blazing forth the light of pristine cognition’s gems and embracing their respective male consorts. There are some who maintain that there are no symbolic hand emblems in the right hand of the female buddhas, but they have not examined the great means for attainment (mahāsādhana, sgrub thabs chen po).

The symbolic hand emblems of the principal deity [in this case, Vairocana] are also described as follows in the Tantra of the Mirror of Vajrasattva:

The vajra, the wheel, and the fiery sword,

The bell, the lotus, and the gemstone—

That is the sequence of [the central] Vajradhara’s emblems.

[The hands] in which the others are placed

May be known in relation to the vajra,

Which [is held] at the heart in the first [or main right hand],

While the [main] left hand embraces [his female consort].425

Accordingly, [Vairocana’s] main pair of hands embrace his female consort while holding the vajra and bell, his middle pair of hands hold the wheel and the lotus, while his last pair [of hands] hold the sword and the gemstone. The hand emblems of the other four [[[Wikipedia:male|male]] buddhas], such as Akṣobhya, should be similarly known.426

In general, there are four sequences according to which those symbolic hand emblems may be described: commencing on the right side (g.yas ’gyed), commencing on the left side (g.yon ’gyed), alternating [in left and right pairs] (mnyam ’gyed), and clockwise (’khor ’gyed). This is a general description of the sequence of the main hand emblems.427

The male buddhas have three faces and six hands, while the female buddhas have one face and two hands. Some say that during ritual service [the male buddhas] may also have one face and two hands, but that is an inappropriate observation, clearly not taught in this tantra [of the Secret Nucleus].428 [See plates 1a–1e.]

Concerning the symbolic hand emblems of the bodhisattvas, our text states:

[The bodhisattvas hold] symbols

Such as a blue lotus, an orange bush, and so on.

Specifically, Mañjuśrī holds a blue lotus because he has renounced afflictive mental states. Maitreya holds an orange bush because he has dispelled the fever of afflictive mental states. Kṣitigarbha holds a seedling of gemstone because he has brought forth the shoots of pristine cognition. Vajrapāṇi holds a vajra because he has subjugated suffering. Ākāśagarbha holds a sword because he has severed the continuity of afflictive mental states. Avalokiteśvara holds a lotus because he is untainted by defects. Nīvaraṇaviṣkambhin holds a gemstone chest [of books] because he teaches the doctrine to sentient beings, and Samantabhadra holds a gemstone grain sheath because he fulfills the hopes of sentient beings.

And as for the female bodhisattvas, they hold delightful implements in a beautiful manner: Vajralāsyā rests her hands on her hips, forming the gesture of the indestructible fist (rdo rje khu tshur), or else she holds a mirror, because she reveals all visual forms to be the essential nature of the real. Mālyā holds a garland of gems because she symbolizes that skillful means and discriminative awareness are unseparated. Gītā holds a lute because she plays aloud the melody of the doctrine. Nartī holds a vajra and rings a bell in her hands, while dancing, because she delights those to be trained. Dhūpā holds a censer because her scent of ethical discipline satisfies living beings. Puṣpā holds a basket of flowers because she symbolizes the branches of enlightenment. Ālokā holds a butter lamp because she dispels the darkness of fundamental ignorance, and Gandhā holds a doctrinal conch filled with scented water because she washes the stains of propensities. [See plates 2a–2h.]

As for the six sages, Śatakratu holds a lute because he teaches the four affirmations of doctrine429 to the gods. Vemacitra bears armor and a sword because he disciplines the demigods through fighting and disputation. Śākyamuni holds a monk’s staff and a begging bowl because he teaches the ten virtuous actions to human beings. Sthirasiṃha holds a book because he liberates the knot of foolishness and dumbness in animals. Jvālamukha holds a gemstone chest because he dispels the hunger and thirst of anguished spirits. And the ox-headed Yama (a va glang mgo) holds fire and water because he discloses the misfortunes of the denizens of hell. [See plates 5a–5f.]

The male and female Samantabhadra hold no symbolic hand emblems because they symbolize that the expanse [of reality] and the buddha body of actual reality are free from conceptual elaboration. There are some who claim that they hold the vajra and the lotus, but they have not understood the pure nature of these deities. [See plates 4a and 4b.]

As for the four male gatekeepers, Yamāntaka holds a skull-topped club because he subjugates the demonic force that is the lord of death. Mahābala holds a vajra because he subjugates the demonic force of the psychophysical aggregates. Hayagrīva holds a skull and snake because he subjugates the demonic force of afflictive mental states, and Amṛtakuṇḍalin holds a crossed vajra because he subjugates the demonic force of the divine prince [of egotism]. The four female gatekeepers Aṅkuśā, Pāśā, Sphoṭā, and Ghaṇṭā] respectively hold an iron hook, a lasso, an iron chain, and a bell in order to symbolize the four attractive qualities of a bodhisattva and the four immeasurable aspirations.430 [See plates 3a–3d.]

