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The commentary on THE GREAT PERFECTION: THE NATURE OF MIND, THE EASER OF WEARINESS called the Great Chariot
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- 1 The First Chapter of the commentary on THE GREAT PERFECTION: THE NATURE OF MIND, THE EASER OF WEARINESS called the Great Chariot
- 2 II: The Impermanence of Life
- 3 III. The Sufferings of Samsara
- 4 IV This is the commentary on the fourth chapter of the GREAT PERFECTION, THE NATURE OF MIND, THE EASER OF WEARINESS, "Karma, Cause, and Effect."
- 5 Chapter V: Relying on the Spiritual Friend
- 6 VI Going for Refuge
- 7 VII The Seventh Chapter, the Four Immeasurables
- 8 The Commentary on Chapter Eight: Producing the Mind of Complete Enlightenment
- 9 Chapter IX: UNIFYING THE DEVELOPING STAGE AND THE PERFECTING STAGE
- 10 X. THE VIEW OF PRAJQA THAT REALIZES THE GROUND WITHOUT DWELLING IN DUALISTIC EXTREMES.
- 11 The Commentary on the Eleventh Chapter THE NATURE OF MIND, THE EASE OF WEARINESS, the CHAPTER OF THE PATH, SPOTLESS DHYANA, THE UNION OF SHAMATHA AND VIPASHYANA
- 12 XII The Commentary on Chapter 12: THE LIMBS OF THE PATH OF SKILLFUL MEANS IN ESTABLISHING SAMADHI
- 13 Source
The First Chapter of the commentary on THE GREAT PERFECTION: THE NATURE OF MIND, THE EASER OF WEARINESS called the Great Chariot
In Sanskrit the title is Mahasandhi citta visranta vritti maharatha nama, In Tibetan Rdzogs pa chen po/ sems nyid ngal gso'i/ shing rta chen po/ shes bya ba
I prostrate to glorious Samantabhadra
From the ocean of the glorious two accumulations come clouds that bear the abundant rain of peace and happiness.
These are the hundreds of qualities of the Nature that constitute the beauties of trikaya.
The thunder of wisdom and kindness pervading the limits of space, the great drum of Bhrama, sounds. To the all-knowing Chief of Beings, to the Dharma, and Sangha, the leaders of beings, I bow.
On an island in the lake of Uddiyana,
Born within the blossom on a lotus stalk,
Spontaneous emanation of the victorious ones,
Blazing with qualities of the major and minor marks,
Padmasambhava protects the lotus of my mind.
O primordial, spotless, full ocean; you who emanate samsara and nirvana O non-dual, unborn, full nature; perfect essence of Buddha, you the natural state, O fullness with no existence or lack of it, views that things are eternal or nothing, coming or going, nor object of complex variety.
O fullness with no conception of good or evil, you who neither accept or reject. I bow to the uncompounded nature of the mind.
This is the unsurpassable city of joyous liberation. Here the Victorious Ones of the three times attained supreme peace. So that all beings may go there directly, it embodies the heart of the sutras and tantras. Here, day and night, with unremitting effort, with single-minded devotion, my mind is absorbed in peace. May this Great Chariot of the profound path that liberates from samsara be clearly elucidated.
Of this explanation of the GREAT PERFECTION, THE NATURE OF MIND, THE EASER OF WEARINESS, The single path of all Dharmas and traditions, there are three main sections:
First, the manner of entering on the composition of the treatise and the meaning of the introductory section, Second, the extensive explanation of the main subject of the text, Third, the conclusion.
First, the manner of entering on the composition of the treatise and the meaning of the introductory section,
The divisions are
First, the meaning of the homage
Second, The vow to compose the text.
First, the meaning of the homage
The Buddha has come into this world. The excellent speech of his teachings, holy Dharma, by the kindness of genuine beings remains in existence. Here are the details of how the ocean of the sutra and mantra vehicles may be practiced by a single individual Now that the freedoms and good favors, so difficult to attain, have been attained. In that way oneself and others may completely cross the ocean of sufferings of samsara. How mind, wearied in samsara, eases its weariness in the land of peace is taught fully and without error.
This goes from how the beginner enters and begins, up to how the fruition of buddhahood manifests as the completed and perfect meaning of all the vehicles.
Wishing to compose the thirteen chapters of this treatise, the Great Perfection, the Nature of Mind, the Easer of Weariness, first I offer a short homage:
The primordial lord; the great, full ocean of buddha qualities;
Whose natural wisdom and kindness is limitless in its depth,
Birthplace of the Victorious Ones and all their sons,
Who emanates heaped up clouds of goodness and benefit,
I prostrate to the one who is all that is desired.
Thus I call on him. This lord is the manifestation of enlightenment, whose place is in the primordial ground. This is the teacher, the Buddha Bhagavat. Having the nature of the great full ocean of qualities of renunciation and realization, he rules the sphere of inexhaustible adornments of body, speech, and mind. All the depth and expanse of supreme understanding and wondrously arisen compassion are just this. This saying is incomprehensible to the mind that sees only the manifestations of the I of "this side."
By earnestly practicing the Dharma taught here, mind becomes the source of the jewel of the buddhas of the three times and their sons. Then for all the realms of sentient beings, as limitless as the sky, there are temporary benefits in accord with the happiness of each. Gods and human beings alike are brought to happiness.
The ultimate happiness is being brought to whichever of the three enlightenments of the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas is in accord with the good fortune of one's powers. The holy masters join us to supremely ultimate great enlightenment, omniscient buddhahood. Therefore, I prostrate to glorious Samantabhadra and so forth, all the victorious ones and their sons throughout the ten directions and the three times.
As for the ocean of buddha qualities of this primordial lord. The glorious Net of Illusion says:
The lord is timeless perfection, known as buddhahood.
This is the precious ocean of Buddha qualities.
These precious jewels also arise within the connections of cause and effect. The Uttaratantra says:
From the Buddha comes the Dharma; From the Dharma comes the assembly of the Noble Ones.
Regarding emanation of heaped up clouds of goodness and benefit for sentient beings, the Mahayanasutralankara says:
They have compassionate kindness for every sentient being.
They have the kind of vision we do not need to seek.
They have the kind of vision that is inseparable.
I prostrate to you with the vision of goodness and happiness.
We should prostrate, because there are such great benefits for both ourselves and others. Since our bodies are of this excellent kind, if we briefly praise the good fortune of words and meaning, we realize that all this is holy. If we undertake this holy activity who stay with it, we cannot but reach the goal. The Great Commentary on the Prajqaparamita in 8000 Lines says:
Those who have the kindness of benefit for others
For the sake of living beings, do not relax their powers.
Though these holy beings bear a heavy burden,
They never put it down and dwell in discouragement.
This needs to be attained by others as well. When the teacher and shastra are understood in the highest way, there is devotion. Nagarjuna says:
It is never fruitless, when the authors of the treatises
Express their homage to the teacher and the teaching;
Because of doing so they make us feel inspired.
As for saying that both kinds of benefit must be attained, by perfecting the accumulations the goal of ripening will be accomplished. The Sutra of Vast Play says:
The wishes of those with merit will surely be accomplished.
The Sutra Producing many Buddhas:
Whoever for the Conqueror as a leader,
Does even a little bit of activity,
Having gone to various celestial realms,
Will attain the level of buddhahood.
Second, the vow to compose the text:
Here why homage is made:
Luminous dharmakaya, immaculate realm of the conquerors!
For us who wander here in samsara, by ignorant grasping,
Amidst this realm of grief of karma and the kleshas,
Today may our weariness come to rest in the nature of mind.
The nature of mind is primordial luminosity, the essence of the buddha realm. It is beyond the four extremes of existence, non-existence, eternalism, and nihilism. It primordially pervades all sentient beings. The Uttaratantra says:
When by the luminous nature of the mind
It has been seen that kleshas are essenceless,
After it has been realized that all beings
Are completely pure of the four extremes,
All will dwell within perfect buddhahood,
Possessing the mind that has no obscuration.
Beings completely purified will possess
the limitless vision of the perceiver, wisdom.
Therefore, to that nature I pay homage.
Though primordially pure wisdom exists within us, by not recognizing it, we wander here in samsara. This karma of ignorance produces ego-grasping. By that in turn are produced passion, aggression, ignorance, pride, and envy. It is because of these five poisons or kleshas that we are whirling around here in samsara.
Why so? As various habitual patterns are superimposed on alaya, we enter into unhappiness. The least result is that by the karma of ignorance we are born as animals. The intermediate is that by the karma of seduction and desire we are born as pretas. The worst is that by the karma of aggression we are born in Hell.
Those who have pure merit, but also an equal amount of pride, are born as gods or human beings. Those who have equal parts of goodness and jealousy are born as asuras. Each of these has their own realm of existence, with its happiness, sorrow, and the states between them. They have their own sorts of good and evil behavior. So it is that we wander helplessly in this plain of the beginningless and endless sufferings of samsara, so difficult to cross. In vanity we grasp at an I or real self, which is like the seeming appearances of a dream. Though if we examine these well, they are non-existent, at this time of our confusion they appear to be really and truly existent. The Samadhiraja Sutra says:
The life of samsaric beings is like that in a dream.
Since this is so, no one is ever born or dies.
The Request of Bhrama says:
The beings of appearance are like those in a dream.
By their personal karma, they are bound as individuals.
They wander among samsara's many joys and sorrows.
Though their nature is suchness that is egoless
Still these unknowing children fixate I and ego,
And so samsara's torments are ever on the rise.
The sentient beings of samsara are held in various kinds of bondage. Though all dharmas are egoless, fixators of ego excluded themselves off from the eye of liberation, and have to be taught their own true essence.
How? When they know that this is their path, it is improper for them to concern themselves with the goal of peace alone. As all beings wander here in beginningless samsara, there is not even one has not been our father and our mother. So to reject them and liberate ourselves alone is not the proper way. The Teacher's Letter says:
Our kinsmen who are carried in the ocean of samsara
Seem to have tumbled down into a great abyss
If we have rejected these, who do not know what they are,
Because of the process of birth and death and transmigration,
If we produce liberation for ourselves alone,
They will never be liberated from their karma.
Thinking about that, and seeing the weariness of sentient beings, exhausted by the burden of their long wandering here in samsara, I wanted to compose a treatise giving the instructions of how we can ease this weariness by coming to the resting place ornamented by the wondrous wealth of the Victorious Ones, the level of great nirvana. I wanted to illuminate how by immeasurably abundant compassion, we can guide those wandering in samsara. The Avatamsaka Sutra says:
Kye! O son of noble family, when we see the realm of sentient beings, all undertakings of body, speech, and mind become the immeasurable great compassion. We work with the worldly sciences and those beyond the world that have come from the heads of the noble ones. Having been inspired to the good, we perform once more the buddha activity of the former Victorious Ones. Let us offer to the Tathagata. Let us raise the victory banner of Dharma. Let us introduce the great path of liberation. O Holy beings! O precious crest-ornament!
That was the vow to compose the text.
Second, there is the extensive explanation of the actual subject.
In general, the extensive explanation of the subject, how the two benefits arise, is in thirteen chapters.
I. The free and well-favored human body, so difficult to obtain
There are four sections:
A. The general explanation of being free and well favored, and how it is so difficult to obtain. B. Recognition of being free and well favored. C. True analysis of the environment and inhabitants of the phenomenal world. D. The dedication of the merit of the situation.
A. The general explanation of being free and well favored, so difficult to obtain.
Within the general topic there are
1. The summary of the essence
2. The extensive explanation of the nature.
1. The summary of the essence
Now from the explanation of the real body of the text, first, briefly, the support of establishing enlightenment is being "well-favored." As for the details, here is the praise:
My friends, this body, the precious essence of freedom and favor,
Is very hard to gain within the six realms of beings,
Thus, like a blind man who has found a precious treasure,
With excellent joy, may good and benefit be accomplished.
Who has crossed over to enlightenment? This is the spiritual friend who has established enlightenment. The instruction is given to those with the good fortune of bodhicitta, the wish for enlightenment.
In regard to attaining the holy freedoms and favors, it is wonderful even for those who are not poor to attain what is supremely precious, let alone the poor. If those who are blind and helpless attain it, it is even more astonishingly wonderful than that. As for praise of beings, who attain the free and well favored human body, while they are whirled about in the six lokas of samsara, The Sutra Teaching the Freedoms and Favors says:
It is like this: Like a blind person who finds a precious jewel among earth and stones, sentient beings wandering in samsara, blinded by cataracts of ignorance who find their real humanity are supremely joyful. And so we ought to practice the Dharma, which is always excellent.
2. The extensive explanation of the nature,
There are eight topics
a) The extensive explanation of the eighteen freedoms and favors:
If you ask what are these freedoms and excellent favors,
We were not born in Hell, nor yet among hungry ghosts.
We are not beasts, nor long lived gods, nor vicious barbarians,
We were not reared in wrong views, nor in a time without buddhas,
Nor have we been born as idiots without speech,
We are completely free from all these eight non-freedoms.
We were born in the human realm, and in a central country.
Also we sound in all our faculties,
Not having done inexpiably wrong in deeds and actions,
We are properly faithful to the objects of faith.
Thus the five holy favors regarding oneself are complete.
The Buddha has appeared and he has taught the Dharma.
Moreover, at this time the teachings still remain.
So that they may continue, people still follow them,
And others are treating us with kindness and concern.
These five favors are those that exist in regard to others.
Those were the eighteen kinds of being free and well-favored.
On this auspicious occasion they are complete within us.
So strive from the heart, that liberation may be accomplished.
We should take this to heart. Why? The life of the king of Brahmins Drvkyi Kyeche says:
It is hard to find the opposites of the eight non-freedoms.
It is hard to find attainment of humanity.
It is hard to find the freedoms in purity and completeness.
It is hard to find the arising of a buddha.
It is hard to find true powers that are without defect.
It is hard to listen to the teachings of a buddha.
It is hard to find the friendship of any holy beings.
It is hard to meet with genuine spiritual friends.
If we are born as Hell beings, pretas, or animals; distracted by suffering, we have no freedom of body.
The blind, who cannot associate verbal symbols with their meanings, have no freedom of speech.
Those who are long-lived may never see the practice of Dharma. Buddhas may be absent, so that they arise in a dark kalpa without the appearance of the teachings. Even if buddhas appear, people may be coarse barbarians with no idea of entering. Even those who want to enter, falling into extremes of exaggeration or denigration, may fall into the four wrong views. Such people have no freedom of mind.
None of these have an opportunity to practice Dharma. They have been deprived of it by their own bad karma of the eight non-freedoms. By abandoning those eight, one always has the corresponding freedoms.
The Commentary on the Prajqaparamita in Eight Thousand Lines says:
Beings in Hell, the pretas, and the animals;
The long-lived gods and those who are barbarians,
Those in an age without buddhas and those who have wrong views,
These and the blind comprise the eight states of non-freedom.
The Spiritual Letter, says:
Those who grasp wrong views and animals,
The hungry ghosts and beings born in Hell,
Those without the word of Victory,
And those who are born as savage barbarians,
The blind, the feeble-minded, and the gods;
These possess the faults of the eight non-freedoms.
Those who have the freedoms from these eight
Should strive in eliminating further births.
As for being well-favored, the Moon in your Heart Sutra says:
Those for whom the ten qualities are complete
Are said to be the ones who are well-favored.
What are these ten qualities. The following have been listed:
1. We have left behind the lower realms of life.
2. We are not feeble-minded.
3. Our senses are not impaired.
4. We are born as vessels.
5. Our health is good.
6. We are not impoverished.
7. We are not enslaved.
8. We have the power to use words.
9. We have come within view of many noble beings.
That is many people's view of what they are. But here they are as in the Sutra of the Twelve Perfections:
These are the five perfections pertaining to oneself
1. We have attained the human condition.
2. We are born in a country where there are noble ones.
3. Our powers are sound.
4. We have not performed extremely evil deeds.
5. We have faith in the proper topics of faith.
These are the five perfections pertaining to others.
6. A buddha has come.
7. The Dharma has been taught.
8. The holy Dharma still remains.
9. Others also practice it.
10. Others show kindness to those who practice the Dharma.
As for kindness to others, the spiritual friend apprehends us with compassion, and leads us to the Dharma. As for there being twelve perfections, the two bases of distinction are also counted. A tantra commentary says:
A central human being with faculties that are sound,
Without extreme bad actions, but with faith in the objects of faith.
These are the five kinds of favor pertaining to oneself.
A buddha has come and taught, and the teaching still remains.
The teaching still is followed and beings are kind to others.
These are the five kinds of favor pertaining to other beings.
Here the freedoms are the essence and the favors are its particular dharmas. This is like the blue utpala lotus and its stalk and so forth. The Middle Length Prajqaparamita says:
If even becoming human is difficult to attain,
Why even speak of completing the view of the precious freedoms?
b) Not being steadfast, even if we have the freedoms and favors
Even though we may have attained all of these freedoms, by craving samsaric happiness even a little:
If we accomplish no benefit within this life,
We may not hear later even the words "the higher realms".
Cycling again and again on the wheel of samsara
For a long time we will have to stay in the lower realms.
Having no knowledge of what we should accept and reject,
We will certainly go upon a mistaken path
Wandering in samsara, without beginning or end.
If within this life, so good to obtain, we do not practice the beneficial holy Dharma, by the power of karma we will be born in the lower realms. There we shall not so much as hear the words "higher realms," to say nothing of going there. The Bodhicharyavatara says:
As for our behavior which is of such a kind,
If we shall not even gain a human body,
It goes without saying we cannot go to higher realms.
For if we shall not even gain a human body,
We shall do only evil, and there can be no good.
Now when there is a chance for excellent behavior,
If, even so, good actions are not what we perform,
What are you going to do when they have come for you
With the stupefying sufferings of the lower realms?
If we go to the lower realms, we shall not be liberated for a very long time. The same text says:
Even in the course of a thousand million kalpas
I will not even hear the words, "the higher realms."
c) The instruction to strive for the Dharma
An opportunity of liberation from the limitless depth of samsara is hard to find. So let us strive for the Dharma with all our hearts. That is the instruction.
Therefore, now when we still have the power to do so,
By auspicious conditions that accord with the proper path,
Relying on the inexhaustible wholesome dharmas
Gained by having gathered the two accumulations,
Let us pass beyond the city of samsara.
Keep in mind aging, becoming old and decrepit, and dying. Now while we still can, let us be guided by the path of liberation. If we do whatever goodness we can, we shall surely come forth from samsara. The Sutra of the Vast Display says:
O monks, because death, aging and enfeeblement are non-existent, because by nourishing goodness, one's powers will be transformed, and because enlightenment will proliferate, strive to accumulate merit and wisdom. For you the three cities of samsara will be emptied. The gates to the lower realms will be cut off. The stairway to the higher realms will be established. The realm of liberation will be attained.
d) How we must work hard at this
When the freedoms and favors of knowing about and establishing such benefit and goodness are accomplished by a guide who is our spiritual friend, extreme situations do not manifest. When this precious ship has been attained in the middle of the fearful, limitless ocean of samsara:
If we do not cross the limitless ocean of samsara
Now at the time of having attained this precious ship,
Then how can we do it at another time
When painful waves of the kleshas are always utterly raging?
If we have a great ship which will serve our purpose, we should use it to cross the ocean. Similarly, having attained this ship of humanity, we should cross the great ocean of samsara, so fearful and unbearable, whose beginning and end are not apparent. Because of wandering in constant birth, old age, sickness, and death, samsaric situations are never bearable. Shantideva says in the Bodhicharyavatara:
Whoever with the support of this ship of human birth,
Can cross the great waters of the river of suffering,
Since later such a ship may be difficult to find,
Would be wrong to sleep at this time, because of stupidity.
e) The suitability of this,
Because the freedoms and favors are so difficult to attain:
Therefore, quickly donning the armor of exertion
Clear the murk of mind and the events of mind,
And thus complete the path of spotless, luminous wisdom.
May the path of enlightenment be without obstacles.
When the turbulence of samsaric mind and mental events is pacified, the luminous wisdom of the nature of mind naturally rises. Becoming familiar with this is called the path of enlightenment. Try to practice it uninterruptedly day and night, abandoning sleep and tiredness. Just remain THERE. The Five Stages says:
All the complexities of mind and mental events
At the time when these are completely pacified
Arise as luminosity, the state of wisdom,
This is without conceptions and has no center or limit.
Here, "Mind," means exaggerated conceptions which support the three realms. By the expressions of subsequent analysis in terms of these there arise murky disturbances that obscure suchness. But when these conceptions are completely pacified, we enter into wisdom that is completely non-conceptualized. The Two Truths says:
Mind and mental contents are merely conceptualization,
Exaggerated phenomena, the three realms of samsara.
Samsaric mind correlates with the generalized conception of "this," when an object is first seen. "That's an utpala lotus" is the mind's consciousness of such a first moment. Then, as we discriminate various distinctions of that object, we make analytic demarcations of the contents of mind. Here there are such conceptions as, "this utpala lotus is blue in color, and round in shape. It has a blossom, stamens, and pistil." The Center and Extremes says:
To see the object as "that" is consciousness.
Distinctions of that are objects of the mind.
