Dharma Mom

Finding Rest in the Nature of Mind: A Teaching of the Great Perfection by Longchenpa


Homage to Samantabhadra!
Primordial lord,
Vast unbounded ocean of unsounded depth, Filled with qualities of wisdom and of love, Wish-fulfilling wellspring of the buddhas and their heirs, Who send forth massing clouds of joy and benefit: To you I bow!
The spotless dharmakāya, luminous and clear, Is the buddha nature of all beings, Yet through their ignorance and clinging, They wander in the cycle of existence.
In the wilderness of karma and defilement They stray in weariness. Today I will bring rest to their exhausted minds.


  1. My friends, your human form endowed with precious freedoms and advantages Of all the six migrations is the one most difficult to find. Like blind men who have chanced upon a treasure of great price, With joy achieve your benefit and happiness.
  2. What are they, then, these freedoms and advantages?
    You have not taken birth in hell or else as hungry ghosts, As beasts or as long living gods, or else among the wild men of the borderlands. You do not have perverted views, have not been born with handicaps Or in an age in which a buddha has not come.
    From these eight unfree states you are completely free.
    You have been born in human form and in a central land.
    Your faculties are whole, your lives unmarred by evil ways, And in the Doctrine you have confidence:
    The five great personal advantages are all complete in you.
    A buddha has appeared and set his Teaching forth.
    The Doctrine still remains and beings enter it, While others, through compassion, set it forth for them.
    Such are your five advantages of circumstance.
    In you the eighteen freedoms and advantages
    Are all complete, and therefore here and now Exert yourself wholeheartedly and win your freedom!
  3. If in this life you fail to practice what is to your benefit, In lives to come, you will not even hear of “happy destinies.”
    And long in lower realms you’ll turn and turn again, Not knowing what you should and should not do.
    Understand that you will stray upon false paths, Drifting in saṃsāra that in time
    Had no beginning and will have no end.
  4. So now, while you are free and independent, With propitious circumstances for the perfect path, Rely upon the two accumulations, Source of boundless excellence;
    Leave the city of existence far behind.
  5. If, now that you have found a precious boat, You fail to cross saṃsāra’s shoreless sea,
    How will you fare, tossed endlessly
    On waves of torment and defilement?
  6. So swiftly don the armor of your perseverance.
    To still the troubles of your mind and mental factors,
    Climb the upward path of primal wisdom’s stainless clarity And implement unceasingly the ways to your enlightenment.
  7. If, having found this pure and precious vessel, Ground of all prosperity and joy,
    You fail to catch therein the cool rain of the Dharma’s nectar, You will go to ruin in the torments of saṃsāra, nothing more!
  8. From massing clouds of benefit and joy, of glorious great bliss, A plenteous rain, primordial wisdom’s cooling stream, Falls down upon the ground of freedoms and advantages, The limpid minds of wandering beings.
    Practice Dharma therefore with a joyful heart.
  9. As the Teacher of both gods and humankind has said, A turtle could, by strange chance, place its neck Inside a yoke adrift upon the ocean’s waves.
    A human life is yet more difficult to find!
    What need is there to speak of precious human life endowed With freedoms and advantages?
    I beseech you then, from this day forth, exert yourself.
  10. Three kinds of human life may be attained: Mere, superior, or that which is most precious.
    Those who have the first, not knowing right from wrong, Do evil deeds. And though their faculties are whole, They’re only human in the commonly accepted sense.
    They may be born within a central land,
    And yet they act like savage borderers.
  11. Then there are those, not entering the Doctrine, Whose actions are a mixture of both good and ill.
    Thinking of this life alone,
    They’re utterly distracted by their busy occupations.
    Rough, untamed, they cast away all thought of lives to come; They do not strive for freedom.
    Though the Dharma they may hear,
    Their state is not supreme but mediocre.
    To some slight good they may at times incline; More often their minds’ sight is veiled by negativity.
    They have the semblance of practitioners,
    And yet what good do they achieve
    For others or themselves?
    Whether they assume the guise of monks or laity, They are a little higher Than the beings in the lower realms.
    And so the Conqueror described them as “superior.”
  12. Beings who are utterly sublime are vessels for the stainless Dharma. Through learning and reflection they attain its essence.
    They discipline themselves, and others they establish in the virtuous life. Their practice, like the king of mountains, is unshakable.
    They are the ensigns of the Sage’s victory.
    Householders or, better,
    Those who have gone forth to homelessness,
    The Teacher has declared them both to have a precious human form.
  13. Therefore, you who are within the Dharma, Bend your ears to Dharma of the high and perfect ones, That, following this Dharma, you might practice well.
    Cleave constantly to Dharma;
    All that is not Dharma cast aside.
    Accomplishing the Dharma’s sense,
    Remain within the Dharma.
    Soon to cross the ocean of existence,
    May you swiftly reach the land of peace
    And pass beyond all sorrow.
  14. If those who are now human fail to practice virtue, They are fools and stupid, nothing else.
    They are like those who come home
    Empty-handed from an isle of jewels:
    They do but render meaningless
    Their freedoms and advantages.
    Constantly make effort therefore
    In the Dharma that brings peace.
  15. The Dharma is dependent on the mind; The mind depends on freedoms and advantages: All arise dependently.
    So now, when cause and many circumstances meet, Subdue your mind! This is the Dharma’s essence.
  16. In all your endless stream of births That lay beneath the threat of death, Pain and loss poured down on you like rain.
    This was the result of mental wandering,
    Whereby advantages and freedoms were made meaningless. All qualities of high rebirth and final excellence Derive from thinking on how hard it is
    To gain these freedoms and advantages.
    So strive in this reflection day and night.
    Do not relax but take great joy in it.
  17. To see the Buddha in this life is meaningful, To hear the Dharma and to practice it is also meaningful.
    This meaningful existence and the fruitful one to follow Arise from the attainment of a form endowed with freedoms and advantages. Reflect on this with great joy, constantly.
  18. In the midst of śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattva heirs, Our Lord, the first of beings in this world endowed with godly realms, Declared that the immortal nectar of enlightenment Derives from the supremely precious human form.
    Extolling thus its freedoms and advantages, He praised this form more highly than the body of a god.
    Rejoice therefore in your humanity!
  19. The ground of primal wisdom
    Where the truth beyond all concepts is beheld Is reached more easily by humans than by gods.
    The essence also of the deep path of the Vajrayāna Is more easily attained by those who find a human form.
    The basis of the Dharma of both great and lesser vehicles Is said to be supremely noble— This human state endowed with freedoms and advantages.
  20. Just like a beggar who has chanced upon a treasure of great price, Reflect with joy upon your freedoms and advantages.
    In doubt and apprehension that you might be dreaming, Implement the sacred Dharma— Source of happiness and benefit in this and future lives!
  21. Through the nectar of this perfect and inspiring instruction, May the futile wanderings of all beings be completely stilled.
    May they go to forest solitudes,
    And, weary of their gross and wild defilements, May their minds today find rest.


  1. So now you have your freedom, hard to find, And yet its time is passing; it is subject to decay.
    Look closely; see its hollowness like bubbling foam.
    It is not worthy of your trust!
    Think night and day upon the utter certainty of death.
  2. This body is the ground of pain and every mental sorrow, A plenteous wellspring of defiled affliction.
    And yet you garland it with flowers,
    Adorning it with robes and jewels.
    But though you tend and wait on it
    With many a tasty gift of food and drink,
    At last it will not stay; it will decay and leave you.
    You cherish now the future food
    Of jackal, fox, and graveyard bird!
    Don’t think of it as something permanent and clean, But implement the holy teaching from this moment on.
  3. Brahmā, Śiva, Indra, great and powerful gods, Enjoy the greatest wealth in all the three dimensions of the world.
    They blaze with glory through their merit and renown, Yet in the contest with the Lord of Death
    They have no victory.
    Because they have achieved samādhi, they can live for aeons, Yet when their karma is used up, their hour of death arrives.
    Devas and asuras, rishis, those with magic power, The rulers and the ruled— unnumbered are their births, And not a single one without the fear of death!
  4. This lifetime passes like the weeping clouds Where dance the lightning garlands of the Lord of Death, And from them, day and night, there falls An endless rain to bathe the shoots
    That grow in the three levels of existence.
  5. The world and its inhabitants will pass.
    The universe is formed and then destroyed
    By seven fires, a flood, and then the scattering wind.31
    The all-encircling sea, the continents,
    And even mighty Sumeru compounded of four jewels, All girded by the rings of lesser peaks—all this will pass.
    The time will come when all will have dissolved Into a single space. Remember this and practice Dharma from your heart.
  6. The Guide and Guardian of the world, Surrounded by a throng of the pratyekabuddhas, śrāvakas, And all the bodhisattva offspring of the Lord, Is like the peerless, hare-marked moon aloft in limpid skies, Amid a host of starry constellations.
    Clear, resplendent, radiant he shines,
    And yet he is impermanent:
    He demonstrates his passing to the state beyond all pain.
    And see how the unbounded sun
    Of his most precious Doctrine sets
    And disappears as the generations pass.
    Coreless like the plaintain tree,
    This form of human flesh,
    This mere illusion of a dwelling place,
    How can it not decay and be destroyed?
  7. Death therefore is sure; Uncertain is its when and where and how. This life is ever dwindling; no increment is possible.
    Many are death’s circumstances;
    Those that make life possible are few.
    You have so little time to live!
    Rein in your projects for the future—
    Better far to strive in Dharma from this very instant!
  8. This shelter built of the four elements, Endowed with mind adorned with its inhabitants— The thoughts that move—
    Arises through conditions.
    Thus it is compounded.
    Being so, it is destructible.
    Like a village crumbling down, it will not last.
    Be swift to practice holy Dharma!
  9. You’re momentary, ephemeral,
    Aflutter like a flame caught in a gale.
    When powerful dangers to your life descend, You won’t last long; it’s certain you will die.
    So practice holy Dharma right away.
  10. Servants and possessions, friends both close and dear, Your youth, your strength, your beauty, your good family— You’ll lose them all; you must go forth alone.
    But actions white and black, not left behind, will shadow you. Other than the Dharma, there’s no other refuge at that time.
    Why then do you not pass your time in diligence?
  11. Think now about the past and future peoples of the world. Of former generations countless beings have already passed, And most of those who now are on this earth Within a century’s time will surely be no more.
    For those who follow after, it will be the same.
    Look how they pass! The old and young have all an equal destiny. From them you are no different in your nature.
    Remember that your death is certain; practice Dharma!
  12. Throughout the triple world, from hell until the summit of the world, There is no place of safety from the Deadly Lord.
    Everything is passing, changing, essenceless.
    Nothing can be trusted; all is turning like a chariot wheel. Especially this human state is plagued by many perils.
    Disease and evil forces are the source of numerous ills.
    Fire and sword, vast chasms, poisons, savage beasts, And kings and robbers, enemies and thieves, And all the rest destroy prosperity and life.
  13. And even without harms, the lives of beings slip by, Changing every second’s instant, night and day.
    They drift toward the kingdom of the Lord of Death Like rivers running to the sea
    And like the round orb of the sun
    That sets behind the western hills.
  14. If food and all the good amenities of life May be, like actual poisons, cause of pain, How could goodness and perfection not be quenched by real adversity?
    There is nothing that cannot become the cause of death.
    And since its place and cause and time are all uncertain, Rid yourself of all the futile and deceptive things pertaining to this life.
    Sincerely practice Dharma:
    This will help you in the moment of your death.
  15. So now that you have found the boat of freedoms and advantages That’s fitted with the rudder of a master’s teaching, If now you do not strive to cross the stream of sorrow, There is no self-betrayal more terrible than this!
  16. Now you have attained a precious vessel, Free of every defect, perfect, lauded by the Buddha.
    If you do not store in it the riches of the twofold aim for self and others, You will but bind yourself within the prisons of saṃsāra.
  17. Alas, it is like giving teachings to a stone!
    Most people in this world—
    To think of them brings sorrow welling up!
    They do not comprehend when taught,
    And explanation brings no understanding.
    Tomorrow death awaits them, but they think they’ll live forever. Saṃsāra does not sadden them,
    And of the will for freedom they have not the slightest trace. If they have knowledge, they are arrogant.
    If they have some understanding, it is all distorted.
    They are borne away by busyness and pastimes And are deluged by the rain of their defilement.
    When might I be of help to them?
  18. But you who wish to cross the ocean of your faults Accomplishing the marvelous qualities of excellence, In this very moment think about death’s certainty.
    Meditate at all times, day and night, on your impermanence. Cultivate repeatedly an attitude of sadness at saṃsāra, And be determined to be free from it.
  19. By this means you’ll implement the Teaching, Useful, beneficial, for the present and for future lives.
    You will strive in practice with a strong endeavor, In your mind abandoning this life,
    And bring to nothing the delusion of self-clinging.
    All good qualities, in brief, will be achieved.
    The cause of highest freedom and the halting of all defects Is to think about impermanence,
    Reducing projects for the future.
    It is indeed the root of all the Dharma.
  20. The minds of beings are wearied by defilement and distraction, By clinging to phenomena they think are permanent.
    Through this helpful teaching, deep and pleasing to the ear, Resounding from the drum of Dharma clouds, May their minds today find rest.
  22. Everything occurring in the three worlds of saṃsāra is impermanent. Change is everywhere. Great suffering abounds:
    By sufferings of pain itself, of change, and suffering in the making,32 The beings in the six realms are completely overwhelmed.
  23. As though burned in a fire or caught by savage men, Or by wild beasts or else imprisoned in a tyrant’s jail, Beings suffer torment in a seamless continuity.
    There’s no escape for them, and sorrow grows to think of it.
  24. Pleasure to find and pain to flee is all that they desire, Yet sorrows do they chase in cause and fruit.
    They’re like moths caught in candlelight;
    They crave and cling to objects of their wanting And are thus beguiled. Like deer, like bees, like fish, like elephants, By sound, by scent, by taste, by touch are beings caught, Deceived by the five objects of desire. See how they have no happiness but only suffering.
  25. Gods and demigods, the denizens of hell, The famished spirits, humankind, and beasts— The six realms follow one by one in endless pain, As though attached to one great waterwheel.
  26. All living beings in the tally of their lives, Assuming roles of friendship, enmity, indifference, Have given help or harm, brought happiness or pain For times past numbering.
    Fathers into mothers, mothers into sisters are transformed, And sisters into sons.
    There is no certainty in kinship,
    No count of friends that into enemies have turned.
  27. If you think about the stream of karma in the world, A sorrow greater than mere sadness will come welling up.
    The bodies of your insect lives,
    All swept together in a heap,
    Would tower over Meru with its four sides made of jewels; More than the four oceans are the tears that you have wept.
    The mighty streams that flow down to the margin of the world Are no match for the molten bronze, the pus, the blood, the filth You drank in realms of hell or in the preta worlds.
    And all the motes of dust found in the universe
    Are no match for the severed heads and limbs
    That other beings, many as the sky is vast,
    Have lost pursuing their desires.
  28. When you were born in other forms—
    As beasts or demons, yakṣas, nāgas, and the like— Countless were the joys and sorrows that you had.
    As Brahmā or as Indra you were graced
    With the samādhis and absorptions of no form;
    You gained the glory and perfection of great rulers of mankind And walked on pavements made of seven precious stones.
    But then you fell into the lower realms,
    And great was the torment that you suffered.
  29. Those there are who in this present life Have high and pleasing status, wealth untold,
    But dying, they must suffer helpless poverty And be the slaves of slaves. Their wealth was but a dream that vanished when they woke. All experience passes: such is the suffering of change.
    To think about it deeply brings great sadness welling up.
    O beings! You who live in the three cities of existence!
    Do not crave the pleasures of saṃsāra;
    Accomplish your enlightenment!
  30. To body, speech, and mind there correspond The desire, the form, and formless realms.
    In these three cities: manifest, half-manifest, unmanifest, Beings are tormented by three kinds of suffering: Of pain, of change, and suffering in the making.
    With respect to objects of the senses,
    The unfolding of the mind, the intellect, and consciousness33 Produces an unceasing cycle of both pain and pleasure.
  31. The consciousness of the universal ground, The intellect, the five sense consciousnesses
    Unfold successively in gradual steps.
    From this derives the causal process
    Leading to the sorrows of existence.
    The root is ignorance: the deluded pairing
    Of the apprehender and the apprehended,
    Which, through habit, hardens
    Into objects, senses, and perceiving mind.
    Thus from clinging to an “I” and “mine” saṃsāra is contrived.34 11. The nature of the mind is dharmakāya,
    The changeless actual nature.
    Because of ignorance and clinging,
    And through the habit of imputed nature, The nature of the mind mistakenly appears
    As the impure dependent nature.
    Self and other, mind and object, dual appearances— Are all perceived as separate entities.
    From this there come unbidden countless sufferings.
    But when the changeless nature of the mind is understood, Through meditation on the unmistaken actual nature, The fields of pure dependent nature are attained, Where one finds respite from the city of saṃsāra.35
  32. Alas for the pains of those who tread
    With weariness the pathways of existence—
    Saṃsāra, vast and shoreless, hard indeed to measure!
    Wherever they are born, beings find no happiness at all— Instead, the fruits unbearable of their nonvirtuous ways.
    Their perceptions are all wrong:
    The various experiences of the six migrations
    Are like the visions of a dream.
    They appear and yet are nonexistent.
    Beings fail to understand this; thus their pains are boundless. Listen, for a while,
    According to the scriptures, I will speak of them.
  33. In the Reviving Hell, upon a ground of burning iron, Beings meet and fight with weapons to the death.
    And then there comes a voice that cries, “Come back to life!” And they must suffer once again.
    Know that this they undergo until their karma’s spent.
  34. To calculate their life span, fifty human years Are as one day in the divine realm of the four Great Kings.
    One month is thirty of these days; twelve months make up one year. Five hundred of these years
    Is as one day in the Reviving Hell.
    And here the days are added one by one until
    Five hundred years have passed—
    The time of pain these beings must endure.
    The span of life is thus computed,
    So the sūtra stipulates,
    As ten million human years
    Multiplied by one hundred, two and sixty thousand.
  35. In Black Line Hell are beings cut apart with burning saws. Joined together they’re again made whole
    And once again they are dismembered:
    Great are the pains they undergo.
    In the Heaven of the Thirty-Three,
    One day is equal to a hundred human years.
    And in that heaven, a thousand years
    Is but a single day in Black Line Hell,
    Whose denizens must live a thousand years.
    This corresponds, the Teacher said,
    To one million, two hundred six and ninety thousand years and twelve— All multiplied again by ten million human years.
  36. Between cliffs and mountains shaped like horses, Camels, tigers, lions, and the rest,
    The beings in the Crushing Hell are smashed to dust.
    And when the mountains separate,
    They come to life just as before
    But then are pulverized with clubs in valleys made of steel. Their bodies are completely crushed;
    Their blood flows down in streams.
    Two hundred human years are as one day
    In the heaven of the yāma gods called Free of Conflict, Two thousand of whose years, so it is said,
    Are counted as one day spent in the Crushing Hell, Where beings endure two thousand of their years.
    This comes to ten million times
    Three hundred, eight and sixty thousand human years.
  37. In the hell called Screaming, the beings wail and cry As in the blazing fires they burn.
    They suffer, boiled in molten steel.
    Four hundred human years are as one day
    In the heaven called the Joyous, where
    Four thousand years are as one day in Screaming Hell, Where beings are tortured for four thousand years.
    One hundred and eighty trillion human years are thus computed, And to this are superadded nine hundred, four and forty billion years.
  38. In Great Screaming, beings are roasted in a blazing fire, In houses made of incandescent iron,
    Where they are bludgeoned by the Lord of Death.
    Eight hundred human years are as one day
    In the celestial realm Delight in Magical Creations, Eight thousand of whose years are as one day
    In the Great Screaming Hell, where beings must suffer For eight thousand of their years, which is, in human terms, Three quadrillion, five hundred, two and fifty trillion, Six hundred and sixty billion years.
  39. In the Hell of Heat, in houses made of burning iron, Beings have brains and bodies torn and smashed
    By spikes and hammers. They burn inside and out With tongues of blazing fire.
    One thousand and six hundred human years
    Are equal to a day spent in the heaven called
    Mastery of Others’ Emanations, where sixteen thousand years Are equal to a single day spent in the Hell of Heat, Where beings must live for sixteen thousand of their years.
    This means eighty-four million and one trillion and Six thousand five hundred and thirty human years, All multiplied again ten millionfold.
  40. In Great Heat, beings are trapped in buildings, Double-walled, all made of blazing iron.
    There they are impaled on tridents with prongs
    That pierce through their heads and shoulders.
    They’re wrapped in blankets made of burning metal, Boiled in molten copper. And in this torment they must live
    For half an intermediate kalpa,
    Which in human terms exceeds all counting.
    One such kalpa is made up of four small kalpas: Formation, and duration, destruction, and the void.
    One great kalpa is made up of eighty intermediate kalpas.36
  41. In the Hell of Torment Unsurpassed,
    Beings are trapped in buildings made of blazing metal.
    Other than their cries and screams,
    There’s no way to distinguish them
    From the all-engulfing blaze.
    Their vital strength is in the middle of the fire As if adhering to the heart of blazing flame.
    This they must endure for one intermediate kalpa.
    And since there is no greater suffering than this, It is described as Torment Unsurpassed without reprieve.
  42. The fiery heat and corresponding pains In each of these hell realms, in order given,
    Grow seven times more intense.
    And beings have to suffer it until their karma’s spent.
  43. The beings who endure the lesser hells Are isolated or else live in groups both great and small.
    They live in various places: mountains, trees, the sky, rocks, fire, or water, Where they are tormented by a corresponding pain, And thus these are described as lesser hells.
  44. But they are wrong who think that this reflects A brevity of life or smallness of the gatherings.
    For it is said that one who, born in scorpion form Embedded in a rock, lived long,
    While in the lesser hells five hundred beings,
    In the form of śrāvakas,
    Fought and struck each other with weapons
    At the hour of their meals.
  45. The sixteen neighboring hells
    Are found around the rim of Torment Unsurpassed.
    First the trench of burning embers, then the swamp of rotting corpses, The plain of razors, then the fordless stream of burning ash: A group of four in all the four directions.
  46. When of Torment Unsurpassed the doors appear to open, Beings escape and rush toward what seems a shady trench.
    But then they sink up to their knees in fiery embers.
    They cross. Their flesh is burned; their white bones show.
    And then they’re healed to suffer all again.
  47. They hurry then to what appears a cooling marsh, But there they sink into a stinking swamp of rotting dead, Where worms with jaws of gold or steel or copper bite them.
  48. And then they see a pleasant plain,
    But as they run there, burning razors
    Slice their flesh in pieces.
    They hasten into pleasant-seeming woods
    But are destroyed in groves of sword blades
    That lash and flail in winds their deeds have wrought.
  49. And then, upon the summit of a pleasant hill, They see the former object of their passion calling them.
    And as they hasten there, sharp metal scalpels cut them; Flesh and blood drips down.
    And when they reach the summit, vultures mash their brains. They then think that their lovers call them from below.
    As they descend, the upward-turning scalpels wound them yet again. Then, when they have come down,
    Those men or women take them in their fiery arms And with their sharpened fangs cause dreadful pain.
    They’re then devoured by packs of dogs and wolves.
  50. They see a cool and flowing stream and run there in delight. In they leap, but sink up to their waists
    In fiery ash that burns their flesh and bones.
    Upon the banks they see the sentries of the Lord of Death. This pain they must endure for many a thousand years.
  51. Who would not be terrified by hellish torment such as this? In such existences the pain is past all measuring.
    Therefore know and understand!
    Find the ways, I beg you, to escape from it!
  52. There are eight cold hells where beings are tormented. In glaciers and dark places of great freezing cold, Beings are lashed by swirling snowstorms.
    They are covered with blisters, bursting blisters.
    Their teeth are chattering in the cold;
    They cry and they lament.
    Their flesh splits open like utpala flowers,
    Then like lotuses and then great lotuses,
    And in the wounds are worms with jaws of burning iron That burrow in their flesh, consuming it.
    And thus they live until their karma is exhausted.
  53. Regarding the life span in these infernal states, Imagine a large basket filled with sesame,
    In all two hundred bushels.
    The length of life of beings in the Hell of Blisters Is the time required to empty the container
    Taking but a single grain once every hundred years.
    In each successive hell the span of life
    Increases twentyfold.
  54. Therefore, you, endowed with mind,
    In order to obtain complete and utter freedom
    From the hellish worlds
    Cultivate a strength and diligence of mind!
  55. There are pretas living in the depths37
    And pretas that can move through space.
    Those that live below are vast in size.
    Their arms and legs are small and thin, their stomachs cavernous. Their throats are narrow, their mouths like needle-eyes.
    They find no food or drink: great thirst and hunger torment them. When they see wholesome flowers, plants, and trees, They dry before their eyes.
    Repulsive is their dwelling place, and vomit is their only food. And even when from far they have a glimpse of food and drink, It seems as though it’s under guard, forbidden them.
    Pretas that have inner defects
    Have blazing conflagrations in their stomachs;
    Smoke and flames come from their mouths.
    Through defects that are shared by all their kind, Pretas are distressed and poor; they’re fearful and assailed.
    Protectorless, they suffer in wild and frightful places.
  56. Pretas that can move through space are spirits, Yakṣas, rakṣasas, the tsen and gyalpo spirits, and more.
    They have miraculous powers by virtue of their karma And can move from place to place without obstruction.
    They produce all kinds of harm.
    They cause disease and steal the radiance of beings, Shortening their lives. Regarding their own length of life,
    One human month is as a day for them
    And therefore in the worlds of Yama, Lord of Death, They are tormented for five hundred of their own, Or fifteen thousand human, years.
  57. Seeing with sadness how such beings are, All those who wish to free themselves
    Will cast away all predilection for samsaric life, And with determined resolution
    They will practice holy Dharma leading them to peace.
  58. Animals that live down in the depths
    Teem everywhere in all the four great oceans.
    They prey on one another, and their suffering is endless.
    They dwell in the dark oceans that divide the continents.
    They are tormented by the heat and cold,
    By hunger, thirst, and fear of predators.
    There are animals also that live scattered and dispersed, Like birds and beasts that live in lands where humans dwell.
    By hunters they are harmed and live in danger from each other. Horses, oxen, camels, donkeys, goats, and so forth Are reduced to slavery. They’re beaten and must suffer endlessly,
    And for their meat and fur and bones they are condemned to death. Their very nature is unbounded suffering.
    For half the day and night, the nāgas may find happiness, But sorrow in the other half.
    Their morning’s joy transforms into an afternoon of pain.
    Rains of hot sand fall upon the habitats of some.
    Some are lonely, friendless, tortured by their poverty.
    Mostly they have small intelligence and live in fear of the garuḍas. A great variety of suffering afflicts them, and their life span is not fixed. Some live but a day, while some like Takṣaka, their king, Have lives that last for one entire kalpa.
  59. Think of this, O you who wish for freedom From the state of animals. To gain your happiness and benefit,
    Set out upon the perfect path
    That leads to high rebirth and ultimate good.
    Day and night, exert yourself in virtue.
  60. Even in the case of human beings,
    Happiness has no real chance.
    Beings suffer torment, mental anguish, conflicts, and the rest. One suffering has not yet gone
    Before another overtakes it.
    The suffering of change
    Is like consuming food that’s mixed with poison.
    Mistaken modes of nourishment and dress that bring disease Contrive our future pain— Suffering in the making is thereby exemplified. To these three kinds of suffering are eight more added: Birth and aging, sickness, death;
    Meeting with adversities
    And losing what is pleasant,
    To be deprived of what one wants,
    To have continuous suffering in one’s aggregates— All these are sources of an endless sorrow;
    From all of them there comes unbounded woe.
  61. Nescient consciousness, the wind-mind, gathers In the parents’ essences and, step by step,
    In seven weeks time, a body takes its shape.
    From round to long, to oblong shape, “egg-like,”
    “Round and flat,” “fish-shaped,” “like a tortoise”— Thus its form evolves. The tiniest discomfort that the mother feels,
    Of hunger, thirst, of heat or cold,
    Afflicts the embryo with bitter pain.
    Cramped in narrow, foul, and fetid dark,
    It must suffer torments many and unbearable.
    From the seventh week and till the twenty-sixth, The sense organs take shape,
    With limbs, and hair, and other parts.
    From then until the sixth and thirtieth week,
    The body grows in strength, its size increases, And at length it quickens in the womb.
    Then through the tightly fettered structure of the mother’s bones, The baby is brought forth.
    Its body is upended by the action of the karmic wind And, close to death, it must endure a pain
    Like that felt in the Crushing Hell.
    And once it has been born,
    All contact for the baby is like being flayed alive.
    When washed it feels like razors slicing through a boil.
  62. The sorrows of old age indeed are very hard to bear.
    Your youth is gone, your body, now repulsive in the eyes of all, Is powerless to stand or stoop but needs a stick supporting it; Its heat declines and food is indigestible.
    Your strength is gone,
    It’s hard for you to move around, to walk or stand.
    You wrench your joints in failing to attain your goal.
    Your faculties decline.
    With dim and bleary eyes, you do not see.
    Sounds and words you do not hear, and tastes and smells escape you. Dull and muffled is your sense of touch.
    Your memory is but a blur.
    You sink into a slumber of confusion.
    You take no joy in things wherein you find but little good, And food and other pleasures now repel.
    Your life force ebbs away, and death hangs over you— Your mind is agitated now with fear and dread.
    You have no strength of patience, like a child, Unable to put up with hardship.
    And quickly you are gone,
    A flame that went out when the oil was spent.
  63. The sufferings of illness are extremely hard to bear.
    The body’s constitution changes, bringing torment to the mind. The objects of the senses give no joy.
    Instead there comes the anguish of the fear of death.
    You weep with sorrows more than you can bear.
  64. Even greater torment is the bitterness of death.
    The moment comes for your last meal,
    The last clothes that you wear, the last words that you speak. You lie on your last bed and leave behind
    Your life, your body, relatives and friends,
    Your servants and retainers, all that you possess.
    Alone you go in fear you know not where.
  65. Then there is the suffering of meeting with adversity: The anguish caused by fear, by injury and dreadful situations.
    Sorrow, weeping, and distress derive
    From losing those you love and cherish.
    You suffer as you long for them, remembering their qualities. And then there is the pain of being deprived of what you want. The failure to attain your goals brings anguish to your mind. And desperate in your poverty, You’re like a preta hungering for food and drink.
  66. Form, feelings, and perceptions,
    Conditioning factors, consciousness:
    These are the five skandhas that perpetuate saṃsāra.
    Because they are defiled, the teachings say,
    They are the place of all our suffering,
    Its source, its basis, its receptacle.38
  67. Everything therefore within this human world Is suffering, in form of cause or fruit.
    Thus there’s no real happiness.
    To free yourself, reflect upon the perfect Dharma.
    This, I urge you, is the means of liberation from saṃsāra.
  68. And for asuras too, contentment has no chance.
    They are caught up in enmity and pointless strife.
    Their envy of the glory of the gods is unendurable; They suffer countless pains, I tell you, in their wars.
    Therefore practice Dharma that with all speed
    Sets beings free in states of peace and happiness.
  69. Even in the spheres of the desire-realm gods Boundless suffering is found. At death they fall down
    From the drunken haze of carefree pleasure.
    Their garlands fade
    And on their thrones they find no ease.
    Abandoned by their friends, they fear their future destiny: For seven of their days, their state is unendurable.
  70. In the Pure and other heavens of the realm of form, The gods rest in samādhi.
    When their former karma is exhausted,
    Down they fall to lower states.
    Thus they are tormented by the suffering of change.
    In the formless realms, the gods that are in calm abiding Undergo the exhaustion of their karma
    And assume their next existence.
    They have suffering in the making.
    And therefore, even though you gain high status in saṃsāra, You should not rely on it.
    Achieve your liberation therefore, you who are so fortunate! All those who are attached to pleasures of saṃsāra Are tortured by their craving
    As though they foundered in a trench of fire.
  71. Your liberation thus depends on you.
    The Teacher of both gods and humankind
    Has shown to us the means.
    No one else can save you through their sudden intervention, Just as no one can prevent your dreams
    When you are dazed in sleep.
    If this indeed were possible,
    The blissful buddhas and their offspring
    Would indeed have emptied all saṃsāra
    With the rays of their compassion.
    Therefore you must don the armor of your diligence: The time has come— exert yourself ascending freedom’s path.
  72. You must reflect that sinful beings like yourself, Who have not been the object of the healing action Of unnumbered buddhas of the past, Must wander in the wilderlands:
    The pathways of existence.
    And if, as in the past, you fail to make an effort, You will suffer in the six realms of saṃsāra
    Time and time again.
  73. The sorrows of saṃsāra are like space unbounded, Like fire they are unbearable,
    As various as the objects that appear.
    Simply to submit to them, O mind, is abject and unfitting.
    How can the compassion of the buddhas
    Enter those bereft of conscience, care, or sense of decency? Enlightened action, working skillfully, is called forth, it is said, By the good karmic state of those who might be trained.
    Admit therefore your faults,
    And from your heart reflect upon the sorrows of existence. To free yourself and others from saṃsāra,
    Set out and climb the perfect path that leads to peace.
  74. If now you cannot bear the least discomfort, How can you withstand the dreadful sorrows of existence?
    If when it’s explained you are not moved to sadness, Your heart inert like iron or a piece of stone, It’s clear you have no mind at all!
  75. The aggregates that harbor all the sorrows Of saṃsāra so unbearable Are sources of defilements, root and branch, of every kind. What people with intelligence would let their cravings grow? Act swiftly! Triumph over your existence in saṃsāra!
  76. May the Dharma feast, the source of happiness, Sustain with joy all those who dwell
    In the three cities of existence.
    Exhausted by so many sorrows,
    May their minds today find rest.


  1. Existential states both high and low
    With all their joys and sorrows
    Come, the Sage has said, from acts accomplished in the past. Actions that compound saṃsāra are of two kinds, white and black. They have the nature of the virtues and nonvirtues, ten and ten.
  2. Their basis is the undetermined universal ground,39 Mirrorlike, devoid of all cognition,
    Upon which lies a consciousness.
    This consciousness is limpid,
    And yet objects it does not discern.
    It creates a ground for manifesting.
    It is like a clear, untarnished mirror.
    Thence emerge the five sense consciousnesses
    Whereby objects, form and other things,
    Are grasped without conception.
    They are like images reflected in a glass.
    But then cognitions follow,
    Dividing apprehender from the apprehended.
    And thus continually there’s apprehension and nonapprehension, Conceptualization and nonconceptualization.
    These cognitions are defiled mind and the mental consciousness.
  3. Virtue and nonvirtue that derive From coarse thoughts of attachment— Of these is the desire realm made,
    Based upon the universal ground of the habitual tendencies. Without discernment, clear appearance makes the realm of form, While the formless realm is based
    Upon the habitual state that is completely blank.40
    Saṃsāra is at all times based upon the twofold adventitious veil.
  4. When the mind rests open, blank,
    Utterly without the apprehension of appearing objects, This is the moment of the universal ground.
    Then, when there is a clear appearance
    To which there is no grasping,
    This is the consciousness of the universal ground.
    It is bright and clear and motionless.
    When, through the duality of apprehender-apprehended With the wanting and rejection of the objects of the five sense doors, The seven “gatherings” perceive sense objects generally, One speaks of seven consciousnesses.41 Through strong habituation to them,
    Our body, speech, and mind go erring
    Into the three worlds, compounding sorrow.
  5. Paramount in the desire realm
    Are the seven consciousnesses,
    While in the realm of form,
    It is consciousness of the universal ground,
    And in the formless realm,
    It is the universal ground bereft of all cognition.
    It should be understood that,
    While in each realm one of these predominates,
    The other two are latent as its retinue.
  6. Thus, when beings in the desire realm fall asleep, The five sense consciousnesses, step by step,
    Dissolve into the mental consciousness.
    As this subsides into the universal ground,
    There is a state that is completely blank,
    An absence of appearing objects.
    This dissolves into the dharmadhātu
    That transcends conceptual elaboration.
    Thence unfolding, there again arises
    From the consciousness of the universal ground
    A single mental consciousness: the dreaming mind.
    This causes the appearance of fictive things without existence, Which are wanted or rejected.
    Through further evolution, as one wakes from sleep, The six sense consciousnesses,
    In engagement with their objects,
    Then give rise to karmic action.
    And thus this sequence manifests
    Continuously, day and night.42
  7. On the different levels of the realm of form,43
    The minds of beings are in the four samādhis,
    Remaining in the consciousness of the universal ground. From this a subtle consciousness may at times arise Whereby objects are detected.
    But the mind will mostly rest in stillness
    Through the habit gained of concentration.
  8. On the different levels of the formless realm,44
    The mind is in the state of universal ground.
    In Boundless Space and the remaining three,
    It stays one-pointedly in calm abiding.
    The mind’s continua, supported by the four “name aggregates”— Extremely subtle feeling and perception,
    Conditioning factors, consciousness—
    Do not awake from single-pointed calm abiding For an entire kalpa And plant no seeds of virtue and discernment.
  9. The resting of the mind in the samādhis And absorptions without form Is the result of former deeds.
    When these come to exhaustion,
    The mind must transmigrate.
    Now since this mind is indeterminate,
    Because it’s in a state of ignorance,
    It’s ever and again productive
    Of misguided karmic sequences, in cause and fruit, In the samsaric world. Therefore free yourself from all such states of mind.
  10. Therefore the desire-realm mind,
    Through that to which it has grown used,
    Supplies the cause of rebirth, high or low,
    And indeed of liberation.
  11. By day, the seven consciousnesses dominate.
    The other two,45 the same in nature, are their retinue.
    This means that, in the case of visual consciousness That apprehends a form, The aspect of its thought-free clarity
    Is the universal ground consciousness,
    While the aspect of no-thought
    Is the universal ground itself.
    It should be understood that,
    For the six remaining consciousnesses,
    It is just the same.
  12. Respectively, in times of deep sleep, dream, and waking Are, first, the universal ground;
    Then, second, the universal ground consciousness Together with the mental consciousness;
    Then, third, the six sense consciousnesses.
    Therefore, these three periods are successively referred to As the times of one; of two and one;
    And of all that have a single nature.46
  13. Based upon the mind,
    All actions have their roots in ignorance
    Concomitant with craving, hatred, and confusion.
    From this are generated actions white and black, Which in their turn compound saṃsāra.
  14. Nonvirtue makes one fall
    From high to low samsaric states.
    When differentiated it is tenfold,
    Classified as three of body, four of speech, and three of mind.
  15. The act of killing is to put to death A living being, intentionally, without mistaking the identity.
    And similar to this are all aggressive actions, Beating, striking, and so on, whereby beings are assaulted.
    The act of taking what has not been given
    Is to steal another’s property, and similar to this Is the acquisition through deceit of others’ goods.

Sexual misconduct is to have relations 

With one who is committed to another, and similar to this Are all improper 

modes of intercourse. 

16. Lying means to utter falsehood which, When understood, effects a change 

in someone else’s mind. 

And similar to this is speaking truth in order to deceive. 

Divisive speech is saying things that bring estrangement, And like this is 

repeating others’ words to create discord. 

Worthless chatter is to talk about unwholesome texts and fooleries, And this 

includes light, careless conversation Unrelated to the Dharma. 

Harsh speech is violent words that pierce the heart, And similar to this is 

sweet talk that brings misery to others

17. Covetousness is not to tolerate the wealth of others And the wish to have 

it for oneself, 

And like this is to want another’s glory: erudition and the like. 

Malice is to hate and wish harm to another, 

And similar to this is angrily refusing to give help. 

Wrong view is to believe in permanence or nihilism And to disbelieve the 

karmic law

Similar is every kind of false ascription and denial. 

18. According to their object, 

And one’s evil motive, attitude, and conduct, 

The ten nonvirtues bring forth four effects: Fully ripened, similar to cause

Proliferating, and conditioning. 

19. The ten nonvirtues small in their intensity Will ripen fully in the sorrows 

of the realm of animals

Those of moderate intensity will ripen fully 

In the sorrows of the pretas. 

Those of great intensity will bring about the pains of hell

20. There are two effects resembling their cause. 

The first is to be born with the proclivity 

To do again what one has done. 

This is said to be the active consequence resembling its cause

And then, although a higher birth may be achieved, One’s life is short and 

dogged by many ills. 

One has no wealth, and what one has 

Is shared in common with one’s enemies. 

One’s spouse is unattractive and becomes an enemy. 

Much abused, one is deceived by others. 

The servants and associates are unruly and recalcitrant. 

All one hears are jarring sounds that tend to words of argument. 

What one says has little weight, and one has no self-confidence. 

One has no contentment and one’s wants increase. 

One does not seek out what is beneficial

And others are a source of harm

One’s views are wrong and likely one is tricked. 

For each one of the ten nonvirtues

These results, the teachings say, are, two by two: The passive consequence 

resembling its cause

21. The conditioning effect of actions ripens as the outer world. 

In the present situation of impure dependent nature, The consequence of 

killing is to take one’s birth In poor, unprosperous lands. 

Healing plants (their leaves and fruits and flowers), All food and drink have 

little strength, 

Are indigestible and dangerous to one’s life

The consequence of theft is to be born 

In regions where the harvests do not ripen, In lands a-prey to famine, hail, and frost. 

The consequence of sexual misconduct 

Is a habitat that’s swampy, fouled with excrement and urine, A birthplace that 

is fetid with the stench of refuse and impurity, A cramped place, 

dreadful and depressing. 

The consequence of lying is to find oneself 

In regions that are frightening and unfavorable, Where prosperity is wavering 

and one is tricked by others. 

Divisive speech is cause of stark and inhospitable Environments of cliffs, 

ravines, and precipices Where traveling is hard. 

The consequence of harsh speech is to be born 

In barren, stony places filled with thorns and blasted trees, And where the 

ground is dusty, filled with refuse, Unhealthy, saline regions where the crops grow poor and rough. 

Idle chatter is the cause of birth 

In regions where the crops give no ripe fruit, Where seasons are disordered, In places that, unsure, are liable to change. 

The consequence of covetousness is birth 

In regions where plants produce more husk than grain, Where one witnesses 

the passing of a time of plenty. 

The consequence of ill will is to be born in places Where the fruits and 

harvests have a hot and bitter taste, In places marked by natural and abundant harms— From kings and robbers, savages, and snakes. 

To hold wrong views provokes as consequence 

A birth in lands that have no mines of precious gems, Where healing trees 

and plants 

And flowers and fruits are scarce, 

And where, deprived of all assistance, 

One is friendless and protectorless. 

22. The proliferating fruit of action 

Means that evil actions once completed 

Will provoke a disproportionate degree of suffering. 

23. If briefly told, the ten nonvirtues are like poison That, when taken slightly, moderately, or to great extent, Produces an immense degree of pain. 

I beg you, strive to spurn them as the enemies they are. 

24. The ten good actions that propel one to the higher realms Consist in 

virtuously and consciously 

Abandoning the ten nonvirtues. 

Reject all killing, stealing, sexual misconduct; Avoid all lying and divisive 


Do not indulge in idle chatter, harsh words, covetousness; And throw far away 

from you ill will and wrong views. 

25. These actions, when of less intensity, result in human birth

When of moderate strength, in birth among desire-realm gods. 

Actions of a great intensity are linked with the samādhis And the formless 

concentrations. They bring attainment Of the bliss of the two higher worlds. 

Virtuous actions have likewise their four effects, And by examples contrary to those just now supplied, You will realize that the fruits of the ten virtues Are the higher realms. 

26. The ten good actions that give rise to happiness Drive beings into higher 


The ten nonvirtues, by their nature, 

Precipitate a fall into an evil birth

And so, to practice good, rejecting evil, 

Is the path of worldly virtue. 

It is, the Sage has said, the vehicle of gods and humankind

Preparing happy destinies in lives to come, 

It is regarded as the excellent support for liberation. Wandering beings, you who are well favored, 

Take your stand on it! 

27. The supreme virtue that gives rise to liberation Drives samsāra far away

It strives for peace 

And utterly transcends the actions white and black Whereby, within the wheel 

of life, 

The high and lower states are all compounded. 

The stainless causes, such as virtues that give rise to liberation, Comprise the ten virtuous actions, the samādhis And the formless concentrations, 

The six perfections, and the rest— 

All that is contained in the five paths. 

Moreover, when one realizes the no-self of both persons and phenomena, 

Then, through virtue that conjoins both skillful means and wisdom, While dwelling neither in existence nor in peace, One works for beings’ good 

And gains the boundless state of buddhahood. 

This yogic virtue thus goes far beyond the world. 

28. While the gathering of merit is conceptual, The gathering of wisdom is 

not so. 

Conjoined, they purify the twofold veil 

And manifest the twofold kaya. 

They are the sphere of meditation and postmeditation. 

They are, in common beings, stained 

But are unstained in Noble Ones. 

By their successive practice, liberation is obtained. 

29. Buddhapotential is the basis 

Of the virtue that gives rise to liberation. Luminosity is the character of the mind. 

It is the stainless element: 

The potential naturally present

Whose appearing aspect is the twofold kāya. 

It has been described by nine comparisons. 

The nature of compassion, present from the first, Is the potential that may be 

developed, So the Sugata has said.47 

Its root is primal wisdom, luminous, self-knowing, And it is virtue, being free 

of the three poisons. 

30. When these two potentials wake, 

Two bodhichittas are engendered perfectly. 

Compassion is made manifest, 

The gathering of merit on the relative level. 

This is associated with the vase empowerment And the two that follow, 

And the generation stage that purifies. 

To understand the empty nature 

Is the gathering of ultimate primordial wisdom. 

It is related to the fourth empowerment of the word And the perfection stage, 

the mahāmudrā

By means of proper meditation 

And the growth of these two stages

Defilements are transformed into primordial wisdom. 

Through ever-growing virtue thus 

The veils upon the buddha-element are cleansed away. 

And thus is seen the spotless sunlight 

Of the dharmakaya and the rūpakāya. 

31. The ten virtues, the samādhis, and the formless concentrations- The 

most excellent things this world affords 

Make up the gathering of merit. 

That which goes beyond the world, 

The utter absence of conception, 

Constitutes the gathering of highest wisdom. 

When these fields of meditation and postmeditation Are practiced 

simultaneously, together and in union, Every excellence is gained. 

32. And as with virtue that compounds existence in samsāra, That which 

compounds peace 

Has likewise been described as action

And yet, because this peace transcends existence, It is free from all such 


33. The ten virtues whereby the path is followed Have four fruits: fully 


Similar to cause, conditioning, proliferating. 

34. Through practice of ten virtues with intensity Small, moderate, or great, A birth among the gods and humankind 

Is, in the immediate term, attained 

And, finally, the good that is definitive. 

35. The consequence resembling the cause 

Is, actively, a natural proclivity to virtue; 

Passively, it is enjoyment of long life and vast possessions And a loyal, 

harmonious spouse

One is not scorned, and friends return one’s love; One’s words are trusted, 

pleasant to the ears of everyone. 

One is contented, loving, and has wholesome views. 

36. The conditioning effect of virtue 

Is to be born in perfect circumstances, Prosperous and wonderful. 

Food and drink and medicine 

Are easy to digest and great in healing strength. 

One’s habitat is unpolluted, and its herbs are sweetly fragrant

It is free from danger and from harm, 

And one is not deceived by others. 

It is a sweet environment, where pleasant people live, Where harvests ripen in 

due season with abundant fruit. 

It is a smooth terrain adorned by meres and cooling lakes, Where flowers and 

fruits are perfect and abundant. 

It is a region where great increase in prosperity is seen, Where things like 

medicines and grains 

Are supreme in their taste and quantity, Their sources excellent and plentiful, 

A place secure and safe on every side. 

37. Through the proliferating consequence, Virtue is productive of yet further 


Every good desire comes to fulfillment. 

38. Wealth, moreover, comes from generosity; Discipline results in happiness; Beauty is the fruit of patience; 

Diligence brings glorious qualities. 

A peaceful mind results from concentration; 

And through wisdom, freedom is achieved. 

39. Beauty comes to those who love, 

Help comes to those who have compassion, 

Perfect riches are the fruits of sympathetic joy, While purity of mind comes 

from impartiality. 

In short, the excellent results 

Of the two gatherings of merit and of wisdom 

Are the temporary gaining of the higher realms And the ultimate attainment 

of definitive good. 

This then is the sublime path, 

The chariot way of the Great Vehicle 

Which brings us to the excellence 

Of the Victorious Ones past, present, and to come. 

40. Thus the actions that produce samsāra and nirvāņa Are based upon the 

mind; and mind itself is luminosity. 

The mind resembles space wherein is found 

No agent and no act. 

All acts arise dependently. 

This is what the two truths mean. 

41. Pure from the beginning, not existing yet appearing, Our actions are like 

artists: all is their creation. 

And always do they follow us; they’re like our body’s shadow. 

Like our body’s ease and pain, 

They cannot be transferred to others. 

Hard to reverse, they’re like the flowing water of a stream, And, like a king, 

they raise beings high or bring them low. 

Their range is vast like the abyss of space. 

They do not change their color, light or dark, But are like the two lotuses, the 

white and blue. 

42. Actions, when examined, are without intrinsic being. 

Yet they make, as in a dream, all kinds of joy and sorrow. 

They are not real existing things, although the mind believes them so. 

And yet the causal process is infallible. 

Such is the deep nature of arising through dependence. 

Not existent, yet not inexistent, neither is it both

Howsoever is the deed so will its fruition be. 

