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Instructions on Three Stages of Training of Sems-Nyid Ngal-gSo

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Abbreviations of Cited Texts:

TD: Tshig-Don Rin-Po-Ch’e’i mDzod. SC: Shing-Ta Ch’en-Po, the Commentary on Sems-Nyid Ngal-gSo.

GD: dGe-Ba gSum-Gyi Don-Khrid. Instructions on Three Stages of Training of Sems-Nyid Ngal-gSo.

SR: Sems-Nyid Rang-Grol, Naturally Liberated Mind.

LN: Lam-Rim sNying-Po’i Don-Khrid, the Instructional Commentary on Sems-Nyid Rang-Grol.

PK: Padma dKar-Po, the commentary on Yid-bZhin mDzod.

CD: Ch’os-dByings Rin-Po-Ch’e’i mDzod. NKC: gNyis-Ga’i Yang-Yig Nam-mKha’ Klong-Ch’en from Bla-Ma Yang-Tig.

NKS: Thod-Gal Gyi Yang-Yig Nam-mKha’ Klong-gSal from Bla-Ma Yang-Tig.


Dzogpa Chenpo is the path of luminous absorption, the essence of the ultimate definitive meaning,

And the summit of the teachings of sutras and tantras:

This is the meaning of the instructions on the direct approach

To the ultimate nature, the Buddha-essence as it is.

Longchen Rabjam

The essence of the discourses on the Three Doors of Liberation

Given by the Victorious One in the Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel is the very Discriminative Self-awareness Which is present naturally in the nature of beings as the Buddha-essence,

And that is known as Dzogpa Chenpo.

The entire meaning of the vast, excellent paths (of Buddhism)

Is only for cleansing the mind.

So the three precepts, six perfections, development and perfection stages, etc.

Are the steps to the path of Dzogpa Chenpo.

The appearances are free from objective (entity), the intrinsic awareness is the liberation from primordial (time),

The view and meditation are action-free and the six consciousnesses are self-free;

There is no need of apprehending with recollections (for) or antidotes (against):

The action-free Dzogpa Chenpo is the cessation of phenomena.

Jigmed Lingpa

This book has two parts. Part I is an introduction which includes extensive quotations from various sütras, tantras, and writings of great Buddhist scholars, notably of the Nyingma school of Tibet. The introduction is followed by an account of the life of Longchen Rabjam.

It is an anthology of translations of Longchen Rabjam’s writings on Dzogpa Chenpo and on sütras and tantras as the basis of Dzogpa Chenpo and the steps leading to it. The translations are preceded by a summary of the thirteen sections. Each section is preceded by a few lines of my own in smaller type to introduce it. At many places in the translations I have added lines to make the meaning clear, and they are printed in smaller type.

Throughout both sections of the book I have added words in parenthesis for clarification. I have also put some synonyms in square brackets. The letter S. in parenthesis means Sanskrit.

The titles of texts quoted are indicated by abbreviations, for example NKC meaning gNyis-Ka’i Yang-Yig Nam-mKha’ Klong-Ch’en by Longchen Rabjam. They are listed alphabetically in the bibliography. When a text is quoted, the letters signifying the title are followed by the folio number, then the letters a or b meaning the front or back side of the folio, and then the line number. For example, NKC

Sometimes in this book the same Tibetan term is translated in several different ways according to the context. For example A’od-gSal or gSal is variously translated as “luminous absorption,” “luminescence,” “luminescent,” “clarity,” or “clear.” In some instances, when I was not sure of the proper English equivalent, I have put the Tibetan term in parenthesis.

In this book the ordinary mind {Sems, S. citta) is translated as “mind” and the essential nature of mind Sems-Nyid, S. cittata) is translated as “Mind.”

I have capitalized the root-letters (Ming-gZhi) of each word in the transliterated Tibetan in order to ensure a correct reading. When the root letters are not capitalized, it is possible to confuse two entirely different words. For example, “Gyang” means “wall,” while the meaning of “gYang” is “luck.”

In the emptiness, ultimate sphere, the essence-mother, Dwells the clarity,intrinsic awareness,the nature-father. To the union of the primordial mother and father, the continuum of Great Perfection,

I pay homage in the state of naturally liberated Buddha Mind

This book contains an anthology of the writings of Longchen Rabjam (Klong-Ch’en Rab-’Byams, 1308-1363) on Dzogpa Chenpo (rDzogs-Pa Ch’en-Po, S. mahàsandhi). The translations are preceded by a detailed introduction based strictly on the scriptures and traditional interpretations of the innermost esoteric aspect of Buddhism.