The Abhidharmakosha says:
There are conception and analytic discernment and these may be fine and coarse.
All who are bound in such conception and analytical discernment, bound by such habitual patterns of mind and mental events, are blocked from the level of buddhahood. The Madhyamakavatara says:
When all the dry firewood of knowable objects has been burned,
There is peace, the dharmakaya of the victorious ones.
Then there is no arising, and also no cessation.
Cessation of mind brings manifestation of the kayas.
When, within self-awareness wisdom, we become enmeshed in the net of the kleshas, because of the confusion of grasping and fixation, that is called "samsaric mind," the dim and dismal cellar of examination and analysis. Liberation from that is buddhahood. The enlightened object and perceiver are free from the attachment to the examination and analysis of grasping and fixation. The Praise of the Vajra of Mind, says:
If we are enmeshed within the net of kleshas,
"Mind" is that which is expressible by speech.
If we should be separated from the kleshas,
This is the very thing that is known as buddhahood.
The Abhisamayalankara says:
Having "big mind" is the jewel itself
Buddhahood is having "big mind," or the great wisdom. The Sutra on the Array of Qualities, says:
The mind of sentient beings is that of false conception.
However, the great wisdom is the mind of buddhahood.
Just like gold in mountains or in the banks of rivers,
Sometimes it is pure and sometimes it is not.
In mantrayana big mind and its big kleshas are said to be wisdom itself. It is like that:
The dimness that does not know that is purified of its blindness.
The unceasing desire of mind is stupidity. When we meditate, objects still appear within awareness, but awareness of concept and analysis ceases. The Sutra on the Bases of Discipline says:
Within dhyana O monks, though the motion of mind has ceased, objects still appear within the sense-consciousnesses. Objects whirl with the motions of samsara.
But now they are like fleeting reflections in a still pond.
The Ascertainment of Proper Reasoning says:
Even when the inner self rests motionless,
Visual forms arise in the mind of the visual sense.
Within the senses, apparent objects are not conceptualized. The same text says:
This is taught because sense-awareness is not samsaric.
In brief, conceptualization and analysis of objects produced due to grasping and fixation are called samsaric mind and its mental objects. Object and insight when grasping and fixation are completely pacified are kaya and wisdom. The Sutra of the Glorious Garland says:
Whenever there are distinctions of grasping and fixation, that is reprovable. Such conceptualization of objects is the mind of samsara. Whenever grasping and fixation do not exist, object and insight are the wisdom of liberation.
By that it is established.
f) The samsaric torments if we do not make an effort now.
A person who has the Dharma by the power of former goodness:
Whoever has the happy good fortune of the Dharma,
Becoming a vessel of that precious spotlessness,
Yet has no use for its cooling rain of Dharma-amrita,
Will be annihilated by the torments of samsara.
The holy rain of the cooling waters of wisdom
From the banks of clouds of benefit and great bliss
Falls to cleanse the free and favored minds of beings.
Being a good vessel is like having the precious human body. When the rain of Dharma falls on us, if we are not vessels who can hold it, we will only exhaust oneself in suffering in the torments of samsara. The Generation Born in an Iron House says:
Even though the free and favored vessel is gained,
Since no drops of Dharma are received within it,
We shall roast in Hellfire, so difficult to bear.
Long and excruciating pain will be our karma.
g) The teaching of the freedoms and favors, which support the Dharma.
Supported by the freedoms that we have, the natural arising of Dharma is like this:
Therefore joyfully practice the Dharma from your heart.
That is the instruction. The supreme teachings of the Buddha are the rain of Dharma. The freedoms and favors are its support. This rain naturally falls. The Arrangement of the Vessel says:
Kye! O child of a noble family, for those with the freedoms and favors, the great rain of perfect Dharma will fall. They will possess immeasurable benefits.
h) Why the freedoms and favors are difficult to obtain:
It is harder for us to gain a human birth
Than for a tortoise to thrust its head into a yoke
That is tossed about in the middle of the ocean.
That is what the teacher of Gods and men has said.
Then why even speak of a free and well favored body.
Let us be diligent in days that are to come.
Let us say that a turtle lives in an ocean for a hundred times a hundred years. Floating upon that ocean is a single yoke with a hole in it, blown by the wind so that it did not stay in one place for even a moment. It is very unlikely that the turtle's throat will be thrust into it. But obtaining a human body from within the lower realms of samsara is taught to be far more difficult. The Spiritual Letter says:
It is harder to gain a human birth and the Dharma,
From the state of having been an animal,
Than for a turtle to put its head into a yoke
While both of them are lost in the vastness of the ocean.
Therefore with these faculties of human beings
By practicing holy Dharma let us reach its fruition.
The Bodhicharyavatara says: 4.20
This is the reason why the Bhagavan has taught
That attaining human birth is much more difficult
Than for a turtle to put its head into a yoke,
Tossed within the vastness of a limitless ocean.
As for the scripture they are speaking about, the Bunch of Flowers says:
It is difficult for the Buddha Bhagavats to enter into the world. But very much more difficult than that is attaining human birth. Let the reason for this be taught in an example. O Shariputra, let the great difficulty of the first be like an ocean. Within it let there be a yoke, having a single hole. Let there also be a decrepit turtle. In that great ocean the wind blows from above and blows from below, and as it blows these things about, that decrepit turtle rises out of the ocean once in a hundred times a hundred years. The difficulty of becoming human again after having fallen back is not equal to that of the throat of that decrepit turtle that rises once in a hundred times a hundred years quickly entering into the hole of that quickly moving yoke. For those who fall away like that, becoming human again is very much more difficult.
If even attaining the human body is so very difficult, why even speak of a body with the freedoms and favors, and the view that realizes the Dharma. The Bodhicharyavatara says: 4.15
That a tathagata has actually arisen,
That we have faith, and have attained a human body,
And that, in addition, we can practice goodness;
When will what is so rare ever be gained again?
The Request of The One with the Jewel in the Crown says:
To see a guide is something very hard to find.
To hear the teachings, the Dharma of peace, is very hard.
It is very hard to be born as a free and favored person.
Discipline and faith are always hard to find.
B. Now there is the second division of the general meaning: delineating the nature of the freedoms and favors
There are six sections:
1. The explanation of merely attaining a human body.
What is a "precious human body?"
a. Here is the explanation of the three divisions of those with a human body:
There are some who merely gain a human birth,
Some whose body is special, and some whose birth is precious.
b. What is said about the divisions:
Respectively these are persons who act improperly,
Because they have no knowledge of what is right and wrong.
Even if their powers are sound, their birth is common.
They are barbarians even in the central realm.
The Sutra of Precious Space says:
These are born in the human world because of former goodness, have senses that are completely sound, and always are born in a country where the Dharma is practiced. However, they still do not know about karma and its ripening.
Many of them will depend on the path of what is not good. It may be said that these have become human beings, but they will only be the worse for it. That is the last time they will be human, because they will fall without limit into the lower realms of death.
2. The special human body
Those who do not apply the teachings are confused
They do not have proper faith about what is right and wrong.
Preoccupied with this life, distracted by its business,
Undisciplined and beguiled, neglecting what is to come, With no interest in liberation, though they may hear the Dharma,
They do not have the best body, but only the middle kind.
Occasionally their minds are drawn to something wholesome,
But mostly their mental vision is blocked by evil deeds.
They only go through the motions, what good are they to anyone?
Whether they take the form of a householder or a monk,
Only because they are slightly above lower realms,
The Buddha has said that these have a special human body.
The Sutra of Precious Space says:
In the realm of sentient beings some do not dwell purely in the Dharma, even though they could, because their behavior mixes right and wrong, and they are preoccupied with worldly activities. Even if they are sincere, with undisciplined body, speech, and mind, they are easily seduced. Falling into the three lower realms, they have the karma of remaining there. However, since they have seen the sunlight of the Buddha's compassion, and have had seeds of liberation for a long time, they are said to have the special human body.
Because their behavior mixes vice and virtue and they give only lip service to devotion, they are not protected from the lower realms. The Samadhiraja Sutra says:
Breaking their discipline, they go to the lower realms.
They are unprotected, no matter how great their learning.
The Nirvana Sutra says:
Kashyapa, the monk Devadatta had heard only the ordinary sutra vehicle of the burden of an elephant. Even though he grasped it, because of his non-virtue, he fell into the lower realms.
The Pair Sutra says:
Collection of Medicines, those sentient beings who wail so at the time of death are not among the ones who possess ripened karma of good deeds. If these are protected from karma, who would not be?
Also it says there:
Though the Tathagata has arisen and been seen,
And though the striking of the gandi has been heard,
Though they have heard the teachings of the holy Dharma,
Which take us to the peace which is called nirvana,
Nevertheless they never acted on what they heard.
People such as these are later going to say:
I am a person with the mind of a perfect fool.
Having fallen under the power of bad companions,
By the desires which rose from confusion in my mind,
I produced the karma of many evil deeds.
By cultivating and going along with these desires
I have been a murderer of living beings.
By listening to the people who waste the goods of the Sangha
I had to know the unbearable fruit of doing that.
I am destroying stupas by my harmful thoughts
By malicious words I punish everyone, even my mother.
Regarding this human body that I formerly made
Soon all my transgressions will be common knowledge.
My mind will then be summoned to the lowest Hells.
The births I see ahead are more than I can bear.
3. The Precious Human Body.
As for the third part:
Supremely excellent beings, spotless vessels of Dharma
Apply their powers to what they hear and contemplate.
Having tamed themselves, they establish others in goodness.
They are immovable in their practice, like Mount Meru.
All these straightforward sages, like banners of saintliness,
Whether they are householders or renunciates,
Are taught by the Teacher to have the precious human body.
After having tamed oneself by hearing, contemplating, and the yogic resting of meditation, one also exhorts others to goodness. That is the good gate of auspicious Dharma. Putting on the great armor of liberation one flourishes the great banner of the sages. Calling this badge or clothing a victory banner is not just a figure of speech. When we urge others to work for the good, whether one lives in a house or is a renunciate, this is called having the precious human body. The Sutra of Glorious Secret says:
Glorious Secret, though many have heard this, their hearing is obstructed. The meaning is made into conceptualized thoughts. But by meditating without kleshas, union is produced. If one also urges others to do this, this produces the essence of the freedoms and favors, the most sublimely beautiful thing in this world including its gods.
Also the Middle Length Prajqaparamita says:
Subhuti, bodhisattvas say, "I practice the good," to exhort others to do the same. Producing the essence of the freedoms and favors, this is praised by all the buddhas. I praise it.
I honor it.
As to how others should be exhorted the Vast Play says:
All compounded things will quickly be destroyed.
Like lightening in the sky they cannot last for long.
As your time too is therefore drawing ever nearer,
The time has come for true repentance to manifest.
The master Chandrakirti says:
First for a little while all the listeners
Will certainly be joined to small talk and the like.
When they become good vessels, after that occurs,
That is the time to relate to them with deeper words.
That is how it should be done. What it is to be such a vessel, generally depends on which of the vehicles one is concerned with. In particular, as for the freedoms and favors in the unsurpassable vessel, the Jewel of Space Sutra says:
The bodhisattva Akashagarbha asked, "Bhagavan, how should the freedoms and favors be viewed?"
This was the word of the Buddha: If it is divided by the discursive conceptions of mind, it is abused. This should be known as disturbing what one is engaged in. After discursive conceptions of mind have been pacified, resting within the nature is known as freedom. As for the favors, if the nature of mind, awareness, receives the wealth of what mind really is, that is being well-favored.
4. Why we should think about the Dharma.
Here is the reason why the person who has attained freedom and favor should think only of the Dharma:
Therefore, having heard the Dharma from holy beings,
To establish what is proper, abide within in the Dharma
Cultivate what is Dharmic, weed out what is not.
By practicing Dharma, we will abide within the Dharma.
That is the holy instruction. It is difficult to meet with a spiritual friend. To hear the Dharma and be able to practice it is difficult. Always to work hard is very difficult. When the Buddha was expounding the scriptures of the Vinaya at Vaishali, this was among the beneficial instructions given:
O monks, look on the beings of the lower realms. After going there, a material human form is very difficult to obtain. Look on bad teachers. Meeting a genuine spiritual friend is very difficult. Look on those who have broken their discipline, and how they have damaged discipline and liberation. By dwelling in the goodness of renunciation, Dharma, which alone is good, will be practiced. Therefore, joyfully dwell in forests or monasteries, and go beyond these others.
5. The benefit of contemplating the reason
As for the benefit produced:
Procrastinate no longer. Cross over samsara's ocean.
Quickly go to the island of peace and pass beyond suffering.
The Request of Devaputra Sutra says:
Devaputra, Exerting ourselves in this alone, let us exert ourselves on the side of the good. We shall quickly hold the benefits of complete, perfect enlightenment.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Having well attended an excellent spiritual friend,
We ought to make the attempt to behave in a decent way.
This is what was taught by the utterly perfect Sage.
Attend on holy beings, for having attended them,
There are very many who will attain to peace.
6. If the inhabitants of this earth practice, there will be great benefit.
Beings who have been born as inhabitants of this earth, Jambuling, have established a portion of goodness. But if, having become human beings, they do not train in goodness, here is what is said:
There is no one who has a mind more foolish
Than those becoming human who do not live in goodness.
Like coming back empty-handed from a land of jewels,
They make no use of the freedom and favor of their lives.
So let us act in the way of the Dharma, which leads to peace.
Though we may have attained these freedoms, if we do not practice the holy Dharma, then even though we have come to an island of precious jewels, we take none of them. Returning empty-handed, we are fools. The Bodhicharyavatara says: 4.23
If even having attained the leisure of these freedoms
We do not train in what is wholesome and what is good,
There is no seduction that is greater than this.
There can be no fool who is greater than such a one.
After doing some insignificant bit of good, we shall not have complete attainment. But by exerting themselves in the truth and goodness of Dharma alone, many attain the perfection of the Buddha qualities. The Precious Mala says:
Thus it is that if we always practice the Dharma,
We shall be the masters of all within the world.
Whoever transforms what is noxious into goodness,
In a little while will surely reach the peak.
Because the good of Dharma will wake us from our sleep,
When we awake to goodness, we shall be purified.
Because the master within us is one who has no faults,
Even in dreams we shall see what is virtuous and wholesome.
If we have respectful devotion to our parents,
Attending on the principal persons of our family,
Committing ourselves with patience to virtuous behavior,
Speaking soft words of truth without any calumny,
By such discipline over a single lifetime,
The powers of a god have actually been attained.
Once again at this time, we shall produce those powers,
We gradually will establish the state of buddhahood.
As for the benefits, the fruition of such karma,
We shall act in accordance with what we have come to know.
If we are always performing benefits for beings,
This itself will be of benefit to us.
While we do so, for this reason, there will be the wholesome merits of the Dharma.
C. True examination of the nature of the environment and inhabitants of the phenomenal world,
There are six sections:
1. The teaching of mind, the root of Dharma.
When we undertake to find the natures of the environment and inhabitants of the phenomenal world, they are truly analyzed as being one:
Dharma depends on mind, and likewise mind in turn
Depends on the freedoms and favors, so both depend on them.
Now these many conditions and causes have come together.
The thing we chiefly need to do is tame our minds.
All dharmas depend on mind. Mind depends on the free and well-favored human body. This is the interdependent arising of the environment and inhabitants of the phenomenal world. Mind is the realm of Dharma, the cause of all that is wholesome. As it is the companion necessary condition of the freedoms and favors, we must study exactly how to tame the mind. The Spiritual Letter says:
The Bhagavan says we must tame our minds.
Mind is the root of Dharma, as is taught.
The All-creating King, says:
Without remainder all dharmas, however they appear,
Are emanated by mind, produced by the nature of mind.
The Lankavatara Sutra says:
Though reflections may appear within a mirror
They do not exist; and if we do not know
The appearances of mind as mere appearances,
The duality of conceptual thinking will arise.
With the seeds of habitual patterns, what is completely pure
Arises as the variety of the mental contents.
Though for human beings these seem to be external,
Nevertheless the phenomenal world is only mind.
Also it says there, in regard to mind that does not possess true reality:
For mind that is disturbed by seeds of habitual patterns
Within the completely real, appearances will arise.
The appearances of mind are like those of a dream. Arising merely from the viewpoint of confused mind, the variety of inner and outer arises as nothing at all. Such appearances arise from the seeds of confused habitual patterns. In reality they do not truly exist; but because they appear in the mind as if they did, mind is the root of all dharmas. Though mountains and so forth appear externally projected from the viewpoint of confused mind, there are really no mountains. They exist only in the mind. If students have not guarded the mind before, they will not be able to guard it later. The Bodhicharyavatara says:
If this mind has not been guarded previously,
We will not be able to keep the disciplines.
Also it says there:
Aside from the kind of discipline that guards the mind,
What is the use of performing many disciplines?
Also it says there:
Thus it is that everything that frightens us,
And also all of our measureless pain and suffering,
Are only contents that have risen with the mind.
So it has been taught by the Speaker of Truth himself.
Who was it that produced the multitude of weapons
For the use of sentient beings within the Hells?
Who was it that produced this ground of blazing iron?
From where do these multitudes of blazing flames arise?
Every one of them, and all such things as these,
Are the mind of the evil-doer, so the Sage has said.
Thus it is that in the whole of this three-fold world,
There are no terrors that are other than the mind.
Also it says there: 5.5
If we ever succeed in taming the mind alone,
All these various things will likewise have been tamed.
Since all that is wholesome and unwholesome within samsara has arisen from mind, working to tame the mind is the root of all Dharmas. The Sutra of the Clouds of the Three Jewels says:
When we have been instructed by our worldly mind,
This mind of ours will never see the actual mind.
All our virtuous karma and that which has no goodness
Are nothing but collections in that worldly mind.
Also it says there in the chapter called, "Guarding the light:"
Mind produces various karmas like a painter.
In manifesting all harm, it is like an external danger.
In producing all suffering, it is like an enemy.
The Dro Namje Sutra says
The ground is made of iron, blazing hot,
And blazing tongues of flame are everywhere.
The justice of the sharpened iron saws
Divides a single body into eight.
Such things as these arise as mental contents,
From evil acts of body, speech, or mind.
Mind is the root of all our joys and sorrows. Our only effort should be to tame the mind.
2. The Instruction that We Should Exert ourselves in Dharma Day and Night.
When we are wandering in samsara, as successive distractions occurring time and time again, here is what should be done:
Being terrified of death, within our endless births,
With deprivation and suffering falling on us like rain,
Arises from making no use of being free and well-favored.
The result is a state of becoming radically disturbed.
The higher manifestations, the dharmas of truth and goodness
Arise from thinking how hard it is to be free and favored,
Enjoy such an effort unstintingly, working day and night.
The Gandavyuha Sutra says:
Kye! O son of noble family, wherever beings wander within samsara, the body adorned with the freedoms and favors, so hard to obtain, is not produced, due to manifestation of thoughts. Because of the bad company of non-spiritual friends, there are samsaric phenomena, and we are tormented in flames of suffering. Nevertheless, by contemplating the freedoms and favors, we shall be completely liberated from samsara.
3. When the benefits have been explained, we arouse joy
Now there is the instruction to be joyful because of these benefits:
Here since it is useful to have seen a guide,
And it is of use to hear the Dharma and practice it,
Making use of this life and all its later fruits,
Arises from having gained this free and favored body.
Contemplate this again and again, with the highest joy.
Having seen how Buddhas of former times were completely liberated, having the benefit of being well- favored day and night on the present occasion, and collecting the seeds of a later liberation--this is what we have, if we are among the fortunate. All this arises from contemplating the freedoms and favors, which are so hard to obtain. The Closely Placed Mindfulness says:
Ananda, how should the arising of what has been well seen and well heard by you from having contemplated the freedoms and favors be viewed? It is what establishes the happiness of beings, and whatever good dharmas there may be. That is how it should be viewed.
Therefore, let us meditate with heartfelt joy on having attained these freedoms.
4. How we can attain superhuman goodness
Now, moreover there is the explanation of how superhuman goodness is to be established:
Since having attained the deathless level of amrita
By the Lord of this world of beings, including the gods,
And his sons among the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas,
Arose from having attained the precious human body,
The freedoms and favors are praised as better than being a god.
Therefore, rejoice in having attained this human body.
When the Sage, the Bhagavan, attained enlightenment, he became the chief of the human beings of Jambuling. Therefore, he was called better than the gods. The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment says:
Enlightenment in the realm of the gods produces an exclusive pride, and truth is not completely realized. It is seen only as a human being, for whom the freedoms and favors are complete. Therefore, to the place of those who dress in yellow and white.
The Bodhicharyavatara says:
This body, which is better than the body of a god...
5. Praise of the freedoms and favors, the support of all the vehicles
The level of wisdom, that sees the truth without conception
Is easy to gain among gods and men as a human being.
Even the vajra vehicle, profoundest heart of the path,
Is easily gained as the fruit of attaining a human body.
It is taught that among the foundations of the Dharma,
Within both the greater and the lesser vehicles,
The free and well favored human body is best of all.
The Abhidharmakosha says:
Thirdly, nothing higher than this is seen:
Within the valley of sadness of human beings
So that they might see its end this was composed.