This is the domain of the two wisdoms, 

Which behold the nature and the multiplicity of things

It has been well explained by the Omniscient. 

43. Those who scorn the law of karmic cause and fruit Are students of the 

nihilistic view outside the Dharma. 

They rely upon the thought that all is void; 

They fall in the extreme of nothingness And go from low to lower states. 

They have embarked upon an evil path 

And from the evil destinies will have no freedom, Casting happy states of 

being far away. 

44. “The law of karmic cause and fruit, 

Compassion and the gathering of merit— 

All this is but provisional teaching fit for children: Enlightenment will not be 

gained thereby. 

Great yogis should remain without intentioned action. 

They should meditate upon reality that is like space. 

Such is the definitive instruction.” 

The view of those who speak like this 

Is of all views the most nihilist

They have embraced the lowest of all paths. 

How strange this is! 

They want a fruit but have annulled its cause. 

45. If reality is but a space-like void, 

What need is there to meditate? 

And if it is not so, then even if one meditates Such efforts are to no avail

If meditation on mere voidness leads to liberation, Even those with minds 

completely blank 

Attain enlightenment! 

But since those people have asserted meditation, Cause and its result they 

thus establish! 

Throw far away such faulty paths as these! 

46. The true, authentic path asserts 

The arising in dependence of both cause and fruit, The natural union of 

skillful means and wisdom

Through the causality of nonexistent but appearing acts, Through meditation 

on the nonexistent but appearing path, The fruit is gained, appearing and yet nonexistent; And for the sake of nonexistent but appearing beings, Enlightened acts, appearing and yet nonexistent, manifest. 

Such is pure causality’s profound interdependence. 

This is the essential pith 

Of all the sūtra texts whose meaning is definitive And indeed of all the 


Through the joining of the two accumulations, 

The generation and perfection stages

Perfect buddhahood is swiftly gained. 

47. Thus all the causal processes 

Whereby samsara is contrived should be abandoned, And all the acts that are 

the cause of liberation Should be earnestly performed. 

High position in samsāra 

And the final excellence of buddhahood Will speedily be gained. 

48. May the rain of Dharma, cooling and delightful, Cause the two 

accumulations to expand 

Within the field of beings’ minds; 

Exhausted by the karma and defilements of samsara, May their minds today 

find rest. 


1. This excellent, unerring path of karmic cause and fruit Is found when one 

depends upon a holy being. 

From spiritual masters also come the three enlightenments Accomplished in 

the three times 

By the buddhas and their bodhisattva heirs 

And by the śrāvakas and the pratyekabuddhas. 

Moreover, the achievement of samsara’s upper realms And every happiness 

indeed derives 

From following a sublime master. 

Thus you should keep company with holy beings. 

2. Like vines that wrap themselves round sandal trees, People who keep 

company with holy ones 

Become, in their turn, holy. 

And like kusha grass left in a fetid marsh, People who keep company with 

evil beings 

Will in their turn be evil

So keep the company of holy beings 

And from bad teachers strive to keep your distance. 

3. What is the outer bearing, you may ask, Of these sublime and holy ones? 

Because they are the guides of all the world, With everyone they are in 


But since they are beyond the world, 

From all they are completely different. 

In all the actions of their body, speech, and mind, Everyone they utterly 


4. In body, they are peaceful and relaxed, Their conduct pure and free of 


Skilled they are in clearing doubts. 

Their speech is pure and sweet to hear. Their minds are utterly serene, 

A treasure of omniscient primal wisdom. Unlimited they are in spiritual qualities, 

And great in learning and compassion. 

Vast their wisdom is; their ways and realization are like space. 

Boundless are their works

And every link with them is meaningful. 

Abandoning all weariness, 

And filled with love, they labor constantly

Rely on them, for they lead beings on an upward path. 

5. Especially within the Secret Mantra, True masters have these attributes: 

They have received empowerment; 

Their samaya and their vows are pure. 

They understand the meaning of the tantras; They have crossed the ocean of 

the pith instructions. 

Of the stages of approach, accomplishment, activation, And enlightened 

action they have mastery. 

Of the view and meditation, conduct and result They have experience and 

realization— They have achieved the signs of warmth. 

They have great love, are skilled in means, And bring disciples to maturity 

and freedom. 

The blessings of their lineage in massing clouds Have not dispersed. 

Rely then on such glorious teachers, learned and accomplished. 

6. Their qualities are boundless; Yet, if we praise but partly 

These great friends of beings, 

They are like mighty ships 

That bear across the ocean of existence. 

They are the peerless guides 

Of those who enter on the path

They are like wish-fulfilling jewels 

That dissipate recession and decline. 

They are like streams of nectar 

That extinguish fires of karma and defilement. 

They are like perfect clouds of rain 

That soothe with showers of teaching. 

They’re like the gods’ great drum That thrills all beings with joy. 

They are like great physicians 

That cure the ills of the three poisons. 

They are great shining lamps 

That dissipate the dark of ignorance. 

They’re like the mighty tree of miracles, 

The source of bliss for everyone. 

They’re like the perfect precious vase 

That satisfies unprompted every wish. 

They are like suns of intense love 

With rays of light unbounded. 

They are like moons that soothe all torment, Shining their white light of bliss 

and benefit. 

7. Their vast expanse of mind is like the stainless sky. Their concentration, luminous and clear, 

Is like the planets and the stars 

That shine with their own light, 

Their love and wisdom are as boundless as the sea. 

The powerful surge of their compassion 

Is like a mighty river in its course. 

No distraction moves them; They’re like glorious snowcapped peaks. Utterly unwavering, 

They’re like Sumeru, king of mountains. 

They dwell within the world unstained 

Like lotuses that grow in muddy pools. 

They have impartial love for beings 

As though they were their fathers or their mothers. 

Unending are their qualities; 

They are like precious treasure mines. 

And, like the mighty Conqueror, 

They are the guides for all the world. 

8. Such teachers are the glorious lords of Dharma. 

No matter where they are, they are the peers of all the buddhas. 

Through seeing them or hearing them, 

Remembering or touching them, samsara is undone. 

Tremendous is the charge of their great works, And they are like the mighty 

earth supporting every being. 

9. Enlightened masters, the fourth Jewel, Are herukas in the mandala, 

powerful and glorious. 

They labor in this age of dregs 

For beings difficult to teach, 

For whom they thus surpass all buddhas. 

Vajra masters are the root of all accomplishment. 

Attend such masters purely and with honesty In thought and word and deed, Revering them above your head. 

10. These masters bar the way to lower realms; To higher destinies they build 

a stair

And they bring benefit and bliss in this and future lives. 

They teach the perfect truth and bless the minds of beings And place them in 

this life 

Upon the path of ripening and freedom. 

Therefore with a constant, firm, unchanging faith, Follow them at all times 


11. To bring defilements to an end 

And to be free from harms, results of evil deeds, To be delivered from the 

dread of birth and death, And gain spontaneously the twofold goal, 

To cross the ocean of existence- 

For this you must rely upon a teacher, 

Like the sick on their physician 

And the people on their king, Like travelers upon their escort, 

Merchant sailors on their captain, 

And like those who cross the water on their ferryman. 

12. Consider thus your teacher as a doctor And his teaching as a medicine. 

Regard yourself as sick and take 

Your practice as your therapy, 

The gaining of both happiness and peace 

As cure from your disease. 

Likewise, in ways similar to these, 

Attend upon your teacher 

With the four pure attitudes. 

13. But disciples with an evil karmic share Are the ground of every fault. They are bereft of faith; 

They have no sense of shame or decency; 

Small is their compassion. 

Their character and family, their conduct and their destiny Are bad. Their 

minds, behavior and defilements- The five poisons-all are very gross. Confusing right with wrong and virtue with nonvirtue, They distort the 


They do not keep the vows and the samayas 

And have no methods of redress

Weak in their intelligence, they are dull and difficult to please. 

Their anger and their violent speech are fully grown. 

With five erroneous attitudes, they pursue the teacher. 

For them the teacher is a musk deer and his doctrine musk. 

They regard themselves as hunters; 

Their practice is to shoot assiduous arrows, And they think the fruit thus 


Is something to be sold to others. 

Because they do not keep samaya, 

Suffering is all they get, in this and future lives. 

14. Some become disciples 

Rashly and without investigation. 

First, they praise the master’s qualities, But later they decry them. 

Some do both and are deceitful hypocrites. 

They defame the teacher’s entourage 

Through sly insinuation. 

The fruit of such behavior is the Hell of Torment Unsurpassed. 

15. Fortunate disciples have great faith and wisdom. Careful, mindful, vigilant, they strive with diligence. 

They do as they are told; they keep their vows and pledges. They control themselves in thought and word and deed. 

Great is their compassion and their altruistic mind. 

They are spacious in their attitudes and always joyful, Generous, and pure in 

their perceptions. 

They are steadfast and have great devotion. 

16. Disciples such as these are ever mindful of their teachers’ qualities. They never think that they have defects, 

And if perchance they see them, They will take them for good qualities. Sincerely they tell themselves, “The master has no defects— This is just my 

own perception.” 

They thus confess their error and, 

Resolving to refrain from it

They implement the antidotes. 

17. All the teacher does not like should be avoided

Strive instead to please him by all means 

And never disobey what he commands. 

Regarding as himself all those around him whom he cherishes, Never take his 

entourage as your disciples. 

Request instead both teachings and empowerments. 

18. In the presence of the teacher, 

Hold in check your body, speech, and mind. 

Don’t stretch out your legs or sit in vajra posture

Do not turn your back or have a somber look, And do not crease your face 

with frowns

19. Don’t speak out of turn, and do not lie or slander others. 

Don’t discuss another person’s faults Or speak unpleasantly and harshly. 

Avoid all careless and unseemly talk. 

20. Do not covet what the teacher owns, And wish no harm or malice 

To himself or to his entourage. 

In the various deeds and conduct of the teacher See no error, no hypocrisy. Do not think his deeds are wrong 

Or even slightly untoward: 

All such false, mistaken views should be rejected. 

21. When the teacher has a wrathful look, Reflect that it is surely your own 


Make confession and restrain yourself. 

Meditate upon the teacher; seeing him above your head, Make fervent prayers 

to him. 

By pleasing him you swiftly gain accomplishment. 

22. When you see the teacher, rise and bow to him. 

When he wishes to be seated, bring to him a seat With all the needed 


And with folded hands and pleasant speech extol him. 

When he leaves, stand up 

And like a servant tend on him. 

23. Be at all times mindful, careful, vigilant, Respectful, humble, full of awe. 

In the teacher’s presence be restrained— 

Just like a newly wedded bride- 

In body, speech, and mind. 

Be without distraction, agitation, or vain ostentation. 

Respect him in a manner free from partiality, Without a wish for fame or 

personal advantage, Free from all hypocrisy and all deceit, 

Without duplicity or biased exclusivity. 

24. Offer to the teacher wealth, if you possess it

Serve him with respect and reverence 

In your body, speech, and mind. 

And please him with your practice, Abandoning this life’s concerns. 

25. When others denigrate your teacher, You should stop them. If you are unable, think only of his excellence. 

Block your ears and with compassion help the slanderers. But do not stay with them or chat with them on easy terms. 

26. To act like this brings benefit in all your future lives. You will encounter holy beings and hear the supreme Dharma. 

Grounds and paths of realization, 

The power of dhāraṇī48 and of concentration― All this wealth of excellence 

will be completely yours, And to beings you will bring a feast of happiness and peace. 

27. Keep good company with sublime masters; Evil, sinful teachers, utterly 


They are without the qualities explained above And are disordered in their 

vows and their samaya. 

Their faults are numerous and grave. 

Small they are in love, compassion, wisdom, erudition, Great in lazy 

indolence, in ignorance and pride, In petulance and spite. 

Their defilements, all five poisons, are extremely rough

Their care is only for this present life

Concern for future lives they cast away. 

This tribe of charlatans may seem to teach the Dharma, And yet it is not so

Such teachers are like heaps of refuse. 

Even if they have great followings, Keep far away from them

Their faithful followers they lead 

On false paths to the lower realms. 

If you desire the path to freedom, 

Never count on them

28. Links with evil friends should also be forsaken

As long as you stay in their company, 

To that extent your dark side will develop And your virtue will diminish. Defilements will fall down on you like rain. 

Bad friends destroy your happy destinies 

And are a stairway down to lower realms. 

Holy beings they slander; they are enemies of virtue. Evil beings they praise, and darkness is their friend. They praise the wicked ways of those who are like them. 

At all times do they draw you onto paths to lower destinies. With eyes of wisdom you should cast them far away. 

29. By avoiding evil teachers and bad company, You will gain good qualities And will be happy in this life and those to come. 

Your virtue will increase and you will tread The profound path of liberation. Evil beings you will never see 

But only your protectors: 

Blissful buddhas and their retinue of bodhisattva children, Who hold you in 

their minds and bless you

You will have a happy death and go to higher realms. 

All these and other qualities 

Beyond imagining you will possess

30. Always keep the company of good and virtuous friends, For thanks to 

them your virtue will increase; Your sins and your defilements will diminish, And your faults will disappear. 

You will pass beyond samsara 

And gain high birth and final goodness. 

This life will pass in happiness; 

Your later lives will bear good fruit. 

All your actions will be wholesome; 

You will be the guide of gods and humankind. 

31. By keeping company with spiritual masters and good friends, You will 

increase in virtue and have joy as the result. 

In samsara you will have no fear And gain unbounded benefit and bliss. You will achieve the endless riches 

Of the twofold goal of beings. 

These friends and masters are the emanations Of the buddhas, our 

enlightened guides, 

Appearing in this age of decadence. 

Therefore, till the essence of enlightenment is gained, Rely on holy beings. 

32. Doing this, you will perceive impartially All things as pure. 

You will have perfect love, compassion, bodhichitta. 

Your spiritual experience and your realization Will develop more and more. Your work for beings will be boundless; 

Your aspirations will be all fulfilled 

In accordance with the Dharma. 

33. How then should you meditate upon your teacher? 

How should you address your prayers to him? 

At all times to fulfill the two accumulations And to remove your obscurations, 

Meditate by day on your root teacher up above your head And meditate on 

him by night within your heart, Never parted from your yidam and the ḍākinī. 

He is adorned with all the major 

And the minor marks of buddhahood, 

Surrounded by the masters of the lineage, 

The ḍākas and the ḍākinīs

In your mind make offerings to him 

And pray for the attainment of your goal. 

34. Pronounce the syllable om 

Before the Sanskrit version of your teacher’s name With, afterward, the 

syllables ah and hung. 

Then pronounce the syllables befitting the desired activity.49 

35. If you wish to purge all illnesses, All evil spirits, sins and obscurations, Your visualization should be white 

And shining with white rays of light, 

Whereby adversity is pacified 

And the accomplishment achieved. 

If you wish to undertake the action of increasing Life or reputation, property, 

and so forth, Visualize rays of yellow light that cause 

A rain of all that you desire. 

For the act of magnetizing that attracts and gathers, The rays of light are red 

and visualized with hooks. 

For ferocious action that destroys 

All evil forces, obstacles, and all the rest, See everything as dark blue, Emanating weapons and a wheel of fire 

Endowed with spokes a-thousandfold, 

Destroying all adversity. 

36. A thousand billion universes 

Quake and tremble, shake and throb 

To the recited mantra’s sound

Perform activities as when you implement 

The supreme generation stage. 

At the end, dissolve the visualization step by step, And relax just for a 

moment in the state of emptiness. 

Then dedicate this virtue to enlightenment. 

According to each one of these activities, Indications of accomplishment 


Such is the profound path, ocean of great bliss

37. Especially for the action of outwitting death and illness, Obstacles, and all 

demonic forces, 

Visualize your teacher in the space before you, Seated on a lotus plant 

surmounted by a mighty throne Upheld by fearless lions. 

Radiantly he smiles, not separate from the buddhas, Surrounded by the 

teachers of his lineage, And bodhisattvas and ḍākinīs. 

Below him are the guests of your compassion, Beings of the six realms to 

whom you owe a karmic debt. 

They are the beings in samsāra: 

Your fathers and your mothers, past, present, and to come. 

38. Your mind appearing as the letter hung Emerges from the summit of your 


It takes a ḍāka’s form who brandishes 

A skull cup and a knife that’s razor-sharp. 

He cuts around your brow, 

Removes the upper section of your skull, 

Which then he places on a hearth made of three other skulls

He fills the skull cup with your body: 

Bones and flesh and blood. 

A nectar rain falls down, 

And from below the flames blaze 


Equal in dimensions to a thousand billion worlds, The skull cup brims with 


39. Imagine then that from your mind there emanates A countless host of 

ḍākas who all together at the same time Distribute the nectar from the skull. 

The “nirvanic guests” are pleased, 

And, completing your accumulations, You attain accomplishment. 

The “samsaric guestsare also satisfied: 

Your debts to them that have accrued 

From time without beginning are discharged. 

Especially, all harmful demons are appeased, And all the troubles they 

provoke are pacified. 

Think that they are all content, 

That rays of light shine from the guests 

And, touching you, remove all evil forces, Obstacles, and illnesses 

And ransom you from death. 

Consider that accomplishment is gained. 

40. Knowing then that all is empty, 

That all is but your state of mind; 

And knowing that your mind is empty too

Remain within the dharmadhātu 

In the state of even meditation

Then make the dedication 

Knowing everything to be illusory

41. By this means all adversity is pacified And the two great accumulations 

are perfected. 

The two kinds of obscuration are both purified. 

Measureless will be the blessings you receive, And realization will take birth 

within your mind. 

No longer clinging to your “self,” 

You will strongly wish to leave samsāra. 

You will live from day to day, quite free from cares. 

Your wishes will come true, and all existence Will arise as your own teacher. There will be no pain at your life’s end; 

The luminosity arising at the time of death Will be accomplished, 

Or you will come to freedom in the intermediate state. 

The twofold goal you will achieve and every excellence. 

For all these reasons therefore, 

Strongly meditate upon your teacher. 

42. “It is better,” it is said, “To meditate upon a teacher for a single instant 

Than to undertake the generation stage for an entire kalpa.” 

The basis of all glorious spiritual wealth, Your teacher is replete with sublime 

qualities: Massing clouds of benefit and bliss 

Whence perfect nectar rains down on the triple world. 

If this is what you want, rely upon a master Who is faithful and 


43. To pacify the torment of your mind’s defilement, To which you have grown used from time without beginning, Be like Sudhana and Sadāprarudita: seek the Dharma!50 

Banish all fatigue! Rely upon a spiritual master! 

44. May this profitable music of the thousand strings Of Indra’s harp drop 

down like nectar on the ears Of fortunate beings awearied by their wrong and wayward paths. 

May their minds today find rest. 


1. Relying thus upon a spiritual master, 

Train by stages on the path of liberation. 

Refuge is the sure foundation of all paths. 

Beings of small scope dread the lower states; The two of medium scope are 

frightened by existence in samsāra; While those of great scope see samsara’s pain in all its aspects And cannot bear that other beings suffer. What they fear is their own peace and happiness. 

They thus embark upon the Great Way of the Buddha’s heirs. 

And so there are three kinds of being who take refuge; There are three 

approaches: ordinary, supreme, and unsurpassed. 

2. The length of time that beings go for refuge Depends upon their attitude. 

Those of small capacity Take refuge till they gain the fruit of happiness in their next life. 

The two of middle scope take refuge in the immediate term For their present 

life and ultimately till they gain The fruit of the śrāvaka and 

pratyekabuddha paths. 

Those of supreme scope take refuge permanently Until they gain 


Until they gain primordial wisdom, 

Measureless and inconceivable. 

3. There are two kinds of refuge. 

First, the common, causal refuge, Then uncommon or resultant refuge. 

They are pledges that respectively relate 

To cause and fruit. 

They are so defined according to the difference That distinguishes the causal 


(Which sees the fruit as something in the future), From the Vajrayāna, where the fruit is gained immediately, Within the present moment― For one’s mind itself is the result

The “resultant refuge” spoken of 

Within the causal vehicle of exposition 

Resembles that of Vajrayāna 

Only in its name. For it is part of causal refuge.5 


4. The object of the causal refuge is the Triple Gem. The Buddha is the supreme nirmāṇakāya 

Adorned with all the major and the minor marks. 

The Dharma is twofold. 

First of all, the spotless Dharma of transmission Is the teachings of the 

different vehicles of sūtra and of tantra And the sacred scriptures that appear in written form. 

5. The scriptures of the sūtras have twelve branches: The sūtras, the poetic 


Predictions, and didactic verse, 

Discourses delivered with a special purpose, Life stories, and histories, 

Specific declarations, lengthy expositions, 

Tales of Buddha’s previous lives, 

And topics of specific knowledge, 

Together with profound unprecedented teachings. 

6. Grouped within the tantras 

Are the tantras of austerity: Kriyā, Caryā, Yoga. 

Then there are the father, mother, nondual tantras, Which relate to skillful 

methods, to wisdom, And to their inseparability— These three great yogas are the inner tantras. 

All these teachings and their scriptures 

Are the Dharma of transmission. 

7. The Dharma of realization comprises grounds and paths, The generation 

and perfection stages, 

The power of dhāraṇī, 

And the concentrations with the essence of primordial wisdom. Boundless are the ways of skillful means 

That have the nature of compassion. 

8. Perfect Joy, the Immaculate, the Luminous, The Radiant, the Hard to 

Keep, the Clearly Manifest, The Far Progressed, and the Immovable, 

The Perfect Intellect, and Cloud of Dharma: 

These are the ten grounds belonging to the path of learning. Universal Light, the eleventh

Is the ground of the nirmāṇakāya 

Mentioned in the causal vehicle. 

In the Vajrayāna, many presentations of the grounds- Twelve or more—are 


According to the way their qualities are classified.52 

9. The sacred Dharma, deep domain of mind, A sun of flawless light

Is the five paths: accumulation, joining

Seeing, meditation, no more learning; 

And the generation and perfection stages and the rest. 

10. Śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, grouped in their four pairs, 


And bodhisattvas who reside upon the grounds Constitute the outer Sangha. The ḍākas and ḍākinīs and the adepts of the Secret Mantra54 

Are said to be the inner Sangha. 

11. These then are the objects of your concentration: Visualize them in the 

sky before you. 

Especially consider that your teacher 

Is a buddha and thus the chief of refuges. 

Make offerings to them: material, mental, secret. 

Then in company with every being, 

Join your palms respectfully and say: 

“In my Teacher, in the Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha, I take refuge for the 

sake of others till enlightenment is gained.” 

Repeat this many times and from the bottom of your heart. 

12. The refuge objects show their pleasure, radiating light, Which purifies the 

veils obscuring the three doors Of others and yourself

Thus consider that accomplishment is gained. 

By this means the gathering of merit is achieved; The rūpakāya is 


13. The final and resultant refuge is the dharmakāya. 

It is the essence of the Buddha, Dharma, and Assembly; It is the ultimate 

divinity, the luminosity of your own mind Free from all conceptual construction. 

14. The way to take this refuge is as follows: After taking causal refuge, Consider everything to be your mind. 

In truth the one who thus takes refuge 

And the refuge taken are not two. 

Rest in meditative evenness within this state of nonduality. 

If you think the object of your refuge and your mind Are separate, then your 

refuge is not ultimate. 

Resultant refuge is beyond all hope and expectation. 

15. Thus the gathering of wisdom is perfected; Thus the dharmakaya is 


Subsequently see all things as dream visions and illusions. 

Then dedicate your merit. 

16. Each kind of refuge has its precepts. 

In the case of causal refuge, 

At the cost of life or realm, or for sake of some reward, You must not forsake 

the teacher and the Triple Gem. 

When you have taken refuge in a teacher, 

You must not deceive him, worthy as he is of reverence. 

Holy beings should be neither criticized nor denigrated. Taking refuge in the Buddha, 

You should not worship worldly gods. 

Taking refuge in the Dharma, 

You should do no harm to living beings. 

Taking refuge in the Sangha, 

You should not consort with those of extreme views

And with devotion you should also venerate 

The forms that represent your teacher, The images of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Calling them to mind by day and night, 

At all times taking refuge. 

17. According to the precepts of resultant refuge, You should train at all times 

In the equality of all phenomena. 

You should not think in terms of good or bad, Taking or rejecting that which 

is of great or lesser worth

You should not trust your mind’s elaborations, But cleanse them in the natural 

state of ultimate reality. 

All should be experienced as a mandala spontaneous and perfect. 

18. Refuge is relinquished, in a sense, When the time for taking it is passed, But it is indeed abandoned through wrong view. 

Through the spoiling of the precepts 

You will fall to lower states


Therefore, rule yourself with care and mindfulness, Adopting and rejecting as 

you should. 

19. All other refuges deceive. 

Perceiving this, you should have faith 

In Buddha, most compassionate. 


you will be guarded, free from fear, 

In all the sequence of your lifetimes. 

What greater source of benefit and happiness exists

20. Within the ground of pure, devoted mind, Well sprinkled with the rain of 

merit and of wisdom, The shoots will prosper of the pure expanse of ultimate reality56 

And ripen as the perfect crop of buddhahood. 

21. Those who, having taken refuge, 

Have the virtuous ways of Dharma 

Are replete with moral conscience and respect for others

They are circumspect and mindful, with a host of other qualities. Accompanied by clouds of dhāraṇī,57 

The sun of wisdom rises in their minds. 

Even in their dreams, they see the objects of their refuge And never part from 


They remember their past lives 

And are of a good family adorned with wealth. 

22. All beings take delight in them; they gain the twofold goal. 

And they themselves at last become the refuge of all beings. 

Of everyone they are the friends and helpers, Holders of the riches of the 

triple kāya. 

23. If the excellence of taking refuge were to have a form, It would far exceed 

the confines of the sky. 

Unbounded are its merits. 

Taking refuge is the ground and base of every good. 

Who among the wise would not rely on it? 

24. Refuge is the friend 

Of all who leave behind their faults and journey on to peace. 

Bow down your head with faith a hundredfold And go for refuge to the 

supreme guides 

Who in the three worlds are a field of merit, Are wish-fulfilling trees 

And sources of both benefit and happiness. 

25. Through this proclamation 

Of the supreme and greatly blissful qualities of refuge, May every being 

properly assume 

The conduct of sublime and holy ones

Exhausted through relying 

Upon evil objects, vile and false, 

May their minds today find rest. 


1. Those who thus have taken refuge 

Spread upon the ground of love 

The flowers of compassion

Which in the cooling shade of joy 

Are moistened with pure waters of impartiality

They train their minds that through them they may be of benefit to 

wandering beings


2. If love, compassion, joy, impartiality Are not connected with the path to 

liberation, They are the four divine abidings, causes of samsāra. But if they are connected with the path that leads to peace, They lead beyond 

the ocean of existence. 

Thus they are the four unbounded attitudes. 

3. They focus on the whole infinity of beings As well as on the ultimate 

condition of phenomena. 

Thus they have a twofold all-embracing form: They are both referential and 


4. The four divine abidings are limited in scope. 

The beings they envisage are but few. 

In their focus and their form they are impure And, being partial, are the cause 

Of the celestial world of Brahmā

But the four unbounded attitudes are free of partiality: They are directed at 

the state of liberation. 

Let those who have compassion train in them. 

5. Those who are not happy, those worn down by sorrow, Those who have 

both happiness and wealth, And those who love the close and hate the far- Such are the respective fields 

Of love and of compassion, 

Of sympathetic joy, and of impartiality. 

The forms of these four attitudes are thus the wish That happiness be gained, 

that sorrow be removed, That joy should not be lost, 

That one should be of wholesome and impartial mind. 

6. In the meditation on them there is no fixed order. Beginners on the other hand 

Should start with training in impartiality. 

Once they realize the equality of beings who are close and far, They should 

proceed to meditate upon the other three. 

7. With all beings as its focus, the meditation’s form Consists of this 


“O mind, you are attached to father, mother, friends. 

Your enemies you hate, and in this way you are defective. 

Wandering in endless and beginningless samsāra, As father, mother, friend, 

these enemies of yours Once brought you benefit. 

Will you now return their kindness with malevolence? 

And these, your present friends, were once your harmful foes. 

The suffering they brought to you is with you even now. 

How does it then make sense to do them good in recompense

And all the others in between 

Have been both friend and enemy. 

They may have helped, they may have harmed: No point is there in hatred or 


8. Therefore, at the outset, Place your loved ones in the midposition of 

neutrality And set aside attachment. 

And for your enemies, as though they too were neutral, Rid yourself of 


Have no near and far.” 

Then eliminate your ignorance 

Of regarding beings neutrally as neither good nor bad. 

Train yourself in what will free you from samsara: The intention to remove 


The afflictions that torment all wandering beings. 

9. In wanting to be happy and to flee their pains, All beings are the same. And yet in their confusion they contrive The causes of their suffering. Alas! May all afflictions of unhappy beings And all their evil tendencies 


May they have an evenness of mind. 

May all embodied beings, 

Tormented by strong craving and aversion, Be freed from hatred and desire 

And have minds for which 

The near and far are equalized. 

Thinking thus, first meditate upon a single being, Then on two, then three. 

Beginning with the beings of one region, Proceed then to one continent and 

then all four. 

Then meditate on the entire universe— 

Increasing it a thousand times, then multiplied again A second thousand 

times, and then a third. 

10. The sign of your success will be that self and other, Friend and foe are 


In conclusion, think that all the objects Of this impartial attitude devoid of 

clinging― All are but the mind, 

And that the nature of the mind is similar to space. 

Then with a mind completely free of concepts, Rest within the ultimate 

condition, empty and unborn. 

As a sign of your success, the realization Of what is deep and peaceful will 

arise in you

The fruit will be a mind that’s free from “near and far.” 

The fundamental nature of all things 

Will be spontaneously accomplished. 

11. When thus your mind is even with regard to all, Then just as you would 


That your own mother meet with happiness, Think the same for all embodied 


All living beings thus become the object of your love, The form of which 


In wanting, in the immediate term, 

That beings have the happiness of gods and humankind, And ultimately that 

they reach the bliss of buddhahood. 

Beginning with a single being

Train yourself to embrace all 

Until the very confines of the ten directions. 

12. As a sign of your proficiency, You will have supreme and all-embracing 

love, More than any mother for her only child. 

Finally, great love that is beyond all clinging Is to rest within the state Where all are seen as equal. 

It is the sign of love and emptiness united. 

You will be purified by such a training, And just the sight of you will bring 

delight to beings. 

13. When you have embraced all beings with love, Then just as in your mind 

you cannot bear To contemplate the sorrows of your father or your mother, Be likewise with the sufferings of wandering beings And generate compassion. 

Your loving parents in your former lives Did evil deeds on your behalf, For which they suffer heat and cold, 

Hunger, thirst, and servitude and slaughter. 

They founder in the great, tumultuous floods Of birth, age, sickness, death— 

Worn out by all their different sorrows. 

14. They are destitute of tamed and peaceful minds That yearn for freedom. They have no virtuous friends to show them the true path. 

And soalas for them- 

They wander in samsāra endlessly. 

Are you able to forsake them, you who see them thus

Instead, think rather from the center of your heart And from the marrow of 

your bones: 

“My body, all that I possess, 

All the virtue gathered in the triple time— May it, in this very instant, Banish all the pains that beings have!” 

15. The sign of your success is said to be The inability to bear that beings 


Subsequently you should evenly remain In a compassion free of all conceptual 


Of this the sign is emptiness- 

Emptiness united with compassion. 

The fruit of such a training is a mind that’s free of malice, A mind that does 

no harm, a wholesome mind, A mind that will accomplish primal purity itself. 

16. Softened by compassion, train yourself to take delight When others find 

their own respective joys. 

The object of your focus will be beings who are happy, The form 


attitude will take will be to think, “What joy! These beings have no need of me To bring them to the state of happiness! 

For, best of all, they found it for themselves! 

From this day till they gain enlightenment, May they never lose their joy and 


Begin with one, then train yourself until You have included every being. 

17. The sign of your proficiency will be That, being joyful, you will have no 

envious jealousy. 

Later, when you concentrate on joy, 

You will be free of all conceptual reference. 

Naturally you will be at peace 

With bliss in body, speech, and mind. 

As fruit you will have joy and steady wealth. 

18. Once you have grown used to them, Begin with love and meditate upon 

them turn by turn. 

By this means fixation on the four of them Will, stage by stage, be halted. If, when you meditate on love, 

This causes you to cleave to everyone As though they were your cherished 

friends, This is halted by compassion 

Focusing on suffering in its cause and fruit. 

If compassion is deficient and fixated on an object, Depression will be halted 

by nonreferential joy. 

If through joy the mind is troubled, 

Taking pleasure in distraction, 

Meditate on great impartiality 

Detached from what is near or far. 

And when impartiality becomes indifference, Meditate on love as you have 

done before, And on the rest successively. 

Easily, in such a way, 

Stability and mastery are gained. 

19. Those who have grown firm in such a training Meditate upon the attitudes 

In direct, indirect, alternate, or in any order. 

Thus their realization of the four unbounded attitudes Will grow and will be 


It will become most firm and then extremely firm. 

20. This practice will give rise to four results

The fully ripened fruit is high birth and the final excellence. 

In the desire realm one will gain 

The body of a god or human being 

And strive for othersbenefit. 

The fruits resembling the cause 

Are, actively, continued practice of the same, And, passively, a happiness and 

freedom from adversity

Thanks to the conditioning result, 

One will be born in pleasant, wholesome, happy places, Where people live in 

harmony, adorned with wealth. 

Thanks to the proliferating consequence, These four attitudes will grow in 


The riches of the two aims (for oneself and others) Will be gained 


21. By love is anger driven out; The sambhogakāya and mirrorlike wisdom 

Are completely gained. 

The sambhogakāya is adorned 

With all the marks, both great and small, of buddhahood. 

By compassion clinging love is banished; The dharmakaya and the all- 

discerning wisdom Are achieved. 

The dharmakaya is endowed 

With strengths, distinctive qualities, and so forth.59 

Sympathetic joy removes all jealousy; The nirmāṇakāya and the sublime 

wisdom Allaccomplishing are gained. 

The nirmāṇakāya is manifold with various forms. 

Its enlightened action is spontaneously accomplished. Impartiality removes both pride and ignorance. 

The svābhāvikakāya is made manifest together with The wisdom of equality, 

the wisdom of the dharmadhātu. 

The svābhāvikakāya is the dharmatā 

Beyond conceptual construction. 

22. Therefore love, compassion, joy, impartiality Are of unbounded 

excellence, and highly praised By the unequaled Teacher of both gods 

and humankind. 

Any path that lacks them is mistaken. 

They err who have recourse to other teachers. 

Embraced by the four boundless attitudes, The path leads on to spotless 


It is the way that all the buddhas tread, Earlier and later, past, present, and to 


23. The causal vehicle declares 

That, just like seeds producing shoots, Skillful means and wisdom bring forth 

the two kāyas. 

The resultant vehicle declares 

That the two kāyas are made manifest 

When the twofold veil that hides them is removed. 

As means to this, they both rely 

Upon the path of limitless compassion. 

In truth, with both the vehicles, the causal and resultant, The practice is in 

harmony. It is the same. 

It’s emptiness enlivened with compassion. 

24. The sūtras have moreover said That purity without beginning60 

Rests primordially in beings like an uncreated seed. 

The Mantrayana likewise says that, from the first, All beings possess the triple 

kaya, veiled though this may be By adventitious veils that are to be removed. 

In brief, the learned and accomplished all describe The outer and the inner 


Respectively of sūtra and of mantra, 

As one thing and the same. 

Therefore, in the footsteps of the buddhasholy children, Strive with effort in 

the four unbounded attitudes. 

25. May these good words that lead to peace Still all the turbulence of 

wandering beings’ minds. 

Exhausted by pursuing wrong, mistaken, and inferior paths, May their minds 

today find rest. 



1. When you are well practiced 

In the four unbounded attitudes, 

Meditate upon the twofold bodhichitta, root of all the Dharma. 

For this will bring you freedom from defilement, 

And save you from the ocean of existence. 

Bodhichitta drives away all fear, all pain, and every evil deed; It vanquishes 

both karma and the sources of your suffering; And from the circle of existence will bring beings into peace. 

2. Even when this attitude of courage 

Is not manifest and active,61 

Compassion’s virtuous stream develops more and more, And skillful means 

and wisdom are united— Even in the state of meditative equipoise. 

All one’s acts of word and deed are meaningful, 

And one becomes the object of respect 

For the very gods and all the world besides. 

3. Small are the fruits of other virtues, and they wear away. 

But virtue joined with such a precious state of mind Increases and will never 

be exhausted-Like crystal water flowing down into the sea, 

And like abundant harvests grown in fertile soil

4. It is the root or seed of every excellence; Its nature is compassion. Many are its fruits of happiness, even in samsāra, And of supreme 

enlightenment it is the cause- Enlightenment, which is of peaceful 


Strive therefore to generate this good and precious mind

5. It is the perfect wishfulfilling vase 

Increasing all good fortune. 

It is the source of bliss, 

The supreme remedy that cures the ills of beings. 

It is the sun of primal wisdom 

And the moon that soothes all torment. 

Like the sky it is immaculate

Its qualities are like the starry host. 

It is an ever-flowing spring of benefit and joy. 

6. Beyond imagination are its merits, Boundless like the massing clouds. 

Like the buddhas’ wondrous qualities, 

And like the dharmadhātu, they are infinitely vast. 

7. Bodhichitta is the wish to gain 

Sublime enlightenment for countless beings‘ sake

It is of two kinds: intentional and active. 

Intention is the wish and action the pursuit 

Of this attainment. 

It is like the wish to go and actually setting out. 

8. Bodhichitta in intention has, so it is said, The nature of the four unbounded 


Active bodhichitta is the six transcendent virtues. 

9. If, when motivated by one’s own advantage, One worships for many a 

million kalpas 

All the buddhas who pervade the whole of endless space, The merit gained 

does not compare 

With but the smallest fragment of the merit made 

Through bodhichitta in intention. 

10. For it is said that if one has, but for a single instant, The wish and thought 

to take away 

The slightest pain and suffering of beings, 

One will be free from evil destinies 

And taste unbounded bliss of gods and humankind. 

11. Even greater are the benefits of active bodhichitta; Indeed they are 


For this means actual engagement. 

One instant of the practice of this supreme mind 

Is said to equal the accumulations, both of wisdom and of merit, Gathered 

over many kalpas. 

12. For as the teachings say 

Regarding the perfection of the two accumulations: Whether it may be 


In three immeasurable kalpas and so forth62. Whether it is swift or slow to 


Or whether freedom may be gained within a single life: All this depends upon 

one’s strength of mind. 

And when conjoined with supreme methods, 

Supreme diligence, and supreme wisdom, 

The mind is at its strongest and is unsurpassed. 

13. This bodhichitta has the essence of compassion- A wish-fulfilling tree 

that carries 

The great load of beings in this world. 

It has not appeared before, 

Not even in the realm of Brahmā.63 

Not occurring for one’s own sake, not even in one’s dreams, How could it be 

conceived of or occur for others‘ sake

Thus one should rejoice. For, previously unknown, 

This bodhichitta has now come to birth

14. Now, from a virtuous friend does it arise As rain that falls down from a 

wish-fulfilling jewel To satisfy all wants. 

A master such as this is excellent in qualities 

And is free of any fault. 

His fortunate disciples he inspires 

By teaching on the evils of samsara 

And on the benefits of freedom (a teaching that is virtuous In its beginning, 

its abiding, and its ending) 

And by his endless praise of bodhichitta. 

15. In a clean and pleasant place adorned with offerings, Prepare by setting 

up an image of the Buddha 

Together with the other necessary articles. 

And then imagine, in the space in front of you, 

The buddhas and the bodhisattvas 

Like great banks of cloud that fill the sky. 

For it is said that through the stainless strength of one’s own mind, And the 

compassion of the sovereigns of love and wisdom, All will be according to one’s wish

Then invite them with a flower in your joined hands Requesting them to take 

their seat. 

Make offerings of baths, adornments, raiment, and the rest. 

16. Then like a lotus bud appearing in a lovely pool And opening with the 

rising of the sun

Make a gesture with your two hands joined above your head. 

With melodious praises, with countless emanated forms, Bow down to them 


17. As many as may be the drops of water in the sea, Or atoms in earth and 

in the king of mountains, 

Merits such as this cannot be found in all the triple world. 

Thanks to such prostration, 

For as many times as there are atoms in the earth, Down to the strong 

foundation of the universe

You will become a Cakravartin king, 

And finally you will attain 

The state of supreme peace. 

18. Presented in reality and imagined in your mind, Make offerings in vast 

and unsurpassed array: 

Flowers, incense, lamps, and food and drink, 

Canopies and pennants floating in the air, 

Parasols and melody, 

Victory banners, yak-tail fans, drums, and all the rest. 

And with your body, pleasures, and possessions 

Make offerings to the buddhas, 

The rare and supreme Teachers of all beings, Together with their bodhisattva children. 

19. With beautiful mansions of the gods 

Adorned with traceries of jewels, 

With dance and song, melodious airs, 

And gently falling rain of tuneful praise

With marvelous ornaments a hundredfold 

Make offerings to them. 

20. With jeweled mountains, woods, and lotus lakes, The lovely haunts of 

goose and gliding swan, 

With fragrant healing plants and wishfulfilling trees Weighed down with fruit 

and flowers- With all these make your offerings to them. 

21. With lilies of the night that harbor Bees among their thousand moving 


And with lovely blossoms of the utpala that open wide Beneath the rays of 

the unclouded sun and moon, 

Make offerings to them. 

22. With fragrant breezes wafted 

By the opened buds of cooling sandal trees, 

With pleasant caves and cliffs and wholesome vales, And cooling streams and 


Make offerings to them. 

23. The hare-marked moon, all white on autumn nights, Encircled by a 

garland of fixed stars, 

Together with the daystar with its burning trellis of a thousand lights: With 

these adornments of the world’s four continents, Make offerings to them. 

24. All the riches of delightful things 

In surrounding regions and encircling mountains, 

All a hundred-millionfold

And all the buddhafields located in the ten directions, As numerous as drops 

of water in the ocean- Take them all in your imagination, 

And to the mighty buddhas and their offspring offer them. 

25. The perfect vase, the wishing-tree, and the abundant cow; The seven 

attributes of sovereignty,” 


The eight auspicious substances,65 

And the seven subsidiary precious objects66— With all these in prodigious 


Make offerings to the holy and compassionate field of worship. 

26. With concentrated mind make yet more offerings Outer, inner, secret, and 

in vast and endless clouds That fill the whole of 

With beauteous clouds of blossom, 

Exquisite bright pavilions, 

With massing clouds of incense, healing nectar, 


Great quantities of splendid lamps, of food, and melody, With choruses of 

praise with tunes of infinite variety, Make offerings to them. 

27. Endless are these clouds of mind-imagined offerings

Now add to them the offering clouds spread forth 

By various goddesses of offering 

Of charm, of garlands, and of precious song and dance. 

May all the buddhas and their bodhisattva heirs be pleased. 

28. Evil actions and defilements

All the wrongs that you have done 

Through habits gained from time without beginning— Confess them all and 

cleanse them, 

For they are causes of your wandering in existence. 

29. Let the boundless mass of merit 

That wandering beings gather 

Be your constant object of rejoicing

And to liberate all beings, leaving none aside, 

Request the buddhas and their heirs 

To turn the wheel of Dharma unsurpassed. 

30. And till the ocean of samsara has been emptied, Pray that they will stay 


And not pass beyond all sorrow. 

Through the merit of this prayer, 

Request that you and every being 

Come, all without exception, to the state of buddhahood. 

31. Just as when a sheet of cloth is cleansed and later dyed, Its colors will be 

bright and clear, 

Likewise when the mind is cleansed 

Through such a preparation, 

The supreme attitude is clearly born. The wholesome strength accruing From this prayer in seven branches Is unlimited and, like the dharmadhātu, Permeates the vast abyss of space. 

32. Take refuge three times in the Triple Gem Of Buddha, Dharma, and 

Supreme Assembly, 

And then proclaim: 

“O Protectors, you and all your offspring, think of me! 

Just as all the buddhas of the past, together with their heirs, Have brought 

forth the awakened mind, 

And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas lived and trained, Likewise, for the 

benefit of beings, 

I will bring to birth the awakened mind, 

And in those precepts I will live and train myself. 

I will carry over those who have not fully crossed, And liberate all those who 

are not free, 

I will bring relief to those not yet relieved:67 

All beings will I place in buddhahood.” 

33. Thrice by day and thrice by night, 

Strive thus to cultivate the twofold bodhichitta. Engender with the first enunciation 

Bodhichitta in intention, 

Then with the second, active bodhichitta. 

And with the third one make the two both pure and firm. 

34. “From this day forward, I will be 

The ground of sustenance for every being. I assume the name of bodhisattva, 

Heir and offspring of the Conqueror. And in samsara fearlessly, 

I will secure the good of wandering beings. 

Constantly, with diligence, I will bring them only benefit And thus make 

meaningful this human life of mine.” 

35. In the earth of such a pure and virtuous mind, The shoots of twofold 


Are perfectly engendered. 

Strive by every means to hold them, 

Keep them pure, and make them grow. 

36. “All the sufferings of beings I will take upon myself; My happiness I give 

to them to bring them joy. 

Until they gain enlightenment, may they never lose such bliss.” 

With such thoughts train yourself, and turn by turn, Give them all your 

happiness, their sorrows take upon yourself. 

These are the precepts of bodhichitta in intention. 

Likewise train in the four boundless attitudes. 

Eradicate whatever acts against them; 

Place a guard upon your mind. 

The precepts, then, of active bodhichitta 

Are the practice of the six transcendent virtues. 

Strive therein, removing all opposing forces. 

At all times, mindfully, with watchful introspection, And with attentive care 

remove your negativities 

And gather stores of merit oceanvast. 

37. Train in the two bodhichittas without spoiling them. 

Beginning with wrong view

There are the deeds that constitute the downfalls of a king.68 Beginning with the laying waste of towns, 

There are the five deeds that are downfalls of a minister.69 Eight downfalls are then linked with common people;70 Then there are the two that all may perpetrate.71 

All together, therefore, there are twenty downfalls. These evils and attendant faults should all be known.7 


To keep oneself from all these things

To be without these downfalls and these faults

To train oneself in all concordant virtue: 

All of these, it should be understood, 

Are precepts of the bodhisattvas. 

38. Four black actions are, in brief, to be rejected; Four white actions should 

be carefully adopted. 

To deceive those worthy of respect, 

To cause regret for what is not to be regretted, 

To speak to holy beings with surly and unpleasant words, And to play others 

false with cunning and duplicity— These are the four black actions that should be rejected. 

39. To follow holy beings and extol their qualities, Inciting others to authentic 


To take the bodhisattvas as true buddhas

And with a noble and superior attitude 

To bring about the happiness and benefit of beings- These are the four white 

actions that should be adopted. 

40. Regarding then the precepts of those bodhisattvas, For whom the good of 

others is of greater import than their own, The seven nonvirtues of both deed and word are- If performed for othersgood—allowed. 

For they are virtuous in fact. 

By contrast, the three sins of mind can never be permitted. 

Virtues practiced for one’s own sake 

As the means to gaining one’s own happiness and peace Are downfalls for the 

bodhisattvas, Buddha’s heirs, Whereas the Conqueror has clearly said 

That all “nonvirtues” done for others’ benefit 

Are things to be performed. 

41. Of bodhisattvas there exist three kinds

Those who seek to free themselves 

And, having done so, other beings

Are bodhisattvas in the manner of a king; Those who wish to free themselves 

and others 

In a single stroke are bodhisattvas 

In the manner of a ferryman; 

While those who seek their own peace 

Only after others have been freed 

Are bodhisattvas in the manner of a shepherd

The first attain their freedom after thirty-three Immeasurable kalpas, the 

second after seven, 

And the third when three have run their course. 

This distinction, so the sūtras have declared, 

Reflects the different power of these bodhisattvas. 

42. The children of the Buddha 

Train themselves in every field 

And chiefly in the six transcendent virtues. 

43. When bodhisattvas see the wretched poverty of beings, They give them 

countless things

Food and clothing, horses, carts, and elephants. 

Greater giving is the gift of their own sons and daughters. 

And the greatest generosity is the gift 

Of their own body: donating head or eyes or other parts. 

They bring help to beings with material assistance And with the gift of 


Destroying their attachments, 

They produce the wealth of others. 

44. Superior discipline harnesses the mind stream, Bringing peace and virtue 

to the mind. 

Through wisdom is the twofold goal perfected. 

Avoiding evil, doing good, 

And working for the benefit of beings: These three disciplines are kept by 

bodhisattvas at all times. 

Householders maintain the vows of upāsaka and upavāsa 

And train in bodhichitta in intention and in action


For those who have gone forth to homelessness 

There are the vows of bhikṣu, and of śrāmaṇera

And the vows of female novices,75 


And, furthermore, the trainings of the twofold bodhichitta. 

Thus is discipline maintained. 

45. Three kinds of patience must the bodhisattvas practice: Making light of 

various harms and pains from outside or within; Endurance, through compassion and reflection on the teachings; And patience that is “objectless,” that is, concerning emptiness. 

46. There is no greater negativity than angry hate. With patience no austerity or merit can compare. Therefore strive persistently and by every means To practice patience and to quench 

The blazing conflagration of your angry hate. 

47. Countless are the hostile causes of your injuries. 

You cannot shift them all, save one or two. 

And yet by taming of your mind alone, 

All those harms are likewise tamed. 

Earnestly maintain therefore 

Your mind-subduing discipline. 

