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The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra with commentary

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Contents

Preface

This is a translation of the Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra (root text by Arya Maitreya, written down by the noble Asanga, with commentary by the first Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche Lodrö Thayé) as explained by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche in 1978 in La Poujade, France, and in 1979 in Brussels, Belgium. It is the first translation of this particular commentary into a Western language. Throughout Buddhist history, the words of the Buddha and the scriptures explaining their meaning were translated when they were imported into different cultures. Though the first translation was never a final or flawless one, it constituted a basis for better ones to come in the future. I hope that this present text may continue this tradition. As it has been created at the advice and under the guidance of a truly accomplished master, there should be some virtue in it, and I wish that it may be of utmost benefit to any reader.

The introduction to Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche’s commentary is not translated here, but can be found in S.K. Hookham’s book The Buddha Within (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), pp. 263-288.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dzogchen Pönlop Rinpoche, Sangjä Nyenpa Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, the late Acharya Tenpa Gyaltsen Negi, and Burkhard Quessel for their kind and invaluable help in the translation of passages that I found myself unable to do on my own. My further thanks go to Ani Jinpa for kindly proofreading the root text, to Lama Alaisdar MacGeaugh, and to Alexander Wilding for his incessant willingness to share his knowledge of dharma, improve my command of English, and to eliminate my old-fashioned reluctance to use computers. Special heartfelt thanks are owed to Katia Holmes who translated Khen Rinpoche’s teachings on the root text in 1978 and thus made his instructions accessible for me and was my first teacher of his native language. Finally, I would like to thank Chris Hatchell for his careful and considerate help in editing the text.

The stanzas of the root text are presented in accordance with their explanation in the commentary. To stay as closely as possible to the original, the translation keeps the number of lines of the Tibetan text. As to the use of brackets, the content therein was added when it seemed necessary to facilitate understanding. In the case of the root text, these interpolations are derived from the commentary by Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé; in the case of the commentary they are based on the explanations given by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

One final point should be noted. Unlike Tibetan, the English language frequently requires the introduction of a pronoun, so a choice between “he” and “she” seemed necessary to avoid clumsiness. As buddha nature is neither male nor female, the term “he,” when used for a buddha or bodhisattva, should be understood as meaning “he or she.” Being a woman myself and convinced of the possibility of reaching enlightenment in female appearance, I thought it permissible to make this decision and hope it will not cause offense.

Rosemarie Fuchs Hamburg, 23rd of July, 1999


Introduction

I.

The content of this volume is of the following essence: the teacher who explains the ground, path, and fruition of practice is the perfect Buddha, and from among all philosophies in the world his words are the highest and most genuine. The greatest commentary on their intention is the Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra, the Treatise on Buddha Nature, which is translated here.

This text can be considered as being the speech of the Buddha himself for the following two reasons: Firstly it was spoken by Maitreya, whom the Buddha empowered to be his regent in Tushita Heaven by placing his crown on Maitreya’s head before he left this realm for the human world. Secondly it is stated in the Sutra Compendium:

All the rivers in the world, carrying the waters that ripen flowers and fruit and cause forests to thrive, flow due to the power of the Naga King who resides in Lake Madröpa. Similarly any explanation, debate, composition, practice, and attainment of fruition achieved by his retinue of disciples depends solely on the power of the Victorious One himself.

For these reasons the Uttara Tantra Shastra can be considered either as the words of the Buddha spoken with his permission, or as those uttered by the power of his blessing. However, since according to Lord Maitreya’s own words the Uttara Tantra Shastra contains a commentary on the intended meaning of the perfect speech of the capable and mighty Buddha himself, it is formally accepted as such. Furthermore, we should bring to mind that there is not the slightest difference between the pure speech of the Buddha on one hand, and that of Maitreya, the Lord of the Tenth Level, or of Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, and Vajrapani, the Lords of the Three Families, on the other. From among all the innumerable commentators on the Buddha’s words, their likes have never been seen in this world. For these reasons all the scholars and meditation masters of India and Tibet revere this great commentary called the Uttara Tantra Shastra and place it respectfully on the crowns of their heads.

II.

As to the question of which of the Buddha’s sutras are commented upon by the Uttara Tantra Shastra, numerous scholars make many different assertions. The glorious Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorjé, however, clarifies that it is mainly a commentary on the Tathagatagarbha-sutras explaining buddha nature, which the Buddha expounded during his third turning of the Wheel of Dharma and which express the definitive meaning of all his teachings. Rangjung Dorjé explains that the Buddha in his omniscience saw that complete enlightenment is within all sentient beings in terms of their true nature. Yet, due to their ignorance they cannot see this and thus continue to wander through the cycle of existence. To provide the means to clear away the stains of this ignorance, the Buddha taught the Dharma, doing so in a gradual way that corresponded to his disciples’ faculty of comprehending the meaning of his words. Initially the Buddha did not expressedly reveal the true nature of reality. Eventually he spoke directly of it, until finally he revealed it in full clarity, as it truly was.

The final and supreme among all the Buddha’s countless teachings are those that express the definitive meaning and will ripen bodhisattvas with sharpest faculties whose mindstreams are thoroughly purified. These teachings are to be found in several sutras containing the profound and secret words of the most evolved philosophical tenet imaginable. Four of these elucidate the Chittamatra philosophy. They are the Sutra Unraveling the Intention (Tib. dgong pa nge par ’grel pa’i mdo), the Travel to Lanka Sutra (Tib. lang kar gshegs pa’i mdo), the Sutra Taught in the Highest Pure Land “Greatly Adorned” (Tib. rgyan stug po bkod pa’i mdo), and the Flower Ornament Sutra (Tib. phal po chen). Further sutras conveying the highest view are the Sutra on Buddha Nature (Tib. bde gshegs snying po’i mdo), the Sutra of the Great Drum (Tib. rnga po che’i mdo), the Sutra For the Benefit of Angulimala (Tib. sor mo’i phreng wa la phen pa’i mdo), the Sutra Requested by the Goddess “Glorious Garland” (Tib. lha mo dpal phreng gis zhus pa’i mdo), and others.

People like us, however, are of dull wits and our wrong views and lack of realization prevent us from being able to understand these sutras directly. In order to sustain the likes of us, Maitreya clearly taught their full content in the Seven Vajra Points that form the Uttara Tantra Shastra.

III.

Commentators on the words of the Buddha are classified by the scholars as being of three types: those of superior, middling, and faint qualifications. The author of the Uttara Tantra Shastra is not only renowned for possessing the highest qualities, such as profound learning in all sciences and direct vision of the truth of pure being. He is furthermore the undefiable Lord Maitreya who resides on a Dharmacloud on the tenth bodhisattva level, who is the Buddha’s great regent wielding all the powers and mastery that go along with that rank, who has infinitely excelled in the practice of the ten perfections, and who due to these achievements stands ready to become the fifth Buddha of this fortunate eon.

The one who preserved and spread these teachings of the Uttara Tantra Shastra within the world of humans was the master of learning Asanga. He was born as the son of the former nun Salwe Tsultrim, who out of her superior and altruistic motivation of benefitting the Dharma gave up her robes in times of a severe decline of the Buddha’s teachings, married, and had two sons who she prayed would become great masters. Following his mother’s wishes, Asanga first studied the Great Vehicle’s teachings on “Manifest Knowledge.” He found these studies incredibly difficult, however, and eventually turned to the practice of meditation on the deity Maitreya. He went into retreat and continued this practice for twelve years, during which he met with great difficulties again and again, as is related elsewhere in detail. After that time, though, Maitreya appeared to Asanga, accepted him as a disciple, and took him to Tushita Heaven. Asanga stayed there at Maitreya’s feet for fifty human years, receiving many teachings, especially those now known as Maitreya’s “Five Treatises.” Bringing these back to the human world he wrote them down, and propagating them widely caused them to flourish. He himself wrote a commentary on the Uttara Tantra Shastra and, as was predicted by the Buddha in The Root Tantra of Manjushri (Tib. ’jam dpal rtsa rgyud), he became one of the two most sublime proponents of the teachings of the Great Vehicle. In view of his wondrous deeds, all true scholars and meditation masters of India and Tibet would have deepest devotion for Asanga and place him respectfully on the crowns of their heads.

IV.

There are many commentaries on the Uttara Tantra Shastra written in India and Tibet from the perspectives of both the Empty of Self and the Empty of Other views of the Middle Way philosophical traditions. Especially outstanding is the commentary written by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé. He was a saintly being prophesized by the Buddha in many sutras and tantras. His wisdom and achievement were such that he knew and assimilated every aspect of the philosophies and pith instructions of the eight practice lineages. His commentary is called the Unassailable Lion’s Roar.

V.

In the unequaled tradition of the Dhagpo Kagyü, there are three lines of teachings on the Great Seal or Mahamudra. These are Sutra, Mantra, and Heart-Essence. Sutra-Mahamudra is the name the incomparable Dhagpo Rinpoche, Gampopa, lent to the view expressed in the Uttara Tantra Shastra. He did so in order to soothe the hearts of those who wanted to receive Mahamudra instructions but were not capable of fully comprehending the meaning behind them. He presented Sutra- Mahamudra as a means to guide these disciples towards the understanding of its latter two types.

In a similar way, the Venerable Jamgön Lodrö Thayé presents the Uttara Tantra Shastra as a background and context for the Mahamudra teachings. He explains it in the light of the Empty of Other School and makes its view quite easy to understand. Through his activity he has provided utmost benefit to all practitioners of Mahamudra. Especially nowadays, when centers for the study and practice of the teachings of the Kagyü Lineage have spread to all parts of the world, his instructions become equally important. In order to help the practitioners in these centers worldwide, Lodrö Thayé’s commentary has been translated into English and been printed in this book.

PART ONE: Root Text

CHAPTER ONE : Tathagatagarbha

Introduction

I bow down to all buddhas and bodhisattvas. If condensed, the body of the entire commentary (consists of) the following seven vajra points: Buddha, Dharma, the Assembly, the element, enlightenment, qualities, and then buddha activity. In the above order, which presents them in a logical sequence, these (vajra points) should be known to be derived from the Sutra Requested by King Dharanishvara. The (first) three stem from its introductory chapter and the (latter) four from (its chapters) on the properties of those who possess understanding and the Victorious One.

From the Buddha (stems) the Dharma, from the Dharma the Assembly of noble ones, from the Assembly the attainment of buddha nature, the element of primordial wisdom. This wisdom finally attained is supreme enlightenment, the powers and so on, (thus) possessing the properties that fulfill the benefit of all sentient beings.

The First Three Vajra Points: The Three Jewels

Buddha

Buddha is without beginning, middle, or end. He is peace itself, fully self-awakened and self-expanded in buddhahood. Having reached this state, he shows the indestructible, permanent path so that those who have no realization may realize. Wielding the supreme sword and vajra of knowledge and compassionate love, he cuts the seedling of suffering and destroys the wall of doubts along with its surrounding thicket of various views. I bow down to this Buddha.

Being uncreated and spontaneously present, not a realization due to extraneous conditions, wielding knowledge, compassionate love, and ability, buddhahood has (the qualities of) the two benefits.

Its nature is without beginning, middle, or end; hence (the state of a buddha) is uncreated. Since it possesses the peaceful dharmakaya, it is described as being “spontaneously present.” Since it must be realized through self-awareness, it is not a realization due to extraneous conditions. These three aspects being realized, there is knowledge. Since the path is shown, there is compassionate love. There is ability since the mental poisons and suffering are relinquished by primordial wisdom and compassion. Through the first three there is benefit for oneself. Through the latter three there is benefit for others.

Dharma

The Dharma is neither non-existent nor existent. It is not both existent and non-existent, nor is it other than existent and non-existent. It is inaccessible to such investigation and cannot be defined. It is self-aware and peace. The Dharma is without defilement. Holding the brilliant light rays of primordial wisdom, it fully defeats attachment, aversion, and dull indifference with regard to all objects of perception. I bow down to this sun of the sacred Dharma.

Inconceivable, free from the two (veils) and from thought, being pure, clear, and playing the part of an antidote, it is free from attachment and frees from attachment. This is the Dharma with its features of the two truths.

Freedom from attachment (as fruit and means) consists of the truths of cessation and path. Accordingly these should also be known by means of three qualities each.

Not being an object of conceptual investigation, being inexpressible, and (only) to be known by noble ones, the Dharma is inconceivable. Since it is peace, it is free from the two (veils) and free from thought. In its three (aspects of) purity and so on it is similar to the sun.

=Sangha

This mind being by nature clear light, they have seen the poisons to be essenceless and therefore truly realize (the nature of) every being as peace, the ultimate non-existence of a self. They perceive that the Perfect Buddha pervades them all. They possess the understanding that is free from the veils. Thus seeing that beings are utterly pure and that (this purity pervades) their limitless number, they are endowed with the vision of primordial wisdom. I bow down to this (Sangha).

The assembly of those who have understanding and thus do not fall back has unsurpassable qualities, since their vision of inner primordial wisdom, which knows correctly and knows completely, is pure.

Realizing beings in their state of peace (the noble ones) know correctly, for (the mind) is by nature utterly pure and the poisons were always exhausted.

Their understanding, which realizes the knowable as well as (its) ultimate condition, sees that the state of omniscience is within all beings. Thus the (noble ones) know completely.

Such realization is the vision of wisdom that is self-aware. This wisdom is pure, since it (sees) the undefiled expanse, free from attachment and obstruction.

Their vision (of) primordial wisdom is pure and (nears) unsurpassable buddha wisdom. The noble ones who do not fall back are therefore a refuge for all beings.

The Three Refuges

There being the teacher, his teaching, and his disciples leads to respective aspirations towards three vehicles and to three different activities (of veneration). Viewing this, the refuge is shown as threefold.

(The Dharma) will be abandoned and is of an unsteady nature. It is not (the ultimate quality), and (the Sangha) is still with fear. Thus the two aspects of Dharma and the Assembly of noble ones do not represent the supreme refuge, which is constant and stable. In a true sense only the Buddha is beingsrefuge, since the Great Sage embodies the dharmakaya, and the Assembly also reaches its ultimate goal when these (qualities of dharmakaya are attained).

Their occurence is rare, they are free from defilement, they possess power, they are the adornment of the world, they are sublime, and they are unchanging. Thus (they are named) “rare and sublime.”

The Last Four Vajra Points

The virtuous Three Jewels, which are rare and sublime, arise from suchness bound up with pollution, from the one free from pollution, from the qualities of unpolluted buddhahood, and from the deeds of the Victor.

This is the object of those who see the ultimate truth. The disposition of the Three Rare and Sublime Ones is the object (of vision) of those who see everything. Furthermore, these four aspects in the given order are inconceivable, for the following four reasons:

(The buddha element) is pure and yet has affliction. (Enlightenment) was not afflicted and yet is purified. Qualities are totally indivisible (and yet unapparent). (Activity) is spontaneous and yet without any thought.

Constituting what must be realized, realization, its attributes, and the means to bring it about, accordingly the first is the cause to be purified and the (latter) three points are the conditions.

The Fourth Vajra Point: The Element

The perfect buddhakaya is all-embracing, suchness cannot be differentiated, and all beings have the disposition. Thus they always have buddha nature.

The Buddha has said that all beings have buddha nature “since buddha wisdom is always present within the assembly of beings, since this undefiled nature is free from duality, and since the disposition to buddhahood has been named after its fruit.”

Essence, cause, fruit, function, endowment, manifestation, phases, all-pervasiveness of suchness, unchangingness, and inseparability of the qualities should be understood as intended to describe the meaning of the absolute expanse.

Just as a jewel, the sky, and water are pure it is by nature always free from the poisons. From devotion to the Dharma, from highest wisdom, and from samadhi and compassion (its realization arises).

(Wielding) power, not changing into something else, and being a nature that has a moistening (quality): these (three) have properties corresponding to those of a precious gem, the sky, and water.

Enmity towards the Dharma, a view (asserting an existing) self, fear of samsara’s suffering, and neglect of the welfare of fellow beings are the four veils of those with great desire, of tirthikas, shravakas, and pratyekabuddhas. The cause that purifies (all these veils) consists of the four qualities (of the path), which are outstanding devotion and so on.

Those whose seed is devotion towards the supreme vehicle, whose mother is analytical wisdom generating the buddha qualities, whose abode is the blissful womb of meditative stability, and whose nurse is compassion, are heirs born to succeed the Muni.

The fruit is the perfection of the qualities of purity, self, happiness, and permanence. Weariness of suffering, longing to attain peace, and devotion towards this aim are the function.

In brief, the fruit of these (purifying causes) fully divides into the remedies (for the antidotes), which (in their turn) counteract the four aspects of wrong beliefs with regard to the dharmakaya.

The (dharmakaya) is purity, since its nature is pure and (even) the remaining imprints are fully removed. It is true self, since all conceptual elaboration in terms of self and non-self is totally stilled. It is true happiness, since (even) the aggregates of mental nature and their causes are reversed. It is permanence, since the cycle of existence and the state beyond pain are realized as one.

Their analytical wisdom has cut all self-cherishing without exception. Yet, cherishing beings, those possessed of compassion do not adhere to peace. Relying on understanding and compassionate love, the means to enlightenment, noble ones will neither (abide) in samsara nor in a (limited) nirvana.

If the buddha element were not present, there would be no remorse over suffering. There would be no longing for nirvana, nor striving and devotion towards this aim.

That with regard to existence and nirvana their respective fault and quality are seen, that suffering is seen as the fault of existence and happiness as the quality of nirvana, stems from the presence of the disposition to buddhahood. “Why so?”

In those who are devoid of disposition, such seeing does not occur. Like the great sea it holds qualities immeasurable, precious, and inexhaustible. Its essence holds indivisible properties. Thus (the element) is similar to a lamp.

Unifying the elements of dharmakaya, a victor’s wisdom, and great compassion, it is shown as being similar to the sea by the vessel, the gems, and the water.

Clairvoyance, primordial wisdom, and absence of pollution are totally indivisible and native to the unstained abode. Thus it has properties corresponding to the light, heat, and color of a lamp.

Based upon the manifestation of suchness dividing into that of an ordinary being, that of a noble one, and that of a perfect buddha, He who Sees Thatness has explained the nature of the Victor to beings.

(It manifests as) perverted (views in) ordinary beings, (as) the reversal (of these in) those who see the truth, and (it manifests) as it is, in an unperverted way, and as freedom from elaboration (in) a tathagata.

The unpurified, the both unpurified and purified, and the utterly purified (phases) are expressed in their given order (by the names) “being,” “bodhisattva,” and “tathagata.”

The element as contained in the six topics of “essence” and so on is explained in the light of three phases by means of three names.

Just as space, which is by nature free from thought, pervades everything, the undefiled expanse, which is the nature of mind, is all-pervading.

As the general feature (of everything), it embraces (those with) faults, (those with) qualities, and (those in whom the qualities are) ultimate just as space (pervades everything) visible, be it of inferior, average, or supreme appearance.

Having faults that are adventitious and qualities that are its nature, it is afterwards the same as before. This is dharmata ever unchanging.

(Though) space permeates everything, it is never polluted, due to its subtlety. Likewise the (dharmadhatu) in all beings does not suffer the slightest pollution.

Just as at all times worlds arise and disintegrate in space, the senses arise and disintegrate in the uncreated expanse.

Space is never burnt by fires. Likewise this (dharmadhatu) is not burnt by the fires of death, sickness, and aging.

Earth rests upon water and water upon wind. Wind fully rests on space. Space does not rest upon any of the elements of wind, water, or earth.

Likewise skandhas, elements, and senses are based upon karma and mental poisons. Karma and poisons are always based upon improper conceptual activity. The improper conceptual activity fully abides on the purity of mind. Yet, the nature of the mind itself has no basis in all these phenomena.

The skandhas, entrances, and elements are to be known as resembling earth. Karma and the mental poisons of beings should be envisaged as the water element. Improper conceptual activity is viewed as being similar to the element of wind. (Mind’s) nature, as the element of space, has no ground and no place of abiding.

The improper conceptual activity rests upon the nature of the mind. Improper conceptual activity brings about all the classes of karma and mental poisons. From the water of karma and mental poisons the skandhas, entrances, and elements arise. As this (world) arises and disintegrates, they will arise and disintegrate as well.

The nature of mind as the element of space does not (depend upon) causes or conditions, nor does it (depend on) a gathering of these. It has neither arising, cessation, nor abiding. This clear and luminous nature of mind is as changeless as space. It is not afflicted by desire and so on, the adventitious stains, which are sprung from incorrect thoughts.

It is not brought into existence by the water of karma, of the poisons, and so on. Hence it is also not consumed by the cruel fires of dying, falling sick, and aging.

The three fires of death, sickness, and aging are to be understood in their given sequence as resembling the fire at the end of time, the fire of hell, and an ordinary fire.

Having realized thatness, the nature of the (dharmadhatu), just as it is, those of understanding are released from birth, sickness, aging, and death. Though free from the destitution of birth and so on, they demonstrate these, since by their (insight) they have given rise to compassion for beings.

The noble have eradicated the suffering of dying, falling ill, and aging at its root, which is being born due to karma and poisons. There being no such (cause), there is no such (fruit).

Since they have seen reality as it is, they are beyond being born and so on. Yet, as the embodiment of compassion itself they display birth, illness, old age, and death.

After the heirs of the Victorious One have realized this changeless state, those who are blinded by ignorance see them as being born and so forth. That such seeing should occur is truly wonderful and amazing. When they have attained the field of experience of the noble, they show themselves as the field of experience of the children. Hence means and compassion of the friends of beings are supreme.

Though they are beyond all worldly matters, these (bodhisattvas) do not leave the world. They act for the sake of all worldly beings within the world, unblemished by its defects. As a lotus will grow in the midst of water, not being polluted by the water’s (faults), these (noble ones) are born in the world unpolluted by any worldly phenomena.

Viewing the accomplishment of their task, their understanding always blazes like fire. And they always rest evenly balanced in meditative stability, which is peace.

By the power of their former (prayers) and since they are free from all ideation, they do not exert any deliberate effort to lead all sentient beings to maturation. These (heirs of the Victorious One) know precisely how and by what (method) each should be trained— through whatever teachings, form kayas, conduct, and ways of behavior are individually appropriate. Always (acting) spontaneously and without hindrance for sentient beings whose number is limitless as space, such (bodhisattvas) who possess understanding truly engage in the task of benefitting beings.

The way the bodhisattvas (unfold activity) in the post-meditative phase equals the tathagatas’ (action) in the world for beings’ true liberation. Though this is true, indeed, whatever difference lies between the earth and an atom or else between (the water in) the sea and in an ox’s hoofprint, is the difference between a buddha and a bodhisattva.

(The dharmakaya) does not change into something else, since it has inexhaustible properties.
It is the refuge of beings, since (it protects them) without any limit of time, until the final end.
It is always free from duality, since it is foreign to all ideation. It is also an indestructible state, since its nature is uncreated.

It is not born, and it does not die. It suffers no harm and does not age since it is permanent and steadfast, the state of peace and immutability.

It is not (even) born in a body of mental nature, since it is permanent. Steadfast it does not die, not (even) through the death and transmigration that constitute an inconceivable transformation. Since it is peace, it does not (even) suffer harm from illnesses caused by subtle karmic imprints. Since it is immutable, there is not (even) aging induced by compositional factors free from stain.

(Combining) sentences from the foregoing two by two, the uncreated expanse should be known (as possessing) in the same sequence the attributes of being permanent and so forth. Since it is endowed with inexhaustible qualities, (the dharmakaya) is unchangingness itself and thus (has) the attribute of permanence. Equaling the uttermost end it is refuge itself and thus (holds) the attribute of steadfastness.

Since absence of thought is its nature, it is dharmata free from duality and thus (has) the attribute of peace. Hosting uncreated qualities, it is immutability itself and thus (possesses) the attribute of indestructibility.

Why is it the dharmakaya, the tathagata, the noble truth, and the absolute nirvana? Its qualities are inseparable, like the sun and its rays. Thus other than buddhahood there is no nirvana.

Since the unpolluted expanse has, put briefly, four different types of meaning, it should be known in terms of four synonyms: the dharmakaya and so forth.

Buddha qualities are indivisible. The disposition is attained as it is. The true state is (always) free from any fickleness and deceit. Since beginningless time the nature has been peace itself.

Direct perfect enlightenment (with regard to) all aspects, and abandonment of the stains along with their imprints (are called) buddha and nirvana respectively. In truth, these are not two different things.

Liberation is distinguished by indivisibility from qualities present in all their aspects: innumerable, inconceivable, and unpolluted. Such liberation is (also called) “tathagata.”