The fourth aspect [of the maṇḍala of the supported deities], concerning the body colors [of the peaceful deities] (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2.4) [comments on the verse]:

There are twenty-five deities who partake of the five body colors [of the five enlightened families], and seventeen [of diversified color].

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:9)


Their body colors] are blue, white, yellow, scarlet, green, And diversified combinations, including these.

Interlinear Commentary

There are twenty-five deities who have body colors corresponding to those of [the buddhas of] the enlightened families, and seventeen who have diversified body colors. The former include five deities, namely, the male buddha Vairocana, along with his female consort, the male and female Samantabhadra, and Vemacitra, the sage of the demigods, who are blue in color to symbolize the unchanging actual reality of the enlightened family of buddha mind.

The male buddha Akṣobhya along with his female consort, the male bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha along with his female consort, and [Śatakratu] the sage of the gods are white in color to symbolize that the enlightened family of buddha body is unmarred by defects.

The male buddha Ratnasambhava along with his female consort, the male bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha along with his female consort, and Śākyamuni the sage of human beings are yellow in color to symbolize the qualities of greatness belonging to the family of buddha attributes.

The male buddha Amitābha along with his female consort, the male bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara along with his female consort, and [Jvālamukha] the sage of the anguished spirits are scarlet or red in color to symbolize that the enlightened family of buddha speech is attracted through compassionate spirituality to living beings.

The male buddha Amoghasiddhi along with his female consort, the male bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi along with his female consort, and [Sthirasiṃha] the sage of the animals are green in color because the family of buddha activity grants instruction through diverse rites.

The latter are [those deities] whose body colors are diversified combinations, including these, because they train living beings by means of many diverse buddha activities and attributes: The male bodhisattva Maitreya and his female consort are whitish-yellow. The male bodhisattva Nīvaraṇaviṣkambhin and his female consort are reddish-yellow. The male bodhisattva Samantabhadra and his female consort are reddish-green. The male bodhisattva Mañjughoṣa and his female consort are whitish-green. The male gatekeeper Yamāntaka and his female consort are dark brown. The male gatekeeper Mahābala and his female consort are dark yellow. The male gatekeeper Hayagrīva and his female consort are dark red. The male gate-keeper Amṛtakuṇḍalin and his female consort are dark green, and Yama the sage of the hells is smoke-colored.

In this context, there are some who hold that the sage of the animals is either dark yellow or red, but they have not analyzed the color of the light within the energy centers [of the subtle body].431

The fifth aspect [of the maṇḍala of the supported deities], concerning the demeanor [of the peaceful deities] (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2.5) [comments on the verse]:

[Their demeanor exhibits] five essential attributes and four subsidiary attributes.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:10)


[These deities] are supple, slender, handsome, upright, and youthful;

Radiant, lustrous, resplendent, and brilliant.

Interlinear Commentary

These deities have a demeanor that is supple in body and physically attractive because they have inherently purified birth. Their bodies are at ease because they have inherently purified sickness, and slender because they are well proportioned. Their bodies are handsome, without laxity, and quite upright or erect because they have inherently purified death. Their bodies are soft, youthful, and physically attractive because they have inherently purified old age. These five are the essential attributes [of the buddha body]. As for the [four] attributes of their appearance, the buddha body has a most radiant hue because it is immaculately adorned with major and minor marks. The buddha body is bright and has a lustrous incandescence because it has perfected the consummation of the elements. The buddha body is resplendent because it is majestic and pleasant, and extremely brilliant because it overwhelms living beings.

There are also some who claim that these [two sets of attributes] refer respectively to the five demeanors of the male deities and the four demeanors of the female deities.432

The sixth aspect [of the maṇḍala of the supported deities], concerning their diffusion of light rays (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.1.2.6) [comments on the verse]:

Lights of six colors [are diffused from] their six energy centers, and the light from their pores is limitless.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:11)


This great assemblage, which diffuses light rays,

Is enveloped by a blazing ring [of fire].

Pervasive without extremes or center,

It is an inconceivable, spontaneously present maṇḍala.