48. It’s thanks to all your injuries 

That patience you will perfectly achieve. 

From all such hurts, compassion, love, 

And other qualities are also born. 

Your enemies are thus your friends 

Who, like your teachers, help you to enlightenment. 

Patiently rely on them with joy and with respect. 

49. Your injuries do not arise without your being present. The two, like cry and echo, are connected. 

You once did harm, now harm has come to you: 

The fruit of your past actions and attendant circumstance. That it should befall you is entirely fitting. 

It is the means whereby past action is exhausted. 

So just forbear and tame your mind by every means. 

50. When unwanted things befall you, Rid yourself of your displeasure. 

For if there is a remedy, 

What need is there for it

And if no change is possible

What point is there in useless irritation? 

Therefore simply bear with all that may befall you. 

51. When examined, there is only space-like emptiness.7 

There’s no happiness or sadness and no loss or gain. There is neither good nor bad— 

What use is there in such dualistic grasping? 

Strive to bring all things into the state of evenness. 


52. For one who takes delight in virtuous deeds, A joy that is of diligence the 

very essence, 

Endless virtues gather like the clouds, 

Like bees that throng a bed of fragrant lotuses. 

53. Three kinds of laziness 

Are contraries of diligence: 

An inclination to unwholesome ways, 

Discouragement, and self-contempt. 

These prevent accomplishment of virtue And are source of every fault: 

All excellence declines; decay sets in. 

54. The diligent are praised by all the world. The diligent achieve their every wish. 

The diligent increase their store of excellence. The diligent will pass beyond all sorrow. 

55. Perfectly abide by all the lofty virtues of the world And by that path that leads beyond the world— That is, by virtues both defiled and undefiled. Strive with effort to abandon all nonvirtue, 

To accomplish only good. 

Increasingly exert yourself and go from strength to strength. 

Work tirelessly until enlightenment is gained. 

56. Those who wish for concentration 

Must leave aside distraction and all busy entertainments. 

The pleasure that you take in things is like the autumn clouds: By nature it is 

transient, unstable like a lightning flash

Possessions do not stay; they are like castles in the clouds. 

Never put your trust in them; abandon them 

And quickly go to peaceful forest groves. 

57. Desires are the parents of all ruin: 

The search for wealth, the gathering and preserving Are themselves a source 

of suffering. 

Arrogance, avidity, greed, and selfishness increase. 

Cravings lead you to the lower realms 

And bar the way to happy states. 

So lessen your desires and cultivate contentment. 

58. In proportion to the number of its wounds The body is traversed by 


In proportion to the quantity of wealth 

So much suffering there is and even more. 

Unbounded happiness keeps company with few possessions: Victim of but 

small aggression, 

You have no fear of enemies and thieves; Praised by all, you dwell upon the 

noble path; 

Little do you have to do, small labor is there for your mind. 

Train constantly therefore to have but few desires. 

59. Consorting with the childish77 

Is the source of boundless defects. 

Evil actions grow and sin will naturally defile you. Virtue withers; strife and the afflictions grow. They are ungrateful and are difficult to please. Borne away by busy entertainments, Much of their behavior is devoid of sense

Like fire, like snakes, like packs of predators- Such are childish folk; run far away from them! 

60. Until you gain stability of mind, 

You are completely led astray by outer things. Joyfully remain therefore in forest solitudes. Until, amid the sounds of tearful sorrow

Four men bear away your corpse, 

Seek to live in peaceful solitude, 

And vanquish the distractions of your mind and body. 

61. In the forests, streams are pure, 

And flowers and fruits are many. 

Many cliffs and caves there are 

And dwellings made of stone. 

The trees bow low and in their shadow 

Flocks of birds and beasts disport themselves, 

And buzzing bees adorn the flowers on the riverbanks. 

62. In such pleasant solitudes, sweetened with the scent of wholesome plants 

and frankincense, 

Growth in concentration comes quite naturally. 

In every season, places such as these 

Are lovely like a lake of lotuses. 

As fiery summer yields to autumn, 

Autumn then to winter, winter then to spring, 

There comes a knowledge of impermanence 

And sadness with the world

63. Seeing then the bones that lie about the charnel grounds, You will know 

that your own body 

Is the same in nature: 

It will fall apart, disintegrate. 

And with the understanding 

That there is no essence in compounded things

All pleasure in samsara will desert you. 

Released from strife and from defilement 

Your mind will always be in peace and bliss 

And apt to wholesome ways. 

64. Such forest dwellings have been praised by all the buddhas. 

To take but seven steps toward such solitudes 

With a mind revolted with samsāra 

Has such merit that its tiniest part 

Exceeds comparison with all the offerings made To all the buddhas many as the grains of sand That in the Ganges lie, and for as many aeons. Live therefore in peaceful forest groves. 

65. With crossed legs take your seat in such a place. Remain with concentrated mind, 

Not stirring from the state of meditative equipoise. Thus you will accomplish various concentrations: 

The one that gives delight to childish beings, Then the concentration clearly discerning, 

And finally the sublime concentration of the Tathāgatas. 

The names of these three concentrations 

Should be understood. The first concerns 

The four samadhis and four formless concentrations‘ 


Pursued by those who have not entered on the Buddhist path

The second is the concentration of the ones who have so entered. 

The third denotes the concentration of the noble ones. 

These concentrations take away the states of mind That are engrossed in 

objects of desire 

And certainly result in perfect knowledge, 

Preternatural cognition, and all the samādhis. 

Of the powers of vision they give mastery, 

The power to work wonders, 

And a perfect mastery of mind.79 

66. There are three kinds of wisdom: 

Of hearing, of reflection, and of meditation. 

This wisdom brings deep insight that destroys defilement. 

It is the understanding of phenomena 

And the nature of phenomena, 

By which means you travel from the city of samsāra To nirvāṇa’s peace. 

67. Appearances are primordially unborn

They are like reflections. 

They are without intrinsic being 

But appear in all their various forms. 

When you understand their natural purity, The fact that they arise dependently, 

You swiftly reach the supreme state: 

Nirvāṇa that abides in no extreme. 

68. Possessing wisdom, one is freed through skillful means, Just as poison is 

extracted with a mantric spell. 

Without such wisdom, skillful means enslaves, 

As though the remedy itself changed into something That provokes disease, a 

source of pain. 

Therefore cultivate that wisdom Whereby the nature of phenomena is 


69. As you implement the six transcendent virtues, You should understand 

that you yourself 

Are like a magic apparition: 

Do not reify the three spheres: 

Virtue’s subject, object, action! And with the twofold gathering, 

You will swiftly gain the peace of buddhahood. 

70. May the rain borne by the clouds of goodly virtue Bring abundant 

harvests in the minds of beings now cleansed! 

Exhausted and reduced by all the defects of samsara, May their minds today 

find rest



1. When your mind is set upon supreme enlightenment, Embrace the 

generation and perfection stages 

Of the outer and the inner Secret Mantra. 

2. This has many methods and is free of hardship. 

Though the goal is just the same, 


In means of application it is not unskilled. 

It is designed for those of very high capacity. 

Four Tantra classes have been taught: 

Action, Conduct, Yoga, and the Unsurpassed. 

3. These classes correspond 

To time, or caste, or level of capacity. The tantras are set forth according to 

The Age Endowed with All Perfection, 

The Age of Three, the Age of Two, 

And finally the Age of Strife

They are set forth for castes of priests, of merchants, Kings, and then the 

lowest class, the menials. 

They’re set forth, too, according to capacity: Dull, medium, sharp, and very 



Ritual cleansing and ablution 

Are mostly taught by Action Tantra. 

Bodily and verbal conduct, mental meditation— All in equal measure is the 

teaching of the Conduct Tantra. 

The Yoga Tantra teaches chiefly meditation, 

With bodily and verbal conduct taught as its ancillaries

The Great Yoga Tantra is devoid 

Of all intended acts of body, speech, and mind. 

It’s free from subject-object dualism 

And is the supreme training on the luminous nature of the mind. 

It is set forth for those who do not care for cleanliness. 

4. The Action, Conduct, Yoga Tantras 

Are the “tantras of austerity.” 

In Sanskrit they are known as Kriyā, Upa, Yoga. 

They constitute the outer tantras, 

In which one does not meditate upon 

The father-mother deities in union

One makes no use of five meats and five nectars,82 

And ritual cleanliness is practiced. 

5. The Highest Yoga Tantras are divided threefold: Father, Mother, and the 

unsurpassed Nondual. 

Respectively they chiefly teach 

The generation and perfection stages 

And their nondual union

They are also known as Mahā, Anu, Ati. 

Here the deities appear in union 

And particular samaya substances are used. 

Between the pure and impure no difference is observed, For all is said to be 

of but a single taste: 

The display of a single mandala.8 


6. When practicing the Kriya Tantra, 

The deity is higher; you take a lower place. 

The mode is that of lord and subject, 

And thus accomplishment is gained. 

In Carya Tantra,84 you regard The deity and yourself as equal: Yourself as the 


And the deity in front as the jñānasattva. 

In this mode, of friend with friend, 

Accomplishment is gained. 

In the main practice of the Yoga Tantra

No difference divides the deity from yourself. 

Yet in the preparation and conclusion phases, You must adopt a dualistic 


Invite the deity and ask it to depart. 

When, like water into water poured, 

The deity and yourself become nondual, Accomplishment is gained. 

7. In Mahāyoga, emphasis is placed 

On skillful means: 

The stage of generation and the winds.85 

In Anuyoga emphasis is placed On wisdom: the perfection stage Together with the essence-drops. In Atiyoga, everything is nondual; Emphasis is placed on primal wisdom. 

In all these three, the practice is performed Within the knowledge that 


Are all primordially equal. 

8. Yourself and every being are from the outset Perfectly enlightened. Therefore bring to mind that aggregates, 

The elements, the sources, and so forth Are but a single mandala86 

And meditate on the two stages. 

9. According to four ways of taking birth, There are four ways to meditate. 

To purify the tendency for egg birth, As the preamble, start by taking refuge, Generating bodhichitta, and performing 

A short generation stage (invite the field of merit And make offerings). Then meditate upon their lack of real existence, Thus gathering the two 


Subsequently meditate on the extended 

Generation and perfection stages. 

Just as there is, first, an egg, from which a chick is born, Meditate 

successively upon 

The generation and perfection stages

First in short and then extended form.87 

10. To purify the tendency to take birth in a womb, Meditate successively, in 


First on refuge, then on bodhichitta, 

Then upon the seed letter that from emptiness appears. 

From this there comes the implement that then transforms Into the body of 

the deity projecting rays of light. 

This way of meditating is not, as previously, Preceded by brief generation and 

perfection stages. 

It is like the way the embryo develops in the womb When, through the 


Of the wind-mind and the essence-drops both white and red, There comes a 

spherical mass, 

Which lengthens and solidifies 

And passes through the other stages Till the body is completely formed 

And then emerges from the womb.88 

11. To purify the tendency for taking birth From warmth and moisture, 

Take refuge, cultivate the mind of bodhichitta, And simply say the name 


The deity appears from emptiness. 

Then implement the generation and perfection stages. 

Just as a body born from gathering of warmth and moisture Is easily 

produced and born, 

There is no need for complicated meditation 

On syllables and implements.89 

12. To purify the tendency to take miraculous birth, Instantly and clearly 


Upon the generation and perfection stages. 

And since miraculous birth occurs 

Within a single instant, 

There’s no need to meditate successively 

On generation and perfection stages 

Starting with the deity’s name. 


13. Although of these four ways to meditate, You should practice most the 

one relating 

To the womb birth you have taken, 

Meditate upon them all to purify the tendencies To other ways of being born. As a beginner, more precisely, you should start According to birth from an 


And when you have acquired some slight stability, Proceed to meditate 

according to birth from a womb. 

Then, gaining great stability, you should concentrate According to the way of 

birth through warmth and moisture. 

Finally, when thanks to intense training

Excellent stability has been accomplished, 

In a single instant meditate upon the deity, Thus conforming to miraculous 


14. The perfection stage is twofold: 

Accompanied, or unaccompanied, by visual forms. 

When the visualization of the generation stage Dissolves like clouds 

dispersing in the sky, You should remain within the state of emptiness Devoid of visual forms

Thereby the generation stage, it should be understood, Is perfected and 


But in the very moment that appearances occur, Their nature is beyond 

conceptual construction. 

Meditating on this undistractedly 

Is the perfection stage with visual form. 

Assisted by the practice without visual forms, Beginners halt their clinging to 

the generation stage. 

This is the antidote to clinging 

To phenomena as real. 

Assisted by the practice using visual forms, Those who have stability in 


Halt their clinging to the perfection stage. 

This is the antidote to clinging 

To the reality of emptiness.91 

15. Hereafter all appearances— The generation stage, or skillful means, 

And the mind that’s free from clinging: The perfection stage or wisdom- 

All become at all times indivisible. 

16. Therefore, clinging to the true existence of appearances Is halted by the 

generation stage, 

While thoughts that cling to them as being illusions Are dispelled in the 

perfection stage. 

When there is no further clinging 

To the true existence of appearances and emptiness, The generation and 

perfection stages 

Are inseparable and pure. 

17. This, then, is the final vehicle, the Vajrayāna Whereby those of high 

capacity achieve 

Enlightenment in but a single life. 

And afterward, wherever there are beings 

To be trained in all the worlds

Their enlightened deeds, in all their great variety, Spontaneously unfold. 

This then is the short and hidden path of great profundity Of all the holders 

of the vajra, all past numbering. 

It is a path adopted by the fortunate 

Who wish for liberation in this very life

18. On the basis of the practice 

Of whichever Tantra class to which you tend 

Is perfect buddhahood achieved. 

First you must receive transmission of the blessings, Permission for the 


Empowerment, and so forth, 

According as each scripture stipulates. 

These will bring the mind to ripeness.92 

19. Especially, the path of the Great Yoga, Secret and supreme, consists In four empowerments, which ripen, 

And generation and perfection stages, which bring freedom. 

By the vase, the secret, the wisdom, 

And the word empowerments 

Are purified respectively the body, speech, and mind, And all habitual 


And all accomplishments are granted. The gathering of merit is completed Through the first three, while the fourth Completes the gathering of wisdom. The veils deriving from defilement And the cognitive conceptual veils 

Are also cleansed

Therefore you should take the four maturing empowerments And train in both the generation and perfection stages, Whereby freedom is bestowed. 93 

20. When all the four empowerments are received complete And the samaya 

pledge you now possess

Wishing then to implement 


The wisdom of the nondual Atiyoga, 

21. Sit cross-legged upon a pleasant seat And, taking refuge, cultivate the 

attitude of bodhichitta. 

Then, from within the state 

Devoid of all conceptual construction, 

Wherein phenomena are empty, without self, 

There appears the syllable hung. 

From this and all around— 

Above, below, in all the four points 

And their intermediate directions— 

There emanates a vast protective wheel On whose ten spokes are standing Ten ferocious deities.96 

22. Outside and within, 

In one great mass of blazing fire 

Is the great mandala of glorious Samantabhadra. 

The palace is foursquare. 

It has four doors, each furnished with four cornices. 

Its walls, five-layered, are surmounted by a ledge And are surrounded by a 

plinth on which 

The goddesses of the sense pleasures are dancing. 

Beautiful with traceries and pendent strings of jewels, It has a covered terrace 

and a balustrade, 

Its dome surmounted with a jewel and vajra. 

In the center of this mandala, 

Encircled by eight charnel grounds, Are thrones upheld by lions, horses, 

peacocks, Elephants, and shang-shang birds. 

23. And here on lotuses and disks of sun and moon, Are the buddhas of five 

families in union with their consorts. 

Likewise there are bodhisattvas

Male and female, eight of each

At the four doors are eight father-mother guardians. 

These, together with six Munis, all in their respective stations, Variously 

hued, are perfectly equipped 

With their respective ornaments and implements. 

The rays of light that stream from them Are limitless and fill the whole of space.97 

24. In the heart of the main deity, 

Is Samantabhadra joined in union with his consort

They are the mandala’s foundation,98 

Adorned by the major and the minor marks of buddhahood. 

He is, like space, unstained; 

Dark blue, he sits crosslegged. 

Imagine him the size of your own thumb 

And seated in a sphere of light

From him lights radiate and purify 

Phenomenal existence

The universe and its inhabitants. 

All becomes completely pure, 

The sphere of male and female deities.99 

25. Recite the three seed syllables 

And those of the five families. 100 

Although resounding, they are empty 

Like an unborn echo

Rest then in the state of suchness uncontrived. 

26. Primordially, your mind is of the nature of the deity. 

Your body is its maṇḍala, your speech its secret mantra. 

Beyond exertion, all is perfect: 

The condition of sublime, primordial wisdom. 

The samaya- and the jñānasattvas are inseparable: There is no invocation of 

the latter 

And no merging with it; 

There is no need to ask the deity to depart. 

There is no good or bad, no taking or rejecting. 

This primordial maṇḍala has always dwelt within you. Remember this and know it as your true condition. 

You are not creating something that was not already there.101 

27. In conclusionif you are attached to it— Dissolve the visualization 


And free of all fixation, rest without conception. 

If you have no clinging to the visualization, Remain within the understanding That everything is but illusion, 

Like the moon reflected on the water. 

Dedicate your merit to all beings. 

28. In your day-to-day activities 

Take everything as an illusion, clear yet empty. Appearances and sounds are deities and mantra. Thoughts and memories are primal wisdom. 

At every instant, recognize them thus without distraction. 

29. Keep your samaya pure, both root and branch.102 

The five and twenty branch samayas are five groups of five: The things that 

should be known, 

The things not to be spurned, the things to be performed, The things to be 


And the things on which to meditate. 

In brief, there are three root samayas: 

Those of body, speech, and mind. 

Train yourself in them, maintaining a pure mind. 

30. At the full moon and the new moon, 

And on the eighth and twenty-ninth days of the month, As well as on the 

tenth days of the waxing and the waning moon, By day, by night respectively, 103 

Labor in the practice of approach and of accomplishment, Confessing and 

restoring, offering the sacred feast. 

31. Persistently observe the deep and crucial points Pertaining to the yoga of 

the wind-mind, channels, essence-drops, And make of it the very 

essence of your practice. 

Meditate upon the paths of bliss, 

Of luminosity and nothought, and their union. 

Thus you will become a vajra holder 

And a perfect buddha in this very life.1 

32. Thus through this supremely secret Essence unsurpassed, 105 

May every being dwell within the city 

Of the glorious Heruka. 


Exhausted in samsara through their karma and defilement, May their minds 

today find rest. 




1. The practitioner who thus unites 

The generation and perfection stages 

Gains entry to the unborn, empty nature of phenomena. 

2. Now all phenomenal existence, 

All the things of both samsara and nirvāṇa, 

Are from the outset without self 

And are beyond conceptual construction. 

Through ignorantly clinging to them, 

Beings wander in existence. 

Samsara and nirvāņa, various joys and sorrows, Do indeed occur. Yet in the 

very moment of arising, They are empty in their nature. 

Know that they are like illusions. 

Know they are like dreams. 

3. Though all the things appearing outwardly Occur within the mind, they are 

not the mind itself, But neither are they something other than the mind. Although by force of habit there may seem to be Duality of apprehender- 


In the moment it occurs, This duality has no reality. 

It is like a face and its reflection in a mirror.106 

4. Although a face appears upon the surface of the mirror, It is not there. And 

yet no other thing 

Has cast its form upon the glass. 

While not being there, its likeness there appears And is perceived as different 

from the mirror

Know that manifold phenomena are all like this

5. If left unexamined, things are quite convincing, But when they are 

investigated, they become elusive. 

When thoroughly examined, they transcend 

All speech, all thought, all formulation. 

Whether as existing or as not existing, 

There’s no finding them. 

Neither are they beyond, nor are they not beyond, The ontological extremes. 

6. It is in the manner of illusion 

That their arising and their dwelling 

And their ceasing all appear. 

But from the very instant they occur, 

This same arising and the rest have no intrinsic being

They are like the water of a mirage 

Or the moon reflected in a pool.107 

7. In particular, the six impure migrations Appear but have no true existence. They are deceptive forms, the products of habitual tendencies, Like falling 

hairs that those with visual ailments see. 

And just as those who wish to be restored Must purify their phlegm, 

In just the same way, those who wish to dissipate illusion Must clear away the 

cataracts of ignorance. 

8. The antidote for this is self-cognizing primal wisdom. 

By this means you come to clear conviction 

Of the empty nature of samsara and its habits. 

And you know with certainty 

That what is empty does appear. 

You understand the nonduality 

Of appearance and emptiness, 

And thus you know the sense of the two truths. 

By dispelling both extremes and striving for the middle way, You come to 

freedom in the sky-like state, 

Abiding neither in existence nor in peace. 

This is ultimate reality sublime and quintessential: The fundamental nature of 

the Natural Great Perfection. 

9. Appearance in itself does neither good nor harm, But clinging to 

appearance binds you in existence. 

Thus there is no need to search through manifold appearances. 

Just cut the root of mind that clings to them.108 

10. The mind does seem to be and yet lacks real existence. 

When searched for, it’s not found; 

When looked for, it’s not seen. 

No color does it have, no shape; it cannot be identified. 

Not outside or within; throughout the triple time, It is not born, it does not 


And it is not located anywhere on this side or on that. 

Groundless, rootless, it is not a thing. 

There is no pointing to it: mind is inconceivable. 

11. The past mind cannot be observed; 

The mind yet to be born is nowhere to be found; The present mind does not 


In all the times, the mind is just the same. 

Do not let the mind search for the mind. Just let it be. 

12. Thoughts, negating or affirming, 

Are themselves the objects of the momentary consciousness. 

In their very moment of appearing, 

They are not outside nor indeed within- 

The object sought, perversely, is the subject seeking— In searching for itself, 

there’s never any finding. 

13. Primordially unborn and uncontrived, It does not dwell, it does not cease. The mind itself, throughout the triple time, Has neither ground nor root: it is 

a state of emptiness. 

But being the foundation for unobstructed manifold arising, It appears 


Yet it is not a thing endowed with features; Thus it has no permanent 


Yet to its arising there’s no end. 

Therefore it is not a nihilistic emptiness. 

Neither is it both of these nor is it neither: There is no describing it. It does not exist as this or that; 

In no way therefore can it be identified. 

Its nature should be understood 

As pure primordially. 

14. It is not there when you examine it; It is not there when you do not 

examine it. 

It has no other nature. 

In the primordial essence of the mind, 

You can find no good or bad, 

No taking or rejecting, and no hope or fear. What use is there therefore 

In checking and investigating it? 

Do not seek it anxiously in the three times. 

15. The mind is stirred up by ideas, which are like chaff

It is agitated by distractions, which are like the gusting wind. 

Thus there is no access to this nature. 

But if you rest correctly in the pure accomplished mind Beyond arriving and 


Whence there’s nothing to remove, 

To which there’s nothing to be added; 

If you rest in primal wisdom 

All-creating, free from stain, 

You will behold this nature as it is. 

16. What use to you now are the various tenet systems? What use to you these thoughts, these words, these propositions? 

The ultimate does not exist nor is it nonexistent

It has no center or circumference. 

It cannot be divided into vehicles

It is like space, immaculate, unlimited, and unconfined. To say that it exists or else does not exist Is to be deluded. How can you explain what lies beyond expression? 

In such a pointless exploit there is nothing but fatigue. 

17. It would be like imagining a shining pleasure grove Aloft, suspended, in the middle of the sky, Adorned with flowers and fruits, cascading 

waterfalls― And disputing all its categories 

With their concordant and discordant classes

18. The nature of the mind unstained and pure Is never seen by stained 

manipulation and contrivance. 

What use here are the generation and perfection stages? Meditation and clear concentration Do no more than spoil it! 

19. In the mind itself, 

The nature that is pure primordially, 

There are no obscurations and no antidotes thereto. 

There’s nothing to remove and nothing to acquire. 

So leave aside conceptual targets. 

There’s no inside, there’s no outside; 

There’s no object apprehended and no subject apprehending. 

Therefore give up clinging. 

You cannot recognize this nature saying “this.” 

So pare away all your assumptions. 

There is no attaining it, and there’s no nonattaining it. 

Abandon therefore hope and fear. 

20. Within awareness, never stirring from the ground, All arisings due to 

various conditions 

Naturally subside as soon as they appear, 

Like ripples on the water. 

They are one with dharmakāya. 

21. When I watch the thoughts as they arise, The watcher vanishes. 

I search for it but nowhere is it found. 

Neither is the searcher seen- 

There is just a freedom from conceptual elaboration. 

There’s no agent; there’s no object of its action. 

22. I have come to the primordial state, Which is like space, immaculate. 

There is no going back, and where might I now go? 

I have reached the place of the exhaustion of phenomena. No more coming [to samsara] can there be. 

And where I am now none can see. 


23. Knowing this, I want for nothing else. 

Whoever comes to freedom 

Has, like me, cut through delusion. 

Now I have no further questions; 

The ground and root of mind are gone. 

There is no goal, no clinging; 

There’s no ascertaining; there’s no “it is this.” 

Instead, there is an all-embracing evenness, Openness, relaxedness, equality. Now that I have realized it, I sing my song. 

Stainless rays of light have thus shone out110 And revealing it, have now departed. 

24. Watch, my friends, the objects that appear. 

All are unoriginate, all equal in their emptiness— Just as various things 

reflected in a glass Are one and all the same, the mirror’s single sheen. 

25. Watch the consciousness discerning these appearances. 

The mind is like the sky, beyond assertion and negation. 

And just as in the sky the clouds take shape and then dissolve, With no 

change to the sky, which stays forever pure, The nature of the mind is likewise always pure; It is primordially enlightened, 

Uncreated, naturally present, ultimate reality. 

26. The object and the mind itself are not two things. They’re one in primal purity. 

Therein, adopting and rejecting are not two

There’s no onesided affirmation or denial. 

All appearance is devoid of true existence; All arising is by nature empty. Everything is equal and beyond all reference. 

27. Objects of the senses Are appearances, various and uncertain, 

And likewise mind itself cannot be pointed at. 

It is the great state free of all extremes. 

Know this as the Natural Great Perfection

28. For so it is regarding everything— Phenomenal existence, nirvāṇa, and 

samsara: Past phenomena are no more seen; 

In this they are all equal. 

Future things have not been born; 

In this they are all equal. 

Present things do not endure; 

In this they are all equal. 

Timeless are the three times, 

Destitute of all foundation. 

In this they are all equal. 

All things from the outset are perfect equality. 

29. Samsara and nirvāṇa, all phenomenal existence, Are images reflected in 

the mind. 

The nature of the mind 

Is the great space of dharmadhātu— 

And space throughout the three times 

Is immutable by very nature. 

This unchanging nature is primordial nirvāṇa: The enlightened state within 

the groundSamantabhadra. 

30. Appearances and emptiness are not divided. 

Such is the primordial state of things, 

Which, neither one nor many, cannot be conceived And lie beyond the reach 

of thought. 

Neither to one side nor to the other do they fall; In this they are all equal. 

They are equal in appearance, 

Equal in their emptiness, Equal in their truth, and equal in their falsity, Equal 

in existence

Equal in their nonexistence, 

And equal in transcending every limit. 

All is one expanse of primal purity.” 


31. All mental imputations are by nature empty. 

All names are adventitious labels

Specific features are but superimpositions. There’s no dividing truth from falsity. 

The object and the mind are unrelated; They do not stain or qualify each other. 

There is no knower and there is no known.112 

32. In just the same way as a face’s form Appears within a looking glass, The aspects of a thing arise 

Within sensorial consciousness. Through taking them as real 

Both craving and aversion come, 

Delusions of samsāra. 

Investigate more closely: 

The mind has not gone out toward the thing, And neither does the aspect of 

the thing 

Arise within the mind. 

They’re not two separate “things,‘ 

For both are destitute of real existence.113 

33. All things are one-the same— 

In lacking an intrinsic being. 

All cognitions are the same: 

Not one of them is graspable

Phenomena and mind are not two entities: 

They are one in their primordial purity. 

For investigation and analysis there is no need, For from the outset, all is one, 

a state of openness and freedom. 

34. Samsara and nirvāņa are not two; They’re one within the mind’s expanse― As all the rivers in the sea are one. All things are of an equal taste 

And in their inborn nature, all are one. The change and flux of the four elements Are one within the space where they occur. Asseverations and negations—all are one Within the space of emptiness. 

All things that arise subside all by themselves; In this they are not different But are one in purity— 

Just like all the ripples in a single stream. 

Those who realize this are wise indeed. 

35. Manifold phenomena 

Ungraspable in their identity 

Are but reflected images 

Not different in their nature. This play, which in itself 

Is neither good nor bad, 

Is not to be accepted nor to be rejected. 

Do not grasp at it with dualistic mind 

But rest at ease. 

36. Perceptions, which are without certainty, Arise regarding objects of the 

senses, which themselves cannot be pointed out. 

Awareness that forbears to cling to them 

Is one vast open state of letting go. 

It is the fundamental nature 

Of the Natural Great Perfection. 

37. Therefore all phenomena Are equal in their nature. 

Be convinced of this, and without clinging Settle in a state beyond the ordinary mind. Exhausted by imposing chains of partiality Upon awareness free from partiality, May your mind today find rest. 



1. When the equality of things is seen, 

To rest correctly in this nature is of great importance. 

2. Meditation is explained to beings 

According to their level of ability

Those of highest capability 

Gain freedom though the realization of the fundamental nature

They behold this nature in a manner that is free From both a subject and an 

object of the meditation. 

Phenomenal appearance becomes for them 

The ground’s free openness. 

Their minds are spared from all exertion. 

Awareness free from biased leaning 

Flows like an unceasing stream. 

3. There is no pause in meditation. 

No difference “in or out of session” can be recognized. 

All is free and open, Samantabhadra’s field, 

And free of measure and description— 

The self-arisen ground, the vast expanse. 

For those who from the outset stay 

Within this state of suchness, 

There’s no deviation, there’s no place where they might deviate. There is no exertion, no progressing, 

No attaining and no nonattaining. 

This they know with certainty And, free from expectation of results, 

Are perfect buddhas in that very instant. 

A yoga such as this is but an infinite expanse. 

4. Those of moderate and basic scope 

Must strive in meditation. 

They must train by various means 

Until their ego-clinging sinks into the ultimate expanse. If this is now explained in greater detail, 

Beings are led into samsāra 

By injurious discursive thought. 

That this might now subside, 

These beings must engage in concentrative methods. 

The vast expanse of wisdom free from all extremes Will finally appear. Defilement is suppressed by calm abiding; 

It is uprooted by deep insight.114 

5. For those of highest scope, injurious discursiveness Arises as the 


For them there is no good or bad; 

They do not need to train in antidotes. 

Those of moderate scope must meditate upon the limpid state Wherein both 

calm abiding and deep insight are united- Discursiveness, both good 

and bad, 

Dissolves within the ultimate expanse- 

The realization of this union rises similar to space. 

Those of basic scope strive first in calm abiding Whereby they easily achieve 

stability in concentration. 

Then they grow accustomed to deep insight all discerning Whereby all outer 

things and inner states of mind Arise as the nature, free and open, of the ground. 

Thus it is important to discern the scope of beings. 

6. Now the meditation will be taught For those who are of moderate ability. It is as when the water is disturbed by waves: 

The stars reflected there are indistinct and trembling. 

So too, when the untamed mind is troubled and excited, Immersed in every 

kind of mental agitation, 

Primordial wisdom, clear and limpid, nature of the mind, Together with the 

starlike powers of vision 

And of preternatural cognition,115 fail to manifest. 

Therefore it is of the greatest moment 

That the mind rest evenly, one-pointed and unmoving. 

7. With one’s body in the seven-point posture, Stable like Sumeru, king of 


With the sense powers left untrammeled 

Like a pool in which the stars are mirrored, 

One should settle without sleepiness or agitation, Free from all conceptual 


In the nature of the mind, 

Luminous and empty like the limpid sky. 

8. This is the primordial state, 

The one and single nature: 

The dharmakaya where the apprehending subject 

And the apprehended object are not found 

And where an unstained luminosity 

Arises like the essence of the sun

No center does it have, no limit: Blissful, clear, and free from thought. 

9. Emptiness, appearance: they are but a single thing, Transcending the 

alternatives of being and nonbeing. 

Samsara and nirvāņa are not considered different. 

The knower and the known have but a single nature. 

Beyond equality and non-equality, the dharmatā is seen. 

10. This is the vision of the sublime truth, The cause of primal wisdom. And later, seeing suchness, 

The mind’s eye will gain perfection 

Of the dharmakaya of the Conquerors. 

Therefore, let the fortunate at all times stay 

In meditative evenness. 

11. The nature of the mind is without origin. It is a state of purity, just like the sky, Wherein, dissolving like the clouds, 

The mental factors are not found. 

With undistracted minds, from concepts free, 

Let those of middle scope remain in even meditation, In this unaltered primal 

state of suchness. 

12. And like an ocean calm and limpid clear, Let them be waveless, free of 

the turbidity 

Of subject-object apprehension. 

And in a sky-like state both luminous and empty, Let them rest unclouded by 

discursive thought, Not falling into one side or the other. 

13. Not accepting, not rejecting, Free from hope or fear, 

Let them rest unmoving, firm

Like Sumeru, the king of mountains. 

Let them rest within a state that, 

Like a mirror, is both pure and clear, Wherein appearing things 

Reflect without impediment. 

14. Let them rest quite naturally 

In the state of primal openness and freedom That is like a rainbow, pure and clear, Free from sinking and disturbance. Like archers undistracted, 

Let them, free from mental movement, 

Rest in primal wisdom uncontrived. 

Let them rest with no more hope and fear, 

Like those who know they have achieved their goal. 

15. This is a concentration pure intrinsically, The union of calm abiding and 

deep insight. 

Remaining in the unborn state is calm abiding; Deep insight is to rest in 

clarity and emptiness Without discursiveness. 

Calm abiding and deep insight are not separate, Joined without division in 

their single nature. 

16. And now the mind is seen: 

Profound and peaceful, free of all mentation, 

Neither word nor concept can express it

This primal wisdom-completely nonconceptual-of “light” 

Is called the luminous wisdom that has gone beyond.116 

17. Through seeing it, the mind becomes Completely peaceful. 

For everything occurring outside or within 

There is but slight engagement 

Whether of adopting or rejecting. 

There rises from the state of emptiness 

Compassion that is utterly impartial. 

One acts with virtue for oneself and everyone, Exhorting others to the same. One takes delight in solitude, 

Abandoning distraction and all busy occupation. 

All conduct, even in one’s dreams, is virtuous: One is well upon the path to 


18. Then through increased habituation, Primal wisdom, luminosity of mind, 

grow greater than before. 

One understands that things as they appear 

Are but illusions and the stuff of dreams

Within the state of nonduality, they all are of one taste. 

One sees that they are neither born nor unborn. 

And primal wisdom of “increase of light” 

Is gained completely free of thought, 

Enhanced by joy in meditative concentration. 

19. Now both mind and body 

Are much purer than before. 

Through skillful means and wisdom 

Stainless understanding dawns. 

Through clairvoyance and compassion 

One brings benefit to others

For samsara one experiences a sorrowful revulsion And is decided to abandon 


One understands that things are dreamlike Even as one dreams of them. 

One’s body has no lice or parasites, 

And one remains in concentration, 

Free from sinking and excitement, day and night

Those who are like this come swiftly to the path of noble beings. 

20. Subsequently, through increased familiarity, There comes a concentration 

greater than the one preceding, And the sun of realization rises never seen before. 

Equality, the single nature of all things, is seen, And thence one is possessed 

of stainless powers of vision And of preternatural cognition. 

Countless buddhafields are seen: 

Hundreds, thousands, millions strong. 

The stainless primal wisdom of the noble ones 

Is manifestly gained: the wisdom of light’s culmination.” 

21. Through its increase, growing ever more sublime, Unnumbered 

concentrations and qualities ensue. 

Whether in the presence or the absence of conception, Ultimate reality 

remains the same- In which are found vast clouds of dhāraṇīs 

And stainless primal wisdom. 

Then the states of meditation and nonmeditation mingle, And one is 

constantly in meditative equipoise, Manifesting emanations past imagining. 

One may enter boundless buddhafields 

And enjoy the vision of primordial wisdom.117 

22. The channels 118 being purified, The wind-mind is endowed with supreme 


Now primordial wisdom is extremely vast and pure And thus is called “light’s 

utter culmination.” 

By such means does the noble path attain completion And enlightenment is 

swiftly reached. 

Such is the vehicle of the essence of clear light By means of which the 


Accomplish the result of freedom in this very life

23. Those of least capacity should practice thus: They should train in calm 

abiding and deep insight separately. 

When both are stable they should practice them Inseparably in union, 

And train in countless meditative methods

24. They should start by cultivating calm abiding. 

They should take their seat in solitude 

And count their breaths both in and out, 

Their breath being visualized in various colors. 

And in this way for several days, 

They should tame their thoughts. 

25. Then let them meditate on love And on the other three unbounded 


On twofold bodhichitta, focusing thereafter 

On some wholesome object- 

An imagined deity, the drawing of a deity, 

A scripture, and so forth— 

Let them rest in meditation 

One-pointedly, without distraction. 

26. Settled in this way the mind is rendered serviceable. 

It does not stray to other things 

But rests upon its object. 

Resting there, it stays in meditative equipoise. 

Body, speech, and mind are filled with bliss, 

And calm abiding, focused and unmoving, is achieved. 

27. Training in deep insight follows. 

All things appearing outwardly in both samsāra and nirvāṇa Are like illusions 

and the stuff of dreams; 

They’re like reflections, apparitions, 

Echoes, cities in the clouds

Tricks of sight, mirages: all without reality. 

Appearing, they are empty by their nature. 

28. Everything resembles space, without intrinsic being. 

Thus practitioners should stay in meditative equipoise Free from all 

conception, in the unborn nature. 

They will understand that outer things are without self And that the object 

that is there appearing 

And the object apprehended in the mind 

Are both without existence

29. Then the mind should be examined thus: “You, O mind, without reality 

and yet immersed in thought, Busy with accepting or rejecting objects of the senses, With truth and falsehood; sorrow, joy, indifference. 

And yet, there’s no identifying you! 

At first, whence do you come

And now

where are you found? 

And finally, where do you go? 

What is your color and your shape?” 

When the mind is scrutinized with such reflections, Here is what is found. 

30. At first, the mind is empty of a cause for its arising

Then it is empty of a dwelling place, 

And at the last, it’s empty of cessation

It has no shape or color; 

There’s no grasping or identifying it. 

The former mental state has ceased, 

The one to come is not yet born, 

And in the present, mind has no abiding, outside or within. 

Those who thus investigate will understand 

That mind exceeds conceptual construction 

And is similar to space. 

31. Then they should lay aside reflection As to what the mind is like, 

And rest, as if reposing from fatigue. 

They should not think of anything— 

Investigation laid aside— 

Reposing in the state 

Where everything is even and beyond duality. 

32. By this means, they’ll understand: 

The person that’s attached to “I” is without self; The clinging mind has no 

intrinsic being. 

Then primal wisdom uncontrived appears

In which are joined both calm abiding and deep insight- Where mind and 

what appears to it are not two separate things But are like water and the moon therein reflected. 

33. Dividing them, one is deluded in samsāra. 

Understanding that they are not two, 

One journeys into peace beyond all sorrow. 

Therefore one should train like this in nonduality. 

The unborn nature of phenomena is but the nature of the mind. 

The nature of the mind is pure and without stain. 

One should rest without conceptual constructs 

In empty luminosity unstained. 

34. The troubles of defilement 

Will thereby be completely pacified, 

And in great primordial wisdom, free of concepts, one will stay

Knowledge, preternatural cognition, concentration will be gained. 

The nonduality of known and knower will be understood, With freedom from 

extremes seen as the middle way. 

35. Then no object is observed 

Within the space-like mind 

Of which the nature is devoid of thought elaboration. 

And in that state where there is neither meditator Nor something to be 

meditated on

There is no doer, nothing to be done. 

This primordial condition is the stainlessness Of pure enlightenment. 

36. There is no outer object found, 

And what appears is like a trick of sight, 

The image of the moon on water. No apprehending subject does one find: There’s no conceptual movement, 

No falling to this side or to the other. 

The mind and what appears to it Are not two separate things; 

There is but the state of wisdom that has gone beyond. 

Profound and peaceful, free from thought, 

Luminous and uncompounded: 

Ultimate reality, like nectar, is assimilated. 

37. Free of clinging, concentration on the vast expanse Is a great ship that 

crosses to the other shore Of the ocean of the triple world. 

There, upon the blissful ground, 

The mind is an unbroken blissful stream. 

It has attained the state of Natural Great Perfection

38. Through the stillness of the mind 

(Calm abiding, nature of the empty dharmakāya), And through its luminosity (Deep insight, nature of appearance of the rūpakāya), The two accumulations, 

skillful means and wisdom, The generation and perfection stages, are achieved. 119 

Deep insight brings to birth the wisdom of realization, And in this wisdom, 

calm abiding causes one to rest. 

39. When the mind is not at all immersed 

In the apprehender or the apprehended, 

In things and nonthings, 

It’s then that in the ultimate expanse 

From primal wisdom never parted, 

The mind and mental factors utterly subside 

And are no more


40. When in the mind’s nature, pure from the beginning, Adventitious 

thoughts are purified, 

Nine absorptions, 121 miraculous power, And preternatural cognition are 


Countless kinds of concentration, clouds of dhāraṇīs, Are likewise gained 


41. From the mind in the desire realm, 

Focused in a single point 

There comes the first samādhi 

With a concentration qualified by joy and bliss, And by twofold discernment, 

gross and subtle. 

From this there comes the second, 

With a concentration qualified likewise By joy and bliss and clarity of mind, 

And by subtle, but not gross, discernment. 

Then there comes the third samādhi, 

Moist with joy and bliss, and with a concentration Free from all discernment, 

gross and subtle. 

And from the third, there comes the fourth 

Equipped with beneficial qualities 

And with a concentration marked by joy. 12 

42. Arising from the fourth, the limpid mind, Pure, like space, attains to the 


Called “unbounded space,” 

And thence the state wherein all things 

Are but the mind devoid of all elaboration

The absorption called “unbounded consciousness.” 

From this there comes the unelaborated state wherein The mind and what appears to it are not perceived: The absorption known as “utter nothingness.” 

And from this state wherein the mind is free 

From all conception of existence and of nonexistence, There comes the 

absorption called not existence and not nonexistence.”123 

Then the mind producing manifold defilement 

Ceases naturally and achieves a state of peace. 

43. When these nine successive stages of absorption Have been trained in 

step by step, 

Or without order, leaping here and there, 

One will know all actions and all states of mind, In past and future lives, of 

others and oneself. 

One will see what birth will follow after death, And all things now impeded 

will be seen. 

One will have the power to multiply 

One thing and make it many. 

And freed from all defilement 

One will know things in their nature and their multiplicity. 

One will behold the buddhafields 

Replete with blissful buddhas and their heirs. 

44. Since at that moment one will fully realize That phenomena are but 


One will achieve “mirage-like concentration.” 

Since one’s mind will have no torment, 

All impurity subsided, one will have experience of The “concentration of the 

stainless moon.” 

Because within the one expanse of evenness Phenomena are not observed, one will attain Unsullied concentration similar to space.” 

And there are others: hundreds, thousands, Countless concentrations will be gained. 

45. Because the meaning of the teachings 

That by virtue of deep insight has been understood Is fully and one-pointedly 

retained through calm abiding, Powers of concentration and of dhāraṇī124 

Are jointly and spontaneously achieved. 

46. By gradual treading of the five paths Freedom is attained. 

On the lesser level of the pathway of accumulation One undertakes the four close mindfulnesses Of body, feelings, consciousness, phenomena. 

On the middle level of accumulation, 

By means of the four factors— 

Power of will, exertion, application, diligence— One meditates on the four 

genuine restraints 

With regard to what is held as virtuous and nonvirtuous. 

On the greater level of accumulation, 

One meditates on the four bases of miraculous ability: Of will, intention, 

analysis, and mindfulness. 125 

47. There are four stages of the path of joining: In “Warmth” and “Peak,” one trains in the five powers: Confidence, and diligence, mindfulness, and concentration, wisdom. 

In “Acceptance” and the Supreme Mundane Level,” 

One meditates most excellently 

On the five forces: confidence and all the rest. 


48. On the path of seeing, the ground of Perfect Joy, One undertakes 

intensive training 

In the seven elements leading to enlightenment: In confidence and diligence, 

and mindfulness, 

Discernment, concentration, joy, and flexibility.1 


49. The nine grounds of the path of meditation Are based upon a threefold 


Lesser, medium, and great— 

Each one being subdivided threefold: 

The lesser, medium, and great divisions 

Of the lesser level, and so forth

These grounds are the Immaculate, the Luminous, the Radiant, Hard to Uphold, the Clearly Manifest, the Far Progressed, Immovable, the Perfect Intellect, and Cloud of Dharma. 128 

Therein one practices the Eightfold Noble Path: Right view, right thought, 

right speech, Right conduct, livelihood, and effort, 

Right mindfulness, right concentration. 129 

50. When the training on the four paths 

In the thirtyseven things that lead one to enlightenment Is all concluded, the 

ground of no more learning is attained: Nirvāņa that abides in no 


51. Without traversing of the grounds and paths, There is no gaining of the 


That stays in no extreme. 

All who reach this freedom, 

After many kalpas, several lives, or just a single life, Rely upon this method. Therefore those who enter either of the vehicles, Of cause or of result, Should understand, and tread, these grounds and paths. 

52. Through the essence of profound and peaceful luminosity, May all 

impurities within the minds of beings disappear. 

Exhausted in this world through long attachment to conceptuality, May their 

minds today find rest. 



1. The cause accordingly of samādhi

Where calm abiding and deep insight merge, Is an unmoving concentration. 

Of this there are three aspects to be learned: The aspect of the 

By whom the concentration is achieved; 

The aspect of the method, 


The means by which the concentration is accomplished; And the aspect of the 

concentration in itself, The accomplishment of nonduality. 

2. Practitioners determined to forsake samsara, Who physically withdraw From the distracting occupations of this worldly life, And mentally withdraw Far from the multitude of teeming thoughts― By such as these is 

concentration swiftly gained. 

3. Those endowed with faith, 

Who have a tender conscience 

With regard to both themselves and others, Who, careful and with perfect 

discipline, Delight in virtuous things, 

Are learned and contented, 

Being frugal in their wants— By such as these is concentration swifly gained. 

4. Those who have control of mind and body And take delight in solitude, Who shake off laziness and sleep, 

Who do not relish conversation, 

Who are not prone to agitation or depression, Who have but few 

acquaintances― By such as these is concentration swifly gained. 

5. Those who shun the busy occupations Of the town and its inhabitants, Who live in lonely places 

Far from the society of many friends, 

Free from various projects and activities— By such as these is concentration 

swiftly gained. 

6. Those who do not look for happiness In this life or the life to come, Or wish the peace of a nirvāņa for themselves alone, Who sorrow at samsāra 

and decide to leave it, Desiring freedom from samsāra for the sake of beings― By such as these is concentration swiftly gained. 

7. Regarding now the aspect of the means Whereby this is achieved, When the five obscuring factors are removed- Sleepiness and dullness, 

agitation and depression, doubt― The union of calm abiding and deep insight Is properly accomplished. 

Calm abiding is obscured by sleepiness and dullness, While deep insight is 

impaired by agitation and depression. 

Both are harmed by doubt. 

All these five are incompatible with concentration; They may be epitomized 

in sinking and in agitation. 

One should refresh oneself when sinking 

And when agitated, one should meditate onepointedly. 

8. When there is no calm abiding, 

Deep insight is a state of moving thought. 

Deprived of insight, 

Calm abiding is a neutral and amorphous state. 

But when they are united, this is the supreme path: The antidote to 


9. Calm abiding is achieved 

Through resting body, speech, and mind. 

When, with regard to things 

All equal in their nature, 

One’s thoughts subside, 

This is the chief character of calm abiding. 

To concentrate one’s mind upon a single point of reference Is the attendant 


10. Using or not using an apparent form, And concentrating outwardly or 

inwardly, These are the four means by which the mind is focused. 

To focus on appearing forms 

Means focusing on one or other of the five sensorial objects. 

To focus on the mind without apparent form Means settling one-pointedly in 

a nonconceptual state. 

Focusing the mind outside 

Means concentration on a stone, a tree, a statue, and so forth. 

Focusing the mind within 

Means, for example, concentrating 

On an upturned lotus in one’s heart. 

Settling the mind one-pointedly 

Upon a single object 

Is the aspect of the method Whereby calm abiding is achieved. 

11. When, by these means, one-pointed calm abiding is produced, It should 

joyfully be mingled with the wisdom of deep insight, Thereby nurturing and stabilizing it

For calm abiding to progress

It is essential to bring into line one’s way of living. 

When one’s calm abiding grows unclear and stale, One should refresh oneself 

in mind and body And pursue the meditation. 

It’s thus that calm abiding will be quickly gained. 

12. For those who wish to have deep insight, A state of limpid clarity of 


Discernment is the primary component; 

Resting evenly within a thoughtfree state Is an attendant feature. 

13. As for phenomena and the nature of phenomena, One should look upon 

the former 

In accordance with the eight examples of illusion

One should train to see their nature 

As a spacelike emptiness. 

And as one rests in such a state

Primordial wisdom will arise. 

14. When deep insight is unclear and stale, One should exercise it in regard to 

different things And view the latter purely 

As the inseparable union of illusion and emptiness. 