Suppose some painters mastered their craft, each with respect to a different (part of the body), so that whichever part one would know how to do, he would not succeed with any other part. Then the king, the ruler of the country, hands them a canvas and gives the order: “You all together paint my image on this!” Having heard this (order) from the (king) they carefully take up their painting work. While they are well immersed in their task, one among them leaves for another country. Since they are incomplete due to his travel abroad, their painting in all its parts does not get fully perfected. Thus the example is given.

Who are the painters of these (parts of the image)? They are generosity, morality, patience, and so on. Emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects is described as being the form (of the king).

Illuminating, radiating, and purifying, and inseparable from each other, analytical wisdom, primordial wisdom, and total liberation correspond to the light, rays, and orb of the sun.

One will therefore not attain nirvana without attaining the state of buddhahood. Just as one could not see the sun if one were to eliminate its light and its rays.

In this way the nature of the Victorious One is expressed (by) the “Tenfold Presentation.” This (tathagatagarbha) abides within the shroud of the afflictions, as should be understood through (the following nine) examples:

Just like a buddha in a decaying lotus, honey amidst bees, a grain in its husk, gold in filth, a treasure underground, a shoot and so on sprouting from a little fruit, a statue of the Victorious One in a tattered rag, a ruler of mankind in a destitute woman’s womb, and a precious image under (a layer of) clay, this (buddha) element abides within all sentient beings, obscured by the defilement of the adventitious poisons.

The defilements correspond to the lotus, the insects, the husk, the filth, the earth, the fruit, the tattered rag, the pregnant woman direly vexed with burning suffering, and the clay. The buddha, the honey, the grain, the gold, the treasure, the nyagrodha tree, the precious statue, the continents’ supreme ruler, and the precious image are similar to the supreme undefiled element.

Seeing that in the calyx of an ugly-colored lotus a tathagata dwells ablaze with a thousand marks, a man endowed with the immaculate divine vision takes it from the shroud of the water-born’s petals.

Likewise the Sugata with his buddha eye perceives his own true state even in those who must abide in the hell of direst pain. Endowed with compassion itself, which is unobscured and endures to the final end, he relieves them from their obscurations.

Once his divine eye sees the Sugata abiding within the closed ugly lotus, the man cuts the petals. Seeing the perfect buddha nature within beings, obscured by the shroud of desire, hatred, and the other mental poisons, the Muni does likewise and through his compassion defeats all their veils.

Honey is surrounded by a swarm of insects. A skillful man in search of (honey) (employs), upon seeing this, suitable means to fully separate it from the host of bees.

Likewise, when his eye of omniscience sees the honey-like element of awareness, the Great Sage causes its bee-like veils to be fully and radically abandoned.

Aiming to get honey that is obscured by millions and millions of honeybees, the man disperses all these bees and procures the honey, just as he wishes. The unpolluted knowledge present in all sentient beings is similar to the honey, and the Victor skilled in vanquishing the bee-like poisons resembles the man.

A grain when still in its husk is not fit to be eaten by man. Those seeking food and sustenance remove this (grain) from its husk.

(The nature of) the Victorious One, which is present within beings (but) mixed with the defilement of the poisons, is similar to this. While it is not freed from being mingled with the pollution of these afflictions, the deeds of the Victor will not be (displayed) in the three realms of existence.

Unthreshed grains of rice, buckwheat, or barley, which not having emerged from their husks still have husk and beard, cannot be turned into delicious food that is palatable for man. Likewise the Lord of Qualities is present within all beings, but his body is not liberated from the shroud of the poisons. Thus his body cannot bestow the joyous taste of Dharma upon sentient beings stricken by the famine of their afflictions.

While a man was traveling, gold he owned fell into a place filled with rotting refuse. This (gold), being of indestructible nature, remained for many centuries just as it was. Then a god with completely pure divine vision saw it there and addressed a man: “Purify this supremely precious gold lying here in this (filth), and (then convert it into something) that is worth being made from such a precious substance!”

Likewise the Muni sees the quality (of) beings, which is sunken in the filth-like mental poisons, and pours his rain of sacred Dharma upon them to purify the muddiness of their afflictions.

Once the god has seen the gold that has fallen into the place full of rotting refuse, insistently he directs the man’s attention to this supremely beautiful thing so he may completely cleanse it. Seeing within all beings the precious perfect buddha that has fallen into the great filth of the mental poisons, the Victorious One does likewise and teaches the Dharma to persuade them to purify it.

If an inexhaustible treasure were buried in the ground beneath a poor man’s house, the man would not know of it, and the treasure would not speak and tell him “I am here!”

Likewise a precious treasure is contained in each being’s mind. This is its true state, which is free from defilement. Nothing is to be added and nothing to be removed. Nevertheless, since they do not realize this, sentient beings continuously undergo the manifold sufferings of deprivation.

When a precious treasure is contained within (the ground beneath) a poor man’s house, the treasure cannot tell him “I am here!” (and) the man does not know of its presence. Like the poor man, beings are (unaware) that Dharma’s treasure lies in the house of their minds and the great Sage truly takes birth within the world to cause them to attain (this treasure).

The seed contained in the fruit of a mango or similar trees (is possessed of) the indestructible property of sprouting. Once it gets plowed-earth, water, and the other (conditions), the substance of a majestic tree will gradually come about.

The fruit consisting of the ignorance and the other defects of beings contains in the shroud of its peel the virtuous element of the dharma(kaya). Likewise, through relying on virtue, this (element) also will gradually turn into the substance of a King of Munis.

By means of water, sunlight, wind, earth, time, and space, the necessary conditions, the tree grows from within the narrow shroud of the fruit of a banana or mango. Similarly the fertile seed of the Perfect Buddha, contained within the fruit-skin of the mental poisons of beings, also grows from virtue as its necessary condition, until the (shoot of) Dharma is seen and augmented (towards perfection).

An image of the Victorious One made from precious material lies by the road, wrapped in an evil-smelling tattered rag. Upon seeing this, a god will alert the (passersby) to its presence by the road to cause its retrieval.

Likewise, being possessed of unhindered vision (the Buddha) sees the substance of the Sugata wrapped in the multitude of the mental poisons, even in animals, and teaches the means to free it.

When his eye perceives the statue of the Tathagata, which is of precious nature but wrapped in a stinking rag and lying by the road, the god points it out to passersby, so that they retrieve it. Likewise the Victor sees that the element, wrapped in the tattered garments of the poisons and lying on samsara’s road, is present even within animals, and teaches the Dharma so that it may be released.

A woman of miserable appearance who is without protection and abides in a poorhouse holds in her womb a glorious king, not knowing that a lord of man dwells in her own body.

Birth in an existence is similar to the poorhouse. Impure beings are like the woman bearing (a king) in her womb. Since he is present within her, she has protection. The undefiled element is like (the king) who dwells in her womb.

A ruler of the earth dwells in the womb of a woman who has an unpleasant appearance and whose body is dressed in dirty clothes. Nevertheless she has (to abide) in a poorhouse and undergo the experience of direst suffering. Likewise, beings deem themselves unsheltered though a protector resides within their own (minds). Thus they have to abide in the ground of suffering, their minds being unpeaceful under the predominating drive of the mental poisons.

An artistically well-designed image of peaceful appearance, which has been cast in gold and is (still) inside (its mold), externally has the nature of clay. Experts, upon seeing this, will clear away the outer layer and cleanse the gold therein.

Likewise those of supreme enlightenment fully see that there are defilements (on) the luminous nature, but that these stains are just adventitious, and purify beings, who are like jewel mines, from all their veils.

Recognizing the nature of an image of peaceful appearance, flawless and made from shimmering gold, while it is (still) contained in its mold, an expert removes the layers of clay. Likewise the omniscient know the peaceful mind, which is similar to pure gold, and remove the obscurations by teaching the Dharma, (just as the mold) is struck and chipped away.

The lotus, the bees, the husk, the filth, the earth, the skin of the fruit, the tattered rag, the woman’s womb, and the shroud of clay (exemplify the defilements), while (the pure nature) is like the buddha, the honey, the kernel, the gold, the treasure, the great tree, the precious statue, the universal monarch, and the golden image. It is said that the shroud of the mental poisons, (which causes the veils) of the element of beings, has had no connection with it since beginningless time, while the nature of mind, which is devoid of stains, (has been present within them) since beginningless time.

The nine aspects of defilement: desire, aversion, and mental blindness, their fierce active state, the remaining imprints (of unknowing), the defilements to be abandoned on the paths of seeing and meditation, and the defilements based upon the impure levels and the pure levels respectively, are fully taught by the shroud of the lotus and the other examples. (When) classified, the shroud of the secondary poisons is beyond any end. But when it is comprised concisely, the nine defilements of desire and the other afflictions are well explained in the given order by the nine similes of the shroud of the lotus and the subsequent examples.

These defilements cause in their given sequence the four impurities of children, the impurity of arhats, the two impurities of followers of the path of training, and the two impurities of those with understanding.

When a lotus (just) born from the mud appears to (a beholder), it delights his mind. Yet later it changes and becomes undelightful. The joy born from desire is similar to this.

Bees, when extremely agitated,
will fiercely use their stings.
Similarly, hatred, once arisen,
brings suffering to the heart.

The kernel of rice and so on
is obscured by its outer husk.
Likewise the vision of the (true) meaning is obscured by the eggshell of ignorance.

Filth is repugnant. Being the cause for those bound up with greed to indulge in sense pleasures, the active state (of the poisons) resembles it.

When wealth is hidden, one is ignorant of it and therefore does not obtain the treasure. Likewise self-sprung (wisdom) is veiled in arhats by the ground of remaining imprints of ignorance.

As by gradual growth from bud to shoot the skins of the seed are cut, the vision of thatness averts (the stains) to be abandoned by seeing.

Through their junction with the noble path they have overcome the essential part of the transitory collection. What their wisdom must abandon (on) the path of meditation is explained as being similar to tattered rags.

The stains based on the seven (impure) levels resemble the defilements of the shrouding womb. Concept-free primordial wisdom (is released) like the mature (prince) from the womb’s confine.

The defilements connected with the three (pure) levels should be known as being similar to the layer of clay. They must be overcome by the vajra-like samadhi of (those) who are the embodiment of greatness.

Thus desire and the further of the nine defilements correspond to the lotus and the following examples. Its nature unifying three aspects, the element has properties that correspond to those of the Buddha and the other similes.

Its nature is dharmakaya, suchness, and also the disposition. These are to be known by the (first) three examples, the (fourth) one, and the (following) five.

The dharmakaya is to be known (in) two aspects. These are the utterly unstained dharmadhatu and the cause conducive to its (realization), which is teaching in the deep and manifold way.

(The dharmakaya) being beyond the worldly, no example for it can be found in the world. Therefore the element and the Tathagata are explained as being (slightly) similar. Teaching in the deep and subtle way is like the one single taste of honey, while teaching through various aspects resembles grain in its variety of husks.

Since the nature is unchanging, full of virtue, and utterly pure, suchness is said to correspond to the shape and color of gold.

Similar to the treasure and the fruit of a tree, the disposition is to be known in two aspects, as it has existed (as) the nature since beginningless time and has become supreme (through) right cultivation. The attainment of the three kayas of a buddha is seen to stem from the twofold disposition. By the first aspect there is the first (kaya), through the second there are the latter two.

The beautiful svabhavikakaya is like the statue of precious material, since (it exists) naturally, is not created, and is a treasure of gem-like qualities. Wielding the sublime majesty of the Great Dharma, the sambhoga(kaya) resembles the Chakravartin. Being of the nature of a (mere) representation, the nirmana(kaya) is similar to the golden image.

This truth of the Self-Sprung Ones is to be realized through faith. The orb of the sun blazes with light, (but) is not seen by the blind.

Nothing whatsoever is to be removed. Not the slightest thing is to be added. Truly looking at truth, truth is seen. When seen, this is complete liberation.

The element is empty of the adventitious (stains), which are featured by their total separateness. But it is not empty of the matchless properties, which are featured by their total inseparability.

(The sutras of the second turning of the wheel of Dharma) state in numerous places that all knowable (phenomena) are in all ways empty like a cloud, a dream, or an illusion. Why is it then, that in (the sutras of the third turning of the wheel of Dharma) the Buddha, having said this, declared that buddha nature is present within beings?

With regard to faintheartedness, contempt for inferior beings, perceiving the untrue, disparaging the true nature, and exceeding self-cherishing, he said this to persuade those who have any of these five to abandon their defects.

The final truth is in every respect devoid of anything compounded. The poisons, karma, and their product are said to be like a cloud and so on.

The mental poisons are like a cloud. Karma resembles a dream experience. The skandhas produced by the poisons and karma are similar to an illusion or a deceptive apparition.

For the time being it was thus expounded. Additionally in this unsurpassable continuity it was then taught: “The element is present,” so that the five evils would be abandoned. As long as they have not heard this, bodhichitta will not be born in those whose minds are feeble and fainthearted, stirred by the evil of self-contempt. Having engendered (a little) bodhichitta, some proudly imagine: “I am supreme!” Towards those who have not developed it they are imbued with notions of inferiority. In those who entertain such thoughts, true understanding will not arise. They hold the untrue (to be true) and thus will not realize the truth. Being artificially produced and adventitious, these faults of beings are not truly (existent). In truth these evils do not exist as self, but exist as the qualities by nature pure. While they hold the evils, which are untrue, (to be true) and disparage the true qualities, (denying their presence,) even those of understanding will not attain the love that perceives the similarity of oneself and others.

Once one has heard this, joy will be born. Respect as towards the Buddha, analytical wisdom, primordial wisdom, and great love will arise. Through the arising of these five qualities, one is rid of the faults and sees similarity. (By realizing) the absence of defects and the presence of qualities, and through love, (seeing) the equality of oneself and (all) beings, buddhahood will be quickly attained.

CHAPTER TWO: The Fifth Vajra Point: Enlightenment

With its purity, attainment, freedom, benefit for oneself and others, (their) basis, depth, vastness, and greatness of nature, duration, and suchness (it has eight qualities). By (the topics) essence, cause, fruit, function, endowment, manifestation, permanence, and inconceivability, the level of a buddha is presented. (Enlightenment, of which the Buddha) said: “It is by nature clear light,” is similar to the sun and space. It is free from the stains of the adventitious poisons and hindrances to knowledge, the veils of which obscured it (like) a dense sea of clouds.

Buddhahood is permanent, steadfast, and immutable, possessing all the unpolluted buddha qualities.

It is attained on the basis of (two) primordial wisdoms: (one is) free from ideation with regard to phenomena, (the other is) discriminative. Buddhahood is indivisible, yet can be divided according to its property of (twofold) purity. (Thus) it has two features, which are abandonment and primordial wisdom, similar to space and the sun.

Luminous clear light is not created. It is indivisibly manifest (in the nature of beings) and holds all the buddha properties outnumbering the grains of sand in the river Ganges. By nature not existent, pervasive, and adventitious, the veils of the poisons and of the hindrances to knowledge are described as being similar to a cloud. Twofold wisdom causes release from the two veils. Since there is the one that is free from ideation and the one ensuing from this in post-meditation, it is held that there are (two) primordial wisdoms. Like a lake filled with unpolluted water gradually overspread by lotus flowers, like the full moon released from Rahu’s mouth and the sun liberated from a sea of clouds, it is free from affliction. Being free from pollution and possessing qualities, (buddhahood) is endowed with the brilliant light rays (of correct and complete vision). Being similar to the (statue of the) Muni, the leader of beings, and to the honey, the grain, the precious gold, the treasure, the mighty tree, the Sugata’s statue (made from) immaculate precious material, the ruler of the earth, and the golden image, (a buddha) has gained victory. Purity from the adventitious afflictions of desire and the other mental poisons is like the water of the lake and so forth. When put concisely it can be fully shown as the fruit of wisdom free from ideation. The actual attainment of the buddhakaya, which has all supreme aspects, is explained as the fruit of primordial wisdom ensuing from this after meditation.

Having eliminated the silt of desire, he lets the waters of meditative stability flow onto the lotus(-like) disciples, and thus resembles the lake of pure water. Having freed himself from the Rahu of hatred, he pervades beings with the light rays of his great love and compassionate concern, and thus is similar to the immaculate full moon. Totally freed from the clouds of unknowing and dispelling (its) darkness within beings through the light rays of primordial wisdom, buddhahood is similar to the unpolluted sun. Since (enlightenment has) peerless properties, since it bestows the taste of sacred Dharma, and since it is free from the peel (of the veils), it is like the Sugata, the honey, and the grain. Since it is purified, since (beings’) poverty is dispelled by the wealth of its qualities, and since it grants the fruit of total liberation, it is like the gold, the treasure, and the tree. Representing the jewel of the dharmakaya, and (the attainment of) the supreme lord of humans, and (manifesting in) the likeness of a precious image, they are like the bejeweled, the king, and the golden. Rid of pollution (and) all-pervasive, (true buddhahood) has an indestructible nature since it is steadfast, at peace, permanent, and unchanging. As the abode (of qualities) a tathagata is similar to space. For the six sense-faculties of a saintly being it forms the cause to experience their respective (pure) objects (of perception). It is the cause for visible objects, which are non-arising, to be seen, for good and pure speech to be heard, for the pure scent of the moral conduct of the Sugata to be smelled, for the flavor of sacred Dharma (of) the great noble ones to be tasted, for the blissful touch of samadhi to be felt, and for the mode (of the Dharma), which is by essence deep, to be realized. When reflected upon in a very fine way, a sugata bestowing true bliss is like space, devoid of any reasons. In brief, (two kayas) are to be understood as functions of the two primordial wisdoms: the vimuktikaya (representing) perfection, and the dharmakaya (representing) refinement. Vimuktikaya and dharmakaya are to be known in terms of two aspects and (a common) one, as they are free from pollution and all-pervasive, uncreated and thus embody the ground (of virtue). Since the mental poisons along with their remaining imprints are ended, (the vimuktikaya) is free from any pollution. Since there is no attachment and obstruction, (the dharmakaya) is considered as pervasive primordial wisdom. Being of a nature forever indestructible (neither kaya) is something that is created. While “indestructibility” is the (concise) explanation (of uncreatedness), it is taught in more detail through (the topic) “steadfast” and so forth. “Destructibility” is to be understood (in terms of) four aspects, since it constitutes the contrary of “steadfastness” and so on. These are decay, drastic change, being cut-off, and transmigration, which is inconceivable (and) a transformation (in various) ways. Since (the vimuktikaya and dharmakaya) are free from these (features), they are to be known as steadfast, peaceful, permanent, and unchanging. As absence of pollution and (primordial) wisdom are the support for the unstained properties (to come forth in the disciples), they are (also) the abode (of the best possible benefit for others).

Space is not a cause, and yet the cause for all visible things to be seen, for sound, odor, flavor, touch, and phenomena to be heard and so on. Just so, they cause the unstained qualities to arise as objects sensed by those (whose vision is) stable by junction with the unveiled (seeing of) the two kayas. Buddhahood is inconceivable, permanent, steadfast, at peace, and immutable. It is utterly peaceful, pervasive, without thought, and unattached like space. It is free from hindrance and coarse objects of contact are eliminated. It cannot be seen or grasped. It is virtuous and free from pollution. As was explained, the vimuktikaya and the dharmakaya (accomplish) benefit for oneself and benefit for others. These (kayas), being the support of this twofold benefit, possess the qualities of being inconceivable and so forth. Being the object of the omniscient primordial wisdom, buddhahood is not an object for the three types of insight. So even those with a wisdom body must realize that (buddha enlightenment) is inconceivable. Being subtle it is not an object for study. Being absolute it cannot be reflected upon. Dharmata is deep. Hence it is not an object for any worldly meditation and so on. Why (is it hard to realize)? Like the blind with regard to the visible, the children have never seen it before. Even noble ones (see it) as babies (would glimpse) the sun from within the house where they are born. Since it is free from being born, it is permanent. Since it is without cessation, it is steadfast. Since these two are not present, it is peaceful. It is immutable, for the dharmata (ever) remains.

It is utter peace, since the truth of cessation (is revealed). Since everything is realized, it pervades (all the knowable). Since it does not dwell upon anything, it is without ideation. Since the mental poisons are eliminated, it has no attachment. Since the veil of the hindrances to knowledge is cleansed, it is in all ways unobstructed (with regard to complete insight). Being free from its two (obstacles), it is suited for (samadhi) and thus relieved from the touch of coarse objects of contact. Since it is not something visible, it cannot be seen. Since it is free from features, it cannot be grasped. It is virtuous, (the dharmadhatu) being by nature pure, and it is free from stains, since pollution is abandoned. What is the nature of dharmadhatu? It is without beginning, middle, and end. It is totally indivisible and far away from the two (extremes), rid of the three (veils), unpolluted, and not an object of thought. Its realization is the vision of a Yogi who Dwells in Meditative Equipoise. The unpolluted sphere of a tathagata possesses the (four) qualities (of realization). It cannot be fathomed and (in number) is beyond the grains of sand in the river Ganges. It is inconceivable and peerless and there is furthermore elimination of all faults along with their remaining traces. Through various aspects of the sacred Dharma, through bodies shot with light rays, and through its readiness to accomplish the task of the total liberation of beings, its deeds resemble the activity of a king of wish-fulfilling jewels. (It appears as) a variety of things, yet is not of the nature of these. (The nirmanakaya persuades) the worldly beings to enter the path towards peace. He fully matures them and, granting prophecy, (becomes) the cause (of their release). These form (kayas) remain forever in this (world) like the realm of form within the realm of space. The Omniscience of All the Self-Sprung Ones is given the name of “Buddhahood.” Its meaning is (also termed): “Most Supremely Beyond Torment,” “The Inconceivable,” “Foe-Vanquisher,” and “Quintessence of Self-Awareness.” When these are categorized, they can be fully divided into (three) properties, which are the qualities of depth, vastness, and greatness, or the nature (kaya) and so on. (The benefits) are fulfilled through these three kayas. Of these, the svabhavikakaya of the buddhas is to be known as having five characteristics and, if condensed, five qualities: It is uncreated and totally indivisible. The two extremes are completely abandoned. It is definitively freed from the three veils— the mental poisons and the obstructions to knowledge and meditative equipoise. It is unpolluted and not an (object of) thought. Being the field of the yogis and the dharmadhatu, being by essence pure, it is luminous clarity. The svabhavikakaya truly has the final and ultimate qualities of being unfathomable, countless, inconceivable, unequaled, and pure. Since it is vast, not to be numbered, not an object of reasoning, and unique, and since the remaining traces are eliminated, it is in the same order unfathomable and so on. It perfectly enjoys the various aspects of Dharma and appears (in the form) of natural qualities. Corresponding to the pure cause of its compassion, the benefit of sentient beings is uninterrupted. Totally without any thought and spontaneously it wholly grants all wishes exactly as they are by miraculous powers, like a wish-fulfilling gem. It therefore fully abides in Perfect Enjoyment. Since the stream of verbal expression, display (of form), and action (of mind) is uninterrupted and not a product, and since it shows that it is not of the essence of these, it is taught here in five aspects, as “various” and so on. Due to the various colors (of its background) a gem appears (in manifold colors), (but) is not a thing fulfilling their function. Likewise the All-Pervasive (Ones) appear due to the manifold conditions (set by beings) without being a thing fulfilling their function. (The Supreme Nirmanakaya) knows the world and having gazed upon all worldly (beings demonstrates) out of his great compassion (twelve wondrous deeds). Without moving away from the dharmakaya he manifests through various (aspects) of an illusory nature. Having (first) been born spontaneously in a (divine) existence he then leaves the realm of Tushita and passes (into this world). He enters (his mother’s) womb, takes birth, and gains perfect skill, mastering all the various fields of handicraft, science, and art. He mirthfully enjoys amusement among his spouse and her retinue. Feeling weariness and renunciation he practices as an ascetic. Then he goes to Awakening’s Heart and defeats the hosts of Mara. (He finds) perfect enlightenment and turns the wheel of Dharma. He passes into nirvana (the state beyond any torment and pain). Within all the (endless) fields totally infested with impurity he shows these deeds as long as (beings) abide in existence. With the words “impermanent,” “suffering,” “selfless,” and “peace” (the Buddhas) who know all means persuade sentient beings to generate weariness with the three realms of existence and to fully enter into the state beyond torment and pain. Those who have perfectly followed the path of peace believe that they have attained the state of nirvana. By the White Lotus of Dharma Sutra and similar aspects of his sacred teaching he explains the nature of phenomena. Thus he causes them to refrain from their former belief, to fully adopt skillful means and discriminative wisdom, and gain maturity on the (path of the) supreme vehicle. Then he grants them prophecy of their supreme enlightenment. Since (these kayas) constitute depth, best possible power, and supreme guidance in tune with the aims of the children, they should be known in accordance with this number as being deep, vast, and the embodiment of greatness. Here the first is the dharmakaya, and the latter are the form kayas. As the visible abides in space, the latter abide in the first. There is permanence (since) the causes are endless and sentient beings inexhaustible (in number). They have compassionate love, miraculous power, knowledge, and utter (bliss). They are masters of (all) qualities. The demon of death has been vanquished. Being not of the essence (of the compounded) it is the (true) protector of all worldly (beings). Having offered bodies, lives, and goods they (purely) uphold the sacred Dharma. In order to benefit all sentient beings they fulfill their vow as initially taken. Buddhahood supremely expresses itself as compassion both cleansed and purified. Appearing on the feet of miraculous powers they (can) act forever by means of these. By knowledge they are freed from the belief fixed on the duality of samsara and nirvana. They always possess the best possible bliss of samadhi, beyond ideation (and end). While acting in the world (for other’s good) they are unsullied by all worldly phenomena.