Interlinear Commentary

This great assemblage of light rays, which diffuses countless billion-billions of light rays in the ten directions from the six great energy centers within the bodies of these deities and also from all their pores, is manifest without limitation. The six centers are those of the crown protuberance, the point between the eyebrows, the throat, the heart, the navel, and the soles of the feet; and the light rays that are diffused therefrom are respectively colored blue, yellow, red, white, madder, and crystal. Madder is scarlet or light red, while crystal is bluish-white in color and translucent. The nature of the buddha body’s inner radiance is such that it diffuses these six [colors from] its six respective energy centers throughout the ten directions, along with a billion-billion concomitant rays of light.433

The male and female gatekeepers are present in an awesome guise in the midst of this throng, which is encircled and enveloped in the ten directions by a blazing ring of fire, within a blazing aureole, like the conflagration at the end of an aeon.

Manifesting in this way, pervasive in the expanse of space, without extremes or center, this maṇḍala of meditative stability is beyond number and measure, inconceivable and spontaneously present in nature. Meditating on [this maṇḍala], one becomes expansive, in the manner of reality’s expanse, and arrives at the essential nature of genuine pristine cognition.

AN EXEGESIS OF THE FRUITIONAL MAṆḌALA ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH THE MAṆḌALA OF MEDITATIVE STABILITY [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2]

The second section [of the detailed exegesis of the maṇḍala of meditative stability that forms the path, see above, p. 239, is the exegesis of the fruitional maṇḍala accomplished through the maṇḍala of meditative stability]. This itself comprises (i) the arising of the fruitional buddha body (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.1); (ii) the consequent performance of buddha activities (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.2); (iii) the consequent liberation of living beings (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3); and (iv) the manifestation of wondrous indications (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.4).434

THE ARISING OF THE FRUITIONAL BUDDHA BODY [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.1]

The first [comments on the verse]:

The buddha body of actual reality reveals the buddha body of perfect resource and the diversified buddha bodies of emanation.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:12)


The supreme great seal of buddha body,

Without straying from the real expanse,

[Emerges as] the buddha body of form

That confers genuine release,

And proliferates as the buddha bodies,

Which act in conformity with living beings,

In order to instruct them all, without exception.

Interlinear Commentary

The supreme great seal is the natural expression of the buddha body of reality’s expanse since this buddha body of actual reality is the essential nature of all buddha bodies—the buddhahood that is manifestly attained in the nature of space, free from all extremes of conceptual elaboration. Its conclusive accomplishment is that, without straying from actual reality—the real expanse—it acts as the ground from which the other buddha bodies arise. Emerging from its disposition, the buddha body of form that confers genuine release from the two obscurations and their propensities includes the buddha body of perfect resource adorned by excellent major and minor marks, and the buddha bodies [of emanation], which act in conformity with the aspirations of the individual minds of living beings, in order to instruct them all, without exception, through its diffusion of compassionate spirituality. To that end, [the buddha body of emanation] proliferates in the forms of universal monarchs, whores, pious attendants, hermit buddhas, and even inanimate objects, and so forth.

THE CONSEQUENT PERFORMANCE OF BUDDHA ACTIVITIES [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.2]

The second comprises (i) the similes that suggest the manifestation of buddha activities, without straying from the expanse [of actual reality] (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.2.1) and (ii) the actual manifestations of buddha activities for the sake of trainees (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.2.2).

The former [comments on the verse]:

Without wavering, [the buddha body of] emanation, training each according to need, resembles the moon reflected in water.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:13)



This teacher [the buddha body] resembles a magical display or optical illusion

A modality that essentially does not waver from the expanse.

When, without wavering, [the buddha body] proliferates,

It assumes various dissimilar forms

Corresponding to the distinct [classes of beings].

Although it does not waver from the real,

It appears distinctly through the residual inheritance of deeds,

As, for example, [reflections] in a mirror,

Or the moon [reflected] in water.

Interlinear Commentary

For the sake of those to be trained, this teacher, [the buddha body endowed with] diverse emanations, in relative terms, resembles a magical display or optical illusion, which in the manner of a shadow is not truly recognized from the moment it manifests. Ultimately, however, it partakes of an uncreated and primordially pure modality that does not waver from the expanse of actual reality because it is essentially without conceptual elaborations. But when, without wavering, the buddha body of emanation proliferates its distinct forms in the perception of living beings, it assumes various dissimilar forms, including kings and brahman priests, and including peaceful and wrathful guises, corresponding to the distinct classes of beings to be trained. Although [this buddha body of emanation] does not waver from the expanse of the real—the buddha body of actual reality—even so, it appears distinctly through the respective fortunes of living beings and their residual inheritance of past deeds. To those abiding on the bodhisattva levels, it appears as the emanations of natural expression (rang bzhin sprul sku), to some living beings as emanations that train living beings, to some as impure emanations, to some as the diversified emanations (sna tshogs sprul pa’i sku), and so forth.436 It is as, for example, when the reflection of one’s face appears on the surface of a mirror, although the face itself is not transferred therein, or when the moon in the sky appears in a pool of water as the moon reflected in water, although the moon itself is not transferred therein. Accordingly, it says in the Sūtra of the Great Bounteousness of the Buddhas:

Just as the moon, without being transferred from the firmament,

Appears in a pool of water,

Without wavering from the real

There are inconceivable billions of emanations.