The teachings of Dzogpa Chenpo (or Dzogchen), the Great Perfection, are the innermost esoteric Buddhist training preserved and practiced to this day by the followers of the Nyingma (rNying-Ma) school of Tibet. The main emphasis of Dzogpa Chenpo is to attain and perfect the realization

of the true nature of the mind, the ntrinsic Awareness (Rig-Pa), which is the Buddha Mind or Buddha-essence. Thereby one attains and perfects the realization of the true nature of all phenomenal existents, all of which are the same in their essence.

According to Dzogpa Chenpo scriptures, all forms of Buddhist training lead to the same goal, the realization of the Intrinsic Awareness, which is taught in Dzogpa Chenpo, and further, that the essence of all the Buddhist teachings is completed in Dzogpa Chenpo meditation and its results. Many accomplished

Dzogpa Chenpo meditators, in addition to their attainment of the utmost mental peace and enlightenment in this very lifetime, physically display signs of extraordinary accomplishments at the time of death. For example, they dissolve their gross bodies without remainder or transform their mortal bodies into subtle light bodies.

Dzogpa Chenpo meditation is the method of training of utmost simplicity in order to reach the most simple state free from conceptual elaborations. But for ordinary people like us, to attain the state of utmost simplicity and ease is the hardest goal to accomplish. Thus, to prepare for the Dzogpa Chenpo

training, one has to do various preliminary studies and training in order to learn the path and purify the stains of negative emotions with their traces; to generate positive energy through the force of virtues; and to realize, refine and perfect the ordinary meditative attainments taught in the common

Buddhist paths. When one is ready, in accordance with the strength of one’s spiritual experiences, one should be instructed in the Dzogpa Chenpo meditation by a qualified master.

For the happiness and enlightenment of beings, Buddhism works with the root, the root of gaining joy and dispelling misery, which lies in individuals; for society is a collection of individuals. For an individual, the mind is the main factor and the forerunner of all activities. So the improvement and

perfection of the mental state is the primary emphasis of Buddhist training. If one has improved and perfected one’s mind, all one’s physical activities will be naturally perfect and one’s presence and activities will become a source of true happiness and enlightenment for others. From the moment of

becoming a Mahayana Buddhist, one is expected to exert oneself in the service of others. The whole aspiration in spiritual training is for the sake of others. But at the beginning, the emphasis will be on the spiritual progress of oneself, deriving from one’s own mind. Without spiritual strength within oneself, trying to serve others will be as a Tibetan proverb says: “A falling person cannot give his shoulder to another falling person to rely on.”

The meditations of tantra and of Dzogpa Chenpo taught and transmitted by Guru Padmasambhava are a training on the balanced path of the view of primordial wisdom and the activities of meritorious applications. They are neither a contemplation on mere view, although some interpret them thus, nor training on just meritorious activities. Guru Padmasambhava said to King Thrisong Deutsen (790-858) :YM

Please do not lose the view in favor of activities. If you do, being tied to existential characteristics, you will not attain liberation. Please do not lose activities in favor of the view. If you do, there arises (a situation of) absence of both virtues and vices (and one falls into the extreme of)

nihilism, and (one’s spiritual life) becomes irreparable. O great king, as my tantras possess extensive (teachings on) view, in the future many people who know the words [textual expression] of the view but lack the confidence of the view in their mental continuum could stray into inferior realms.

In Dzogpa Chenpo meditation itself there are numerous stages of training which must be taught and practiced step by step. Each step is taken only when the trainee is ready for it. In Dzogpa Chenpo, a subtle and esoteric meditation which transcends intellectual and mental fabrications, one doesn’t study or

read the teachings on a particular aspect until one is ready for that particular step of experience and for training on it. And one is definitely excluded from “instructions on experiential meditation” (Nyams-Khrid or dMar-Khrid'). If, without being ready for the particular meditative experiences, one reads

about or studies them, one could just build up fabricated images of intellectual understanding about a particular meditative experience. Thereby, before

or pure realization, one could fall into the pit of mental creations. Then the trainee will find it hard even to distinguish whether it is a true experience of realization or a mentally created image. This way of

introduction applies not only to Dzogpa Chenpo, but also to general tantric training. In sutric teaching, first you study and then enter into the training. But in the tantras, when you have matured through the common preparatory virtues and are

ready for the esoteric training, you will receive the transmission of the realization through an Empowerment (dBang, S.,abhisekha') ceremony. Only then will you be introduced to the course of study

and training in the tantra by using the Primordial Wisdom, the meaning of the empowerment(dBang-Don Gyi Ye-Shes), which is realized during the transmission of empowerment, as the means and the basis of meditation.