Also the suchness of the secret mantra is quickly established with the support of human birth. The Tantra of Exhausting the Four Elements says:
This is the wondrously risen king of secret mantra.
If human beings exert themselves in gaining it,
Accomplishment occurs within this very life.
Why even speak of the siddhis of any other yogas?
Therefore, as the support of all the vehicles, the freedoms and favors have been praised.
6. Meditating on how difficult these are to obtain.
To take this difficulty of obtaining a human body as an object of meditation, sit on a comfortable seat. Take refuge and arouse bodhicitta. Then we visualize our own bodies, adorned with the freedoms and favors:
As a poor man who has found a gem of the highest value,
Fearful and anxious that it was nothing but a dream,
Contemplate the freedoms and favors with joyful longing,
Since this will establish the holy benefits of the Dharma.
Like a poor man who finds the finest of gems, let us rejoice in having obtained these freedoms and favors. This is a Dharma that should be practiced exclusively. Thinking, "If only this is not a dream!" we are afraid and terrified. Since we have attained it, meditating in heartfelt joy, let us dedicate it to the ultimate benefit of sentient beings. The Discrimination of Scripture says:
Maudgala, these freedoms alone should be contemplated. Remember them with joy.
D. The fourth section of the general meaning: Dedicating the Merit.
Now there is the dedication of the merit of having taught the freedoms and favors to sentient beings:
The futile agitation of beings is pacified,
By the precious amrita of this auspicious news.
Going into sweet solitude of pleasant forest retreats,
May Mind, worn out within this thicket of the kleshas,
Be freed this very day from all its weariness.
By looking at this explanation of the holy amrita of peace, adorned with a continuous stream of the flowers of truth, may all beings, exhausted by the agitations of this life, eliminate them. In a single joyful life, in the peaceful solitude of meditation, may their minds, long wearied by samsara, be released from that weariness.
This is the instruction on the particular topic of easing weariness. May the meaning of the whole chapter showing samsara and its sadness be instantly taken to heart. There is also a dedication written after completing the chapter. May the further chapters also be known in that way:
In peaceful forests, caves, and joyful valleys of herbs,
Dancing with moving flowers, to the rush of waterfalls,
May this mind, which has been so long in complete exhaustion.
Producing the holy benefit of the freedoms and favors,
Come to rest in unmoving equality/equanimity.
May no beings be seen who are not tamed by that.
With pacification of kleshas and the seven noble riches
After leaving behind this body and this life,
May we reach the primordial level--the King of Mind.
II: The Impermanence of Life
There are five sections.
A. The brief teaching.
B. The extended explanation.
C. The instruction that we should exert ourselves. D. The concluding summary.
E. The dedication of merit.
A. The brief teaching.
Even though the freedoms, so difficult to obtain, have been obtained, since our minds are not stable, we are instructed that our nature is such that we need to exert ourselves:
Even if this hard-won freedom has been gained,
These destructible dharmas will not last for even an instant.
If they are examined, they are without an essence.
They are no more to be trusted than bubbles floating on water;
So contemplate day and night the certainty of death.
Even if the freedoms and favors are obtained, they cannot be permanent. They have no heart like a banana tree and, will not bear analysis. Like bubbles on water, they appear for only a moment. Then every one of their main and subsidiary characteristics is destroyed. On examination, they are necessarily found to be separable from reality. The Shrine of Telling the Reason Why says:
Kye ma! How impermanent are all compounded things!
Anything that is born is going to be destroyed.
Since having once been born, all will be destroyed,
"Them as dies quickly will be the lucky ones!"
They are like starry lamps that are clouded-over with mist,
Ephemeral things like bubbles on water or drops of dew,
Dreamily insubstantial, like lightning in the clouds.
All compounded things are taught to be that way.
B. The extended explanation,
1. Grasping the importance of the impermanence of the human body.
This essenceless body is impure and changeable. Its individual qualities are separable and nothing about it continues. Here is the instruction that those inclined to material desires should absorb the mind day and night in contemplating impermanence:
This body, the principal source of the rising of the kleshas,
Is the source of all suffering and unhappiness of the mind.
Though decked in garments and ornaments, flower garlands and such,
And worshipped with many offerings of food and drink,
In the end we must separate and part from it.
Because it is impermanent and destructible,
This body will be food for foxes, vultures, and jackals.
Abandon all thoughts that it is important, lasting, or pure.
Rather, from now on, let us practice the holy Dharma.
Grasping our alleged bodies as a permanent I and self, we offer them food and clothing, tending them with a level of ceremony befitting our ideas. Though we hardly want to talk about it, sorrowful time speaks instead by reversing our ministrations to harm. Shantideva says:
This body of ours is like a momentary reflection.
The time when we will be taken by the Lord of Death comes without warning. When the mind separates from the body, we cannot be with the body any more. It will be food for charnel birds, dogs, foxes, and vultures. To count such a thing as paramount and even think that we should do evil deeds for its sake should be regarded as vanity. Really we are something like a servant indentured to the body's happiness. Why is the body so worthy of being rewarded with food and clothing? What is worth exertion day and night is the Dharma. The Sutra of Instructions to the King says:
O great king, these have an essence like a great mountain, solid and firm in all the four directions. This mountain is indestructible, not to be split, very hard, undamageable. Its four sides, dense and massive, touch the sky and return again to the earth. Grass, trees with trunks, branches, and all their leaves, living things, and spirits accumulate there, like flour on a mill- stone.
To escape it by speed, remove it by force, buy it off, or get rid of it with substances, mantras, and medicinal herbs is no easy task.
O great king, that is what these four great terrors are like. One cannot escape them by speed, remove them by force, buy them off. To get rid of them with substances, mantras, and medicinal herbs is no easy task.
What are these four? They are old age, sickness, death, and deterioration.
O great king, old age comes to conquer youth. Illness comes to conquer health. Deterioration comes to conquer all our good qualities. Death comes to conquer life itself. One cannot escape them by speed, remove them by force, or buy them off. To get rid of them with substances, mantras, and medicinal herbs is no easy task.
O great king, it is like this. The king of beasts, the lion, dwells among the beasts. He preys on the beasts. He rules as he wishes. The beasts are powerless against his mighty jaws.
O great king, it is like this. There is no provision against the gleaming staff of the Lord of Death, there is no protector, no refuge, no friendly forces, no friends and relatives. Our joints will divide and come apart. Our flesh and blood will dry up. Our bodies will be racked by sickness. We shall rage with thirst. Our arms and legs will convulse. We will not be able to act. We will have no strength. Our bodies will be covered in saliva, mucus, urine, and vomit. Our powers of vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch, and thought will fade away. We shall vomit. Our voices will crack and wheeze. Our medicines will be given up as useless. All our medicine, food, and drink will be thrown away. Our possessions will go to others. We shall lie in our beds for the last time. We shall subside into the beginningless round of birth, old age, and death. We shall have no body. We shall be terrified by the Lord of Death. Our powers of acting will be gone. Our breathing will stop. Our mouths and noses will gape. Our teeth will be exposed. They will demand, "Give us our inheritance." Our karma will take over, and we shall pass into the control of samsaric existence. Alone without a second, we shall be friendless.
We shall leave this world. We shall be outside the world. We shall be borne up in the great change of abode which is death. We shall dwell in the great darkness. We shall fall over the great precipice. We shall be crowded off the edge of the world. We shall be cast into the great wilderness. The great ocean will carry us away. Our karmic energy will pass away. We shall go to ugly places. We shall enter the great battle. We shall be seized by the great harm. We shall die away into space. Our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters will gather round. Our breathing will stop. They will say that our property and clothes should be handed out. Oh no! our fathers will say. Oh no! our mothers will say. Oh no! our children will say. Fear will overwhelm us. Generosity, penance, and Dharma will be our only friends. There will be no refuge but Dharma. There will be no other protector. There will be no other friendly forces.
O great king, at this time, at this moment, the Dharma will be an island, a dwelling, a protector, a teacher. O great king, though looking like we are asleep in our beds, we shall experience appearances of the life to come. If we are going to go to the lower realms, terrifying premonitions of those realms will arise. What refuge will there be then but Dharma?
O great king, You should fully guard such a body. But no matter how perfectly you look after it, its time of death will come. Intimates having all virtues, with whom we have been satisfied by much pure food and drink and so on, parents and children, will be there for the last time. The medicines will be thrown away. When everything is gone, we will be unhappy. Such will be the time of death.
O great king, your body will be repeatedly washed and fumigated with incense. It will be covered with fragrant flowers and, no doubt, pleasantly perfumed aromas will arise.
O great king, you will be dressed in fine clothes of Varanasi cotton and silk, and when this has been done for the last time, it will be like going to a defiled, stinking place, as a servant who has to go alone, and so the time of death will come.
O great king, though you have enjoyed your various desirable possessions, abandoning them all, as if they did not satisfy your desires, the time of death will come.
O great king, within your house incense, flowers, silk hangings, seats, and various cloths will be collected. With the pillows on the left and right, your bed will be taken away to the great charnel ground full of crows, foxes, and nauseating human corpses. Doubtless your motionless body will lie upon the ground.
O great king, as you are thus carried on the backs of your elephants, horses, and so on, different kinds of music will be heard and pleasantly enjoyed. Various parasols, victory banners, and so forth will be raised aloft. The new king, minister, and friends and relatives will make pleasant little speeches, praising you and going to look at you. The bed, formerly not raised very far, after you have died in it will be raised high by four pallbearers, lifted by your brothers and so forth. After servants, compelled by painful beatings bring it out by the south gate of the city, in a solitary wild place it will be put down on the earth. You will be eaten by crows, vultures, foxes, and so forth. Your bones will be burned by fire, thrown into water, or put on the ground, whichever it may be. They will be dispersed by wind, sun, and rain, and strewn in all directions. They will rot.
O great king, all composite things are impermanent. Do not rely on them.
This extensive teaching should be taken to heart and remembered. Persons knowing that the appearances of this life, no matter what they are, are empty, should try to exert themselves solely in practicing the holy Dharma, day and night.
2. To attain even the realm of Bhrama and so forth is impermanent.
Those who are the true foundation of wealth on the three levels Gods like Bhrama Shiva, Surya, and Ishvara,
Though they shine in the radiant gleam of fame and fortune, Have no chance to vanquish the realm of the Lord of Death
Even if they stay in samadhi for a kalpa,
When their karma has been exhausted, that is their time of death.
Gods as well as asuras, siddhas, and sorcerers,
However many villeins and vassals there may be
Throughout their endless births are terrified by death.
Bhrama, Maheshvara, Vishnu, Indra, the four great world-protecting kings, and so forth fill the world with great rays of light, brighter than a thousand suns. They are more splendid than a mountain of gold. The fame of their merits fills the world. They are the highest beings of the three worlds, below the earth, upon the earth, and above the earth. But, though they are adorned with all this real wealth, they still have to die. The Dulwa Lung says:
O monks, look on this wealth as being essenceless and subject to deterioration. If the retinue mindful of my teachings were transferred into the inconceivable life and insatiable powers of Bhrama, Indra, the world protectors and so forth, they would be brought down to the lower realms.
Also it says there:
Bhrama the pure one, wrathful Indra, and thousand-eyed Surya, As well as desireless Vishnu, are impermanent, and passing.
The display of the sun and moon is only for a moment.
The continents of the world, are seen to have been emptied.
The gods of the four dhyanas, and the other gods, the asuras, siddhas who have accomplished austerities, and all holders of vidya mantra still die. The same text says:
The gods who accomplish the dhyanas, as well as the kinnaras And ascetic sages who are not gods but blaze with splendor,
Are impermanent, though they may live for a long time or a kalpa.
As for conditioned humans, whose bodies are like foam,
No need to discuss their freedom from individual destruction?
The lords of the four continents, the universal monarchs, kings, ministers, and all kinds of ordinary people, monastic renunciates, brahmins, householders and so on, none of them escape death. The Shrine-room of Telling the Reason Why says:
Kings possessing the seven precious treasures,
Great noble lords and royal ministers
Monks and brahmins, householders and such,
All of these beings are impermanent.
They are like beings experienced in a dream.
3. There is impermanence because change is the nature of things.
Because there is transference and change, there is impermanence:
Within the impermanent play of the rain-clouds of this life,
In garlands of flashing lightning, dances the Lord of Death.
Day and night, the falling rain of the changing seasons
Drowns whatever sprouts may grow within the three levels.
Ornamented by the essence of the freedom and favors, the dark summer cloud-banks of this life gather, while, naturally wreathed in quivering lightning, the Lord of Death performs his dance. Day and night, not pausing for an instant, the rain of immanent death falls constantly, flooding out and drowning all the sprouts of sentient beings dwelling within the three worlds. The Vast Play says:
The three worlds' impermanence is like the clouds of autumn.
The birth and death of beings has the aspect of a dance.
The lives of beings vanish like lightning into space.
Like waterfalls cascading down a precipitous mountain,
As quickly as the water comes it falls away.
4. The impermanence of the Vessel and Essence
The vessel is the world, which has long been stable and motionless. The accompanying essence or contents supported by it is taught to be moving beings.
When the vessel and contents of this impermanent world,
With all its various cycles of creation and destruction,
Is destroyed seven times by fire and once by water,
And blown away like dust by the force of the raging wind,
Even Mount Meru, with its four slopes of precious substance,
Surrounded by the four oceans and the four continents,
Encircled by mountain ranges and the ramparts of the world,
Will not endure when all is turned to a single space.
Thinking that this time must certainly come to pass,
Therefore, let us practice the Dharma from our hearts.
The external vessel and contents are destructible. The inner vessel and contents too are taught to be impermanent.
In the beginning of the first kalpa, in the accommodating sky, the empty space of nothing whatever, pranavajra was born from a crossed vajra, indestructible. Above it was born the mandala of water, hard like vajra. There also on the little island which is this world, was the supreme mountain of precious substances, Mount Meru. The east was made of crystal, the south of yellow beryl, the west of ruby, the north of gold. Reaching to the edges of the surrounding water, with seven lakes between them are Nyashing Dzin, and so forth, the seven mountain ranges, surrounded by the expanse of the outer ocean.
In the outer ocean, in the east is the continent Purvavideha. In the south is Jambudvipa, in the west Aparagodaniya, in the north Uttarakuru.
On Mount Meru, are four groves, and to the north-east, completely enclosed in trees, is the all-victorious good house, ornamented by caverns like a city, with agreeable mountains at the edge. From this to the ocean's horizon, as far as the other surrounding iron mountains, is the vessel, the world, ornamented by the sun and moon.
Supported within it is the essence, sentient beings. The luminous gods are separated from people of the four main continents and eight sub-continents beside them. These sub-continents are Deha and Videha, Chamara and Upachamara, Satha and Uttaramantrina, Kurava and Kaurava.
Also there are the appearances produced by lower karma, the individual realms of lower beings, the animal, hungry ghost, and Hell realms. In the dhatu of the animals the great ocean is the root place. Below, the hungry ghosts' royal capital city is their chief place. Hell beings have the hot Hells and snow mountain cold Hells. Under them all, like a yellow rose with eight joined petals, are the neighboring Hells, oriented in the four directions of the Avici or Unremitting Hell, which is the place at the root. The widely scattered animals, the hungry ghosts wandering in space, and the ephemeral human realm are also there. The six kinds of kama divinities of the desire realm, kama deva shatkula, are halfway up mount Meru in the rising place of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. First there are the four, great, noble kings. Above them is the heaven of the thirty-three. Above them with their sky palaces dwelling like the stars and planets, in order there are the desire realm deity heavens of the strifeless, Yama; joyful, Tushita; Delighting in Emanation, Nirmanarata; and Mastery over Transformation, Paranirmita.
In holes in the rocks of Mount Meru dwell the asuras. In the edges of the water Rahu, and in Skartreng, Garland of Stars, a city at foot of Mount Meru, is the asura king Kanto Mali.
In the edges of earth are nicely textured slopes where desire gods contend in wealth and enjoyments. Of the four realms of the desire gods, in the Bhrama realms of the first dhyana are the stratum of Bhrama, Abhasvara; Priests who chant before Bhrama Bhramapurohita; and Great Bhrama, Mahabhrama.
In the space above is the heaven of Mastery over the Emanations of Others, Para-nimitta-vashvartin (the sixth of the twenty-eight desire heavens) whose thrones reach upward four pagtse. The second dhyana has the heavens of Lesser Radiance, Parittabha; Immeasurable Radiance, Apramaanaabha; and radiance, Praabhasvara.
The third has Lesser Virtue, Parittashubha; Immeasurable Virtue, Apramanashubha; and Vast Virtue, Shubhakritsna.
The fourth has Cloudless; Increasing Merit, Punyaprasava; and the great fruition born of merit Brihatphala.
Then there are the five Pure Abodes, Paqcashuddhanivaasa. Here the three places of individual beings are the Slightest, Avriha; Painless, Atapa; and Attractive Sudrisha. The other heavens of the pure realm gods are extreme Insight, Sudarshana, and the Highest, Akanishta. These five heavens are one above the other. The four formless realms are limitless space, Akashanabtyayatana, limitless consciousness, vijqanabtyayatana nothing whatsoever, Akimchanabtyayatana and neither perception nor non-perception, naivasamjqasamjqayatana.
These peaks of samsara, depend on former attainment of the formless samadhis. They are in the place where one dies. Thus, uniting the aspects of vessel and essence, as explained, this is called one world realm of four continents.
A thousand of these, likewise surrounded by iron mountains as high as the place of the thirty-three gods, is called a first thousand-fold world realm.
A thousand such realms, with surrounding mountains as high as the Para-nimitta-vashvartin realm is called a middle-thousand world realm.
A thousand of those, with surrounding mountains as high as the special first dhyana realm, is called a great three thousand fold world realm. In each of these worlds is shown a body like that of the supreme nirmanakaya, performing the twelve deeds of a buddha that are not performed before or after. By its appearance, these are called worlds of those to be tamed.
Other than that in the ten directions, are measureless other words, round, semi-circular, square, and of other shapes, pervading to the limits of space. They also have immeasurable kinds of sentient beings above, below, and on the same level.
Generally, in this universe of suffering, the times of arising, enduring, destruction, and vacuity are equal.
The first is the time of well-arising. Then there is the present time of well-remaining, from the time of the coming of the tathagata Nampar Zikpa when all beings attain immeasurable lives to when Shakyamuni comes, to the time when beings have lives of ten years. From the long ago time of the beginning lives each decrease by 200 years each. Then when they reach 100, they increase by one from 11 to 80,000 after Maitreya has come. After 100, they diminish by 1, until reaching 10 years of life.
There are 80 such cycles of increase and decrease, 18 in the present kalpa; Among these, 995 buddhas arise. Then from 200 years lives increase by one to measureless. When they go a little lower, after the buddha called "Devoted" comes," all the deeds, lives and assembled retinues of former buddhas are brought into one, and the same deeds and lives and assemblies arise. Beings not tamed by the former buddhas are tamed. The sound of the three jewels is heard. This continues until even beings who had sundered the basis of discipline and completely slandered virtue are liberated from samsara, and by the power vows to do so, these deeds are fully accomplished. Until their nirvana the holy Dharma also remains that long.
The completely perfect third-thousand-fold universe's sentient beings, however many they were are established in liberation. After their tenth year of life, that kalpa is entirely burned seven times by destroying fire, to ashes. The fire lasts a day. Some sutras say seven days. Some say that one sun having the heat of seven arises. In reality 700 times ten million suns will occur and, the universe will be annihilated and burned. The ashes will be washed away by water, scattered by wind, and finally, having become a single space, it will be like the former situation where nothing had yet been born. Know all dharmas to be like that.
Like this story of how the outer vessel and essence will be destroyed, the inner body too should be viewed. Mind becomes the single first nature of mind. From within that the wind of ignorance and discursive conceptualization are born. Because of that, by the karma of dwelling in samsara, by the condition of the karma establishing the nature of water, from the semen and blood of the father and mother, the body is Mount Meru, the eyes are the sun and moon, whose inner essential natures are white and red. The twelve ayatanas and dhatus are the four continents and eight sub-continents. The eight consciousnesses are the seven mountains and the great horizon, making eight altogether.
Supported by body, speech, and mind are the three main nadis, roma and kyangma to the left and right and the central channel. With the support of the three gates, the three poisons, and the three kayas there are the three realms. The nadis petals which are the five or six chakras are the five or six buddha families.
There are many distinct but similar realms, and within all these thousand-fold world systems appear many joys and sorrows and so forth. Gathered together, they separate. Born, they die. Compounded, they are destroyed.
When the time of death comes, the four external elements within which dwell the four inner elements, are destroyed seven times by fire and once by water, eight altogether. Then the inner elements dissolve into the secret elements, primordial luminosity, and everything becomes a single space.
When the four elements of the body have been gathered together, the emptying of prana nadi and bindu are the seven destructions by fire. Transmigration of life is the one destruction by water. Cessation of the breath is the final scattering by wind. The individual body disperses, finally becoming nothing at all like space, like before the body was born. The Later Tantra of Vast Wisdom: says:
Ripened by the elements of air and water and fire,
The world of the body is engendered as the vessel.