If thoughts proliferate, one should rest in calm abiding. 

One will see a spacelike luminosity— 

An empty clarity devoid of mental movement— And the clouds of the two 

veils will melt away. 

At times there will appear A luminosity that’s vast and ocean-like— A limpid sphere where all arisings fade away: The state of no-thought will be gained all by itself. 

Enhancement is accomplished by applying this deep insight In the 

lives, and in this way 

Deep insight will be swiftly gained. 

way one 

15. The union of calm abiding and deep insight Is a state of mind wherein Stillness is the same as movement. 

In both cases, the main feature 

Is primordial wisdom concept-free, 

While an undistracted freedom from discursive thought Is an attendant 


16. By resting in whichever state of mind arises— Whether stillness or 


Thoughts, as soon as they arise, subside; The stillness is itself the state of 


Within the union of calm abiding and deep insight, Bliss and clarity and no- 

thought manifest. 

The union of appearances and emptiness, Of skillful means and wisdom, Of generation and perfection— 

All are naturally accomplished by themselves.130 

17. If this union becomes unclear and stale, One should train in calm abiding 

and deep insight separately. 

When sinking or excitement manifest, 

One should meditate upon their opposites. 

Here then is a means to reinforce the union of calm abiding and deep insight: When the sky is bright and free of clouds, One should turn one’s back upon 

the sun And contemplate the open sky. 

A clear and empty state of mind, 

Devoid of thoughts, will manifest. 

18. The clear sky in the outer world Is but an image of the vast sky 

Of the ultimate reality within. 

The heart of luminosity is the secret sky. 

One should understand the meaning of this threefold sky.131 

19. The concentration in itself is the third aspect, And this is the 

accomplishment of nonduality

All things are of an equal taste, the state of great perfection. Nothing is to be accepted; nothing should be spurned. 

All grasping should be left aside, 

For every kind of clinging is productive of samsāra. 

But when there’s no fixation

Then, like space itself, 

There comes a state beyond both bondage and release. 

20. Just as various images are in a looking glass, So too are various things 

within the state of emptiness. 

Just as various clouds are never parted From the sky’s expanse, 

So too are various takings and rejectings Never parted from the nature of the 


Just as various rivers are of one taste with the mighty ocean, So too are 

various experiences and realizations in the state of meditation

Just as various magic sleights are in the realm of sorcery, So too are samsāra 

and nirvāṇa in the state of ultimate reality. 

21. Just as in the ten directions 

Space is an expanse ungrounded, 

Likewise is the view of the primordial state of openness of things. 

Just as water poured in water is a state beyond dividing, So too the mind 

cannot be parted from the nature of the mind. 

Just as various dreams are in themselves the state of sleep, So too the single 

taste of both adopting and rejecting Constitutes the sphere of conduct. Just as waves and ocean are but a vast expanse of water, Thought and 

nonthought are a single state of evenness. 

Just as one’s successful business is a state of satisfaction, So too is the result, 

the absence of both hope and fear. 

All things are one, the sphere of Great Perfection. 

This is what is to be recognized: 

The expanse all-pervading of the ultimate reality of things. 

22. Through the single nondual taste of different things, May every being find freedom from duality Of apprehenderapprehended, self and other. Exhausted in this world because they cling deludedly to things, May their 

minds today find rest. 


1. When means and wisdom are perfected, Kāyas, primal wisdoms, and enlightened deeds, All present of themselves, now stand revealed. 

2. When main minds, mental factors, And the universal ground 

Subside completely in the dharmadhātu, The ultimate expanse and primal wisdom Cannot be divided; they have a single taste. Twofold purity is at that moment gained, And all conceptual elaboration ceases. 

3. Just as into space the new moon is withdrawn, The heart of unborn 

luminosity- Subtle primal wisdom-gathers 

In the lotus of the ultimate expanse. 

Peace is found then, free of any thought.132 

4. This is ultimate reality that cannot be observed, Free of change and 

movement in the triple time. 

This nature that is pure from the beginning 

Is called the vajrakāya, 

The body changeless, indestructible. It is the final ground expanse 

Wherein phenomena are worn away. 

5. This nature is completely free Of the two adventitious obscurations. 

Omniscience, ocean-vast in excellence, is found therein. 

The qualities of realization and elimination 

Come now to perfection. 

Assessed in terms of its ten strengths 

And other excellent perfections, it is called 


The body of manifest enlightenment

It is the final ground, 

The source of the distinctive qualities of buddhahood.133 

6. Although in knowable phenomena 

The mind is not engaged, 

And in the knowing mind no apprehending is observed, 134 

There is an inward luminosity, 

As when the new moon’s light is gathered into space- The subtle, supreme 

primal wisdom 

Gathered inwardly and yet not dulled. 

Thanks to its omniscience, 

It is the ground of all arising. 

Thence unfolds the body of form, the rupakāya, Endowed with knowledge of 

all aspects of phenomena. 

This is what appears for others: 

A treasure of enlightened qualities. Because of its consummate peace, This most subtle primal wisdom Is called dharmakāya, 

The peaceful body of ultimate reality. 135 

7. These three bodies have no dealings with an extramental world. 

They are extremely subtle and therefore are not nothing. 

Transcending permanence, destruction, 

And the other of the four extremes, 

Unthinkable, unspeakable, beyond expression, They are that state wherein the 

far shore is attained

Empty is their nature, where all concepts are no more. 

Only buddhas, no one else, experience them.136 

8. Within the palace of the dharmakāya utterly unborn, The victorious 

buddhas of the three times constantly abide. 

And yet they do not see each other: all is dharmatā. 

They abide, so it is said, within the deep and peaceful nature. 

And just as, at an earlier or later time, 

The space within a vase remains the same, 

Within this state of suchness

The Conquerors are but one expanse of wisdom. 

9. The dharmakāya, ultimate reality, 

Is perfect cognizance of emptiness, 

The gathering of wisdom, 

The culminating point of the perfection stage. 

10. From this very state there manifests The self-experienced sambhogakāya Endowed with the five excellencies

Place, time, teacher, teaching, retinue. 

The place is called the Field of Dense Array of Luminosity. 

It glows with clear and shining lights of the five colors, Like brilliant rainbows 

bright and clear, 

Which fill the vault of heaven

Pervading the abyss of space 

Above, below, and everywhere. And in it there are beauteous palaces, 

Their four doors graced with cornices

With five concentric walls with ledges all endowed And pendent strings of 


They all have covered terraces with balustrades And shrine rooms graced 

with domes. 137 

11. The spaces of the palaces are all filled With parasols and banners, tail 

fans, strings of tiny bells, Banners of victory, canopies, and every 


There the goddesses of pleasure send forth clouds of offerings. 

Within, without, on all sides, everything is bathed In swirling beams of light. 

The center and the four directions are bedecked With ornaments of 

corresponding hue and other brilliant colors. 

Wherever one may look, there they appear of varying size

The whole of space is filled by them: 

Countless, teeming, like the seeds within an open pod of sesame. Within the palaces are thrones 

Upheld by lions, horses, elephants, peacocks, shangshang birds. Upon them there are lotuses and disks of sun and moon. 

12. The time is no specific time; 

It is the perfect ground beyond all movement and all change. The notime of the three times is Samantabhadra’s time. 

All three are perfectly the same: an all-pervading suchness. It is a nature that is pure from the beginning. 

13. The Teachers with their bodies blazing With the major and the minor 


Are Vairocana and Akṣobhya, 

Ratnasambhava and Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, 

Each of them encircled with four buddhas. 

Each is joined in union with his respective consort: Ākāśadhātvīśvarī, 


Buddhalocanā, Pāṇḍaravāsinī, Samayatārā, 

All adorned with proper ornaments. Rays of light stream forth from them: 

In order, blue, white, yellow, red, and green. These are the peaceful buddhas who reside Within the lower maṇḍala. 

While up above are found the wrathful ones. 


These are the five glorious herukas: Buddha, Vajra, Ratna, Padma, Karma (United with five wrathful queens), 

Each one surrounded by another four. 

Other features do they have, but they surpass description. 

14. The teaching is the Natural Great Perfection, The expanse indescribable, Beyond the reach of thought and word. 

15. Each buddha has a retinue not lower than himself in dignity, For it is but 

his self-experience: 

Eight pairs of bodhisattvas, male and female; 

Four doorkeepers with female counterparts. 

All together there are two and forty peaceful deities, Six of which are the 


For others may behold them

Two are dharmakaya, because they are within the ultimate expanse. 

The remaining thirty-four belong 

To the sambhogakāya’s self-experience, 

The specific retinue of which comprises twenty-four. 139 

16. To the retinue of the wrathful deities belong Eight mataraḥ, Gaurī and the 


And Simhamukhā and other of the eight piśācī goddesses, The four guardians 

of the doors, 

And eight and twenty mighty goddesses. 

Of the eight and fifty wrathful deities, 

Forty-eight belong to the specific retinue. 

All are terrible devourers, all blazing in appearance. All are unendurable with nine wrathful demeanors. 140 

17. All the mandalas, moreover, “present in the body” 

Are buddhafields, which are the exclusive self-experience Of the 


Of all the peaceful and the wrathful deities, 

Those that are perceived by beings to be guided Are nirmāṇakāyas. 

They are not the exclusive self-experience 

Of the sambhogakāya.141 

18. All the deities of the buddhafields 

Endowed with five perfections 

Are the self-experience of the sambhogakāya. 

Therefore they are not distinguished 

In their rank: some low, some high

They shine with rays of brilliant sparkling light And are resplendent, clear, 

and radiant

This is the experience of the buddhas

Who see and praise each other. 

19. Even the most pure of beings to be trained Are powerless to behold these 

beauteous buddhafields That are arrayed on every side. 

They are like the empty forms of yogic experience, 142 

Beyond the grasp of thought. 

They are the exclusive purview 

Of the Conquerors, past, present, and to come. 

20. From within this very state, 

And in the worlds of beings to be taught, 

The Teachers who instruct them 

Show themselves by gradual degrees. 


Such is the nirmāṇakāya luminous in character; The nirmāṇakāya, guide of 


And the diversified nirmāṇakāya.144 

All of them are striving for the sake of living beings. 

21. The five nirmāṇakāya Teachers, luminous in character, 145 

Dwell in their respective fields: 

Akaniştha, Abhirati, Śrīmat, 

Padmakūta, and Sukarmasiddhi. 

They are the buddhas of the five families: 

Akṣobhya, Vairocana, and the rest. 

They blaze with light that issues 

From the major and the minor marks of buddhahood. 

They manifest in countless forms both peaceful and ferocious, Laboring 

spontaneously for the twofold benefit of beings. 

22. By nature, these five Teachers 

Are the five primordial wisdoms: 

Dharmadhātu, mirrorlike, equality, 

Alldiscerning, and the wisdom all-accomplishing. 

Each of these has four attendant wisdoms; 

All are of a single taste. 

23. The primal wisdom of the dharmadhātu 

Is completely motionless, transcending all duality Of apprehended- 


All conceptual extremes. 

The mirrorlike primordial wisdom 

Is the luminous and empty ground of all arising. 

It is the great wellspring of the three remaining wisdoms. In the primal wisdom of equality everything is equal. Samsara and nirvāṇa are not two, 

For they completely coincide. 

All-discerning wisdom knows things in their difference- It is a perfect 

knowledge of phenomena 

In both their nature and their multiplicity. 

Wisdom allaccomplishing is perfect and enlightened action, Constant, 

unimpeded with regard to all phenomena. 

24. The retinue composed of those who may be trained Consists of 

bodhisattvas who reside on the ten grounds. 

The teaching comes through rays of light 

That shine out from the Teachers in deep concentration, And the bodhisattvas 

thus conceive the wish 

To cleanse the obscurations from their ground of realization, Removing 

avarice and all the rest. 

They look upon their Teachers, who are utterly unstained, And see the 

difference that divides them still from them. 

They cleanse the obscurations that remain, 

Progressing to the ground of Universal Light. And when their perfect form appears 

As though reflected in a glass, 

They bring about the wealth and benefit of beings. 146 

25. Concerning then the time, 

The Teachers manifest in the sambhogakāya fields In seamless continuity Until the bodhisattvas have achieved their freedom

26. The nature of those Teachers may be ascertained In terms of one (or 

other) of the five enlightened families. 

When those yet to be trained 

Are primarily engaged to purify their ignorance, They do so in the field of 


Vairocana is their Teacher, and the teaching 

Is the pure primordial wisdom of the dharmadhātu. 

Likewise for their anger to be purified, 

Akşobhya’s field appears. 

Ratnasambhava appears to cleanse away their pride, And Amitabha for 

attachment and desire. 

Amoghasiddhi manifests for cleansing of their envy. 

27. Although the Teachers manifest as the sambhogakāya, Their retinues and 

all the rest are different from themselves

Therefore all are not sambhogakāya but “half-nirmāṇakāya”: The 

nirmāṇakāya luminous in character 

Perceived by beings who are pure. 

Since they do not show themselves 

Except for those residing on the grounds of realization, They are called 

nirmāṇakāya that is “half-appearing.”147 

28. The ground is even in those buddhafields, And there are lovely palaces 


Of seven kinds of jewels ablaze with rays of light That shine in all the ten 


There are countless bodhisattvas, lotusborn. 

And every happiness that they might wish for 

Falls upon them like a shower of rain. 

In all four periods of the day, 

The stainless Dharma is set forth with belllike sound. 

With wishing-trees and wishfulfilling gems, 

With lakes and streams, these beauteous fields Are the peaceful nirmāṇakāya, 

luminous in character. 

29. Likewise there are countless wrathful maṇḍalas And pure celestial realms 

with massing clouds of ḍākinīs. 

There are also the pure fields of glorious herukas of five families. 

All of these appear to those 

Who’re adept in the Secret Mantra. 

Nowadays the learned and accomplished know them As the 

realms of great felicity.148 



30. From within the fields of the sambhogakaya There arise nirmāṇakāyas who are guides of beings, Who appear in each of the six realms 

As their respective Teachers: 

Indra, Vemacitra, Śākyamuni, Dhruvasimha, 

Jvālamukha, Dharmarāja. 

In all the fields that lie in all the ten directions, These six sages purify the 

minds of beings of the six migrations. 

31. The emanations, primary and secondary, Of these six sages are beyond 


In each divine realm, 

From the realms of Brahmā and of Īśvara 

As far as Akaniṣṭha, they appear 

As Teachers who instruct the gods in their respective kingdoms. 

32. For human beings also they appear 

In forms appropriate to them. 

They manifest as śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, As kings, and so 

forth, guides for all humanity. 

They appear as various guides in the asura realms, And likewise for the 


They manifest as birds among the birds 

And as majestic lions for the creatures of the wild. 

These different kinds of Teacher are indeed beyond imagining. 

And in the hells and preta realms, 

They work for beings’ sake in forms adapted to their state. 

33. All these guides of beings have two kinds of wisdom: That which knows 

the nature of all things 

And that which knows them in their multiplicity. 

They know the nature of phenomena 

And they know phenomena, each by each, without confusing them. 

Thus they labor for the twofold goal of beings. 

34. The wisdom that beholds the nature of phenomena Knows the emptiness 

of things 

And expounds for wandering beings 

The teaching that will lead to utter peace. 

The wisdom that beholds the multiplicity of things Cognizes, without mixing 

them, the mind, sense powers, and the rest; It sets forth countless ways of teaching. 

35. All these emanations are perceived by those who are impure. 

Their field is the six worlds of the six kinds of beings. 

These Teachers manifest according to the form of beings to be guided. 

Their teachings are not uniform 

But partake of different vehicles. 

And the time that they appear 

Is in accordance with the karmic destiny of beings. 

36. In the six worlds of six kinds of beings, As the fruit of action and habitual 

patterns, good and bad, There are various states of being, 

High and low, with joys and suffering. 

These states and even the six Teachers who appear therein Are but beings’ 

subjective visions— Like buddhas and like beings seen in dreams: 

Pure is their nature, yet their form impure. 

The buddhas’ different, manifest, appearances 

Are but the play of their compassion. 

37. These six Teachers are the emanations of compassion without bounds. Throughout the time samsara lasts

Their enlightened action will continue endlessly. 

38. From their enlightened action there appears The diversified nirmāṇakāya, Which includes material things: 

Supports for offerings-such as paintings, statues, Various natural forms and 


Gardens, lotuses, and wishing-trees

Sublime pavilions and pleasure groves, Caravansaries and boats and bridges; 

Jewels and lamps, food, clothing, and conveyances; All such things: material 


That appear to bring great help to beings

39. Immediately they bring happiness and joy And ultimately they place 

beings on the path to peace. 

The diversified nirmāṇakāya 

Spontaneously effects the benefit of beings. 

40. Where there are no more beings to be trained, The guides withdraw, 

subsiding in the ultimate expanse. 

They are like the moons reflected in the water, Which gather back into the 

moon above 

When there are no more water vessels. 

The self-experienced sambhogakāya Melts back into the dharmakaya, 

Just as at the end point of its phases, The moon without increase or diminution 

Sets and is absorbed by space itself. 

And then, when there are beings to be guided, The Teachers, as before, will gradually appear. Such is the result, spontaneously present. 

41. By virtue of this explanation, 

Which has the nature of supreme and highest peace, May beings stay within 

the luminous expanses of their minds. 

And, wearied by mistaken clinging to the two extremes, Samsara and nirvāṇa, May their minds today find rest. 


From the great clouds of the merit Of this well-turned explanation, May there 

fall a copious rain 

Of happiness and peace. 

May all the beings of the three worlds See an increase in their fortune and 


May they naturally achieve 

The wealth of the Victorious Ones

These days, the impure eyes of common minds Perceive as contradictory The distinct paths of mantra and transcendent virtues

Failing thus to unify them, 

They regard them with a partial bias. 

But here, the meaning supreme and profound Of both the causal and resultant 

vehicles Has been distilled into a unity Adapted to the practice. 

It was composed by Drimé Özer, Rising Rays of Stainless Light, At Orgyen 

Fort at Gangri Thökar. 

By this merit may all beings in the world Attain the highest state of complete peace, Wherein the kayas and the wisdoms are inseparably joined. 

May there be good fortune everywhere and always. 




Longchenpa’s Autocommentary to 

Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind 


ALL PHENOMENA DEPEND upon the mind, and the mind depends in turn upon 

the present body endowed with [eight] freedoms and [ten] advantages. They all arise in dependence on each other. The mind is the cause of the entire phenomenal sphere of virtue, and the freedoms and advantages are its ancillaries or conditions. Therefore, now that we are in possession of them all, our sole concern should be to tame our minds. As it is said in the Suhṛllekha

The vital point is tame your mind, 

For mind is the root of Dharma, so the Buddha said. 

The Question of Sagara Sūtra also says, “Lord of Nagas! The mind is the root of all phenomena. They derive from the mind; they manifest from the mind. Therefore you should perfectly understand the nature of your mind.” And the tantra called The All-Creating King says, “All phenomena, which thus appear are manifested by the mind, are made by the mind.” In the Lankāvatāra-sūtra we also find, 

Although within a looking glass a form is seen, It is not there but 

merely seems to be. 

Not knowing [that phenomena are but] the mind’s experience, 

The two cognitions—apprehender, apprehended—both arise. 

Because of these and through the links of ingrained habit, 

Various things arisen from the mind Appear to beings outwardly. 

And yet this world is just the mind. 


There are no objects of the senses; They are but the mind itself

The mind stirred by habitual tendencies Is what appears as outer 


Moreover, outer and inner phenomena appear to the mind in the manner of dreams. While having no existence, they appear in all their variety in the perception of the deluded mind. They are appearances born from deluded habitual tendencies. They do not truly exist as things but seem to be truly existent to the mind. Therefore the mind is the root of all phenomena. Things like mountains and so on, which appear “impurely” to the deluded mind, are “contrived” by the mindthough they are not actually the mind itself, as will be explained presently. Furthermore, if the mind is not kept under control, it is impossible to keep the trainings. As it is said in the Bodhicaryavatāra

Without this guard upon the mind, 

The trainings cannot be preserved. 

And also, 

What use to me are many disciplines, If I can’t guard and 

discipline my mind? 


For all anxiety and fear, 

And pain in boundless quantity, 

Their source and wellspring is the mind itself, As He who spoke 

the truth declared

The hellish instruments to torture living beings- Who invented 

them for such intent

Who has forged this burning iron ground; Whence have all these 

demon-women sprung? 

All are but the offspring of the sinful mind, This the mighty Sage 

has said. 

Throughout the triple world therefore There is no greater bane 

than mind itself

And finally, 

By simple taming of this mind alone All these things are likewise 

tamed, 149 

So it is that all the happiness and suffering of samsāra originate from the mind, and therefore the effort to bring the mind under control is the root of all Dharma. As it is also said in the Ratnamegha-sūtra, 

The world itself is governed by the mind, And yet by mind, the 

mind cannot be seen. 

All virtuous deeds and all nonvirtuous deeds Are what the mind 


In the Kasyapa Chapter it is also said, “Because the mind is the author of all these actions, it is like a painter. Since it is the source of all harm, it is like a hostile army. Since it is the creator of all suffering, it is like an enemy.And in the Classification of Wandering Beings Sūtra it is said, 

Upon the blazing iron ground Suffused all round with burning 

tongues of fire, Cut by sharpened saws of iron, 

In eight parts is a single body torn. 

All arises from the minds of those Who sin in action, thought, 

and word. 

Therefore, since the mind is the root of all happiness and sorrow, the 

taming of it should be our sole concern. 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 144: 3–147: 1] 


THE BODY, BEING numbered among gross material things, is referred to in 

the root text as a “manifest city.” Speech, like an echo, is perceptible but not physically present and is therefore referred to as a “halfmanifest city.” Finally the mind, in being devoid of the five sense doors, is utterly insubstantial and is therefore described as an “unmanifest city.” These three cities are respectively designated as “desire,” “form,” and “formless.” This is because in the scripture entitled Summarized Wisdom, the coarse body is associated with the desire realm; the speech, which is more subtle, is associated with the form realm; and the mind, which is most subtle, is associated with the formless realm. It also declares that the Acintyaprabhāsa,150 the Child of Sublime Light, dwells in these three cities, and explains that this refers to self-arisen primordial wisdom. 

The three kinds of suffering, whereby the body, speech, and mind are all tormented, arise through the circumstance of thought and are experienced, one after the other, in a manner that is deluded. How do they arise? The six consciousnesses issue forth through their corresponding sense doors toward the objects of the six gatherings, and the apprehension of these same objects results in the experiences of happiness, sorrow, or indifference which are understood to exist truly. 

The mental state arising in the distinct aspects of form, sound, and so on is consciousness (rnam par shes pa). The first vivid cognition of the general aspect of the object is mind (sems). Finally, the mental factor (sems byung) that discerns the features of this object, and is continuously involved with 

craving, aversion, and ignorance is, in this context, called intellect (yid). As it is said in the Bodhisattvabhūmi-śāstra, “The perceived appearance of an object is consciousness. The first detecting cognition of it is mind. The mental factor of the subsequent discernment of the particular features of this object is intellect. These three states interpenetrate and are concomitant with each other.” 

Wherever there is mind, there is also the mental factor that is concomitant with it, constantly present in the mind in the manner of an ancillary. Conversely, the mental factor is itself pervaded by the mind with which it is related. The mind is thus concomitant with the mental factor and is ever present in the mental factor in the manner of an ancillary. 

When an object is encountered in an act of knowing, the first moment of cognition, which focuses on the general aspect or identity of this object, is called mind. Then, when the individual features of the object are assessed, one speaks in terms of mental factor. Although these two are labeled differently, they are in fact none other than the very perception and discernment (intellection) of that object. As it is said in the Ratnāvalī

If one says the mind is seen, 

One does so only on the level of convention. 

For without mental factors, there’s no mind. 

There’s no object. They’re not said to be concomitant. 

On the level of the Tathāgatas or when, free of conceptions, one rests in the fundamental nature, even though appearing sense objects are perceived distinctly, one does not speak of mind, intellect, and consciousness, for there is no apprehension of dual appearance: there is no apprehended object and no apprehending mind. 

As it is said in Praises of the Mind Vajra

Beings, growing used to dualistic clinging 

Imagine that mind, intellect and consciousness exist. They do not have that primal wisdom free from thought. The mind that sees the truth is supreme primal wisdom. 

It is also said in the Ratnakūṭa, “Although they are free of mind, intellect, and consciousness, the Tathāgatas do not discard the state of concentration. This is the inconceivable secret of their mind.” 

Furthermore, when the mind perceives forms, sounds, and so on (appearing outwardly) in those very aspects, this is referred to as consciousness (literally, cognition of aspects). Again, one speaks of “cognition of aspects” because the mind is generated in exactly the same aspect as its object. The knower of the object, in the first moment of cognizing it as this or that, is called mind. When the particularities of that object are discerned (as they occur in a continuity of dependently arising instants of consciousness), one speaks of intellect

Moreover, when the perceiving cognitions that vividly, and in an instant, issue from the different sense doors, examine the appearing object and take it to be something pleasant, attachment occurs. When they take it to be something unpleasant, aversion occurs. When they take the thing just in itself, as neither pleasant nor unpleasant, ignorance occurs. It is like seeing a beautiful woman with whom one is familiar, seeing an enemy by whom one has been defeated, or seeing things for which one feels neither attraction nor repulsion—walls, rivers, roads, trees, and people for whom one has no particular sentiments. As it is said in the Vinaya teachings, “Since attachment increases when you see people you like; since aversion increases when you see people who harmed you; and since ignorance increases with respect to all that falls between these extremes, take control of the doors of your senses.” 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 205: 5–208: 5] 




T THE VERY moment when cognitive experience (shes pa) occurs in relation to an individual object, the mind (sems) that perceives it without making any clear distinctions is called the consciousness of the universal ground (kun gzhi’i rnam shes). Subsequently, the cognitive event that apprehends the thing as this or that, discerning its features, whether in a rough or detailed way, is the intellect (yid). As it is said in the Ornament for the Wisdom of Mañjuśrī Sūtra, “The mind is the consciousness of the universal ground. That which clings to self is the intellect.” 

Forms are seen in dependence on the eye, and that which perceives is the visual consciousness. Likewise sounds are heard in dependence on the ear; odors are detected in dependence on the nose; tastes are savored in dependence on the tongue; and contact is experienced in dependence on the body. The perceivers are the five sense consciousnesses. 

Consciousnesses are called sources (ayatana, skye mched) because foregoing instants of consciousness give rise to subsequent ones. Since circumstances, namely, objects and their cognitions, are endless, and since the consciousnesses never separate from all these different aspects, extensive and manifold as they are, they are referred to as elements (dhātu, khams). Since the subject mind arises from the object as though supported by it; since the latter arises in dependence on the former; and since the mind and its object are related in the manner of a phenomenon and its characteristic property, 

consciousnesses are said to be dependent arisings. When the object and the subject come together, happiness and so on may be felt and known. Therefore, owing to their contact in the act of perception, in which the subject and object coincide, the consciousnesses are referred to as feelings. 

In brief, all actions resulting from the gathering of an object, sense organ, and cognition are either nonvirtues, when they are motivated by the three poisons, or great virtues when—as in the case of patiencethey are free of these three poisons. When the ten positive actions are not associated with the path of wisdom and compassion, they constitute an inferior kind of virtue. For since they fall within the ambit of ignorance, they produce only a single happy result in samsara and are then exhausted. They are consequently referred to as “virtues leading to happiness” (bsod nams cha mthun gyi dge ba). If, on the other hand, they are associated with the path [of wisdom and compassion], they are the cause of enlightenment and for this reason are referred to as “virtues leading to liberation” (thar pa cha mthun gyi dge ba)

Negative actions motivated by the three poisons are the causes of the evil destinies and all the sufferings that exist. Virtue leading to happiness is the basis of the abundant happiness of the divine and human conditions of the upper realms, whereas virtue leading to liberation is the cause of the higher realms in the immediate term, and finally of the definitive excellence of enlightenment. As it is said in the Ratnāvalī, 

Craving, hatred, ignorance— 

The deeds that they engender are nonvirtue. 

When there is no craving, hatred, ignorance, The deeds 

performed are virtuous. 

From nonvirtue every sorrow 

And likewise every evil destiny derive. 

From virtue come all happy destinies And happiness in every 


When all the dreamlike things that appear as if they were extramental are apprehended as being “other,” they turn, through habit, into sense objects and appear variously as pure and impure. They are the locus of delusion. Because the inner nature of the body engendered from the elements is not recognized, 

it turns, through habit, into an objective entity. Since it contains the aggregates, elements, consciousnesses, defilements, and sufferings (the result of the defilements), the body is the basis or foundation of delusion. The self- arisen primordial wisdom of luminosity is empty by its nature, luminous by its character, and unceasing in its variously arising radiance. Yet through its being fixated upon-in terms of a real apprehending subject and a real apprehended objectawareness (rig pa) turns, through habit, into the ordinary mind (sems), which arises in the form of the five or three poisons. Through its clinging thus to “I” and “mine,” which is the root of delusion, the hallucinatory appearances of samsāra appear, though nonexistent, in the manner of reflections or dreams, or as falling threads or hairs seen by people with impaired vision. They definitely seem to be real. The apprehending subject is “I” and the apprehended object is taken to be “mine.” It is just like considering a house as one’s own

[Taken from the autocommentary, 209: 1–211: 6] 


THE TEXTS OF the Yogācāra speak of three great realities or natures: the 

imputed nature, the dependent nature, and the actual nature. 


The imputed nature (parikalpita, kun brtags) is divided into two categories: the imputed nature that is free of all characteristics (mtshan nyid chad pa’i kun brtags) and the figurative imputed nature (rnam grangs pa’i kun brtags). The imputed nature free of characteristics refers to what does not exist at all but is merely imputed by thought—such as the horns of a rabbit and the so- called self. It refers, in addition, to mistaken tenet systems and indeed everything that is merely “mind-posited,” as in the case of names and their meanings. A person may be called Leo or Lion, but this name is not something that can be found anywhere in the person’s body. And even if one were to explain its meaning, this is simply an assertion of the mind and does not exist as an actual object to which speech refers (through the expression of its characteristics) or as an actual object of the thinking mind. [They are of a different order,] as different as the word “multitudeand that which is meant by it. 

By contrast, the figurative imputed nature refers to all the manifold things that appear to the deluded mind: the world and the beings therein; [states] like happiness and suffering; the aggregates (skandha, phung po), the elements 

(dhātu, khams), sources (āyatana, skye mched), and so on. Since they do not exist in fact but nevertheless appear to deluded minds in the manner of dreams, they are referred to as the figurative imputed nature. And since they appear but are nevertheless nonexistenttheir existence being an idea superimposed—they are referred to as the imputed nature. As it is said in the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra

All that is imputed has no being. It is created by deluded mind. 


The dependent nature (paratantra, gzhan dbang) also has two aspects: the impure dependent nature and the pure dependent nature. The impure dependent nature refers to all the illusory appearances that manifest via the different sense doors: the impure aspects of the universe, such as earth, rocks, mountains, cliffs and the rest, together with the universe’s contents, namely, beings. All these things are but the full development of the habitual tendencies [of the mind]. 

The pure dependent nature, on the other hand, refers to the pure fields and all that appears within the sphere of the pure vision of the buddhas: the buddhafields; the seven precious things; luminous, unfathomable palaces; and 

so on

On this matter, certain people object that the dependent nature mentioned in the Yogācāra literature is untenable because it accounts for all phenomena as being exclusively gathered within the subjective experience of individual minds. But I do not consider this to be a proper subject of dispute. Phenomena produced through the habitual tendencies of the mind are not established in themselves, in the same way that the reflection of a face in a mirror is not the real face, even though it is produced in dependence thereon. 

Moreover, the statement that all phenomena are gathered within the subjective experience of one’s own mind calls for investigation. The question is: are they gathered within the mind as mere perceived appearances, or are they gathered therein as being the mind itself

In the first case, if phenomena are no more than perceived appearances, there is no need to wonder whether they are contained within the mind or not. If, on the other hand, one were to say that they were contained therein, this is no more than a futile claim, for an object is by definition located extramentally. 

In the second case, how could such a position be tenable? One might say that because phenomena derive from the mind, they are the mind. But that is like saying that the child produced from a woman is the woman, whereas this is clearly not the case. It would also mean that the filth excreted by the body were the body itself, whereas it is evident that it is not so. 

One could also object that since phenomena appear to the mind, they are the mind. But then it would follow that forms are the same as the visual consciousness, for they appear to the mind. And since in the past, the Buddha appeared within the experience of deluded beings, it would follow that he was the minds of such beings. And if this were so, the absurd consequence would follow that the beings with deluded minds are buddhas. Conversely, since beings appeared to the Buddha, it would follow that either all the beings were buddhas or that the Buddha, free from stain, were an [unenlightened] being. Such defective conclusions are unavoidable. 

Again it might be argued that if there is no mind, there are no phenomena; and this is why they are said to be the mind. But the problem here is that, in that case, the actual cause and the actual result are rendered identical because if the former is not present, the latter cannot appear. Also one’s enemy and one’s anger would be identical because if there were no enemy, the anger aroused by him would not manifest. Moreover it does not make sense to say that phenomena are the mind because they are mind-created, for in that case, the painting becomes the painter since it was the painter who made it

How therefore can it be right to say that extramental phenomena―earth, rocks, mountains, and cliffs—are the mind? To be sure, they are indeed the hallucinatory appearances produced by the mind’s habitual tendencies. But if they were the mind, it would follow that when a hundred people see a single vase, the vase seen by them all would be the consciousness of them all, in which case they would all have the same consciousness. And if one were to say this, then when one person attains buddhahood, all beings would become Buddha; and when one being falls to the lower destinies, all beings would go 

there too. It would also follow that in the entire world there is but one single being just as you or I-for the entire aggregate of other beings would be none other than that single being’s mind. It would not be tenable for there to be any other being beside a single buddha, such as Śākyamuni. For all the beings seen by him would be but his own mind. One may think that this is so, but the evident fact is that we are all here! 

It seems that there are many scholars nowadays who think in this way. All one can say is that they are extremely confused in their understanding of the Mahāyāna. 

Their vast forms garlanded with lotuses

Their ears with flowers adorned, 

Their faces gleaming from the golden paint— 

They’re just majestic elephants and nothing else! 

But what then are these appearances? They could indeed be understood according to the stainless doctrine of the Cittamātra False Aspectarians. The latter do indeed say in their texts that all that appears to oneself is indeed one’s own mind. But the appearing object is not the mind. In the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra it is said, 

All perceptions are the mind, 

And yet the objects that appear are not. 

The product of deluded tendencies from time without beginning, 

They are like floating hairs before the eyes

The False Aspectarians, however, fail to distinguish between the perception (that is, the perceived appearance of an object-snang ba) and the appearing object itself (the object that appears—snang yul).151 

When the mind clearly apprehends as separate from itself a mountain (the appearing object) with the thought “This is a mountain,” a mental experience of a mountain occurs in dependence on the visual sense organ. And this aspect (of the mountain), which is held by the mind wherever one happens to be, is the mind’s own subjective experience. When one goes elsewhere, the appearing object (the actual mountain) does not follow, but the propensity for 

it to appear to perception has been imprinted by the former visual consciousness. A meaning generality, the mental image (of the mountain), nonexistent yet clearly appearing, manifests vividly to the mental organ. Therefore, all the perceptions, or perceived appearances, evaluated by one’s intellect, together with their retention, are mind. Likewise, the perceptions of all the other beings, and the retention of such perceptions, are mind. Nevertheless, the objects that trigger the conceptualization of the mental consciousness, and all the objects of the five senses, appear while being nonexistent, on account of the mind’s beginningless habitual tendencies. They are like hairs floating in the air as seen by someone suffering from a visual disorder

Some may object saying that, if this is so, phenomena bifurcate and become twofold because the appearing object (snang yul) and its perceived appearance (snang ba) are established as distinct. To which it might be replied that if that were so, the mind itself would be divided into two. For the opponent is implying that the mind that is the appearance is outside (extramental), while the mind that apprehends the appearance is within. To this the opponent might answer that they are both the same in being the mind -they are of one and the same kind even though one speaks as though they were two. But here also, the appearing object that occurs [extramentally] through one’s deluded tendencies, and the perceived appearance through which this object is apprehended as something definite are both appearances of what does not exist. They are not different even on the conventional level: they are both cases of deluded propensity. Since these two do not in fact exist, it is established that they are not distinct. 

When this is examined from our own Madhyamaka point of view, not only is the appearing [extramental] object not said to be the mind, but even the perceived appearance [the mental aspect] is not said to be the mind either. For the inner mind is not externalized [as the outer object], and the outer appearances occurring for each of the sense powers are merely discerned inwardly by the mind. If the perceived appearance [the mental aspect] were left outside the mind [existing as an outer object], it would be possible either for a person to have simultaneously two consciousnesses or else to be an inanimate thing [because the mind is outside]. These and many other difficulties would follow. Therefore, although the apprehension of the 

appearance, or nonappearance, of something (both perception and lack of perception) is the mind, the appearing object itself is not the mind. It is just as when the ear consciousness detects the sound of a drum, the hearing consciousness does not become the drum’s sound. 

In short, although it seems that the mind is projected outwardly, it does not in fact go outside [it is not the outer object]. And since it is only the aspect of the outer phenomenon that appears within, that which appears outwardly is not at all the inner mind. What then is the actual situation? Though phenomena have no real existence, they nevertheless appear. For this reason, the whole array of phenomena that arise in their different colors, white and red, appear in the manner of the falling hairs seen by people whose sight is impaired by a phlegmatic disease. The things that appear are found neither outside nor inside the mind-nor somewhere in between. While appearing, they have no inherent existence or, to put it another way, they are said to be empty of intrinsic being. Therefore, insofar as both assertions indicate the assumption of real existence, there is no difference in saying that phenomena exist as the mind or that they exist as something other than the mind. 

It could be argued that the assertion that outer objects are not the mind is like that of the Vaibhāṣika view of the śrāvakas, but it is not the same. The Vaibhāṣikas say that sense objects are inert phenomena existing by way of their own characteristics. We, on the other hand, affirm that, like dreams, phenomena are the hallucinatory appearances of our own habitual tendencies —which the mind perceives without their being existent. Such a way of being need not be refuted even by the Madhyamikas and is perfectly tenable. “But what is this?” it will be said. “The Prāsangika-Mādhyamikas refute all assertions!” Yes, but they do not refute mere perceived appearance! What they do refute, however, is the assumption of the true existence of things. As master Nāgārjuna has said, 

Thus appearance is not refuted 

But just the thought that things are truly real. 

In the Cittamātra school, whereas the True Aspectarians assert that the appearing phenomenon is the mind, both they and the False Aspectarians say that the self-cognizing mind exists on the ultimate level. And this is an object 

of refutation for the Madhyamikas. On the other hand, how could the Madhyamikas refute hallucinatory appearances, which are the result of habitual tendencies and occur even though they in fact have no existence? And how indeed could they refute the assertions expounded correctly by the [Cittamātra] tenet system? For when the conventional level is posited, Madhyamaka and Cittamātra are in agreement. So much then for the dependent nature on the outer level. 

We must further examine the position that, just as a later cognition arises on the basis of an earlier cognition, perceived appearance [the mental aspect] is also dependent on a preceding object-on account of which one speaks of the dependent nature on the inner level. However, if one speaks in this way simply because it is on the basis of an earlier object that a perceived appearance subsequently occurs, its “other-dependence” is simply a matter of words. In fact, they are the same thing. One may say that they are different and separate, but since they are both the mind, they cannot be truly different from each other. On the contrary, to claim that they are is a contradiction of their own tenet and is therefore incorrect. As it is said in the earlier text

Because these various appearances 

Seem to be dependent upon something else, One speaks of an impure dependent nature (Owing to the subject-object duality) 

And of a pure dependent nature. 

Although in truth they aren’t dependent, 

It’s thus that they appear and thus they are explained. 


The actual nature (parinișpanna, yongs grub) is also twofold. There is the changeless actual nature and the unmistaken actual nature. 

The Changeless Actual Nature 

The changeless actual nature (‘gyur ba med pa’i yongs grub) is ultimate reality, naturally pure. It is the emptiness inherent in all things and is simply the case whether one is deluded or not. Since it remains so without variation throughout the passage of time, it is said to be changeless. It is the fundamental way of being of phenomena. 

Regarding this, three kinds of emptiness are posited: emptiness of self (rang stong), emptiness of other (gzhan stong), and emptiness of both (gnyis kyis stong). Emptiness of self or self-emptiness is again twofold. On the one hand, it refers to things that do not exist according to their own characteristics, like the moon reflected in waterwhich appears to be there but is not. It also refers to designations that are empty by their nature and yet causally effective—even though there is no difference between themselves (the designation) and other (the designated). 

Other-emptiness is also twofold. On the one hand, there is an emptiness of that which is extraneous (of what is not possessed) and, on the other hand, there is an other-emptiness that refers to names. 

Emptiness of both (self and other) refers to the emptiness of designations [related to both self-emptiness and other-emptiness] and to the emptiness of the specific characteristics of names and things. 

Regarding self-emptiness, the following may be said. [In terms of the ground,] the luminous nature of the mind, the tathāgatagarbha, the essential element” (snying po’i khams), is empty of every defect and is replete with every excellent quality—even though, from the point of view of the purity of the ultimate nature, it is actually beyond the elimination of negative, and the accomplishment of positive, qualities. 

Hallucinatory appearances-phenomena, which arise in various forms, together with cognition, namely the eight consciousnesses-have no existence in fundamental reality and are thus empty of a nature of their own. These phenomena are also empty of their names, such as “pillar” or “pot,” and they exhibit a defective character. From the point of view of the purity of the ultimate nature, however, they are beyond the elimination of negative, and the accomplishment of positive, qualities. In terms of the path, this too is empty by its nature while yet displaying certain qualities and defects. From the point of view of the purity of the ultimate nature, the path transcends the respective elimination of negative, and the acquisition of positive, qualities. [In terms of 

the result,] when the ultimate purity is attained, this is empty of both defects and habitual tendencies but is not empty of the qualities of the tathāgatagarbha, which are finally actualized. From the standpoint of the purity of the ultimate nature, [the result] is beyond the elimination of negative, and the accomplishment of positive, qualities. 

In short, self-emptiness” means that each and every phenomenon is by nature unreal; it is empty of real existence. There is moreover a twofold classification of self-emptiness. Granted that the defining characteristics of phenomena are empty of themselves, either these characteristics have no existence at all, as in the case of a rabbit’s horns, or else they appear to deluded minds but have no real existence, being empty like the moon reflected in water. 

Now designations, which are empty by their nature, consist in the ascription of names, words, and syllables. They are merely posited by the mind. They are not the specifically characterized objects themselves. A small child may be given the name Leo or Lion. Now the objective referent of the name “lion” is an animal with a turquoise mane, but neither the name, nor the thing nominally referred to, is to be found anywhere in the child’s body. Nevertheless, this name, which brings about an understanding, is able to indicate the object that is to be understood. All verbal ascriptions are the same: they are causally effective [they do the job of indicating], even though they are empty [of objective content]. 

The term “emptiness of other” or “other-emptiness” is used when a thing is said to be empty of something other than itself. Again there is a twofold classification. First, there is an emptiness of other that refers to something that is not possessed, as in the case of the sun’s being devoid of darkness, or of a thing’s being devoid of specifically characterized phenomena that are other than it—as in the case of the sun being devoid of other things like a pillar or a cloth. Second, there is the emptiness of other that refers to names, as in the case of the sun’s being referred to by various terms, for example, “the light giver” or “the seven-steeded.” But all such classifications and expressions of particular features of the sun’s nature do not make contact with the actual, specifically characterized object, namely, the sun. Thus, the sun itself is empty of them. 

“Emptiness of both” refers to the fact that all phenomena are both self- empty and other-empty. In terms of further classification, emptiness of both again has two aspects: in relation to imputed designations (rnam grangs btags pa ba) and in relation to specifically characterized things (don rang mtshan pa). In the case of the emptiness of imputed designations, it can be said that the designation “deluded in samsara” is empty of the aggregates, elements, sources of the specifically characterized three worlds because it is merely posited as an expression by the conventional mind. As for the emptiness of specifically characterized things, this means that if a phenomenon is devoid of specific character, it does not follow that it has the characteristics of something else. It is empty like the son of a barren woman or the water seen in a mirage. Moreover, even though phenomena do not exist truly, their clear appearance is not in any way obstructed; they are empty like the dependent 


Thus when the three kinds of emptiness are subdivided, we arrive at six kinds of emptiness, which can be grouped into two classes, both of which transcend the intellect: the emptiness of things indicated by words (that is, “phenomena are utterly pure by their very nature”) and the emptiness of the words that indicate them. This is how emptiness of phenomena should be understood [according to the Cittamātra view]. 

Those who propound emptiness in the sense of a mere nothingness fail to understand the nature of emptiness, and their doctrine is similar to that of the nonBuddhist Cārvākas. Furthermore, the emptiness of those who say that some things are empty and some things are not empty” is a lesser kind of emptiness. Their view is similar to the teachings of the eternalists as well as of the Buddhist śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. All such doctrines fall into the extremes of believing in either permanent existence or annihilation and therefore should not be followed

The Unmistaken Actual Nature 

The unmistaken actual nature (phyin ci ma log pa’i yongs grub) is the path of supreme liberation. When the fundamental way of being of phenomena is understood exactly as it is, the aspect of appearance is not discarded. It is thus that, on the relative level, merit is accumulated and, on the ultimate level, 

through the contemplation of the nature of emptiness, wisdom is accumulated through persevering in the meditation on space-like ultimate reality, which is neither one nor many. As it is said in the Middle-Length Prajñāpāramitā, “What has been defined as “unmistaken” (the unmistaken actual nature) is perfectly subsumed in the truth of the path.” 

In brief, when the unchanging ultimate nature, the luminous character of the mind, is assimilated, and when one has realized that all phenomena are empty in being simply the imputed reality or nature, if one practices on the path, impure hallucinatory appearances, together with the conceptual mind, will be transmuted or purified. And reaching the primordial state, one will acquire a perfect mastery of the pure buddhafields of the inexhaustible ornaments of the enlightened body, speech, and mind. 

All the teachings of the sublime Dharma of the Mahāyāna are present in this doctrine of the three natures. 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 212: 3–223: 4] 



ACTIONS THAT lead either to samsara or to the total purity [of enlightenment] are based, in the manner of seeds, in the universal ground (kun gzhi). As it is said in the Immaculate Wisdom of Mañjuśrī Sūtra, “The universal ground is the ground of all. It is the ground of samsara, of nirvāṇa, and of the totally pure dimension of enlightenment.” 

Now to refer to suchness or the ultimate expanse as the “universal groundis to consider it as the neutral and completely indeterminate basis of all categorization. And it is on, or within, this ground that primordially unconditioned 152 awareness is based-in a spontaneously present manner. From this point of view, moreover, the ultimate expanse is referred to as the ultimate universal ground of joining (sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi).153 The failure to recognize awareness is the basis for the phenomena of samsāra: the eight consciousnesses together with their habitual tendencies. And it is from this point of view that the ultimate expanse is referred to as the universal ground of various habitual tendencies (bag chags sna tshogs pa’i kun gzhi), on which are based all conditioned virtue and nonvirtue, through which the various states of happiness and suffering arise. 

All the virtuous actions that cause and lead to their result, namely, happiness in samsara (bsod nams cha mthun), are based on the universal ground of various habitual tendencies. And it is on this too that all the virtues leading to liberation (thar pa cha mthun) are based. Finally, the result, which consists in the removal of, or separation from, obscuring stains (bral ‘bras), is 

based on the buddha-potential (rigs). This may be explained in greater detail as follows

On the indeterminate universal ground are basedin both their causal and resultant aspectsnegative action, lesser (that is, samsaric) virtue, action leading to liberation (which results in the removal of obstructions to the state beyond suffering), and action leading to total purity, namely, all the realizations that occur on the path. 

Virtue leading to liberation, which is an aspect of the truth of the path, is conditioned and adventitious and is based on the universal ground of various habitual tendencies as the cause or agent of the removal of, or separation from, obscuring stains (bral rgyu). The state resulting from such a removal has its basis in the buddhapotential. It is as when the sun is freed from the clouds that obscure it. The resultant light is grounded in the sun itself. 

As it is said in the Uttaratantra-śāstra

Earth is based on water; water’s based on wind, And wind indeed 

is based on space. 

But space itself is not based on the elements of wind or water or 

of earth. 

Likewise aggregates, the elements, and senses— All are based on 

karma and defilement

And karma and defilement both 

Depend upon the mind’s improper use. 

And the mind’s improper use 

Depends upon the mind’s own purity. 

But the nature of the mind itself 

Does not depend on any such phenomena. 154 

In the same way as it is said here, the pure buddhafields and all enlightened qualities are primordially present-in the manner of the twofold buddha- potential—within the spacelike, pure nature of the mind. The buddha- potential is the primordial, pure expanse of ultimate reality (thog ma med pa’i 

chos khams dge ba).155 It is the ground that is the basis for the separation from, or removal of, obscuration; it is thus the basis for nirvāṇa. Here it is necessary to understand the four terms: the ground or basis of removal (bral gzhi), the causal agent of removal (that which removes, bral rgyu), the result of removal (bral ‘bras), and the object of removal (that which is to be removed, bral bya). 