Free from dying, it is the attainment of peace. In this sphere the demon of death cannot roam. The state of the Muni being of uncreated nature has been fully pacified since beginningless time. For all those who are bereft of permanent shelter it provides the most delightful refuge, and so on. The first seven reasons clarify the permanence of the form kayas, while the latter three illustrate why the dharmakaya lasts forever. It is not an object of speech and is embraced by the absolute. It is not a field for ideation and is beyond any example, unexcelled and not embraced by existence and peace. Even the noble cannot conceive the sphere of the Victor. It is inconceivable since it cannot be verbally expressed. It is inexpressible since it consists of the absolute (truth). It is absolute since it cannot be (intellectually) scrutinized. It is inscrutable since it cannot be inferentially deduced. It is not deducible since it is peerless, the highest of all. It is the highest of all since it is not comprised by anything. It is uncomprised since it does not dwell (on any extreme). This is because there is no dualistic idea of quality and fault. For the (first) five reasons the dharmakaya is subtle and thus beyond the reach of thought. For the sixth the form kayas are inconceivable. (They show appearance) but are not something that fulfils the function of this. Since through peerless primordial wisdom, great compassion, and further attributes all qualities are finally perfected, the Victor is inconceivable. Thus the last mode of the Self-Sprung Ones is not even seen by those Great Sages who have received “the Empowerment (of Splendorous Light Rays).”

CHAPTER THREE : The Sixth Vajra Point: Qualities

Benefit for oneself and benefit for others are equivalent to the ultimate kaya and the relative kayas based upon it. Being the fruits of freedom and complete maturation these are (endowed with) sixty-four types of qualities. The abode adhering to (benefit) for oneself is the kaya being (wisdom’s) sacred object. The symbolic kaya of sages is the ground of best possible (benefit) for other beings. The first kaya has the qualities of freedom, which are the qualities of power and so on. The second has those of full maturation, which are the marks of a great being. Power is like a vajra against the veil of unknowing. Fearlessness acts like a lion amidst (any) assembly. Like space are the unmixed features of the Tathagata, like a water-moon the two facets of the Muni’s teaching. Knowing what is worthwhile and worthless, knowing the ripening product of all action, knowing faculties, temperaments, and wishes, knowing the path reaching the entire range, knowing meditative stability and so on— when it is afflicted or without pollution—memory of past states, divine sight, and peace are the ten aspects of the power of knowledge. (Knowing) the worthwhile and worthless, complete ripening, the various temperaments, paths, and aspirations of beings, their manifold faculties, the defiled and the utterly pure, remembrance of previous states (of existence), divine sight, and (knowing) the way in which (all) pollution is exhausted piercingly destroys the armor of ignorance, fells its trees and smashes its unshakable walls, laying them in utter ruin. Such power, therefore, resembles an (indestructible) vajra. Perfectly enlightened (in) all phenomena, setting an end to (all) hindrances, teaching the path, and showing cessation are the four aspects of fearlessness. Knowing and causing (others) to know all the different aspects of things that are to be known of oneself and others, having abandoned and causing abandonment of all things that are to be abandoned, having relied on what is to be relied upon, having attained and causing attainment of the Peerless and Stainless to be attained, they relate their own truth to others. Thus the Great Sages are unhindered anywhere.

The lord of animals is ever fearless to the far ends of the jungle, undauntedly roaming amongst the (other) animals. In (any) assembly the Lord of Munis is a lion as well, remaining at ease, independent, stable, and endowed with skill. There is no delusion and no idle talk. The Teacher’s mindfulness is unimpaired. Never is his mind not resting evenly. There is no harboring of various ideas. There is no equanimity without analysis. His aspiration, diligence, mindfulness, and discriminative wisdom are unimpaired, as are total release and its eye of wisdom. All action is preceded by primordial wisdom and this is unobscured with regard to time.

Thus these eighteen features and others are the unmixed qualities of the Teacher. Delusion, idle talk, forgetfulness, mental agitation, ideation of duality, and indifferent equanimity: the Sage does not have any of these. His aspiration, diligence, and mindfulness, his utterly pure and unstained discriminative wisdom, his constant total release, and his primordial wisdom of liberation seeing all fields of the knowable do not suffer any impairment. His three activities are preceded (by primordial wisdom) and display themselves in its likeness. He manifests his vast definitive knowing, always unhindered in its vision of the three times. By such insight he is fearless and supremely turns the Great Wheel of Pure Dharma for beings. Endowment with great compassion and quintessence of victory are what all buddhas will find. The nature of any of the properties native to earth and so on is not the nature of space. Any of the features of space, such as being non-obstructive and so on, is not a feature of the visible. Earth, water, fire, air, and space, being equally (elements), have something in common in the world. The unmixed qualities and worldly beings have nothing in common, not even as much as a single atom. His perfectly even (soles) are marked with wheels. His feet are broad and his ankles are not visible. His fingers and toes are long and the digits of his hands and feet are entwined by a web. His skin is soft and his flesh remains youthful. His body has seven elevated and rounded parts. His calves are like those of an antelope and his secret parts are hidden as are an elephant’s. His (mighty) torso is similar to that of a lion. (The hollow) between his clavicles is well filled. The curve of his shoulders is perfect and beautiful.

His hands and arms are rounded, soft, and even. His arms are long and his utterly immaculate body is enfolded in the mandala of an aureole of light. His neck, unblemished (in hue), resembles a conch. His cheeks are like those of the king of all animals. His forty teeth are equal (in number in both his jaws). His teeth are supremely pure and most beautifully set. They are totally immaculate and aligned in even rows. The eye-teeth are of supreme and excellent whiteness. His tongue is long, his speech unlimited and inconceivable. His sense of taste is supreme, and the Self-Sprung’s voice is like the kalavinka’s call and the melody of Brahma. His pure eyes are like blue lotuses, his eyelashes (dense) as those of an ox. He has the stainless white urna hair embellishing his face and the ushnisha crowning his head. His skin is pure and delicate and of the color of gold. Extremely fine and soft, each of the hairs on his body curls from one pore to the right and upwards to his crown. His immaculate hair resembles (in color) a deep-blue gem. Well-proportioned in stature like a perfect nyagrodha tree, the Great Sage who is all-good and without any example has an unbreakable body possessed of Narayana’s strength. These thirty-two marks, which one cannot conceive or grasp and which are resplendent (in their brightness and beauty), the Teacher has described as the signs of a lord of humans. Just as in autumn the form of the moon is seen in a cloudless sky and in the deep blue water of a lake, the form of the All-Embracing is seen by the Victor’s heirs in the perfect buddha mandala (and in the world). These sixty-four qualities each combined with its cause should be known in their order to follow the Ratnadarikasutra. Being unchangeable and never weakened, dissimilar and unmoving, they are taught by the examples of the vajra, the lion, space, and the moon in sky and water.

Of the powers, six powers, three, and one, in this sequence, have totally dispelled (the veils of) knowledge and meditation, along with that of the remaining imprints. Resembling armor, a wall, and a tree, they were pierced, shattered, and felled. Being firm, essential, steadfast, and unchangeable the powers of the Great Sage are similar to a vajra. Why are they firm? Because they are essential. Why essential? Because they are steadfast. Why steadfast? Because they are unchangeable. Being unchangeable, they are like a vajra. Since he is not intimidated, is independent, stable, and (possessed of) best possible skill, the Muni is like a lion. The Lion (of Mankind) does not have fear in any assembly whatever. Knowing everything directly, he always remains totally fearless of anyone, no matter of whom. Seeing that even pure beings are not his equal, he is unimpressed and not daunted (by others). His mind being one-pointed as to all phenomena, (his samadhi) is the quintessence of stability. He possesses skill, having crossed the earth of the latencies of unknowing, ever so (subtle). The understanding of worldly beings, of listeners, of biased practitioners, of those who have insight, and of self-sprung buddhas getting ever subtler and progressively refined, there are five similes: Sustaining the life of all worldly beings, (buddhas) are likened to earth and water and to fire and air. Away from the features of the worldly and of those being beyond the world, they are similar to space. So the dharmakaya fully divides into these thirty-two qualities, indivisible like a precious gem in its light, radiance, and shape. Granting satisfaction whenever they are seen, the qualities called “the thirty-two (marks)” adhere to two kayas, being the illusory kaya and the kaya perfectly rejoicing in Dharma. Those far from and close to purity (see them) as the mandalas of the world and the Victor, like the form of the moon in water and sky. Thus these (kayas) are beheld in two ways.

  • This was the section “Qualities,” the third chapter of The Commentary on the Highest Continuity of the Mahayana Dharma which Analyzes the Disposition of the Rare and Sublime Ones.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Seventh Vajra Point: Activity

An All-Embracing One always has spontaneous access to the disciples’ temperaments, the means of training, the (various) trainings that suit their temperaments, and to seeking them wherever they are, at the right time. Having multitudes of supremely precious qualities and the waters of the ocean of primordial wisdom, possessing the sunlight of merit and wisdom, it is the definitive accomplishment of all vehicles without exception. (Enlightenment) is vast, without middle or end, and thus all-pervasive like space. Fully seeing that buddhahood, the treasure of the unpolluted qualities, is (present) within all sentient beings without the slightest distinction, the wind of the Buddhassublime compassion totally dispels the clouds of afflictions and hindrances to knowledge, which have spun their net about it. For whom? How? By which training? Where? and When? Since ideation as to such (questions) does not occur, the Muni always (acts) spontaneously. The temperaments of the disciples, which of the many means for each, which training at what place and time:

(He is not mistaken as to any of) these. Since, with regard to the definitive revelation of release, its support, its fruit, those being fully sustained, their obscurations, and the condition cutting these veils, there is no ideation, (buddha activity is uninterrupted). The ten levels definitively reveal release. The two accumulations provide their cause. Supreme enlightenment is the fruit of these. Enlightenment in beings is fully sustained. These are obscured by the endless afflictions, the secondary afflictions, and the latencies. A buddha’s great compassion is the condition that, at all times, vanquishes these (veils). These six points: being similar to an ocean, the sun, space, a treasure, clouds, and wind are to be grasped accordingly. Holding wisdom’s waters and qualities like gems, the levels are like an ocean. Closely sustaining all sentient beings, the two accumulations are like the sun. Being vast and without any middle or end, enlightenment is like the element of space. Genuine perfect awakening is dharmata, hence beingsnature is like a treasure. Adventitious, pervasive, and not existent, its afflictions are like a host of clouds. Always ready to dispel these (afflictions), compassion is similar to a merciless wind. Their release (is accomplished) for the sake of others. They see the equality of themselves and sentient beings and their activity is not completed to its full extent. Thus their deeds will never cease while samsara exists. A tathagata is similar to Indra, to the drum (of the gods), clouds, to Brahma, the sun, a precious gem, to an echo, to space, and the earth. If the surface of the ground here changed into the nature of immaculate lapis lazuli, because of its purity one would see in it the (appearance of) the Lord of All Gods with his following of many young goddesses. One would see his sublimely beautiful palace “the All-Victorious” and other divine abodes, the gods’ various palaces and manifold wealth. Once the assembly of men and women who inhabit the surface of the earth saw this appearance, each would say: “Before a long time passes, may I too become like this Lord of the Gods!” Prayers like these they would utter and to achieve this feat would adopt genuine virtue and remain within it. “This is just an appearance!” There would not be any such understanding. Still their virtuous deeds would lead them to be reborn in a divine existence after they departed from the surface of the earth. These appearances are totally free from ideation and do not involve the slightest movement at all. There is nothing of this kind, and yet nevertheless they are accompanied by great benefit on the earth. Those endowed with unpolluted faith and so forth, having cultivated the qualities of faith and so on, will see in their own minds the Buddha’s appearance, which is perfect and has special signs and marks. They will see the Buddha while he is walking, while he is standing, sitting, or resting in sleep. They will see him in manifold forms of conduct: when explaining the teaching leading to peace, when silently resting in meditative equipoise, or when displaying various forms of miracles. Possessed of great splendor and magnificence, (the Buddha) will be seen by all sentient beings. Once having seen this, they too will wish to fully join what is named “buddhahood,” and adopting its causes in a genuine way they will attain the state they longed for. These appearances are totally free from ideation and do not involve the slightest movement at all. There is nothing of this kind, and yet nevertheless they are accompanied by great benefit in the world. “This is the appearance of my own mind.” Worldly beings do not have such insight. Yet, their seeing of this visible kaya will become meaningful for these beings. Relying on gradually beholding this form, all those who follow the (Great) Vehicle will see their genuine inner dharmakaya by means of the eye of primordial wisdom. If the whole earth became rid of fearful places and turned into an even surface of lapis lazuli that was flawless, radiant, and beautiful, having a gem’s qualities and unstained luster, various divine abodes and the form of their Lord would shine forth within it because of its purity. Then, as the earth gradually lost these properties, they would be invisible again and appear no more. Yet, for their real attainment the men and women would side with the vows of individual release, with penitence, authentic giving, and so forth, scattering flowers and so on with longing minds. Likewise, to attain the state of a Lord of Munis shining forth in their minds, which is similar to pure lapis lazuli, the heirs of the Victor, their vision filled with sheer delight, give rise to bodhichitta in the most perfect manner. Just as mirrored by the purified lapis lazuli ground the physical appearance of the Lord of Gods is seen, likewise the kaya of the Lord of Munis is reflected in the purified ground of sentient beingsminds. Whether these reflections will rise or set in beings owes to their own minds being sullied or unstained. Like the form (of Lord Indra) appearing in the worlds, they are not to be viewed as “existent” or “extinct.” By the power of the gods’ former virtue the Dharma drum (arose) among them. Involving no effort, origin, or thought, no vibration and no intention at all, the drum resounds again and again with “impermanence” and “suffering,” “non-existence of self” and “peace,” admonishing all the careless gods. Likewise, though free from effort and so on, the buddha speech of the All-Pervading Ones permeates sentient beings without exception, teaching Dharma to those of karmic fortune. Just as the sound of the drum arises among the gods from their own deeds, the Dharma spoken by the Muni arises in the world from beings’ own deeds. Just as the sound (of the drum) accomplishes peace without effort, origin, visible form, or intention, likewise the Dharma causes accomplishment of peace without deliberate effort or any other such feature. The sound of the drum in the city of the gods acts as the cause, yielding the gift of undauntedness and granting them victory over the host of the asuras, when these, driven by their poisons, make war upon them, and it dispels the gods’ reveling in play. Likewise, arising in the worlds from the cause of meditative stability, formless dimension, and so on, it expresses the mode of the unsurpassable path, which will fully overcome all affliction and suffering and thus lead all sentient beings to peace. Universal, of benefit, bestowing bliss, and endowed with threefold miracle, the Muni’s melody is by far superior to the cymbals treasured by the gods. The mighty sound of the drum in the divine realms does not reach the ears of those dwelling on earth, whereas the drumming sound of Buddha’s (speech) even reaches the subterranean worlds of samsara. Millions of divine cymbals resound among the gods to set the fire of lust ablaze and to fan its flames. The single melody of Those of Compassionate Being manifests to fully quench all the fires of suffering. The beautiful and bewitching sound of the cymbals causes among the gods increase of their distraction, whereas the speech of the compassionate Tathagata exhorts (us) to reflect and commits the mind to samadhi. Any cause of happiness for earthly beings and gods in whichever sphere of the world without exception, briefly spoken, fully depends upon this melody that pervades all the worlds, not forsaking one. Without (an intact sense of) hearing one cannot experience subtle sound, and all (its manifold variations) do not even reach the ears of a god. Likewise, as the field of experience of the very finest primordial wisdom, the subtle Dharma only reaches the ear of someone whose mind is rid of poison. The monsoon clouds in summertime continuously and without any effort pour down their vast masses of water, causing on earth the best possible crops. Just so, from the cloud of compassion the rain of the Victor’s pure teaching pours down its waters without ideation, causing a harvest of virtue for beings. Just as the wind-born clouds cause rain to fall when the worldly beings follow the path of virtue, from the buddha cloud called by compassion’s wind, pure Dharma rains to nurture the virtue of beings.

Through great knowledge and compassionate love with regard to existence it abides in the midst of space unsullied by change and non-change. Holding the essence of the unpolluted waters of dharani and samadhi, the cloud of the Lord of Munis is the cause of the harvest of virtue. Water that is cool, delicious, soft, and light when it falls from the clouds acquires on earth very many tastes by touching salty and other grounds. When the waters of the noble eightfold (path) rain from the heart of the vast cloud of love, they will also acquire many kinds of tastes by the different grounds of beings’ make-up. Those of devotion towards the supreme vehicle, those who are neutral, and those with animosity are three groups (of beings) who are similar to humans, peacocks, and craving spirits. At the end of spring, when there are no clouds, human beings and the birds that rarely fly (are unhappy or neutral, respectively). When rain is falling in summertime, the craving spirits suffer. Similar to this example, the arising and non-arising of the Dharmarain from the host of clouds of compassion also (leads to opposite reactions) in worldly beings who long for Dharma or are hostile to it, respectively. When releasing a deluge of heavy drops or hurling down hailstones and thunderbolts, a cloud does not heed any tiny beings or those who have sought shelter in the hills. Likewise the cloud of knowledge and love does not heed whether its vast and subtle drops will purify the afflictions or (increase) dormant tendencies towards holding the view of a self.

In this cycle of beginningless birth and death five paths are open for sentient beings to tread. Just as no sweet scent is found in excrement, no happiness will be found among the five types of beings. Their suffering resembles the continuous pain arising from fire and weapons, or (from a wound) being touched by salt, and so on. The great rain of sacred Dharma pours down in cascades from the cloud of compassion, fully soothing and appeasing this (pain). “(Even) gods have the suffering of death and transmigration, and man suffers from desperate strife!” Realizing this, those endowed with discriminative wisdom have no desire for even the highest (state) of a lord of humans or gods. There is wisdom (from the past) and they faithfully follow the sublime words of the Tathagata, so insight makes them see: “This is suffering! This is its cause! And this is cessation of misery!” In the case of disease, one needs to diagnose it, remove its cause, attain the happy state (of health), and rely on suitable medicine; similarly one needs to recognize suffering, remove its cause, come in touch with its cessation, and rely on the suitable path. Just like the way in which Brahma, without departing from his abode, effortlessly shows his appearance in all the residences of the gods, without moving from dharmakaya the Muni effortlessly demonstrates illusory appearances in every realm to beings who have karmic fortune. When Brahma, never departing from his palace, has manifested in the desire realm, he is seen by the gods. This vision incites them to emulate him and to abandon their delight in (sensuous) objects. Similarly, without moving from dharmakaya, the Sugata is seen in all spheres of this world by beings of karmic fortune. This vision incites them to emulate him and to dispel all their pollution.

By his own former wishing prayers and the power of the virtue of the gods Brahma appears without deliberate effort. So does the self-sprung illusory kaya. He moves from (Tushita) and enters the womb, gets born, and goes to his father’s palace. He enjoys amusement and then seeks solitude, undergoes austerity, and defeats all evils. (In Bodhgaya) he finds great enlightenment and shows the path to the citadel of peace. The Muni, having shown (these deeds), becomes invisible to those of no karmic fortune. When the sun blazes down, lotuses and so on open while simultaneously kumuta flowers totally close. On the benefit and fault of the water-born flowers’ opening and closing the sun does not shed any thought. The sun of the Noble acts likewise. As the sun shining its own light simultaneously and without thought makes lotus flowers open their petals and brings ripening to other (crops), so the sun of the Tathagata manifests, shedding its rays of the sacred Dharma on the lotus-like beings to be trained without harboring any thought or idea. By the dharmakaya and the visible kayas the sun of omniscience rises in the sky, which is the very heart of enlightenment, to shed light beams of wisdom on beings. In all disciples, as in water vessels, simultaneously the sun of the Sugata is mirrored in countless reflections owing to the purity (of these beings).

(From) within the space of dharmadhatu, which continuously pervades everything, the buddha sun shines on the disciples (like) on mountains, as merited by each. Just as the rising sun with thousands of far-reaching beams illuminates all the worlds and then gradually sheds its light on the highest mountains, then the medium-sized, and the small, the buddha sun gradually shines on the assembly of beings. The sun does not radiate to the depth of space in every field, nor can it show the meaning of the knowable (to those) confined to the darkness of unknowing. Appearing in clarity through a multitude of light emitting various colors, Those of Compassionate Nature show the meaning of the knowable to beings. When a buddha goes to the city (of the disciples), people without eyes become sighted. Being freed from all meaningless things they see the meaningful and experience (happiness). When blinded by delusion they fall into existence’s sea and are wrapped in the darkness of views, the light of the buddha sun illumines their vision and they see the very point they never saw before.

A wish-fulfilling gem, though free from thought, grants all those who dwell in its field of activity each of their desires simultaneously, doing so in the most perfect manner. Likewise beings of different ways of thinking, when they rely on the wish-fulfilling Buddha, will hear various kinds of teachings, though he generates no ideas of these. As a precious gem, which is free from thought, fully bestows the desired riches on others, doing so without any effort, the Muni always stays for others’ sake, as merited by each and as long as existences last, doing so without any effort. The good jewel lying underground or in the ocean is very hard to find for beings wanting it. Likewise, one should understand that beings held in the grip of the poisons, and whose karmic gifts are poor, will hardly see the Sugata in their minds. Just as the sound of an echo arises due to the perception of others, without thought or purposeful labor and neither abiding without or within, so the speech of the Tathagata arises due to the perception of others, without thought or purposeful labor and neither abiding without or within. Space is nothing at all and does not appear. It is neither an object (of the senses) nor a support. It is totally beyond being a path for the eye. It has no form and is not to be demonstrated. Nevertheless it is seen as being high and low, but it is not at all like that. Likewise all (his appearances) are seen as Buddha, but he is not at all like that. Everything that grows from the earth will increase and become firm and vast on the support of its thought-free soil. Likewise, relying on the Perfect Buddha, who (like) the earth is free from thought, every root of virtue of sentient beings without exception will flourish and grow. It is not obvious that one could act without exerting deliberate effort. Therefore nine examples are taught to cut the doubts of the disciples.

The place where these nine examples were explained in very great detail is the sutra which through its very name teaches their necessity and purpose. Adorned with the far-reaching light of knowledge arisen from hearing it, those of insight will quickly enter the field of experience of a buddha. This point is made clear in the nine examples of Indra’s reflection in lapis lazuli and so on. Their concise meaning, when grasped precisely, is to (illustrate) display (of physical form), speech, and the all-pervasiveness (of mind), illusory emanation, radiation of wisdom, the secret aspects of body, speech, and mind, and the fact that compassion itself is attained. All streams of effort being fully appeased and the mind being free from all ideation is similar to Indra’s reflection appearing within stainless lapis lazuli and so forth. Appeasement of effort is the proposition; mind free from ideation its justification. In order to establish the meaning of this nature the similes of Indra’s form and so on are given. Here the meaning of the chapter is as follows: The nine aspects of physical display and so on (show) that the Teacher has no birth and death, and yet perfectly manifests without any effort. Something that, similar to Indra, the drum, clouds, Brahma, the sun, the precious king of wish-granting gems, an echo, space, and the earth, effortlessly and as long as existence may last fulfils others’ benefit is only conceived of by (supreme) yogis. (Kayas) are displayed like the Lord of Gods appearing (in) the gem. Explanation being well bestowed resembles the drum of the gods. With cloud-hosts of insight and deep concern, the All-Embracing pervades the limitless number of beings up to existence’s peak.