Nadi and prana and the essence of the elements,
Existing as the pure nature of the four great elements,
Then abide in the form of changeless, radiant light.
Dwelling in space, if we transfer into purity,
All the different elements, nadi, prana, and essences,
That is like the world-destruction by seven fires.
The dissolving of the elements is the one destruction by water.
Cessation of coarse and subtle is the scattering by wind.
Entering into the light is the realm of spaciousness.
Then there is the primordial lord, enlightenment,
This is reaching the final goal of non-confusion.
We should examine further the subsiding of the worlds of individual sentient beings. The Spiritual Letter says:
For seven days the mass of the earth, as well as the oceans,
Will blaze, and all these beings will be burned away.
If visible bodies all will be reduced to ashes,
Why even speak of those which are invisible.
That is how we should think about it.
5. Impermanence of the teachings of how the victorious ones and their sons attain nirvana.
Even the teachers who come into these worlds, the many tathagatas and their retinues, go beyond suffering to nirvana. In considering how their teaching declines, there is the further teaching that our own lives are impermanent:
Even the leaders of the world, the lord buddha sages,
Attended by their retinues of buddha sons,
Pratyekabuddhas and hosts of shravakas,
As within the clear sky the always-existing moon
Is encircled by its attending garland of stars and planets;
Though these shine with brilliance in their luminosity,
They also teach impermanence by passing into nirvana.
See too how the measureless sun of the precious teachings
Sets ever more from generation to generation.
Then why should our bodies, like plantain trees without a heart,
Or like a phantom castle, fail to be destroyed.
Teachers came to this world of suffering. Their forms were seen. Vipashyi, Ratnach_da, Vishvabhu, Krakucchanda, Karakamuni, Dipamkara, and Shakyamuni, like the full moon rising on an autumn evening, blazed with the brilliance of the major and minor marks. They were surrounded by hosts of stars as their retinue, shravakas, bodhisattvas, pure ones, world protectors, and so on. Their bodies blazed with splendor. Their speech was brilliant, and without meaningless chatter. Their spotless minds shone with their illumination. They were as firm as vajra, having passed beyond suffering.
Other teachers, gradually declining, depend on the supreme being of the Shakyas. If all of them were impermanent, how will my body, as insubstantial as a bubble, not be impermanent. The Shrine of Impermanence says:
Ablaze with a thousand marks is the body of sugatagarbha.
If this is impermanent, established with merit a hundred times over,
Then, as unreliable as a breaking bubble,
How can, this, my body, not certainly be destroyed?
The one who is the benefit of sentient beings,
The Victorious One, the Sugata, passes like the sun,
The moon, the treasure of holy Dharma, is seen to set.
As for our goods, our retinues, and our enjoyments,
We should be ready to know that they are impermanent.
6. We are impermanent because our lives never wax but always wane.
If even a vajra-like body is impermanent, why depend on this body, as insubstantial as a plantain tree. That is the instruction:
Therefore, though it is certain that we are going to die,
Of where and when and how there is no certainty.
Our life-span never waxing, is always on the wane,
Conditions of death are many, and those of living few,
Life has no time to waste, so keep right to the point.
From today onwards, what makes sense is to work with Dharma.
Just by being born, death is certain. The White Lotus of Holy Dharma says:
Wherever there is birth, death will be there too.
Wherever there is gathering, there is dissolution.
Though time is beginningless, everyone has died. The Good Marks Sutra says:
Who was ever known who might not die tomorrow?
Therefore this very day we should exert ourselves.
The Lord of Death and his considerable tribe,
Neither of the two, are any friends of ours.
Anywhere in the world, death is inevitable. Walking, standing, or whatever we are doing, we should be ready, thinking, "Is it today that I will die?" The Sutra of the Good Army says:
Mountains or steep ravines, defiles or precipices,
At home or in the streets, or on the bank of a river.
Somewhere upon the earth will be my last abode.
This is something that is not to be divulged.
This completely removes my enjoyment of the world.
Because of conditions, the time of death too is uncertain. The scriptures say:
Some people die from choking on their food.
Others die from taking their medicines.
Why even say that beings have different conditions?
There is no certainty of the time of death.
Our life-spans never increase, but always grow shorter. Death is certain. The News of Impermanence, says:
Like the rock of a pool that was cut by falling water,
There is no increase, but always only decrease.
Since all of us must enter on the path of death,
Who can rely upon this incidental life.
The Bodhicharyavatara says:
Day as well as night it never stays at all.
This life eternally fleeting is getting ever-shorter
Having gotten shorter, it will not then increase.
Why would one like me not be going to die?
Few conditions are required for death other than birth in a womb. Death is certain. The News of Impermanence, says:
Though the conditions of death are a numerous multitude,
The conditions of our being born are very few.
Therefore since it is certain that we shall quickly die,
Let us keep the holy Dharma in our hearts.
7. How what seems external is inner impermanence
One's own mind is even more mortal than an ancient ruined city:
Sentient beings, like a bower gathered from the four elements
Are ornamented with moving thoughts like people inside.
Composite, their dharmas arise from conditions and are destroyed.
Since all is impermanent, like an ancient city,
Let us quickly perform the actions of holy Dharma.
That is the exhortation. Ruined cities that are now abandoned were once well-constructed and filled with many beings. Later they became vacant. Look at this life as being like that. Kye ma'o! What is left of the former youth and wealth of these samsaric beings? Only the people's names remain. Their adornments destroyed, bones are all that is left of these beings who once emanated their various discursive thoughts.
Like this, our bodies, these bowers collected from the four elements, are now beautiful with clothing and ornaments. What people will later call by our names is our bones. "That's how it is," we should think from our hearts. The Spiritual Letter says:
As we near the finish of the body, we glimpse its bleak end. At last its foul essence is not there at all. It is worn out, decomposes, and is completely destroyed. Know that its dharmas will be torn asunder.
8. An example of impermanence
Like being instantly killed in a dream in which we have enjoyed celestial bliss for a long time, at that time:
As the flame of a lamp that has been caught in a sandstorm
Flickers and is not steady, even for a moment,
When suddenly we are struck by the fierce conditions of death,
We shall not endure, but certainly will die.
Therefore, practice the holy Dharma right away.
A lamp may endure a soft breeze rising from the hearth, but is quickly blown out when a strong wind arises. Our lives, like such a flickering lamp, are agitated by the incessant, soft wind of day and night. When we have grown old, death gives no respite, and as if by a fierce wind, we will be quickly blown away by conditions of illness or harm. Think about this being certain. The Letter to Students says:
Like the tongue of flame of a lamp,
Blown away by a mighty wind
This tiny moment of life,
Has no reliance at all.
9. All is impermanent and must be left behind.
Moreover, as for thinking of impermanence; because, having left everything behind, we must go:
Attendants, pleasures, friends and relatives,
Youth and beauty, power and social rank--
We have to leave alone, abandoning them all,
Followed by black and white karma, until they both are emptied.
Then there is no refuge other than the Dharma.
Why should we not exert ourselves to go beyond them?
At the time of death, none of the appearances of this life will be of any use to us. Only the Dharma will be our refuge from the execution of the karma of our virtue and vice. About this the Sutra of Instructions to the King says:
The time approaches when the king will go,
Your cherished pleasures, friends and relatives
Will not follow where you must go then.
As for kings, wherever they may go,
Karma follows after like a shadow.
The Sutra requested by Shridatta , says
By karmic confusion we are made to seek enjoyments
We are also distracted by our children and spouses.
By that we shall experience suffering alone.
They will do us no good at our appointed time.
Our beloved parents, siblings, children, and spouses,
Servants, wealth, and crowds of friends and relatives,
Will not travel with us when we go to death.
Karma will be an only child at that time.
At that time those who have gathered powerful bad karma will seem to be surrounded by those whom they have killed, and the minions of the Lord of Death will seem to lead them away with a noose. The Bodhicharyavatara says:
If this is the day when a man is being led
To a place where he will have a limb cut off,
With dry mouth, blood-shot eyes, and such,
He seems quite otherwise than he was formerly.
When the utterly terrifying messengers of the Lord of Death
Having a form of flesh, seize us bodily.
How badly will we be stricken with the illness of great fear?
What need is there to say how terrible that will be?
Who is the sahdu that can be our guardian One who is able to guard us from such frights as these, Our flesh will crawl with panic, and with staring eyes,
We shall search for protectors in the four directions.
Having seen that in the four directions there are none,
We shall be enveloped in complete despair.
Then it will be too late to think about Dharma. It will be like criminals looking for a refuge as they are given into the hands of their executioners. From now on we had better remember that. The same text says:
Even if we truly abandon laziness,
Then it is too late. Then what could we do?
After the Lord of Death has suddenly appeared,
We shall think, "Oh no, all is surely lost."
The three jewels and the virtue of Dharma are a refuge
For those who have supplicated for this spotless gift.
For those besides such beings, though they have appropriate virtue,
Even our father and mother will be no refuge to us,
Nor will a host of friends, and wealth and beautiful youth.
All such refuges will sink into samsara.
We should give over our bodies joyfully to the buddhas,
And likewise entrust to them our lives and our enjoyments.
Other than the three jewels, there is no refuge at all
On which we can rely while we are sentient beings.
10. The impermanence of the three times
Samsaric existence and the being of ourselves and hosts of others are all more impermanent than we think:
Think of the existence of former and later worlds.
Countless former generations have passed away.
Also most of the beings of the present world
Certainly will not last another hundred years.
Those of the future will follow in a similar way.
Young and old are equal in their lot of passing away.
Because we too will not transcend this common nature,
Thinking that death is certain, let us practice Dharma.
Our existence was primordially good and pure, but think of the other spheres of apparent being to which we will later transmigrate. Look and see whether the people who lived a hundred years ago are still embodied. We who are now human beings a hundred years from now will be only names. The Shrine of Telling the Reason Why says:
A person who just for a night
Entered into a womb,
Would suffer tremendous harm.
Such going is irreversible.
In the morning one would see
Many different beings.
By evening some would be gone.
Of the many one would see later
The next morning more would be gone.
Numerous men and women
Die even in their youth.
Why are the young so cheerful,
So confident they will thrive?
Some will die in the womb.
Some the day they are born.
Some will be snatched away,
In unexpected departures.
Some will die old, some young
But one by one they will go,
Like fruit that ripens and falls.
11. The impermanence of the three levels
Within the three levels from Hell up to the peak of samsara,
There is no liberation from the Lord of Death.
All is impermanent, changing, and essenceless.
Nothing stable, and things roll along like a wagon wheel.
Particularly the human world has many afflictions.
Being a place of harm by sickness and by dvns,
By fires and falls and weapons; by poison and wild beasts.
By kings and enemies, by robbers and the like,
We will be ravished of life and our wealth will be destroyed.
There are no beings anywhere in the six realms, for whom death does not establish itself. We should recall that none of the six kinds of beings in the three levels transcend death. The Sutra on Teachings that are the Bases of Discipline says:
Someone who is born without death being established
Such a one does not exist within this world.
Nor are there any in the air or in the oceans.
There are none who live among the tallest mountains.
When we die, as soon as we lose our bodies, this mind by its former karma undergoes rounds of samsaric existence in many worlds. The Vast Play says:
Beings, by of the power of samsaric ignorance,
In divine and human paths, and those of the lower realms,
Are tumbled in samsara as five kinds of ignorant beings .
For example, as a pot is turned upon a wheel.
Baited with fine and pleasant forms and ravishing sounds,
Sweet fragrances, delicious tastes, and blissful touch,
The snare of evil times always traps these beings
For example, like a monkey snared in a hunter's net.
Many in the human realm are afflicted with leprosy, contagion, disorders of prana and bile, and other diseases. There are many injuries from birds, rakshasas, dakinis, geks and dvns. Kings, enemies, savages, dissipation of the skandhas, and so forth end hundreds of lives. These contend with the Lord of Beings for our body and life. Since we die without respite, we should try to practice the holy Dharma. The Collection of Precious Qualities says:
With the many harmful spirits and diseases of the world,
Peace is a truly kind and beneficial gift.
12. Instantaneous Impermanence
Not only do we die of such afflictions, but even if we have no afflictions, the life of sentient beings is passing away:
Even with no afflictions, the life of beings is passing.
Day and night, with the passing of every moment or instant,
It is always approaching the land of the Lord of Death.
As over waterfalls, water flows into the ocean,
Or far to the west the sun declines until it sets.
Even though there are lives where someone can say, "I have not been harmed by incidental affliction," and though there are teachings that extend life by appropriate food and medicines and so forth, in the end it is of no use--we have to enter death. The Bodhicharyavatara says:
Though seemingly today, I am without any illness,
Even if I have food and am without affliction
This life is still no more than an illusory instant,
This body is no more than a momentary reflection.
About its not lasting for even a moment, the Pinnacle of Precious Gathering says:
It was said by Subhuti, "The life of beings is like a waterfall.
The Sutra on Teachings that are the Bases of Discipline says:
Waterfalls descend in rivers to the sea
The sun and moon sink down behind the western mountains.
Day and night tick off their fragmentary instants.
Like these the life of beings must pass and disappear.
13. The impermanence of the conditions and time of our existence:
Having completed life's conditions, such as food,
As sure as taking poison, will bring occasions of suffering.
With so many contrary conditions that do us harm,
How can this completion fail to be destroyed?
All of it must turn into a cause of death.
Never knowing how or when or where we die,
We have been seduced into futility.
Therefore, abandoning the dharmas of this world,
Let us turn to genuine practice from the heart,
Attaining the Dharma teaching of impermanence and death.
Though food is necessary for life, it is also a condition of sickness. Though it appears to be temporarily beneficial, essentially it is an inevitable establisher of harm. Even beneficial purification with baths and medicine leads to sickness, not to mention life being cut off by damage that actively opposes it. Since the conditions of death are changelessly many, let us consider the approach of death. Moreover, as above, whoever lives will die. Only when and how are uncertain. We cannot even be sure that we will not die today. And even if we could, the Bodhicharyavatara says:
"At least today I will not die," I say.
What reason is there to rejoice in that?
For still, the time when I become a non-existence
Will doubtless come to pass, in any case.
C. The three instructions of striving
1. The instruction to practice at this favorable time of having the guru and oral instructions.
At this auspicious time of completely attaining the free and well-favored human body, we should liberate ourselves from samsara:
If, having attained the ship of being free and well-favored,
Whose captain is the oral instructions of the guru,
If we do not strive to cross the river of suffering,
But stare at it fascinated, until there is no choice,
At last we shall fall in, and so be swept away.
In the ship of external freedom and favor, having the holy guru as our guide, if we think we do not need to work with the tradition of Dharma established by the Buddha Bhagavat, we are much deceived. The Letter to Students says:
Whoever, attains the path of Dharma of the Sages,
The tradition like a great ship, and throws it away again,
Will whirl like a giddy dancer in the ocean of samsara.
A mind that thinks that joy is certain is deceived.
2. The exhortation truly to make an effort from our hearts:
This is because if we do not try, we will not be liberated.
While we have this precious vessel praised by the Teacher,
Which offers an end to evil and attainment of what is pure,
If we will not receive the wealth of the two benefits
That for ourselves and also that for other beings,
We only chain ourselves in the prison of samsara.
Those with the support, these freedoms, who do not practice the holy Dharma that benefits self and others will be bound forever in the noose of samsara. Those who use their leisure to turn back samsara, will establish the liberation of holy Dharma. Urging practice, the Letter to Students says:
Whoever has the best gifts of the ocean of arising
Also plants the good seed of supreme enlightenment.
Its virtues are better than those of a wish-fulfilling gem.
Whoever has human birth, though lacking the fruition,
Having the power of mind attained by human beings
Should rely on the sugata path, which is the guide of beings.
Such a path is not attained by gods and nagas,
By sky-soarers, kinnaras or serpent gods.
Having attained humanity, so hard to gain,
Whoever really thinks about the worth of that
Will practice very hard with the greatest diligence.
3. The motivating power of compassion
Third, for the human beings who have been so well-urged, there is also the motivating power of compassion. These words have been spoken so that we can protect beings. How can we not hold this in our hearts? Therefore, our aspiration to peace is always motivated by the guiding power of compassion.
Kye ma! As if we had been chained to solid rock,
Thinking mostly of this world, our sorrow grows.
Not realizing what was taught; not understanding the teachings,
Even though our day of death may be tomorrow,
We fixate our lives as being long and permanent.
Not grieving at samsara, with no speck of renunciation,
We are consciously proud and knowingly confused.
While we are so distracted, the rain of the kleshas falls.
How can we ever be of use to sentient beings.
Kye ma! Sentient beings have been told how things are, but with a fool's intelligence, they do not comprehend the details of the symbols and the means of practice. Really having very little freedom to follow them, they will never realize them. They do not understand the explanations.
Some, even while they are being urged to get rid of the appearances of this world right away, are actually attached to keeping them, motivated only by the actions of this world. Their karmas and kleshas blaze like a fire, and they are far from happiness.
Others with the fire of aggression burning within them are jealous of others. They abuse them in many ways, provoking faults, spreading bad rumors, and belittling them.
Some, no matter how many sufferings torment and oppress them, are not saddened by samsara and do never experience the least particle of renunciation. Some, who have heard just a little, dispute and condemn others because of pride and arrogance, emanating a thousand tongues of klesha flames in the ten directions. Dispensing with the natural goodness of their being, they burn up anything pure. As they break vows and samayas day and night, there falls a rain of evil. When we see this, sometimes the thought arises that we should give up and just try to practice profound samadhi alone in peaceful forests, with the intent of personal enlightenment. But for the most part, the powerful force of compassion produces the joyful thought, "Let's get enlightened!" The following are verses on this highest of aspirations.
Those who are in the ten directions of the world,
As many sentient beings as may be in existence,
By my merit may all of them gain happiness,
And may they all be free from any suffering.
Those who are sickly and those whose lives will be cut short,
May they have the good fortune and auspiciousness
Of lives that are long and happy, without attacks of sickness.
May those condemned to being poor and hungry beggars
Have abundant food and drink, and ample wealth.
May all in fear of bandits, savage ones, and kings,
Great abysses, water, fire, and other terrors,
Attain the happiness that is free from all such fear.
Whatever they wish for, may their wishes be established.
Because of always acting well and properly,
May they be liberated in enlightenment.
By a good Sakyong King may the whole earth be protected.
May his gentle kingdom widely spread and flourish.
May his ministers' Dharmic wishes be fulfilled.
May his servants always live in happiness.
May those who have the sufferings of the lower realms,
Be freed and have the happiness of the higher realms.
May those who have the sufferings of the higher realms,
Be peaceful and establish prosperity and bliss.
May sentient beings who dwell in the three realms of the world
All be happy in their minds and every thought.
Let no evil conceptions flash within their minds.
Day and night may they transcend them through the Dharma.
May there be good harvests in all the realms of beings
May they be free from every sickness and affliction.
May there be no strife and quarreling between them.
May they be happy, like the gods in heavenly realms.
May promoters of goodness be completely successful.
Those who want wealth and retinue, servants, and attendants,
May it be accomplished, just as they desire.
May merit and dominion increase for sentient beings.
May the Dharma increase for its renunciates.
For those who want virtue, may virtuous states of mind increase.
May life and auspicious fortune flourish and increase.
For those who practice dhyana, may samadhi and insight,
Higher perceptions, and miracle flourish and increase.
May there be the path and fruition of the Dharma.
May we come face to face with liberating wisdom.
Those who are tormented with pain and suffering,
May their minds be soothed, expanding with great joy.
May those who are idle and slothful, strive for enlightenment.
May those well-ornamented with the wealth of merit,
Those who have dhyana and discipline, never be separate
From all who need them in their fear and anxiety.
May the many children of the Victorious One
Have immeasurable body, life, and buddha activity.
May benefit for others be completely perfect.
May they time they remain on earth be very long.
If anyone at any time who depends on me,
May happiness and prosperity of such beings increase.
Those who have mastered the vinaya, knowing what is allowed,
May they be possessors of the seven aryan riches
Whether they praise or blame, or verbally disparage,
May all who see or hear, remember or contact me
Quickly cross the fearful ocean of samsara.
May those who even hear my name, because of that,
Be expelled from samsara in that very life.
Attaining bliss and liberated from samsara,
Let them be set firm as unsurpassable buddhas.
May I always, like the elements, earth and so forth,
Be a sustaining ground for the sake of sentient beings.
May everything that is beneficial be established.
May those who are poor and suffer setbacks in samsara,
Needlessly tormented in blazing tongues of flame,
Become a happy throng, completely liberated.
May they always try to benefit other beings.
May beings' sufferings serve to ripen them for me.
Whatever merit I have, may it ripen sentient beings.
By any virtuous mental power I may have,
May beings attain to bliss and purification of suffering.
May suffering be unseen, even in their dreams.
May they attain an ocean of bliss and happiness.
Pervading the space of the sky in all the ten directions
As many buddhas and sentient beings as there may be,
May they be associated with happiness.
May they be wealthy and prosperous, because of what I do.
Throughout the ten directions, for all who hear my name,
May there fall a rain of all that is desired.
Making offerings to buddhas and other sentient beings,
May sentient beings of the six realms and ten directions
No more be surpassed by any victorious ones.