The basis or ground for the removal or separation is the buddha-element (khams) or essence (snying po). The causal agent of the removal is virtue leading to liberation, which cleans away the stains upon the ground of the removal and is the aspect of the path. The result of the removal is the immaculate sugatagarbha: the actualization of all enlightened qualities. The object of removal, the factors to be removed or detached, are the eight consciousnesses together with their habitual patterns, based as these are on the universal ground of various habitual tendencies. In the language of the Secret Mantra, these four terms are referred to as the ground of purification (sbyang gzhi), the agent or means of purification (sbyong byed), the result of purification (sbyang ‘bras), and the factors to be purified (sbyang bya). The terminology is different but the meaning is the same. 

All the causes of the impure state of samsāra, along with the associated consciousnesses-and also all the conditioned virtues that connect one to the ground of liberation-have for a long time been based (without being actually located anywhere) in the universal ground of various habitual tendencies, the nature of which is the state of ignorance. 

All the qualities of nirvāņa are based in the ultimate expanse, which is why the latter is known as the ultimate ground of joining (sbyor ba don kyi kun gzhi). Its nature (ngo bo) is empty; its character (rang bzhin) is luminous; and its cognitive potency (thugs rje) is all-pervading. Its jewel-like qualities are spontaneously present. It is neither stained nor is it freed from stains. It is primordially luminous and is inseparable from the kāyas and wisdoms. This state is referred to as the fundamental mode of being (gnas lugs kyi don). From the standpoint of its utter purity, it is referred to with such terms as “the space-like state,” “absence of characteristics,” “emptiness,” “the perfectly unconditioned state,” and so on. Nevertheless, it is not mere nothingness, a nihilistic void. For within its state of luminosity, the kāyas and 

wisdoms are spontaneously present. It is totally free or empty of samsaric phenomena. As it is said in the Ghanavyūhasūtra, 

The pure disk of the moon 

Is always full and free from stain. 

Owing to its temporal phases, 

Wordly people think it grows and shrinks. 

So too the actual universal ground 

Is replete at all times with the buddha essence— This essence 

that the Tathāgata 

Indicated with the name of universal ground.” 

The childish in their ignorance, 

Enslaved by habit, see this universal ground 

In forms of various joys and pains

As karma, ordinary cognition, and defilement. 

Its nature, nonetheless, is pure and free from stain. Its qualities are like the wish-fulfilling gem. 

It is unmoving and is free from change. 

To recognize it perfectly is utter freedom. 

And Maitreya has said [in the Uttaratantra]

Therein is nothing to remove 

And thereto not the slightest thing to add. The perfect truth viewed perfectly 

And perfectly beheld is liberation. 156 

Many names are given to the ultimate universal ground. It is the basis, source, and cause of removal [of obscuration] and so on, and it is from this point of view that it is referred to as the ultimate universal ground of joining; as the beginningless, pure expanse of ultimate reality (thog ma med pa’i chos khams dge ba); as the sugatagarbha, the buddha-element; as the luminous 

nature of the mind; the dharmadhātu, the most fundamental mode of being; as naturally pure suchness; as the perfection of wisdom, and so on. 

Once again, the habitual tendencies of samsara are based upon the nature of the mind, and it is from this point of view that the nature of the mind is referred to as the universal ground of various habitual tendencies. For it provides the support for the gathering of nonvirtuous actions, virtuous actions, actions that lead to liberation, and actions that lead to the total purity of enlightenment. These actions, which from the very beginning are devoid of real existence, arise adventitiously. Furthermore, both positive and negative actions are based upon the universal ground of various habitual tendencies. And since the nature of the universal ground of various habitual tendencies is ignorance [the absence of discernment], it is indeterminate. Some say that its nature is not ignorance because it is itself the support of the five poisons as well as of utter purity. This is simply a misunderstanding, however. For the ignorance here referred to [as being the nature of the universal ground] is not the ignorance that is numbered among the five poisons. In the present case, the ignorance is the coemergent ignorance (lhan cig skyes pa’i ma rig pa): the first moment of delusion that leads to samsara.157 

The assertion that the universal ground provides support for the utter purity of enlightenment also requires examination. The universal ground of various habitual tendencies is the support neither of the primordial wisdom of buddhahood, which is endowed with the twofold purity (primordial purity and purity from all adventitious stains) nor of the buddha essence. This is because the universal ground as such is to be transmuted [into wisdom]. As it is said in the Sacred Golden Light Sūtra, “The universal ground, once transmuted, is the dharmakaya itself.” And in the Exhaustion of the Four Elements Tantra, we find: “The purified universal ground is the dharmadhātu.” The universal ground of various habitual tendencies is not the support of the buddha- element. It is rather the support or cause for the separation of impurities from the buddha-element. Thus it provides the support simply for the process of enlightenment through the conditioned accumulations of merit and of wisdom, which result from meditating on the path. Since the accumulations are contained within the truth of the path, they are said to be deceptive and impermanent. And this is so because they are based on the universal ground of various habitual tendencies. 

But if they are based on the universal ground, it may be asked, how could the two accumulations adversely affect this same ground? It is just as with a flame that depends upon a wick while yet consuming it, and like a fire that burns the wood on which it depends. In just the same way, the path of the two accumulations, which is based, or depends, on the universal ground, purifies samsaric tendencies, thus dispelling all that defiles or obscures the buddha nature or element. Since the path of the two accumulations actualizes buddhahood, thereby rendering manifest the buddha nature as it is in its pristine state before being veiled, it is called a “pure condition or cause.’ Subsequently, however, even this purifying antidote [the path of the two accumulations] is consumed, for it is a virtue that is imputed by the mind and thus belongs to the imputed reality. As it is said in the Commentary to the Uttaratantraśāstra, In the moment of manifest enlightenment, all true paths are eliminated.And as it is said in the Madhyamakāvatāra, 

The tinder of phenomena is all consumed, 

And this is peace, the dharmakaya of the Conquerors. 158 


So it is taught, here and elsewhere. And yet, one may ask, how can all true paths be eliminated? For the truth of path consists in the “emptiness of what should not be spurned” (dor ba med pa’i stong pa nyid),159 as well as of the thirtyseven factors of enlightenment. But the emptiness of what should not be spurned and the thirtyseven factors are included in the level of buddhahood. They are not part of the path because they belong to the stage at which the path is perfected. 

It is said that the universal ground of various habitual tendencies is referred to by means of many synonymous terms: coemergent ignorance, beginningless and endless obscuration, great darkness, primordial nescience, and so on

Moreover, the nature of the mind is like space. This beginningless expanse is called the ultimate universal ground of joining because liberation depends on it. It is also called the universal ground of various habitual tendencies because samsāra is based in it. And it is explained that from this nature of the mind, there arise happiness and suffering, faults and excellent qualities, all of 

which belong to the distinct experiences of samsāra and nirvāṇa. As the Commentary to the Uttaratantra declares, 

Endless and beginningless in time, 

The ultimate expanse is where all things abide. 

All migrating beings have it; 

Thus they have the state beyond all pain. 

It is now time to distinguish the universal ground and the eight consciousnesses. The universal ground of various habitual tendencies, which [in respect of virtue and nonvirtue] is indeterminate, is like a mirror; the consciousness of the universal ground is like the clear sheen of the mirror; and the consciousnesses of the five senses are like images reflected therein. Now the first moment of clear discernment of a foregoing object—the first moment of identifying an appearing object of [one of] the five senses—is the mental consciousness, or intellect (yid shes). The feeling of desire, aversion, or indifference that then arises toward the perceived object is called the defiled mental consciousness (nyon yid)

Certain masters in the past have said that if the defiled mental consciousness does not examine the object, the consciousnesses of the six gatherings alone do not accumulate karma because they are not conditioned by any of the three poisons. This assertion, however, must be further examined. This is indeed the case when the view, meditation, and conduct are maintained once the nature of phenomena has been recognized. On the other hand, beings who have never turned their minds to these matters and who are thus in a state of ignorance, do, as a result, accumulate negative actions. 

To state the matter more explicitly, the door through which karma is accumulated is the mental sense organ in concert with the five effective sense organs. The agents of karmic accumulation are the defiled mental consciousness, the virtuous mental consciousness, and the neutral mental consciousness. The karma is accumulated in the universal ground, while the consciousness of the universal ground provides the space in which karma is developed, accumulated, diminished, and so on. 

As it is said in the Commentary to the Sūtrālamkāra composed by the master Sthiramati

The mental organ and the five sense organs (the eyes and so on) are the doors of karmic deeds. These are the access points for engaging in action. The mental consciousness or intellect (yid), which entertains virtuous, nonvirtuous, or neutral thought, is the agent of karmic action. The six objects (form and so on) are the objects of action. The consciousness of the universal ground provides the space for karmic action, while the universal ground is the basis or location—the home, as it were—for such action. 

The consciousness of the universal ground is a clear and limpid state of cognition, in which there is no apprehension of either an object or a subject. From this, the five sense consciousnesses propagate. The visual consciousness [for example] perceives forms. It is not conceptual but is rather the detection of the form’s aspects. The same is true for the consciousnesses of the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the body. They perceive their respective objects (sound, odor, taste, and texture) but are nonconceptual. They are cognitions of the different aspects [of their objects]. That which originates from the appearing objects of the five sense consciousnesses or rather that which vividly manifests in the likeness of their aspects—is the phenomenon [which is mental] and also the mental consciousness. That is, from the side of the object, it is the mental phenomenon, whereas from the side of its arising in the mind (in the same aspect as it is perceived), it is said to be the mental consciousness. As it is said in the Commentary to the Sūtrālamkāra

The mental consciousness arises in the same aspect as the (outer) object occurring in the preceding moment of the sense consciousness. Alternatively, it is a cognition that perceives an object that is not actually present. It is both an object and a consciousness

Now as soon as the five sense consciousnesses and the consciousness of the universal ground ceasethat is, as soon as the object of the preceding moment of the sense consciousnesses ceases, or rather, as soon as the six consciousnesses that derive from these objects cease, there occurs what is referred to as the mental organ and its consciousness. As it is said in the Abhidharmakosa

In the moment that the six have ceased, 

The occurring consciousness is mental. 

When a form is seen, the consciousness of the universal ground is present, clear and limpid, without any apprehension of an object. The aspect of the seen object as this has arisen in consciousness is the visual consciousness. The subsiding of these two consciousnesses is called their cessation, and the cognitive aspect that then arises in an instant of thinking “This is a form” is said to be the mental consciousness (yid), or mind (sems). Since this moment of cognition is extremely rapid, there is no precise thought or conception, and so it is accounted nonconceptual (rtog med). But since it is the first moment of “knowing” the object, it is also said to be the “cognition of the apprehended” (gzung ba’i rtog pa). All detailed examinations of the object that derive subsequently from this first moment are considered to be the “cognition of the apprehender” (dzin pa’i rtog pa).1 


Therefore, even though in the first moment, the mental consciousness knows its object, if there does not follow an examination of this object, karma is not accumulated. This is the assertion of all great yogis

As it is said in the Song of Realization of Kuddālīpāda

When consciousnesses of objects of the six sense powers Are 

unspoiled by grasping, this is suchness. 

There is no karmic action, no ripening of the same. You see the stainless state that’s similar to space. 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 271: 3–280: 3] 



WHEN BEINGS LIVING in the desire realm are on the point of falling asleep, 

the five sense consciousnesses and the defiled mental consciousness dissolve into the mental consciousness. The mental consciousness then dissolves into the consciousness of the universal ground and, for a short moment, there arises a clear, nonconceptual state. Some masters of the New Translation schools say that practitioners who recognize this state, and remain in the recognition of it, do not dream but experience the luminosity of ultimate reality. In fact, however, the consciousness of the universal ground dissolves into the universal ground, in which there is no conception of anything. And as the universal ground dissolves into the dharmadhātu, all apprehension, both gross and subtle, ceases, and ultimate reality-empty, luminous, and free from conceptual movementmanifests. If this state is recognized, all delusions are arrested. As it is said in the Compendium Tantra of Precious Secret Wisdom, 

When the seven consciousnesses melt 

Into the consciousness of the universal ground, And the universal 

ground is purified in the ultimate expanse, There occurs primordial coemergent wisdom, Empty, luminous, and self- arisen

This is what yogis must recognize. 

And as this subsequently unfolds, the universal ground emerges from the dharmadhātu. From this the consciousness of the universal ground arises, and from this the mental consciousness alone appears, manifesting in various dream states. It is at this moment that mental objects deriving from habitual tendencies arise and are identified as one’s own

More explicitly, when the winds or vehicles of moving thoughts and the winds of the channels that support the seven consciousnesses pass through the right and left channels or roma and kyangma and are entering the central channel or uma, there occurs the state called the “balanced consciousness of the universal ground” (kun gzhi sum mnyam gyi rnam par shes pa). This is so called because, at this juncture, the winds are of equal strength. When, however, these winds are in the central channel and mingle together in a single taste, this is the time of the universal ground, and the person in question is in a state of profound and dreamless sleep. There are some people, moreover, who do not dream at all. They remain in a state of nonfluctuation throughout the night

Subsequently, the universal ground dissolves into the dharmadhātu. The channel of supremely unchanging luminosity, where the gross essence-drops and winds do not circulate, is located in the middle of the central channel. It has the nature of limpidly clear light. As it is said in the tantra called The All- Illuminating Sphere

In the middle of the central channel 

Is the channel of supremely changeless luminosity. 

It is a luminous expanse both clear and immaterial, The place of 

primal wisdom present of itself. 

When the “refined wind of the central channel”—which is a name for cognition itself (shes pa nyid)—enters the channel of supremely changeless luminosity, luminosity manifests. It is at this point that lights, drops of light, rainbows, and so on of “manifest luminosity” appear. “Empty luminosity” also appears: it is the nature of the mind free from all conceptual movement. The “luminosity of union” also manifests: namely, great primordial wisdom experienced as luminous awareness. 

From this there once again unfolds the universal ground, from which arises the consciousness of the universal ground and subsequently the mental consciousness. At this point the wind spreads through the lifesupporting channel, which is the support of the mental consciousness. The wind then enters the channels that are the supports of the different sense organs. It is then that one wakes from sleep and there manifests the ordinary duality of apprehender and apprehended: the experiences of the daytime. 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 284: 5-286: 4] 


THE SUTRAS OF definitive meaning belonging to the final turning of the wheel 

of Dharma clearly reveal the great secret of all the buddhas just as it is. These 






Śrīmālādevīsimhanādaparipṛcchā-sūtra, the Ratnadārikāparipṛcchāsūtra, the Vimaladevīparipṛcchā-sūtra, the Angulimālīya-sūtra, the Mahāparinirvāṇa- sūtra, the Maitreyaparipṛcchāsūtra, and the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra. These sūtras teach that the dharmadhātu, that is, the intrinsically pure nature of the mind or buddha-element, the essence of the Tathāgatas (the tathāgatagarbha), is primordially present in all beings. It is present from the very beginning and it is unchanging. Spontaneously, and from the very first, its appearing aspect is the source of the major and minor marks of the rūpakāya (the body of form), and its emptiness aspect is the dharmakaya (the body of ultimate reality) beyond all conceptual extremes. Since all enlightened qualities are naturally present within it, it is like a jewel; since it is unchanging, it is like space; and since it pervades all beings, as if moistening them, it is like water. By means of all such metaphors the tathāgatagarbha is set forth. As it is said in the Uttaratantra-śāstra

As a jewel or space or water are all pure, 

Its nature is at all times undefiled. 161 

For even when it is obscured by impurities, the tathāgatagarbha is itself free from stain. The nature of the mind is primordially luminous. As it is said 

in the Prajñāpāramitā in Eight Thousand Lines, “As for the mind, the mind does not exist; the nature of the mind is luminosity.”162 This is the buddha- element (khams) or potential (rigs) present in all beings. The Uttaratantra declares, 

Because the kaya of perfect buddhahood is all-pervading, Because in suchness there is no division, 

Because they have potential for enlightenment, 

All beings have at all times buddha essence. 


This buddha-potential is said to be the “beginningless, pure expanse of ultimate reality” (thog ma med pa’i chos khams dge ba). It is the primordial buddha within the ground. As it is said in the Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti, “There are no buddhas, first or last. Primordial Buddha lists to neither side.” And the Hevajra Tantra in Two Sections says, 

Sentient beings are truly buddhas 

And yet are stained by adventitious obscurations. 

When these are removed, indeed they’re truly buddhas. 

At the time when one is an ordinary being, the nature of the mind is, from the standpoint of appearance, in full possession of the qualities of the rūpakāya. From the standpoint of emptiness, it has all the qualities of the dharmakaya. Since, however, the mind’s nature is obscured by stains and is not actually manifest, it is referred to as the “element” (khams) or the “potential” (rigs). At the time of awakening (sangs rgyas), it is freed from all stain and is called “enlightenment” (byang chub). The only difference between these two cases lies in the complete manifestation or otherwise of the mind’s nature. It is not said that the qualities of enlightenment are nonexistent in the condition of ordinary beings and are generated anew later on. For these qualities are beyond all movement and change. As it is said in the Complete Revelation of the Essence Sūtra, 

The ultimate expanse from time without beginning Is the resting 

place of all phenomena. 

Since it is possessed by every being, 

All possess the state beyond all sorrow. 

As it was before, so later it will be

It is unchanging suchness. 

The luminous character of the mind’s nature is unsullied by defilement. As it is said in the Uttaratantra

This nature of the mind, this luminosity, 

Like space, is without change. 

Craving and the rest are adventitious stains 

Deriving from deluded thought, and they do not defile it. 164 

The buddhapotential may be classified twofold as the naturally present potential (rang bzhin gnas rigs) subsisting from the very beginning, and the 

developed potential (bsgrub pa’i rigs), which arises on the basis of the practices that remove circumstantial impurities. 

The naturally present potential may again be classified twofold. First, there is the naturally present potential that is the ultimate nature of phenomena— the empty nature of the mind, free from all conceptual extremes (chos nyid rang bzhin du gnas pa’i rigs)—which is the cause for the removal or separation (bral rgyu) [of obscuring stains] from the svābhāvikakāya. Second, there is the naturally present potential that is the phenomenal appearance of the ultimate nature (chos can rang bzhin du gnas pa’i rigs), which is the cause for the removal or separation [of obscuring stains] from the supreme rūpakāya. 

From the very beginning, phenomenal appearance partakes of the ultimate nature. The Parinirvāṇasūtra says, 

Son of my lineage, the mind’s nature is naturally luminous; it is naturally devoid of intrinsic being and is naturally pure. Its appearance is arrayed in the brilliant qualities of the major and minor marks, which are not separate from it. They are, however, distinguished from the standpoint of appearance and emptiness. 

The developed potential refers to the potential that is purified by the cultivation of bodhichitta and so on-that is, through the practices on the path of learning, which are related to skillful means and wisdom, the accumulations of merit and wisdom. As the Gaṇḍavyuha-sūtra says, “Ah, children of the Conqueror! The potential of enlightenment (byang chub kyi rigs) consists in an earnest search for the dharmadhātu. Those who have seen this potential-luminous in nature, vast as the sky-are those who have trained in the accumulations of wisdom and of merit.” And as the Uttaratantra says, 

Like a treasure or a tree grown from a fruit, 

The potential should be understood to have two aspects: Natural presence that persists from time without beginning And perfection that derives from proper cultivation. 

From the potential’s twofold aspect, it is said, 

The triple kaya of the Buddha is attained. From the first arises the first kāya; 

From the second come the later two

The svābhāvikakāya, fair and beautiful— 

It should be understood-is like a precious image. For it is present by its nature: it is uncontrived And is a treasury of precious qualities. 

Like a universal monarch is the sambhogakāya: For it is sovereign of the mighty realm of Dharma. The nirmāṇakāya is like a golden form: 

It therefore has the character of a reflection.165 

The svābhāvikakaya, the nature of the mind, the naturally present potential that is the ultimate nature of phenomena, is like a jewel. Within this spontaneously present state, there manifests the naturally present potential that is the phenomenal appearance of the ultimate nature. This is both the sambhogakāya, which is like a universal sovereign, and the nirmāṇakāya, which is the sambhogakāya’s reflection, and provides the support for the appearance of the supreme nirmāṇakāya, which manifests for the sake of beings to be guided. In the case of ordinary beings, these kāyas are veiled by impurities and are thus not perceptible. However, the accumulation of merit (arising through the cultivation of bodhichitta and so on) removes the veils that conceal the rūpakāya, whereas the accumulation of wisdom (effected through meditation on emptiness) dispels the veils that conceal ultimate reality, the svābhāvikakāya. 

The potential that is naturally present and the developed potential are linked together primordially as support and supported. The first is like the support provided by limpid water, while the second is like the various reflections that appear in the water. The potential that thus dwells within the ground is like an object that is to be known, whereas the developed potential 

subsisting in the present situation is like the knowing mind. Once again, they are linked in the manner of support and supported. The natural potential— both the ultimate nature (chos nyid) and its phenomenal appearance (chos can)—is in a manner of speaking the cause that makes possible the removal [of obscuration]. It is not the result of it. The developed potential is like an antidote that dissipates the veils but is not the actual cause of the two kāyas in the manner of a causal process involving an agent and object of production. This potential brings forth a wealth of perfect qualities, which are realized on the path of learning. It releases them and brings them to maturity on the level of buddhahood. 

As it is written in the Sūtrālamkāra, 

The natural and the developed, 

The support and the supported— 

[The first] exists [as cause] and it does not exist [as the result]

[The second] should be understood as meaning the release of 

qualities. 166 

All beings are pervaded by the tathāgatagarbha. Nine images or similes are used to illustrate how it dwells in the midst of defilement. It is said in the Uttaratantra

Like a buddha in a faded lotus, honey in the midst of bees, Like the kernel in the husk and gold in filthy soil, 

Like treasure in the earth, the shooting plant within the tiny 


Or like the image of the Conqueror wrapped up in tattered rags, 

Like a lord of men enclosed within a beggar-woman’s womb, Or like a precious image hid within the clay— Concealed by the defilements’ adventitious veils, The buddha-element subsists in sentient beings.1 


These nine similes all refer to the buddha-element, which is obscured in ordinary beings, in the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha arhats, and in bodhisattvas who are on the paths of seeing and meditation. There are four images that illustrate how the tathāgatagarbha dwells in the minds of ordinary beings who have not entered the path and also of those who have entered it but are on the paths of accumulation and joining. It is present in their minds but is concealed by four impurities. The first image is that of the tathāgatagarbha that dwells within latent desire. As it is said in the Uttaratantra

Just as enclosed within a faded lotus flower

The Tathāgata, shining with the thousand marks of buddhahood, Is seen by those who have unsullied divine sight And taken from 

the petals of that blossom, water-born. 

In just the same way, those who “go in bliss” behold with their 

enlightened and unsullied eyes That their own nature dwells in those caught in the Hell of Torment Unsurpassed; And, sovereigns of compassion who remain until the ending of samsāra

They act to liberate those beings from their obscurations.168 

The second image is that of the tathāgatagarbha dwelling in latent anger. As it is said in the Uttaratantra

Just as honey in the midst of swarming bees 

Sought for by a skillful man 

Who sees it and with clever art 

Withdraws it from the swarm, 

Likewise, the great Sage with his all-knowing eyes Beholds the wisdom, buddha nature, honeylike, And acts to free it fully and forever 

From the beelike veils obscuring it. 


The third image is that of the tathāgatagarbha that dwells within latent ignorance. 

Just as the kernel of a grain within its husk 

Is inappropriate for human use, 

And those who wish to eat of it 

Must first withdraw it from its shell, 

Just so the nature of the Conqueror 

Is mingled with the dross of the defilements. 

As long as it has not been freed therefrom, Enlightened deeds in 

the three worlds will not occur. 


The fourth image is that of the tathāgatagarbha dwelling amid the manifest and strongly active defilements of desire, aversion, and ignorance. 

Just as in a time of great commotion 

A person’s gold was dropped into a foul and dirty place, Where it remains just as it was 

For many centuries, by nature indestructible, 

Until a god endowed with pure and godly eyes Discerned it there and speaking to some person said, “The gold that here lies hid is of great price. 

Let it be cleansed and made into a precious thing.” 

The Sage, beholding thus the excellence of sentient beings Sunk in their defilements like that foul and filthy place, 

Sends down upon them rains of pure instruction 

That the mire of their defilements might be cleansed away.” 


There is one image that illustrates how the buddha-element dwells amid the propensity to ignorance as this is found in the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha 


Just as in the earth beneath a poor man’s dwelling, There was once a treasure inexhaustible

Of which the man knew nothing 

(For the treasure did not say that it was there), 

Within the mind there lies a precious treasure. 

Its nature is immaculate, with nothing to be added, nothing to 


Because they do not know this, living beings Constantly endure 

the many ills of poverty.172 

Two images illustrate how the buddha essence dwells amid the defilements that are to be eliminated by the path of seeing. The first is as follows: 

Just as the ever-present tendency to burgeon from a seed, Subsisting in a mango and the fruits of other trees, 

Is provoked by water and the tilling of the ground, 

That thence a kingly tree will gradually grow

Just so, the pure expanse of ultimate reality that’s caught inside the rind― Living beings’ ignorance and all the rest— 

Will, on the basis of the virtues, 

Burgeon by degrees into a king of sages.173 

The second of the two images is as follows: 

Just as a spirit who discovers by the road 

An image of the Conqueror contrived of precious jewels, But wrapped in tattered, foul, and fetid rags, declares— That it may be uncovered “There it is beside the path,” 

In just the same way those with unobstructed sight behold 

The actual blissful Buddha even in the state of stooping beasts, Enveloped in defilements in their various kinds, 

And likewise show the means whereby it might be freed.174 

Then there are two images that illustrate how the pure expanse of ultimate reality dwells amid obscuring defilements that are eliminated on the path of meditation. Here is the first of these two: 

Just as a woman, illfavored and protectorless And living in a 

shelter for the destitute, 

May carry in her womb the glory of a king, 

Not knowing she is pregnant with a lord of men, 

Birth in existence, too, is like a home for destitutes

And impure beings resemble the expectant woman. By the stainless element they bear within them 

They’re protected-like the woman with a king within her 

womb. 175 

The second image is as follows: 

When molten gold is poured in and the form is set, at peace, It has but the outer aspect of its earthen mold. 

Those who see and understand—that they might free the gold 


Will clear away the outer case whereby it is concealed. 

Likewise, having seen that that which is by nature luminous Can only be obscured by something adventitious, Sublime enlightened beings act to cleanse obscuring veils From beings who resemble mines of precious gems. 


The nine impurities related to these images are set forth in the Uttaratantra

Desire, aversion, ignorance (whether in their flagrant state or else 

as latent tendencies), All that is discarded on the paths of seeing and of meditation, impurities subsisting on the pure and impure grounds, 

These nine are illustrated by analogies 

Like being concealed within a lotus flower. 

If the confining secondary defilements were to be Distinguished, 

they would be numbered in their millions. 177 

Regarding those who have these stains, the Uttaratantra says, 

Childish beings, arhats, those who train

And those possessed of wisdom are, in their respective order, Stained by these impurities: 

By four, by one, by two, and then by two


These images and the impurities they illustrate are laid out in the Uttaratantra as follows

Just as a lotus rising from the mud Delights the mind when first beheld But later brings no joy, 

So too is joy deriving from desire. 

Bees when strongly agitated Use their stings

So too when anger has arisen, 

It engenders sorrow in the mind

Just as the pith of rice and other grains Is covered by its outer husk, 

Likewise understanding of the essence 

Is hindered by the shell of ignorance. 

Just as filth is uncongenial, 

So too defilement in its full arising, 

Causing those in the desire realm to pursue 

Their cravings, is like filth. 

Just as wealth when all concealed Remains unknown, its treasure 


The self-arisen element in beings 

Is likewise hidden by the ground of tendency to ignorance. 

Just as the gradual growing of a shoot Cuts through the outer layers of a seed, Just so, when suchness is beheld 

All that seeing discards is countered. 

Through connection with the noble path, 

The transitory collection,179 the essential point, is quelled. All that is discarded on the path of meditation—all that primal 

wisdom sheds- 

Is shown to be like tattered 


The impurity supported by the seven grounds Is like the impurity of confinement in the womb. Nonconceptual primal wisdom is like being freed From such confinement, like a birth without travail. 

Impurities connected with the three successive levels, It should be understood, are like the traces left by clay. 

The concentration vajra-like 

Of great beings will remove them. 

Desire and so forth: all the nine impurities 

Resemble thus the lotus and the rest. 


Moreover, as it is recounted in the teachings of the Mahāparinirvāṇa- sutra

The Blessed Lord said to Kāśyapa: “This is how it is, my noble son. There was once a king who had in his service a giant with a jewel of diamond in his brow. It came to pass that when the giant was contending with another giant-like champion, his opponent struck his head with his own and without the former’s realizing it, the jewel in his brow sank into his flesh. Since he had been wounded, however, he called for a physician and asked his services. But the physician was wise, and since the wound had been caused by the jewel as it sank into the giant’s flesh, he did not apply any medicine. 

“Well now, strong man! Where is the jewel in your forehead?At this the giant grew afraid and told the physician that, to his knowledge, the jewel was still in his brow and had not disappeared. And thinking that if the jewel were not there, it must have been an illusion, he became extremely downcast. To comfort the giant, the physician then said, “Do not be sad! When you were contending, the jewel in your brow sank into your flesh, leaving nothing outside but an indication of its presence. When you were fighting, your blood was up and the gem sank down into your flesh. Yet, by the power of this same jewel, you felt nothing.” 

The giant, however, disbelieved him and said, “O physician, do not lie. If the jewel had really sunk into my flesh, there would be filthy pus and blood, and there would be no indication of it outside.’ 

At that, the physician placed a mirror in front of the wound, and the jewel clearly appeared in it. On seeing this, the giant was greatly amazed. 

Noble son, such is the plight of beings! Because they do not serve and follow a spiritual master, they fail to see that they have the buddha nature. This nature is veiled; it is overwhelmed by desire, aversion, and ignorance. And so these beings circle in samsāra, amid the torments of many different realms of existence

This story, from the point just indicated in the text and until the words, “Noble son! Within the bodies of all beings are the ten strengths, the thirty- two major and eighty minor marks,” explains the buddha nature in numerous different ways. 

In the Hevajra Tantra we find, 

Great primordial wisdom dwells within the body, 

Wholly free of all discursive thought. 

All things does it pervade. 

It dwells within the body, yet from the body it does not arise

In the Precious Net it is said, 

All beings, I and everyone, 

Are primordially enlightened, 

But through the power of thought do beings circle in samsāra. 

To free them all I generate the attitude of supreme awakening. 

The Wisdom at the Moment of Death Sūtra says, “When the mind is understood, this is buddhahood. You should strongly cultivate the attitude of mind of thinking that nowhere else should buddhahood be sought.” 

Praises of the Mind Vajra says, 

Just as water dwells unsullied 

In the very heart of earth, 

Primal wisdom also dwells 

Unsullied in the midst of our defilements. 

And in the Guhyagarbha Tantra it is said, 

In any of the four times or the ten directions No perfect buddha 

will be found. 

The perfect buddha is the mind itself. 

Therefore do not look elsewhere for buddhahood— 

Where even the enlightened ones cannot discover it. 

Thus it is set forth in these and other sacred texts. In short, it should be understood, with the help of metaphorssuch as that of the great sheet of silk as vast as the three-thousandfold universethat the kāyas and wisdoms of buddhahood dwell primordially within all beings, as inalienably as sunlight in the sun itself. This buddha-element is at all times naturally pure and changeless. The stains upon it are adventitious and imaginary. As the Commentary to the Uttaratantra declares, 

Great Sage! Defilements are darkness, whereas perfect purity is light. Defilements are weak, whereas profound insight (vipaśyanā) is of great strength. Defilements are adventitious, whereas natural purity is the fundamental root. 

Being primordially unstained, the buddha-element is pure; changeless and unmoving, it is the supreme identity (bdag dam pa); being at all times present, it is everlasting; and though it has fallen into the samsaric state of many sufferings, it is not overwhelmed thereby. Thus it is transcendent bliss. The Uttaratantra says

Its results are the transcendent qualities 

Of purity, identity, happiness, and permanence.181 

The tathāgatagarbha pervades all beings. It is said in the Sūtrālaṇkāra

Just as it is said that space is always everywhere, 

Likewise it is said to be at all times present. 

Just as space pervades all forms, Likewise it pervades the 

multitude of beings. 

This buddha essence is veiled by defilements, and yet, in itself, it is unsullied—it is like the sun enshrouded by the clouds. From the very first and until the time of our awakening, it is indestructible and inseparable from us. As it is said in the Commentary to the Uttaratantra, “The tathāgatagarbha pervades all beings in their three conditions, yet it remains unchanged by either defilement or the purity [of enlightenment].” The three conditions are mentioned in the Uttaratantra

As impurity, impurity-and-purity, 

And utter purity 

Are described respectively 

Beings, bodhisattvas, Tathāgatas. 183 

Impurity thus refers to the condition of ordinary beings, both impurity and purity to the condition of the bodhisattvas, while utter purity refers to the condition of the buddhas. But what is this buddha-potential like? There is no image that can adequately illustrate it, and therefore it is said to resemble the condition of the Tathāgata. The Uttaratantra goes on to say, 

Because it is beyond the world, 

There’s nothing in this world whereby we can imagine it. This is why it has been taught 

That the buddha-element is like the Tathāgata.184 

On the other hand, according to the way the buddha-element actually is, it does not actually resemble any of the images supplied because, although the nature is one and the same, yet there are differences according to different conditions, and thus it is that the nine images apply to the buddhaelement only in a piecemeal fashion. 

Who is able to behold the buddha nature truly? Only the buddhas see it as it is. People who have been accepted by a spiritual master but who have no direct realization of the fundamental nature; the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas; beings who have faith in the Mahāyāna; and also the bodhisattvas dwelling on the grounds of realization understand it only in the manner of an aspiration-in terms of a general idea or universal. Even the bodhisattvas on the tenth ground realize this nature only partially. As the Commentary to the Uttaratantra says, 

Just as the sun is glimpsed between the clouds, 

Those who are intelligent perceive it only partially. 

Even noble beings with the clear eyes of their minds do not 

behold it fully

But you, Lord, see the spotless dharmakaya, endless wisdom, 

The ultimate expanse replete with knowledge objects numberless. 

The buddha-element or essence subsists as the buddhafield “Wheel of Ornaments,” the ornaments in question being the three kayas together with the primordial wisdoms within the nature of the mind. When it is seen exactly as it is, this is buddhahood. These texts [the Uttaratantra, the Commentary to the Uttaratantra, and all texts that teach the tathāgatagarbha] should therefore be explained and cherished. 

For beings who are on the path of learning, the buddhaelement is understood through faith and in a general manner. As it is said in the Commentary to the Uttaratantra, “The ultimate truth of the self-arisen wisdom must be realized through faith. The blazing orb of the sun is invisible to those who have no eyes.” And the Essence of Enlightenment Sūtra describes how it is seen only in part and not completely. 

Ordinary beings, śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas do not see the buddha essence exactly as it is. Consider the following illustration. A man who was blind from birth asked someone to tell him the color of ghee. He received the answer that it was like snow. On touching some snow, the blind man thought that the color of ghee was cold. He then inquired about the color of snow and was told that it was like a swan’s wing. When he heard a swan’s wing flapping, he thought that the color of snow was like the sound of wings. When he asked about the color of the swan’s wing, he heard that it was like a conch; and when he touched a conch, he concluded that the color of the swan’s wing was smooth. In whichever way his inquiry was expressed, the blind man was unable to discover the precise color of ghee. In the same way, it is very difficult to see the buddha 


This same sūtra gives another example of how difficult it is for ordinary beings to realize the tathāgatagarbha: 

Once upon a time, a king summoned a group of blind men before him and, placing an elephant in front of them, asked them to describe it. Those who touched the trunk said that the elephant was like a hook. Those who touched its eyes said that it was like 

a bowl. Those who touched its ears said that it was like a winnowing fan. Those who touched its hindquarters said that it was like a sedan chair, while those who touched its tail said that it was like a rope. All the blind men were describing the same elephant though without perceiving it fully. In just the same way, buddhahood has only been defined in terms of one or other of its aspects. Some have defined it as emptiness, others like a magical illusion, others as luminosity. But all have failed to understand it fully. 

The noble bodhisattvas have a slight understanding of it, but they fail to see it precisely as it is. As it is said in the Parinirvāṇasūtra

Noble son! In order to find a cure for his blindness, a man once consulted a physician. The latter took a golden scalpel and cut away the membrane of the man’s cataracts. When he showed the man one of his fingers, the latter said that he could see nothing, but when he showed him two or three of his fingers, the man said that he could see something slightly. Son of noble family! In just the same way, if the buddha nature were not expounded in the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, countless bodhisattvas would fail to glimpse the buddha nature, even though they may have perfected the transcendent virtues and abide on the ten grounds of realization. But if the Tathāgata sets it forth, they will have an inkling. 

The metaphors that the sutra then goes on to give illustrate the fact that whereas the buddha essence is partially glimpsed, it is not understood with complete certainty. 

It could be argued that if the buddha essencesubtle as it is and hard to realize cannot be seen by ordinary beings, there is no point in teaching it. But being told that the buddha nature is present in our and othersminds will prevent us from losing hope. Through understanding that liberation is not hard to achieve, we will have enthusiasm. Neither will we belittle others but will respect them as the equals of the Buddha our Teacher. By dispelling ignorance regarding the presence of the kāyas and wisdoms of ultimate reality 

within us, we will acquire wisdom whereby the ultimate expanse will be realized. Knowing thus the fundamental mode of being, we will avert all misconceptions with regard to existence and nonexistence, permanence and discontinuity, and thus we will have access to the primordial wisdom that realizes the ultimate truth. By avoiding a proud sense of superiority and self- centeredness, we will perceive that others are of equal importance to ourselves and will have a great love for them. These are the five reasons for which the teaching on the buddha essence has been expounded. As the Uttaratantra says, 

Like clouds and dreams and magical illusions, 

Here and there it has been taught 

That all things are completely empty. 

Why then does the Victor here declare 

The buddha essence to be present in all beings?185 

And in answer to this question, the text continues: 

Disheartedness, contempt for lesser beings

Believing what is incorrect, negating perfect qualities, 

Excessive self-love-for those who harbor these five defects

Thus he spoke that they might give them up. 


If these five faults are discarded, five qualities will ensue. The Uttaratantra declares, 

Enthusiastic joy, respect for others as if they were the Teacher, Wisdom, primal wisdom, and great love: 

Through the birth of these five qualities there comes 

A freedom from wrongdoing and the view that all are equal.187 

Those who have a mistaken view regarding the buddha nature assume an arrogant demeanor. Their faces are covered with the golden net of wrong opinions, and they turn their backs on the sūtras of definitive meaning and the view of the Secret Mantra, saying that this quintessential teaching is of a 

mere expedient value. They speak like this because they think that the result arises from a cause. If it were not so, the result (so they think) would be like the permanent self of the non-Buddhists. They therefore declare with an absolute certainty that even the two kayas of the Buddha manifest from the twofold accumulation. 

Kayé! O you who have fine faces decked with lotuses! The truth is that you fail to understand the wisdom intention of the teachings expounded in the three turnings of the wheel of Dharma. You consider as definitive the extreme position of emptiness. In the teachings of the first turning of the Dharma wheel, intended for beginners and those of basic capacity, the four truths are expounded in terms of what is to be rejected together with the remedies to this, so that beings may turn away from samsara. These teachings describe the methods whereby beings are freed from what is to be abandoned [the truths of suffering and origin]. 

Now as a means to escaping the fetters of clinging to these remedies, the middle turning of the Dharma wheel expounds space-like emptiness and the eight similes that illustrate the illusory nature of all things. These teachings were given for the sake of beings of moderate capacity and for those who have trained in the earlier teachings. 

The final turning of the Dharma wheel was intended for those who have perfected the previous teachings and for those of great capacity: it expounds the nature of phenomena just as it is. The buddha essence [as taught in the third turning] is not the same as the self of the non-Buddhists who, destitute of true knowledge, impute real existence to the self. This self of theirs has no existence at all. The non-Buddhists quantify it as great or small, and they do not affirm that it possesses the kayas and wisdoms. 

You who say that the teaching on the tathāgatagarbha is of only expedient value have a view that clings to no-self and emptinesswhich is no more than an antidote to the self and nonemptiness. It does not constitute the definitive teaching. 

In the Parinirvāṇa-sūtra we find the following parable: 

This, moreover, is how it is, my noble son. There was once a woman with a very young child that fell ill. Overcome with sorrow, she brought him to a doctor who mixed butter, milk, and 

molasses and gave the mixture to the child, telling the woman that she must not allow the child to suck from her breast until the mixture had been digested. In order to prevent her child from drinking, the woman smeared her breasts with bile, telling him that there was poison on her breasts and that he should not drink. The child, being thirsty, wanted to drink but, tasting the bitterness of the bile, could not do so. Later, when the medicine had been digested, the woman washed her breasts clean and told the child to come to suckle, for now he could drink. But, despite his thirst, the child would not, remembering the bitterness he had tasted before. Whereupon his mother explained that she had smeared her breasts with bile to prevent him from drinking before the medicine had been digested. But now that it had been digested, she had washed her breasts and they were now no longer bitter. And so the child came slowly back and was able to drink again. 

Noble son! In order to liberate all beings, I the Tathāgata have emphatically declared to them the absence of the self. Through earnest practice, beings may understand that there is no mental state called “I” and thus may pass utterly beyond sorrow. Moreover, it was in order to dispel the wrong view of the Cārvākas, and to bring beings to the utterly pure existence of the human state through meditating on the doctrine of no-self, that I the Tathāgata have explained that all phenomena are devoid of self, so that beings may grow used to emptinesss. It was like the woman who, for her child’s sake, had smeared her breasts with bile. And just as later the woman washed her breasts and called her child to drink, so too have I explained the tathāgatagarbha. O bhiksus, do not be afraid! Just as the woman called to her child, who then came slowly back, you should, O bhikṣus, distinguish these two cases. You should not consider that the tathāgatagarbha is nonexistent. When formerly in the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras I expounded emptiness, you should understand that I did so thinking only of the fact that phenomena have no intrinsic being. Meditation on an emptiness that is a mere nothingness will not 

result in the arising of the kāyas and wisdoms of buddhahood. For a result must follow upon its cause. 

It is in such a manner that emptiness means the emptiness of concepts that grasp things, in the very moment of their perception, as being either one or many. It means the emptiness of their intrinsic being. Things are like reflections in a mirror. Emptiness does not mean that things are like imaginary objects that in the past did not exist, that in the present do not exist, and that in the future will not exist. As it is said in the Heart Sūtra: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is none other than form, and form is none other than emptiness. The same is true for feelings, perceptions, conditioning factors, and consciousness-all are empty.” And the Middle-Length Prajñāpāramitā declares that every phenomenon is, in its own time, empty by its nature. If there were no form, how could there be emptiness of form? 

As it is said in the Uttaratantra

Emptiness endowed with supreme aspects Has been likened to a portrait that’s complete. 


Therein is nothing to remove 

And thereto not the slightest thing to add. 

The perfect truth viewed perfectly 

And perfectly beheld is liberation. 

The buddha-element is void of what is adventitious, Which has the character of something separable. 

This element is not itself devoid of supreme qualities, Which 

have the character of what cannot be parted from it. 188 

It is said in the Commentary to the Uttaratantra

What is being set forth in this passage? The tathāgatagarbha is in its nature utterly pure. There is no reason at all to remove defilements from it because its very nature is freedom from adventitious stains. And there is not the slightest reason for pure qualities to be superadded to it, for its nature, the dharmatā, is already endowed with pure and inalienable qualities. Therefore the tathāgatagarbha is empty of defilements that are alien to it and that may be removed from it. It is not empty of the inconceivable qualities of enlightenment, which are more numerous than the grains of sand in the Ganges and from which it cannot be parted by any means. So it is said. Therefore, to affirm that it is empty with regard to what is absent from it [namely, defilement] is the correct way of seeing. Furthermore, to say that whatever superior quality it possesses is present in it permanently is to understand the matter properly, just as it is. 

The two kayas of a buddha are present from the beginning. That which obscures them is dispelled by the two accumulations. It is not the case that the action of dispelling is the productive cause of the produced result (of the two kāyas). For in that case, it would follow that the dharmakāya and sambhogakāya are conditioned and thus impermanent. 

The dharmakaya is therefore beyond all movement and all change. As it is said in the Madhyamakāvatāra, 

This peaceful kaya, radiant like the wish-fulfilling tree, Is like the 

wishing-jewel that without forethought lavishes 

The riches of the world on beings till they gain enlightenment. It is perceived by those who are beyond conceptual 

construction, 189 

And the Uttaratantra says

Because he has the mastery of every quality, 

Because death’s demon he destroys, 

Because he is without intrinsic nature 

And because he is the lord of all world, he’s permanent. 190 

And once again, in contradiction of the causal process, it also says, 

It is unconditioned and spontaneously present

It is not known through outer causes; 

Endowed with knowledge, love, and power- 

It is buddhahood, the fulfillment of the twofold aim.191 

It is thus that the process of enlightenment in terms of cause and result—of something that engenders and something that is engendered-is denied. Consequently, the meaning of no-self, emptiness, nonduality, and so on should be understood in the following way. In the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, the Buddha says

The secret essence of the Tathāgata, the buddha nature utterly pure, is said to be beyond change and movement. Even if it is described as existing, the wise and learned should not cling to it. To describe it as nonexistent is to speak falsely. Inferior people deny it as nonexistent. They fail to understand the secret essence of the Tathāgata. If it is described as suffering, the blissful nature of the body is not understood. Foolish people think that all bodies are impermanent; they consider them like unfired pots. The wise and learned, on the other hand, discern correctly and 

do not say that everything is at all times impermanent. Why so? Because within this body of ours is the buddha nature, the seed. Fools consider that all the qualities of enlightenment are without self [just empty], but for the wise and learned, the no-self is just an ascribed label, which they understand in terms of the absence of true existence. Secure in this knowledge, they have no doubts about it. When the tathāgatagarbha is described as empty, the foolish, hearing this, conclude that it is nonexistent in a nihilistic sense. But the wise and learned understand the Tathāgata potential as unchanging and beyond all movement. When liberation is said to be like an illusion, fools conclude that to say that beings attain liberation is a teaching of demons. The wise and learned, on the other hand, understand that, among humankind, only the lionlike Tathāgata is everlasting, unchanging, and beyond all movement. When it is said that conditioning factors [the second interdependent link] manifest because of ignorance, foolish people hearing this make a distinction between ignorance and knowledge. But the wise and learned understand that, by their very nature, they are not two, and that genuine reality is the absence of duality. When it is said that because of conditioning factors, consciousness arises, foolish people thing that conditioning factors and consciousness are two different things. The wise and learned, on the other hand, understand that by their nature they are not two, and that the absence of this duality is a genuine reality. When it is said that all things are without self, and that even the tathāgatagarbha is without self, foolish people understand that self and no-self are two different things. But the wise and learned understand that, by their nature, they are not two. Self and no-self are not two by their nature. 

The tathāgatagarbha is therefore praised by all the bhagavān buddhas as boundless, immeasurable, and infinite. And I too have expounded it in detail in the sūtras [of the last turning of the Dharma wheel]. 

When in the Magical Display Sūtra it is said that the Icchantikas192 will never pass beyond sorrow, and when this same text speaks of them as cut off from the buddha-potential, one might conclude that the buddha essence is not in fact possessed by all beings. This, however, is not so. This was said with regard to those who, having given up the teachings of the Great Vehicle, will not gain freedom for a very long time, and to those who, straying from the path, are temporarily separated from the buddhapotential developed on the path. They are not, however, cut off from the luminosity that is the nature of the mind. As it is said in the Commentary to the Uttaratantra

When the Buddha said that the Icchantikas would never pass beyond sorrow, he was thinking in terms of “another time” (dus gzhan la dgongs nas). 193 He said it in order to remove aversion to the Dharma of the Great Vehicle. For it is hostility to the teaching of the Great Vehicle that produces the Icchantika condition. But since they possess the utterly pure buddha- potential, it is wrong to think that they will never become utterly pure. For thinking of the fact that all beings without distinction may be purified, the Buddha declared that “Though [the veil] is beginningless, it has an end. That which is naturally pure and permanent has been enveloped from beginningless time by a sheath [of defilement] and consequently has not been seen. It is like a golden statue hidden beneath a veil.” 

From time without beginning, the pure expanse of ultimate reality [the buddha-potential] dwells in all beings. The time will come when each one of them will become utterly pure. “Though the veil is beginningless, it has an end.” So it is established. 

The awakening of the two kinds of buddha-potential is accompanied by signs. The signs of the awakening of the naturally present potential that is the dharmakaya (rang bzhin chos skui rigs) are described in the Madhyamakāvatāra, 

Certain simple, ordinary people, 

When they hear of emptiness, will feel 

A joy that leaps and surges in their hearts. 


eyes will fill with tears, the hairs upon their skin stand up. 

Such people are the vessels for the teaching; 

They have the seed of wisdom, perfect buddhahood. 

The final truth should be revealed to them, 

In whom ensuing qualities will come to birth. 194 

The signs of the awakening of the naturally present potential that is the appearance of the rūpakāya (gzugs sku chos can gyi rigs) are described in the Sūtrālamkāra

Compassion prior to embarking (on the path), Interest and acceptance, 

Perfect virtuous practice 

Are said to be the certain signs of the potential. 