To some the buddhas are revealed to be few,

To some they are manifold and extensive,

And to some all fields are revealed as emptiness.437

THE ACTUAL MANIFESTATIONS OF BUDDHA ACTIVITIES FOR THE SAKE OF TRAINEES [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.2.2]

The latter has four parts [which comment on the verse]:

Its manifestations include the six sages, arhats, hermit buddhas, and Vairocana.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:14–17)


At this same time, [the buddha body also] reveals itself

To all six classes of living beings

In forms that bring them to renounce negativity;

To pious attendants appearing in the form of an arhat;

And to hermit buddhas in the solitary manner of a rhino.

Moreover, according to the degree of the supreme vehicle,

In the supreme unsurpassed abode of Akaniṣṭha,

The buddha body [is present] as Vairocana,

Who, to retinues of bodhisattvas, does not divulge

The supreme buddha speech in that [aforementioned] way.

Rather, he discloses through this buddha body

The sacred doctrines that are encountered.

Interlinear Commentary

[The first part concerns the manifestation of buddha activities for the sake of the six ordinary classes of living beings:] At this same time when buddha-hood is attained in the spontaneous Bounteous Array without conjunction or disjunction in respect of the three buddha bodies, [the buddha body] also reveals itself to all the ordinary six classes of living beings, including the gods, as the different sages such as Śatakratu, that is, in forms that bring them to renounce438 the negativity of their minds; then it teaches the sacred doctrines that purify the obscurations of gods, humans, and so forth.

[The second part concerns] the manifestation [of buddha activities] for the sake of pious attendants: The buddha body may also appear in the guise of a virtuous ascetic and, to those living beings who are to be trained and who belong to the family of pious attendants, it reveals itself in the form of an arhat, foremost among pious attendants, who then establishes them in the realization of the four truths.439 As is said in the Sūtra Requested by the Emanational King:

To those who are to be trained by pious attendants, he becomes present and teaches the sacred doctrine in the form of a pious attendant.440

[The third part concerns] the manifestation [of buddha activities] for the sake of hermit buddhas: In order to grant instruction by assuming the form of a hermit buddha, to adherents of the vehicle of the hermit buddhas, the buddha body teaches the sacred doctrine of dependent origination by means of symbols, [enabling them to attain realization] in the solitary manner of a rhino. As the same text says:

To those who are to be trained by the form of a hermit buddha, he becomes present in the form of a hermit buddha and genuinely teaches by means of symbols the sacred doctrine of dependent origination.

[The fourth part concerns] the manifestation [of buddha activities] for the sake of [[[Wikipedia:adherents|adherents]] of] the Great Vehicle: Moreover, in addition to these, he appears differently to bodhisattvas of the tenth level whose degree of acumen accords with the supreme vehicle. In the supreme unsurpassed abode of Akaniṣṭha, the excellent abode of the mighty lord, which is superior among the form realms, the teacher himself, the buddha body, is present as Vairocana, who, to retinues of bodhisattvas of the tenth level, forming the excellent retinue, teaches the Great Vehicle, which is the excellent doctrine, during [the time of] unchanging sameness, which is the excellent time.

The teacher who is actually the buddha body of perfect resource does not divulge the sacred doctrines as [supreme] buddha speech in that aforementioned way in which the buddha body of emanation appears to different living beings and verbally teaches the doctrine. Rather, he discloses through the essential nature of this apparitional buddha body the sacred doctrines of the Great Vehicle that are encountered in the minds of the retinue.441

THE CONSEQUENT LIBERATION OF LIVING BEINGS [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3]

The third part [of the exegesis of the fruitional maṇḍala accomplished through the maṇḍala of meditative stability] is the consequent liberation of living beings, which comprises (i) the refinement of obscurations according to the causal path (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.1) and (ii) the supreme attainment of the fruitional buddha bodies and levels (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2).

The former [comments on the verse]:

When [the retinue] beholds the buddha body, once obscurations become visible and have been refined, enlightenment will be attained.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:18)


Reminiscent of the way in which all the sallowness of one’s actual [face]

Can be removed when exposed in a mirror,

When the retinue beholds the buddha body in this manner,

The inestimable depth of their obscurations to enlightenment

Becomes visible on the buddha body, as in a mirror.