May I completely liberate every one of them.
May the endless ocean of samsara be empty.
Sukhavati, totally beautified by ornaments of light, the precious source of all beings, is a universe filling the whole of space, established from clouds of pure happiness. By grasping this white yak tail scepter or jeweled umbrella, all the obscuring torment of the three levels is cleared away.
In this undisturbed water, may the gradually blossoming lotus of the victorious ones be planted. May pleasant and delightful divine maidens, their heads adorned with fragrant lotus garlands, playing on a platform with water birds, lovingly caress the lotus anthers. By these teachings may human hearts be greatly exalted, floating in the water of explanation emanating as it does in the pure lands.
Free from the harm of the kleshas, completely filled with samadhi, may those excellent ones help all sentient beings cross over.
Like the undefiled young sun, whose eye is characterized by an excellent red light, wreathed in variegated stars. Becoming amrita for beings, their eyes shine more excellently than the brilliantly blazing light of Bhrama. May the vast appearance of these radiant masters, revealed as great beings adorned with the mandala of the major and minor marks, fill the whole of space.
May all beings effortlessly reach that field, the supreme wealth of trikaya, the cloudless path of the sun and moon, free from even an atom of the nirvana of lower people.
Without duality of one and many, in uncompounded, primordial existence incomprehensible to thought, the spontaneous presence of peace, in the field of Samantabhadra may the purified minds of all beings heal their weariness. May they reach the space of the dhatu beyond wide and narrow, high and low, bias and partiality, concept and thought.
There may they remain without sadness and weariness, with excellent thoughts, exerting themselves to benefit self and others among the rocky mountains.
Urged on by the intention of benefit, one can hardly not be sad at the Dharma teachings of impermanence. For those with a mind that always grasps samsara and never turns back, teaching Dharma is like addressing a lump of stone or an animal. The Instruction on Impermanence says:
Like me you too will die.
There is no doubt about it.
Kye 'ud! I am an animal.
D. The final summary
There are two parts.
1. How to think of impermanence in order to cross over from samsara.
Now the final summary teaches of the great exhortation to meditate and work until samsara is gone:
Whoever truly wishes to cross the ocean of evil
And establish the wondrously risen excellent qualities,
Now should contemplate the certainty of death.
Meditate day and night on impermanence alone.
Again and again arouse renunciation and sorrow.
Whether going, staying, eating, sleeping, arising, walking, talking, or seeing a crowd of many people; and whether staying in villages, valleys, or monasteries, always meditate on impermanence. Whatever we see, hear, and remember has the nature of impermanence, and the marks of impermanence. Remember the exhortation of impermanence. The Bodhicharyavatara says:
Always, day and night, I should think of this alone.
If we do not think about it, what's the problem? Having come into the power of this life alone, there will be ambition, love of fame, desire, hatred, laziness, hoarding, indolence, cantankerousness and sometimes the Dharma's not arising. We will not quickly be liberated from samsara. We do not have enough time for ordinary tasks, let alone the liberation of enlightenment.
Strive with a long and continuous effort until buddhahood is attained. Dipamkara, Shakyamuni, and so forth were at first sentient beings like us. But by their exertion, they became Buddhas. Now we are the ones wandering in samsara. Even though countless former buddhas have come, we have not been healed by their realization of enlightenment.
Thinking that by our own karma, we will wander limitlessly in samsara, by now we should have been led to complete their path of enlightenment. Thinking that this life is impermanent, like a borrowed moment or instant, we should try to practice the Dharma. The Bodhicharyavatara says:
If I do not make an effort from now on
I will simply go ever lower and lower still.
Though countless former Buddhas have come throughout the past,
Having the purpose of benefit for all sentient beings,
I, because of my own faults and shortcomings,
Was not within the scope of their healing ministrations.
If from this time on, I still act like that,
Again and again, as it has been before,
I will die and have to go to the lower realms,
Being cut in pieces and suffering other tortures.
2. The Benefits of the Teachings
If we meditate day and night only on impermanence and death, in a short time we will accumulate a measureless accumulation of virtues. Then because of that,
Thus goodness and benefit will surely be established.
Striving with fierce energy to establish them,
The mind of this life will be abandoned and cast away.
The confusion of fixating egohood will be destroyed.
In brief, establish all the excellent qualities.
Restrict the mind to the root of all dharmas, impermanence.
This will be the cause of holy liberation,
Bringing us the end of everything that is evil.
Death is certain, Thus our own death is certain. When the smoke of thinking, ceaselessly "Will we have even tomorrow," continually arises, the blazing fire of exertion in Dharma will also naturally arise; and so we will be led to the path of this and later benefits.
When appearances of this life are seen not always to have power, mind does not desire, be contentious, quarrel, grasp maliciously, be angry, harm others, and naturally leaves behind all afflictions. Pride and ego grasping cannot occur, and by the rising of the extraordinary, all is harmonious and pleasant. Since we know that wealth, retinue, and all relatives and companions are impermanent, desire and attachment to them will not arise.
When through these relatives and companions other harms or benefits arise, whatever joys and sorrows occur, no desire or aggression will arise. When these die or are separated from us, or even if we have nothing, the suffering of unhappiness will not arise. Wherever we go in the world, we will not return to the karma of desire and attachment.
Whatever suitable and unsuitable conditions arise, the individual marks of desire, aggression, and the grasping of attachment will not arise. Day and night will pass in happiness. Having come to the path of Dharma, we will fulfill our vows and difficult practices. Our activities will be spotlessly pure, unobscured by transgressions. Working with the Dharmic activities of the path, we shall accumulate the two accumulations a hundred times over.
Since our conduct will not be mixed with evil deeds, there will be no regret for anything we do. A special faith, compassion, and renunciation will newly arise. The Buddha and all the bodhisattvas will take care of us. Men and non-men will have no opportunity to harm us, and the gods of Abhirati will keep us within the whiteness of virtue. We will sleep in happiness, rise in happiness, go in happiness, walk in happiness, possess happiness, and live happy lives.
The higher worlds of the celestial realms will arise. We shall see the Sugata and his children. We shall hear the good Dharma. We shall meditate on the good path. We shall attain the good realm of Sukhavati. The Sutra on Teachings that are the Bases of Discipline says:
Those who act with pure conduct
And meditate well on the path,
Will not suffer in dying,
As if freed from a burning house.
These and limitless other virtues will be attained.
E. Dedicating the merit.
Now the merits of well composing this are taught as a way for beings to attain blessings:
Thus by the amrita of this auspicious news
From the resounding drums of the thunder-clouds of Dharma,
By the deep, melodious speech of beneficial instructions,
May the weary nature of the minds of beings
Unhinged by the kleshas and fixated thoughts of permanence,
Be released this very day from all its weariness.
In benefit-producing white light, to the sound of divine drums, from the swelling ocean of good teachings, emerge water dragons of instruction with gaping mouths. For beings exhausted by samsara, the turbulent extremes of ever-grasping mind are completely pacified. By the primordial lord who draws breath in enjoyment of bliss and happiness in his excellent house adorned by the rays of the sun, may all weariness be eased.
Beings are distracted, as if they were in a dream.
Gathering and dispersing, dharmas are hollow and empty.
Though travelling to a market, companions match our path,
They like impermanent dharmas soon will go their own way.
Like an flash of lightning among the autumn clouds,
The life of beings hurtles by like a waterfall.
Dharmas are impermanent with no stability.
From today let us realize that with certainty.
Things and property and much collected wealth,
Along with any fame and glory we possess,
Are fickle dharmas. Mind can never rely on them.
Let us know their nature of the four extremes.
III. The Sufferings of Samsara
There are four parts:
A. The general explanation of the nature of suffering B. The extended explanation of the particulars C. The appropriateness of thinking about the sufferings of samsara D. The dedication of merit
A. The general explanation of the nature of suffering
There are eight parts.
1. The brief teaching of suffering.
After realizing the impermanence of dharmas, is the teaching of the suffering intrinsic to samsara. Anything one says about it falls short of the truth.
For those among the dharmas of the three realms of samsara,
Unremittingly changeable, there are the extremest sufferings.
With sufferings of suffering, change, and composite nature,
All beings of its six habitations live in extreme anxiety
The Sutra of Instructions to the King says:
O great king, this samsara is change. This samsara is impermanence. This samsara is suffering.
The three kinds of suffering are the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and the sufferings of the composite. By these the six kinds of sentient beings struggle and sink in the ocean of samsara.
2. The examples of suffering.
By these verses the examples of how the kleshas are produced are explained:
Like some person who is thrown into a fire,
Or attacked by a ravening horde of savage men or beasts,
Or imprisoned by some king, just like an animal,
With successive waves of suffering like the Unremitting Hell And having no chance of escape, our sorrows only increase.
Thus as the assembled faculties of sentient beings are not purified of former suffering, it will oppress them later. Unbearable, it is without measure or limit. The Jewel Mala says:
Space in all the directions, earth, water, fire, and air,
Just as they are limitless, so are beings' sufferings.
They rise again and again, as waves rise in the ocean.
They are like always having to live in terror and fear
With vicious beasts of prey and cruel savages.
Like the dungeon of a king, getting free is difficult.
3. The example of being seduced by desire.
Though all sentient beings want to find happiness and be free from suffering:
One may wish to find bliss, and be separated from suffering.
But suffering strikes us, acting as both cause and effect.
Like a moth who is attracted by the flame of a lamp
Enticed by grasping, desirous of his wished-for object,
Or like deer, bees, and elephants,
Enticed by sound or smell or else by taste, or touch,
Beings are seduced by desire for the five objects of sense.
See how they never find bliss, but only suffering.
By the obscuring power of accepting and rejecting, though we may want powerful means of entering into the fruition, we do not produce the cause. How can we be free from accepting and rejecting? Those who want happiness should practice the cause, the virtuous path. We want to leave suffering behind, yet wholeheartedly enter into its cause, non-virtue. We practice all the causes of suffering, the five klesha-poisons, and the three chief kleshas. We are rushing to practice the source of all suffering, whose fruition is suffering itself, and experience of its different varieties. Still we just accept this and cannot even be ashamed of it. This is like a thief who is punished by having his hands cut of, but still robs us again. This time his punishment is having his head cut off. The Bodhicharyavatara says: 1.28
We think we have the intention of getting rid of suffering,
Instead we run right to that very suffering.
Though we want happiness, because of ignorance,
We conquer our own happiness like an enemy
How do we conquer it? By the force of desire and attachment to the five desirables, the power of the kleshas increases, and we enter into suffering.
A moth desiring the form of a lamp's light, is burned when it is reached. Deer are killed because they listen to the sound of a flute. Bees who suck flowers, which are the source of nectar, get tangled when they close to them. Fishermen entice fish by the taste of food on the point of a hook. Elephants wanting to feel cool, go into lakes and die. A song in the Dohakosha:
By the mudra of samsara all beings are seduced.
Also it says there:
Kye ho! The stupid are wounded by arrows it is said.
View them as having been enticed like gullible deer.
They are like fish and butterflies, elephants and bees,
The kleshas arise from the five sense-objects, and by their force we wander endlessly in samsara. This is more to be feared than poison, it is taught. The Letter to Students says:
Objects and poison alike are pleasant when first experienced.
Objects and poison alike are unbearably harsh when ripe.
Objects and poison alike are imbibed because of ignorance.
Objects and poison alike are potent and hard to reverse.
Poison and objects, imputed with certainty by the mind,
Both do harm, but poison may simply be avoided
But injuries by objects are not so easily shunned.
Poison is only poisonous in a sentient being
Our feelings regarding objects are poisonous anywhere.
Poison when mixed with other poison is neutralized.
Thus supreme secret mantra is properly used as a cure.
Poison skillfully used is of benefit to man.
However, the great poison, objects, never will be so.
4. How beings are tormented in successive births within the six realms of beings
These samsaric beings whirl about with each other and suffer:
For gods, asuras, Hell beings, and the hungry ghosts,
For humans and animals, all beings of the six realms,
Like the chain of buckets on a water wheel,
Limitless sufferings follow each other in train.
The Precious Mala says:
Its three paths have no beginning, no middle and no end.
Like the circle that is made by whirling a fire-brand.
Mutual causes become the mandala of samsara.
5. How enemies, friends, and relatives are uncertain
Thus when we are whirled within samsara:
In the course of the generations, every sentient being
Has carried the burden of being our friend and our enemy.
Also they have been neither, or something between the two.
The number of times that they have done us right or wrong
Or benefit and harm transcends enumeration.
Often a father becomes a mother and she a sister,
And she again a brother, lost in uncertainty.
We can never be sure if our friends will change to enemies
In all the generations from beginningless time a particular sentient being will have been the father of all the sentient beings in the three realms, and so forth. The number of times that it will have been their father, mother, and intimate cannot be counted. The Spiritual Letter says:
By desiring what is fine, deprivation, and death
Sickness, age, and so forth, are sources of many sufferings,
Samsara indeed is a treasury of every sorrow.
6. How we suffer in countless births:
If thus we think of the karmic succession in this world,
Our sorrow should increase to its ultimate extreme.
If all our previous bodies, when we were born as ants,
Were gathered up together and piled into a heap,
Its height would surpass Mount Meru, with its four precious slopes.
The tears we have wept would surpass the four oceans in their volume.
When we have been a Hell being or a hungry ghost,
The amount of molten copper that we have had to drink,
And the foul volume of pus and blood and excrement,
Is unmatched by the flowing rivers to the limits of the directions.
Our other sufferings were as limitless as the sky.
The number of time our head and limbs have been cut off,
Because of desire, is unmatched by the atoms of the world.
The Resting in Closely-attentive Mindfulness, says:
O monks, be sorrowful within the realm of samsara. Why? While we were being whirled about in beginningless samsara, we were born as ants. If their discarded bodies were brought together in one place, and made into a heap, it would be taller than Mount Meru. We have wept more tears than there is water in the four oceans. The countless immeasurable number of times we have become Hell beings and pretas, we have drunk more seething molten copper, blood, urine, pus, and mucus than there is water in the four great rivers that flow down to the ocean. Because of desires, the number of times that our head, eyes, and major and minor limbs have been cut off equals the number of atoms of earth, water, air, and fire in as many worlds as there are grains of sand of the river Ganges.
The Spiritual Letter says:
More than the four oceans is the milk that we have drunk.
More than the retinue of existing individuals,
The heap of all our bones would be bigger than a mountain
If juniper berries were as many as our mothers,
The earth would not suffice for such a number of them.
7. How, even if we attain the fruition of Bhrama and so forth, we will ultimately suffer.
Moreover, when we course within samsara, here is what happens:
Charnel vampire-ghouls, and demonic mountain spirits,
Beasts and snakes, and various things that creep and crawl
Experience the countless pains and pleasures of this realm. Bhrama and Indra, and adepts of dhyanas formed and formless
Defending their territory and seven precious possessions
Human rulers, whatever splendor and wealth they gained,
Fell to the lower realms, suffering more and more.
In this time of samsaric succession, there are no realms of earth, water, mountains, islands, and space, where we have not been. Countless times we have been gods, nagas, rakshasas, gandharvas, kimbhandas, persons who experienced the sufferings of all the six lokas at once, Bhrama, and Indra, and world-ruling kings. There is no joy and sorrow of any of these that we have not experienced. Again, we have been whirled down to the lower realms and lived among their extreme sorrows. The Letter to Students says:
What being exists that we have not been a hundred times?
What joy is there that we have not savored many times?
What glories, like splendid white yak tails, have we not obtained?
Yet whatever we have gained, our desires only increase.
There is no river upon whose banks we never lived.
There is no country's region where we have never lived.
There is no direction where we have never lived.
And yet the difficult power of our desire increases.
There is no sorrow that was not ours formerly many times.
Nothing could satisfy beings that we have not desired.
There is no sentient being that we have not engendered
But whatever we have in samsara, we are not free of desire.
Completely grasping at birth these widely meandering beings
Are rolling on the ground in ecstasy and sorrow.
There is no being with whom we have not been intimate.
8. Suffering due to the nature of change.
These others who did badly in the mouth of samsara are worthy of further thought:
Having enjoyed unlimited wealth within this life
These beings of exalted station, after they departed,
Were stricken with poverty or even made to be servants.
As wealth in a dream is gone as soon as we awake,
If we thoroughly think of the sufferings of change,
Arising from the impermanence of all our joy and sorrow,
Our sorrow increases, building ever more and more.
Therefore beings within the three realms' habitations,
Without desire for samsara's pleasures, should get enlightened.
So it is for Indra, the king of the gods, and Bhrama, the paranimitavashavartin gods, and those who have attained happiness among human beings. When they exhaust the fruition of their former virtuous karma Bhrama, Indra, chakravartins, gods, including samadhi gods and formless gods, and ordinary people who had a great fruition, by the power of former karma, death, and transmigration, must experience many afflictions, going to the lower realms and so forth. The Sutra on Renunciation says:
When from their joyful and excellent existences
Lion-like lords of beings have to die and transmigrate.
The gods will speak to them, saying words like these:
This care-free life must be completely left behind.
The joys of the gods, however many they may be,
All of these arose from the cause of our good karma.
Now by these pleasant actions that you have in mind
All your collected virtue is totally exhausted.
Now, experiencing suffering from non-virtue that you have,
You will fall into the suffering of the lower realms.
Extensive manifestations of this kind will arise. Also the Sutra on Teachings that are the Bases of Discipline says:
Wealth in a dream with houses and abundant enjoyments, Dreaming that one has been made a lord of gods and men
Becomes quite non-existent as soon as we awake.
It is like that. The Bodhicharyavatara says: 2.35
Like the experiences that we have in our dreams
Whatever may be the sorts of things that one enjoys
These become nothing more than objects of memory.
They all are gone. We do not see them any more.
When one transfers between lives, this also happens. The Spiritual Letter:
Indra who is worthy of homage from the world,
By power of his karma, falls back upon the earth.
Even after becoming universal monarchs,
Lords of the world are born again as others' servants.
Breasts and buttocks of celestial courtesans,
Are delightful to fondle, but after time has past,
Destined to be sausage in the Lord of Hell's machines,
Such lovers will be attended by knowledge hard to bear.
The touch of their shapely legs, is happily endured,
But having lived with tremendous joy for a very long time
Again in Hells of biting flames and rotten corpses
An equal result of unbearable pain will be produced.
After the joyful attentions of celestial maidens,
After this life of pleasure in exquisite groves,
By a forest of trees, with leaves like swords and daggers
Ones arms and legs and nose and ears will be cut to pieces.
Having lived in a place with divine girls free to hand,
All with pretty faces and golden lotuses,
Again we shall be helpless in the rivers of Hell
Forced into scalding water, as hot gates block return.
Desire for the realm of the gods will be very great
But having attained the desireless bliss of Bhrama again,
Once more we will fuel the fires of the Avici Hell.
We shall be thrown into constant suffering with no gaps.
Attaining the sun and moon, the light of our personal bodies
Will shine with brilliance to the limits of the world.
Then again we shall come into dismal murky darkness,
Unable to see so much as our own hands and feet.
Thus, as for the merit of those who were criminals,
After the triple lamp of the Buddha's teaching appears,
They will go where the sun and moon have never shone,
They will pass into chaos, limitless endless darkness.
The three realms of desire, form, and the formless, are the cities of appearance, half-appearance, and non- appearance. This is because they have coarse appearance, subtle appearance, and none at all. Those who are happy, not desiring the path at all, are instructed to establish unsurpassable enlightenment. But being without the leisure to establish merit, they must make an effort. The same text says:
If our hair or garments suddenly burst into flame
The first thing we would do is put them out again.
Then we would try to keep it from happening again.
There would be no priority that would be higher than that.
B. The extended explanation of the particulars
There are three parts:
1. The basis of confusion
There are two parts.
a. The basis of confusion in the three worlds.
Whatever sufferings exist, their basis of dependence is the inner three realms. These are body, speech, and mind; or desire, form, and the formless:
In the cities of appearance, half-appearance and non-appearance
Tormented by composition, pain, and change,
The compositions of senses, mind, and consciousness
Are remorselessly turning mills of the objects of joy and sorrow,
Body composed of coarse things is the city of appearance. Speech, as appearance that is non-existent like an echo, is the city of half-appearance. Mind, without the phenomena of the five gates and completely without things, is the city of non-appearance. These are also called the realms of desire, form, and the formless. The Entering the Intention says:
Body is the coarse, the desire realm. Speech is the subtle, the form realm. Mind is the very subtle, the formless realm. Within these three cities lives the child of apparent true existence.
That child is explained as naturally-arising wisdom. The three gates are tormented by the three sufferings. By the condition of conceptualizing everything, arising becomes experience of one confusion after another. How does confusion arise? The objects of the six senses individually come forth by means of the powers of the six sense- consciousnesses. By fixating these objects, there is continuous attachment to them as happiness, suffering, and neutrality.
These individually arising phenomena of form and so forth are called "consciousness." The first, coarse, general phenomenal process of conscious is insight, rigpa, or mind, sem. When we analyze the particular kinds, there are passion, aggression, and ignorance, a continual series of mental contents of one or another of these three kinds, comprising "content-mind," yid. The Bodhisattvabhumi says:
The appearance of objects is known as consciousness
The first conceptualization of these is known as mind.