As for the benefits of the awakened buddha-potential, the same text says

Even if, a long time later, they must go to lower realms, They 

will be quickly freed therefrom; 

There they suffer little pain

And wearied with the world, they will bring beings to 

maturity, 195 

As the text says, once the buddha-potential has been awakened, then even though it is possible to be reborn in the lower realms, one is quickly freed therefrom, like a ball of silk bouncing up from the ground. Suffering but little, [the bodhisattvas] feel an intense weariness with the world and bring beings to maturity. If beings did not possess this buddhapotential, they would feel no sorrow in the midst of pain, and some of them would feel no impulse to leave samsāra and to attain nirvāṇa. Even the desire to be free would not arise in their minds. On the other hand, the fact that, even in the absence of anyone to teach them, some beings feel pity for those who suffer, and feel revulsion with their existential condition when they themselves feel pain-all this is said to be through the power of the pure expanse of ultimate reality [the tathāgatagarbha] that they have within them from beginningless time. As it is said in the Uttaratantra

If one did not have the buddhaelement, 

No sorrow would one feel in pain, 

No wanting would there be to pass beyond all suffering— 

No interest and no aspiration would there be for it

This seeing of the faults and sorrows of existence, The qualities and happiness of the state beyond all sorrow, Comes from the possession of the buddha-potential. 

If this potential were not there, it would not come. 


Having thus shown in some detail how the possession of this potential means that one possesses the essence of buddhahood, I will conclude with the following poetic interlude: 

Without exception every being has the essence of the Sugata 

Enveloped in enshrouding adventitious stains wherein The clear light, flame of the expanse of ultimate reality, From time without beginning, dwells. 

The kayas and the wisdoms dwell in every being, 

Spontaneously present, never to be parted. 

When emptiness and the essence of compassion are achieved, This buddha-element receives the name of the enlightened state And brings about the good and happiness of every being. Present of itself from time without beginning, 

But like sun and sky concealed by clouds, 

It is obscured by adventitious stains. 

Thus pain is suffered in existence, which is like a dream. Cultivate a strength of diligence in order to remove defilement. 

These appearances of the six migrations

Adventitious and illusory, 

Produced by karma and habitual tendencies, 

Are but the stuff of dreams

In the present, past, and future, 

They are utterly unreal though they appear. 

Primal wisdom, luminous, 

Is present of itself and from the very first

Beings have it constantly, yet at this time they do not see it, Just as when asleep they do not see their place of rest. 

Therefore, do not cling 

To what is meaningless, imaginary, defiled, 

But in the clear light of the mind’s own nature 

Train yourself. 

Seize for yourself and others All the riches of the twofold goal. 

Why is it that beings wander in samsara, even though they possess this potential? What is the reason for it? It is because beings fail to recognize the buddhapotential dwelling within them and instead grasp at a self where there is no self. The conditions for this failure are provided by the unbroken sequence of defilement, by false friends, by indigence, and by lack of independence. It is thus that beings circle in samsāra. As it is said in the Sūtrālamkāra

Habituation to defilement, evil friends

Poverty, subjection to the power of others— These in brief are threats to the potential: 

You should know that there are four of them.197 

And as it is said in the Stages of Luminosity

Beings do not see primordial luminosity. 

They call their minds their “I” and cling to “mine.” 

“These things,” they say, “are other.” And clinging to a self, Confused, they wander through the reaches of existence. 

Joy and sorrow, all awry, they feel 

According to their karma. 

And words to similar effect are found in The All-Creating King Tantra

The primordial, luminous nature of the mind is selfarisen primordial wisdom, empty and clear. By nature, it is empty like space, yet its character is luminous like the sun and moon. And the radiance of its cognitive potency manifests unceasingly and unobstructedly like the surface of a limpidly clear mirror, free from stain. Having thus the nature of the dharmakāya, sambhogakāya, and nirmāṇakāya, the sugatagarbha is unconfined and is not 

limited either to samsara or nirvāṇa. Its empty nature provides the open arena necessary for the manifestation of all things; its luminous character allows the five self-arisen lights to appear as sense objects; and its cognitive potency— self-cognizing primordial wisdom-manifests as the detecting cognition owing to which delusion is said to occur. It is said in the Guhyagarbha Tantra

Emao! Through the working of one’s thoughts, 

One strays from the sugatagarbha. 

It is at that moment that, inasmuch as one fails to recognize primordial wisdom, one speaks of coemergent ignorance (lhan cig skyes pa’i ma rig pa). Inasmuch as one takes the self-experience [and display] of primordial wisdom as something other, one speaks of conceptual ignorance (kun brtags pa’i ma rig pa). Through failing to recognize that this self-experience of primal wisdom arises within the fundamental mode of being, and through clinging to it as a self and sense objects, this same self-experience is mistaken for the outer vessel of the universe and for the beings that are its inner essence, with their bodies (the result of their habitual tendencies) and their minds, filled as they are with the five poisons in their various forms. As The All-Creating King declares, 

Beings fail to understand my nature— 

I who am the all-creator

They scrutinize the things that I myself create 

And crave and are attached to them, 

And therefore these appearances acquire solidity. Yet transient, illusionlike, they all disintegrate. Beings are like men born blind 

Who do not see the way things are. 

The cause of their delusion is ignorance. As it is said in the abridged Prajñāpāramitā-sūtra, “All beings of whichever capacity, high, medium, or low, have manifested through ignorance, so the Sugata has said.” The contributing condition for their delusion is their clinging to duality. As it is 

said in the Prajnāpāramitā in Eight Thousand Lines, Beings circle in samsāra because of their clinging to ‘T’ and ‘mine.” And the Prajñāpāramitā in Twenty Thousand Lines says

Ordinary, childish beings perceive aggregates where there are no aggregates, elements where there are no elements, sources where there are no sources, and dependently arising things where there are no dependently arising things. Because of their fully ripened karma, they incorrectly apprehend dependently produced phenomena. 

How is it that beings arise? Owing to the two kinds of ignorance, conditioning factors [action] occur, and it is through these that existence is compounded. It is through conditioning factors that different kinds of beings exist [consciousness as the result], and name-and-form and so on are produced. Once the body takes shape [beginning with the stage when the embryo is globular, and so on until the moment of birth], there is contact, feeling, and the six senses and so on, until the stage of agingand-death. Thus there unfolds the twelvefold cycle in which beings turnon account of which one speaks of samsāra, or cyclic existence. 

It might be thought that it is impossible for the primordial, fundamental nature to exist as samsāra, and that within the sugatagarbha there can be no circling in samsāra. But this is untrue. The process resembles the case of limpid, transparent water that is free from all impurity, but which because of the winds of winter turns to ice as hard as stone. Within the primordial nature, and because of the duality that has arisen of apprehended and apprehender, hallucinatory appearances are perceived that are various and seemingly quite solid. This is demonstrated in the Song of Action from the Collected Songs of Realization, 

When blown and agitated by the wind, Even yielding water will 

turn hard as stone. 

When the mind’s disturbed by thought, 

Formless nescience takes shape 

As something solid and extremely hard. 

This is what happens when delusion occurs within the sugatagarbha. The unchanging, unmoving primordial purity of the nature of the mind is called the ultimate universal ground of joining (sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi). It is the dharmakaya, in which the perfect rūpakāyas, buddhafields, and primordial wisdoms are all implicit. Yet they are veiled by ignorance, on account of which they are falsely perceived in terms of apprehender and apprehended. So it is that the ultimate ground of joining becomes the universal ground of various habitual tendencies (bag chags sna tshogs pa’i kun gzhi), in which are lodged from time without beginning the seeds of all the many habits of delusion. Subsequently, and depending on which habitual tendencies are the stronger, happy or evil destinies are experienced and one circles in them as in a dream. At that time, one clings to “I” and “self”; one tastes of hatred and desire and all the five poisons. Thus one engages in action and the creation of yet further habitual tendencies. Thoroughly mistaken with regard to things that have no existence, one clings to them and experiences them in all their variety as if they were truly existent. One turns continuously on the wheel of hallucinatory appearances revolving day and night without reprieve. This very circling is completely groundless. It seems that one wanders farther from liberation because of one’s manifold delusions. But these are like the illusions of a dream. One wanders, prey to feelings of joy and sorrow, just like the prince who, losing his realm, became a wanderer on the road. Yet throughout the entire time of his destitution, he possessed by his very nature the happiness of supreme riches. For he was born within the kingly state, and his sorrow was but a transient condition. As it is said in the Treasure Inexhaustible, a Song of Instruction, 

Beings entangled in the bindweed of existence, In the desert of 

self-clinging parched with thirst

Are like a young prince dispossessed and fatherless. 

Mental anguish is their lot; they have no chance of happiness. 

And yet, throughout the time that they wander senselessly in the desert of the world, they nevertheless possess, as it has been shown above, the 

tathāgatagarbha as their very nature. The Tathāgatagarbhasūtra says, 

Kyé, O child of the Buddha! So it is. Imagine an immense expanse of silk cloth, equal in size to all the worlds of the three- thousandfold universe, and on this vast sheet of silk are painted all the worlds of the entire universe. Thus it is devised. The great sheet of silk is painted over every part of its extent. The three- thousandfold universe is painted equal in size to the worlds of the three-thousandfold universe. The worlds of the two-thousandfold universe are painted equal in size to the worlds of the two- thousandfold universe; the worlds of the onethousandfold universe are painted equal in size to the worlds of the one- thousandfold universe. The worlds of the four cosmic continents are painted equal in size to the worlds of the four cosmic continents. The great ocean too is painted according to its actual size; the painting of Jambudvīpa is the size of Jambudvīpa; the painting of Pūrvavideha is the actual size of Pūrvavideha in the east; the painting of Aparagodānīya is the actual size of Aparagodānīya in the west; the painting of Uttarakuru is the actual size of Uttarakuru in the north. The painting of Mount Sumeru is in size equal to Mount Sumeru itself; the palaces of the gods living on the earth are painted equal in size to the actual palaces; the palaces of the gods of the desire realm are painted equal in size to those palaces; palaces of the gods of the form realm are painted equal in size to those actual palaces. In length and width, this great sheet of silk is of a size equal to the worlds of the three-thousandfold universe. And nevertheless it is placed within a single infinitesimal particle. And in the same way that it was placed within a single infinitesimal particle, it is placed in each and every infinitesimal particle. Now it came to pass that certain beings were born, wise and learned, perspicacious and clear-minded, with eyes endowed with divine sight, pure and clear. And with their godlike eyes, they looked upon this great silken sheet and saw that it was enclosed within a tiny, infinitesimal particle and was thus of no use to anyone. And they bethought themselves, Kyémamala! If this infinitesimal particle 

were forcibly split with great power, the great sheet of silk will sustain all beings.” And so they contrived a great energy and power and with a tiny vajra, they split the infinitesimal particle. And as they had thought, this great sheet of silk did indeed support and sustain all beings. And just as they had done to this one infinitesimal particle, likewise did they do to all the other particles without exception. 

Kyé, O child of the Buddha! Likewise the unbounded primal wisdom of the Tathāgata, the primal wisdom that sustains all beings, permeates the mind streams of all beings. And the mind streams of beings are likewise as unbounded as the primal wisdom of the Tathāgata. So it is. But childish beings, fettered by their clinging to their thoughts and their perceptions, do not know the primal wisdom of the Tathāgata. They are completely ignorant of it; they do not experience it; they do not realize it. But perceiving with his wisdom free from all attachment that the dharmadhātu dwells present in all beings, the Tathāgata transformed himself into a teacher who declared, “Kyémamala! Beings know nothing of the perfect primal wisdom of the Tathāgata, even though they are completely permeated by it. I will therefore reveal to them the path of the noble ones. Thus they may eliminate and destroy all the fetters that their thoughts contrive

[Taken from the autocommentary, 310: 6–348: 3] 



HERE ARE TWO objects of refuge, common and uncommon. The object of refuge envisaged by beings of both small and medium scope is the common object of refuge [that is, shared by all], whereas the object of refuge for beings of great scope is uncommon [in being exclusive to them]. The reason for this may be explained as follows. 

When beings of small scope (who have entered the Dharma) and the two classes of beings of medium scope commit themselves to the sacred object of refuge, they do so only with regard to their present situation and for the present time [until their death]. By contrast, the object of refuge for the Mahāyāna, but not for beings of small and medium scope, is the dharmakāya of the Buddha, the Dharma of the Great Vehicle, and the Sangha of the bodhisattvas. In the case of the Mahāyāna refuge, to take causal refuge means to take the Three Jewels as the guides who will escort one to the result. By contrast, to take resultant refuge is the wish that the Three Jewels, understood in the sense of a result, be actualized within one’s own mind stream. In both cases, the rituals of the accompanying vows and the kind of compassion involved are similar. And as it is said in the Sūtrālaṇkāra

Know that the resolve of those who wish for buddhahood 

Arises through compassion. 198 

Moreover, those who adhere to the expository vehicle of causality [the sūtra section of the Mahāyāna] take refuge in the belief that buddhahood will 

be attained only after three measureless kalpas and more. To wish that the ultimate dharmakāya be gained within one’s mind stream is to take resultant refuge. Until this is achieved, to take refuge in the Three Jewels as one’s guides is the cause of such an attainment and is therefore the “causal refuge.” 

In the immediate term, the object of refuge is described as the Three Jewels, but ultimately, the real object of refuge is the Buddha’s dharmakaya alone. By contrast, the form body (rūpakāya) of the Buddha, the Dharma of transmission and realization, the four paths [of learning] present in the minds of bodhisattvas, the two kinds of cessation of the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, the four pairs of beings belonging to the Sangha of the lesser vehicle, and the great beings residing on the ten grounds of realization of the Great Vehicle are not objects of refuge, for they are of relative status and are not ultimate. They themselves must still attain liberation by relying upon something other than themselves. To be sure, since the form body is of relative status, and because the Dharma of realization present in the mind streams of bodhisattvas, śrāvakas, and pratyekabuddhas (as distinct from the Dharma of realization present in a buddha’s mind) is impermanent—for it is accomplished with effort and is yet to be perfected the form body and the Dharma of realization are both deceptive.199 Moreover, the Dharma of transmission is something to be laid aside once the truth has been seen. And the members of the Sangha, inasmuch as they are apprehensive of the obscurations and latent tendencies associated with their different levels, experience fear and therefore must rely upon the Buddha. As it is said in the Uttaratantra, 

Because the one will be forsaken and the other is deceptive, 

Because [cessation] is a simple absence, and because there is still 


The twofold Dharma and the noble Sangha 

Are not the highest, everlasting, refuge.200 

What then is true refuge? It is the ultimate dharmakaya. As the Uttaratantra also says

In the final sense, the refuge of all beings 

Is buddhahood alone

For the Sage embodies Dharma and is The final goal of the Assembly.20 

And the Showing Gratitude Sūtra says, 

The Venerable Ananda asked, What is the Buddha in which we take refuge?” The Buddha replied, “You take refuge in the dharmakaya; you do not take refuge in the rūpakāya.” 

Ananda then asked, What is the Dharma in which we take refuge? And the Buddha replied, “You take refuge in the ultimate Dharma, not in the relative Dharma. 


Ananda then asked, “What is the Sangha in which we take refuge?” And the Buddha answered, “You take refuge in the ultimate Sangha, not the relative Sangha.” 

In brief, therefore, when, with the wish to acquire within the mind one of the three kinds of enlightenment,202 one takes refuge with a commitment to this goal, the purpose of the causal refuge is brought to fulfillment and is hence referred to as the resultant refuge. 

Because the buddhas, Śākyamuni and others, appear to the minds of beings and explain to them the path that protects them from fear, they fulfill the role of Teachers. Because the Dharma that they reveal brings beings to the state of fearlessness, it fulfills the role of the path. And since the Sangha saves beings from fear, it fulfills the role of a friend. Consequently, since they are the cause of the accomplishment of the Three Jewels within the mind, theythe Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha—are regarded as the objects of causal refuge. For if, through the assistance of the Sangha, beings implement the Dharma revealed by the Buddha, they will be freed from fear. 

Certain masters have expressed the opinion that the dharmakaya of the Buddha achieved within oneself is the only thing that protects one from the fear of the most subtle obscurations and from the fear that those who follow the Mahāyāna experience with regard to the lower vehicle. They therefore say that the Buddha’s dharmakaya constitutes the very object of resultant refuge. They say too that, in the vehicle of the pratyekabuddhas, the Jewel of Dharma 

is a realization that is born spontaneously in the mind stream at some point in the future and is, for that reason, qualified as the resultant refuge. In the vehicle of the śrāvakas, on the other hand, it is the Sangha or rather the arhatship that will arise within their mind stream at some future time that is posited as the object of resultant refuge. The masters just mentioned say, therefore, that the objects of resultant refuge of the three vehicles are different. 

This is not quite correct. In the Mahāyāna, it is said that within the state of buddhahood, the three kayas are at one with the Three Jewels. Since this is so, how could it be right to say that the Dharma and the Sangha are not present equally? Both the śrāvakas and the pratyekabuddhas claim that the two cessations are the ultimate goal. Consequently, the ultimate truth, according to their tradition, becomes in effect the dharmakaya of unsurpassed enlightenment. How therefore can the śrāvakas be without the Jewels of Buddha and Dharma? The pratyekabuddhas, for their part, also affirm that enlightenment is the nature of cessation. They do not exclusively assert the Jewel of Dharma. This being so, the object of resultant refuge is said, in each case, to be enlightenment. And the wish to attain the ultimate Three Jewels is to take resultant refuge. As it is said in the Question of Ugra the Householder Sutra

To take refuge in the Buddha is the wish to attain buddhahood. 

To take refuge in the Dharma is the wish to attain Dharma. 

To take refuge in the Sangha is the wish to attain the Sangha. 

To take refuge in the Three Jewels for the benefit of both oneself and others is to take causal refuge. As the Ratnakūṭa says

O bhikṣus! To free yourselves and others from fear and harm, take refuge! All your cherished hopes will be perfectly fulfilled! 

Practitioners of the Secret Mantra wish to realize directly the nature of the mind that dwells within themselves, abiding naturally and in this very moment as Buddha. In common with the other vehicles, they take refuge in the Three Jewels as outer objects. However, in a manner that is specific to themselves, they meditate on the nature of the mind, which is primordially unborn. 

Moreover, the Three Jewels present in every maṇḍala and the Three Jewels of the general teachings are both considered to be objects of causal refuge; and to take refuge in them is to take causal refuge. The Three Jewels, as constituted by the nature of one’s own mind, namely, self-arisen primordial wisdom, are the objects of resultant refuge; and to remain one-pointedly therein, in a state unspoiled by acceptance and rejection or any other contrivance, is to take resultant refuge. Given that one wishes to attain a result, namely, the state of the external Three Jewels, one may speak of a resultant refuge; and for the sake of that result, one may assert a causal refuge, in the sense of saying that one relies on the protection [of the Three Jewels]. Although it is possible to speak in this way, it is nevertheless the case that, principally, refuge lies naturally within oneself, and it is through remaining in that state, without aspiring to anything else, that one takes resultant refuge. It is rather as a concordant condition for the accomplishment of this that one takes refuge in an external Triple Gem—which is, as we have said, to take causal refuge. As it is said in the tantra called Accomplishment of Primordial Wisdom, 

Elsewhere, in the sovereigns of the triple maṇḍala, 

I wished to find that perfect excellence, 

And therefore to the cause I prayed. 

Yet with the understanding that 

The mind’s clear luminosity 

Is the very nature of that threefold mandala, 

I rest therein one-pointedly in even meditation. 

This is truly said to be supreme resultant refuge. 

Now, the Three Jewels are identified in two ways. On the common level, that is, according to the Hīnayāna, they are, first, the Buddha’s supreme nirmāṇakāya; the Dharma of transmission and realization-respectively, the twelve sections of the Buddha’s teachings and the qualities of the path arising in the minds of individuals (concentration and so on); and the Sangha of ordinary and noble beings. The category of ordinary beings comprises, first, the lesser Sangha, consisting of śrāmaṇeras, śrāmaṇerīs, and upāsakas—for they all constitute a field of merit for beings; and second, monks or bhikṣus, 

who have received full ordination and who are referred to as the greater Sangha. The term “gathering of the Sangha” is used to indicate to a group of at least four monks. The category of noble beings comprises the stream enterers, the once returners, the nonreturners, and those who are candidates for arhatship. The one who abides in the level of arhatship is the Buddha. 

All these categories are known in the Mahāyāna, wherein it is nevertheless considered that the Buddha has the nature of the three kayas, that he is endowed with the two purities and has perfected the twofold aim. As the Uttaratantra says, 

It is unconditioned and spontaneously present; 

It is not known through outer causes; 

Endowed with knowledge, love, and power— 

It is buddhahood, the fulfillment of the twofold aim.203 

[In the Mahāyāna,] the Dharma is considered to be by nature inexpressible in thought and word. By its character it is the antidote or path that leads to buddhahood. According to its aspects, it comprises first, the ultimate and actual Dharma [of realization] defined as the five paths and the two cessations and, second, the verbal Dharma: the twelve sections of the scriptures. 

As the Uttaratantra says

Inconceivable, devoid of two, 204 and nonconceptual; 

Pure, and luminous, and acting as an antidote; 

Free from all attachment, from attachment freeing

Dharma has the nature of two truths. 

Freedom from, and freeing from, attachment 

Are contained in the two truths: cessation and the path.205 

There are two kinds of cessation. First, there is analytical cessation, the absence of conceptual elaboration, which is the result of removing previously existing impurities through the use of antidotes. Second, there is a nonanalytical cessation, which consists in resting in the space-like state that is 

naturally free from concepts or impurity. [The truth of] the path consists in the realizations occurring on the paths of accumulation, joining, seeing, and meditation. That which thus comprises the characteristics of the two truths (of cessation and path) is in fact the entire Dharma of transmission and realization

Finally, [within the context of the Mahāyāna], the Sangha comprises all those who have realized the luminous nature of the mind: the noble beings residing on the ten grounds of realization. As the Uttaratantra says, 

Because they purely see with inward primal wisdom 

The nature and the multiplicity of things, 

The assembly of the wise who never more return Have qualities that cannot be surpassed.206 

From the uncommon point of view, namely, that of the Vajrayāna, [the objects of refuge] are understood differently according to the class of tantra in question. 

In the Kriya and Carya Tantras, the Jewel of Buddha is the five wisdoms and the pure and actual nature of the three or four kāyas, together with their miraculous array: the deities of blessing (Mañjuśrī, Avalokita, and Vajrapāņi) belonging to the Tathāgata, lotus, and vajra families, and all the deities of the greater and lesser mandalas of the sambhogakāya and nirmāṇakāya in both their peaceful and wrathful aspects. The Jewel of Dharma includes all that has been mentioned above but with the addition of the particular features given in the individual texts. As for the Sangha, this is said to consist of three groups: the śrāvakas, the bodhisattvas, and the vidyadharas. 

According to the Yoga Tantra, the Jewel of Buddha is defined as the five wisdoms and the pure nature of the three or four kāyas; as Vajrasattva (Lord of all families) and the peaceful and wrathful manifestations of the three kāyas belonging to the five families of [vajra], jewel, lotus, action, and Tathāgata; as the main deities and their retinues, single and multiple (of the root mandalas, together with the samaya, dharma and karma manṇḍalas); and as the four mudras, together with all the deities belonging to the greater and lesser maṇḍalas. The Buddha comprises all of these, while the Dharma and the Sangha are the same as described in the Kriyā and Caryā Tantras. 

In the Anuttarayoga, the Jewel of Buddha consists of the principal deities and their retinues. These are inseparable from the sambhogakāya buddhas and are the Tathāgatas endowed with vajra body, speech, and mind. These deities are either single, multiple, or in groups. They dwell within the mandalas in the Densely Arrayed buddhafield. All the many nirmāṇakāya deities, moreover, emanating from the sambhogakāya belong to the Jewel of Buddha. The Jewel of Dharma consists of all that has been previously explained. Finally, the inseparable nature of the Three Jewels, blazing with the major and minor marks, constitutes the sacred, unsurpassable Jewel of Sangha. 

Why is it that the Three Jewels are referred to [in Tibetan] as the “Rare and Supreme Ones“? It is as the Uttaratantra says, 

Because so rarely they appear and are without impurity, 

Because they are endowed with power and ornament the world, Because they are unchanging and supreme, 

They are indeed the Rare and Supreme Ones.207 

In short, because they may be compared in six ways with precious substances, the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha-the Three Rare and Supreme Onesare likened to Jewels. Accordingly, they are compared with gems that are rarely found. For those who have not cultivated the root of virtue for an immense lapse of time are unable to encounter them. They are compared with flawless gems because their every aspect is immaculate. They are compared with powerful gems because of the inconceivable strength of their excellent qualities: the six kinds of preternatural cognition and so on. They are compared with gems that ornament the world because they are the cause of the virtuous thoughts of all migrating beings. They are compared with gems that are more precious than any jewel that has been made because they transcend the world. They are compared with gems that are unchanged by praise or blame, for they are uncompounded by their nature. 

They are moreover presented threefold because, as the Uttaratantra declares, 

In terms of Teacher, teaching, and disciples, 

And related to three vehicles, 

And regarding those inclined to observances of the three kinds, Three refuges are posited.2 


The Commentary to the Uttaratantra explains that in order to reveal the qualities of the Teacher to those who seek the enlightened statein other words, the practitioners of the vehicle of the bodhisattvas, as well as those who revere the Buddha as supreme-the Buddha is taught and presented as their refuge. For he is the “greatest of all two-footed creatures. 

For those who enter [the path] in order to understand the profound teaching of interdependence—in other words, those who belong to the vehicle of the pratyekabuddhas and those who revere the Dharma as supreme—and as a means of showing to them the excellence of the Doctrine that the Teacher has revealed, the Dharma is taught and presented as a refuge. For it is the supreme freedom from attachment.” 

In order to instruct those who embark upon the path as a means to understanding the words taught to them by anotherthat is, the practitioners of the śrāvaka vehicle and those who revere the Sangha as supreme- demonstrating to them the excellent qualities of those who have well entered the Doctrine of the Teacher, the Sangha is taught and presented as a refuge. For it is the “most sublime of all assemblies.” 

In sum, the immediate refuge in the present time and situation is the Triple Gem. Nevertheless, the Buddha alone is the ultimate refuge. As the Uttaratantra declares

In the final sense, the refuge of all beings 

Is buddhahood alone. 

For the Sage embodies Dharma and is 

The final goal of the Assembly.209 

This describes the character of resultant refuge, the final goal. 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 426: 6-438: 4] 



FIRST ONE SHOULD perform the preliminary practices. Seated cross-legged 

on a comfortable seat, one should imagine that one’s teacher, the yidam deities, and the deities of the mandala are present in the sky in front of oneself. One should take refuge in them three times and then generate the attitude of bodhichitta, reciting three times the formula taken from the Net of Precious Peaceful Deities

All endless beings, like myself, Are buddhas from the very first

Knowing this to be so, I give rise 

To the intention for supreme enlightenment. 

One should then recite the svabhāva mantra and recall that phenomena are established in the state of great emptiness. This refers to the concentration of suchness (de bzhin nyid kyi ting nge ‘dzin) in which one should train oneself as follows. It is said in the Great Exposition of the Generation and Perfection Stages


The nature of the pure mind of enlightenment Is a state that from 

the first is unborn, all-pervasive, endlessly profound, Nonabiding, unobservable, beyond the mind’s construction. 

It rests completely in equality beyond all thought and word. 

It is also said in the Heruka Galpo, 

Great space, the dharmadhātu, is beyond imagining. 

The space of ultimate reality is free from all conceiving. Ultimate reality, the vast and inconceivable expanse, Is devoid of 

reference like space itself. 

It is necessary to perform the suchness concentration because it provides the causal connection for the arising of the rūpakāya from the dharmakāya. Since all the visualizations that follow are in this way associated with the great perfection of primordial emptiness, the knots of clinging to entities and their characteristics will be untied. It is said in the Stages of the Path

Because of emptiness, all paths are free of attributes; Fixations 

of self-clinging all subside. 

Afterward, in order to untie the knot of a onesided clinging to emptiness, one must practice the allilluminating concentration (kun tu snang ba’i ting nge ‘dzin). All phenomena appear even though they have no intrinsic being. Within a state of illusion-like compassion, one should meditate for a while on the selfarisen and self-cognizing primordial wisdom, which is luminous and devoid of all fixation. As it is said in the Stages of the Path, 

Through meditation on the King, awareness self-cognizing, 

Supreme enlightenment is found. 

Suchness, once it has been seen, becomes 

The ground for the arising of compassion. Certainly it’s in this order that it manifests. 

Finally there comes the concentration on the cause (rgyu’i ting nge ‘dzin). This is twofold. First is the visualization of the circle of protection. In the infinite expanse of space, from the syllable HUNG, there appears a blazing mass of fire in which there arises from the syllable bhrum a wheel [or rather sphere] consisting of a hub, a rim [or surface], and ten spokes. The empty 

space inside the hub represents the dharmadhātu. On each of the ten spokes, there is a lotus and disks of sun and moon marked with the syllable hung. These transform into Hūmkāra on the vertical spoke at the zenith, Vijaya on the eastern spoke, Nīladaṇda on the southeast spoke, Yamantaka on the southern spoke, Akṣobhya on the southwest spoke, Hayagrīva on the western spoke, Aparajita on the northwest spoke, Amṛtakundali on the northern spoke, Trailokyavijaya on the northeast spoke, and Mahābala on the vertical spoke at the nadir.210 

Each of these deities has one face and two arms, wears a kilt of tiger skin, and is bedecked with snakes. With right leg bent and left leg outstretched, they all hold the attribute indicating their enlightened family, or else a vajra and bell. The two wrathful deities at the zenith and nadir both belong to the Tathāgata family. They are dark blue and hold a wheel. The wrathful deities to the east and southeast belong to the vajra family. They are gray and hold a vajra. Those in the south and southwest belong to the jewel family. They are dark yellow and hold a jewel. Those in the west and northwest are of the lotus family. They are dark red and hold an eight-petaled lotus. Those in the north and northeast are of the karma family. They are dark green and hold either a crossed vajra or a sword. 

Whether or not one visualizes the palace, the main concentration on the cause consists in a brief meditation on oneself as the main deity (the cause heruka), which then dissolves into emptiness. In the present context, the concentration on the cause refers to the meditation on the seed syllable from which the main deity is generated.2 


[Taken from the autocommentary, 806: 3-809: 3] 



FOR THOSE WHO are unable to engage immediately in the extensive practice 

of the generation stage, or who devote themselves exclusively to the perfection stage with only slight elaboration, I will explain how, through meditating on a single deity, one meditates on them all. 

First one should take refuge and generate the attitude of bodhichitta. Subsequently, as the Guhyagarbha describes

The rootless nature of the mind 

Is of all phenomena the root. 

The mind itself is of the nature of a syllable, A syllable that is

precious, wish-fulfilling cloud. 


A is neither empty nor not empty; Not even in the center can it be 


All things are but names. All buddhas 

Dwell in strings of syllables. 

Pronouncing the syllables A A A, and resting in the state in which phenomena are neither one nor many, one should meditate on the vast abyss of the unclouded sky. In the center of this untrammeled expanse, where the 

sun and moon are shining, one should meditate on [oneself as] the glorious Samantabhadra inseparable from Samantabhadrī. His hands are in the position of meditative absorption and, being of the nature of the dharmakāya, he is without ornaments and garments. Five-colored beams of light radiate from him forming a tentlike luminous sphere, wherein there is a central palace, from which rays of light pervade all the reaches of space. The whole of phenomenal existence blazes into light. One should then recite OM AH HUNG A A as much as one can, after which one should rest in the nature of space. By meditating in this way, one meditates on all the mandalas of the buddhas, for one meditates upon their very source. As it is said in the Guhyagarbha, 

In the clear expanse of the mandala of space, with sun and moon, 

Meditate upon the King of primal wisdom with his Queen. 

In this way you will meditate 

On all the mandalas of the Victorious Ones. 

Proceeding in this way, it is through meditating on a single perfection stage that one meditates on them all. In the heart of Samantabhadra thus visualized, there is a sphere of light ablaze with the radiance of the five primordial wisdoms, luminous and free of thought. One should focus one’s mind on it without distraction. For as long as the breath is slowed down until it is motionless, all thoughts vanish and one remains for days in the state of ultimate reality, the primordial wisdom of equality, which is beyond both one and many. One will perceive lights and rainbows and buddhafields. And as day and night mingle together, one will remain in a continuous state of luminosity in which there is no fluctuation. Thus one’s mind will dwell in self- cognizing primordial wisdom (the primordial wisdom that cognizes itself distinctly). Furthermore, calling to mind that the nature of the mind is thus from the very beginning, one will understand that the accomplishment of buddhahood does not come from somewhere else. As it is said in the Guhyagarbha, 

Perfect buddhahood will not be found In any of the four times or 

the ten directions

The nature of one’s mind is Perfect Buddha

Do not look for buddhahood elsewhere

Through such practices of generation and perfection, practitioners are connected with all the mandalas of the generation and perfection stages. They cause one to gain all accomplishments. No hindrances are created by them, by way of even slight omissions or additions to the ritual and so on. They have endless beneficial qualities. As it is said in the Guhyagarbha

Since one is linked thereby to all the maṇḍalas, All the mandalas 

one will attain. 

No faults or defects will occur 

As through additions or omissions to a ritual. 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 842: 5–845: 2] 


WHEN A PERSON’s face is reflected in a mirror, the clear surface of the glass 

provides the support for the appearance of the reflection, and the face, for its part, has the power of casting its aspect upon the mirror, giving rise to its reflected form. Thanks to these conditions, a face appears, but in the very moment of its appearing, the reflection is neither the face itself nor a face different from the face that cast its aspect. In just the same way, all the multifarious appearances perceived by the deluded mind appear through the interdependence of the causes and conditions of delusion. And when they appear in the way that they do, the appearing objects, in all their variety, are not the mind itself, but neither are they truly existent extramental things. For their appearance is due solely to the deluded habitual tendencies of the mind. It is thus that they are hallucinatory appearances and perceptions. In just the same way that black lines are seen by people suffering from an ocular disorder, they appear and yet are not really there. 

Now some may ask, “If all appearances, such as earth, stones, and so on, are neither inside nor outside the mind, what are they?” To this I say that such people are like pigs, taking for real what is merely the product of dualistic clinging. In the very moment that the entire range of phenomenal existence— the phenomena of both samsāra and nirvāṇa—appear, they cannot be found either inside or outside the mind. Nor are they somewhere in between! It is said that they are similar to the eight examples of illusion. The Samādhirāja- sūtra declares

When a woman with her face adorned 

Looks on a mirror or an oiled plate

The circle of her face is what she sees

And yet it is not there, nor is it somewhere else

Know that all phenomena are thus

More explicitly, it is from these nonexistent appearances that the illusion of apprehended and apprehender (whereby the appearances are identified as this or that) originates. In this context, the apprehended (gzung ba) is the cognition that arises in the first moment in which the object of engagement (gzung yul) is detected. It is the mind that arises in the guise of the thing apprehended, whereas that which apprehends is the subsequently arising mental factor of discernment. As it is said by Avalokitavrata, “The apprehended is the mind itself, apprehended as an object. The apprehender is the mental factor that discerns it.’ 


Here, ordinary people, who being unlearned, are as pretentious as they are mistaken, say, The apprehended are the things that appear, mountains and so on. The apprehender is one’s own mind.” Away with the ideas of such foolish cowherds! In the experience of noble beings, who have eliminated the duality of apprehended and apprehender, do such sense objects appear or do they not appear? If these people claim that they appear, it follows that noble beings perceive the duality of apprehender and apprehended. For they have said that the object is the apprehended, while the cognizing mind is the apprehender. If, on the other hand, they say that sense objects do not appear to them, then this flies in the face of countless scriptural passages that say, on the contrary, that the appearances seen by the noble ones are like illusions; that the śrāvaka arhats see mountains and temples; and that the enlightened wisdom that knows phenomena in all their multiplicity perceives all objects of knowledge. Although many such demonstrations and arguments can be found, there is nevertheless no end to the wrong ideas that people have about this point. But what is one to do? It is as Dharmakīrti says

Because there is no end to false, mistaken paths, Here there’s no explaining them. 

The assertion that outer appearances are the mind has been refuted. Nevertheless, these people persist in taking mountains and other such things as objects and the first moment of consciousness that apprehends them as perception. In truth, they fail to distinguish the perceived appearance (snang ba) from the object that appears (snang yul). Such is the great intelligence of these cowherds—reifying deceptive things and assuming them to be true. 

The object that appears is not the mind. For it remains where it is when one is not in its presence and does not change its position when one goes elsewhere. Likewise, the object appears endowed with color and so on. Now if the appearing object were really the mind, it would necessarily follow one around. It would be necessarily present wherever one might be and would disappear whenever one was absent. And just as the mind has neither color nor shape, the object would be without them too, as was previously explained. Since the determination of something as either appearing or not appearing is a matter for the mind, it is certainly appropriate to state that the “mere perceived appearance” of something is a mental state. However, it is extremely ignorant and unacceptable to say that the appearing object is the mind 212 

[Taken from the autocommentary, 856: 1–858: 6] 




HIS VAJRA SONG213 illustrates the kind of realization that is devoid of center 

or limit. When this level of realization occurs, whatever arises subsides into the ground nature, like clouds melting away in the sky. The primordial expanse of the mind’s nature and the primal wisdom (the spontaneously arisen state of openness and freedom) mingle together. When this happens, there is no retreating from the nature of one’s own mind, for there is nowhere left to go. The point of the exhaustion of all phenomena is reached. One has escaped the dangerous path of the mind that adventitiously clings to, or rejects, things through taking them to be truly existent. It is at this point that the field of ultimate reality beyond coming and going is reached. Where else, then, can one go? There is nowhere. Yogis who reach such a state have left behind the land of delusion, and they will never again return to the city of samsāra. For they have reached the space-like ground. 

So it is that I have come to the expanse of the nature of my mind. Apprehending thoughts are purified in the primordial ground like clouds that melt away in the sky. My body, speech, and mind rest in a state of openness and freedom without any effort on my part. Is it possible, therefore, for anyone to perceive the state in which I am? Even if I were to explain this to those of lesser fortune, they would be unable to see it as it truly is. For this is the moment of the certainty of my own realization. 

Reaching thus the very heart of the ultimate mode of being, I aspire for nothing more. Other yogis have gained freedom by the same manner of realization as myself. Now no questions and no doubts remain for me, and none can teach me more than I have now understood. As it is said in the Songs of Realization, 

Before me and behind me, and in all the ten directions

Everything I see-that, that it is

Now like the Lord, this day I sever all delusion. 

Now no questions shall I ask of anyone. 

In times gone by, thanks to the excellent sequential arrangement of view, meditation, and action, I relied on the higher and lower grounds and paths as if they were rungs on a ladder, and I became familiar with the way in which these manifest in the higher and lower yogas. But now that the ground and root of the mind have passed away, all these things have likewise passed away. I now have no further goal; no objective remains for me to strive for. Whatever now occurs, I do not cling to it, like a madman drunk on beer. And like a little child, I do not identify appearances. For me there remains no practice to be performed in any sequential arrangement. Everything is an all- embracing evenness, relaxation, openness, a condition free of all objectives. I am in a state of equality or sameness that transcends all clinging. It is a marvelous state of sheer wonderment. As the Songs of Realization say

Like a wish-fulfilling gem this realization is. 

Now I know-great wonder-all delusions fall away! 

Now, whatever arises manifests as dharmatā. For delusion is purified in the ground and I have attained a realization similar to space beyond all reference. Karmic action and all conditioning factors have subsided. As it is said in the Songs of Realization, 

Beings are bound by their respective karmas. 

Freed from these, their minds are liberated. 

And when the current of their mind is freed, then surely this is 

nothing else Than the attainment of the supreme state 

beyond all sorrow. 

All that I do is performed in a state of freedom devoid of all fixation. Consequently, I have no clinging, and thus for me bondage and freedom are no more. It is as the Songs of Realization say

When one truly understands [the sameness of] both action and 

nonaction, There is no bondage and there is no freedom. 

When this state is attained, freedom is accomplished through the transfer of one’s teacher’s realization to oneself. As the Songs of Realization say, 

This is the nature, unborn and primordial 

That my glorious teacher showed to me. Today I have accomplished it! 

Now that such a realization has been gained, I sing my song of the self- arisen, uncontrived primordial wisdom, the nature of the mind. The nature of phenomena is a state unlimited and unconfined; it transcends both being and nonbeing. The realization of this nature is like the orb of the sun. Its myriad stainless rays of light213 illuminate the world of beings with good fortune, causing the lotus garden-the minds of those who wish for freedom—to burst into flower. And having done so, they depart for the land of Samantabhadra, the supremely blissful state

[Taken from the autocommentary, 895: 4-896: 2 and 896: 6–898: 5] 


For the list of abbreviations, see the bibliography on this page

1. See Tulku Thondup 2014, p. 119. 

2. Ibid., p. 121. 

3. The Tibetan term (rnam thar) literally means “perfect or complete 


4. See the biographies composed by Dudjom Rinpoche and Tulku Thondup. An even more detailed account may be found in Nyoshul Khenpo’s history of Dzogchen in Tibet, while Jampa Mackenzie Stewart has gathered together the most detailed collection of hagiographical stories and legends. All these accounts are warmly recommended to the interested reader. Works of a more academic nature may be found in Gene Smith and David Germano. 

5. See Smith, p. 278n71-72. 

6. See Davidson, pp. 94–96. 

7. See Smith, p. 279n75–76. 

8. See Tulku Thondup 2014, p. 139, and Stewart, pp. 35–37. 

9. Tulku Thondup 2014, p. 140. 

10. See TPQ, Book 2, pp. 254-55. 

11. The rainbow body, of which there are several kinds, is the achievement of enlightenment through two practices of the Great Perfection: trekchö (khregs chod) and thögal (thod rgal). Generally speaking, it is marked by the dissolution of the physical body into rainbow light. For a full 

description, see Tulku Thondup 1984, p. 192. See also TPQ, Book 2, p. 456n514. 

12. This account is based on the oral teaching of Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, who remarked that they have never reappeared and are still waiting to be rediscovered. 

13. For a detailed explanation of the concealment and recovery of Dharma 

treasures (terma), see Tulku Thondup 1986. 

14. Ibid., p. 68. 

15. In Guru Rinpoche’s tradition, these seventeen tantras are supplemented by an eighteenth tantra, Kun tu bzang mo klong gsal nyi maʼi rgyud. This was also concealed as a treasure and was revealed by Ratna Lingpa (1403–1471). 

16. For an overview of the history of the Drikung monastery, see Sperling 


17. See Dudjom Rinpoche, p. 591

18. For a lively account of the political and social condition of Tibet at that time and of events surrounding the rise to power of the Phakmodrupa school, see Shakabpa, pp. 73-82. 

19. Longchenpa’s arrival in Bhutan was celebrated for many years afterward by a special dance in which, instead of a mask, the lead dancer would wear the skull of the actual animal that served as Longchenpa’s mount. See Ura, p. 25. 

20. See Mackenzie, p. 78. 

21. See Ura, p. 27

22. Owing to his opposition to Longchenpa, Tai Situ usually receives a rather bad press in the traditional biographies. History records, however, that he was a beneficent if short-lived ruler. He is said to have restored the infrastructure of the country, building bridges and repairing roads, and to have established a rule of law of such efficacy that it was said that during his reign an old woman carrying a sack of gold could travel unmolested from one end of the country to the other. Maintaining his vows, at least in the article of celibacy, he remained a monk till the end of his days in 1364. 

23. See Tulku Thondup 1996, p. 117, and 2014, p. 144. 

24. See Nyoshul Khenpo, pp. 131–45. 

25. For brief descriptions of the contents of Longchenpa’s works, see Tulku 

Thondup 2014, pp. 145-48. See also Germano, pp. 10–38. 

26. See Germano, p. 23. 

27. Ngal gso skor gsum gyi spyi don legs bshad rgya mtsho. 

28. chings chen po Inga and dgos brel yan lag bzhi. See TPQ, Book 1, pp. 

439n4 and 440n7

29. When the turbidity of the mind (sems) and mental factors (sems byung) subsides, luminous primordial wisdom, the nature of the mind, arises from within. To habituate oneself to this is called the path to enlightenment. It is quite simply to persevere in this practice, remaining uninterruptedly, day and night, in a state in which sleepiness and idleness are abandoned. As it is said in the Pañcakrama

When all activity of mind and mental factors 

Comes to complete rest, it is then that Luminous, primordial wisdom manifests

Free of concepts, without center or periphery. 

In this context, the mind is defined as the cognitions that assume the existence of the three worlds and examine them accordingly. Since they are the turbidity that conceals suchness, if they are made to subside completely, one has access to nonconceptual primordial wisdom. As it is said in the Satyadvayavibhanga, 

The mind and mental factors are the cognitions 

That falsely ascribe existence to the triple world. 

“The detecting cognition (rtog pa) that perceives the general presence of an object when it first sees it is the ‘mind.’ It is the first moment of knowledge of an utpala lotus [for example]. Then, when the particular features of the object are adverted to, there is the mental factor of examination or discernment (dpyod pa). These are the cognitions of the flower’s blue color, its round shape, its pistil and stamens, and so on. As it is said in the Madhyāntavibhāga, 

That which sees the thing is consciousness. 

Its features then are seen by mental factors. 

“And as the Abhidharmakosa says, ‘Detecting cognition and discernment: coarse and fine.’ 

“The detecting cognition and the discernment, which are habitually labeled as mind and mental factor, are arrested in enlightenment. As it is said in the Introduction to the Middle Way

The tinder of phenomena is all consumed, 

And this is peace, the dharmakāya of the Conquerors. There is no origin and no cessation. 

The mind is stopped, the kāya manifests. [9: 17] 

“Moreover, when the self-cognizing primordial wisdom is wrapped in the webs of defilement caused by the illusion of duality, it is called ‘mind.’ For it consists in the nonvirtuous mental factors of detecting cognition and discernment. Liberation from this is called buddhahood. For even though [in that state] an object is known, there is a freedom from duality, as implied in detecting cognition and discernment. As it is said in Praises of the Mind Vajra

When it is enveloped in defilement’s webs, 

It is what may be called the ‘mind.’ 

But when this from defilement had been freed, 

Buddhahoodit will be named.” 

[AC 130: 5-131: 4

30. See part 2, “The Mind Is the Root of All Phenomena,” pp. 167–170. 31. Seven suns, arising in succession, destroy the world. The fire then mounts upward and consumes the heavens of the first samadhi. There then comes a rain that washes away everything from the level of the second samadhi down. The ensuing wind scatters the remaining debris, from the level of the third samādhi down. See TPQ, Book 1, p. 364. 

32. du byed kyi sdug bsngal. Even when not obviously negative, the actions performed with the defiled consciousness make or compound manifest 

future suffering. For this reason, one speaks of “suffering in the making.” [TPQ-YG I, p. 296] 

33. See part 2, “Mind, Intellect, and Consciousness,” pp. 171–173. 

34. See part 2, “The Eight Consciousnesses as the Basis of Delusion,” pp. 


35. See part 2, “The Three Natures,” pp. 179–190. 

36. See TPQ, Book 1, pp. 360–64. 

37. yi dvags dbying la gnas pa. The principal abode of the pretas is five hundred leagues below Rajgir, while their subsidiary habitations are in the human and divine realms. See TPQ, Book 1, p. 360. 

38. “It is said in the MiddleLength Prajñāpāramitā: ‘O Subhūti, because the five aggregates, whereby existence is perpetuated, are defiled, they are the place of all suffering. They are the basis of all suffering, the receptacle of all suffering, and the source of all suffering.‘ 

“The physical body is the place of suffering because it is here that pain manifestly occurs. Feeling is the receptacle of suffering because it seizes eagerly upon it. Perception is the basis of suffering because it gives us first access to it through the stirring of thoughts about it. Conditioning factors and consciousness are the sources of suffering because they respectively supply its agent and perceiver. All this is explained in the great commentary on the Prajñāpāramitā in Eight Thousand Lines.” 

[AC 258: 5-259: 2] 

39. See part 2, “The Universal Ground,” pp. 191–200. 

40. The mind engages in thought within a coarsely dualistic framework of apprehender and apprehended, and through actions of virtue and nonvirtue it falls into the desire realm. The cultivation of concentration unassociated with the [realization of the] fundamental nature of phenomena, in which the appearing object is detected but no discernment occurs, is an activity that, stored in the universal ground, causes one to be born in the form realm. Finally, the kind of meditation in which the appearing object is blocked in a completely blank state of 

mind plants the seed in the universal ground for rebirth in the formless realm. As it is said in the ‘Chapter on Concentration’ in the Ratnakūṭa: “Those who are agitated by mental activity—giving rise to action that is virtuous, unvirtuous, or neutral-take birth in the realm of desire. Those who one-pointedly practice the yoga in which the mind is without discernment but does not discard its object, and who have no realization of the nature of phenomena, contrive for themselves a birth in the realm of form. Those who are in neither the desire realm nor the form realm, whose minds behold no object and who are used to meditating a great deal, circle within the formless realm. For them there is never any liberation from the three realms of samsara. Therefore, persevere insistently in excellent study and assimilate it through meditation.” [AC 280: 5–281: 4

41. “The completely open, that is, blank state of mind that does not discern or cognize any object is the state of the universal ground. When appearing objects are clearly seen in a state of mind that is vivid but devoid of discernment, this is the moment of the consciousness of the universal ground. At that time, the perceptions of objects arising distinctly and clearly in the mind are the five sense consciousnesses. With regard to [each of] these objects, that which arises in the first instant as the apprehended, and the discerning cognition mingled with defilement that arises in the second instant as the apprehender, are, respectively, the mental consciousness (yid shes) and the defiled mental consciousness (nyon yid). These are the seven consciousnesses [that is, the five sense consciousnesses, the mental consciousness, and the defiled mental consciousness].” [AC 281: 6–282: 2] 

42. See part 2, “The Universal Ground, the Eight Consciousnesses, and the 

State of Sleep,” pp. 201–203. 