Then the ten levels are sequentially purified,

And unsurpassed enlightenment is genuinely obtained.

Interlinear Commentary

This is in two parts, the first of which is illustrative: This [refinement of obscurations] is reminiscent of the way in which stains can be seen when one’s face is exposed in a mirror, so that all the sallowness of one’s actual complexion, tainted by blemishes, can be cleansed and removed.

[The second] is meaningful: When the retinue of bodhisattvas of the tenth level beholds the buddha body of the teacher, that is, the buddha body of perfect resource, in this same manner, the depth of their obscurations to enlightenment along with their gross, mediocre, and subtle blemishes, which are difficult to estimate and cannot be measured, becomes visible on the buddha body of perfect resource, just as blemishes are visible in a mirror.

Then these bodhisattvas persevere in order to purify the blemishes of their respective levels: On the first level miserliness is purified. On the second level degenerate morality is purified. On the third level anger is purified, on the fourth idleness, on the fifth instability, on the sixth confusion, on the seventh the lack of skillful means, on the eighth obscuration with respect to power whereby the benefit of sentient beings is not accomplished, on the ninth the failure to achieve one’s aspirations, and on the tenth level ignorance and its subtle seeds are purified.442 Once the ten transcendent perfections and the levels have been completely refined by that purification, the blemishes of the ten levels are sequentially purified, and unsurpassed enlightenment is genuinely obtained.443

At the end of the continuum of the ten levels, the empowerment of great light rays (’od zer chen po’i dbang bskur) is conferred,444 as is said in the Ornament of the Sūtras of the Great Vehicle:

Having reached the finality of meditation,

The empowerment of great light rays is conferred.445

Accordingly, when such a bodhisattva makes offerings to all the buddhas, great rays of light emerge from between the eyebrows of the tathāgatas of the ten directions and then vanish into the crown center of that bodhisattva, whereby the adamantine meditative stability is obtained and buddhahood is achieved.

THE SUPREME ATTAINMENT OF THE FRUITIONAL BUDDHA BODIES AND LEVELS [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2]

The latter comprises (i) a general presentation of the perfection of the buddha bodies and pristine cognition in the spontaneous Bounteous Array (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.1); (ii) a detailed exegesis of the perfection of the levels (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.2); and (iii) a synopsis of the spontaneous presence of the five buddha bodies (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.3).

A GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE PERFECTION OF THE BUDDHA BODIES AND PRISTINE COGNITION IN THE SPONTANEOUS BOUNTEOUS ARRAY [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.1]

The first of these has two sections, of which the first concerns the attainment of the three buddha bodies without conjunction or disjunction (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.1.1). [It comments on the verse:]

The three buddha bodies are respectively inexpressible, inexhaustible, and inconceivable.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:19)


The buddha body of actual reality is inestimable and inexpressible.

The buddha body of perfect resource is an inexhaustible wish-fulfilling treasure.

The buddha body of emanation [diffuses] ten million inconceivable forms.

Interlinear Commentary

The buddha body of actual reality, wherein the expanse [of reality] and pristine cognition are without duality, is the essential nature, intellectually inestimable and verbally inexpressible. From its very disposition, the buddha body of perfect resource is always spontaneously present as an inexhaustible treasure of precious wish-fulfilling gems. From its disposition, the buddha body of emanation diffuses inconceivable forms—ten million times one hundred billion in number, for the sake of those to be trained.

The second, concerning the presence [of the three buddha bodies] as great self-manifesting spontaneity (16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.1.2) [comments on the verse]:

Perfect in the major marks, the maṇḍala within perceptual range perfectly [displays] the two provisions [of merit and pristine cognition].

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:20)


Perfect in all the major and minor marks,

The maṇḍala present throughout the perceptual range

Also perfectly displays the two great provisions.

Interlinear Commentary

The buddha body of perfect resource that appears as such is indeed perfect in all the major and minor marks, and it appears as the maṇḍala of buddha body and pristine cognition, present throughout the perceptual range of self-manifesting pristine cognition, where there is sameness with respect to the four times. As such, it is spontaneously present in a nature without good or ill, and it also displays, perfectly and with great spontaneity in that self-manifesting nature, the two great provisions, namely, the provision of merit whereby all excellent attributes are self-manifest and the provision of pristine cognition whereby there is no subjective apprehension in any respect whatsoever.