Like Brahma, not moving from his sphere devoid of pollution, he perfectly displays a manifold number of illusory appearances. Like a sun, primordial wisdom perfectly radiates its brilliance. Buddha mind resembles a pure and precious wish-fulfilling jewel. Buddha speech has no letters, like an echo resounding from rock. Similar to space, his body is pervasive, formless, and permanent. Like the earth, a buddha is the ground holding without exception and in any way all medicinal herbs of beings’ unstained qualities. The cause for the Buddha to be seen in the mind similar to pure lapis lazuli is the purity of this ground, (achieved) by a firm faculty of irreversible faith. Since virtue arises and ceases, the form of a buddha arises and ceases. Like Indra, the Muni who is dharmakaya is free from arising and ceasing. Effortlessly, like (Indra) he manifests his deeds, displaying (physical appearance) and so forth, from birthless and deathless dharmakaya for as long as samsaric existence may last. The condensed meaning of the examples is (contained) herein. Their order is also (not arbitrary), as they are abandoned such that properties not in tune are eliminated (progressing) from the former to the latter. A buddha is like the reflection, and yet dissimilar, since the reflection is not endowed with his melody. He is like the drum of the gods, and yet dissimilar, since the drum does not bring benefit everywhere. He is similar to a vast cloud, and yet dissimilar, since a cloud does not eliminate worthless seeds. He is like the mighty Brahma, and yet dissimilar, since Brahma does not continuously cause maturity. He is like the orb of the sun, and yet dissimilar, since the sun does not always overcome darkness. He is like a wish-granting gem, and yet dissimilar, since the gem’s appearance is not so rarely found. He is similar to an echo, and yet dissimilar, since an echo arises from cause and condition. He is similar to space, and yet dissimilar, since space is not a ground of pure virtue. Being the lasting basis for every goodness, the best possible for all without exception, for worldly beings and those beyond the world, (activity) is similar to the mandala of earth. Because based upon all buddhasenlightenment, the path beyond the world will arise, as will the path of virtuous deeds, mental stability, and the immeasurable and formless contemplations.

CHAPTER FIVE: Benefit

Buddha element, buddha awakening, buddha qualities, and buddha activity cannot be thought, not even by purified beings. They are the field of experience of their guides. Those of insight who have devotion to this buddha domain will become vessels for the multitude of all buddha qualities, while those truly delighting in these inconceivable properties will exceed in merit (the good actions of) all sentient beings. Someone striving for enlightenment may turn to the Dharma kings, offering golden fields adorned with gems of equal (number) to the atoms in the buddhafields, and may continue doing so every day. Another may just hear a word of this, and upon hearing it become filled with devotion. He will attain merits far greater and more manifold than the virtue sprung from this practice of giving. An intelligent person wishing for enlightenment may by body, speech, and mind guard a flawless moral conduct and do so effortlessly, even through many eons. Another may just hear a word of this, and upon hearing it become filled with devotion.

He will attain merits far greater and more manifold than the virtue sprung from this discipline. Someone here may finally achieve the divine meditative stabilities and Brahma’s abode, thus quenching all affliction’s fire within the three realms of existence, and may cultivate these as a means to reach unchanging and perfect enlightenment. Another may just hear a word of this, and upon hearing it become filled with devotion. He will attain merits far greater and more manifold than the virtue sprung from this meditation. Why (is it so beneficial)? Generosity only yields wealth, discipline leads to the higher states of existence, and meditation removes affliction. Discriminative wisdom fully abandons all afflictions and (hindrances to) knowledge. It is therefore supreme, and its cause is studying these. The presence (of the element), its result, its qualities, and the achievement of benefit are the objects of understanding of a buddha. When towards these four, as explained above, one of understanding is filled with devotion to their presence, ability, and qualities, he will be quickly endowed with the fortune by which one attains the state of a tathagata. Those who realize: “This inconceivable object is present and someone like me can attain it; its attainment will hold such qualities and endowment” will aspire to it, filled with faith. Thus becoming vessels of all qualities, such as longing, diligence, mindfulness, meditative stability, wisdom, and so on, bodhichitta will be ever-present in them. (Bodhichitta) being ever-present in them the heirs of the Victor will not fall back. The perfection of merit will be refined until being transformed into total purity. Once these five perfections of merit are not ideated in threefold division, they will become perfect and fully pure, as their opposite facets are abandoned. The merit of generosity arises from giving, that of morality arises from moral conduct. The two aspects of patience and meditative stability stem from meditation, and diligence accompanies all. Whatever ideates (in terms of) the three circles is viewed as the veil of the hindrances to knowledge. Whatever is the impulse of avarice and so on is to be regarded as the veil of the mental poisons. Since apart from discriminative wisdom there is no other cause to remove these (veils), this discriminative wisdom is supreme. Its ground being study, such study is supreme. Based on the trustworthy words of the Buddha and on scriptures of logic, I have explained this for the sole purpose of purifying myself and supporting all those whose understanding has the best of virtue and devotion. As someone with eyes sees by relying on a lamp, or on lightning, a jewel, the sun, or the moon, this has been truly explained by relying on the Muni, brilliant in meaning, words, phenomena, and power. Whatever speech is meaningful and well connected with Dharma, which removes all afflictions of the three realms and shows the benefit of the (attainment) of peace, is the speech of the Sage, while any different speech is other. Whatever someone has explained with undistracted mind, exclusively in the light of the Victor’s teaching, and conducive to the path of attaining release, one should place on one’s head as the words of the Sage.

There is no one in this world more skilled in Dharma than the Victor. No other has such insight, knowing everything without exception (and knowing) supreme thatness the way it is. Thus one should not distort the sutras presented by the Sage himself, since this would destroy the Muni’s manner (of teaching) and furthermore cause harm to the sacred Dharma. Those blinded by poisons (and possessed of) the nature of ignorance revile the noble ones and despise the teachings they have spoken. Since all this stems from a fixated view, mind should not be joined with polluted vision. Clean cloth is totally transformed by color, but never is cloth (to be treated) with oil. Due to a feeble intellect, lack of striving for virtue, reliance on false pride, a nature obscured by neglect of pure Dharma, taking the provisional for the definitive meaning—for thatness, craving for profit, being under the sway of (inferior) views, relying on those disapproving (of Dharma), staying away from those who uphold the teachings, and due to mean devotion, the teachings of the Foe-Vanquishers are abandoned. Skillful beings must not be as deeply afraid of fire and cruel poisonous snakes, of murderers or lightning, as they should be of the loss of the profound Dharma. Fire, snakes, enemies, and thunderbolts (can) only separate us from this life, but cannot take us to the utterly fearful states of (the hells) of direst pain. Even someone who has relied on evil friends again and again and thus heeded harmful intentions towards a buddha, who has committed one of the most heinous acts—killing his father, mother, or an arhat, or splitting the sublime Assembly— will be quickly released from these, once genuinely reflecting the dharmata. But where would liberation be for someone whose mind is hostile to Dharma? Having properly explained the seven (vajra) points of the jewels, the utterly pure element, flawless enlightenment, qualities, and activity, may any virtue I harvest from this lead all sentient beings to see the Lord of Boundless Life who is endowed with Infinite Light. Upon seeing, may their stainless Dharma-eye open and may they reach highest enlightenment. On what basis, for what reason, and in what way (this has been given), what it explains and what cause is conducive (to understanding it) have been taught by means of four stanzas. Two stanzas (show) the means to purify oneself and one (shows) the cause of deterioration. Thereupon, by means of two further stanzas the fruit (sprung from deterioration) is explained. (Being born) in the mandala of a buddha’s retinue, attaining patience and (then) enlightenment: expressing these qualities, the two aspects of fruit are explained by the last in a summarized way.

PART TWO: Commentary: The Unassailable Lion’s Roar

CHAPTER ONE: Tathagatagarbha

INTRODUCTION

I bow down to all buddhas and bodhisattvas.

For the term “buddha,” as he is called in his native language, in Tibetan the term sangs rgyas (pronounced “sanjay”) is used, which literally means “awakened and expanded.” This refers to two aspects: abandonment and realization. A buddha has awoken from the sleep of ignorance just as, for example, one wakes up from ordinary sleep.

This is the aspect of abandonment. Similar to a fully blossomed lotus, his understanding has expanded with regard to the knowable. This is the aspect of realization. The Tibetan equivalent for the Sanskrit term “bodhisattva” is byang chub sems dpa’ (pronounced “jang chub sem pa”), the three components of which can be literally translated as “enlightenment” (Tib. byang chub), “mind” (Tib. sems), and “courage” (Tib. dpa’). This refers to the fact that a bodhisattva has two objectives. By means of his discriminative wisdom he focuses on enlightenment, and by means of his compassion he focuses on beings (literally, “on those who have a mind”). The term sems dpa’ can also be understood as “courageous mind” in terms of mental steadfastness, curative capacity, inner strength, and courage, which refer to the fact that a bodhisattva is capable of enduring great hardships for the sake of enlightenment. To all these buddhas and bodhisattvas I bow down respectfully with body, speech, and mind.

Before the great translators undertook a translation work, they first paid homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas. Likewise, we should follow their example and also begin by bowing down to our yidam deity before we engage in an explanation or a similar task.

If condensed, the body of the entire commentary
(consists of) the following seven vajra points:
Buddha, Dharma, the Assembly, the element,
enlightenment, qualities, and then buddha activity.

In a condensed way, the entire content or body of the commentary to be explained is taught in terms of seven vajra points. The term “vajra” is used since a precious vajra is composed of indestructible material, and the subject to be expressed is difficult to penetrate by means of the discriminative wisdoms resulting from study and reflection. The first point contains the explanation of perfect buddhahood, which constitutes what is to be attained—this being the ultimate level of the two benefits, which are benefit for oneself and benefit for others.

The second point explains the sacred Dharma as having the characteristics of the two truths, which are free from attachment. The third point is the Sangha of the noble ones, the assembly of those who do not fall back since they possess the two types of primordial wisdom (Skt. jñāna, Tib. ye shes). The fourth point explains the expanse (Tib. dbyings) or the element of beings that is by nature completely pure. This is what needs to be truly realized, its realization constituting the way in which Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are attained. The fifth point is unsurpassable enlightenment, the essence of realization, the state in which this element is purified from all defilements without the slightest remainder. The sixth point describes the qualities accompanying great enlightenment. They are the attributes of realization and consist of (two) fruits: those of freedom and complete maturation. Finally, the seventh point explains buddha activity, which is spontaneous and uninterrupted. This is the power or ability of the qualities, the means causing others to gain realization. (See also Part Three, annotation 1.)

In the above order, which presents them in a logical sequence, these (vajra points)
should be known to be derived from the Sutra Requested by King Dharanishvara.
The (first) three stem from its introductory chapter and the (latter) four from (its chapters)
on the properties of those who possess understanding and the Victorious One.

The order in which these seven vajra points are explained here, where they are presented in a logical sequence corresponding to their essence or characteristics, is the same as given in the sutra famed as The Explanation of the Great Compassion of the Tathagata, or the Sutra Requested by King Dharanishvara (Skt. Tathāgatamahā-karu˚ānirdeśa-sūtra/ Dhāra˚īśvararājaparipṛcchā, Tib. de bzhin gshegs pa’i thugs rje chen po bstan pa’i mdo/ gzungs kyi dbang phyug rgyal pos zhus pa’i mdo). In this context the first three vajra points, the explanation of the Three Jewels, should be known as being derived from the introductory chapter of this sutra. The bodhisattva Dharanishvararaja says there (in answer to a question of the Buddha):

O Bhagavan! He is directly and perfectly awakened and expanded
within the equality of all phenomena. He faultlessly turns the
wheel of Dharma. He possesses a limitless assembly of extremely
well trained disciples...,

and so on.

As for the remaining four vajra points, first the buddha element is elucidated by means of “The Explanation of the Sixty Methods of Completely Purifying the Qualities or Properties of the Path of a Bodhisattva who Possesses Understanding,” which follows upon the introductory chapter. In relation to this (Nagarjuna), in the Dharmadhātustava (Tib. chos kyi dbyings su bstod pa), says:

If the element is present and one labors, pure natural gold will be seen. If the element is not present, no matter how much one labors, one only exhausts oneself in weariness and pain.

Since a ground to be purified from the defilements is present in the form of the tathagatagarbha or the dharmadhatu, which is by nature pure, it is justified to show ways of complete purification for the sake of its direct manifestation.

The sixty methods of complete purification are the four ornaments of a bodhisattva, the eight aspects of appearance, the sixteen kinds of great compassion, and the thirty-two kinds of activity. The last three vajra points should be understood as being derived from “The Explanation of the Eighty Types of Qualities of the Victorious One.” Following the explanation of the dharmadhatu, enlightenment is elucidated from the explanation of the sixteen kinds of great compassion. After that, the qualities are clarified by means of the explanation of the ten powers, the four kinds of fearlessness, and the eighteen exclusive or unmixed features of a buddha. Subsequently, activity is elucidated by means of the explanation of the thirty-two aspects of the unsurpassable activity of a tathagata. With the passage: “O Son of Noble Family, the action of a tathagata consists of these thirty-two!” action and actor are expressed simultaneously.

Due to the formulation in the root text (the last syllable of the stanza (Skt. śloka) explained here being a particle that could either be understood as a finishing or a combining particle) some scholars hold that the way in which the seven vajra points are explained is derived from different sutras. According to this opinion the Three Jewels are derived from the Sutra Teaching Higher Reflection (Tib. lhag pa’i bsam pa bstan pa’i mdo). The element is derived from the Sutra that is Free from Increase and Obscuration (Tib. ’phel ba dang ’grib pa med pa’i mdo). Enlightenment stems from the Lion’s Roar of Shrimaladevi Sutra (Tib. lha mo dpal ’phreng gi seng ge’i sgra’i mdo), the qualities from the Sutra that is Free from Increase and Obscuration (Skt. Anun-atvāpūrnatvā-nirdeśa-parivarta, Tib. ’phel ’grib med pa’i mdo), and activity from the Sutra Showing the Realm of the Inconceivable Qualities and Wisdom of the Tathagata (Tib. de bzhin bshegs pa’i yon tan dang ye shes bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i yul la ’jug pa bstan pa’i mdo). (See also Part Three, annotation 2.)

From the Buddha (stems) the Dharma, from the Dharma the Assembly of noble ones,
from the Assembly the attainment of buddha nature, the element of primordial wisdom.
This wisdom finally attained is supreme enlightenment, the powers and so on,
(thus) possessing the properties that fulfill the benefit of all sentient beings.

From whoever is directly and perfectly awakened and expanded within the expanse of the equality of all phenomena stems the faultless turning of the wheel of Dharma. From the Dharma being practiced as it was taught stems the Assembly of the noble ones, a limitless number of extremely well trained disciples. In their streams of being, the element or buddha nature, which has become the cause of primordial wisdom, is attained in the sense that it is (apparently) present. From having become (a member of) the Sangha, this primordial wisdom of a buddha is finally attained at the end of the process in which the defilements obscuring the buddha nature are removed. This is the attainment of supreme enlightenment. This enlightenment possesses the qualities, which consist of the powers and so on. These qualities in their turn constitute the primary condition for the arising of the endowment with properties equivalent to activity, which fulfills the benefit of all sentient beings.

Acknowledging this sequence, the commentary is therefore pre sented in this order. (See also Part Three, annotation 3.)

THE FIRST THREE VAJRA POINTS: THE THREE JEWELS

The First Vajra Point: Buddha

Buddha is without beginning, middle, or end. He is peace itself, fully self-awakened and self-expanded in buddhahood.
Having reached this state, he shows the indestructible, permanent path so that those who have no realization may realize.
Wielding the supreme sword and vajra of knowledge and compassionate love, he cuts the seedling of suffering and destroys the wall of doubts along with its surrounding thicket of various views. I bow down to this Buddha.

Since buddhahood is free from an initial coming into existence, an abiding in the meantime, and a final cessation, it is uncreated. Since all thoughts and conceptual elaborations are pacified, it is spontaneously present. Since a buddha is fully self-awakened and self-expanded without a teacher by means of self-aware primordial wisdom, buddha- hood is not a realization due to extraneous conditions. These are the qualities constituting one’s own benefit. Since a buddha has awoken from the sleep of ignorance and his understanding has expanded to embrace the knowable, he has gained possession of the most excellent knowledge. By means of this knowledge he shows within samsara the permanent path, the meaning of the indestructible true state (Skt. dharmatā, Tib. chos nyid). This is compassionate love. Wielding the supreme sword of knowledge and compassionate love he cuts the shoot of “name and form,” which are the immediate causes of suffering. Wielding the supreme vajra of knowledge and compassionate love, he destroys the wall of doubts about the truth and about action and its fruit, which is surrounded by the thick forest of the various views that precede the formation of those views belonging to the fearful (or transitory) collection. This is ability or power. With these he possesses the qualities constituting the benefit of others.

Therefore I bow down to this Buddha with great respect. (See also Part Three, annotation 4.)

Being uncreated and spontaneously present,
not a realization due to extraneous conditions,
wielding knowledge, compassionate love, and ability,
buddhahood has (the qualities of) the two benefits.

By the preceding section buddhahood is shown as having six or eight qualities:

Since it is not engendered by causes and conditions, it has the quality of being uncreated and unchanging (1). Since it is free from deliberate effort, it has the quality of being spontaneously present (2). Since it is self-aware, it has the quality of not being realized due to extraneous conditions (3).

Since a buddha possesses these three qualities, he has the quality of knowledge (4). Since he leads the other beings to also attain this knowledge, he has the quality of great compassionate love (5). Since he brings about the relinquishment of the causes of suffering of all other beings, thereby eradicating the suffering that is the fruit of these causes, he has the quality of being endowed with ability (6).

In terms of subject matter there are six different kinds of qualities. If classified according to aspects, the first three form the quality of best possible benefit for oneself, and the latter three form the quality of best possible benefit of others. Considering these as a whole, buddhahood possesses eight qualities. (See also Part Three, annotation 5.)

Its nature is without beginning, middle, or end;
hence (the state of a buddha) is uncreated.
Since it possesses the peaceful dharmakaya,
it is described as being “spontaneously present.”
Since it must be realized through self-awareness,
it is not a realization due to extraneous conditions.
These three aspects being realized, there is knowledge.
Since the path is shown, there is compassionate love.
There is ability since the mental poisons and suffering
are relinquished by primordial wisdom and compassion.
Through the first three there is benefit for oneself.
Through the latter three there is benefit for others.

Here buddhahood is explained in such a way that the statements made in the foregoing section on the different types of qualities are successively proven on the basis of the reasons taught in the praise:

(1) Whatever is compounded or created consists of the three aspects of beginning, middle, and end, or in other words, has the properties of coming into existence, of abiding, and then being destroyed. Since buddhahood is of a nature that is free from these, it is uncreated. Generally speaking there are four teachings with regard to the term “uncreated.” Depending upon the following criteria, the subject in question is considered as being created or uncreated: The first criterion is whether or not there is arising and cessation due to causes and conditions. The second is whether or not there is arising and cessation of karma and mental poisons. The third is whether or not arising through a body of mental nature and cessation in terms of an inconceivable death take place. The fourth is whether or not the subject in question appears to the disciples as something that arises and ceases. In this context, Rongtönpa holds that in the light of these four criteria the dharmakaya of all buddhas is uncreated, in the sense of not appearing to the disciples as something that comes into existence and ceases.

It is therefore necessary to understand that buddhahood possesses the quality of being uncreated. Yet if one takes it as a whole as being uncreated, one needs to understand that this contradicts its having knowledge, compassionate love, and ability.

(2) Buddhahood is endowed with the dharmakaya itself, which is complete peace. It is peace in the sense of freedom from any deliberate effort in terms of the concept-bound activity of body and speech, the conceptual activity of the mind, and so on. Therefore it is described as “spontaneously present activity.”

(3) Since it must be realized by means of self-sprung primordial wisdom being self-aware, it is not a realization due to outer conditions such as other people’s utterances and so on.

(4) Having realized the dharmadhatu in its three aspects of qualities, which are uncreatedness and so on, a buddha (also) realizes that it is within all sentient beings alike. Thus he possesses the most excellent primordial wisdom of knowledge.

(5) In order to also lead all other beings who are to be trained to this ultimate purity, he clearly demonstrates the path beyond the world in accordance with their respective karmic fortunes. Therefore he possesses the most excellent love and compassion.

(6) By means of his primordial wisdom and his great compassion mentioned before, he is able to cause the relinquishment of the suffering of beings, eradicating their skandhas, which attract suffering, and their mental poisons, which cause these skandhas, up to their very end. Therefore he possesses the most excellent activity or ability. In this context it is explained that by the first three qualities the best possible benefit for oneself is accomplished, while the latter three accomplish the best possible benefit of others. (See also Part Three, annotation 6.)

The Second Vajra Point: Dharma=

The Dharma is neither non-existent nor existent. It is not both existent and non-existent, nor is it other than existent and non-existent.
It is inaccessible to such investigation and cannot be defined. It is self-aware and peace.
The Dharma is without defilement. Holding the brilliant light rays of primordial wisdom, it fully defeats attachment, aversion, and dull indifference with regard to all objects of perception. I bow down to this sun of the sacred Dharma.

(1) The sacred Dharma in terms of the truth of cessation does not fall into the extreme of nihilism, which is the belief in non-existence, since the absolute truth, or in other words, the dharmadhatu, suchness, the true nature, exists as the field of experience of self-aware primordial wisdom.

It does not fall into the extreme of eternalism, which is the belief in existence, since it has been free from arising as a relative adventitious thing since beginningless time. It is also not the common basis of a collection of the two aspects “existent” and “non-existent,” since on one hand it is neither of these, both having been refuted, and since on the other hand they contradict each other.

Since it is impossible for something to be both existent and non-existent, it cannot be investigated as their contrary either, as something other than both existent and non-existent.

For this reason the Dharma is completely liberated from the conceptual elaboration consisting of the four extreme views (Tib. mu bzhi). Since it is inexpressible by means of symbols and terms and since it is truly beyond the field of experience of speech, it cannot be verbally defined.

It cannot be explained by means of examples, logical reasonings, and so on. Not being an object of experience of an other-aware perception, it must be perceived by the noble ones through self-awareness. For these reasons it is inconceivable.

Since karma and the mental poisons, the root of samsara, are pacified, it is free from these two aspects. Since their cause, improper mental activity, has come to complete peace, it is freedom from thought.

(2) The Dharma in terms of the truth of the path is utter purity, being free from the mental poisons along with their remaining imprints. It is clarity, since it is endowed with the brilliant light rays of the direct knowledge of all aspects. This is primordial wisdom, which is free from the veil of the hindrances to knowledge. With regard to the objects of perception, it fully overcomes desire and attachment towards agreeable objects, aversion and anger towards disagreeable objects, and the darkness of dull indifference, which is ignorance and delusion, when facing neutral objects. For this reason it acts as a remedy.

I faithfully bow down to this sacred Dharma, which in these three aspects is similar to the sun. (See also Part Three, annotation 7.)

Inconceivable, free from the two (veils) and from thought,
being pure, clear, and playing the part of an antidote,
it is free from attachment and frees from attachment.
This is the Dharma with its features of the two truths.

In the preceding section the rare and sublime Dharma is shown as having six or eight qualities. In terms of subject matter the Dharma has six qualities:

The first three consist of the facts that it is inconceivable in that it cannot be grasped by a conceptual understanding (1), it is free from the two (veils) of karma and the mental poisons (2), and it is free from their cause, which is improper conceptual activity (3).

The latter three consist of the facts that it is pure, since the defilements that (obscured) the essence have been purified (4), it is clear, since it illuminates all phenomena (5), and it plays the part of the very antidote that counteracts the three poisons (6).

If classified in terms of aspects, the first three qualities constitute the fruit, the truth of cessation, which must be freed from attachment (and will then be revealed as being freedom from attachment) (7). The latter three constitute the cause, the truth of the path, which frees one from attachment (8). Thus it has the characteristics of the two truths, which comprise full purification. Together with these two aspects, in total there are eight qualities.

That which possesses these eight qualities is called the sacred Dharma. (See also Part Three, annotation 8.)

Freedom from attachment (as fruit and means)
consists of the truths of cessation and path.
Accordingly these should also be known
by means of three qualities each.

Freedom from attachment or desire is called the Dharma. This consists of the truth of cessation, which is the fruit—that which is free from attachment—and of the truth of the path, which is the means to free oneself from attachment. In the given order these two truths should also be known as being explained by means of three qualities each. The truth of cessation, when it has twofold purity, is explained by means of the three qualities of being inconceivable, free from the two veils, and free from thought. The truth of the path, which causes purification, is explained by means of the three qualities of being pure, clear, and an antidote. (See also Part Three, annotation 9.)

Not being an object of conceptual investigation, being inexpressible, and (only) to be known by noble ones, the Dharma is inconceivable.
Since it is peace, it is free from the two (veils) and free from thought. In its three (aspects of) purity and so on it is similar to the sun.

Taking the reasons from the above section, where the Dharma is explained in the form of a praise, its different categories are successively proven and explained as follows:

The Dharma to be attained, the truth of cessation, is not an object to be investigated by means of an understanding that perceives in terms of the four extreme views of existence, non-existence, and so on. It is not an object to be expressed by means of words, terms, definitions, and so forth, and it has to be known by the noble ones through self-aware primordial wisdom, which is present during meditation. For these three reasons it is inconceivable for a worldly understanding.