Subsequent particular analysis of these deals with the mental contents. This is content-mind. Mental contents are also established by mind as having universal relationships, similarities or classes that exist among mental contents. When objects are evaluated by insight, at first there is a generalized perception of nature. The aspect that does this is mind. Then, by discriminating particular aspects, mental contents are individually designated conventionally. Because this is our real object understanding, and except for such analysis, there is no other. The Precious Mala says:
If you ask about the objects that are seen by mind,
They are what is conventionally expressible.
Without the mental contents, mind cannot arise.
Not to maintain them as co-emergent is meaningless.
At the level of a sugata and the completely non-conceptual natural state, apparent objects are individually discriminated by insight, but there is no mind, content mind, or consciousness. This is because there is no grasping of dualistic appearance, or awareness of a grasped object by a fixating mind. The Praise of Vajra of Mind says:
Sentient beings, who have mind, content-mind, and consciousness, since they are accustomed to grasping and fixation, conceptualize them. Therefore, they do not have non-conceptual wisdom. Supreme wisdom is the mind, lo, that sees reality.
The Structure of the Three Jewels says:
Neither mind, content-mind, consciousness; nor samadhi which is free from these are discarded. The secret mind of the sugata is incomprehensible by thought.
When form, sound, and so forth arise as the corresponding external phenomena, and the mind's insight apprehends them, it is called consciousness, literally nampar phenomenal awareness shepa. Since these mental productions appear to be objective phenomena, they are called nampar shepa. At the first time when we know objects, the aspect of insight, that apprehends, "this," is mind. The analyzer of the distinctions that arise continuously connected to that is content mind. After the instant of clarity when individual things first present themselves, the knowledge that discriminates object awareness analyzes them. If it is attached to them as pleasant there is desire or passion. if as painful, there is aggression. If there is neither, but attachment to "this," that is ignorance. Examples are, seeing a good woman we once knew; seeing an enemy that once conquered us; and seeing a wall, water, a highway, a tree, and ordinary people, toward which we have neither joy or sorrow. The Sutra on Teachings that are the Basis of Discipline says:
If we see amicable people, then we feel desire.
If harmful ones are present, our minds become aggressive.
For intermediate ones, our ignorance will increase,
In any case the gates of our faculties have been bound.
b. The basis of confusion in the eight consciousnesses
Now the ground of arising and divisions of these are extensively taught as follows:
Alaya consciousness, content mind, and then the five gates,
Gradually proliferate, one upon the other.
From that arise the cause and effect of samsaric suffering.
The root of samsara and suffering is ignorance,
Having the confusion of grasping and fixation.
By objects, conceptualization, and mind's habitual patterns,
By fixating "me" and "mine," samsara is established.
Here to distinguishes the different aspects, at the very time when awareness of individual objects arises, without divisions of their vividness, mind which has insight of this is called the alaya-consciousness. Then the mind that fixates that, that peacefully saves it, with much analysis of objects at its leisure and so forth, is content-mind. The Sutra of the Ornament of Manjushri's wisdom says:
Mind is the alaya consciousness.
The "I" fixator is content-mind.
The eye-consciousness sees, when forms are seen, depending on the eye. Similarly depending on the ear there is sound, depending on the nose there is smell, depending on the tongue taste, depending on the body touchables. These are the five consciousnesses The arising of later knowledge from such former phenomena is called the ayatana. In Tibetan this is kyeche, meaning increase or proliferation of what has arisen. The objects and awareness of these have immeasurable conditions, and since these many and extensive aspects are not put aside, but "retained" this is called kham or in Sanskrit dhatu.
From the object there is the arising of the seemingly supported perceiver-mind. From what is former, a connection to the later arises, and dharmin, the realm of dharmas, and dharmata, their nature, occur. This is interdependent arising. When the two minds of object and perceiver are combined, pleasure and suchlike phenomena are felt and included in insight. By the condition of contact, this is called feeling. The particulars of these and other aspects are beyond describing.
In brief, by the three poisons, arising from the three collections of objects, the senses, and the actions of concept mind, come all motivating karmas. These karmas are unhappiness.
From patience and so forth freedom from the three poisons arises. This is the great happiness, the great bliss.
On the path of the ten virtues and so forth, prajqa and compassion are not fully accomplished. This is the path of the lesser happiness. Accumulated by ignorant earthly beings, after the fruition of samsaric happiness is produced, it is exhausted. This is happiness proportional to merit.
The enlightened happiness produced by completely finishing the path is happiness proportional to liberation.
By the three poisons there is universally arising unhappiness. The lower realms and whatever suffering there may be are produced by this cause. Happiness proportional to merit grasps the glorious highlights of divine and human happiness.
The happiness proportional to liberation is produced both by incidental highlights and ultimate true goodness. The Precious Mala says:
As for passion, aggression, and ignorance
The karma produced by them is unhappiness.
As for non-passion, -aggression, and -ignorance,
The karma produced by them is happiness.
Unhappy karma is all suffering.
Happy karma is all the higher realms
And all the happiness of sentient beings
'Externally appearing things are like the things that appear to be other in a dream.' This means that grasping involves habitual patterns of objects. These various appearances of pure and impure are confused existence. Habitual patterns of reality are produced by the karma of bodily arising and also by the inner condition of not knowing suchness. These are the shandhas, dhatus, ayatanas, and so forth. From them arise all the kleshas, and the suffering that is their fruition, the support of the confusions of fixation.
Luminous, naturally-arisen wisdom is in essence empty, and by nature luminous. It is the source of the unobstructed arising of various kinds of radiance. When we become attached to this as the individualizing characteristics of grasping and fixation, insight arises as the habitual patterns of mind. The five or the three poisons arise. The root of confusion is fixating on the "I" and ego. Because of that, the confused appearances of samsara arise like reflections, dreams, or hairs drifting before the eyes. Moreover, fixation is fixated as "I", and grasped objects are fixated as "mine" with an attitude like that of the owner of a house.
2. The manner of confusion,
There are two sections:
a. By knowing or not knowing what we are there are liberation or confusion.
Now the basis and way of confusion are extensively taught, as follows:
The changeless nature of mind, perfection, dharmakaya,
By ignorant fixation, takes on habits of false conception.
Involving confused appearance of impure relativity,
Dualistic appearance of objects as self and other,
Then come to be grasped as really being two.
Intrinsically this presents itself as limitless suffering.
When we have realized the ever-changeless nature of mind,
By the path of meditation on this unerring perfection,
We will properly reach the field of pure relativity.
Easing the weariness of the village of samsara.
Here three great doctrines of the yogachara tradition are taught. These are false conceptions, relativity, and the perfectly established, in Sanskrit, parikalpita, paratantra, and parinishpanna.
There are two kinds of false conceptions, characteristics, and accountable false conceptions.
By characteristics, from someone's viewpoint something is conceptually imputed, though it is non-existent, such as the horns of a rabbit or the alleged ego. This includes any bad doctrines and all the names and meanings of this and that established from that that may be presented by such a mind.
What is this like? Some search for the real bodily existence of that to which the name "lion" is imputed, but do not find it. Though the phenomenal meaning has been presented as "this," from mere arrogance, giving individual characteristics without any real remembered mental object, they may say it is like "fire."
Accountable false conceptions are various aspects of the environment and inhabitants of the phenomenal world arising from the viewpoint of confusion--joy and sorrow, the skandhas, dhatus, and ayatanas. Because they really do not exist, but only appear like a dream from the confused viewpoint of mind, they are called accountable false conceptions. Though all these things are natureless, they appear from the viewpoint of confusion. Since they are exaggerations, they are called parikalpita, or false conceptions, in Tibetan kun tak, literally all-imputation or all-labeling. The Bodhisattvabhumi says:
As for the false conceptions of parikalpita
Though non-existent, are produced by the mind of confusion.
There are also two kinds of relativity, pure and impure. Pure relativity is the pure fields and the objects of the pure seeing of the buddhas, appearances that arise of buddha fields, the seven precious things and divine palaces of pure light. Some say that the relativity of yogachara tradition is unacceptable, since all such things are classified as personal appearance. Such disputatious people have not seen this properly. This sort of relativity is not established by oneself from personal habitual patterns of awareness. It is not like the phenomena reflected in a mirror, which are produced by conditions.
Whether everything is included within personal appearance should be analyzed. Either mind is included within mere appearance, or appearance is included within mind.
If it is like the first, at the time of mere appearance, there is no discernible boundary between phenomena that are included and those that are not included. Therefore "included" is a mere word, having nothing to do with real phenomena.
If it is like the second, how can this be suitable? Someone might say, "Since appearance arises from mind, it too is mind."
Then a boy child that comes from a woman would also be a woman, but this is not so. Excrement comes from the body, so it would be the body. This is clearly not the case.
Someone also might say, "Appearance is mind because it appears in mind."
Then form would be visual consciousness, because it appears in visual consciousness. Buddhas that appear to erroneous sentient beings would be the minds of those beings. Fallaciously, these sentient beings with their erroneous minds would be buddhas. Since sentient beings also appear to these buddhas, the whole realm of sentient beings would all be buddhas. Moreover, this fault that spotless buddhas are also defiled sentient beings could never be abandoned. This is because if buddhas were not mind, they could not arise at all.
If someone says, "Phenomena are mind," then what is really cause and fruition would be a single thing. if this did not exist, neither could arise at all. Thus, an enemy and one's anger at the enemy would be the same single thing. Therefore, without the enemy, there could be no anger at the enemy.
Also it is not proper to say, "phenomena are mind because they are produced by mind." Then the details of a painting would be the painter, because the painter produced them.
How is it proper to maintain that external earth, stones, mountains, and rocks are mind? Admit that their arising from the habitual patterns of mind is confused appearance. If this were not so, when a hundred people look at one vase, the vase that is seen by them all would be their awareness, and all the hundred beings would be a single awareness. If this is maintained, it would be proper reasoning that if one of them gets enlightened, they would all be enlightened. If one went to the lower realms, they would all go there. If it is like these notions, sentient beings in the world like you and me would not exist at all, since all that appears like that would be other than one's own mind. Moreover, it would not be suitable that there were any other buddhas besides the single one Shakyamuni. This is because all objects seen by him would be his awareness. If one maintains that, clearly he is us. These days many people fixate such traditions and completely obscure the mahayana. From what they say it would follow that a huge body could be covered by one the size of a lotus. A flower could have ear-rings. A gold face would be more than a mere ornament. An elephant would be just the sound of trumpeting.
If you ask what are pure appearances, when it is proclaimed within proper reasoning that completely false phenomena that are spotless are mind-only, that tradition says:
These appearances of oneself to oneself are one's own mind appearing to itself, but the apparent object is not mind.
Many yogachara texts say:
As many things that appear, that many are mind.
But that is not so for apparent objects themselves.
Having habitual patterns from beginningless time,
We are shaggy, as it were, with hairs before the eyes.
Appearance and the apparent object are distinguished. Others may think, "The apparent object of a mountain is a mountain!" but the clear appearances of fixation of mind arise in dependence on the faculty of sight. The objects we directly encounter, the phenomena fixated by our minds, are private, personal appearances. Then when others encounter the same mountain, that their apparent objects are the same as ours does not follow. Apparent objects are fixations of what appears in sense perception in terms of the habitual patterns of former eye consciousness.
A mere abstraction, a mental object, a luminous appearance of what does not exist, vividly appears in the mental sense. Therefore, even if appearances apprehended by the mind and the fixator of them, appearances of others and the fixator of them are all mind, the object which arises for and is perceived by the mind is classified as an apparent object. All the objects of the five gates appear even though they do not exist, like shaggy hairs before the eyes, because of beginningless habitual patterns. Thus they become dualized. It may be asked, "Do you therefore establish appearance and apparent object as different?
For you also they are two. This is because they exist externally to apparent mind, and because this is maintained within the fixating mind. These are one within the mind, but are called "two."
It may be asked, "according to proper reasoning are they one? Here the apparent object caused by confused habitual patterns and the appearance ascertained by fixation, while both do not exist, neither differs conventionally from the phenomena confused by habitual patterns. Moreover, since there are not really two such objects, they are established to be not-two in nature. For we who profess madhyamaka, if we analyze, not only the thing which is the apparent object, but the appearance too is maintained not to be mind. This is because mind is inner and does just so, not exist externally and external appearance that arises within the individual senses is analyzed as being within the mind. If appearances had an external aspect too, then peoples' consciousness would be two or more at the same time, or one's consciousness would be a material thing. There would be many such fallacies.
Therefore, the fixator of appearance and non-appearance is mind, but appearance itself is not established as mind. What is or is not the word "tail" is grasped by the listening consciousness, but listening consciousness itself is not established as the word, "tail."
In brief, one's own mind, though seemingly externally projected does not really go outward, and therefore, external phenomena really appear inwardly. However, external appearance is never internal mind. Why? Because what appears does not exist. A variety of such things, white and red, arise.
For one who has diseased eyes due to a disorder of the phlegm objects which are completely non-existent nevertheless appear, externally, internally and between. These are said to be natureless or empty of essence. Neither what is established as mind and what is established as other than mind are liberated from attachment to truly existent self-nature. In that respect they are indistinguishable. Some one may say, "Isn't this assertion that there are external objects-things which are not directly known, like that of the shravaka vaibhashika school?
It is not the same. The vaibhashikas proclaim that these objects are established to have individual characteristics of material things. We, on the other hand, say that habitual patterns of confused appearance, appear to mind even though what seems to be there is non-existent like a dream. This approach is not refuted by madhyamaka, and so it is suitable.
Someone may ask why what has been proclaimed by us is not refuted by the prasangika madhyamaka school.
Mere appearance is not refuted, but attachment to true existence is refuted. The teacher Nagarjuna says:
Thus though appearance itself is not to be refuted,
Eliminate thoughts that conceptualize this as truly existent.
The yogachara true-aspectarians proclaim that phenomena are mind. Both the true and false aspectarians assert the refuted tenet that the absolute is truly established as self-insight, so how will they deny that confused appearances of habitual patterns arise while they are non-existent and that classifications of existents are really entered into? This is because these would be made into the classification of the relative at the same time.
Thus outer relativity and the relativity of mind or insight, arising after the former, its appearance depending on other previous objects, must be analyzed in terms of inner patterns. If seeming appearance of before and after is imputed, the name alone is the meaning, and they accord. If it is maintained to be other and different from what is present, one's own insight cannot be established as a characteristic of something other, because the very assertion is contradictory. This is not good reasoning. The former text says:
Thus all these various different kinds of appearances,
Because they seem to be phenomena that are other,
Are the impure relativity of grasping and fixation.
The pure is also said to be relativity,
But what becomes through external power is not pure.
This too is explained as appearing to be something other.
The perfectly established is changeless and true. This changeless, completely established nature without confusion is the emptiness of dharmata, by nature intrinsically pure, without distinction of earlier and later. This changeless perfectly established is the quintessential natural state. The empowerment of this is established as empty or as threefold.
It is naturally empty of itself, other, and both. As for emptiness of itself, it appears as non-existence, like the moon in water. Individual characteristics are abandoned, and divided aspects of self and other do not exist; but spontaneously present dharmas are not put aside, there are both imputations of these and of the emptiness of their self- nature.
Other emptiness is the other emptiness of not having or the other emptiness of accountables.
Emptiness of both self and other has both emptiness of accountables and emptiness of the individual characteristics denoted by the words.
This luminous nature of mind, the nature, the dhatu, the essence, is empty of all fallacious things. It has the characteristics of the buddha qualities. Its purity of essence is beyond faults and virtues, and establishing or clearing away.
Various defiled dharmas of confused appearance, red and white, arise. These false conceptions, the eight consciousnesses, are natureless. Their self-nature is empty. Accountable like a pillar or a vase, they are empty and fallacious. The pure nature is beyond faults and virtues, establishing or clearing away. The paths too are empty of themselves and have some virtuous and some faulty aspects. But the pure essence is beyond faults and virtues.
At the time of the ultimate purity, all injurious faults together with their habitual patterns are obscured in emptiness. This is the absolute itself. Whatever qualities of the absolute dhatu exist are also ultimate manifestations and are not empty. The pure essence is beyond faults and virtues, establishing and clearing away.
In brief, as for self-emptiness, the nature of dharmas of this and that has no true existence. From the two divisions, as for characteristics being empty of their own essence, whatever characteristic is described is non-existent like the horns of a rabbit. Though appearing from the viewpoint of confusion, it is without nature or reality, empty like the moon in water.
Emptiness of self-nature of imputation, is emptiness of what is imputed by names, words, and letters. Except as mere mental constructions, the individual characteristics of these objects do not exist, as for small children what is imputed by the name "lion" really has a turquoise mane. What is actually denoted by the word used by this small child has a body without such a mane, but since the understanding producing name can have an understood symbolic meaning even when it is empty, all impute to it an effect-producing power.
In emptiness of other, a dharma is imputed to be empty of another dharma. From the two divisions, in other emptiness of not having the sun is said to be empty by not having darkness, a pillar, a blanket, and so forth. Here, dharmas that are non-existent within the sun are other real individual natures.
As for emptiness of accountable others, "the sun" and "light-producer," and "the one with seven horses" are general accountable imputations. Since the natures and particular included examples expressed do not touch the individuating characteristics which are the meaning of the sun, it is empty of them.
What is empty of both self and other, is a dharma that has neither. From the two divisions. There are accountable imputations and real individual characteristics.
Within the one involving accountable imputations, are the skandhas, dhatus, and ayatanas and so forth, which are imputed by samsaric confusions. All such things are also empty of the individual characteristics of the three realms, since they are constructions of conventional mind in names. They have both empty individual characteristics, like the water in a mirage, and no individual characteristics, like the child of a barren woman. Though they are empty of any truly any existing nature, they unubstructedly appear, vividly luminous, with an emptiness like that of relativity.
If the three essences are divided in this way, there are six sorts of things of which there is emptiness. Though these are expressed by calling them empty of essence, they are also completely pure and by the accountable expression empty since being beyond mind is included as a second sense, all dharmas should be realized also to be empty in this manner.
As for what is said by exponents of nihilistic emptiness, since that style of emptiness is impossible, their dharma is like that of the outsider materialists, the charvakas. There is emptiness; but this non-empty emptiness is merely partial emptiness. It accords with the dharma of those of the eternalistic view of the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, and therefore it falls into both the eternalistic and nihilistic extremes, and simply should not be relied upon.
Correct perfect establishment is the path of true liberation. In realizing the natural state as it is, since the phenomena of appearance are not put aside, in the relative, merit can be accumulated. The nature of emptiness which is contemplated is the accumulation of wisdom within the absolute. Earnestly produce this dharmata like the sky free from one and many. The former text says:
"Correct" is genuinely gathering the truths of the path.
In brief, we enter into the nature of mind, the changeless luminosity of suchness, after all dharmas are realized to be empty in the sense of being mere false conceptions. If we meditate on the path, impure confused appearance, along with the mind of false conceptions, becomes pure as it really is. The primordial state has been reached. The dharmas of the holy teachings are gathered into one as the inexhaustible body, speech, and mind, of the sphere of the ornament. One becomes a perfect master of the pure buddha fields.
b. The suffering of wandering in samsara because of ego-grasping.
Now because there is such a grasper and grasped, while we are wandering here in samsara, as if in a dream, we are compared to people sinking in a river:
E ma! How limitless is this realm of samsara.
How difficult it is to examine what it is.
So painful is the weariness of the path of samsara
That anyone born there has no happiness at all.
This unbearable fruition is produced by unhappy actions,
It is a self-projection which is wrongly understood,
The sort of thing we often do within a dream.
The natures experienced by individuals of the six lokas
Are confused appearances of what does not exist.
Therefore they give rise to measureless sufferings.
Listen while briefly I summarize what has been taught about them.
The Analysis of Scripture says:
As if in a filthy swamp of foul and disgusting stench
Beings of the six realms have no happiness.
As if in a blazing pit where it is never cool
Those in samsara too never have any joy.
Within samsara they transmigrate from the desire realm to the realm of form. From the realms of form and the formless, they transmigrate into the realm of desire. From the realm of the formless, they transmigrate to the realm of form. Wherever samsaric beings exist within the six lokas, there is only suffering, and they have no chance of happiness. For a little while, as explained in the scriptures etc., they may remember how those who have realization put aside the mind of joy in samsara and urged them to "practice the dharma of liberation." If they do not make an effort to do this, generally they will continue to wander in samsara. The Letter to Students says:
Whoever dwells within the ever-changing round of samsara, Happily thinking that it is just a residence,
Will certainly willy-nilly many hundreds of times
Wander everywhere with like and dissimilar beings.
3. The Divisions of Confusion
a. The Hells,
1) the Hot Hells
Of the twelve hot Hells, the first is the Reviving Hell.
a) The Reviving Hell:
i) A brief explanation:
Over the blazing iron coals of the Hell of Reviving,
Beings meet and kill each other with their weapons.
A voice says, "Revive," and again they suffer as before.
They experience this until their karma is exhausted.