A DETAILED EXEGESIS OF THE PERFECTION OF THE LEVELS [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.2]

The second aspect [of the supreme attainment of the fruitional buddha bodies and levels], concerning the [detailed exegesis of the] perfection of the buddha levels [see above, p. 262, comments on the verse]:

The three buddha bodies are associated with the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth levels.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:21)


The supreme level and those of skillful means and discriminative awareness

[Levels and attributes] such as these are inconceivably supreme.

Interlinear Commentary

The level of the buddha body of actual reality, [known as] the Great Cyclical Mass [of Letters] (yi ge ’khor lo tshogs chen) is supreme among the buddha levels, and it subsumes, without duality, Universal Light, that is, the level of skillful means associated with the buddha body of emanation, and [Unattached] Lotus Endowed ([ma chags] padma can), that is, the level of discriminative awareness associated with the self-manifesting pure buddha body of perfect resource. The enumeration of the levels and the enlightened attributes such as these are immeasurable. These inconceivably supreme attributes are entirely perfect.

In this context, there are some ignorant of the essential nature of the buddha levels who hold the level of Universal Light to refer to the buddha body of actual reality, [Unattached] Lotus Endowed to refer to the buddha body of perfect resource, and the Great Cyclical Mass of Letters to refer to the buddha body of emanation. But that is a misunderstanding of the expanse [of reality], which does not discern them to be hierarchically designated enlightened attributes. Rather, it is explained that Universal Light is so named because emanations are universally immeasurable; [Unattached] Lotus Endowed is so named because apparitions are immeasurable; and Great Cyclical Mass is so named because pristine cognition is immeasurable. The last mentioned is also called the Great Cyclical Mass of Letters because, in the uncreated expanse [of reality], it abides as the emanational basis, naturally present and unimpeded in the manner of the seed syllables. This does not refer to the [above-mentioned] cloud mass of letters but to the nondual buddha body of actual reality. There are others who have confused this term “Cyclical Mass of Letters” with the [above-mentioned] cloud mass of letters, which does have the nature of emanation.446 On this, it is said in the Tantra of the Lasso of Skillful Means:

Transcending the level of Universal Light,

When one resorts to the [Unattached] Lotus Endowed . . .447

Is this not, one might ask, establishing a hierarchical distinction with regard to the levels? It is explained, however, that these [levels] are actually identical and are simply designated according to a hierarchical distinction of enlightened attributes and appearances that arises.448

A SYNOPSIS OF THE SPONTANEOUS PRESENCE OF THE FIVE BUDDHA BODIES [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.3.2.3]

The third aspect [of the supreme attainment of the fruitional buddha bodies and levels], concerning the synopsis of the spontaneous presence of the five buddha bodies [comments on the verse]:

[More specifically,] there are the buddha body of actual reality, the buddha body of perfect resource, the buddha body of emanation, the buddha body of indestructible reality, and the buddha body of awakening.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:22)


The eternal buddha body, without birth or death,

The one that abides in the fields of all afflictive mental states,

The one that turns into an inexhaustible treasure,

The awareness-holding buddha body of indestructible reality,

The buddha body of sameness indivisible in all respects,

And the buddha body of pristine cognition that knows all things—

At this time all five buddha bodies are also perfectly attained.

Interlinear Commentary

When these levels have been obtained, the five buddha bodies are also spontaneously attained:

(i) First of all, the buddha body of actual reality, free from extremes of conceptual elaboration, is the unchanging consummate nature, the spontaneously present eternal buddha body, the actual reality that is without birth or death.

(ii) From its disposition, blessings arise as the buddha body of perfect resource, and thence the buddha body of emanation naturally emerges. The latter is the one that abides and performs acts of benefit in the fields of instruction, on behalf of all sentient beings endowed with afflictive mental states, satisfying each according to their needs.

(iii) The buddha body of perfect resource itself, the basis from which the buddha body of emanation arises, is the one that turns into a treasure replete with all the resources of the spontaneous Bounteous Array, inexhaustible in its provisions of enlightened attributes.

(iv) The nature in which these three buddha bodies are present without conjunction or disjunction is the buddha body of unchanging indestructible reality, holding the nondual indestructible reality and the great pristine cognition of awareness.

(v) Lastly, there is the buddha body of awakening, which has two aspects: The former refers to the buddha body of awakening in sameness, indivisible in respect of all things, in the nature of primordial Great Perfection, and to the pristine cognition that definitively knows [the view]; while the latter refers to the buddha body of awakening and the pristine cognition that quantitatively and distinctly knows all things.449

These [five] are also the buddha bodies associated with the five enlightened families and the five pristine cognitions: Respectively, (i) the eternal body is the buddha body associated with the Buddha family and the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse. (ii) The buddha body of perfect resource with its inexhaustible reality and the awareness-holding buddha body of indestructible reality are the buddha bodies associated with the Vajra family and the mirrorlike pristine cognition. (iii) The buddha body of sameness wherein all things are indivisible is the buddha body associated with the Ratna family and the pristine cognition of sameness. (iv) The body of pristine cognition that knows all things is the buddha body associated with the Padma family and the pristine cognition of discernment. (v) The buddha body of emanation, or the one that abides in the field of all afflictive mental states, is the buddha body associated with the Karma family and the pristine cognition of accomplishment.