Since the karma bound up with pollution and the mental poisons fully raising this karma have come to peace, the truth of cessation is free from these two (veils). It is free from thought since the improper conceptual activity that acts as their cause has been pacified.

The three aspects of purity and so on, that is, purity, clarity, and acting as an antidote, are the three qualities of the paths of seeing and meditation, which cause the attainment of this truth of cessation. These are to be understood as being like the sun in that there are three corresponding properties. Just as the orb of the sun is completely pure, the truth of the path is free from all the defilements of (even) the secondary mental poisons. In the same way as the sun illuminates the visible, the truth of the path illuminates all the aspects of the knowable, or in other words, all phenomena. Just as the sun acts as an antidote that overcomes darkness, the truth of the path acts as the antidote against all obstructions preventing the seeing of suchness. (See also Part Three, annotation 10.)

The Third Vajra Point: Sangha

This mind being by nature clear light, they have seen the poisons to be essenceless and therefore truly realize (the nature of) every being as peace, the ultimate non-existence of a self.
They perceive that the Perfect Buddha pervades them all.
They possess the understanding that is free from the veils.
Thus seeing that beings are utterly pure and that (this purity pervades) their limitless number, they are endowed with the vision of primordial wisdom. I bow down to this (Sangha).

Of the different types of Sangha, the bodhisattvas who do not fall back are an especially noble assembly. Since their own minds have

directly revealed themselves as being by nature clear light and functioning as the antidote itself, they have seen that the essence of the mental poisons to be abandoned has been free from arising since beginningless time. Therefore the bodhisattvas truly realize the nature of every being just as it is. They realize it as a state of peace or as freedom from any conceptual elaboration: the ultimate selflessness of persons and of phenomena. By means of this realization they have primordial wisdom that knows correctly.

They see that the nature of a perfect buddha—the dharmakaya, the true state—has always been present within beings whose state is relative, such that it pervades them all. By means of this seeing they have the primordial wisdom that knows completely.

These two types of primordial wisdom are the quality of awareness. In the given order, these are also an understanding that is free from the veil of attachment and one that is free from the veil of obstructions. With these understandings the bodhisattvas possess the discriminative wisdom beyond the worldly. By means of this discriminative wisdom, they have the perception that knows the utterly pure dharma-dhatu of beings, and furthermore knows that this dharmadhatu pervades their limitless number. Therefore they possess the completely pure vision of primordial wisdom with regard to the entire range of the knowable. This is the quality of liberation.

I bow down to these (bodhisattvas) with open faith. (See also Part Three, annotation 11.)

The assembly of those who have understanding
and thus do not fall back has unsurpassable qualities,
since their vision of inner primordial wisdom,
which knows correctly and knows completely, is pure.

(1) By the preceding section the rare and sublime Sangha is shown as having two qualities:

Focusing on the true state as their object, noble ones perceive the presence of suchness just as it is. They see this in a way that is not held in common with other beings: by means of inner self-aware primordial wisdom. This vision is purified from the veil of attachment. For this reason they have the quality of primordial wisdom that knows correctly.

Focusing on those whose state is relative as their object, noble ones perceive that the dharmadhatu is all-pervasively present within all sentient beings alike, no matter how many there are. This is also seen in a way that is not held in common with others: by means of inner self-aware primordial wisdom. This vision is purified from the veil of obstruction. For this reason they have the quality of primordial wisdom that knows completely.

Since they possess these qualities, the members of the rare and sublime Sangha, the assembly of bodhisattvas who have understanding and thus do not fall back from great perfect enlightenment, are superior to the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas. They are therefore said to possess the quality of unsurpassable primordial wisdom.

(2) Or, according to another explanation, the assembly of the bodhisattvas who have understanding, the Sangha of the noble ones who do not fall back, is presented as having eight qualities: Since they have the visions of primordial wisdom that knows correctly, of primordial wisdom that knows completely, and of inner primordial wisdom, there are the three qualities of awareness.

Since they are purified from the two veils of attachment and obstruction, and since they have the quality of being unsurpassable, there are the three qualities of liberation.

Adding to these six qualities the two aspects of awareness and liberation that are their basis, the bodhisattvas who have understanding possess eight qualities altogether.

The first is the individual presentation as intended by the Sanskrit commentary, the latter corresponds to the usual explanation of the early Tibetan commentaries. (See also Part Three, annotation 12.)

Realizing beings in their state of peace
(the noble ones) know correctly,
for (the mind) is by nature utterly pure
and the poisons were always exhausted.

By means of their self-aware primordial wisdom the awakened noble ones realize directly that the nature of mind of all sentient beings has a state of peace beyond any conceptual elaboration. Therefore they possess the primordial wisdom that knows correctly. This is because they realize that the minds of beings are by nature utterly pure and luminous clarity, and that the adventitious mental poisons (obscuring) their minds have never arisen (or existed) and are therefore exhausted and ceased.

Their understanding, which realizes the knowable
as well as (its) ultimate condition, sees
that the state of omniscience is within all beings.
Thus the (noble ones) know completely.

Their understanding, or in other words, the discriminative wisdom beyond the worldly, realizes all knowable objects and realizes suchness, their ultimate condition. By means of self-aware primordial wisdom this understanding sees directly that the state of omniscience, the tathagatagarbha, is all-pervasively present within all beings, no matter how many there are, as the nature (of their minds). Therefore the awakened noble ones possess the primordial wisdom that knows completely—knowing all those whose state is relative.

As is stated in (Asanga’s own) commentary, this seeing arises from the first bodhisattva level onwards, since the dharmadhatu is realized as being all-pervasive. (See also Part Three, annotation 13.)

Such realization is the vision of wisdom
that is self-aware. This wisdom is pure,
since it (sees) the undefiled expanse,
free from attachment and obstruction.

Such realization is the vision of the noble ones. It is the realization of the path beyond the worldly achieved through the two types of primordial wisdom. This vision takes place in a way that is not held in common with others: through self-aware primordial wisdom. This wisdom knows correctly since it perceives that the dharmadhatu, which is by nature undefiled, pervades everything, and since it is free from the veil of the mental poisons, which are bound up with attachment. It knows completely since it realizes that this dharmadhatu pervades all knowable things, and since it is free from the veil of the hindrances to knowledge, which are bound up with obstruction. Therefore these two types of primordial wisdom are of extreme and utter purity in comparison to a seeing by means of an ephemeral primordial wisdom. (See also Part Three, annotation 14.)

Their vision (of) primordial wisdom is pure
and (nears) unsurpassable buddha wisdom.
The noble ones who do not fall back
are therefore a refuge for all beings.

Since they have the vision of the two types of primordial wisdom, thus possessing the quality of awareness, and since they are purified from the veils of attachment and obstruction, thus possessing the quality of liberation, they are near to the unsurpassable primordial wisdom of a buddha. Therefore the noble ones who directly see the true state and thus do not fall back from perfect enlightenment have become a refuge protecting all sentient beings from having to feel suffering within samsara.

THE THREE REFUGES

There being the teacher, his teaching, and his disciples
leads to respective aspirations towards three vehicles
and to three different activities (of veneration).
Viewing this, the refuge is shown as threefold.

For the following reason the refuge is presented as being threefold:

The fact that the qualities of the Buddha who is the teacher are taught entails two different reactions. On one hand there are those (individuals) who see the qualities of this teacher and thereupon strive for the attainment of buddhahood. Of the three vehicles they follow the Mahayana. On the other hand there are those who of the three types of activities of veneration have the aspiration of venerating the Buddha as being supreme among gods and humans. Considering this, buddhahood is presented as the first of the three refuges.

Likewise, the fact that the qualities of the sacred Dharma are taught leads to two reactions. On one hand there are those (individuals) who see the qualities of this teaching and thereupon wish to realize and attain the profound Dharma of interdependent origination on their own. They follow the Pratyekabuddhayana. On the other hand there are those who have the aspiration of venerating the Dharma as being supreme among that which is free from desire. Considering this, the Dharma is presented as the second refuge.

The fact that the qualities of the Sangha, of the assembly of disciples, are taught leads to the following two reactions: On one hand there are those (individuals) who see the qualities of these disciples and thereupon wish to attain their state, (the state of an arhat), by practicing the teaching (of the Buddha) as taught by others. They follow the Shravakayana. On the other hand there are those who have the aspiration of venerating the Sangha as supreme among assemblies. Considering this, the Sangha is presented as the third refuge. Put briefly, the refuge is presented as being threefold in consideration of the fact that the three aspects (of teacher, teaching, and disciples) result in six types of individuals. This presentation is taught in order to enable beings to gradually gain access (to the path). (See also Part Three, annotation 15.)

(The Dharma) will be abandoned and is of an unsteady nature. It is not (the ultimate quality), and (the Sangha) is still with fear.
Thus the two aspects of Dharma and the Assembly of noble ones do not represent the supreme refuge, which is constant and stable.
In a true sense only the Buddha is beingsrefuge, since the Great Sage embodies the dharmakaya, and the Assembly also reaches its ultimate goal when these (qualities of dharmakaya are attained).

One may wonder whether the three kinds of refuge explained above equally represent an ultimate refuge. This is not the case. The Dharma in terms of teaching is to be abandoned like a boat is left behind once one has crossed the water. Of the two aspects of Dharma in terms of realization, the realization of those who travel the path of training proceeds from one level to the next and is therefore of an unsteady or changing nature. The truths of cessation of the lesser vehicles and of (bodhisattvas) traveling the path of training do not constitute the ultimate quality. The Sanghas of arhats of the lesser vehicles and of noble bodhisattvas who are on the path of training are still with the fear of the veils. As long as they have not arrived at the level of a buddha who is free from fear, they themselves will take refuge in the Buddha as well. For these reasons, neither the two aspects of Dharma, that is, teaching and realization, which constitute the training, nor the assemblies of the noble ones who are the trainees, are the constant and stable supreme refuge.

In a true or definitive sense only a buddha is the ultimate refuge of the limitless number of sentient beings, since the Great Sage, the Buddha, is the embodiment of the dharmakaya, which is the completion of freedom from desire and attachment, and since the members of the assembly, the Sangha, also reach their ultimate (goal) when they attain the qualities of this (dharmakaya).

Here (in the context of the Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra) the Buddha is called “the inexhaustible refuge,” “the permanent refuge,” “the immutable refuge” (Tib. g.yung drung gi skyabs), and “the absolute refuge.” In the given order this explanation refers to the fact that a buddha is free from death, free from birth, free from aging, and that he is unfailing. This is also the intention of the Aryashrimalasutra (Tib. ’phags pa dpal phreng gi mdo). (See also Part Three, annotation 16.)

Their occurence is rare, they are free from defilement,
they possess power, they are the adornment of the world,
they are sublime, and they are unchanging.
Thus (they are named) “rare and sublime.”

One may wonder what is the meaning of the term “rare and sublime” (Tib. dkon mchog). It is derived from the term “ratna” (Skt. for “jewel”) and is here defined by means of six aspects corresponding to the properties of a precious (wish-fulfilling) gem.

A (wish-fulfilling) jewel is difficult to find. Its essence is free from defilements. It possesses the power to fulfill needs and wishes. Due to its beauty it becomes an adornment. It is more sublime than an artificial gem and it does not change through being praised, blamed, and so on. Likewise, the occurrence of the three refuges is also rare, since those who have not cultivated the roots of virtue will not even meet them in the course of many kalpas or eons. The three refuges are free from the pollution of the two veils. They possess the inconceivable power of the qualities of clairvoyance and so on. Since they are the cause of all virtuous thoughts and intentions of sentient beings in the world, they have become its adornment. Since they are beyond the world, they are more sublime than anything worldly. Since they are not created by karma, mental poisons, and so on, they are unchanging. For these reasons they are similar to a precious (wish-fulfilling) gem and are therefore expressed by means of the name “rare and sublime.”

THE LAST FOUR VAJRA POINTS

The virtuous Three Jewels, which are rare and sublime, arise from suchness bound up with pollution, from the one free from pollution, from the qualities of unpolluted buddhahood, and from the deeds of the Victor.
This is the object of those who see the ultimate truth.

In the phase of (ordinary) beings the dharmadhatu is not freed from the covering of the mental poisons. In that phase it is called “the tathagatagarbha.” This is suchness bound up with pollution. In the phase of the level of buddhahood this dharmadhatu is called “the dharma-kaya of the Tathagata.” The level of a buddha is characterized by a complete change or transformation of state, in that through cultivating the path this tathagatagarbha has become free from all the adventitious defilements up to their very end. This is suchness free from pollution. What is linked with this dharmakaya are the buddha properties such as the powers and so on, constituting the fruits of freedom and of complete maturation. These properties are the qualities of unpolluted buddhahood. Through the power of these qualities there is unsurpassable activity accomplishing the benefit of sentient beings, spontaneously and uninterruptedly, in ways corresponding to each individual. This activity consists of the deeds of the Victor.

These four points constitute the cause and the conditions for the arising of the fruit, of the virtuous Three Jewels, which are rare and sublime. The way in which this arising takes place is inconceivable to shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, noble ones, and so on. This is solely the object of perception of buddhas who possess the ultimate primordial wisdom that directly sees the true state of everything or the absolute truth. (See also Part Three, annotation 17.)

The disposition of the Three Rare and Sublime Ones
is the object (of vision) of those who see everything.
Furthermore, these four aspects in the given order
are inconceivable, for the following four reasons:

The (last) four (vajra) points are the disposition bringing about the accomplishment of the Three Rare and Sublime Ones, constituting the cause and the conditions that give rise to this fruit. Their actual correct meaning is the object of perception of the primordial wisdom of buddhas alone who directly see all the aspects of the knowable. Furthermore, as for the meaning of the element and so on, these four aspects are inconceivable to ordinary beings. This is due to four reasons which will be explained in the next section according to the given sequence (of the last four vajra points).

(The buddha element) is pure and yet has affliction.
(Enlightenment) was not afflicted and yet is purified.
Qualities are totally indivisible (and yet unapparent).
(Activity) is spontaneous and yet without any thought.

Our nature of mind has been completely pure since beginningless time, and yet at the same time it has the affliction through the adventitious defilements which are temporarily present. For this reason the meaning of the element is inconceivable. Previously, enlightenment was not afflicted at all by the adventitious defilements, and yet later it has become utterly purified from all defilements up to their very end through the cultivation of the path. For this reason the meaning of enlightenment is inconceivable. On one hand the absolute qualities exist in the true state, which is also completely indivisible during the phase of an ordinary being who is bound up with affliction. On the other hand, these qualities do not become apparent since their power does not unfold until buddhahood is reached. For this reason the meaning of the qualities is inconceivable.

The activity of a buddha fulfils the wishes and hopes of the disciples in correspondence to their respective karmic fortunes, and does so in a way that is free from deliberate effort, spontaneous, and at all times uninterrupted. Nevertheless it is completely free from thought and consideration, such as “this or that needs to be done” and so on. For this reason the meaning of activity is inconceivable. These (four points) are inconceivable, as seemingly two contradictory statements are made in relation to the same basis. In fact there is no contradiction: The element is a completely pure nature empty of the essence of the defilements. Its impurity consists of the fact that it has adventitious defilements.

“Previous freedom from defilements” means that the defilements do not exist as the nature of the element. “Later purity” means that purification from the defilements is to be considered like gold being purified from the surrounding dross. Although there is an absence of purity during the phase of an ordinary being, whereas later complete purification from the defilements is achieved, this later purity is native to the true state in a completely indivisible way. For this reason there is no contradiction.

Since in the phase of an ordinary being there is no purification from the defilements, the qualities are not (apparently) present. Nevertheless, when later purification from the defilements is achieved, (it proves that) the qualities exist in the true state in such a way that they are not able to be separated from it. This is similar to the following example: Though in the phase in which gold is not purified from the surrounding dross there is no luster, later luster will manifest in an inseparable way. Therefore again there is no contradiction.

Activity will be explained below in its own chapter by means of nine examples. (See also Part Three, annotation 18.)

Constituting what must be realized, realization,
its attributes, and the means to bring it about,
accordingly the first is the cause to be purified
and the (latter) three points are the conditions.

Being explained in this way, these (last) four vajra points also comprise all objects of knowledge. In this context the element, bound up with pollution, constitutes what is to be realized. Enlightenment free from pollution is the very essence of realization. The qualities linked with enlightenment are the attributes of this realization. Activity is the power of these qualities causing all other (sentient beings) to realize this element as well. For this reason, the first of the four vajra points in their given sequence, that is, suchness bound up with pollution, is the cause to be purified. This is because the Three Rare and Sublime Ones arise from the fact that this suchness has been completely purified from any defilement. The last three vajra points are the conditions causing this purification. (See also Part Three, annotation 19.)

THE FOURTH VAJRA POINT: THE ELEMENT

The perfect buddhakaya is all-embracing, suchness cannot be differentiated, and all beings have the disposition. Thus they always have buddha nature. The Buddha has said that all beings have buddha nature “since buddha wisdom is always present within the assembly of beings, since this undefiled nature is free from duality, and since the disposition to buddhahood has been named after its fruit.”

The dharmakaya of a perfect buddha embraces and pervades all phenomena. With regard to suchness or the true state of the entirety of samsara and nirvana, there is not the slightest differentiation. The disposition of the Tathagata is present within all sentient beings in terms of the dharmadhatu being by nature pure and its veils being able to be purified. For these reasons all sentient beings have had the nature of the absolute Buddha, always and uninterruptedly, since beginningless time. As it is said in the sutras: “The Buddha Bhaghavat has said ‘all sentient beings always have the tathagatagarbha.’”

With regard to (the three reasons given above), the great translator from Ngog (Tib. rngog lo chen po, i.e. Lodän Sherab, who first translated the Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra into Tibetan) states the following:

In the given sequence they represent the sugatagarbha in terms of the fruit, the sugatagarbha in terms of the nature, and the sugatagarbha in terms of the cause. The first is the dharmakaya. This is the real Tathagata, whereas the nature of beings is only named after it. Since it is able to be attained by beings, it is explained as being all-pervasive. The second is the real nature of both a Tathagata and beings. When merely considered from the aspect of suchness being by nature completely pure, the sugatagarbha (or tathagatagarbha) is really present within a Tathagata and beings alike. The third is the real nature of beings. Since it is the cause of the Tathagata, it has been named after it.

At this point the noble Asanga states (in his commentary):

In brief, there are three reasons for which all beings have the nature of the Tathagata. The Bhagavan has said: “All beings have buddha nature, since buddha wisdom is always present within the assembly of beings, since this undefiled nature is free from duality and since the disposition to buddhahood has been named after its fruit.” These three reasons have been taught extensively in all the words of the Buddha. With respect to this they are explained as follows: due to the fact that the dharmakaya of the Tathagata embraces all beings, that the suchness of the Tathagata is completely indivisible and that they have the disposition of the Tathagata...

In some commenting scriptures these lines do not appear. Yet they have been quoted and explained extensively by Golo (Tib. ’gos lo), Könchön (Tib. dkon gzhon), Rongtön (Tib. rong ston), and others, and they have been explained in detail by the Great Venerable Jonangpa (Tāranātha) and others. Nevertheless they seem to have been omitted in present-day scriptures. (See also Part Three, annotation 20.)

Essence, cause, fruit, function, endowment, manifestation,
phases, all-pervasiveness of suchness, unchangingness,
and inseparability of the qualities should be understood
as intended to describe the meaning of the absolute expanse.

It should be understood that the intention behind the following ten points is to determine the meaning of the dharmadhatu, which is by nature utterly pure, being equivalent to the true state of everything or the absolute truth. They represent a systematic order that classifies this meaning fully and properly:

The points “essence” and “cause” describe the features of purity and purification. The points “fruit” and “function” describe the feature of accomplishment. The topic “endowment” describes the multitude of qualities. The topic “manifestation” describes the fact that there is (a difference in) manifestation due to different kinds of individuals. The topic “phases” describes the fact that there is only a classification in terms of names. The topic “all-pervasiveness” describes the fact that suchness is all-pervasive like space. The topic “unchangingness” describes the fact that the dharmadhatu is at all times free from change, and the topic “inseparability of the qualities” describes the fact that the qualities are completely inseparable (from it).

Just as a jewel, the sky, and water are pure it is by nature always free from the poisons.
From devotion to the Dharma, from highest wisdom, and from samadhi and compassion (its realization arises).

Just as a precious jewel, the sky, and water are by nature pure, likewise the tathagatagarbha or dharmadhatu is by nature always free from the defilement of the mental poisons and thus utterly pure. Whereas this is the meaning of the essence, the cause that completely purifies the adventitious defilements consists of devotion towards the Mahayana Dharma, of highest discriminative or analytical wisdom realizing the non-existence of a self, of limitless samadhi endowed with bliss, and of great compassion focusing on sentient beings as its point of reference. The realization arising from these (purifying causes) is to be known as enlightenment. (See also Part Three, annotation 21.)

(Wielding) power, not changing into something else,
and being a nature that has a moistening (quality):
these (three) have properties corresponding
to those of a precious gem, the sky, and water.

When considered from the viewpoint of the specific characteristic of each, the three aspects of nature explained above are to be known (to have properties corresponding to the specific characteristics of a precious jewel, the sky, and water, respectively). Since the dharmakaya wields the power to accomplish all wishes and intentions just as they are, and so on, it has a property corresponding to that of a precious (wish-fulfilling) gem. Since throughout all phases suchness does not change into another nature, it has a property corresponding to that of the sky. Since the disposition is a nature having a moistening quality, as it is endowed with compassion that pervades all beings, it has a property corresponding to the quality of water.

When considered from the viewpoint of the general characteristic native to all three (there is also a common property). Since they are permanently free from defilement and by nature utterly pure, they have a property corresponding to the quality of a wish-fulfilling gem, the sky, and water, which are (also) by nature pure.

Enmity towards the Dharma, a view (asserting
an existing) self, fear of samsara’s suffering,
and neglect of the welfare of fellow beings
are the four veils of those with great desire,
of tirthikas, shravakas, and pratyekabuddhas.
The cause that purifies (all these veils)
consists of the four qualities (of the path),
which are outstanding devotion and so on.

Generally speaking there are three types of sentient beings, namely those who desire existence, those who desire freedom from existence, and those who desire neither of these two. These individuals are the basis for four types of veils that arise in their streams of being and are to be abandoned. These four veils are hostility towards the Mahayana Dharma, a view asserting the person and so on to be an existing self, desire for personal happiness and peace that results from fear of the suffering of samsara, and unconcern about the accomplishment of the welfare of fellow beings. In the given sequence (these correspond to the following individuals): Firstly there is a correspondence to those who desire existence. These are beings who have the disconnected disposition and beings of great desire who have definitely fallen into the cycle of existence. Secondly there is a correspondence to those who desire freedom from existence. These are the tirthikas (and so on) who desire freedom from existence but apply inappropriate means, and the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas who desire freedom from existence and apply appropriate means. Due to (the presence of these individuals) there are four types of veils preventing the immediate manifestation of the tathagatagarbha. The first obscures the aspect of the purity of the dharmakaya. The second obscures the aspect of its being true self. The third obscures the aspect of its being true happiness, and the fourth obscures the aspect that the dharmakaya is of true permanence. The cause that purifies these veils consists of the four qualities of the path, which are outstanding devotion towards the sacred Dharma and so on, that is, the perfection of discriminative wisdom, immeasurable samadhi, and great compassion. (See also Part Three, annotation 22, and Part Four, note 2.)

Those whose seed is devotion towards the supreme vehicle, whose mother is analytical wisdom generating the buddha qualities, whose abode is the blissful womb of meditative stability, and whose nurse is compassion, are heirs born to succeed the Muni.

There are four reasons due to which the son of a Chakravartin has the power to become the legitimate successor to the king. These are the seed of the king, his pure queen, the unimpaired abode of her womb, and the exceptional nurse who nourishes the child as he grows. Using this example it can be said that devotion towards the supreme vehicle is the seed of the Buddha. Discriminative wisdom that realizes the true nature of everything is like the mother, generating all buddha qualities. Since the happiness of meditative stability, such as “the treasury of space” and so on, augments these qualities, it is similar to the abode of the womb. Since great compassion nourishes whatever has been generated, it is like a nurse. Whoever arises from these four qualities is called a bodhisattva or an heir or child of the Victorious One, since he is born to succeed the Muni and has the power to be his successor. (See also Part Three, annotation 23.)

The fruit is the perfection of the qualities
of purity, self, happiness, and permanence.
Weariness of suffering, longing to attain peace,
and devotion towards this aim are the function.

The absolute expanse has two particular features, which are its fruit and its function. The particularity of the fruit consists of the perfection of four qualities, being true purity, true self, true happiness, and true permanence. Since it acts to induce weariness of the suffering of samsara, longing to attain the peace of nirvana, and devotion towards this aim, it has a particular function. (See also Part Three, annotation 24.)