43. For an explanation of the form realm, see TPQ, Book 1, p. 504. For an explanation of the four samādhis associated with the form realm, see ibid., pp. 329-32. 

44. See ibid., p. 504. 

45. Namely, the consciousness of the universal ground (Skt. ālayavijñāna

and the universal ground itself (Skt. ālaya)

46. “One” refers to the universal ground (kun gzhi). “Two and one together” refers to both the universal ground together with the consciousness of the universal ground (kun gzhi rnam shes) accompanied by the mental consciousness (yid shes). “All that have a single nature” refers to the universal ground and the eight consciousnesses. As the text indicates, these three expressions refer respectively to deep sleep, dreaming, and waking. 

47. See part 2, “The Tathāgatagarbha,” pp. 205–241. 

48. Dhāraṇī is the power of retention, that is, retentive memory. It is the unforgetting recollection of the words and meaning of the teaching. As it is said in the Perfect Accomplishment of Susitikara Tantra

The power of memory or dhāraṇī is therefore of the three kinds: Words and meaning, and the two together. 

It is called dhāraṇī because it holds them perfectly 

And shields them from decline. 

See also note 124. 

49. Since the three syllables om ah hung are primordially and naturally the essences of the body, speech, and mind of all the buddhas, one should recite them without distraction. One should translate the name of one’s teacher into Sanskrit, if one knows how. Otherwise, one should leave the teacher’s name as it is and add to it the formula for the desired activity. In the case of the peaceful activity, this should be shantim kuruyé svaha; for the activity of increasing, pushtim kuruyé svaha; for the magnetizing activity vasham kuruyé svaha, and for the wrathful activity maraya p’et. For example, one could recite: om vajra guru padma sambhava ah hung karma pushtim kuruyé svaha. The outward practice of peaceful activity, the inward practice of semipeaceful and semiwrathful activity, and the secret practice of the wrathful activity correspond to the three states of the nirmāṇakāya, sambhogakāya, and dharmakaya respectively.” [AC 409: 2–5] 

50. See Patrul Rinpoche, pp. 153-57, for the story of Sadaprarudita. 

51. See part 2, “Refuge,” pp. 243–252. 

52. Many systems of Vajrayāna grounds are set forth in different tantras. 

Generally speaking, however, there are said to be thirteen grounds. That is, above the ten sūtra grounds, there is an eleventh ground of Universal Light, a twelfth ground called Lotus Free of All Desire, and a thirteenth ground of Vajra Holder, known also as the Great Wheel of Collections of Syllables. See TPQ, Book 1, p. 229. 

53. Taking into account the two stages of “candidate for” and “abiding by the result” associated with any given level, four pairs of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas may be distinguished. The four kinds are as follows: stream enterer (rgyun du zhugs), once returner (lan gcig phyir ‘ong ba), nonreturner (phyir mi ‘ong ba), and arhat (dgra bcom pa). For a detailed description, see TPQ, Book 1, p. 230. 

54. “The adepts of the Secret Mantra are the vidyadharas (rig ‘dzin, “keepers of knowledge or awareness”). There are four kinds of vidyādhara: (1) vidyadharas with a karmic body (rnam smin rig ’dzin); (2) vidyadharas with power over life (tshe dbang rig dzin); (3) mahāmudrā vidyādharas (phyag rgya chen po’i rig ‘dzin); and (4) spontaneously accomplished vidyadharas (lhun grub rig ‘dzin). Vidyadharas with a karmic body practice the stages of generation and perfection on the paths of accumulation and joining and, though their bodies remain ordinary, their minds accomplish the deity….If they pass away before obtaining the supreme mundane level (chos mchog) of the path of joining, they will accomplish the mahāmudrā in the bardo. For their bodies have been discarded and their minds have matured into deities…. 

Vidyadharas with power over life have reached the limit of the supreme mundane level; possessing bodies that are now indestructible, they are beyond birth and death, and their minds accomplish the path of seeing…. 

“Mahāmudrā vidyadharas dwell on the nine grounds of the path of meditation, from the second to the tenth. Their bodies appear in the aspect of mandalas [that is, of deities], and their minds are purified from the stains related to the nine grounds. They enjoy nonconceptual primal wisdom…. 

Spontaneously accomplished vidyadharas correspond to the level of buddhahood….Some masters assert that the state of mahāmudrā vidyadhara corresponds to the first seven grounds, while that of the spontaneously accomplished vidyadhara corresponds to the three pure grounds of realization (the eighth to the tenth). This view, however, appears to be incorrect because the four kinds of vidyādharas progress through, and are contained within, the whole path starting from the level of beginners until that of buddhahood.” [AC 460: 1–463: 2] 

55. “When beings awaken in the essence of enlightenment, the time for taking refuge, as stipulated in the ritual of taking the vow, is now passed. Thus, in a purely nominal sense, the vow is relinquished. On the other hand, it is truly abandoned when, through entertaining wrong views, one rejects the Three Jewels, or when one returns the vows of refuge because one is unable to practice its precepts.” [AC 471: 3–4] 56. I.e., chos khams dge ba (Skt. subhadharmadhātu). The pure expanse of ultimate reality is yet another name for the buddhapotential or tathāgatagarbha. The Tibetan word dge ba has several possible acceptations. Here it is translated as “purity,” in line with the meaning of the Sanskrit subha. 

57. See notes 48 and 124. 

58. These are the four so-called brahmavihāras, the four attitudes that provoke rebirth in the form and formless realms. They are distortions of the four boundless attitudes because their character is one of partiality and clinging. See TPQ, Book 1, p. 241. 

59. See ibid., pp. 431–35. 

60. thog med dge ba. This expression is an abbreviation of thog ma med pa’i chos khams dge ba, the beginningless pure expanse of reality (see note 56). 

61. “Once this attitude of bodhichitta has been engendered and for as long as it is maintained without decline, then even in the state of meditative equipoise in which the conceptual mind is inoperative, wisdom and bodhichitta remain united. If the bodhichitta previously generated is maintained unspoiled, an uninterrupted stream of merit arises even in the five states in which the mind is not manifest and is inactive. These five states are deep sleep, the state of faint or swoon, the absorption of 

nonperception [in which the defiled mental consciousness continues to function], the absorption of cessation when perception and feeling are arrested [and which is free of the defiled mental consciousness], and the continuous absence of perception [which occurs in the formless realms]. As Vasubandhu says in his Trimśikā-kārikā: “The mental consciousness does not occur when one is in a state of deep sleep or has fainted. Neither does it occur in the two kinds of absorption or when there is a constant lack of perception [i.e., in the formless realm].’ The Way of the Bodhisattva says, 

For when, with irreversible intent, 

The mind embraces bodhichitta, 

Willing to set free the endless multitudes of beings, 

In that instant, from that moment on

A great and unremitting stream, 

A strength of wholesome merit, 

Even during sleep and inattention, 

Rises equal to the vastness of the sky. [1: 18–19] 

“All one’s actions thus become meaningful. The Gaṇḍavyuha says, ‘O son of noble family! For someone who possesses bodhichitta aiming at supreme enlightenment, all actions of thought, word, and deed are meaningful. All of them are only and at all times virtuous.’ Furthermore, although they are not immediately associated with a fully manifest attitude of bodhichitta, nevertheless, since such actions, whether virtuous or neutral, are associated with a sense of bodhichitta that has been kept unspoiled, they become virtues leading to liberation. One also becomes the object of respect for all the world. The Gaṇḍavyūha says, ‘The person who possesses bodhichitta is the great object of respect for the gods and all the world.” [AC 520: 1–521: 4] 

62. grangs med bskal pa. The expression “immeasurable kalpa” does not in fact mean infinity; it denotes a specific period of time defined by Vasubandhu in his Abhidharmakosa as 1059 kalpas. 

63. The “realm of Brahmā” (brahmāloka) is the collective name given to 

the heavens of the form realm. 

64. “The seven attributes of the royalty (rgyal srid bdun) are the wheel, wish-fulfilling jewel, queen, minister, elephant, supreme horse, and general.” [AC 560: 4] See also TPQ, Book 1, p. 462n121. 

65. “The eight auspicious substances (bkra shis rdzas brgyad) are white mustard, durwa grass, kusha grass, orange-colored powder, curd, bezoar, mirror, and a white conch shell turning in a clockwise direction.” [AC 560: 5] 

66. “The seven subsidiary precious objects (nye ba’i rin chen bdun) are the silken shoes, cushion, steed, bedding, throne, sword, and lambskin.” [AC 560: 5–6

67. These three lines refer respectively to the śrāvakas 


pratyekabuddhas, to all the beings up to the tenth ground of realization, and to beings in the three lower realms. See TPQ, Book 1, pp. 267–68. 68. The downfalls of a king (rgyal po’i ltung ba Inga) are so called because people in positions of power are liable to commit them. But, of course they are downfalls for anyone who has taken the bodhisattva vow. 

1. With an evil intention, to take the property of the Three Jewels or to 

induce others to do the same. 

2. To repudiate any of the three vehicles or to lead someone into the 

belief that they do not constitute the path to liberation. 

3. To rob, beat, imprison, or kill the wearers of the monastic robe or to force them to return to lay status, or to induce another to do the 


4. To commit any of the five sins of immediate effect. 

5. To hold wrong views (that, for example, there is no truth in the law of 


69. Regarding the downfalls of a minister (blon po’i ltung ba Inga), the first is to destroy with hostile intent a homestead, a village of four castes, a small town or a large town, or an entire region. The other four downfalls correspond to the first four downfalls of a king. 

70. The eight downfalls of ordinary people (phal pa’i ltung ba brgyad) are 

as follows

1. To teach the doctrine of emptiness to persons who are unprepared for 


2. Consciously to direct people of Mahāyāna disposition away from the 

Mahāyāna path and lead them to the practice of the Hīnayāna. 

3. By an injudicious praise of the Mahāyāna to lead people of Hīnayāna 

disposition to give up their vows of prātimokṣa

4. To hold, or to teach another to hold, that the following of the Hīnayāna path does not eradicate defilements, and to say that the śrāvakas do not have an authentic path to liberation. 

5. Out of jealousy, to criticize other bodhisattvas openly and to praise 


6. Falsely to claim the realization of the profound view. 

7. To consort with powerful people, encouraging them to persecute practitioners, and secretly to appropriate the religious offerings for oneself. 

8. To disrupt the practice of meditators by appropriating their goods and distributing them to those who merely study or perform rituals, and to disturb those engaged in samatha meditation. 

71. Then there are two downfalls to which everyone is liable: 

1. To abandon bodhichitta in intention by embracing the attitude of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas (this is mentioned in the Mahāguhyaupayakaushalyasūtra) and 

2. To relinquish bodhichitta in action by allowing one’s vows of 

generosity and so forth to decline (see the Ratnakūṭa). 

72. “For instance, an attendant fault related to wrong views is the simple 

disrespect (of the karmic law, teacher, etc).” [AC 622: 1] 

73. In brief, there are two kinds of upāsaka (dge bsnyen): the complete upāsaka and the upāsaka of pure conduct. Of these, the first renounces killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and alcohol. The second renounces all sexual activity. Laypeople who are practicing the twenty- four-hour upavāsa discipline (bsnyen gnas) observe the ten precepts of the śrāmaṇera ordination but are allowed to use gold and so on as a means of sustaining their families. See TPQ, Book 1, pp. 287–88. 

74. Those who received the śrāmaṇera (dge tshul) ordination abstain from four root faults: killing a human being, stealing, lying, and sexual activity. In addition they renounce intoxicating substances; singing and dancing and so forth; the wearing of ornaments, perfumes, and so forth; the use of valuable furniture and of high seats and beds; the consumption of food at improper times; and the accepting of gold and other valuables. All together they observe ten precepts. The fully ordained monk or bhikṣu (dge slong) observes 253 precepts, while the fully ordained nun (dge slong ma) observes 364 precepts. See TPQ, Book 1, pp. 288–91. 

75. Women novices in training for full ordination (dge slob ma) must 

renounce, in addition to the ten transgressions of a śrāmaṇera, twelve further things: the six root faults such as touching a man and the six related faults such as possessing jewels and precious metals. See TPQ, Book 1, p. 290. 

76. “Since they are composed of infinitesimal particles, the body of the one who harms and the body of the one who is harmed do not truly exist in terms of an actual harmer and something that is actually harmed. Moreover, the minds of both of them are found neither inside nor outside the body, and therefore these too have no existence as harmer and harmed. Finally, if the words of the one who harms are examined, they are not found to exist in any way. Thus the harmer, the harm, and the object harmed are all three empty by their nature. And in emptiness there is neither happiness nor sadness, neither good nor bad, neither exhilaration nor depression. Even though harm seems to occur, because it is without intrinsic being it should be understood to exist on the relative level according the eight examples of illusion: an emanated apparition, a trick of sight, etc. On the ultimate level, by contrast, all is like space. It is through such reflections that we should train ourselves in patience. The Way of the Bodhisattva says, 

Knowing this, we will not be annoyed 

At things that are like magical appearances. [6: 31] 

“And when the primordial, unborn emptiness is examined, it is as The Way of the Bodhisattva says: 

With things that in this way are empty What is there to gain and what to lose? 

Who is there to pay me court and honors

And who is there to scorn and to revile me


What is there to give me joy and pain? And if I search their very suchness, Who is craving? What is craved? 

Examine now this world of living beings: Who is there therein to pass away? Who is there to come, and what has been

And who, indeed, are relatives and friends? 

May all beings like myself discern and grasp 

That all things have the character of space! [9: 151–54] 

“If one habituates oneself to patience by means of many methods, it will come without any difficulty. The Way of the Bodhisattva says, 

There’s nothing that does not grow light 

Through habit and familiarity. [6: 14] 

“Thus, in this life one will become the beloved friend of all and will find happiness, and in the next life one will gain the higher realms and buddhahood. The Way of the Bodhisattva says

No need to mention future buddhahood, 

Achieved through bringing happiness to beings. 

How can I not see that glory, fame, and pleasure 

Even in this life will likewise come

For patience in samsāra brings such things 

As beauty, health, and good renown. 

Its fruit is great longevity, 

The vast contentment of a universal king.” [6: 133–34] 

[AC 661:4-662: 6] 

77. Childish beings” refers to ordinary beingstechnically all who have not yet attained the Mahāyāna path of seeing. Obviously, as in the present context, the expression can be understood less technically to refer simply to people of uncontrolled mind and unruly behavior. 

78. For a detailed discussion of the samādhis and formless absorptions, see 

TPQ, Book 1, pp. 329–32. 

79. For a presentation of the qualities of realization, including the four kinds of perfect knowledge and the six kinds of preternatural knowledge, see TPQ, Book 1, pp. 387-89. 

80. Though the Vajrayana, the resultant vehicle, surpasses the causal vehicle, the goal of both of them is the same. As The Lamp of the Three Modes declares, 

The goal may be the same, and yet by understanding, 

Ease, and manifold techniques— 

To be employed by those of sharp ability— 

This Mantrayāna is by far superior. 

81. For a detailed discussion of this subject, see TPQ, Book 2, pp. 93–96. 82. See TPQ, Book 2, p. 374n65 and 66. 

83. “The Highest Yoga father tantras such as Guhyasamajā, Mañjuśrī Yamantaka, and so forth are classified as Mahāyoga. They mainly teach the stage of generation, the aspect of skillful means, and the practice of the wind energy of the stage of perfection. The mother tantras, related 

to wisdom, such as Viśuddha, Vajrakīla, Cakrasamvara, Hevajra, and so forth are classified as Anuyoga. They mainly teach the stage of perfection related to wisdom, wherein, by practicing principally on the essence-drop (the essential constituent or bodhichitta), nonconceptual primordial wisdom, blissful and empty, is reached. The nondual tantras such as the Māyājāla are called Atiyoga. They mainly teach the indivisibility of the stage of generation and the stage of perfection, in other words, the inseparability of skillful means and wisdom. And in relation to the perfection stage, they principally affirm what is referred to as the blissful, clear, nonconceptual, and inconceivable luminous wisdom arisen from the practice on the channels, wind energies, and essence-drops. In each of the three kinds of tantra, the deities are in union, which symbolizes the indivisibility of skillful means and wisdom. And the samaya substances of meat and alcohol and so forth are enjoyed as a sign that one does not discriminate between good and bad, accepting and rejecting, pure and impure. These tantras assert that all phenomena are buddhas within the single mandala of primordial enlightenment. In the king of the tantras of the definitive meaning, the glorious Guhyagarbha of the Māyājāla cycle, it is said that since all things have but a single nature—the primordial state of buddhahood— they are inseparable.” [AC 739: 1–740: 2] 

84. Carya Tantra and Upa Tantra are synonyms. Longchenpa uses both 

terms (in stanzas 4 and 6)

85. For the winds and the essence-drops, see TPQ, Book 2, pp. 160–64. 86. “Everything is primordially the state of buddhahood (sangs rgyas pa). The five seemingly impure aggregates are the state of buddhahood inasmuch as they are the buddhas of the five families. The five physical elements are the state of buddhahood inasmuch as they are the five female buddhas. All thoughts are the state of buddhahood in being the mandala of the bodhisattvas. Thus, there is not a single atom of something other than buddhahood to be found. As it is said in the Guhyagarbha, 


The components of the vajra aggregate 

Are known as the five perfect buddhas. 

The sources and the elements are the mandala of bodhisattvas. 

Earth is Locanā and water Māmakī, 

Fire is Pāṇḍaravāsinī, wind Samayatārā, 

Space is Ākāśadhātvīśvarī. 

The three worlds of existence are a buddhafield

All things without exception 

Are not other than the state of buddhahood. 

Other than the state of buddhahood 

The buddhas have themselves discovered nothing. [AC 760: 1–5] 

87. “The generation stage, the first of the stages of the Secret Mantra, in which one concentrates and meditates on a deity, is classified fourfold according to the manner in which it purifies the propensities for the four ways of taking birth. As it is said in the Māyājāla

As means to purify four ways of being born, There are likewise four ways of generation: Most elaborate, elaborate, without elaboration, And utterly without elaboration. 

“I explain these four ways of purification according to the elucidation of the great master Vimalamitra. 

Beings born from eggs are, in a sense, ‘twice born.’ In a similar fashion, when in meditation one uses an extremely elaborate mode of concentration, one first takes refuge and generates the attitude of bodhichitta. Then, visualizing oneself in an instant as the father-mother deities, one invites the mandala of the deity in the space in front of oneself. One then makes offerings and praises, confesses one’s faults, rejoices in virtue, requests the turning of the wheel of Dharma, and prays for the aim desired. One then dedicates one’s merit and requests the deity to depart with the words benzar mu. One may also rest for a while in the contemplation of emptiness in a state of meditative equipoise. It is thus that one accumulates both merit and wisdom. This refers to the short generation stage. One then proceeds to the detailed meditation on the specific mandala of the deity arising from the state of emptiness. This is the extended form of the generation stage.” [AC 764: 1-765: 1] See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 136–39. 

88. “Just as in the case of those who are wombborn, who come to birth after the gradual growth and perfection of their bodies [in the womb], one meditates on all the different stages. First one takes refuge and 

generates bodhichitta. Then, after the recitation of the svabhāva mantra, there arises from the state of emptiness the seed-syllable of the deity (hung, for instance). This corresponds to the entry of consciousness into the mingled white and red essence-drops. The spherical and then elongated form of the embryo corresponds to the transformation of the syllable hung into a vajra. The stages when the embryo changes from an oblong to an ovoid shape corresponds to the transformation of the vajra into a sphere of light, which is the [substantial] cause of the deity’s body. The fetus continues to develop, becoming fish-shaped, then tortoiseshaped, and finally the entire body 

formed. All this corresponds to the transformation of the light into the deity. One then meditates on the entire generation stage. Some authorities say that the seed-syllable transforms into a sphere of light, which then transforms into the implement, which finally transforms into the deity. Since the short generation stage and the making of offerings to the field of merit are not included here, the present generation stage is [considered to be] only moderately elaborate.” [AC 765: 3–6] For a more detailed discussion, see TPQ, Book 2, pp. 139–46. 

89. “Birth from warmth and moisture is a simpler process. Consequently, in this kind of generation stage, refuge and bodhichitta are followed by the simple recollection, or pronunciation of the name, of the deity, which then arises from the state of emptiness. The elaborate visualization, starting from the seed-syllable until the complete visualization of the deity’s body, is omitted.” [AC 766: 2-3] See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 146 and 396n231. 

90. Miraculous birth occurs in a single instant. Consequently, by simply recalling the deity, one meditates clearly on it. There is no need for any elaboration—not even so much as the pronunciation of the name—for the deity to be generated.” [AC 766: 4-5] See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 146 and 396n232. 

91. “The visualization gradually melts away, finally dissolving into the nada of the life seed-syllable, which is extremely subtle-so fine that it is as if written with the hundredth part of a horsehair. And this in turn dissolves into the dharmadhātu in which one rests. This is the perfection stage unaccompanied by visible form, on which beginners should 

meditate. It counteracts any clinging to the appearances of the generation stage as if they were real. If, while practicing the generation stage, one leaves the mind without distraction in the state that is free of thought, the primal wisdom of bliss, luminosity, and no-thought will arise, and this constitutes the perfection stage accompanied by visual forms. Those who gain a little stability in their meditation should practice in this way, for it is the antidote to a onesided clinging to emptiness.” [AC 767: 6–768: 3] See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 154ff. 92. “The Sanskrit abhiṣeka [translated into Tibetan as dbang and subsequently into English as “empowerment”] in fact expresses two ideas: the washing away of impurities and the giving of power. First, it washes away the impurities of the disciples’ minds. Second, it gives them the power to attain enlightenment in the future and, in the immediate term, to meditate on each of the different paths. Once one has received the transmission of blessing (rigs gtad), the permission to practice (rjes gnang) or an actual empowerment (dbang), as explained in the different tantras, one is able to engage in the corresponding practice……..” [AC 774: 4–6] See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 112–26. 93. In the Highest Yoga Tantra (Anuttara Tantra) texts, four empowerments are mentioned. First, the vase empowerment purifies the impurities of the body and enables the practitioner to meditate on the stage of generation. Second, the secret empowerment purifies the obscurations of speech and enables the practitioner to meditate on caṇḍālī, the tummo practice. Third, the wisdom empowerment purifies the obscurations of mind and enables the practitioner to meditate on nonconceptual primordial wisdom, which is blissful and empty. Finally, the precious word empowerment purifies all impurities and enables the practitioner to meditate on the mahāmudrā, the fundamental nature of phenomena. By means of the first three empowerments, the accumulation of merit is perfected and the obscurations deriving from defilement (nyon sgrib) are purified. By means of the fourth empowerment, the accumulation of wisdom is perfected and the conceptual obscurations (shes sgrib) are purified. When the four empowerments are coordinated with the pure grounds and paths, the vase empowerment brings to perfection the path of accumulation; the 

secret empowerment brings to perfection the path of joining; the wisdom empowerment brings to perfection the path of seeing; while the actual empowerment of mahāmudrā brings to perfection the path of meditation. All four empowerments bring [the minds of the disciples] to maturity, while meditation on the generation and perfection stages brings them to liberation.” [AC 776: 3–777: 2] 

94. “The essence of samaya is the extraordinary, superior intention to preserve intact and undamaged all the excellent trainings undertaken in the Secret Mantra. Samaya may be categorized into root and branch samayas. The root samayas are the samayas of body, speech, and mind. As regards the samaya of body, one must meditate on the body of a deity and restrain oneself from all the negativities of the body such as killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct, together with all that is ancillary to them. The samaya of speech is to recite the mantra and to turn from the negativities of speech together with all that is linked to them. The samaya of mind is to train in profound concentration and to turn away from all the negativities of mind together with all that is linked to them. In brief, if one leaves one’s body, speech, and mind in an ordinary state, the samaya is damaged. Thus one must refrain from anything that detracts from the utterly pure and enlightened body, speech, and mind.” [AC 778: 6–779: 4] See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 179-229. 

95. The wisdom (dgongs pa) of nondual Ati refers here to the view 

expounded in the Guhyagarbha Tantra, which Longchenpa explains from the perspective of the Great Perfection. 

96. See part 2, “The Three Concentrations of the Generation Stage,” pp. 


97. “In the center, there is blue Vairocana [in union] with Ākāśadhātvīśvarī; in the east, there is white Akṣobhya with Māmakī; in the south, there is yellow Ratnasambhava with Buddhalocanā; in the west, there is red Amitabha with Pāṇḍaravāsinī; and in the north, there is green Amoghasiddhi with Samayatārā. Beneath them all there is a four- spoked wheel on which these buddhas of the five families are seated. Outside this wheel, and in the four outer and inner buttresslike steps, there is (inside) in the southeast, bluegreen Kṣitigarbha with the 

goddess of charm; in the southwest, there is dark blue Ākāśagarbha with the goddess of garlands; in the northwest, there is light red Avalokitesvara with the goddess of song; in the northeast, there is light blue Vajrapāņi with the goddess of dance. On the outside, there is, in the southeast, white Maitreya with the goddess of incense; in the southwest, there is dark blue Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin with the goddess of flowers; in the northwest, there is light red Mañjuśrī with the goddess of lamps; and in the northeast, there is green-yellow Samantabhadra with the goddess of perfumes. On the surrounding plinth of the hall are the six Munis. In the eastern doorway are Bhairava and Bhairavī; in the southern doorway are Vijaya and Vijayī; in the western doorway are Hayagrīva in male and female form; and in the northern doorway are Amṛtakundali in male and female form. Here I have explained in order what is presented, somewhat unsystematically, in the tantra.” [AC 817: 6-818: 6] 

98. Samantabhadra and Samantabhadrī are the ground for the generation of the mandala. Samantabhadra symbolizes appearance; Samantabhadrī symbolizes emptiness. 

99. “Regarding the purity that the deities represent, the purity of the five aggregates is expressed by the buddhas of the five families, while the union of their appearance and emptiness is expressed by the fact that they are in union with their consorts. The purity of the eye, ear, nose, and tongue consciousnesses is expressed by the four inner bodhisattvas [Kṣitigarbha, Vajrapāņi, Ākāśagarbha, and Avalokitesvara]. The purity of the [sense objects of] form, sound, smell, and taste is expressed by the four inner goddesses of charm and so on [Lāsyā, Gītā, Mālyā, and Nartī]. The purity of the organs of sight, hearing, smell, and taste is expressed by the four outer bodhisattvas [Maitreya, Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, Samantabhadra, and Mañjuśrī]. The purity of the past, present, future, and the fourth time of inconceivable dharmata is represented by the four outer goddesses. The intrinsic purity of the four sources (ayatana)—the sense consciousnesses, sense organs, sense objects, and mental consciousness deriving from the sense consciousnesses, for example, the experience of touch (reg pa), tactile sense (reg byed), object of touch (reg bya), and tactile consciousness 

(reg shes)—is symbolized by the four male doorkeepers. The fact that, by their nature, phenomena are neither permanent nor annihilated, and that they are without self-identity and without characteristics, is symbolized by the four female doorkeepers. 

“The agents of purification for the six defilements, the six [conceptual] perfections, and the six migrations are the six Munis. The intrinsic purity of the universal ground and of the consciousness of the universal ground is the father-mother deities Samantabhadra and Samantabhadrī. In the present state of impurity, all the deities are now associated with the consciousnesses, which are themselves the subdivisions of the universal ground, and with the sense organs and their objects. In the state of purity, however, they are associated with the primordial wisdoms and buddhafields. This is how the purity of the deities should be understood.” [AC 823: 3–824: 3] 

100. The three syllables are OM AH HUNG. The syllables associated with the 


101. “Once one has understood that all phenomena are ‘enlightened’ in a single mandala, one should fix this knowledge in the mind, and within the state of the great spontaneous presence of the nature of one’s own mind, which is all things, one should recite the mantra, make offerings and praise, and so on. This is different from the outer tantras (up to and including the Yoga Tantra), wherein there is a clinging to the distinction between good and bad, where one invites the deity to come from outside and to enter into oneself and so forth, and where, at the end of the session, one requests it to depart. 

“As it is said in the King of Marvels Tantra

Knowing all things as the mandala, one meditates Upon equality, spontaneously present from the first. Therefore there’s no need for stages, mind-contrived, Whereby the deity is invited then requested to depart. 

“Thus one practices in a manner in which the samayasattva (visualized meditational deity) and the jñānasattva (wisdom deity) are not differentiated. For one’s body is the deity, one’s speech is mantra, and 

one’s mind is the deity’s mind. On the other hand, if beginners and those who are fond of elaboration invite the deity, present offerings and praises, and so on, there is no conflict.” [AC 825: 5–826: 3] 

102. See note 94 and TPQ, Book 2, pp. 213–14. 

103. Strictly speaking, the sacred feast offering (gaṇacakra, tshog) on the tenth day of the lunar month should be made in the morning (or the daytime). On the twenty-fifth day of the month (the tenth of the waning moon), it should be offered in the evening or at night. 

104. See part 2, “The Simple Practice of the Generation and Perfection 

Stages,” pp. 257–259. 

105. This refers to the quintessential teaching of the Guhyagarbha Tantra

which is presented here from the point of view of Atiyoga. 

106. See part 2, “The Mind and the Objects That Appear to It,” pp. 261– 


107. “As it is said in the Guhyagarbha Tantra: 

Ema-o! A wondrous and a marvelous thing, 

A secret all the perfect buddhas know! Without being born are all things born, 

And in the moment of their birth, they are unborn! 

Emao! A wondrous and a marvelous thing, 

A secret all the perfect buddhas know! 

Without ceasing, all things cease, 

And in the moment of cessation, all things are unceasing! 

Ema-o! A wondrous and a marvelous thing, 

A secret all the perfect buddhas know! 

Without remaining, all things yet remain, 

And in the moment of remaining, they do not remain! 

Emao! A wondrous and a marvelous thing, 

A secret all the perfect buddhas know! 

Without their being observed, all things are yet observed, And in the moment they’re observed, they’re unobservable! 

Ema-o! A wondrous and a marvelous thing

A secret all the perfect buddhas know! 

Without their coming or their going, all things come and go. 

And the moment that they come and go, they’re free of coming 

and of going!” 

[AC 862: 5-863: 3] 

108. “It is thus that one is not fettered by appearance. If one does not cling to what appears (in the sense of taking and rejecting), one remains unaffected by it. For there is no intrinsic relation [between the observer and the observed]. One is fettered only by clinging, and it is precisely this that is to be eliminated….If, as a result of one’s investigation, one clings to the absence of intrinsic being in form, sound, smell, taste, and textures, and if one clings to ideas of impurity and so on, the outcome will be that even though the objects themselves are relinquished, the clinging mind does not subside and the root of clinging is not severed. Proceeding in this way-which is like the action of a dog that does not bite the man who threw the stone, but bites the stone instead one fails to free oneself from defilement. By contrast, if a man throws a stone at a lion, the lion will kill him. Similarly, the root of all defilements like craving and aversion is the mind itself. Wherefore, one should examine one’s own inner mind and dissipate the defilements with the wisdom that understands their lack of intrinsic existence.” [AC 870: 2-6] 109. See part 2, “The Omniscient Longchenpa Speaks about His 

Realization,” pp. 265-267. 

110. The words in italics are a literal translation of Longchenpa’s name, Dri 

med ❜od zer. 

111. “Because their appearance and their emptiness are inseparable, phenomena transcend the concepts of one and many and thus are 

unconfined. This is what is meant when it is said that they are like space. As it is said in The All-Creating King

All things have a space-like nature. 

Space has no intrinsic being. 

Space is unexampled. 

Space is measureless. 

Understand that such is the reality 

Of everything without exception. 

Just as phenomena are equal in that they are all like space, they are equal in the way that they appear, like reflections in a mirror. They are equal in their emptiness and are like reflections devoid of independent concrete existence. But since they are causally efficient, they are equal in being true from the point of view of the deluded mind. They are like form and its reflection, which are both able to generate the cognitive function of the visual consciousness. They are also equal in their falsity, for they are baseless hallucinations like the experiences of those who have consumed the datura plant. They are equal in their presence, for from the point of view of mere appearance, they are like the oxen that appear in a magical display. They are also equal in their absence, for they lack intrinsic being like water seen in a mirage. They are equal in transcending all limitation, for they are like the infinity of space. Phenomena are equal from the very first. Their ultimate nature is a sphere that transcends all division and defies all description. They are primordially empty.” [AC 904: 2-905: 1] 

112. “The theory of the skandhas, dhātus, and so on is but a mental imputation, and mental imputations do not occur in the way that things do. They are intrinsically empty. Nominal ascriptions cannot be located either inside or outside their corresponding objects. They are adventitious and do not exist [as concrete entities]. Although specific characteristics are ascribed to objects, the latter are simply names, mere configurations of thought. Although it is said that the objects labeled are like fire arising from its fuel, they are but the forms perceived through deluded habit, like a fire seen in a dream. They have no existence in any 

fundamental sense. It is thus that phenomena and beings that seem to exist to the deluded mind are but appearances onto which [the idea of] existence has been superimposed. All sense objects, however they appear, are equal in their deceptive character. It is not that things fall into two categories: true and false. If one examines appearing objects and the cognitions that apprehend them, they are unconnected, for they do not impinge upon each other. When subject and object are examined, they are like space, for they are not [intrinsically] related either as a subject relating to its object or as an object to which a subject relates. Their relationship in fact has no reality. Moreover, not only does this relationship not exist, but neither do the mental categories of “universal ideas” and “particular instances” exist in the sense of concrete, specifically characterized entities. For whether one classifies them as universals or particulars, these designations are on a level in that they produce no discernible change in phenomena themselves. When one examines the matter in this way, the folly of grouping unrelated items in terms of apprehender and apprehended becomes evident. It demonstrates that all grasping that arises from ignorance is mistaken.” [AC 906: 1–907: 2] 

113. “Let me explain this in the well-known manner that is easy to understand: When the reflection of a face appears in a mirror, it is perceived without the [actual] face and the reflected face becoming two different things. Neither does the reflection arise through the transference of the image from the face into the mirror. In the same way, when the manifold objects of the senses appear to their respective sense consciousnesses, it is not the mind that goes to the outer object. Rather it is the aspect of the object that appears in the sense consciousness. And this should be understood in a way similar to the appearance of reflections in a mirror. Although a face appears in the mirror, it is not the actual face that is transferred therein. It is the reflection, or the aspect, of the face that appears in it. When an aspect arises in consciousness, it is through the mind’s clinging to it [as the actual, really existing, thing] that one is deluded in samsāra. 

When, however, this matter is properly examined, even the claim that the mind does not go out to its object but that it is the aspect of the 

object that arises in the mind is not substantiated. Since the mind that arises [as the object] does not exist inside or outside the body or somewhere in between, there is nothing that apprehends the aspect. Moreover, if this aspect is examined, it has no intrinsic being, with the result that the aspect arising in the mind is not established either. Therefore neither subject nor object is logically established. As it is said in the Root Stanzas on the Middle Way

What arises in dependence on another Is not at all that thing itself

But neither is it something else— 

There is no annihilation, there’s no permanence.” [18: 10] [AC 907: 6-908: 5] 

114. Samatha (calm abiding) and vipaśyanā (profound insight) are considered either to share the same nature or to be different. In the first case, śamatha is considered to be the stillness aspect, while vipasyanā is the clarity aspect, of the mind. And it is through the union of samatha and vipaśyanā, whereby the [union of] emptiness and luminosity is understood as the absence of conceptual extremes, that one is liberated from samsaric existence. It is said in the Suhrllekha: 

Lacking wisdom, concentration fails. 

And without concentration, wisdom too. 

For someone who has both, samsāra’s sea Fills no more than the print left by a hoof. 

“In the second case, śamatha and vipaśyanā are considered to be different in two ways: according to the letter of the teachings and according to their sense. On the one hand, the one-pointed mind that rests in the meaning of what has been learned is śamatha, while the understanding of this meaning is vipaśyanā. On the other hand, to concentrate one’s mind by means of meditation is śamatha, whereas to realize subsequently that the mind has no intrinsic existence is vipasyanā.” [AC 920: 3-920: 6] 

115. This is a reference to the five kinds of vision and the six kinds of preternatural knowledge that are numbered among a buddha’s qualities of realization. See TPQ, Book 1, p. 387

116. The path is said to traverse the stages of four primordial 

wisdoms….As The Ocean of Jewels tells us

In terms of luminosity, when the four aspects are complete, 

This is the ground of great primordial wisdom. 

“Light” is the absence of discursive thought. 

Its “increase” is illusory primordial wisdom. 

Its “culmination” is the supreme noble path. Its “utter culmination” is the path’s completion.” [AC 935: 2–4] 

117. “On the path of meditation, in its lesser, medium, and greater stages, practitioners grow used to the primordial wisdom they have beheld [on the path of seeing]. They acquire innumerable qualities on each of the grounds and bring benefit to beings by means of their emanations. On the first seven grounds, the states of meditation and postmeditation are distinct because discursiveness persists in the postmeditation period. On the three pure grounds, however, manifest thoughts no longer occur, and therefore the stages of meditation and postmeditation mingle in a single taste within the state of primordial wisdom.” [AC 940: 3-4] 118. See TPQ, Book 2, pp. 155–57. 

119. “It is through mental stillness, namely, the emptiness aspect free of thoughts, that calm abiding, the perfection stage, and the accumulation of wisdom (the cause of the dharmakaya) are spontaneously accomplished. On the other hand, it is through the mind’s luminosity, the appearance aspect, that deep insight, the generation stage, and the accumulation of merit (the cause of the rūpakāya) are also spontaneously accomplished. At that moment, the six ultimate transcendent virtues, free from conceptual focus, are brought to perfection. As the Question of Brahmaviseṣacinti Sūtra says, “The absence of clinging is generosity. Nonobservance is discipline. 

Nonabiding [in the extremes] is patience. The absence of effort is diligence. The absence of one-pointedness is meditative concentration. The absence of concepts is wisdom.‘ 

“Regarding generosity and the other five practices, if one simply abides by them, they do not in themselves become transcendent virtues, If, however, one does go beyond all such attitudes, they become transcendent. And at that point, true discipline is perfected. As it is said in the Question of Susthitamatidevaputra Sūtra: ‘When there is no concept of discipline or indiscipline, this is transcendent discipline.’ Furthermore, the two accumulations are perfected. As it is said in the Ten Wheels of Kṣitigarbha Sūtra, ‘It is the absence of conceptual focus in their regard that constitutes the accumulations of merit and wisdom.’ And in the Sacred Primordial Wisdom Sutra, we find, 

The bodhisattva Jñānaketu asked, ‘What accumulations are 

gathered by a monk who engages in the practice?‘ 

The Buddha answered, Merit and wisdom are accumulated and 

their gathering is very great.’ 

The bodhisattva asked, ‘What is the accumulation of merit?’ 

The Buddha answered, ‘Merits 



are positive, wholesome 

endowed with characteristics such as 

The bodhisattva asked, ‘What then is the accumulation of 


The Buddha answered, ‘It consists in the absence of 

characteristics, transcendent wisdom, and so on.’ 

The bodhisattva asked, ‘What are these two accumulations like?‘ 

The Buddha answered, “The accumulation of merit is referred to 

as a samsaric accumulation. It can be likened to the water contained in a cow’s hoofprint. How so? It is because it is soon destroyed and exhausted. It leads the childish astray. For after experiencing the bliss of the divine and human states, they must wander in the lower realms. The accumulation of wisdom, however, is referred to as a 

nirvanic accumulation; it is like the water of a vast ocean. How so? Because it is indestructible, inexhaustible, and undeceiving and brings one to the attainment of nirvāṇa. O Jñānaketu, you should gather only the accumulation of wisdom.’ 

When the Buddha said this, he was thinking of the fact that positive actions leading to happiness are transformed [when they are associated with wisdom] into actions leading to liberation, and that therefore practitioners should meditate principally [on wisdom].” [AC 965: 6– 967: 4] 

120. “As it is said in The Way of the Bodhisattva

When something and its nonexistence 

Both are absent from before the mind, 

No other option does the latter have: 

It comes to perfect rest, from concepts free.[6: 34] [AC 968: 3] 

121. As explained in stanzas 41 and 42, the nine absorptions are the four samādhis of form, the four absorptions of no-form, and the absorption of cessation. 

122. For the four samādhis, see TPQ, Book 1, pp. 329–31. 

123. For the four absorptions, see ibid., pp. 331–32. 

124. The perfect understanding of the words and meanings of the Dharma, gained through all-discerning profound insight, is held one-pointedly in the mind by means of calm abiding. This being so, it follows that profound insight consists in dhāraṇī, while calm abiding is concentration. As it is said in the Expanded Primordial Wisdom: ‘Profound insight is dhāraṇīthe power of retaining the Dharma teachings. Calm abiding is concentration.’ And concerning dhāraṇī, it is said in the Excellent Accomplishment Tantra, ‘Dhāraṇī is of three kinds. It is the perfect power of retaining the words, the meanings, and the words and meanings together. And since it protects or retains these from decline, one speaks of the dhāraṇī or power of retaining.” [AC 976: 1-3] 

125. For an explanation of practice on the path of accumulation, see TPQ, Book 1, pp. 391–92. Regarding the four bases of miraculous ability, Yönten Gyamtso cites endeavor (brtson ‘grus) instead of mindfulness (dran pa) (YG II, p. 978). 

126. For the four stages of the path of joining, see TPQ, Book 1, pp. 392– 


127. For the seven elements leading to enlightenment on the path of seeing, see ibid., p. 393. Yontan Gyatso cites evenness (btang snyoms) instead of confidence (dad pa). Longchenpa’s autocommentary also cites evenness instead of confidence (AC 991: 3 and 992: 4). 

128. See TPQ, Book 1, pp. 227–29. 


129. For the Eightfold Noble Path, see ibid., p. 130. “Just like waves falling back into the water, when thoughts arise, they subside in the instant that they occur. Their arising and subsiding occur simultaneously. At that time, their arising and subsiding corresponds to profound insight and to the gathering of the conceptual merit (snang bcas bsod nams) naturally present as the generation stage. To dwell in the limpid clarity of self-cognizing awareness, which is peaceful by its nature, corresponds to calm abiding and to the gathering of nonconceptual (snang med) wisdom, which is present as the stage of perfection. So it is that śamatha and vipaśyanā are naturally united and dwell spontaneously within the mind from the very beginning.[AC 1023: 6-1024: 2] 

131. “Through watching the sky of the outer world, which is taken as a symbol of awareness, the awareness thereby symbolized will arise. The secret [sky] will subsequently manifest, that is, the realization of primordial wisdom. This is the ultimate instruction in which all other teachings are set forth….Just as the symbol, the [outer] sky, is empty, luminous, and unceasing, so too the mind cognizing it is unceasing primordial wisdom, which is luminous and empty. This is the inner sky or space. Thence there arises primordial wisdom, empty, luminous, and free from conceptual construction, accompanied by the experiences of bliss, luminosity, and nothought. All phenomena sink back into the nature of space. This is a freedom from the apprehension of things and their characteristics and is the secret sky of luminosity. It is at that time that the ten signssmoke and so forth-manifest. And as the wind- mind enters the central channel, the five lights illuminate the entire abyss of space.” [AC 1025: 2-1026: 2] 

132. “This is ultimate purity. The luminosity of the ground has been attained. Within the sky of the ultimate expanse, primordial wisdom of inner luminosity dwells in the manner of the new moon. It is the support or ground of manifestation of the qualities of omniscience. There is no outwardly appearing sambhogakāya that, from the very beginning, is perceptible to beings to be trained. For at this point, there is but the sole dharmakaya, beyond all stains of the four extremes. At the time of the 

new moon, although the moon is in the sky, it does not radiate light whereby it could be observed. Likewise, the primordial wisdom of the dharmakaya, gathered into the ultimate expanse, is extremely subtle and profound. As we find in The Light of Primal Wisdom, ‘Since it is gathered into the ultimate expanse, it is invisible. Since it is extremely subtle, it is not nonexistent. Like the new moon, it is deep, peaceful, and extremely subtle.” [AC 1045: 2-1045: 5] 

It should be understood that the phases of the moon are not understood in terms of the moon’s position in relationship to the sun (as in the heliocentric solar system). According to the cosmology of ancient India, the moon, composed of water crystal, produces its own light, projecting and withdrawing it in phases in the course of the month. 133. See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 278–79. 

134. This refers to the dualistic way of knowing in terms of the apprehended 

object and the apprehending mind. 

135. Just as at the time of the new moon [when all one sees is the sky alone], when primordial wisdom is blended with the ultimate expanse (the space of the mind’s nature), all mental elaborations subside, whereas wisdom-knowledge remains unceasing. This [wisdom] is therefore said to be ‘gathered within and yet not dulled’ (thim la ma rmugs). The primordial wisdom of inner luminosity, in a state of perfect equipoise, constitutes the core from which the outwardly radiating luminosity is diffused and spread. This does not apprehend the duality of subject and object. It is the extraordinary nonconceptual primordial wisdom: the peaceful dharmakāya, the body of ultimate reality.” [AC 1048: 2-4] 

136. “The three bodies mentioned heresubsisting as the inner luminosity of the ultimate expanse are the actual support for the arising of the outwardly radiating luminosity. They are not permanent because they are beyond all reference and conceptual focus. Neither are they discontinuous, for they are self-cognizing primordial wisdom (so so rang rig pa’i ye shes). Neither are they both or neither. Since they are not established as either permanent or discontinuous, this second pair of alternatives is also excluded. 

Since the three bodies of inner luminosity are the ground of manifestation, they provide—for bodhisattvas dwelling on the grounds, as well as for ordinary beings—the cause for seeing the form bodies (of the outwardly radiating luminosity), for hearing their teachings, for smelling the perfume of their sublime discipline, for savoring the taste of Dharma, for feeling the blissful touch of concentration, and for comprehending the Dharma with reasoning and intelligence. All these things arise from the wisdom of inner luminosity, which dwells in the ultimate expanse-like the light of the new moon gathered in the sky- and which can be experienced by none but the buddhas alone.” [AC 1049: 2–6] 

137. See also TPQ, Book 2, pp. 282ff. 

138. The lower maṇḍala refers to the mandala of peaceful deities dwelling in the heart; the upper mandala is the mandala of wrathful deities dwelling in the crown of the head. See also TPQ, Book 2, p. 464n546. 

139. For a further explanation, see ibid., p. 286. 

140. For the explanation of the nine wrathful demeanors, see ibid., 

p. 149. 141. Moreover, the mandalas that are present within the body, as taught in the Anuttara Tantras of, for example, Guhyasamajā, Hevajra, and Cakrasamvara, are mandalas of the exclusive self-experience of the sambhogakāya. They do not appear to others. From some of them, wrathful mandalas are emanated in order to subdue spirits that mislead and create obstacles. These belong to the nirmāṇakāya; they are not the maṇḍalas of the Akaniṣṭha buddhafield.” [AC 1062: 5–1063: 2] See also TPQ, Book 2, p. 287. 

142. tr When the winds enter the central channel, yogis perceive so-called empty forms (reflections of emptiness), which are imperceptible to others.” [AC 1065: 2] 

143. See TPQ, Book 2, p. 293. 

144. “From within the expanse of the sambhogakāya’s exclusive self- experience, and in order to guide beings, pure and impure, the cognitive potency (thugs rje) of the Buddhas effortlessly displays three kinds of Teacher or Guide. These are first, the nirmāṇakāya of luminous character (rang bzhin sprul sku), which is in harmony with the 

sambhogakāya; second, the nirmāṇakāya that is the guide of beings (‘gro ‘dul sprul sku), which manifests as the Teachers [or Munis] of the six classes of beings; and third, the diversified nirmāṇakāya (sna tshogs sprul sku), which manifests as both animate beings or inanimate things.” [TPQ, Book 2, p. 293] For a detailed exposition, see TPQ, Book 2, pp. 294–315. 

145. “These are the Teachers, reflection of the sambhogakāya, that appear to bodhisattvas on the grounds of realization. They resemble the self- experienced sambhogakāya, but they are not the actual sambhogakāya itself. The latter is related to the former in the manner of an appearing object and its reflection in a mirror.” [AC 1067: 4–5] 

146. For a more detailed explanation, see TPQ, Book 2, pp. 297-98. 147. Although they are referred to here as the “half-appearing nirmāṇakāya,” the fact is that they appear only to the bodhisattvas on the ten grounds of realization. They do not figure in the experience of the śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and so on. Similarly, even though the five Teachers appear as the sambhogakāya, they, their retinues, their buddhafields, and so on, are not the exclusive self-experience of their primordial wisdom and are not inaccessible to beings other than themselves. For they are indeed perceived by the pure minds of bodhisattvas residing on the grounds of realization. This is why they are referred to as “semi- apparent sambhogakāya buddhafields” or “nirmāṇakāya buddhafields of luminous character.See TPQ, Book 2, pp. 299–300. 

148. For a more detailed explanation, see ibid., pp. 300–305. 

149. See Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva, 5:1, 5:18, 5:6-8, 5:5, pp. 


150. An emanation of Vajradhara, the first of the twelve teachers of the 

Great Perfection

151. The Tibetan term snang ba has a double ambivalence. Used verbally, it can mean, and be translated into English, as (intransitively) “to appear” or (transitively) “to perceive” or “to experience.” The term can also be understood nominally in the sense of, on the one hand, “appearance” or “phenomenon” or, on the other hand, “perception” or “experience.” 