At this time when the buddha levels are attained, all five buddha bodies are also perfectly attained.

Apart from classifying the fruitional levels, buddha bodies, and pristine cognitions, this has no temporal sequence. The levels are designated as such because they assume the repository of enlightened attributes; the buddha bodies are designated as such because they assume the bodies of the buddhas; the pristine cognitions are designated as such because they abide in naturally present awareness; and the buddha activities are designated as such because they benefit living beings. Although these are differently named, their essential nature is identical, just as the same thing may be called an entity because it arises from causes and conditions, impermanent because it is created, and a vase because it pours water, while these names have one essential point of reference.

THE MANIFESTATION OF WONDROUS INDICATIONS [16.1.1.2.1.2.2.2.4]

The fourth part [of the exegesis of the fruitional maṇḍala accomplished through the maṇḍala of meditative stability, see above, p. 255], is the manifestation of wondrous indications. [It comments on the verse:]

The emanating maṇḍala then became radiant in as many fields as there are atoms.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:23)


So saying, the inexpressible maṇḍala in all the infinite, limitless ten directions of the six realms became radiant in as many fields as there are atoms.

Interlinear Commentary

So saying these verses, the inconceivable, inexpressible maṇḍala, emanating in all the infinite, limitless fields in each of the ten directions of the six realms inhabited by those to be trained, became radiant and manifested in the fields of all the buddhas of the ten directions, which equal in number all the atoms, as many as there are.

A SYNOPSIS OF THE MAṆḌALA OF THE FRUITIONAL GREAT PRISTINE COGNITION [16.1.1.2.1.2.3]

The third part [of the exegesis of the actual maṇḍala that is diffused from the cloud mass of letters, see above, p. 237] is the synopsis of the maṇḍala of the fruitional great pristine cognition. This comprises (i) the manner in which it is enunciated (16.1.1.2.1.2.3.1) and (ii) the essential nature [of the verses] that are enunciated (16.1.1.2.1.2.3.2).

The former [comments on the verse]:

Then the following supreme and secret [synopsis] emerged, without duality:

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:24)


Then this secret description of these very maṇḍalas wherein the tathāgatas and the assembled host of their queens are without duality emerged from the indestructible reality of buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities.

Interlinear Commentary

Once all things had become radiant as the maṇḍala, then this secret description of the very tathāgata, emanating from these maṇḍalas wherein the self-manifesting tathāgatas and the assembled host of their queens are naturally without duality, emerged as follows from the indestructible reality of buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities.

The latter [the essential nature of the verses that are enunciated (16.1.1.2.1.2.3.2) comments on the verse]:

Ground, path, and result are the ground through which the maṇḍala of the buddha body of emanation is diffused from the buddha body of perfect resource.

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:25)


Aho!

Inestimable, inconceivable, and without reference

To the referenced object and the referencing subject,

The maṇḍalas of pristine cognition—intrinsic awareness

Are diverse and inexpressible.

The expanse [of actual reality] entirely pervades sameness and dissimilarity,

Without the dichotomy of pervader and pervaded.

The maṇḍalas, primordially and universally radiant,

Are diffused but not conceptually elaborated.

Ho!

Such were the secret words of indestructible reality that emerged.

Interlinear Commentary

Aho! is exclaimed because the wondrous emanational display of this self-manifesting maṇḍala of meditative stability is revealed without straying from the expanse [of actual reality]. Here, the referenced object is the naturally pure phenomena, and the referencing subject is the intelligence purified of adventitious imagination. The ultimate nature, inestimable by the intellect, the inconceivable maṇḍala of the natural ground, is that which is without reference even to the nondual pristine cognition that is the essential nature of these two.

The maṇḍalas of pristine cognition—intrinsic awareness—through which, preceded by the three modes of meditative stability, one meditates on the nature of visualized deities in the manner of the moon’s reflection in water, are diverse in form and inexpressible. After this meditation, one becomes equipoised in the expanse [of reality], the actual truth, without apprehending even the generation and perfection stages. Its essential nature is characterized by sameness because the nature of cyclic existence abides in actual reality and by dissimilarity because nirvāṇa is quiescent of references. This is the reality that the Great Perfection pervades—the natural expression of the actual truth entirely pure from the beginning, without the dichotomy of pervader and pervaded. Such is the maṇḍala of the path in which the generation and perfection stages are attained.