In brief, the fruit of these (purifying causes)
fully divides into the remedies (for the antidotes),
which (in their turn) counteract the four aspects
of wrong beliefs with regard to the dharmakaya.

The causes purifying the dharmadhatu are devotion, discriminative wisdom, meditative stability, and compassion. Put briefly, the fruit of these four (purifying) causes consists of four aspects: With regard to the dharmakaya, the children entertain a strong attachment in terms of the belief in purity, in the existence of a self, in happiness, and in permanence. Shravakas and pratyekabuddhas reverse these four aspects of an exaggerated view (of a view wrongly asserting reality where it is not present). In doing so they get attached to (their vision of) impurity, non-existence of self, suffering, and impermanence. The four aspects of the (true) purity of dharmakaya and so on act as the remedies for this attachment. (The four purifying causes) are the means to bring about their perfection. Thus the full division (of the fruit) is achieved. (See also Part Three, annotation 25.)

The (dharmakaya) is purity, since its nature is pure
and (even) the remaining imprints are fully removed.
It is true self, since all conceptual elaboration
in terms of self and non-self is totally stilled.
It is true happiness, since (even) the aggregates
of mental nature and their causes are reversed.
It is permanence, since the cycle of existence
and the state beyond pain are realized as one.

Buddha-dharmakaya, which is the fruit, has the general characteristic of having been by nature utterly pure since beginningless time, and it has the specific characteristic of the adventitious stains along with their remaining imprints being eliminated without any exception. Thus it constitutes the perfection of purity.

The conceptual elaboration consisting of the belief in the existence of a self as it is imputed by the tirthikas and so on, and the conceptual elaboration consisting of the belief in the non-existence of a self as it is imputed by the shravakas and so on, have been totally stilled and pacified without any remainder. Thus it is the perfection of true self.

All suffering has been ceased without any exception. This is because karma and the mental poisons have been totally eliminated, up to the point that (even) the skandhas, which are of mental nature, and their causes have been exhausted. These causes are on one hand the subtle mental poisons present on the level of the remaining imprints of ignorance, and on the other hand the undefiled karma. Since even these causes have been entirely reversed and exhausted, the dharma-kaya is the perfection of happiness.

Samsara and nirvana, the cycle of existence and the state beyond torment and pain, have been realized as being equal in that they are not two different things that should be rejected and adopted, respectively. Thus the two benefits are uninterrupted and the dharmakaya constitutes the perfection of permanence.

In this context the great omniscient Dolpopa has stated:

Furthermore, since the absolute expanse is by nature completely pure, there is not even the slightest need to remove a fault in terms of the impermanence of samsara. Therefore it does not fall into the extreme of nihilism. Since it has been spontaneously present since beginningless time, there is not even the slightest need to add a quality in terms of the permanence of nirvana. Therefore it does not fall into the extreme of eternalism. Not falling into either of these, it is established as the nirvana free from the two extremes.

(See also Part Three, annotation 26.)

Their analytical wisdom has cut all self-cherishing without exception.
Yet, cherishing beings, those possessed of compassion do not adhere to peace.
Relying on understanding and compassionate love, the means to enlightenment,
noble ones will neither (abide) in samsara nor in a (limited) nirvana.

By means of discriminative wisdom realizing the non-existence of a self, bodhisattvas have cut, without any exception, all the cherishing and attachment of viewing the skandhas as a self, along with the dormant tendencies of this attachment. Since this (craving) is eliminated, they do not fall into the extreme of existence as do those who are dominated by great desire. Yet, due to their great compassion they cherish all sentient beings. They feel linked and close to them all and therefore bring about their benefit. For this reason bodhisattvas possessing compassionate love do not fall into another extreme either. They do not attain that state of peace that merely consists of the pacification of suffering, as do shravakas and pratyekabuddhas. Thus they rely on two particular means to attain unsurpassable enlightenment. These are the understanding or discriminative wisdom realizing the non-existence of a self, and the great love and compassion focused on sentient beings as their point of reference. Relying on these particular means, the noble heirs of the Victorious One who cultivate their practice on this basis will not dwell in any extreme. Neither abiding in the extreme of samsara in terms of existence, nor abiding in the extreme of nirvana in terms of (mere) peace, they have achieved the direct manifestation of non-abiding nirvana. (See also Part Three, annotation 27.)

If the buddha element were not present,
there would be no remorse over suffering.
There would be no longing for nirvana,
nor striving and devotion towards this aim.

(Here the presence of the disposition to buddhahood is proven by using the contrary, i.e. its supposed non-presence, as a means of proof.)

Supposing that the buddha element was definitely not present, not a single person would grow to feel sorrow and remorse over the suffering of samsara. No one would long to attain nirvana. No one would strive for this aim, exerting himself to apply the means to attain it, nor would anyone have devotion in terms of the wish: “If only I attained it!” Contrary to this, the generation of sorrow, remorse, and so on is present. Since these are the function of the disposition, the disposition to buddhahood is established as being present.

That with regard to existence and nirvana their respective fault and quality are seen,
that suffering is seen as the fault of existence and happiness as the quality of nirvana,
stems from the presence of the disposition to buddhahood. “Why so?”
In those who are devoid of disposition, such seeing does not occur.

There are individuals who possess the so-called four wheels. These consist of the fact that one relies on a saintly being, lives in a favorable place, has formerly practiced virtue, and makes genuine and pure wishing prayers. With regard to samsara and nirvana, or to existence and peace, such an individual sees them for what they are. He perceives their respective fault and quality and sees that suffering is the fault of samsara and that happiness is the quality of nirvana. Upon seeing this, such a person feels weariness with the fault, which is the suffering of samsara, and joy over the quality, which is the happiness of nirvana.

This weariness and joy arise from the presence of the disposition to buddhahood. One might wonder for what reason this can be said. The reason is that this understanding of what is to be adopted and what is to be rejected will not be present in someone who is subject to craving for what is wrong and does not have the awakened disposition. Such a person does not see the respective fault and quality of existence and peace until he has developed devotion towards the teaching of one of the three vehicles, depending upon which of these is suitable for this particular person. In this context (the root text speaks of there being no disposition). Since it is impossible that the naturally present disposition is not there, this explanation is rather (to be understood) by means of the different kinds of disposition, and it seems that by the term “nonpresent disposition” the unawakened disposition is taught. (See also Part Three, annotation 28 and Part Four, note 1.)

Like the great sea, it holds qualities
immeasurable, precious, and inexhaustible.
Its essence holds indivisible properties.
Thus (the element) is similar to a lamp.

This element has two types of qualities: those in terms of the cause and those in terms of the fruit.

The qualities in terms of the cause: As, for example, the great ocean contains in its vast vessel an immeasurable amount of jewels and water, likewise the element of the Tathagata is the abode that (unifies) the vessel of devotion, the immeasurable jewel-qualities of analytical wisdom and samadhi, and the inexhaustible waters of compassion.

The qualities in terms of the fruit: Its essence has qualities that are inseparable from it, these being the first five kinds of clairvoyance, unpolluted primordial wisdom, and abandonment. Taking an example, it is therefore similar to a lamp in that the three properties of a lamp, which are light, warmth, and color, are inseparable from the lamp itself. (See also Part Three, annotation 29.)

Unifying the elements of dharmakaya,
a victor’s wisdom, and great compassion,
it is shown as being similar to the sea
by the vessel, the gems, and the water.

The dharmadhatu contains devotion, which is the cause of the completely pure dharmakaya, discriminative wisdom and samadhi, which are the causes for the attainment of the primordial wisdom of a Victorious One, and compassion, which is the element or the cause for the manifestation of the great compassion of a buddha. Since it hosts these without any exception, it has three properties corresponding to the examples of the vessel, the jewels, and the water. Due to this correspondence the dharmadhatu is shown as being similar to the great ocean.

Clairvoyance, primordial wisdom, and absence of pollution
are totally indivisible and native to the unstained abode.
Thus it has properties corresponding
to the light, heat, and color of a lamp.

The sugatagarbha or the element, the abode which is by nature free from defilement, possesses (seven) particular properties corresponding, if one takes an example, to the particular properties of a lamp. These are the first five kinds of clairvoyance, unpolluted primordial wisdom, and abandonment, which is freedom from defilement. The first five kinds of clairvoyance overcome the darkness of their opposites. Unpolluted primordial wisdom (overcomes) the veils, and through abandonment, in terms of freedom from defilement, (the aspects of) purity and clear light (are present). The sugatagarbha has (furthermore) a general property that also corresponds to that of a lamp. Just as the three particular properties of a lamp are inseparable from it, likewise the element possesses these seven properties of no-more-learning in such a way that they are completely inseparable from it. For these reasons it possesses properties corresponding to the light, heat, and color of a lamp, and to the fact that these are indivisible from the lamp itself.

The seven properties of no-more-learning exist as the fruit aspect of the element and are therefore the endowment in terms of the fruit. (See also Part Three, annotation 30.)

Based upon the manifestation of suchness dividing
into that of an ordinary being, that of a noble one,
and that of a perfect buddha, He who Sees Thatness
has explained the nature of the Victor to beings.

The manifestation of suchness fully divides into three aspects: the suchness of an ordinary being, the suchness of a noble one, and the suchness of a perfect buddha. Taking these different manifestations as a basis, the Omniscient One who Directly Sees Thatness has explained the nature of the victorious Tathagata, or in other words, the completely pure dharmadhatu, in a very clear way to those fortunate beings who have become (suitable) disciples. (See also Part Three, annotation 31, and Part Four, note 3.)

(It manifests as) perverted (views in) ordinary beings,
(as) the reversal (of these in) those who see the truth,
and (it manifests) as it is, in an unperverted way,
and as freedom from elaboration (in) a tathagata.

There are three particular ways in which (suchness) manifests in terms of an understanding. Since ordinary beings who are children (in comparison to noble ones) believe in permanence, it manifests as a perverted or wrong sense-perception, as a wrong way of thinking, and as wrong views. Noble ones who follow (the path of) practice and thus see the Four (Noble) Truths have reversed this distortion. In them it manifests in the manner that the firm belief in permanence is abandoned. A tathagata has abandoned the two veils. Therefore it manifests as it is, in accordance with reality, in an unperverted way, and as freedom from any conceptual elaboration. In this way the individuals who constitute the basis divide into three different kinds. Accordingly, suchness or the dharmadhatu, which is supported by this basis, also gains three different aspects. It should be noted that the topic “manifestation” will be explained below in yet another manner by means of four aspects. (See also Part Three, annotation 32.)

The unpurified, the both unpurified and purified,
and the utterly purified (phases)
are expressed in their given order
(by the names) “being,” “bodhisattva,” and “tathagata.”

There are three different phases. The unpurified phase is the one in which the absolute expanse or the tathagatagarbha has not been purified from the adventitious defilements even to a minute degree. The both unpurified and purified phase is the one in which the tathagata- garbha is not completely purified from all (defilements) to be abandoned through seeing and meditation, but is purified (from these) to a certain degree. The utterly purified phase is the one in which the tathagatagarbha is completely purified from the two veils. These three phases are expressed and explained by means of three different names, which are “being,” “bodhisattva,” and “tathagata.” Considering the fact that there are three different ways of manifestation, one might wonder whether there are different kinds of suchness. This section has been elucidated in order to dispel such doubts. (See also Part Three, annotation 33.)

The element as contained
in the six topics of “essence” and so on
is explained in the light of three phases
by means of three names.

In the foregoing sections the element that is by nature completely pure has been elucidated extensively by means of six topics: the topic “essence” and so forth, that is, the (further) topics “cause,” “fruit,” “function,” “endowment,” and “manifestation.” This element is only explained as being of different kinds inasmuch as there are three phases: the unpurified phase, the partly unpurified and partly purified phase, and the utterly purified phase. These are identified by means of the three names “being,” “bodhisattva,” and “tathagata.” With regard to the essence of the subject, however, there is not the slightest difference. (See also Part Three, annotation 34.)

Just as space, which is by nature free from thought,
pervades everything,
the undefiled expanse, which is the nature of mind,
is all-pervading.

Space, for example, which is by nature free from thought and unobscured, pervades and embraces everything visible in an undifferentiated way. Likewise, the dharmadhatu, which has been free from defilement since beginningless time, or in other words, clear light, the nature of mind, also pervades all the phases of the individual in an undifferentiated and all-embracing way.

As the general feature (of everything), it embraces (those with) faults, (those with) qualities, and (those in whom the qualities are) ultimate just as space (pervades everything) visible, be it of inferior, average, or supreme appearance.

The dharmadhatu, which is by nature completely pure, is the general feature (Tib. spyi’i mtshan nyid) or true state (Tib. chos nyid) of all phenomena. Therefore this dharmadhatu pervades all phases. It equally permeates the phase of an ordinary being who is beset with faults, the phase of a bodhisattva who has qualities, and the phase of a tathagata in whom the qualities are ultimate. Taking an example, this is similar to the way in which space pervades everything visible, permeating a visible object of inferior appearance, such as a vessel made of clay, in the same way as one of average appearance, such as a vessel made of copper, and one of supreme appearance, such as a vessel made of gold.

Having faults that are adventitious
and qualities that are its nature,
it is afterwards the same as before.
This is dharmata ever unchanging.

Although with regard to the dharmadhatu three phases are present, it does not have the fault of not being changeless. In the unpurified phase faults are present. These faults, however, do not truly exist. They are merely adventitious and able to be removed. In the purified phase, qualities have emerged. The nature of these qualities, however, is not something that has newly arisen. They are spontaneously present. For these reasons the dharmadhatu is afterwards, in the completely purified phase, the same as it was before in the unpurified phase. It does not undergo the slightest change. This changelessness is the nature or true state of the dharmadhatu.

(Though) space permeates everything,
it is never polluted, due to its subtlety.
Likewise the (dharmadhatu) in all beings
does not suffer the slightest pollution.

Uncompounded space, for example, permeates all compounded visible objects in an all-pervasive way. Yet space is subtle. It is not coarse as is a visible object. Due to this subtlety it is not in the slightest polluted by the faults of the visible, such as being impermanent and so forth. Likewise the tathagatagarbha, the dharmadhatu which is clear light, abides all-pervasively within all beings as the nature of their minds. Yet this dharmadhatu is by nature completely pure. For this reason it never suffers the slightest pollution from the faults of beings, such as their mental poisons and so on.

Just as at all times worlds arise
and disintegrate in space,
the senses arise and disintegrate
in the uncreated expanse.

At all times and throughout all phases the worlds of the outer vessel rely on the opportunity provided by space. They appear on this basis as something that first comes into existence and finally disintegrates. In the same way the sense faculties, here standing for the skandhas, elements, and entrances of beings, rely on the quality of the dharmadhatu: the fact that the dharmadhatu is not created by causes and conditions. Though they appear on this basis as something that first comes into existence and in the end disintegrates, with regard to the tathagatagarbha, or true state, arising and disintegration do not exist. (See also Part Three, annotation 35, and Part Four, note 4.)

Space is never burnt by fires.
Likewise this (dharmadhatu)
is not burnt by the fires
of death, sickness, and aging.

All compounded things are burnt by three types of fire, being the fire at the end of time, the fire of hell, and natural or ordinary fire. Until now, however, space, being uncompounded, has never been burnt by any of these three types of fire. As shown by this example, all sentient beings are burnt by the three fires of death and so on. This dharmadhatu or buddha nature, however, is never even singed by any of these three fires. It is not burnt by the fire of death, corresponding to the fire at the end of time, of sickness, corresponding to the fire of hell, or of aging, corresponding to natural fire. (See also Part Three, annotation 36.)

Earth rests upon water and water upon wind.
Wind fully rests on space.
Space does not rest upon any of the elements
of wind, water, or earth.

At the time when the element of the world comes into existence and while it abides, the great circle of the earth is based upon the circle of water. Water is based upon the circle of wind. Wind fully rests upon space. Although they rely on it, space in its turn does not rest upon any of the elements of wind, water, or earth. This is because space does not depend upon causes and conditions.

Likewise skandhas, elements, and senses
are based upon karma and mental poisons.
Karma and poisons are always based
upon improper conceptual activity.
The improper conceptual activity
fully abides on the purity of mind.
Yet, the nature of the mind itself
has no basis in all these phenomena.

Corresponding to the example given above, the five skandhas, the eighteen elements, and the six sense-faculties, all of which are bound up with pollution, along with the six sense-objects are based upon karma and the mental poisons. Karma and the mental poisons are always based upon improper conceptual activity, such as perceiving as a self (what does not exist as a self) and so on. The improper conceptual activity is fully based upon the purity of the mind, which is by nature clear light. Yet, this luminous nature of mind is not based upon any of these adventitious phenomena. This is because this clear light, which is the nature of mind, is uncreated. (See also Part Three, annotation 37.)

The skandhas, entrances, and elements
are to be known as resembling earth.
Karma and the mental poisons of beings
should be envisaged as the water element.
Improper conceptual activity is viewed
as being similar to the element of wind.
(Mind’s) nature, as the element of space,
has no ground and no place of abiding.

The five skandhas, which attract suffering, the twelve entrances, and the eighteen elements form on the support of karma and the mental poisons. This is to be understood as being similar to the way in which the circle of earth comes into existence on the basis of water. The element of water acts as the condition bringing about the formation of the circle of earth. Similar to this, the polluted karma and the mental poisons of beings should be known to constitute the condition for the formation of the skandhas, entrances, and elements. The element of wind acts as the basis for the circle of water. The improper conceptual activity should be viewed and understood as being similar to this, since it stirs up mental poisons and karma and fully activates them. The element of space acts as the basis for everything and yet is not based upon anything. In the same way the nature of mind, the tathagatagarbha, acts as the support for everything adventitious, yet its very own essence has no basis in any ground and does not abide anywhere. (See also Part Three, annotation 38.)

The improper conceptual activity
rests upon the nature of the mind.
Improper conceptual activity brings about
all the classes of karma and mental poisons.
From the water of karma and mental poisons
the skandhas, entrances, and elements arise.
As this (world) arises and disintegrates,
they will arise and disintegrate as well.

In the same way as the circle of wind rests upon space, the thoughts constituting an improper conceptual activity rest upon the luminous nature of the mind in such a way that they obscure it. As wind supports water, the improper conceptual activity creates all the different kinds of opportunity for the development of mental poisons and karma. In the same way as the ground of the earth emerges from the circle of water being churned, likewise the polluted skandhas, entrances, and elements, all the existences consisting of suffering, emerge from the water- like karma and mental poisons. Therefore the skandhas, entrances, and elements bound up with pollution will arise and disintegrate, just as this vessel of the world arises and disintegrates.

The nature of mind as the element of space
does not (depend upon) causes or conditions,
nor does it (depend on) a gathering of these.
It has neither arising, cessation, nor abiding.

Like the uncreated element of space, the nature of mind, which is luminous dharmadhatu, does not depend upon productive causes and it does not depend upon simultaneously active conditions. It therefore does not depend upon a gathering of these causes and conditions either. For this reason it does not have an initial arising nor a final disintegration, nor does it abide in the meantime. Therefore it does not suffer the slightest change through the three properties native to everything created. (See also Part Three, annotation 39.)

This clear and luminous nature of mind
is as changeless as space. It is not afflicted
by desire and so on, the adventitious stains,
which are sprung from incorrect thoughts.

The nature of space is not changed through clouds, smoke, and so on. In the same way, the tathagatagarbha, the clear and luminous nature of the minds of all beings, is changeless. It is not in the slightest altered by the fact that the veils are purified or unpurified, and so on. There are adventitious defilements consisting of the affliction of birth, the affliction of karma, and the affliction of the mental poisons such as desire, hatred, mental blindness, and so on, all of which are sprung from improper conceptual activity, from incorrect thoughts that conceive in a way not corresponding to reality. The true state is changeless since it is by nature utterly pure and will constantly remain unafflicted by these adventitious defilements, which are able to be removed.

It is not brought into existence
by the water of karma, of the poisons, and so on.
Hence it is also not consumed by the cruel fires
of dying, falling sick, and aging.

This nature of mind, or luminous dharmadhatu, is not generated and brought into existence by the wind of improper conceptual activity, by the waters of karma and the mental poisons, and so on. Hence it is also not consumed and destroyed by the cruel fires of dying, falling sick, and aging, which (correspond respectively to) the fire at the end of time, the fire of hell, and ordinary fire. This is because it is of an uncompounded nature and thus does not change into something else.

The three fires of death, sickness, and aging
are to be understood in their given sequence
as resembling the fire at the end of time,
the fire of hell, and an ordinary fire.

In their given sequence the three fires of death, sickness, and aging are to be understood as being similar to three fires, which are the fire at the end of time, the fire of hell, and ordinary fire. This is due to the following reasons: Just as the vessel of this world is destroyed by the fire at the end of time, the skandhas of this life are destroyed by the fire of death. Just as the fire of hell generates suffering, so also does the fire of sickness. Just as ordinary fire causes the final ripening of anything compounded, the fire of aging causes the final ripening of the skandhas.

Having realized thatness, the nature of the (dharmadhatu), just as it is,
those of understanding are released from birth, sickness, aging, and death.
Though free from the destitution of birth and so on, they demonstrate these,
since by their (insight) they have given rise to compassion for beings.

Noble bodhisattvas have directly realized thatness. They have realized the nature or the way of existence of the tathagatagarbha, of the dharmadhatu, just as it is. Since they abide with this realization, they are liberated from birth, which brings new skandhas into existence, from death, which ends the stream of being, from sickness, which generates suffering, and from aging, which transforms the stream of being. With their insight they are free from the suffering and destitution of birth and so on, which come about due to the predominating influence of karma and mental poisons. They are completely pure and not subject to change. Yet, due to their realization of the dharmadhatu just as it is, bodhisattvas who possess understanding have given rise to great compassion for all those beings who have not gained such insight. Their compassion leads them to wish that all sentient beings may be freed from their suffering to its last traces. Since they abide with this great compassion, they adhere to and stay within samsara. By the power of their wishing prayers for the benefit of others, and so on, they are born into any existence corresponding to their intention. In order to reverse the belief in permanence, they die, fall ill, age, and so on. Thus they show themselves to the vision of others (Tib. gzhan snang) as someone who is impure as well, and subject to change. (See also Part Three, annotation 40.)

The noble have eradicated the suffering
of dying, falling ill, and aging at its root,
which is being born due to karma and poisons.
There being no such (cause), there is no such (fruit).

The members of the Assembly of noble bodhisattvas have eradicated the sufferings of helplessly and powerlessly dying, falling ill, and aging at their root. The causes of these sufferings are improper mental activity, mental poisons, and karma, and the fact that one is born within samsara due to their predominating influence. Since bodhisattvas are free from these causes, they are also free from the change caused by suffering, which is their fruit.

Since they have seen reality as it is,
they are beyond being born and so on.
Yet, as the embodiment of compassion itself
they display birth, illness, old age, and death.

The noble heirs of the Victorious One see reality as it is. They directly perceive the dharmadhatu, which is unborn and changeless. For this reason they are beyond the sufferings of being helplessly delivered to a birth in samsara and so on. Although they are completely liberated from these sufferings, they show themselves in manifold appearances totally subject to change. For those beings who have not gained a realization such as theirs they have become the embodiment of great compassion. Out of this compassion they display the appearance of birth and are born in an existence corresponding to their intention. They demonstrate the appearance of death, sickness, and aging, and thus lead the disciples to complete maturation in correspondence with their respective karmic fortunes.

After the heirs of the Victorious One
have realized this changeless state,
those who are blinded by ignorance
see them as being born and so forth.
That such seeing should occur is truly wonderful and amazing.
When they have attained the field of experience of the noble
they show themselves as the field of experience of the children.
Hence means and compassion of the friends of beings are supreme.

The heirs of the Victorious One who dwell on the first bodhisattva level have directly realized the changeless true state, the nature of mind which is luminous clarity. Having gained this realization they are liberated from the process of birth and death, which is engendered by karma and the mental poisons. In spite of this, the disciples whose eyes of discriminative wisdom are blinded by ignorance see them as being born, dying, and so on. That the bodhisattvas should be seen in this way and upon this basis bring about the benefit of these disciples is an activity which is truly wonderful and amazing. They have attained the path on which the mind itself is seen directly. This is the object of experience of the noble ones, which is far away from sin, from any unvirtuous phenomenon. Having attained this path they are liberated from birth and death, which are caused by karma and mental poisons. Although they are liberated from these, they demonstrate manifold illusory appearances as the field of experience of the children, or of ordinary beings. They show themselves as being born and so on, and thus lead the disciples to complete maturation. For this reason the bodhisattvas have become the best possible friends and relatives of all sentient beings without exception. Therefore their skill in method by which they accomplish the benefit of others through the means of attraction, and their great compassion which is fully alerted towards this aim, are supreme. (See also Part Three, annotation 41.)