These ambivalences are often present in Tibetan expressions and indeed may be exploited in order to express the subtlety of a given context. 152. Awareness is described here as primordially unconditioned (ye nas dus ma byas pa) because, unlike, for example, the sense consciousnesses or other ordinary states or mind, it is not the product of causes and conditions

153. For an explanation of the terms “universal ground of joining” and universal ground of habitual tendencies,” see p. 238. See also TPQ, Book 2, p. 451n499. 

154. See Mi pham zhal lung (The Words of the Invincible One), Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary on the Uttaratantrasāstra, 1:55-57. It is difficult to give the precise location of citations from the Uttaratantra since only a part of this text is divided into chapters and the stanzas are not numbered. For referencing purposes, therefore, we have used the system devised in Mipham’s commentary. 

155. See endnote 56 for an explanation of dge ba (virtue) in this context

156. 1: 157. 

157. For an explanation of coemergent ignorance, see p. 236 and TPQ, Book 

2, p. 244. 

158. See Chandrakirti, Introduction to the Middle Way, 11:17, p. 106. 159. See ibid., 6:196, pp. 95 and 318. 

160. The careful reader will note here that the English words “conceptualand “cognition” are both translations of the Tibetan word (rtog pa), which has different nuances of meaning according to context. 

161. 1: 30. 

162. This text is usually interpreted as referring to the three turnings of the wheel of Dharma. In the teachings of the first turning of the wheel, the mind, like other phenomena, is mentioned as if it were a real existent. And in this context, “mind” means the ordinary intellect, the mind as experienced by ordinary, unenlightened beings. In the second turning, which expounds the ultimate nature of phenomena as emptiness, the mind is defined as being without true existence. In the third turning, which has to do with the buddha nature or tathāgatagarbha, the nature of the mind is explained as luminosity. 

163. 1:27. 

164. 1: 63. 

165. 1: 152–55. 

166. See A Feast of the Nectar of the Supreme Vehicle: An Explanation of the 

Ornament of the Mahāyāna Sūtras, 4.4

167. 1: 99–100. 

168. 1: 102-3. 

169. 1: 105-6. 

170. 1: 108-9. 

171. 1: 111–13. 

172. 1: 115–16. 

173. 1: 118-19. 

174. 1: 121–22. 

175. 1: 124-25. 

176. 1: 127-28. 

177. 1: 133-34. 

178. 1: 136. 

179. The “transitory collection,” or rather the view of the transitory collection, is a technical term referring to the innate tendency to take the multiple and transitory aggregates of a person to be a single, permanent, self. 

180. 1: 137-46. 

181. 1:35

182. We have not been able to locate this quotation in the Sūtrālamkāra

183. 1:47. 

184. 1: 149. 

185. 1: 159. 

186. 1: 160. 

187. 1: 169–70. 

188. 1: 95 and 1: 157–58. 

189. See Chandrakirti, Introduction to the Middle Way, 11:18, p. 106. 

190. 2: 62. 

191. 1:5. 

192. Log sred can. There are several definitions of this group. According to 

the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, they are those who repudiate the law of causality and, careless of ethical principles, do not follow the teachings of the Buddha. In the Lankāvatāra-sūtra, they are defined as those who hate and reject the Mahāyāna scriptures. 

193. This is one of the categories of implied teachings (dgongs pa can). See 

TPQ, Book 1, p. 338

194. See Chandrakirti, Introduction to the Middle Way, 6:4-5, p. 68. 

195. See Ornament of the Mahāyāna Sūtras, 4:5 and 4:8

196. 1: 40-41. 

197. See Ornament of the Mahāyāna Sūtras, 4:7. 

198. 3: 11. 

199. slu ba. In other words, they are not final refuges. 

200. 1:20

201. 1:21. 

202. That is, the enlightenment of the śrāvakas, the pratyekabuddhas, and the 


203. 1: 5. 

204. That is, karma and defilement. 

205. 1: 10-11. 

206. 1: 14. 

207.1: 22. 

208. 1: 19. 

209. 1:21. 

210. Starting with Vijaya through Mahābala, the Tibetan names for these deities are: dByug sngon can, gShin rje’i gshed, Mi g-yo ba, rTa mchog dpal, gZhan gyis mi thub pa, bDud rtsi Khyil ba, Khams gsum rnam rgyal and sTobs po che, respectively. 

211. See also TPQ, Book 2, p. 147. 

212. See also “The Three Natures,pp. 179–90. 

213. See chapter 10, stanzas 21-23, pp. 120–21. 

214. This is a translation of Longchenpa’s personal name, Dri med ’od zer. 


Abhidharmakośa: Chos mngon pa mdzod (The Treasury of Abhidharma). By 


Abridged Prajñapāramitāsūtra: Prajñāpāramitāsamcāyagāthā, Sher phyin 

sdud pa tshigs su bcad pa (sDud pa)

Accomplishment of Primordial Wisdom Tantra: Ye shes grub pa’i rgyud. The All-Creating King Tantra: Kun byed rgyal po’i rgyud

All-Illuminating Sphere Tantra: Thig le kun gsal gyi rgyud

Angulimālīya-sūtra: Sor phreng can gyi mdo (Sūtra of Angulimāla). Bodhisattvabhūmi Byang chub sems dpa’i sa (Bodhisattva Grounds). By 


“Chapter on Concentration” in the Ratnakūṭa: dKon mchog brtsegs pa’i ting 

nge ‘dzin dam pa’i leu

Classification of Wandering Beings Sūtra: ‘Gro ba rnam ‘byed kyi mdo. Commentary to the Sūtrālamkāra: Sūtralaṇkāravṛttibhāṣya, mDo sde rgyan 

gyi ‘grel bshad. By Sthiramati. 

Commentary to the Uttaratantra-sāstra: Uttaratantraśāstravyākhya, rGyud bla 

ma’i rnam bshad. By Asanga. 

Compendium Tantra of Precious Secret Wisdom: gSang ba ye shes rin po 

che’i rgyud kun dus

Complete Revelation of the Essence Sutra: sNying po rab tu bstan pa’i mdo. Essence of Enlightenment Sūtra: Buddhahṛdayadhāraṇī

Excellent Accomplishment Tantra: Susiddhi-tantra, Legs par grub pa’i rgyud

Exhaustion of the Four Elements Tantra: Byung bzhi zad pa’i rgyud. Expanded Primordial Wisdom Tantra: Ye shes rgyas pa’i rgyud

Gaṇḍavyuha-sūtra: sDong po bkod pa’i mdo (The Tree-Garland Sūtra). Ghanavyūhasūtra: rGyan stug po bkod pa’i mdo (Densely Adorned Sūtra). Great Exposition of the Generation and Perfection Stages: bsKyed rdzogs chen 


Guhyagarbha Tantra: gSang ba snying po’i rgyud (The Secret Essence Tantra). Heart Sūtra: Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasūtra, Shes rab snying po’i mdo

Heruka Galpo Tantra: He ru ka gal po’i rgyud

Hevajra Tantra in Two Sections: Kye rdo rje’i rgyud brtag pa gnyis pa (brTag 


Immaculate Wisdom of Mañjuśrī Sūtra: Jam dpal ye shes dri ma med pa’i 


Kasyapa Chapter: Kāśyapaparivarta, ‘Od srung gi leu

King of Marvels Tantra: rMad byung rgyal po’i rgyud

Lankāvatāra-sūtra: Lang kar gshegs pa’i mdo (The Visit to Lanka Sūtra). Light of Primal Wisdom Tantra: Ye shes snang ba’i rgyud

Madhyamakāvatāra: dBu ma la ‘jug pa (Introduction to the Middle Way). By 


Madhyāntavibhāga: dBus mtha’ rnam ‘byed (Discerning the Middle and the 

Extremes). By Maitreya-Asanga. 

Magical Display Sūtra: rNam par phrul pa’i mdo

Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra: Yongs su mya ngan las ‘das pa chen po’i mdo. Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra: Theg pa chen po’i mDo sde rgyan (Ornament of the 

Mahāyāna Sūtras). By MaitreyaAsanga. 

Mañjuśrīnāmasamgīti: Jam dpal mtshan brjod (Litany of the Names of 


Māyājāla Tantra: sGyu ‘phrul drva ba’i rgyud (Net of Illusory Manifestations 


Middle-Length Prajñāpāramitā: Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa stong phrag 

nyi shu Inga pa (Yum bar ma). 

Net of Precious Peaceful Deities: Zhi ba rin po che’i drva ba

Ocean of Jewels Tantra: Rin chen rgya mtsho’i rgyud

Ornament for the Wisdom of Mañjuśrī Sūtra: ‘Jam dpal ye shes rgyan gyi 


Pañcakrama: Rim Inga (The Five Stages). By Nāgārjuna. 

Parinirvāṇasūtra: Mya ngan las ‘das pa’i mdo

Praises of the Mind Vajra: Sems kyi rdo rje’i bstod pa

Prajñāpāramitā in Eight Thousand Lines: Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā, Shes 

rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa brgyad stong pa

Prajñāpāramitā in Twenty Thousand Lines: Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa 

stong phrag nyi shu pa (Nyi khri)

Precious Net Tantra: Rin chen dra ba’i rgyud

Question of Brahmaviseṣacinti Sūtra: Brahmaviśeṣacintiparipṛcchā-sūtra

Tshangs pa khyad par sems kyis zhus pa’i mdo

Question of Sagara Sūtra: Sagaraparipṛcchā-sūtra, rGya mtshos zhus pa’i 


Question of Susthitamatidevaputra Sūtra, Susthimatidevaputraparipṛcchā- 

sūtra, Lha’i bu blo gros rab gnas kyis zhus pa

Question of Ugra the Householder Sūtra: Khyim bdag drag shul can gyis zhus 

pa’i mdo. 

Ratnakūṭasūtra: dKon mchog brtsegs pa (The Jewel Mound Sūtra). 

Ratnamegha-sūtra: dKon mchog sprin gyi mdo (The Cloud of Jewels Sūtra). Ratnāvalī: Rin chen phreng ba (The Jewel Garland). By Nāgārjuna. 

Root Stanzas on the Middle Way: Mūlamadhyamaka-kārikā, dBu ma rtsa ba’i 

shes rab. By Nāgārjuna. 

Sacred Golden Light Sūtra: Suvarṇaprabhāsottama-sūtra, gSer ‘od dam pa’i 


Sacred Primordial Wisdom Sūtra: Ye shes dam pa’i mdo

Samādhirāja-sūtra: Ting ‘dzin rgyal po’i mdo (The King of Concentrations 


Satyadvayavibhanga: bDen gnyis rnam byed (Distinguishing the Two Truths)

By Jñānagarbha. 

Showing Gratitude Sūtra: Drin la bsab pa’i mdo

Song of Action: Caryāgiti, Spyod pa’i glu

Song of Realization: rTog rtse ba’i do ha. By Kuddalīpāda. Songs of Realization: Dohakośa, Do ha mdzod. By Saraha. Stages of Luminosity: ‘Od rim

Stages of the Path: (Māhājāla)pathakrama, Lam rim. By Buddhaguhya. Suhrllekha: bshes spring (Letter to a Friend). By Nāgārjuna. 

Summarized Wisdom Sutra: Samājasarvavidyā-sūtra, dGongs pa ‘dus pa’i 


Tathāgatagarbhasūtra: De bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po’i mdo

Ten Wheels of Kṣitigarbha Sūtra: Daśacakrakṣitigarbha-sūtra, Sa’i snying po 

‘khor lo bcu pa’i mdo. 

Treasure Inexhaustible, a Song of Instruction: Mi zad pa’i gter mdzod man 

ngag gi glu

Trimśikā-kārikā: Sum bcu pa (The Thirty Verses). By Vasubandhu. 

Uttaratantraśāstra: rGyud bla ma’i bstan bcos (Sublime Continuum Treatise)

By Maitreya-Asanga. 

Way of the Bodhisattva: Bodhicaryāvatāra, sPyod pa la’ jug pa. By 


Wisdom at the Moment of Death Sūtra: Atyayajñāna-sūtra, ‘Daka 



kyi mdo. Yogācārabhūmiśāstra: rNal ‘byor spyod pa’i sa’i bstan bcos (Grounds of 

Yogācāra Treatise). By Asanga. 



AC Autocommentary: Longchen Rabjam. Shing rta chen po (The Great 

Chariot). Autocommentary to Sems nyid ngal gso

TPQ, Treasury of Precious Qualities, Book 1


TPQ, Treasury of Precious Qualities, Book 2


TPQ- Commentary on Treasury of Precious Qualities by Khenpo Yontan YGI Gyatso, Yon tan rin po che’i mdzod kyi ‘grel a bden gnyis gsal byed zla 

ba’i sgron me, vol 1. 

TPQ- Commentary on Treasury of Precious Qualities by Khenpo Yontan YG II Gyatso. Yon tan rin po che’i mdzod kyi ‘grel a bden gnyis gsal byed zla 

ba’i sgron me, vol 2. 


Khenpo Yontan Gyatso (mKhan po Yon tan rgya mtsho). 1984. Yon tan rin po che’i mdzod kyi ‘grel pa bden gnyis gsal byed zla baʼi sgron me. Commentary on Treasury of Precious Qualities. 2 vols. Delhi. 

Longchen Rabjam (kLong chen rab ‘byams). [1975?] Sems nyid ngal gso and 

Shing rta chen po. Root text and autocommentary. Gangtok: 




[1975?] Ngal gso skor gsum gyi spyi don legs bshad mtsho. Gangtok: Dodrupchen. 

Mipham Gyatso, Jamgön Ju (Mi pham rgya mtsho, ‘Jam mgon ‘Ju), Theg pa 

chen po rgyud bla ma’i bstan bcos kyi mchan ‘grel mi pham zhal lung


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Buddhism in Tibet. Marion, MA: Buddhayana. 

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1996. Masters of Meditation and Miracles: The Longchen Nyingthig Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Boston: Shambhala Publications. 

2014. The Practice of Dzogchen: Longchen Rabjam’s Writings on the Great Perfection, revised and expanded edition. Boston: Snow Lion Publications. 

Ura, Dasho Karma. 2015. Longchen’s Forests of Poetry and Rivers of 

Composition in Bhutan. Thimpu: Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research



The Adornment of the Middle Way. Shantarakshita and Mipham Rinpoche. 

Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2005, 2010. 

Counsels from My Heart. Dudjom Rinpoche. Boston: Shambhala 

Publications, 2001, 2003. 

Enlightened Courage. Dilgo Khyentse. Dordogne: Editions Padmakara, 1992; 

Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 1994, 2006. 

The Excellent Path of Enlightenment. Dilgo Khyentse. Dordogne: Editions 

Padmakara, 1987; Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1996. 

A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night. The Dalai Lama. Boston: 

Shambhala Publications, 1993. Republished as For the Benefit of All Beings. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2009. 

Food of Bodhisattvas. Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol. Boston: Shambhala 

Publications, 2004. 

A Garland of Views: A Guide to View, Meditation, and Result in the Nine 

Vehicles. Padmasambhava and Mipham Rinpoche. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2015. 

A Guide to the Words of My Perfect Teacher. Khenpo Ngawang Pelzang. 

Translated with Dipamkara. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004. The Heart of Compassion. Dilgo Khyentse. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 


The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones. Dilgo Khyentse and Patrul 

Rinpoche. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1992. 

The Hundred Verses of Advice. Dilgo Khyentse and Padampa Sangye. Boston: 

Shambhala Publications, 2005

Introduction to the Middle Way. Chandrakirti and Mipham Rinpoche. Boston: 

Shambhala Publications, 2002, 2004. 

Journey to Enlightenment. Matthieu Ricard. New York: Aperture Foundation, 


Lady of the Lotus-Born. Gyalwa Changchub and Namkhai Nyingpo. Boston: 

Shambhala Publications, 1999, 2002. 

The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1994; Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2001. Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend. Longchen Yeshe Dorje, Kangyur Rinpoche. 

Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2005. 

The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech. Kunzang Pelden. Boston: Shambhala 

Publications, 2007, 2010. 

The Root Stanzas on the Middle Way. Nagarjuna. Dordogne: Editions Padmakara, 2008; Boulder: Shambhala Publications, 2016. 

A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom. Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdrel Yeshe 

Dorje. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2011. 

Treasury of Precious Qualities, Book One. Longchen Yeshe Dorje, Kangyur 

Rinpoche. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2001. Revised version with root text by Jigme Lingpa, 2010. 

Treasury of Precious Qualities, Book Two. Longchen Yeshe Dorje, Kangyur 

Rinpoche. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2013. 

The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara). Shantideva. Boston: 

Shambhala Publications, 1997, 2006, 2008. 

White Lotus. Jamgön Mipham. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2007. The Wisdom Chapter: Jamgön Mipham’s Commentary on the Ninth Chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva. Jamgön Mipham. Boulder: Shambhala Publications, 2017

Wisdom: Two Buddhist Commentaries. Khenchen Kunzang Pelden and 

Minyak Kunzang Sonam. Dordogne: Editions Padmakara, 1993, 1999. 

The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel. Dilgo Khyentse. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 


The Words of My Perfect Teacher. Patrul Rinpoche. Sacred Literature Series of the International Sacred Literature Trust. New York: HarperCollins, 1994; 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 1998; Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1998; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010. Zurchungpa’s Testament. Zurchungpa and Dilgo Khyentse. Ithaca, NY: Snow 

Lion Publications, 2006


Note: Index entries from the print edition of this book have been included for use as search terms. They can be located by using the search feature of your e- book reader

Abhidharmakosa (Vasubandhu) abhisambodhikaya 

abridged Prajñāpāramitā-sūtra 


four formless 



in four tantras 

indications of 

of nonduality 

of spiritual masters 

of Three Jewels 

vajra masters as root of 

Accomplishment of Primordial Wisdom Tantra 

accumulation, path of 

accumulations, two 

active bodhichitta and 

calm abiding and deep insight in 

in four empowerments 

in Great Vehicle, role of 

joining of perfecting refuge and 

twofold kāya and 

and universal ground of various habitual tendencies unmistaken actual 

nature and 


Action tantra (Kriya) 

action/karma family. See also five enlightened families actions 

examining existence of 

four black and four white 

freedom from 

habitual tendencies and 

mind and 

shadow of 

universal ground and 

See also karma; nonvirtues, ten; virtue active bodhichitta 

activities, four 

actual nature (pariniṣpanna, yongs grub) changeless 


aggregates, five 

dependence of 

emptiness of 

as figurative imputed nature 

purity of 

as single mandala 

as source of defilements 

suffering of 

as transitory collection 




all-accomplishing wisdom All-Creating King Tantra, The 

all-discerning wisdom 

all-illuminating concentration AllIlluminating Sphere Tantra 



anger. See also aversion 

animal realm antidotes 

developed potential as 

generation and perfections stages as lack of need for Mahāyāna view of 

path of two accumulations as 

self-cognizing primal wisdom as 

union of calm abiding and deep insight as Anuyoga 


clinging to 

and emptiness, union of 


Madhyamaka view of 

mere perceived 

mind and 

not identifying 


transcendent wisdom and 

ultimate nature, partaking of 

apprehender and apprehended 

absence of 

arising of 

cognitions of, respective divergent views on folly of 

framework of 

as habit 

ignorance as root of 

sense objects and 

upon waking from sleep 


Asanga. See also 

Bodhisattvabhūmiśāstra; Commentary to the Uttaratantraśāstra


asura (demigod) realm 



arising of 

of desire realm destroying others’ 

exhaustion from 

four unbounded attitudes as antidote freedom from 



arising of 

delusion of 

freedom from, wishing for others 

root of 

tathāgatagarbha and 

See also anger 


arising and subsiding in 

free from bias 

free from partiality intrinsic 

meditation on 

primordially unconditioned 

pure state of (rigpa

in sleep state 

in three classes of Great Perfection ayatanas. See sources (ayatana, skye 

mched) Bardo Thödrol 

being and nonbeing, transcending 




four ways of taking 

suffering of 

Black Line Hell 



of bodhichitta 

from buddhaelement 

of buddhahood 

of form and formless realms 

from four unbounded attitudes meditative 

spiritual masters as source of 


See also great bliss 


benefits of 

engendering, practice instructions for training in 


Bodhisattvabhūmi-śāstra (Asanga) bodhisattvas 

buddha nature, realization of 



desire to benefit beings of 

eight male and eight female enlightenment of 

as nirmāṇakāyas 

nonvirtue for othersbenefit of 

as outer Sangha 

purity and impurity of 

three kinds 

arising of 

as basis of delusion 

control of 

generosity of 

impermanence of 

as mandala of deity 


purity of 

transcendent concentration and 

bondage and freedom, transcending 


Brahma realms 


Buddha. See also refuge 

buddha nature. See tathāgatagarbha Buddha Śākyamuni buddha-element (khams)/essence (snying po) as buddhafield 

in defilement, nine similes for 

as ground for removal 

images, inadequacy of 


qualities of 

in third turning 

and universal ground of various habitual tendencies See also buddha- 

potential (rigs) buddhafields 

Buddhaguhya. See Stage of the Path (Buddhaguhya) buddhahood 

aspiration for 

buddhaelement as 

distinctive qualities of 

grounds and paths in attaining 

level of 

as liberation from mind and mental factors major and minor marks of 

as nature of mind 

refuge and 

of spiritual masters 

time for attaining 

two gatherings and 

See also enlightenment 


buddha-potential (rigs

of all beings 

benefits of awakened 

failing to recognize 

signs of awakening 

twofold (See developed potential (bsgrub pa’i rigs); naturally present 

potential (rang bzhin gnas rigs)) ultimate reality as 

universal ground and 


in buddhafields 

enlightenment of 

five male and five female (See also five enlightened families) nondual 

perception of 

powers of (make sure this is right) purity of 

spiritual masters as 

three bodies of inner luminosity and two wisdoms of Buddhism, schools of 

calm abiding (śamatha) defilement and 


in formless realms 

four means of focusing mind in 

instructions for 

obscuring factors of 

without deep insight 

See also under deep insight (vipaśyanā) Cārvākas 

causal agent of removal 

causal process 

causal refuge 

causal vehicle 

cause, concentration on 


absorption of 

analytical and nonanalytical 

of consciousnesses 

of mind 

of śravakas and pratyekabuddhas 

Chandrakirti. See Introduction to the Middle Way 

channel of supremely unchanging luminosity channels charnel grounds 

Chetsun Senge Wangchuck 

Chögyal Phakpa 

cities, three 


False Aspectarian school 

True Aspectarian school 



Classification of Wandering Beings Sūtra 

cleanliness, ritual 

clear appearance 

clear light 


cutting at root 

to Dharma 

to generation and perfections stages to “Iand “mine,” 


lack of 

in production of samsāra 

to self and phenomena 

three concentrations and 


See also self-clinging 

coemergent ignorance 


of apprehended and apprehender 

of aspects 


nature of mind and 

as refined wind of central channel universal ground and 

See also preternatural cognition cold hells, eight 

Collected Songs of Realization 

Commentary to the Sūtrālaṇkāra (Sthiramati) Commentary to the 

Uttaratantraśāstra (Asanga) on buddha nature, realization of on buddha- potential in all beings on emptiness of tathāgatagarbha 

on manifest enlightenment 

on purity and defilement 

on refuge 

on tathāgatagarbha in all beings 

on ultimate expanse 


in allilluminating concentration arising from emptiness 

bodhichitta and 

of buddhas and bodhisattvas 

in causal and resultant refuge 

in causal and resultant vehicles 

at enlightenment 

from meditation 

patience and 

potential of 

as result 

as sign of buddha-potential 

of skillful means 

of spiritual masters 


of virtuous disciples 

Compendium Tantra of Precious Secret Wisdom Complete Revelation of the Essence Sūtra 


aspect of method 

aspect of person 


of buddhas 


as Dharma of realization 

in itself 

of spiritual masters 

three types transcendent 


See also absorptions 

conceptual elaboration 

conditioning effect/result 

conditioning factors 




sphere of 

of spiritual masters 

view and 

Conduct Tantra (Upa/Caryā) 


consciousness (rnam par shes pa) as cognition of aspects 

as momentary 

seven types 

six types 

consciousness of universal ground (kun gzhi’i rnam shes) karma and 

mind as purity of 

in sleep state 

unfolding of 

and universal ground, distinctions between consciousnesses, eight 

as basis of samsāra 

as object of removal relationship between 

in sleep state 


active, resembling cause 

passive, resembling cause 

Danglung Thramo 

Dangma Lhungyal 


dedication of virtue/merit 

deep insight (vipaśyanā

and calm abiding, union of 

instructions for 

obscuring factors of 

for uprooting defilement 

without calm abiding 

defiled mental consciousness (nyon yid) defilements 

bodhichitta and 

body and 


dependence of 

habituation to 

meditation and 

sources of 

spiritual masters and 

tathāgatagarbha as dwelling in 

tathāgatagarbha as free from 

through friends, evil and virtuous transforming 

universal ground and 

wisdom and 

See also veil, twofold 

definitive meaning 


of blessings 

of buddhafields 

in concentration on cause 

in outer and inner tantra, distinctions between peaceful and wrathful purity of 


appearance and 

arising of 

clinging and 

cutting through 


of ordinary beings 

purified in ground 

of self-clinging 

in sleep state 

within sugatagarbha 

See also ignorance 

Densely Arrayed buddhafield 

dependent nature (paratantra, gzhan dbang) Madhyamaka views of 

mistaken views on 

designations, emptiness of 


arising of 

five objects of 

freedom from 

images of impurity of 

magnetizing action and 

meditation and 


suffering from 

tathāgatagarbha and 

transcendent concentration and 


desire realm 

coarse body and 

gods of 

images of impurity of 

rebirth in 

sleeping, waking, dreaming in 

sufferings of 

universal ground in 

developed potential (bsgrub pa’i rigs) devotion 



gift of 

hearing, meaningfulness of 

Mahāyāna view of 

and mind, dependent arising of 

qualities of sublime practitioners of transmission and realization 

See also refuge 

Dharma treasures (terma


as buddha-element 

consciousness and earnest search for 

expanse and wisdom in 

as nature of mind 

as purified universal ground 

remaining within 

in sleep state 

wisdom of 


as buddha nature 

calm abiding and 

as changeless actual nature 

as emptiness aspect of tathāgatagarbha in meditation 

as resultant refuge 

and rūpakāya, relationship between as spontaneously present result 

two deities of 

from unbounded compassion 

as unconditioned 

universal ground and 







of disciples 

on first three paths 


Discerning the Middle and the Extremes. See Madhyāntavighāga (Maitreya- 

Asanga) discernment (dpyod pa) 

in deep insight 

gross and subtle 

lack of 

mental factor of 

on path of seeing 


discipline, transcendent 

Do Khyentse 



appearance as 

arising of 

consciousness in 

as figurative imputed nature Madhyamaka view of refuge in 

universal ground in 

virtuous conduct in 

Drikung Kunrin (Kunga Rinchen) 

Drom clan 

Dromtön Gyalwai Jungne 

Dzogchen (rdzogs chen). See Great Perfection egg birth ego-clinging. See self-clinging eight “ling temples,” Eightfold Noble Path, elements (dhātu, khams) embryos empowerments, four 


and appearance, indivisibility of clinging to compassion and 

as definitive or expedient, views on at enlightenment equality in 

and illusion, union of 

and love, united 

and luminosity, union of 

of mental imputations 

of mind 

mistaken views of 

practices related to 

relaxing in, at end of meditation space-like types of 

empty forms enlightened actions/deeds 

enlightened qualities 


bodhichitta as cause of 

of bodhisattvas, length of time 

needed to attain 

human form and 

from outset 

in single lifetime 


three levels of 

as unconditioned 

universal ground as support, examination of See also buddhahood equal taste. See also single taste equality 

of beings 

in concentration 

of phenomena 

resting in 

state of 

wisdom of 

Essence of Enlightenment Sūtra 




all-embracing expanse of 

in meditation 

of mind 

state of 

evil beings, forsaking 

Excellent Accomplishment Tantra 

Exhaustion of the Four Elements Tantra 

Expanded Primordial Wisdom Tantra 

expository vehicle of causality 





Father Tantras 


absence of, spiritual masters and in aging 

in animal realm 

beings of great scope, felt by 

of death 

desire-realm gods, felt by 

freedom from 

mind as source of 

refuge and 

See also hope and fear 

feast, sacred 

female buddhas, five. See also five enlightened families Field of Dense Array 

of Luminosity 

Finding Rest in Illusion (sGyu ma ngal gso) Finding Rest in Meditation (bSam 

gtan ngal gso) Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind (Sems nyid ngal gso) aspiration and dedication 

contents of 

structure of 

title, Longchenpa’s exegesis of 

five enlightened families 

in concentration on cause 

in refuge of four tantras 

seed syllables of 

five primordial wisdoms 

forest groves, as places of practice form realm. See also samādhis, four formless realm. See also under absorptions four divine abidings 

Four Parts of Nyingthig (Nyingthig Yabzhi) four truths 

four unbounded attitudes 

fields for 

four results of 

importance of 

intentional bodhichitta and 

practice instructions for relationship between 


fundamental mode of being (gnas lugs kyi don). See also ultimate mode of being fundamental nature. See also nature of phenomena Gaṇḍavyūha- 


Gangri Thökar 

generation stage 

by class of tantra 

deep insight and 

as Dharma of realization 

dissolution of 


gathering of wisdom and 

and meditation upon guru, respective benefits of and perfection stage

indivisibility of on single deity 

on spiritual masters 

generosity, transcendent 


god realms 


great bliss 

Great Chariot, The 

Great Exposition of the Generation and Perfection Stages 

Great Perfection 

distinctions of language of 

Longchenpa’s role in 

Nyingthig teachings in 

three classes of 

See also Natural Great Perfection Great Vehicle. See Mahāyāna Great 


Yoga tantra (Mahāyoga) 

as buddha-potential 

Dharma of realization and 

luminosity of 

and nature of mind, mingling of 


self-emptiness of 

guardians, eight father-mother Guhyagarbha Tantra 

on buddhahood 

on nature of phenomena 

on single deity meditation 

on straying from sugatagarbha 

on tathāgatagarbha 

Guide and Guardian. See Buddha Guru Padmasambhava 

Gyalse Lekpa Gyaltsen 

habitual tendencies 

appearance and 

as basis of samsāra 

of dependent nature 

in dreams 

of duality 

Madhyamaka view of 

of primal wisdom, increasing 

in samsara’s arising 

in universal ground 



arising of 

Dharma as source of 

as figurative imputed nature virtue as cause of 

wishing for all beings 


Heart Essence. See Nyingthig (snying thig) Heart Essence of the Dākinī. See 

Khandro Nyingthig Heart Sutra 

hell realms 

Heruka Galpo Tantra 

herukas, five 

Hevajra Tantra in Two Sections 

Highest Yoga Tantra (Anuttara) 


historical methods, modern 


hope and fear 

householders, vows of 

human birth 

causes of 

freedoms and advantages of 

three kinds 

human realm 




arising of 

images of impurity of 

karma and 

as root of samsāra tathāgatagarbha in 

two kinds 

universal ground of various habitual tendencies and See also coemergent 

ignorance illness, visualization to purge 


of apprehended and apprehender 

body as 

clinging to 

emptiness and 

ignorance and 

phenomenal existence as 

in postmeditation, regarding appearance as recognizing through 


See also appearance, hallucinatory Immaculate Wisdom of Mañjuśrī Sūtra impartiality, unbounded 


of buddha nature, refutation of 


four season, knowledge of by observing of samsāra 

imputed nature 


Innermost Essence of the Dākinī, The (Khandro Yangtig) Innermost Essence of 

the Master, The (Lama Yangtig) intellect (yid). See also mental 

consciousness intentional bodhichitta 


intermediate state 

Introduction to the Middle Way. See Madhyamakāvatāra (Candrakīrti) jewel 

family. See also five enlightened families 

Jigme Lingpa 

Jigme Phuntsok 

Jñānagarbha. See Satyadvayavibhanga 


joining, path of 


in calm abiding and deep insight, union of in Dharma practice 

in diligence 

in meditative concentration 




Kadampa tradition Kagyu school 

kalpa, measurements of 

Kangyur Rinpoche 


accumulation of 

arising of 

bodhichitta and 

death and 

debt of 

four effects of 

freedom from 

mind and 

nonvirtue of disbelieving 

stream of 


white and black 

See also actions 

Kāśyapa Chapter 


relationship between 

as spontaneously present result 

three of inner luminosity 



See also individual kāya Khandro Nyingthig 

King of Marvels Tantra 

Koden Khan 

Kriyatantra. See Action tantra (Kriya) Kublai Khan 

Kumaradza (Zhönnu Gyalpo) 

Kunga Özer 

Kyipala (wife) 

lamrim (stages of the path). See also under paths Lang Darma 


Larung Gar 

laziness, three kinds 

learning, path of 

liberation. See also enlightenment life-supporting channel 

Light of Primal Wisdom Tantra 

lights, five 

Longchen Rabjam 

Bhutan, escape to 

birth and early education of 

death of 

Dri med ❜od zer, translation of 

on his own realization 

importance of 

inspirational power of 

Kumaradza and 

marriage of 

Nyingthig, receipt of 

at Sangphu 

scholarship and accomplishments of traditional biographies of 

works of 

Lopön Tsensung (father) 

lotus family. See also five enlightened families love 

patience and 

of spiritual masters 



at death 

and emptiness, union of 

four levels of 

of mind 

practices related to 

remaining in 

resting in 

in sleep state 



Madhyamakāvatāra (Candrakīrti) Madhyāntavibhāga (Maitreya-Asanga) 


Magical Display Sutra 




Mahāyānasutrālamkāra (Maitreya-Asanga) mandalas 

in nondual Atiyoga meditation 

as present in body 


spontaneous, experiencing 

upper and lower 



Mantrayana/mantra path. See Secret Mantra master-disciple relationship Mastery of OthersEmanations (heaven) Māyājāla Tantra 


cause and result of, establishing evenness in 

on four unbounded attitudes 

for highest scope practitioners 

for lowest scope practitioners for moderate scope practitioners and nonmeditation, mingling of sphere of 

on spiritual masters 

See also calm abiding (samatha); concentration; deep insight (vipaśyanā)

generation stage; perfection stage meditation, path of 

meditative equipoise 

Melong Dorje 


mental consciousness 

dependent nature of 


and mental phenomena, distinguished in sleep state 

universal ground and 

See also intellect (yid) mental factors. See mind and mental factors merit, 

gathering of. See also accumulations, two Meru. See Sumeru 


beggar finding treasure 

blind men 

boat of freedoms and advantages 


for conduct and result 

elephants, majestic 

face appearing in mirror 

fire burning wood 

flame dependent on wick 

flame in a gale 

hairs floating before impaired eyes horns of rabbit 

for impurities, nine 

jewel in brow of giant 

madman drunk on beer 

for meditation and view 


mirrors and looking glasses for nature of mind 

for outward appearances prince who loses realm silk as vast as universe 

son of barren woman 

for spiritual masters 

for sufferings of samsāra for tathāgatagarbha 

turtle in ocean 

wish-fulfilling gem 

See also moon; sun 

Middle-Length Prajñāpāramitā 

middle way 


agitation of 

appearance and 

and appearing objects, divergent views on at complete peace 

control of 

and dependent nature, divergent views on of desire realm 

and Dharma, dependent arising of 


ground and root of 

inconceivability of 

intellect and 

at moment of universal ground 

as nature of deity 

and object of refuge, indivisibility of perceiving 

and phenomena, inseparability of 

purity of 

as root of phenomena 

of spiritual masters 

stillness of 

strength of 

taming, importance of 

two senses of 

unchanging ultimate nature of 

See also nature of mind 

mind and mental factors 

arising of 

enlightenment and 

objects and 

relationship between 

subsiding of 

mind class (sems sde

Mipham Rinpoche 

miraculous birth 

miraculous powers 

mirage-like concentration 

mirrorlike wisdom 



luminosity of phases of 

reflected in water 

that soothes torment 

Mother tantras 

Munis, six 

Nāgārjuna. See also Pañcakrama; Ratnāvalī; Root Stanzas on the Middle Way



name aggregates, four 



Natural Great Perfection 

naturally present potential (rang bzhin gnas rigs) nature of mind 

buddhahood and 

in Great Perfection, importance of and ground, mingling of 

introduction to 

like space luminosity of 

in meditation 

mistaken appearance of 

of ordinary and awakened beings, distinctions in primordial purity of 

as primordial wisdom 

resting in 

in Secret Mantra refuge 

unbounded impartiality and 

nature of phenomena deep insight and 

in final turning 

naturally present potential and 

and nature of mind, nonduality of purpose of understanding 

sublime beings’ understanding of 

in tenet systems 

word empowerment and 

Net of Precious Peaceful Deities 

New Translation school 

Ngok Lekpai Sherab 



nine-vehicle system 


deities in sambhogakāya 

ground of in causal vehicle 

three types 

from unbounded joy 


buddha-potential as basis of 

emptiness of 

equality of 

qualities of 

and samsāra, inseparability of 

transcendent wisdom and 

no more learning, path of 

Nondual tantras (Atiyoga) 


accomplishment of 

of appearance and emptiness 

state of 

training in 

as unconditioned 

nonvirtues, ten 


bodhisattvas and 

of body, speech, mind 

four effects of 



Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo 

Nyingma tradition 

Nyingthig (snying thig

seventeen tantras of 

transmission of 

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche 

Nyoshul Lungtok 

object of removal (bral bya) objects, seven subsidiary precious obscurations 

bodhisattvas wish to cleanse 

calm abiding and deep insight as antidote to fear of subtle 

four empowerments and 

freedom from 

meditating on teacher and 

removal of, basis for 

Ocean of Elegant Explanations 

Ocean of Jewels Tantra 



one taste. See single taste ordinary beings 

buddha-element in, four images of childish, as source of defects 

downfalls of 

impurity of 

perception of buddha essence by 

Ornament for the Wisdom of Mañjuśrī Sūtra 

Ornament of the Mahāyāna Sūtras. See Mahāyānasūtrālaṇkāra (Maitreya- 

Asanga) Padmasambhava. See Guru Padmasambhava Pañcakrama 




path, truth of 


emptiness of 


five (See also individual path) refuge and stages of 

patience, transcendent 

Patrul Rinpoche 

Pema Ledreltsel 

Pema Lingpa 



aggregate of clinging to 

of fortune disciples 

mistaken views on 

and sense objects, arising of 

of six migrations 

Perfect Accomplishment of Susitikara Tantra 

perfection stage 

calm abiding and 

by class of tantra culmination of 

as Dharma of realization 

gathering of wisdom and 

and generation stage, indivisibility of simple 


perfections, six. See six transcendent virtues permanence 

extreme of 

of kayas, transcending 

misconceptions regarding 

of tathāgatagarbha 

wrong views of 

Phakmodrupa school 


clinging to 


emptiness of 

equality of 

exhaustion of 

incorrect apprehension of Madhyamaka view of 

and mind, dependent arising of 

and mind, inseparability of 

noself of 

See also nature of phenomena phenomenal existence pith-instruction class (man ngag gi sde) pointing-out instructions postmeditation 

posture, seven-point 

Praises of the Mind Vajra 

Prajñāpāramitā in Eight Thousand 


Prajñāpāramitā in Twenty Thousand Lines 

Prajñāpāramitāsūtra (abridged) Prāsangika-Madhyamaka school 

pratyekabuddhas, vehicle of 

buddha-element in, image of 

emptiness, view of in 

enlightenment of 

four kinds of pratyekabuddhas in nirmāṇakāyas of perception of buddha essence in 

refuge in 

precepts. See also vows Precious Net Tantra 

Precious Treasure of the Supreme Vehicle 

Precious Treasure of the Ultimate Expanse preta realm 

preternatural cognition primal/primordial wisdom 

of all beings 

in all-illuminating concentration appearance of 

in Atiyoga, emphasis on 

bodhichitta and 

cause of 

defilement transformed into 

as dharmakāya 

four stages of 

human form and 

and mind, relationship of 

recognizing in postmeditation 

resting in 

as root of compassion 



in sleep state 

of spiritual masters 

as spontaneously present result 

See also five primordial wisdoms primordial state 

Profound and Innermost Essence, The (Zabmo Yangtig) proliferating 



protection circle 

provisional teachings 

pure expanse of ultimate reality subhadharmadhātu) purity 

of buddhas 

of deities 

of mind 



purity without beginning. See pure expanse of ultimate reality 

Subhadharmadhātu) Question of Brahmaviseṣacinti Sūtra Question of Sagara Sūtra 

Question of Susthitamatidevaputra Sūtra 

Question of Ugra the Householder Sūtra 

rainbow body 

Ratna Lingpa 




Ratnavali (Nāgārjuna) 


buddha-potential in 

in desire realm 

of disciples, good and evil 

in form and formless realms 

in three realms 

virtuous and nonvirtuous karma and See also human birth; six 

migrations/realms refuge 

common (See causal refuge) Dharma as only 

length of time for 

merits of 

mistaken views on 


in three vehicles, distinctions between uncommon (See resultant refuge) 

result of removal 

resultant refuge 

resultant vehicle. See also Vajrayāna results/fruits 

of causal and resultant vehicles, compared emptiness of 

four types 

from four unbounded attitudes 

freedom from expecting 


of refuge 


of six transcendent virtues 

suffering as 

tathāgatagarbha and 

universal ground and 

See also kāyas 

retinues Rog clan 

Root Stanzas on the Middle Way (Nāgārjuna) rūpakāya 

as appearing aspect of tathāgatagarbha in causal refuge deep insight and 

and dharmakāya, relationship between unfolding of 

Sacred Golden Light Sūtra 

Sacred Primordial Wisdom Sūtra 


Sakya Pandita 

Sakya tradition 

Samādhirāja-sūtra samādhis, four 


purity of 

in single deity practices 

time of 

visualization of 


śamatha. See calm abiding (śamatha) samaya pledge 

samaya substances 





clinging and 

emptiness of equality of 

as failure to recognize awareness karma and 

mind as root of 

reflecting on 

sadness/revulsion toward 

twelvefold cycle of 

twofold adventitious veil and 

universal ground of various habitual tendencies and See also under 


Samyé Sangha 

Sangphu Neutog monastic university Śantarakṣita 

Śantideva. See Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra) Saraha. See Songs 

of Realization 

Śāntarakṣita (Jñānagarbha) 

Secret Mantra 

capacity for inner Sangha of 

purification terms in 

refuge in 

spiritual masters in, attributes of and sūtra path, as one 

See also tantra, classes of; Vajrayana seed syllables 

in Atiyoga meditation 

in concentration on cause 

in generation stage 

in single deity generation stage seeing, path of self-clinging sense consciousnesses, five 

dependent arising of 

and mental consciousness, relationship between purity of unfolding of 

universal ground and 

sense objects 

arising of 

cause of 

equality of 

habituation to 

as mind 

purity of 

sense organs 

sentient beings 

arising of 

multiple roles over lifetimes 

three conditions of 

See also ordinary beings Seven Great Treasures 

seven-branch prayer 

sexual misconduct 

Showing Gratitude Sūtra 

sickness, suffering of single nature 

single taste 

sinking and agitation 


six migrations/realms 

six transcendent virtues 

skillful means 

compassion and 

in Mahāyoga tantra 

wisdom and 

skull cups sky, threefold 

sleep, state of 

Smith, Gene 


Sonam Rinchen 

Song of Action 

Song of Realization of Kuddālīpāda 

Songs of Realization (Saraha) songs of realization (Skt. doha) sources 

(āyatana, skye mched) sovereignty, seven attributes of 


in concentration of suchness 

emptiness as like 

in four absorptions 

as inner sky 

meditating on 

mind and 

primordial state and 

tathāgatagarbha as like 

space class (klong sde

specifically characterized things (don rang mtshan pa) speech 

around spiritual masters 


as secret mantra 

of spiritual masters 

spirit guardians 

spirits, famished. See preta realm spiritual masters 


bodhichitta and 

in causal refuge 

evil, qualities of 

outer bearing of 

qualities of 

realization of, transferring 

relying on 

works of 


śrāvakas, vehicle of 

buddha-element in, image of 

emptiness in enlightenment of 

four kinds of śrāvakas in 

as nirmāṇakāyas 

perception of buddha essence in refuge in 

Śrī Simha 

Stage of the Path (Buddhaguhya) Stages of Luminosity 

stainless moon, concentration of 


beings that have 

buddha-element and 

purity from 

separation from 

ultimate ground of joining and 


substances, eight auspicious 




arising of 

bodhichitta and 

of change 

as figurative imputed nature 

of others, inability to bear 

three types 

transcendent concentration and 


Suhṛllekha (Nāgārjuna) 


Summarized Wisdom Sūtra 


of bodhichitta 

concealed by clouds 

of Dharma 

freed from clouds 


sūtra path. See causal vehicle Sūtrālaṇkāra. See Mahāyānasūtrālaṇkāra 

(Maitreya-Asanga) sūtras, twelve branches of 


Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen Takṣaka (nāga king) tantra, classes of 


Tathāgata family. See also five enlightened families tathāgatagarbha 

emptiness of 

images of 

mistaken views on 

perception of by type of beings 

as present in all beings 

purposes for teaching 

third-turning view of 

See also buddha-element; Buddhapotential (rigs) Tathāgatagarbha-sūtra Teachers, five nirmāṇakāya 

ten grounds 

Ten Wheels of Kṣitigarbha Sūtra 

tenet systems 

terma (gter ma). See Dharma treasures (terma) Tharpa Ling 

thödrol (thos grol

thögal (thod rgal) 

Three Jewels 

three natures 

actual nature 

dependent nature 

imputed nature 

three poisons 

three spheres 

Tibet, political instability in 

Tibetan Book of the Dead. See Bardo Thödrol 

Tibetan Buddhism time 

Torment Unsurpassed 


Tragmar Gekong 

transitory collection. See also aggregates, five Treasure Inexhaustible, a Song 



Treasury of Precious Qualities (Jigme Lingpa) trekchö (khregs chod

Trilogy of Natural Freedom 

Trilogy of Rest (Ngal gso skor gsum) contents of 

methodology of 

Trilogy on the Dispelling of Darkness Trimśikā-kārikā (Vasubandhu) Triple 

Gem. See Three Jewels Trisong Detsen 

truths, two. See also ultimate truth Tsongkhapa 

Tulku Thondup 

twofold goal/aim 

ultimate expanse 

deities in 

mind and mental factors subsiding in perception of 

as possessed by all beings 

primal wisdom and 

as ultimate ground of joining 

ultimate mode of being 

ultimate reality 

as changeless actual nature in concentration of suchness equality in 

in meditation 

qualities of 

realization of 

in sleep state 

as space-like 

ultimate truth 

universal ground (kun gzhi) balanced consciousness of 

karma and 

names of 

purity of 

subsiding of 

in three realms 

ultimate, of joining (sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi) of various habitual tendencies 

(bag changs sna tshogs pa’i kun gzhi) universe, destruction of 

Unsurpassed tantra. See Highest Yoga tantra (Anuttara) upāsakas 

Uttaratantra-śāstra (Maitreya-Asanga) on buddha essence in all being 

on buddha-element, benefits of 


on buddha-element, four qualities of 

on buddha-element as Tathāgata 

on buddhahood 

on buddha-potential and triple 


on Dharma 

on emptiness 

on luminous nature of mind 

on mind, improper use and nature of nine images of tathāgatagarbha in 

defilement nine impurities in 

on perfect truth 

on purpose of teaching buddha essence on refuge 

on tathāgatagarbha as undefiled 

on three conditions of beings 

on Three Jewels as Rare and Supreme Ones,” 

Vaibhāṣika school 



vajra family. See also five enlightened families vajra masters. See also spiritual 

masters Vajradhara 



Vajrayāna. See also Secret Mantra Vasubandhu. See also Abhidharmakośa veil, twofold 

four empowerments and 


resultant vehicle view of 

samsāra and 

two accumulations and 


vidyadharas, four types 


establishing, importance of 

of Great Perfection 



Vima Nyingthig 

classification of 

concealment of 

origin of name 

texts of 

transmission by Longchenpa 


vipaśyanā. See deep insight (vipasyanā) virtue 

bodhichitta and 


delight in 

failing to practice 


leading to happiness leading to liberation 

of refuge 

as result of meditation 

virtues, ten 

vision, starlike powers of (five kinds) vows 


in causal and resultant refuge 

of householders 

levels of 


waking state 

warmth and moisture, birth from 

Way of the Bodhisattva, The (Bodhicaryāvatāra, Śāntideva) wealth 

coveting others‘ 

as fruit 

from generosity 

impermanence of 

offering to spiritual masters 

as source of suffering 

at time of death 

wheel of Dharma 

final turning of 

request to turn 

three turnings of 

wheel of life 

Wheel of Ornaments buddhafield 

wind of the central channel, refined wind-mind 

winds (subtle) 


in Anuyoga 

and bodhichitta, united 

coemergent gathering of (See also accumulations, two) of omniscient 

beings, two 


See also primal/primordial wisdom Wisdom at the Moment of Death Sutra 

womb birth 

women, novice vows of 

words, emptiness of 


yāma gods 

Yeshe Tsogyal 

yidams. See also deities 

Yoga tantra 


Yogācārabhumi-sāstra (Asanga) Zhai Lhakhang 

Zhönnu Gyalpo. See Kumaradza (Zhönnu Gyalpo) Zhönnu Töndrup 

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