Above blazing iron coals, these Hell beings are gathered by their karma. They strike each other with sticks, battle-axes, iron clubs, disks and so forth. Seeing each other as hostile enemies, they seem to fight until all of them are killed. Then a voice from space says, "Revive," and right away they revive as they were before. They have to experience countless times the real suffering of being killed by their weapons. The Spiritual Letter says:
Three hundred times a day by short sharp spears,
These are fiercely stabbed, and their sufferings
When they enter into the sufferings of Hell
Are an intolerable rain of sufferings.
Even one instance is unbearable.
ii) The measure of their lives
The measure of their lives is until their karma is exhausted, briefly, as it says in the ordinary sutras:
Fifty years within the life of a human being
Are just a day for the four great gods who are kings of the world.
Their months are thirty such days, and twelve months make a year.
Five hundred such years are a day of the Reviving Hell.
They have to suffer for five hundred years of days like these.
An exact calculation of this according to the sutras
Is a hundred and sixty trillion years of human time.
The ordinary sutras of the mahayana, the tantras, and the shastras say that individuals' karma being thin or thick and by merely transmigrating between lives, those who fall into that place are not taught to have one single certain measure of life. Strong antidotes may arise in one's being and so forth, so that one suddenly transmigrates. Someone who was something like a tantric master might have to remain for many kalpas, until released from karmic obscuration. The Spiritual Letter says:
Thus they experience quite unbearable suffering
Over the course of eight times ten million years.
For as long as their bad karma has not been exhausted,
For that long they cannot be free of that life.
In the case of the viewpoint of the ordinary sutras, the Abhidharmakosha says:
In the six levels of the Reviving and so forth,
One day equals the life of the desire gods.
According to the account given in the Objects of Mindfulness and Le Namje, fifty human years is one day for the great conquering kings of the four families. Thirty of these is one of their months, and twelve of these is counted as their year, and five hundred of those years is one day of the Reviving Hell. They suffer for five hundred such years. If one counts this in human years, the Objects of Mindfulness says:
Beings endure a hundred thousand times ten million years and 62,000 in the Reviving Hell.
b) The Black Thread Hell
The Hell below this is the Black Thread Hell:
In the Black Thread Hell they are sewn together with blazing needles,
Then just where they were stitched, they are cut apart again.
Because of this, their suffering is terrible.
If we take a day of a hundred and three human years,
A thousand years of those is a day of the Black Thread Hell.
According to the teachings, a thousand of their years
Is twelve trillion, nine hundred sixty billion years of ours.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Some are sewn with needles, and parted like that again.
By sharp irresistible axes they are cut apart
If 133 human years is counted as a day, a thousand years of such days is one day of the Black Thread Hell. They endure a thousand such years. If one counts the same period in human years, the Objects of Mindfulness says:
The years of beings in the Black Thread Hell are twelve hundred thousand and ninety six times ten million years.
c) The Hell of Crushing and Joining
In the Hell of Crushing and Joining, beings are crushed to atoms
By mountains like horses, camels, lions, tigers, and so on.
The mountains part, and again they are living, as before.
In iron valleys hammers pound them into dust.
While they are being crushed, streams of blood flow down.
Two hundred years are a day for the Aviha gods.
Two thousand such Twin-god days are a day of the Crushing Hell.
There they are said to suffer for two thousand of their years,
Or thirty trillion, nine hundred and eighty billion years.
The Letter to Students says:
Herded by two fearful mountains like giant shepherds
Gathered between them their bodies are crushed and reduced to dust.
They are separated by wind that does not cool at all.
Then again they are crushed to dust like that a hundred times.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Some are crushed like sesame seeds,
And others ground fine like flour.
There are certain gods who, because they are free from fighting with the asuras, are called "free from strife," Aviha, and because boys and girls emerge from their loins together, they are also called the "Twin gods." Two hundred human years make up one day for them. Two thousand of these days are one day in the Hell of Crushing and Joining. Beings there must endure two thousand such years. If this is divided in human years, the Objects of Mindfulness says:
Those of the Hell of Crushing and Joining endure 10,368,000 times ten million human years.
d) The Crying and Screaming Hell
i) A brief explanation
Then below that:
In the Crying and Screaming Hell, beings are burnt in fires, This is why they weep and lament, they scream and wail. They suffer by being cooked in boiling iron cauldrons. Four hundred years are a day for the Tushita gods. Four thousand of these are a day of the Crying and Screaming Hell. Their sufferings go on for four thousand of these years. In human years this is a hundred and eighty trillion Nine hundred and forty-four billion are also added to these.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Some are burned by blazing embers continuously,
While they are being consumed, their mouths are gaping wide.
Some boiled in iron caldrons, or great copper ones,
Are cooked like meat that is being made into soup.
The Letter to Students says:
Some fall into great soup-kettles and are boiled there
Others transmigrate to burning sand that gives off sparks.
They cannot see the ground on which they put their feet.
Four hundred human years are counted as one day among the gods of the Tushita heaven. Four thousand of these are one day of the Crying and Screaming Hell. They endure four thousand such years. If one counts this in human years the Objects of Mindfulness says:
ii) The measure of their lives
Those of the Crying and Screaming Hell live for
10,944,000 times ten million human years.
In the Hell of Great Screams, in a blazing iron house,
Beings are burned in fires and hacked in pieces by Yama. Eight hundred years are a day for the Nirmanarati gods. Eight thousand of those are a day within the Hell of Great Screams.
Their sufferings go on for eight thousand of their years.
This amounts In human years to three quadrillion,
Five hundred and fifty-two trillion, six hundred and sixty billion.
The Letter to Students says:
They live in Hell fire and a shroud of stinking smoke.
Tongues of flame pervade the circle of the directions.
Adorned with heaped white bones, like some terrible wreath.
As elephant skins appear as a means of threatening them
These beings cry out in pain and fear "Kye ma! Kye hu!
Some places great flaming fires are emanated
With an agonizing roar they rise and tower upward.
By day their voices peak in number and shrill volume
Inside their dwellings of bones, they loudly scream and howl.
Not even kalpa fire produces what they fell into.
Eight hundred human years are counted as a day of the Nirmanarati gods, and eight thousand of those years are a day of the Hell of Great Screams. They remain for eight thousand of their years. As for the count of this in human years, the Objects of Mindfulness says
They have to endure the Hell of Great Screams for 663,552,000 times 10 million human years.
e) The Hell of Heat
In the Hell of Heat beings are in an iron house.
Their brains are first exposed by using a short spear.
After that they are thoroughly beaten on with hammers.
Inside and out they are seared by blazing tongues of flame.
A day of the Paranirmitavashavartin gods
Has the same length as sixteen hundred human years.
Sixteen thousand of these is a day within the Hell of Heat.
They suffer there for sixteen thousand of their years.
Which equals three billion and eighty-four million human years,
To which are added another hundred and sixty thousand.
The Letter to Students says:
We see the noose of time in the hand of the Lord of Death
Poisonous snakes are coiled around the head and lap.
Crows, gulls, ravens, and vultures peck out eyes and brains From living victims without the slightest hesitation.
Sixteen hundred human years is counted as one day by the Paranirmitavashavartin gods. Sixteen thousand of these are counted as one day in the Hell of Heat. They endure sixteen thousand of their years, which in human years, as the Objects of Mindfulness says:
Those of the Hell of Heat endure this for 818,416 million times ten million human years.
f) The Very Hot Hell
In the Very Hot Hell, among two rows of iron houses,
They are burned in fire and stabbed with three-pointed weapons.
Their heads and shoulders are parted, then joined with bandages.
They also suffer by being boiled in copper cauldrons. The length of their lives is half an antahkalpa.
It is beyond being counted in terms of human years.
In four small kalpas the world arises and endures.
It is destroyed and there is nothingness. The length of these is equal to one antahkalpa.
One great kalpa is eighty intermediate ones.
A sutra says:
In the Very Hot Hell are a host of blazing fires
Their bodies are pierced and stabbed by vajras and by tridents.
They are boiled in great copper cauldrons and tied in bandages.
They only rest while burned by fires within and without.
The measure of their lives is unfathomably long. In four stages the word arises, endures, is destroyed, and remains in emptiness. Each of these is counted as one antahkalpa or intermediate kalpa. They live for half of such a kalpa. The Objects of Mindfulness:
Those of the Very Hot Hell experience their sufferings for half an antahkalpa. This should be kept in mind.
g) The Avici Hell
In the Uninterrupted Hell, in blazing iron houses
Aside from the clamor of lamentation of the Hell beings,
The fire and those beings cannot be separately seen.
Just As the burning flame of a lamp will cling to its center,
There is just a spark of life in the center of the fire.
They have to suffer this for the time of one antahkalpa.
Since there is no greater suffering that this,
Therefore it is called the Uninterrupted Hell.
The Letter to Students says:
As dry grass burns from the heart, they are burned by blazing fires.
From throats and mouths repeatedly issue smoky flames.
Falling from inner hunger, their innards burst and splatter.
They produce an indescribable howling cry.
Wishing to be freed from their great suffering,
Again and again, they watch from within the opening gates
Seeing other places, they wait until they open.
As soon as they go forward the gates shut tight again.
Then there is further pain of unbearable depression.
Like a falling rain of sharp and blazing arrows,
the guardians beat them with sticks, and boiling tears flow down.
Because they are being stewed in a pot of molten iron, Drinking in a heaped up wreath of tongues of flame,
Smoke rises from the holes of mouth, and nose, and ears.
Eyes and brains ooze like cream in blazing tongues of flame.
That fire, as if furious at those piled bodies,
Flare like piles of dry firewood that are being kindled.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Among the unbearable sufferings of all of these
Those of the Avici Hell are worst of all.
The Analysis of Karma says:
At the gates of the Avici Hell is an iron mountain of 60,000 pagtse. The Hell beings, exhausted by getting by it, transmigrate to new lives.
There are an immeasurable number of them, it is taught. This is manifested by very heavy karma of having abandoned Dharma, broken samaya etc. The Objects of Mindfulness says:
Those of the Avici Hell transmigrate after having passed there an intermediate kalpa. Even if they are born as a king, their powers will not be sound, so it has been taught.
h) The summary of the meaning of these
Now there is the summary:
In each these different Hells that have been mentioned above,
The tongues of flame are seven times hotter than the last.
Each is lower, with greater suffering, than the last.
Beings suffer until their karma is exhausted.
As for these Hells that have just been described, the tongues of flame become seven times hotter (from one to the next. The Analysis says:
Hellfire from one to the next
Increases by seven times.
Likewise the sufferings
Are seven times the last.
More and more sufferings are stacked up, like blisters on top of leprosy. As if their sensations had became seven times stronger, their sufferings are also seven times stronger. They must endure this until their karma is exhausted.
i) The ephemeral Hells
i) The Main Explanation of the temporary Hells
Included among these Hells are the following:
The ephemeral Hells may be in the mountains, trees, or sky.
In water, fire, or rocks, or in uncertain places.
Groups or single beings remain there for a while.
In those places they suffer their respective torments.
That explains their being called "ephemeral Hells."
The beings of the ephemeral Hells are in mountains, rocks, water, fire, space, and so on, or in uncertain places, like a pestle, rope, refuse rag, a burning piece of wood, or a log. There may be different kinds of beings together, or one alone. They may be hot, cold, wet, or dry, ripped apart, cut up, boiled, whatever sort of suffering it may be, but each of them unbearable. This may last half a day and night, just a moment, or for all eternity, since they suffer by the force of different karmas. Thus they are called ephemeral. The Sutra on Teachings that are the Basis of Discipline says:
Then son of Maudgal from across the ocean, the Hell of the beings of the ephemeral Hells are in places like a pestle, or a tree, and they are seen to be tormented by many different kinds of suffering.
Within the realm of samsara, beings have no pleasure.
They are like the beings of the ephemeral Hells,
All tormented by their individual sufferings,
As if they had been forced to live in a blazing land.
ii) In order to refute other kinds of wrong conceptions:
Some mistakenly say that the name "ephemeral"
Is given as few are there, or since their lives are short.
But scorpions live for quite a while among the rocks.
And once there was an ephemeral Hell that had the form
Of five hundred shravakas gathered for their noontime meal.
It is said that they took up weapons and struck each other.
Some say are called ephemeral since each day they become non-existent. This is not the right sense here.
After many human generations in an iron house
Still they have many years to remain within this Hell.
With such harm, and some alone and companionless, they are called ephemeral. When Shro_ako__kar_a arrived in a vihara, from one with a net beating a gandi, as soon as 500 beings had taken the form of shravakas, they quarreled with each other, and resolved it with weapons. The moment the hostilities were over, they were no longer seen, so the scriptures say.
j) The Neighboring Hells
i) The brief teaching.
Around the Avici Hell are 16 others:
The Neighboring Hells are found by the Uninterrupted Hell.
They are found in each of its cardinal directions.
These are the fire pit Hell, the Hell of putrid stench,
The plain of weapons, and the river without a ford.
In all there are four times four--sixteen such Hells.
ii) The extensive explanation
There are six sections describing these, which open in whatever direction one turns.
a)) The Fire Pit Hell:
Thinking that its ten million gates have now been opened,
Beings come forth from within the uninterrupted Hell.
Seeing shady river valleys, when they enter the running water,
Having sunk into blazing coals up to their knees,
Their flesh is burned away, leaving bones as white as lotuses.
Then revived, as before, their suffering is extreme.
First, their karma mostly restrains them in the iron houses of the Avici Hell, where sufferings of heat are afflicted with increasing sufferings. Then, thinking that the gates have opened, they flee. As they approach, driven by iron dogs, they seem to see a pleasant shady ravine. About what they suffer the Letter to Students says:
A crowd of torn people are herded by dogs with gaping jaws
Long thorn-like fangs with vajra tips rip at their bodies.
There is a ravine and river completely lacking water,
Full of dismal ashes and licking tongues of flame.
While driven they are mutilated by corners of rocks,
Having sharp razor points that tear unbearably.
Fleeing into the river, they sink into the ashes.
Their flesh and bones are burned, and then they revive again,
b)) When they think they are free,
Here is what they reach:
As soon as they enter the cooling ponds that they have seen,
They sink in a putrid, stinking mire of rotting corpses.
Worms with metal beaks of copper, iron, and gold,
Piercing their bodies, bore and tunnel into them.
The Letter to Students says:
Some move about like little worms and insects.
Because of the crowd their bodies are immobile.
Or else they rot away upon the fields.
With lives blocked by the trap of their karmic nature
They live without being even able to move.
As soon as they return to the pleasant plains they have seen
They are cut to pieces by blazing daggers while still alive.
The Letter to Students says:
Into a grove whose branches are swords with dagger leaves,
They run exhausted, and of course their bodies are wounded,
by many three pointed short spears, arrows, and sharp swords
Fangs in the mouth of the Lord of Death pierce as they fall.
d)) And then:
When they have entered into pleasant leafy groves,
They are overcome by a forest of sharp swords
The Letter to Students says:
Enduring many torments difficult to bear
Day and night, their bodies are grievously destroyed.
As they go among green trees which they formerly saw
They cannot help falling onto leaves of a hundred weapons.
There in long entanglements they are badly wounded.
e)) And then
Passing from there to a very pleasant mountain peak,
They see their former homeland and go as if they were summoned.
Flesh and blood are scraped away with sharp iron spoons.
Vultures peck their brains, as they are climbing upward.
Then they think that they are called to descend the mountain,
And again they are scraped by the spoons, as when they first went up.
At the edge of the plain are men and women with sharpened beaks.
In the blazing embrace of these their suffering is extreme.
After that they are eaten by many dogs and jackals.
Then they think that there is a very pleasant mountain. When they go there, these former men and woman seem to see all the features of the countries where they formerly lived, and seeing people once close to them, thinking they are calling, they ascend. As they are scraped with iron spoons, their flesh and blood multiplies. As they come down, they suffer the same pains of being scraped as when they went up. The Letter to Students says:
As they quickly climb this slope of unbearable shalmali trees,
There is a host of briars. Sharp spoons scrape them through.
With terrible pain, they destroy inside, and then subside.
When they move downward, from iron briars going upward,
They Remember many sharp things roughly piercing their bodies,
Then sometimes by the sharpness and the painfulness
Of blazing three pointed spears, their bodies cannot descend.
Then by crows whose beaks are marked with symbolic weapons
They are driven along by ordinary needs
Of their bellies and such, and as they are lost and scattered.
Some fall into fearful abysses of mountain chasms.
From all the women a hundred tongues of flame come forth.
They live ornamented by massive wreaths of flame.
Toothed like saws these do not ever leave their bodies.
Lured into pleasant groves, they embrace unite with them.
f)) And then:
Also having seen the cool streams of flowing rivers,
As soon as they joyfully go and are immersed in them,
They sink to their waists in hot ashes, and flesh and bones are consumed.
They see the guards of Yama keeping them from the two banks.
There they have to suffer for many thousands of years.
The Objects of Mindfulness says:
When they go there, they see streams. As soon as they step into them up to their waists, their flesh is burned, and even their bones turn to powder and separate from them. When again they are revived, on the banks where they formerly were, the beings of the Lord of Death appear to be standing.
k) The instruction on eliminating those sufferings.
They are as follows:
If someone in the Hells remains unterrified,
But knows the nature of these endless samsaric torments,
Then that person will have the means of passing beyond them.
That is the instruction.
2) The Cold Hells,
There are three sections
a) The eight cold Hells.
Now the sufferings of cold are explained:
There are also eight Hells where there are the torments of cold.
In extremely frigid places of snow and so forth,
Arbuda, Nnirarbuda, Atata, and Hahava
Huhuva and Utpala, Padma and Mahapadma.
In blackest darkness their bodies are ravished by swirling blizzards,
Devoured by living things with sharp and flaming beaks.
Until they reach the end of their karma they shiver there.
Having been afflicted, in cold and snowy places, cold and dark, blasted by black winds, they are covered with blisters and, when the blisters burst, with wounds. Except for sneezing "achu!" they cannot speak. They lament, "kye 'ud!" and their teeth chatter, so that no speech can get out. They are wounded like a blue utpala lotus with fine roots and big leaves turned inside out. Like a red lotus, they are split into four pieces. Like a big lotus they are split into eight pieces. From their wounds come fine streams of fluid. Insects crawl in and eat. As for their immeasurable sufferings from cold, the Letter to Students says:
They are many beyond example, exposing even their bones.
Their hungry bodies shiver, becoming shriveled and crooked. A hundred blisters rise with fluid, and as they break,
Insects ravage them with beaks as sharp as swords
To their feet the blood and gore comes dripping down.
Their teeth chatter helplessly. Their head and body hairs tremble.
Sore eyes, ears, throats and noses, torment all these beings.
With bodies and minds corrupted to the very center,
They remain in those Cold Hells, and loudly cry and wail.
b) The explanation of the measure of time.
The time of their suffering in these eight Hells:
The length of their lives in the Hell which is called Arbuda
Is as long as it would take to empty out
A sesame store in Kosala containing 200 bushels
By removing only a single grain in a century,
In each of the other cold Hells, it is twenty times the last.
The Objects of Mindfulness says:
If the storage bin of the city of Kosala were full of sesame seed full of sesame seed without any gap, The lives of the beings in the Blistering Hell are as long as it would take to empty it by removing one grain every hundred years. The others each last for twenty times longer than the last.
In accord with this, the Abhidharmakosha says:
From within a sesame store every hundred years
Removing a single seed until they all are emptied,
That is the length of life within the Blistering Hell.
The lives each of the others are twenty times the last.
c) The Instruction of striving in the means of liberation from these Hells
Thus thinking of these immeasurable sufferings of heat and cold:
Beings with minds should then arouse their strength of effort
To conquer these merely mental worlds of Hell.
So it is taught. The Spiritual Letter says:
Evildoers, as soon as their breath has ceased,
When they are cut off by time, at the end of life,
Having heard of Hell's measureless sufferings,
To be fearless through emptiness requires the vajra nature.
If having seen pictures of Hell and heard of it,
Remembering, reading, or merely glancing at pictures,
People are often stricken with unbearable fear
Why speak of the actual experiences of ripening?
b. The suffering of the hungry ghosts,
There are three sections.
1) The way they live:
Pretas stay and roam in their world of hungry ghosts.
Their bodies are large with great paunches. Their hands and feet are small.
Their necks are slim with mouths no bigger than a needle.
Finding no food or drink, they are racked by hunger and thirst.
Trees and flowers, medicinal herbs, and wholesome things
Wither away as soon as these pretas look at them.
Externally they eat vomit, or things that are foul and vile.
If they do see food and drink, they seem to be kept away.
Because of inner defilement, their food is consumed by fire.
Smoky tongues of flame are spewing from their mouths.
Obscured with malicious anger, they always fear deprivation.
In terrifying places, they suffer helplessly.
Living in space, externals are obscured for them, and since externals they do experience are not pleasing, they do not get what they want. Their evil bodies have to eat evil vomit, and even if these ravening ones see food and drink, it seems to be guarded, or as soon as they get to it, it dries up. By that they suffer. Their inner obscurations are even worse. Flames blaze from their bellies, and emit smoke. As for their obscurations generally, on top of that they always suffer poverty, deprivation, hunger, thirst, ugly forms, and sensory distortion. They always have to be fed by others. They are fearful, without refuge and protector. The Letter to Students says:
Unbearably tortured by thirst, they seem to see spotless streams.