Though they are beyond all worldly matters,
these (bodhisattvas) do not leave the world.
They act for the sake of all worldly beings
within the world, unblemished by its defects.
As a lotus will grow in the midst of water,
not being polluted by the water’s (faults),
these (noble ones) are born in the world
unpolluted by any worldly phenomena.

Due to the power of their discriminative wisdom, bodhisattvas who dwell on one of the bodhisattva levels reaching from the second up to the seventh inclusively are completely beyond all worldly conduct. Yet, under the influence of their compassion they do not leave the world. Instead they enact amid the world the vast and powerful bodhisattva conduct. For the sake of the worldly beings, in order to lead the disciples to full maturation, they adopt the course of action of being born within the world and so on. Yet, in doing so they are not in the slightest polluted by any defilement, by the defects of the world. Though lotus flowers, for instance, grow in the midst of water, they are not polluted by the water’s faults or defilements and so on. Likewise these noble heirs of all Victorious Ones are born within the world for the sake of the other beings, and yet not in the slightest polluted by the worldly phenomena or faults, such as the mental poisons and so forth.

Viewing the accomplishment of their task,
their understanding always blazes like fire.
And they always rest evenly balanced
in meditative stability, which is peace.

With regard to the accomplishment of their task, the accomplishment of benefit for all other beings, bodhisattvas who dwell on the eighth bodhisattva level always manifest their own understanding without deliberate effort in a blazing manner. This is similar to the way in which a mighty fire, for instance, will burn by its own force on dry and desiccated wood. Yet, what is more, simultaneously they are always and uninterruptedly absorbed in evenness. They evenly abide in the balanced state of the samadhi of meditative stability in which the conceptual elaboration in terms of characteristics is completely pacified. This is because they have gained mastery of non-conceptual primordial wisdom (Tib. mi rtog pa’i ye shes). (See also Part Three, annotation 42.)

By the power of their former (prayers)
and since they are free from all ideation,
they do not exert any deliberate effort
to lead all sentient beings to maturation.
These (heirs of the Victorious One) know precisely
how and by what (method) each should be trained—
through whatever teachings, form kayas, conduct,
and ways of behavior are individually appropriate.
Always (acting) spontaneously and without hindrance
for sentient beings whose number is limitless as space,
such (bodhisattvas) who possess understanding
truly engage in the task of benefitting beings.

Due to the powerful influence of the wishing prayers they formerly uttered and the further deeds they performed while traveling the ninth bodhisattva level and the levels below, bodhisattvas who dwell on the tenth bodhisattva level act spontaneously. They are free from all thoughts and ideation, having eliminated these in the process of a complete transformation of state (Tib. gnas yongs su gyur pa’i tshul gyis spangs). For these reasons, these bodhisattvas who have reached the last existence (Tib. srid pa tha ma pa) do not need to exert any deliberate effort in order to lead all beings who are their disciples to complete maturation. They also know the aspects of training. They know the ways and methods to train any disciple. They do so through the activity of speech, teaching the Dharma in accordance with the respective wishes and mental dispositions (of the disciples), through the activity of the body, showing many illusory appearances of form kayas in accordance with the karmic fortune of the disciples, through the vast and powerful conduct that brings about the benefit of others, and through various ways of behavior such as sitting, standing up, and so on, using whichever of these is appropriate. In this way these heirs of the Victorious One have full, unmistaken, and precise knowledge of the activity as it is individually appropriate.

They manifest without deliberate effort and in various ways. This is to be understood as follows: The actors are the bodhisattvas who possess understanding. Their objects of action are beings whose number is as limitless as space. Towards this endless number of sentient beings they always act spontaneously, without deliberate effort, by means of actions that are unhindered and meaningful in every respect. The purpose of these actions is the complete maturation of all those beings who are their disciples. Towards this purpose they engage in the activity which by its very nature accomplishes the benefit of these disciples, and they do so in a true and unmistaken way. (See also Part Three, annotation 43, and Part Four, note 5.)

The way the bodhisattvas (unfold activity)
in the post-meditative phase
equals the tathagatas’ (action) in the world
for beings’ true liberation.
Though this is true, indeed, whatever difference lies
between the earth and an atom or else between
(the water in) the sea and in an ox’s hoofprint,
is the difference between a buddha and a bodhisattva.

The way in which a bodhisattva who dwells on the tenth bodhisattva level engages in activity equals that of all tathagatas who embody ultimate abandonment and realization. With respect to leading others to complete maturation in the post-meditative phase they are equal. Such a bodhisattva has attained the particular qualities of the six types of clairvoyance, of the ten kinds of mastery (Tib. dbang bcu), and so forth. Therefore he also acts in the world spontaneously and without deliberate effort in order to truly liberate all sentient beings who have become disciples from samsara’s ocean of suffering. Though it is true indeed that such a bodhisattva is like a buddha as far as the (fulfillment of) others’ benefit is concerned, there is an extremely great difference with respect to personal benefit, which consists of the qualities of abandonment and realization. Consider, for example, the difference between the great globe of the earth and an atom, or between the amount of water contained in the large ocean and in the hoofprint of an ox. In this measure, the difference between the ultimate qualities of a perfect buddha and the qualities of the path of a bodhisattva who dwells on the tenth bodhisattva level is extremely great.

The way reference is made here to the bodhisattva levels corresponds to the way in which the omniscient Dolpopa has clearly elucidated the intended meaning of Asanga’s great commentary. On the other hand the omniscient Rangjung Dorjé (the third Karmapa) makes a slight difference. He holds that the two stanzas “By the power of their former (prayers)...” and so on, explain the way in which a bodhisattva who dwells on the ninth bodhisattva level is free from deliberate effort and has attained true discriminative awareness. In Rangjung Dorjé’s opinion, the stanza “Always (acting) spontaneously and without hindrance. . .” and so on then explains the quality of the immeasurable benefit of others, as is native to a bodhisattva who dwells on the tenth bodhisattva level. (See also Part Three, annotation 44, and Part Four, note 6.)

(The dharmakaya) does not change into something else, since
it has inexhaustible properties.
It is the refuge of beings, since (it protects them) without any
limit of time, until the final end.
It is always free from duality, since it is foreign to all ideation.
It is also an indestructible state, since its nature is uncreated.

The dharmadhatu in the utterly purified phase is the dharmakaya. This dharmakaya has the attribute of permanence (Tib. rtag), being unchangingness itself. It does not change into something else in the sense of one physical form being abandoned to be replaced by another. This is because, even in the expanse of the nirvana free from any remainder of skandhas, it possesses immeasurable properties, these being the inexhaustible absolute qualities. Likewise it has the attribute of steadfastness (Tib. brtan). It is the supreme refuge of all sentient beings, unfailing and undeceptive. This is because it possesses qualities protecting them without any limit of time, until the final end, as long as samsara may last. This undefiled dharmadhatu has the attribute of peace (Tib. zhi). It is always free from the duality of samsara and nirvana. This is because it is without any ideation as to the punishment and comfort represented by these. It also has the attribute of immutability (Tib. g.yung drung). It is a lastingly indestructible state, since it possesses the quality of being a nature not created by karma and mental poisons. (See also Part Three, annotation 45.)

It is not born and it does not die.
It suffers no harm and does not age
since it is permanent and steadfast,
the state of peace and immutability.

This completely pure and luminous dharmakaya is not initially born and does not finally die. It does not suffer the harm of sickness and does not undergo a process of change and aging in the meantime. This is because in the given sequence it is permanent, steadfast, peaceful, and immutable.

It is not (even) born in a body of mental nature,
since it is permanent. Steadfast it does not die,
not (even) through the death and transmigration
that constitute an inconceivable transformation.
Since it is peace, it does not (even) suffer harm
from illnesses caused by subtle karmic imprints.
Since it is immutable, there is not (even) aging
induced by compositional factors free from stain.

There is hardly any need to mention that this buddha nature in terms of the dharmakaya does not undergo the slightest change due to an ordinary birth and so on. It is free from any initial birth, not even being born in a body of mental nature. This is because it is unchanging and permanent. Likewise this dharmakaya is free from a final death. It does not even die due to the complete transformation caused by death and transmigration taking place in an inconceivable way. This is because it is unfailing and steadfast. In the meantime it is not harmed by sickness. It is not even harmed by the sicknesses caused by the subtle veil consisting of the remaining imprints of ignorance. This is because it is peace, being free from dualistic perception and so forth. It is free from the property of aging. It does not even age due to the compositional factors constituting the undefiled karma. This is because it is of indestructible nature and thus immutable. (See also Part Three, annotation 46.)

(Combining) sentences from the foregoing
two by two, the uncreated expanse should be known
(as possessing) in the same sequence
the attributes of being permanent and so forth.

Of the foregoing verses the two sentences “(The dharmakaya) does not change into something else . . .” and “It is not (even) born . . .” refer to the attribute of permanence. Likewise the two sentences “It is the refuge of beings . . .” and “Steadfast it does not die . . .” refer to the attribute of steadfastness. The two sentences “It is always free from duality . . .” and “Since it is peace . . .” refer to the attribute of peace, and the two sentences “It is also an indestructible state . . .” and “Since it is immutable . . .” refer to the attribute of immutability. In the same sequence in which these four attributes are given in the foregoing sections, the true state, the expanse not created by causes and conditions, is to be known from the sutras (teaching the meaning of buddha nature) as being permanent and so on, that is, permanent, steadfast, peaceful, and immutable.

Since it is endowed with inexhaustible qualities, (the dharmakaya)
is unchangingness itself and thus (has) the attribute of permanence.
Equaling the uttermost end it is refuge itself
and thus (holds) the attribute of steadfastness.
Since absence of thought is its nature, it is dharmata
free from duality and thus (has) the attribute of peace.
Hosting uncreated qualities, it is immutability itself
and thus (possesses) the attribute of indestructibility

Even in the expanse of the nirvana without remainder, this dharmakaya by nature completely pure is endowed with an endless number of inexhaustible qualities. Therefore, not undergoing the slightest transformation into something else, it is unchangingness itself and thus possesses the attribute of permanence. It is protective and uninterrupted in a way that equals the uttermost end of samsara. Therefore it is refuge itself forever unfailing and thus possesses the attribute of steadfastness. Its nature is absence of thought. There is no ideation in terms of the two extremes. Therefore it is the dharmata, the true state free from the duality of existence and (mere) peace, and thus possesses the attribute of (true) peace. It has qualities that are not created, that are not an artifice brought about by causes and conditions. Therefore it is lastingly indestructible and thus possesses the attribute of immutability.

Why is it the dharmakaya, the tathagata,
the noble truth, and the absolute nirvana?
Its qualities are inseparable, like the sun and its rays.
Thus other than buddhahood there is no nirvana.

Why is this tathagatagarbha in the utterly purified phase the dharmakaya of all buddhas? Why is it also the tathagata, the noble truth and the absolute nirvana? This is because these are just synonymous terms. Just as, for instance, the orb of the sun and its rays cannot be separated, these four qualities are inseparable from the svabhavikakaya (Tib. ngo bo nyid sku, “the essence body of buddhahood”). The svabhavikakaya is therefore stated as being equivalent to nirvana. And again, the absolute qualities such as the ten powers and so forth are completely inseparable. For these reasons, other than perfect buddhahood, there is nothing else that is the actual or true nirvana. (See also Part Three, annotation 47.)

Since the unpolluted expanse has, put briefly,
four different types of meaning,
it should be known in terms of four synonyms:
the dharmakaya and so forth.

Put briefly, the tathagatagarbha in terms of the unpolluted dharmadhatu has four different types or aspects of meaning, which will be explained below. In correspondence to these it should therefore be known in terms of the four synonymous names mentioned above, which are the dharmakaya and so on.

Buddha qualities are indivisible.
The disposition is attained as it is.
The true state is (always) free from any fickleness and deceit.
Since beginningless time the nature has been peace itself.

The absolute qualities, the powers and so on, which are the properties of a buddha, are completely indivisible from the dharmadhatu free from defilements. In the light of this meaning, this undefiled expanse is called the dharmakaya (Tib. chos sku, “ the body of qualities”). The disposition to (becoming) this buddha, which is the true state present since beginningless time, is directly attained as it is. In the light of this meaning, the undefiled expanse is called the Tathagata (Tib. de bzhin gshegs pa, “the One Gone to Suchness”). Its nature is the true state, which does not change into something else, is free from any deceit, and at all times free from fickleness or unreliability. This true state has become the field of experience of the primordial wisdom of the noble ones. In the light of this meaning, the undefiled expanse is called the Noble Truth. This dharmadhatu has been by nature utterly pure since beginningless time and the adventitious defilements have been totally pacified up to their very end. In the light of this meaning the undefiled expanse is expressed by the term “nirvana” (Tib. mnya ngan las ’das pa, “the state beyond any torment and pain”).

Direct perfect enlightenment (with regard to) all aspects,
and abandonment of the stains along with their imprints
(are called) buddha and nirvana respectively.
In truth, these are not two different things.

All aspects of the knowable—all absolute and relative phenomena— are directly known. Through this knowledge one is immediately and perfectly enlightened. This is the aspect of realization. All the adventitious defilements—the two veils along with their remaining imprints—are abandoned without any exception. This is the aspect of abandonment. These two qualities have been led to ultimate perfection. They are therefore named “perfect buddha” (“perfectly awakened and expanded”) from the viewpoint of the former aspect, and “nirvana” (“gone beyond any torment and pain”) from the viewpoint of the latter aspect. These two aspects are contained in one and the same meaning, the meaning of the tathagatagarbha, whereas a difference only lies in the convention of the different terms. In the sense of the absolute field of experience of the noble onesprimordial wisdom the qualities of realization and abandonment are therefore completely inseparable and do not exist as two different things.

Liberation is distinguished by indivisibility
from qualities present in all their aspects:
innumerable, inconceivable, and unpolluted.
Such liberation is (also called) “tathagata.”

Since the qualities are not incomplete, all aspects are fully present. Since the types of qualities are beyond any end, they are innumerable. Since one cannot fathom their number and inherent power, they are inconceivable. Since the two veils along with the remaining imprints are eliminated, they are unpolluted. The dharmakaya has the characteristic of being inseparable from these four qualifications. The fact that this dharmakaya has become directly manifest is called ultimate nirvana, or in other words, liberation. In the light of the fact that suchness (Skt. tathatā) is directly realized, such true qualified liberation (Tib. thar pa mtshan nyid pa) is also called “tathagata.”

Suppose some painters mastered their craft,
each with respect to a different (part of the body),
so that whichever part one would know how to do,
he would not succeed with any other part.
Then the king, the ruler of the country,
hands them a canvas and gives the order:
“You all together paint my image on this!”
Having heard this (order) from the (king)
they carefully take up their painting work.
While they are well immersed in their task,
one among them leaves for another country.
Since they are incomplete
due to his travel abroad,
their painting in all its parts
does not get fully perfected.
Thus the example is given.

The cause through which one accomplishes the four qualities mentioned above is primordial wisdom realizing emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects (Tib. rnam kun mchog ldan gyi stong pa nyid). Therefore this primordial wisdom is taught by means of the example of the painters as given in the Ratnacudasutra (Tib. rin chen gyis zhus pa’i mdo). The example is as follows:

Suppose there is a gathering of many painters, each of whom is highly specialized and has mastered his craft with respect to a different part of the body, such as the head and so forth. Whichever part of the body one of them knows how to do, he will not succeed with any other part. Then, when they are assembled, the king, the ruler of the country, hands them a canvas and gives the following order: “You all together paint my royal image on this canvas!” Having heard this command from the king, each of them carefully takes up his painting work, whatever he is able to execute. While these painters are immersed in their task, the one among them who knows how to paint the head leaves for another country. This painter having traveled abroad, they are incomplete. Hence the painting of the king does not get fully perfected in all its parts. (See also Part Three, annotation 48.)

Who are the painters of these (parts of the image)?
They are generosity, morality, patience, and so on.
Emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects
is described as being the form (of the king).

One may wonder what is illustrated by the artists who execute the different parts of this painting. They stand for generosity free from any attachment, moral discipline free from the pollution of the defects (of body, speech, and mind), patience never disturbed by anger in any respect, and so on, that is, for diligence delighting in virtue, meditative stability being one-pointed with regard to its focus, and discriminative wisdom completely and thoroughly discriminating phenomena. Emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects of means is equivalent to the direct manifestation of the dharmakaya. This is said to be similar to the well-painted form of the king being fully perfected. (See also Part Three, annotation 49.)

Illuminating, radiating, and purifying,
and inseparable from each other, analytical wisdom,
primordial wisdom, and total liberation
correspond to the light, rays, and orb of the sun.

Discriminative or analytical wisdom, primordial wisdom, and complete liberation (Tib. rnam grol) are inseparable from the four qualities (dharmakaya, tathagata, noble truth, and nirvana). In their given sequence they illuminate, radiate, and purify, and these three (aspects) are not separate from each other. For these reasons they have properties corresponding to those of the sun: to the clarity of its light, the radiation of its rays, the purity of its orb, and to the fact that these three are not separate from each other. (See also Part Three, annotation 50.)

One will therefore not attain nirvana
without attaining the state of buddhahood.
Just as one could not see the sun
if one were to eliminate its light and its rays.

Therefore, as has been explained in detail in the foregoing sections, one will not attain the ultimate nirvana completely liberated from all the veils without attaining perfect buddhahood endowed with the vision of the primordial wisdom that is free from attachment with regard to everything knowable. This is similar to the example that one could not see the completely pure orb of the sun if one were to eliminate its clear light and its beaming rays.

In this way the nature of the Victorious One
is expressed (by) the “Tenfold Presentation.”

Such as it has been explained in detail in the foregoing sections, the nature of the victorious Tathagata, or in other words, the dharmadhatu, the true state, has been well expressed and clearly elucidated in a systematic order by means of “the Tenfold Presentation” starting with the topic “essence” and ending with the topic “inseparability of the qualities.”

This (tathagatagarbha) abides within the shroud of the afflictions,
as should be understood through (the following nine) examples:

This tathagatagarbha, the true state by nature pure, abides within the many-millionfold shroud of the afflictions. These are defilements that are by nature adventitious. Although they (have been) close to buddha nature since beginningless time, they are not connected with it. This is clearly and fully illustrated by means of nine examples, which should be understood as being given in accordance with the Tathagatagarbhasutra (Tib. de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po’i mdo).

Just like a buddha in a decaying lotus, honey amidst bees,
a grain in its husk, gold in filth, a treasure underground,
a shoot and so on sprouting from a little fruit,
a statue of the Victorious One in a tattered rag,
a ruler of mankind in a destitute woman’s womb,
and a precious image under (a layer of) clay,
this (buddha) element abides within all sentient beings,
obscured by the defilement of the adventitious poisons.

Just as a good buddha statue is present within the shroud of a decaying lotus (1), just as pure honey is present amid a big swarm of bees (2), just as the grain is contained in its husk (3), just like gold in the midst of filth (4), just like a precious treasure in the ground under a poor man’s house (5), just like the shoot of a mighty tree grows and increases from a tiny fruit (6), just like a statue of the Victorious One inside a tattered rag (7), just like a universal ruler of mankind in the womb of a woman of miserable appearance (8), and just as at the time when the mold is removed a precious image is present under a layer of clay (9), this undefiled expanse, the buddha element, definitely abides within all sentient beings, obscured by the defilement of the adventitious mental poisons.

The defilements correspond to the lotus,
the insects, the husk, the filth, the earth,
the fruit, the tattered rag, the pregnant woman
direly vexed with burning suffering, and the clay.
The buddha, the honey, the grain, the gold,
the treasure, the nyagrodha tree, the precious statue,
the continents’ supreme ruler, and the precious image
are similar to the supreme undefiled element.

The mental poisons, the adventitious defilements obscuring the inherently pure element, correspond to the lotus flower, the bees, the husk, the filthy material, the heap of earth, the skin of the fruit, the tattered rag, the woman who is direly tormented by the burning suffering of being destitute and without protection, and to the element of black clay.

The buddha statue, the honey, the grain, the pure gold, the precious treasure, a mighty tree such as a nyagrodha, the statue made from precious material, the supreme universal monarch who rules the four continents, and the precious golden image correspond to the tathagata-garbha, the supreme element, which is completely pure and free from any defilement.

All of the following nine examples are presented in three parts, which are the example itself, its meaning, and their function. First the example is given, then its meaning is explained, and finally both example and meaning are combined and their function is elucidated.

Seeing that in the calyx of an ugly-colored lotus
a tathagata dwells ablaze with a thousand marks,
a man endowed with the immaculate divine vision
takes it from the shroud of the water-born’s petals.

Inside the closed calyx of a lotus that has an ugly color and a repugnant smell dwells a statue of the Tathagata, ablaze with a thousand pure and beautiful marks. A man who is endowed with the clairvoyance of immaculate divine vision sees this, and upon being aware of it, removes the buddha statue from the shroud of the petals of the water-born (flower).

Likewise the Sugata with his buddha eye perceives his own
true state even in those
who must abide in the hell of direst pain.
Endowed with compassion itself, which is unobscured and
endures to the final end,
he relieves them from their obscurations.

Likewise, with their eye of primordial buddha wisdom, the Sugatas perceive that the tathagatagarbha, the true state illuminating their own being, is even present within those who have to abide in the hell of direst pain (Skt. Avīci, Tib. mnar med). Being endowed with discriminative wisdom, compassion, and activity, which are free from the veils and enduring up to the last, until the far end of samsara, they relieve the disciples from their adventitious obscurations.

Once his divine eye sees the Sugata abiding within the closed ugly lotus,
the man cuts the petals. Seeing the perfect buddha nature within beings,
obscured by the shroud of desire, hatred, and the other mental poisons,
the Muni does likewise and through his compassion defeats all their veils.

Once someone who possesses divine vision sees this statue of the Sugata abiding within the bud of the closed ugly lotus, he will cut off the petals in order to remove the statue. Likewise the Munis see that the nature of perfect buddhahood is present within all sentient beings, obscured by the shroud of the defilements, by desire, hatred, and the other mental poisons. Through the might of their limitless compassion for all those beings who do not realize this (presence), the awakened Munis also unfold their activity, thus overcoming these adventitious veils, just as the petals obscuring the statue are removed.

Honey is surrounded by a swarm of insects.
A skillful man in search of (honey)
(employs), upon seeing this, suitable means
to fully separate it from the host of bees.

Honey is present in the midst of a surrounding swarm of bees. Upon seeing that there is honey among the bees, a capable and skillful man whose aim is to get this honey makes use of suitable means. Letting smoke rise and so on, he completely separates the honey from the host of bees and procures the honey.

Likewise, when his eye of omniscience
sees the honey-like element of awareness,
the Great Sage causes its bee-like veils
to be fully and radically abandoned.

Likewise the Buddha, the Great Sage, sees with his eye knowing all phenomena that the element of (self-sprung) awareness is present within all beings, contained in the shroud of the mental poisons like honey surrounded by bees. Upon seeing this, he teaches the path by means of which the bee-like veils covering this element are fully and radically abandoned and the element is realized. Thus he causes the direct manifestation of the dharmakaya.

Aiming to get honey that is obscured by millions and millions of honeybees,
the man disperses all these bees and procures the honey, just as he wishes.
The unpolluted knowledge present in all sentient beings is similar to the honey,
and the Victor skilled in vanquishing the bee-like poisons resembles the man.

When honey is obscured by millions and millions of honeybees, a man who is skillful and in search of honey disperses these bees by means of suitable methods and procures the honey, just as he wishes. The unpolluted knowledge, the sugatagarbha, is present within all beings, contained in the shroud of their defilements. Thus it is similar to the honey surrounded by bees. The Victorious One (Skt. jina, Tib. rgyal ba) is skilled in the methods to overcome the bee-like mental poisons obscuring the element. Thus he is similar to the skillful man whose aim is to get the honey.

A grain when still in its husk
is not fit to be eaten by man.
Those seeking food and sustenance
remove this (grain) from its husk.

Since a grain that still has its husk is not edible for man, those human beings who seek palatable food and nourishment must remove this grain from the inside of its husk.

(The nature of) the Victorious One, which is present within beings
(but) mixed with the defilement of the poisons, is similar to this.
While it is not freed from being mingled with the pollution of these afflictions,
the deeds of the Victor will not be (displayed) in the three realms of existence.

The nature of the Victorious One, which is present within all sentient beings but mixed with the defilement of the mental poisons, is similar to this example. As long as it is not freed from being mingled with the defilement of the mental poisons, the deeds of the Victorious One will not be displayed in the three realms of existence. Buddha activity unfolds in order to separate this nature from its veils.