Finally, after this experiential cultivation, when one arrives directly at the fruitional ground, the maṇḍalas of the diversified buddha body of emanation are diffused from the maṇḍala of the unimpeded buddha body of perfect resource that primordially appears and is universally radiant. Consequently, the two kinds of benefit are spontaneously performed for the sake of living beings. But whether these two buddha bodies [of form] are diffused or not, from the moment they appear, they are as they abide—their intrinsic nature is the buddha body of actual reality which is not conceptually elaborated. Ho! is exclaimed because the sky-like actual reality is wondrously revealed.

Such were the secret words of indestructible reality that emerged.450

This same synopsis may also be interpreted according to the ground, path, and result individually. [With respect to the ground,] the nature of mind, primordially without reference to the dualistic nature of the referenced phenomena and the referencing intelligence, is inestimable and inconceivable. In its disposition of inner radiance, the maṇḍalas of pristine cognition—intrinsic awareness—primordially abide, diverse and inexpressible. However, its natural sameness that entirely pervades the sameness of actual reality and the dissimilarity of its apparent phenomena is an expanse of great pervasion, without [the dichotomy of] the pervader and pervaded. The maṇḍalas, primordially and universally radiant, are diffused in great spontaneity for the sake of all living beings, but they are not conceptually elaborated. Ho! is exclaimed on account of this wondrous nature. The actual truth here refers to the all-pervasive essential nature, as is said in the Tantra of Union with All the Buddhas:

All the infinite entities of the spacious expanse

Constitute the sameness and dissimilarity of reality’s expanse.

Glorious in the expanse of total space,

Vajrasattva is ever present.451

With respect to the path [the same synopsis may be interpreted as follows]: The essential nature that is without reference to either the referenced meditative stability or the referencing intelligence is the inconceivable nature of mind that emerges through the meditative stability of the actual truth, the meditative stability of universal appearances, which is inestimable compassion, and the meditative stability of the causal basis, which has compassion as its disposition, in the natural expression of the letters, the essential nature of [the syllable] a and so forth. Therefrom the maṇḍalas of pristine cognition—intrinsic awareness—arise, diverse and inexpressible. When one has meditated in this way, the expanse [of reality] becomes entirely pervasive, without the dichotomy of pervader and pervaded, because it is empty owing to the sameness of all things in the intrinsic nature of mind, apparitional owing to the dissimilarity of different visualized forms, and its essential nature is not produced. From that disposition, primordially and universally radiant, many maṇḍalas are diffused through the process of diffusion and absorption, but they are actually known in a disposition that is not conceptually elaborated. It says in the Tantra of the Hidden Vital Essence of the Moon:

The essential nature of all beings

Is Vajrasattva, bliss supreme.

The facets of this reality

Are present in all things and in all respects.452

Then, when [this synopsis] is explained according to the result, the expanse [of reality] is the buddha body of actual reality, without reference to the referenced object and referencing subject, inestimable and inconceivable. From its disposition, the maṇḍalas of self-manifesting pristine cognition—intrinsic awareness—are diverse, inexpressible, and radiant. Their reality entirely pervades the sameness of their essential nature and the dissimilarity of their array and forms. This expanse, without the dichotomy of pervader and pervaded, is the buddha body of perfect resource, primordially and universally radiant, from which the maṇḍalas of the buddha body of emanation are diffused. But they are not conceptually elaborated from the expanse itself, and they do not change, in the manner of the moon when reflected in water. Thus, the actual reality in which the three buddha bodies are without conjunction or disjunction is wondrously revealed. Here, there is sameness with respect to the buddhas who appear as such and sentient beings, who are actually nonarising. As is said in the Sūtra of the Arrayed Bouquet:

Those who well abide in natural sameness

With respect to themselves and the buddhas

Are nonabiding and nonacquisitive.

They will become a tathāgata.453


CHAPTER ENDING


This completes chapter 6 [of the Secret Nucleus], entitled “The Maṇḍala of Meditative Stability.”

Root Tantra (Ch. 6:26)


This completes the sixth chapter from the Secret Nucleus Definitive with Respect to the Real, entitled “The Diffusion of the Maṇḍala.”

Interlinear Commentary

This completes the exegesis of the sixth chapter from the Secret Nucleus, concerning meditative stability, Definitive with Respect to the self-manifesting Real, entitled “The Diffusion of the Maṇḍala” of natural meditative stability.


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