They want to drink, but as soon as they can, the water
Is full of clots of hair, mixed with fish dung and pus
Trailing mud and slime, and blood and excrement.
In time winds disperse the water, and they are among cool mountains.
If there they see green growing groves of sandalwood
Above them, the forest flames, with sharp thick tongues of fire,
Blazing embers fall and they cannot help themselves.
Fearful ocean waves rise and crash over them
Even if they get beyond that foamy trouble,
Millions of harsh red clouds of howling, gritty wind
Whirl and drown everything in a fearful, sandy desert.
If the rain-clouds come that they are praying for,
A rain of iron arrows, falls with smoke and embers,
Hot vajra boulders crush and ravish them completely,
Seeming of golden color, wreathed with orange lightning,
A rain of these falls everywhere upon their bodies.
2) Those who live in the air and in space:
As for this subtle assembly:
The spirits of the air are evil hungry ghosts.
By miraculous actions they go unhindered anywhere,
Accomplishing their various manifestations of harm.
Bringing sickness, they ravish health and cut off life
A month for human beings is just a day for them.
Five hundred years of theirs are fifty thousand of ours.
They suffer thus within the realms of the Lord of Death.
These too are among the hungry ghosts, and their suffering is immeasurable. Their realm is unpleasant, dangerous, fearful, hungry and thirsty. Whoever is close to their hearts is infected with fatal diseases. They themselves are always tormented by these as well, and spread these diseases. Life and health are ravished away, and only harm to others is accomplished. They are beings unhappy to meet. Going about by miraculous power, they appear as guardians of narrow paths. Their individual bodies are like gates, bubbles, half burned or split pieces of wood, and various dogs and birds. Some by former slight merit have enjoyments, but also suffer many sufferings. Mostly events occur at the wrong season and moreover even in their enjoyments there are limitless sufferings and so forth. The same text says:
Even in a snowstorm they are afflicted by heat.
Helplessly chilled by winds, they are even cold in a fire.
By such unbearable ripenings they are stupefied.
Various kinds of things wrongly appear to them.
Even the eye of a needle seems many terrifying miles,
With their great bellies, even if they drink an ocean,
It will not wet so far as even the end of their throats.
By the heat of their mouths they are thirsty for even a drop of water.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Hungry ghosts are impoverished by never-ending desire.
The suffering so produced is continuous and unbearable.
Hunger, thirst and cold; heat, fatigue, and fear,
Produce unbearable sufferings that always attend them.
Some with tiny mouths as small the eye of a needle.
And bellies as big as mountains are tormented by hunger.
They cannot get rid of the false perspective of their eyes.
They do not have the power to seek out anything.
Some are naked with bodies formed of skin and bones
They are dry like the sun-baked tops of desert palms.
Some are ablaze with fire from mouths and genitals?
As food of burning sand falls into their gullets.
Some of the lower ones do not even get
Pus and excrement, or blood and other filth.
From their throats, they mutually infect each other.
Buboes arise, and then exude a ripening pus.
For pretas, even in the springtime of their lives,
Even the moon is hot and even the sun is cold.
Trees are fruitless and barren, blasted by their glance,
As soon as they are looked at, rivers and springs dry up.
Sufferings attend them continuous and unhindered.
As for the karmic noose of their evil activity,
The bodies of some of them are quite tenaciously held.
They will not die in five or even ten thousand years.
One human month is counted as a day of the pretas. Five hundred of their years is taught to be 50,000 human years.
3) Encouragement to practice Dharma, not Desiring Samsara.
As for the endless ways of suffering:
Having seen this saddening nature of how things are,
Accordingly, persons, to gain their liberation,
Should distance themselves from samsara's hedonic calculus.
By that the true peace of holy Dharma will be established.
That is the good instruction.
c. The Animal Realm
1) Animals too are without happiness:
In the animal realm, those who live within the four oceans
All devour each other, in measureless suffering.
Even if they hide in the dark places of the land,
They fear heat and cold, and hunger and thirst, and being eaten.
Wild beasts and birds throughout the human realm
Are in danger from sharp weapons and also from each other.
Horses, oxen, camels, as well as donkeys and such,
Have limitless pains of carrying burdens and being beaten.
They are killed for their skins, and for their meat and bones.
They cannot see the limitless suffering of their nature.
Nagas suffer the pain and pleasure of midday and midnight.
And the pains and pleasures of coming day and coming night.
In some places there fall rains of abrasive, burning sand.
In some they are forsaken, alone without companions.
Mostly stupid, they fear soaring birds and such.
They meet with a great variety of sufferings.
Their lives, uncertain, are sometimes just a day. Divine Takasaka and others are said to live a kalpa
The great oceans between the four continents are filled without gaps with fish, conches, crocodiles, and the like, crawling like grain in chang. The big ones eat the little ones, the little ones eat still littler ones, and so forth.
Others from this continent to the surrounding iron mountains-hide under fine in darkness inside the earth, since the sun and moon do not appear there. As in the water, they eat one another, and have measureless sufferings of hunger and thirst.
The scattered animals on the face of the world, living in the human realm's mountains, plains, water, rocks, sky, and so forth, small creatures, worms, insects, birds, wild animals, and so forth, each have their particular sufferings of heat, cold, hunger, thirst, being eaten by each other, and so forth--measureless illness and affliction. In particular they are tormented by hunters, fishermen, and birds of prey. Some die for their flesh, skins, and bones, or are used beaten and bleeding and then killed at the end of their labors, and have limitless other sufferings.
In the serpent realm too though there are appropriate pleasures of day and night, morning and evening, there are also the many particular sufferings of hot and cold, hunger and thirst, and so forth.
Where some live thousands of rains fall, and some are forsaken by any. Some are entirely alone and companionless. In general they are stupid and afraid of birds, vidya mantra, and immeasurable other harmful phenomena. Their lives are uncertain. Some live only an instant, a day, and so forth. The kings of nagas, like Takasaka, live for an intermediate kalpa. The Abhidharmakosha says:
That of Takasaka is a kalpa.
The Sutra Requested by Ocean says:
He lives in the ocean for an intermediate kalpa.
The Spiritual Letter says:
Those who live within the animal realm
Have various sufferings of bondage and beating.
They are worked and driven with whips and hooks and so forth.
2) The instruction to be diligent in the Dharma:
Having thought about this, those who want liberation
From the world of animals, to benefit themselves,
Should customarily travel the path of accurate vision.
Striving day and night to be absorbed in the wholesome.
For these reasons, those desiring liberation from the fate of those who have gone astray among the animals, from the goodness and so forth of holy Dharma, should strive with this opportunity of the great human and divine path of the ten virtues that accord with merit, the four dhyanas, and the four formless attainments. This is the instruction of the ultimate great path of liberation through the accumulations of merit and wisdom. Its essence is emptiness and compassion. Strive to meditate on that path by the six paramitas and so forth.
d. The human realm,
There are nine sections:
1) The torments of the eight sufferings:
Now, though they have attained the higher realms:
Humans also have no chance of happiness.
Sorrows, unhappiness, strife, and war and such,
Before we are rid of one, we suffer with another.
Sometimes our food is changed by being mixed with poison.
Food, clothing and requisites fail us, and therefore we get sick.
Later sufferings we have ripened then come forth.
There are the three kinds of suffering and also the following:
Birth and age, sickness, death and hostile people;
Being parted from those we love and what we want,
As well as the pain of having to deal with what we get.
The suffering of these eight is without measure and end.
What kinds of suffering do people have? The three great root sufferings are the sufferings of:
3). Conditioned existence.
The eight kinds of suffering that always grasp us in samsara are:
5). meeting with hostile enemies
6). being separated from dear intimates 7). not getting what one wants
8). sufferings intimately associated with the five skandhas.
In the suffering of suffering, one misery is heaped on another. It is like our father dying, and then our mother dies too.
In The suffering of change, as much as one's present pleasure is the suffering it emanates. This is like a house falling apart when someone has not been careful about the site, or poison mixed with food.
The suffering of conditioned existence is like having eaten poison. Though our food, clothing and activities are not directly harmed, they are involved in the subsequent sickness; or from one's senses being injured, later injuries follow on that. The Dulwa Lung says:
The misery of samsara
Arises from the skandhas.
There are the three sufferings
Of suffering, change, and conditions.
From the eight varieties,
People suffer terribly.
The suffering of birth is predominantly before birth occurs. Thus wandering in the intermediate state between lives, spirits who come near and enter, as they grasp existence in the mother's womb:
Prana mind and bindu of ignorant consciousness.
Gather as oval and oblong, and then a solid lump,
Then we are like a disk, then like a fish and tortoise,
In seven weeks a body is gradually engendered.
When the mother is tired, hungry or thirsty, hot or cold,
Even a little bit, we suffer immeasurably.
Dark and close, it is fearful with an unpleasant stench.
We must suffer unbearable suffering of restriction.
After seven weeks, for twenty-six following
The deceptions of the senses and limbs are being established.
For a total period of thirty-six weeks,
The bodily embryo grows and gains the power to move.
Then soon to be extruded between the girdle of bones,
By our karmic energy we are turned head downward.
There is greater pain than dying, like the Crushing and Joining Hell.
After birth, being touched is like being skinned alive.
Being washed is like our flesh being scraped away with razors.
From the intercourse of the father and mother there is a mixing of the essence of the red and white bindus, which constitutes consciousness. In the first week, the embryo has the shape of a fluid oval like mercury. In the second, there is an oblong shape like mucus . In the third there is a lump shaped like a finger. In the fourth there is a hard lump like an egg. In the fifth, there is a disk like a lotus petal. In the sixth, it is like the fish as which Vishnu incarnated. The seventh is like a tortoise. For example, the head, feet, and hands are very non-prominent like those of a tortoise.
Then for twenty-six weeks, the limbs of the body, the fingers, the eyes and other senses and their supporting structures, the hair of the head and body, the heart and veins on the inside, the prana and dhatu essences, blood and lymph, masculine and feminine organs, and so forth develop along with the ayatanas.
During the thirty-sixth week, in the body that has developed, there is the downward moving power of consuming food and drink, and produced by the fetus's eating and drinking, there is occasional movement and restless thoughts and the body becomes uncomfortable. During these stages, the fetus dwells in darkness. It seems close and disgusting. There is the suffering of being restricted, and if the mother's belly is too well satisfied, it thinks it is being squashed by mountains and oceans. If she is tired and strongly agitated, there is suffering like being thrown over a cliff.
Young boys, remain with their faces looking inward from the mother's right side, covered by their two palms. Girls stay looking outward from the left. Then by the wind of karma their heads turn upside down. Having been extruded through the pelvic girdle, at birth they suffer as much as those in the Hell of Crushing and Joining. As soon as they are touched, it is as if their skin was being taken off. When they are washed, they suffer immeasurably, as if their flesh were being cut off with razors. The sufferings of growing, can be briefly seen from those of entering the womb. Of these the Letter to Students says:
Confined, accumulating unbearable unwholesome stench,
Enclosed in unmitigated darkness and narrowness.
Having dwelled in the Hell-like place that is the womb,
The body, completely restricted, must suffer great suffering.
Gradually ground like sesame oil, how will it be born?
But in the sutras it says its life will not be lost.
Indeed its condition is highly fit for suffering.
Living in filth, by looking about it is badly harmed.
By the damp womb it is fettered, in unbearable fearful stench.
The pain of development is as bad as being destroyed.
Like coming on something disgusting, former memory is lost.
2) The suffering of old age
Then in stages:
The suffering of age is very hard to bear.
After youth decays, there will be no more pleasures.
We cannot get up and down without the help of assistants.
As bodily heat is impaired, our food is hard to digest.
Our strength is failing and we begin to tremble,
So that it is difficult either to go or stay.
Our joints decay. We cannot get where we want to go.
The senses fail. The eyes are dim and cannot see
We cannot hear sounds or voices any longer.
There are no sensations of smell and taste and touch.
Memory is not clear. We sink in an ignorant sleep.
Perception of things is failing, so there are few qualities.
Delicious food and such appear as the opposite.
As life is failing, thoughts are disturbed by the fear of death.
Like a child's, our patience and span of attention are small.
We are quickly gone, like a lamp whose oil is spent.
By the slipping away of youth, the strength of the body deteriorates. The joints disintegrate. Food does not nourish. The senses cloud. The eyes are fuzzy. The ears become increasingly deaf. The tongue stammers. Memory is lost. Objects and food that were previously delightful are no longer pleasurable. To the dimming sense organs of the tongue food and drink, do not taste like they did when we were young. We are afraid of death. Like a child again, we have little patience. There are such immeasurable sufferings. The Letter to Students says:
Then for all persons, age,
The hand of the Lord of Death,
After it has grasped us
With no chance of letting go,
Our hair turns gray and white,
All our collection of teeth
As if for a joke are taken.
Our joints all come apart.
Our minds become impaired.
Our situation becomes
As bad as being in Hell.
3) As for the suffering of sickness:
The suffering of sickness is very hard to bear.
The bodily nature changes, and mind becomes unhappy.
Our enjoyment of things no longer give us pleasure.
There is increasing fear that we will lose our lives.
We wail a lament about this unbearable suffering.
When we are afflicted with sickness our minds are distressed and no joy arises. Perception is interfered with, and we are irritated. We must die, or sometimes we just think it would be better if we did. We wants to die, but at the same time the torment of dying rivals Hell. The Commentary on the Praise of the Hundred Actions says:
As for embodied beings
Tormented by sickness,
It feels like being in Hell.
Rising higher and higher,
Such is the misery
Of suffering in samsara.
4) The suffering of death
When one's time is exhausted, or even if it is not really exhausted, but one throws it away:
The suffering of dying is even greater than this.
There is our last meal and our last words are spoken.
For the last time we get dressed. We go to our final sleep.
Body and life, attendants and servants are left behind.
Friends and relations, wealth and enjoyment, are left behind.
We cannot stay, but still we fear to go alone.
For the last time we lie down, rest, talk, eat, get dressed, and come to the last appearances of this life. Attendants and enjoyments are left behind. We has no power to keep living, and leave alone and companionless. Having thought about how we will do it, with an unhappy heart, with a strong feeling that one's essence is being destroyed, life ceases. We experience wandering in the bardo. Without refuge or protector, our skandhas are lifted on a litter. We are taken to the charnel ground. We are eaten by jackals and so forth. Our assembled intimates suffer immeasurably. The Letter to Students says:
How is it going to be?
This fearful Lord of Death
Walking at my head,
Whether oppressed or doubtful,
The pain will seem like vajra.
Those who harm the mind,
After having oppressed it
Relations and the household
With tears streaming down their faces
We see their pain like vajra.
That having infiltrated
Into our deepest nature
Is most unbearable
like entering murky darkness.
This body we guarded so zealously
And all its accustomed pleasures
Will be completely lost.
Firmly bound at the feet
Of the terrible Lord of Death
Our head tuft is pulled out,
Our fate will be determined.
As we are taken by him,
By the roar of those nearby
One's many screams and cries
Are never heard at all.
Between water hard to cross
and piled heaps of boulders,
Pricked by sharp piercing thorns,
Those on this frightful path,
Bound by the noose of time,
By the things of the Lord of Death
They are fiercely driven with sticks
And herded like animals.
5) The suffering of meeting with enemies:
By the suffering of meeting people we dislike
We are oppressed by fear of the danger of being unpleasantly harmed.
If we meet with hostile enemies, we will no longer be able to have our bodies, lives, and enjoyments.
6) The suffering of being separated from those dear to us:
To separate from people and the country that we love
Causes sorrow, lamentation, and unhappiness.
Remembering their qualities, we are tormented by longing.
If we are separated from our dear friends and relatives who are kind to us, remembering their qualities, our minds are tormented with suffering.
7) The suffering of deprivation.
As for the suffering of being deprived of desirables:
In the suffering of being deprived of what we want
A tormented mind arises when we do not succeed.
We are worn out by poverty, like hungry and thirsty pretas.
If we do not succeed in our goals, our minds are unhappy. When we are deprived of possessions or of something desirable, we are tormented by unhappiness.
8) The suffering of defilement:
Form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness
Which comprise the five perpetuating skandhas,
Because of defilement are the ground of all suffering.
They have been said to be its source, support, and vessel.
The Middle Length Prajqaparamita says:
Subhuti, because the closely connected skandhas are defiled, they are the place of all suffering.
They are the support of all suffering. They are the vessel of all suffering. They are the source of all suffering. Moreover, since form manifests the harm of suffering, it is its place. Since feeling takes on suffering, it is its vessel. Since perception is the first gate to being disturbed by conceptualization, it is its support. Since the doer and understander arise among formations and consciousness, they are its source.
These are so explained in the Great Commentary on the Prajqaparamita in Eight Thousand Lines.
9) The Instruction of exertion in the means of liberation from this.
Now there is the instruction on eliminating unhappiness:
Thus within the limits of this human world,
With suffering as cause and effect, there is no happiness.
To be liberated from this, think of the excellent Dharma.
That offers the means of liberation from samsara.
As for the path, by the action of the cause of suffering, unhappiness, there is subsequent suffering. Sometimes, by the fruition of former actions, there will be suffering. We should be liberated from that.
e. The suffering of the asuras,
1) How they are unhappy:
a) The way of their unhappiness:
Asuras likewise are without a chance of happiness.
Through hatred they have senseless quarrels, disputes, and wars.
Through envy they cannot bear the splendor of the gods.
Their warlike perspective supports many hundreds of sufferings.
They fight and quarrel even with their own kind. Having seen the happiness and wealth of the thirty three gods, they are tormented with fires of hatred and jealousy. Sometimes, in the wars which they fight with the gods, their heads and limbs are cut off. They are injured by vajras, arrows, wheels, and so forth, and sometimes die, or suffer from fear of dying. The Spiritual Letter says:
Since by their nature asuras
Hate the splendor of the gods,
Their minds all suffer greatly
Though they are knowledgeable,
by the obscurations of beings,
They do not see things truly.
As for this explanation that they do not see truly, their seeing is like that of the path of seeing of the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, but not like that of the mahayana. The Edifice of the Three jewels says:
If one explains an account of the dharmas of those lives, the gods, nagas, asuras, and sky soarers of the animal realm, the kinnaras, and the big bellied hungry ghosts beyond number with respect to dharma do not have even a particle of the dharma eye, nor do they attain spotlessness.
Therefore, the way of their vehicles should be realized. b) The instruction to be diligent in practicing Dharma:
Therefore, those who are going to happiness and peace
Should quickly practice the Dharma, that leads to liberation.
f. The suffering of the gods
There are four sections
1) the suffering produced by death and transmigration.
Thus in the heavenly realms:
Also the gods of the realm of desire have endless suffering.
Drunk with desire, they are careless. They fall in the changes of death.
Their flowers wither, their thrones no longer give them pleasure.
Abandoned by their friends, they dread their coming state.
For a week these gods will have unbearable emotions,
The victorious Four Great Kings and the Thirty-three, and the Twin Gods, and the Ganden gods and the Thrulga gods and Shenthrul Wangje appear to be happy. But even this happiness does not go beyond the suffering of change and the suffering of conditions. At the time of their deaths, the color of their bodies becomes unpleasant. Their thrones do not please them. The flowers wreathing their brows wither. Their clothes smell bad. A pain they have never experienced before arises. They are troubled by the perception that they will leave their divine companions and be alone. With the divine eye, they see the place where they will be born, they are terrified. When they faint away, from far away the gods who are their father and mother or intimates call their names, saying, "May you be born among human beings in Jambuling. There having practiced the ten virtues, once again may you be born here in the god realm." Having said that and scattered flowers, they depart. The day of such gods is a week. The Spiritual Letter says:
In the celestial realms, as they are very happy,
The suffering of death and transmigration is therefore great.
Having contemplated that, superior ones
Do not crave for celestial realms that will be exhausted.
Their color of their bodies becomes unpleasant to see.
Their thrones no longer please them. Their wreaths of flowers wither.
Their clothes smell bad; and irresistibly in their bodies,
Arises a dread that they have never felt before.
These are the five presages of being summoned by death
And their transmigration from the celestial realm.
That arise for gods within the realm of the gods.
As with men on the earth who are going to die
There are those who are summoned to view their deaths.
2) The associated suffering of their subsequent samsaric birth
The samadhi gods of such realms of form, as the realms of Bhrama,
Exhausting their former karma, fall down into samsara.
They suffer the suffering of having foreseen this change.
They see how their karma of formless shamatha will be exhausted.
They suffer anticipating their subsequent state of samsara.
Though they have gone to heaven, they cannot rely on it.
Therefore, fortunate ones should gain enlightenment.
During their great fruition in the Bhrama realms, the samadhi-gods have natural bliss. But they too die, and this is transformed. they suffer over entering into their subsequent births. Nagarjuna says:
Those with self-existing samadhi like the Bhrama realms,
Though they have the brilliance of limitless light and color,
Since they have not seen their latent ego-conceptions,
After they die, they cannot help being born in Hell.
Those gods who remain one-pointedly in formless shamatha, also die and transmigrate, and then with formations of