Unthreshed grains of rice, buckwheat, or barley, which not having emerged from their husks
still have husk and beard, cannot be turned into delicious food that is palatable for man.
Likewise the Lord of Qualities is present within all beings, but his body is not liberated from the shroud of the poisons.
Thus his body cannot bestow the joyous taste of Dharma upon sentient beings stricken by the famine of their afflictions.

When ripe grains of rice, buckwheat, or barley have not been well threshed until the husk and spelt are cleared away, when they have therefore not emerged from their husks and still have husk and beard, they cannot be turned into delicious food that is palatable for human beings. Likewise the sugatagarbha, the Lord of Qualities, is present within all beings. Yet, while his body is not liberated from the shroud of the mental poisons, it cannot bestow the taste of the joy of sacred Dharma upon those sentient beings who are stricken by the famine of their afflictions.

While a man was traveling, gold he owned
fell into a place filled with rotting refuse.
This (gold), being of indestructible nature,
remained for many centuries just as it was.
Then a god with completely pure divine vision saw it there
and addressed a man: “Purify this supremely precious gold
lying here in this (filth), and (then convert it into something)
that is worth being made from such a precious substance!”

When a man who was traveling had reached a crossroads, out of negligence and lack of attentiveness he dropped a great lump of gold he owned into a place filled with rotting refuse. The nature of gold is such that it will not diminish or be destroyed even after many years. Thus this gold stayed in the midst of this filth just as it was, unblemished for many centuries. Then a god who possessed completely pure vision saw that there was a large lump of gold in the midst of this filth. Upon seeing this he turned to a man who was in search of gold and said: “Purify this supremely precious lump of gold that is lying in this heap of refuse from its defilement and convert it into a piece of jewelry or something similar that is worth being made from such a precious substance!”

Likewise the Muni sees the quality (of) beings,
which is sunken in the filth-like mental poisons,
and pours his rain of sacred Dharma upon them
to purify the muddiness of their afflictions.

Likewise the great Muni, the Perfect Buddha, sees that the sugatagarbha, the quality of beings, which is sunken in the mud of the filth-like mental poisons, is present within all sentient beings. Upon seeing this he pours the mighty rain of his sacred Dharma upon all those beings in order to purify this mud of their afflictions.

Once the god has seen the gold that has fallen into the place full of rotting refuse,
insistently he directs the man’s attention to this supremely beautiful thing so he may completely cleanse it.
Seeing within all beings the precious perfect buddha that has fallen into the great filth of the mental poisons,
the Victorious One does likewise and teaches the Dharma to persuade them to purify it.

As soon as the god has seen the gold that has fallen into the place full of rotting refuse, with insistence he shows the man this supremely beautiful gold so that he may completely cleanse it, and he incites him to purify it. Similarly the omniscient Victorious One sees that the nature of a perfect buddha, resembling the precious (gold), is present within all sentient beings, but has fallen into the great filth of the mental poisons. Upon seeing this he teaches the Dharma to all those beings in the measure of their karmic fortune, so that they may purify their (buddha) nature.

If an inexhaustible treasure were buried
in the ground beneath a poor man’s house,
the man would not know of it, and the treasure
would not speak and tell him “I am here!”

If a great inexhaustible treasure were buried in the ground beneath a poor man’s house, the man would not know that this treasure was there, and the treasure would also not be able to speak to the man and tell him “I am here!” Therefore the man would have to experience the suffering of poverty.

Likewise a precious treasure is contained in each being’s mind.
This is its true state,which is free from defilement.
Nothing is to be added and nothing to be removed.
Nevertheless, since they do not realize this,
sentient beings continuously undergo the manifold sufferings of deprivation.

Likewise the precious treasure of the sugatagarbha is contained within the minds of all sentient beings. This is the true state (of the mind), which is by nature free from defilement. To this true state no quality that was previously not present is to be added. No defilement is to be removed from it, (since the defilements) to be abandoned are not truly existent. Nevertheless, sentient beings do not realize that this true state is present within themselves. Therefore, although the direct manifestation of the qualities is at hand, they must continuously experience the deprivation of the manifold aspects of the suffering of samsara.

When a precious treasure is contained within (the ground beneath) a poor man’s house,
the treasure cannot tell him “I am here!” (and) the man does not know of its presence.
Like the poor man, beings are (unaware) that Dharma’s treasure lies in the house of their minds
and the great Sage truly takes birth within the world to cause them to attain (this treasure).

When a precious treasure is contained in the ground underneath a poor man’s house, this precious treasure cannot tell the man “I am here!” and the poor man will not know that this treasure is there. Through his being ignorant of this he is not liberated from his suffering of poverty and deprivation. All beings are equally (unknowing) and thus resemble the poor man. Although the treasure of dharmakaya abides within their own mind’s house, they are unaware of it. In order to cause those beings to actually attain the treasure of dharmakaya, which is present within themselves, the great Sage, the Buddha Bhagavat, truly takes birth in the endless realms of the world and teaches the sacred Dharma.

The seed contained in the fruit of a mango or similar trees
(is possessed of) the indestructible property of sprouting.
Once it gets plowed earth, water, and the other (conditions),
the substance of a majestic tree will gradually come about.

Although it is contained inside the skin of a fruit of a mango, a nyagrodha, or similar trees, a tree seed has the capacity to generate a mighty tree. It has an indestructible property in that there is no hindrance that could obstruct the sprouting of the shoot. Once it has all the necessary conditions collected together, such as well-plowed earth, water, manure, warmth, and so on, it will gradually develop in substance until a genuine king of trees has come about.

The fruit consisting of the ignorance and the other defects of beings
contains in the shroud of its peel the virtuous element of the dharma(kaya).
Likewise, through relying on virtue, this (element) also will gradually turn into the substance of a King of Munis.

The fruit, which consists of the mental poisons, of ignorance and the other defects of beings, contains within the shroud of its skin the element of the dharmakaya, the expanse of all virtue. Similar to the way in which a mighty tree comes about when all the favorable conditions (for its growth) are present, this element will also turn into the substance of a buddha, a King of Munis, when one relies on the necessary condition, which is the virtue of the two accumulations, and thus gradually travels the paths and levels.

By means of water, sunlight, wind, earth, time, and space, the necessary conditions,
the tree grows from within the narrow shroud of the fruit of a banana or mango.
Similarly the fertile seed of the Perfect Buddha, contained within the fruit-skin of the mental poisons of beings,
also grows from virtue as its necessary condition, until the (shoot of) Dharma is seen and augmented (towards perfection).

What has come forth is moistened by water, ripened by sunlight, increased by wind, supported by earth, strengthened by the passing of time, provided with the opportunity to unfold by space, and so on. Due to these necessary conditions a mighty tree is gradually growing from its abode within the narrow shroud of the fruit-skin of a banana or mango. Similarly the seed of the Perfect Buddha, which is contained within the fruit-skin of the mental poisons of beings, resembles the shoot. Just as a tree grows from the meeting of the necessary conditions, the virtue of the two accumulations acts as the necessary condition, on the basis of which the shoot of the Dharma is seen on the path of seeing, augmented on the path of meditation and led to ultimate perfection on the path of no more learning.

An image of the Victorious One made from precious material
lies by the road, wrapped in an evil-smelling tattered rag.
Upon seeing this a god will alert the (passersby)
to its presence by the road to cause its retrieval.

Suppose a statue of the Victorious One made from invaluably precious material is lying at a crossroads, wrapped in an evil-smelling tattered rag, and people heedlessly pass it by, unaware of its presence. When a god sees what is lying there, he will alert the passersby to the fact that a statue is lying by the road and show it to them, so that they retrieve this statue from its evil-smelling covering.

Likewise, being possessed of unhindered vision
(the Buddha) sees the substance of the Sugata
wrapped in the multitude of the mental poisons,
even in animals, and teaches the means to free it.

Since beginningless time the sugatagarbha has been wrapped in the evil-smelling rags of the afflictions, in the various aspects of the three poisons and the other defilements (up to) the remaining imprints. The eye of a buddha sees that this substance of the sugatagarbha is even present within animals. Upon seeing this he opens an endless number of gates of the sacred Dharma. He teaches the means to practice the path, so that this dharmadhatu may be released from its adventitious veils, just as the (rag) enveloping the statue is removed.

When his eye perceives the statue of the Tathagata, which is of precious nature
but wrapped in a stinking rag and lying by the road, the god points it out to passersby, so that they retrieve it.
Likewise the Victor sees that the element, wrapped in the tattered garments of the poisons and lying on samsara’s road,
is present even within animals, and teaches the Dharma so that it may be released.

When the god’s eye perceives that a statue of the Tathagata, which is made from a material of precious nature but wrapped in a stinking rag, is lying by a crossroads unnoticed by the men passing by, he will show it to those men and tell them: “There is a statue here!” so that it may be retrieved from the tattered rags. Similarly the Victorious One sees the buddha element which, wrapped in the tattered garments of the mental poisons, is lying on samsara’s road. He sees that it even abides within animals and teaches the Dharma so that it may be released from these rags of the mental poisons.

A woman of miserable appearance
who is without protection and abides in a poorhouse
holds in her womb a glorious king,
not knowing that a lord of man dwells in her own body.

A woman of miserable appearance and complexion, having neither protection nor refuge, abides in poorhouses, cheap hostels, and at crossroads. She bears in her womb an infant who is endowed with the signs and will become a glorious universal monarch. And yet, since this child is obscured by the shroud of her womb, she does not know that this being dwelling in her own body is a ruler of mankind. Being ignorant of this she suffers and is stricken with the fear of being slandered, treated with contempt, and abused by others.

Birth in an existence is similar to the poorhouse.
Impure beings are like the woman bearing (a king) in her womb.
Since he is present within her, she has protection.
The undefiled element is like (the king) who dwells in her womb.

Since births in the various places of samsaric existence are accompanied by suffering, they are similar to living in a poorhouse, in the abodes of those who have neither protection nor refuge. Since all beings who are not purified from the adventitious afflictions have protection and refuge and yet are ignorant of this, they are similar to the woman who has a king in her womb. Since a king is present within this woman, it will become apparent that she has protection. Since within those beings the true state, the tathagatagarbha, is present, they are accompanied by the best possible protection. Once this element, which is by nature completely pure and free from any defilement, has directly revealed itself, they will be sheltered from all their fear. Therefore the element is similar to the king who dwells in this woman’s womb.

A ruler of the earth dwells in the womb of a woman who has an unpleasant appearance and whose body is dressed in dirty clothes.
Nevertheless she has (to abide) in a poorhouse and undergo the experience of direst suffering.
Likewise, beings deem themselves unsheltered though a protector resides within their own (minds).
Thus they have to abide in the ground of suffering, their minds being unpeaceful under the predominating drive of the mental poisons.

A universal monarch, a ruler of the earth, dwells within the womb of a woman who has an unpleasant appearance and whose body is dressed in dirty clothes. Although this ruler resides in her own womb, being ignorant of this, she has to abide in a poorhouse and undergo the experience of direst suffering, of being destitute, subject to contempt, abused, and neglected. Similarly all sentient beings have a protector and refuge, this being the sugatagarbha which resides within their own minds. Yet, since they do not know this, they deem themselves without any protection and refuge. Thus those beings whose minds are unpeaceful due to the predominating influence of the mental poisons have to abide within the cycle of existence, the ground of suffering.

An artistically well designed image of peaceful appearance,
which has been cast in gold and is (still) inside (its mold),
externally has the nature of clay. Experts, upon seeing this,
will clear away the outer layer and cleanse the gold therein.

When an image, which is artistically well designed in all its parts, pure, and beautiful in its peaceful appearance, has been cast in gold and is still inside its black mold, it is covered by clay and thus externally has the nature of earth. Upon seeing this, experts who know that a golden image is contained in the covering mold will clear away the outer layer in order to remove the traces of clay remaining on the golden image enclosed therein.

Likewise those of supreme enlightenment
fully see that there are defilements (on) the luminous nature,
but that these stains are just adventitious,
and purify beings, who are like jewel mines, from all their veils.

Similarly the Victorious Ones fully see that there are defilements on the luminous nature of the minds of beings, but that these are just adventitious, being able to be removed. Upon seeing this they clear away these veils, which are similar to the mold. Once they are awakened and expanded in supreme enlightenment, they teach the sacred Dharma and purify beings, who are like jewel mines, from all their obscurations.

Recognizing the nature of an image of peaceful appearance, flawless and made from shimmering gold,
while it is (still) contained in its mold, an expert removes the layers of clay.
Likewise the omniscient know the peaceful mind, which is similar to pure gold,
and remove the obscurations by teaching the Dharma, (just as the mold) is struck and chipped away.

Suppose there is an image of peaceful and beautiful appearance that is flawless and completely pure, made from unalloyed, shimmering gold, but which at the time of its casting is contained within a mold of black clay. An expert skilled in the making of statues would recognize its nature and remove the external layers of clay. Similarly the Buddhas who know the entirety of the knowable recognize the sugatagarbha, the true state of the mind, which is by nature peaceful, and thus similar to completely pure gold. They remove the veils that hinder the direct realization of the element by teaching the Dharma as the means to their removal, acting just as one who strikes the clay, chipping it away to remove the mold.

The lotus, the bees, the husk, the filth,
the earth, the skin of the fruit, the tattered rag,
the woman’s womb, and the shroud of clay
(exemplify the defilements), while (the pure nature)
is like the buddha, the honey, the kernel, the gold,
the treasure, the great tree, the precious statue,
the universal monarch, and the golden image.
It is said that the shroud of the mental poisons,
(which causes the veils) of the element of beings,
has had no connection with it since beginningless time,
while the nature of mind, which is devoid of stains,
(has been present within them) since beginningless time.

By “the ugly lotus,” “the bees,” “the husk of the grain,” “the filthy mud,” “the ground,” “the skin of the fruit,” “the evil-smelling tattered rag,” “the woman’s womb,” and “the shroud of black clay,” the nine examples for the defilements causing the obscuration are summarized, whereas through the statements “like a buddha adorned with the signs and marks,” “like honey endowed with the essence of taste,” “like a ripe grain,” “like a lump of gold that does not change into something else,” “like a great inexhaustible treasure,” “like a great fruit-bearing tree,” “like a beautiful precious statue,” “like a universal monarch,” and “like an image of unalloyed gold,” the nine examples for the buddha nature that is obscured are explained concisely.

The meaning illustrated through these examples is as follows: It is said that the shrouds of the mental poisons causing the obscuration of suchness, of the element of beings, are naturally present, and yet have no connection with it. For this reason they are adventitious. Nevertheless they are also simultaneously present with the dharmadhatu and have remained close to it since beginningless time. Wherever these shrouds of the mental poisons are, there is the tathagatagarbha as well. The nature of the minds of beings is contained within them. This tathagatagarbha, which has ever been free from any defilement and is coemergent primordial wisdom, has remained close to them since beginningless time.

The nine aspects of defilement: desire, aversion,
and mental blindness, their fierce active state,
the remaining imprints (of unknowing), the defilements
to be abandoned on the paths of seeing and meditation,
and the defilements based upon the impure levels
and the pure levels respectively, are fully taught
by the shroud of the lotus and the other examples.
(When) classified, the shroud of the secondary poisons
is beyond any end. But when it is comprised concisely,
the nine defilements of desire and the other afflictions
are well explained in the given order by the nine similes
of the shroud of the lotus and the subsequent examples.

If the adventitious defilements veiling the dharmadhatu, which is by nature completely pure, are comprised concisely by means of the families they belong to, there are nine aspects:

The first three aspects provide the condition of the karma of immovability (Tib. mi g.yo ba’i las). These are the remaining imprints of desire, aversion, and ignorance, which is mental blindness with respect to thatness.

The fourth aspect provides the condition of virtuous and unvirtuous karma. It consists of the fiercely active state of these three poisons, the state in which they immediately manifest. These three are presented as one aspect.

The fifth aspect provides the condition producing a body of mental nature. This is the ground of the remaining imprints of ignorance (Tib. ma rig bag chags kyi sa).

The sixth aspect consists of the defilements exclusively abandoned on the path of seeing.

The seventh aspect consists of the defilements exclusively abandoned on the path of meditation.

The eighth aspect comprises the defilements based upon the stream of being of an individual who dwells on one of the seven impure (bodhisattva) levels. Only their elimination generates the pure (bodhisattva) levels.

The ninth aspect comprises the defilements based upon the stream of being of an individual dwelling on one of the pure (bodhisattva) levels. Their elimination generates the end of the continuum. In their given sequence these nine aspects are fully and thoroughly explained by the nine examples of the shroud of the lotus, the bees, and the following (seven).

When the shroud of the secondary mental poisons that obscure the element is fully classified in terms of subject matter, there are eightyfour thousand different major types, which in their turn split up into ever further kinds. This process is beyond any end and corresponds to the different kinds of primordial wisdom of a tathagata, which are similarly endless in number.

The lines starting with “But when it is comprised concisely . . .” and ending with “...and the subsequent examples,” have been elucidated in the foregoing sections and are easily comprehended from the words of (Asanga’s) commentary.

These defilements cause in their given sequence
the four impurities of children, the impurity of arhats,
the two impurities of followers of the path of training,
and the two impurities of those with understanding.

With regard to the statement of the Bhagavan: “All beings possess the tathagatagarbha,” there are different classes of beings who are veiled by these nine aspects of obscuring adventitious defilements. These are the impurities of the children or of ordinary beings, of shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats, of those who generally follow the path of training, and of bodhisattvas who particularly possess understanding. Furthermore, in their given sequence the first four veils are the dormant tendencies of the three poisons, which constitute the impurity of the children dwelling in the higher realms, and the fiercely active state of these three poisons, which constitutes the impurity of the children bound to the desire realm. The following veil is the ground of the remaining imprints of ignorance, which constitutes the impurity of arhats. The following two veils are those to be abandoned through seeing and meditation, respectively. These constitute the impurities of ordinary beings on the path of training and of noble ones on the path of training. The last two veils are the defilements based upon the seven impure bodhisattva levels and those based upon the three pure bodhisattva levels. These constitute the impurities of bodhisattvas who have not reached final (accomplishment) and of those who have reached final (accomplishment). These impurities are the pollutions respectively prevailing in these individuals and foremost to be abandoned, since they constitute their (immediate) hindrance that prevents the ultimate dharmadhatu from revealing itself directly.

When a lotus (just) born from the mud
appears to (a beholder), it delights his mind.
Yet later it changes and becomes undelightful.
The joy born from desire is similar to this.
Bees, when extremely agitated,
will fiercely use their stings.
Similarly, hatred, once arisen,
brings suffering to the heart.
The kernel of rice and so on
is obscured by its outer husk.
Likewise the vision of the (true) meaning
is obscured by the eggshell of ignorance.

When a lotus flower freshly born from the mud appears to a beholder soon after its arising, it will greatly delight his mind. Yet later, without a long time passing, it changes and becomes faded and undelightful. The dormant tendencies of the mental poison of desire are similar to this. When greed born from improper mental activity directly manifests, joy and delight are present. When later it ceases, there is no longer any delight. This greed is therefore said to be similar to the delight upon seeing the lotus, while the dormant tendencies of desire are similar to the lotus (itself).

Bees are attached to their honey. When someone else takes the honey away, their minds are extremely agitated by anger. They fiercely attack and sting this person, causing a burning pain. Similarly, when the dormant tendencies of anger and hatred increase until anger has actually arisen, this also generates a burning suffering in the hearts of oneself and the others (involved). Thus the dormant tendencies of hatred are said to be similar to bees.

The kernels of rice and other grains cannot be seen since they are concealed by their husks, by the beards and different layers of skin. Likewise the vision of the meaning of the tathagatagarbha, of the dharmadhatu, which is by nature clear light, is also obscured by the dormant tendencies of mental blindness, of ignorance, and so on, which are similar to an eggshell. Thus they cause it not to be seen. In this way the dormant tendencies of mental blindness are said to be similar to the husk.

Filth is repugnant.
Being the cause for those bound up with greed
to indulge in sense pleasures,
the active state (of the poisons) resembles it.

Filthy and rotten things belong to the repugnant part. They involve danger, and are to be feared. The state in which the three poisons rise up and become directly manifest is the cause for beings in the desire realm who are bound up with greed to get immersed in many forms of evil conduct, to indulge in sense pleasures and pursue various other inferior aims. The fiercely active state of the mental poisons is therefore similar to a great heap of filth. It is the abode of affliction, of anxiety and mental disturbance. Thus the direct manifestation of the three poisons is said to resemble filth.

When wealth is hidden, one is ignorant of it
and therefore does not obtain the treasure.
Likewise self-sprung (wisdom) is veiled in arhats
by the ground of remaining imprints of ignorance.

When a great treasure representing inexhaustible wealth is hidden and obscured by a vast amount of earth, the poor do not know that there are riches (at hand) and thus will not obtain this treasure. Similarly the vision of self-sprung primordial wisdom endowed with inexhaustible qualities is veiled within arhats by the ground of remaining imprints of ignorance. For this reason the arhats, resembling the poor, are prevented from seeing it. Thus the complex of the remaining imprints of ignorance is explained as being similar to earth.

As by gradual growth from bud to shoot the skins of the seed are cut,
the vision of thatness averts (the stains) to be abandoned by seeing.
Through their junction with the noble path
they have overcome the essential part of the transitory collection.
What their wisdom must abandon (on) the path of meditation
is explained as being similar to tattered rags.

By the gradual growth of a tree bud into a sprout, a shoot, and finally a tiny trunk with small branches and leaves, the skins of the seed are progressively cut. Similarly the gradual vision of thatness or of the absolute dharmadhatu progressively averts the mental poisons that are to be abandoned through seeing. Through the section containing this statement, the defilements to be abandoned through seeing are explained as being similar to the skin of a fruit.

Arhats have joined with (or attained) the direct vision of the actual state of the Four Truths that constitute the Noble Path. Through this vision they have overcome the essential or main part of the defilements belonging to the so-called transitory collection and the views related to it. The views of the transitory collection consist of the belief that the five skandhas constitute a self, something that belongs to a self, and similar notions. Once the true state has been seen directly, defilements are (still) present within the stream of being of an arhat. These defilements are to be abandoned through primordial wisdom on the path of meditation. They are the remainders that are present after the coarse aspect has been exhausted. These remainders are explained as being similar to dirty shreds of a garment. Through the section containing this statement, the defilements to be abandoned through meditation are said to resemble tattered rags.

The stains based on the seven (impure) levels
resemble the defilements of the shrouding womb.
Concept-free primordial wisdom (is released)
like the mature (prince) from the womb’s confine.

Since they veil what needs to be seen and involve deliberate effort, the stains based on the seven impure (bodhisattva) levels resemble the defilements of the shrouding womb. Once it is completely freed from these stains, like being released from the confines of the womb, completely concept-free primordial wisdom directly reveals itself on the eighth bodhisattva level and the levels above, doing so spontaneously and without any deliberate effort. This direct revelation of concept-free primordial wisdom is similar to the full development and birth of the Chakravartin king. Through the statement contained in this section the defilements based on the seven (impure levels) are said to be similar to the shroud of the womb.

The defilements connected with the three (pure) levels
should be known as being similar to the layer of clay.
They must be overcome by the vajra-like samadhi
of (those) who are the embodiment of greatness.

Since the subtle defilements connected with the three pure (bodhisattva) levels can be abandoned without exerting deliberate effort, they should be known as being similar to the fine layer of clay, which only just covers the golden image a tiny bit. They are to be overcome by the vajra-like samadhi of those great (bodhisattvas) who are themselves the embodiment of the remedy. By the statement in this section, the defilements based on the three pure (bodhisattva) levels are said to be similar to (traces of) clay.

Thus desire and the further of the nine defilements
correspond to the lotus and the following examples.

In the foregoing sections, corresponding properties have been extensively related to each other. In the way shown there and in their given sequence, desire, hatred, and the further of the nine adventitious defilements that obscure the dharmadhatu have properties corresponding to those of the lotus, the bees, and the following examples. Since each of these defilements and examples have an individual corresponding property, one example and one meaning are respectively combined. This does not mean, though, that whatever has been explained as the obscuration of a particular (individual) is exclusive, in that it does not veil the previously mentioned of the nine (individuals) as well.

Its nature unifying three aspects, the element has properties
that correspond to those of the Buddha and the other similes.

The nature of the element unifies three aspects, as will be explained in the following sections. With these three aspects the tathagatagarbha has properties that correspond to those of the buddha statue, the honey, and the further of the nine similes illustrating buddha nature.

Its nature is dharmakaya, suchness,
and also the disposition. These are to be
known by the (first) three examples,
the (fourth) one, and the (following) five.

One may wonder: What are the three aspects of the nature of the sugatagarbha or dharmadhatu?

The three aspects are its nature in terms of the dharmakaya, which is luminous clarity, its nature in terms of