Some people do not need to undergo any common training but are ready for higher training such as Dzogpa Chenpo. But such people are a bare possibility in this world of ours.

Therefore, in this book I have tried to avoid including any “instructions on the stages of experiential meditation,” since one should get them individually from a true master in person, stage by stage, according to one’s own experiential abilities. I have tried to present here only, or at least mainly, the

teachings on view, the outline of the meditation, and the result of Dzogpa Chenpo.

Nowadays, as the cultural context of the traditional teachings is changing, the tantric teachings and even the Dzogpa Chenpo teachings are being given in public to many people who may have little belief, who have done no preliminary training or have received no introductory empowerments. The main focus of

attraction and the goal of many so-called masters and disciples unfortunately have become worldly or sensual attributes. On the other hand, there are many serious Dharma people who wish to study Dzogpa Chenpo teachings out of pure Dharma interest, and who are prepared for such teachings through preliminary

study and training. But the lack of instruction and reading material in Western languages is preventing them from making much progress on this path. In this situation, it is a serious decision whether or not to write

and translate such teachings and to make them public. Realistically, in this modern age, there is no way that these teachings could be preserved and practiced traditionally only by those who are ready for them. So the alternative is to consider

what will be the best possible way to present the teachings to the public so that they will be of most benefit to the people whom they will reach.

After all these considerations, I reached the conclusion that I would attempt to translate and present these original scriptures, the very words which came from the wisdom minds of the Enlightened Ones, unstained by the contemporary intellectual thought of this modern materialistic world of ours.

I have translated and written this book not because I am an authority on such an esoteric teaching as Dzogpa Chenpo. I feel proud of having the courage to admit it without trying to create stories that I was born with wisdom or that I absorbed an ocean of scriptures in no time. But as a Tibetan proverb says: “The behavior of a servant of a cultured family will be better than that of the head of an uncultured family.” I was fortunate to grow up at Dodrup Chen

(jDo Grub-Ch’eri) monastery, a famous institution of learning and enlightenment drawing upon hundreds of years of spiritual tradition. There, although I became neither a scholar nor a [[Wikipedia:Sage

(sophos|sage]], I lived with the wisest and most peaceful spiritual masters, such as Kyala Khenpo Chochog (Kya-La mKhan-Po Ch’os-mCh’og, 1893-1957), and I heard the true Dharma words that came from the depth of their most pure and enlightened minds. As the blessing of having been at

such a great institution, I always feel traces of the strength of courage and the light of wisdom which enable me to see and respect the pure teachings and their true traditions as they are, without any need of adjusting them to the dimensions of my own intellectual judgment or using them as tools to glorify my ego. It doesn’t matter where I go or live, in the academic, materialistic or spiritual worlds.

For Dzogpa Chenpo teachings,first there are many original scriptures, called the tantras of Dzogpa Chenpo. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to understand, and most of them do not have any commentaries and are in need of interpretation. So, if I were to translate such texts, it would become unavoidable for me to indulge my own interpretations, and these could be very wrong.

After the tantras, there are the texts and commentaries on Dzogpa Chenpo tantras written or discovered by great adepts of the Dzogpa Chenpo lineage. Of these the writings and discovered texts and commentaries of Longchen Rabjam are respected as the most detailed, much clearer than the tantras, and as

authentic as the tantras without any dispute throughout the Nyingma world since the fourteenth century. For all these reasons, I have produced this book, an anthology of Longchen Rabjam’s writings on Dzogpa Chenpo.

This book has two parts. The first part is the introduction, and in it I have tried to present the whole scope of Buddhism in such a way as to show that the common Buddhist teachings are the basis of Dzogpa Chenpo doctrine and that Dzogpa Chenpo is their essence. I have also tried to explain the

similarities of Dzogpa Chenpo to some other Buddhist schools of thought as well as its unique distinction from them. For each point I have extensively quoted tantras, texts, and commentaries written by the greatest Nyingma writers to present the true traditional views and values.

The second part provides a complete structure of Dzogpa Chenpo teachings in the words of the Omniscient Master Longchen Rabjam, from the delusions leading to Samsara through the attainment of liberation.

It is organized in three sections:


meditation, and


There are thirteen sections which contain excerpts from Shingta Chenpo (SC), Pema Karpo (PK), Tshigdon Rinpoch’e’i Dzod (TD), Gewa Sumgyi Donthrid (GD),Ch’oying Dzod (CD), Namkha Longch’en (NCK), Namkha Longsal (NKS) and the complete texts of Sem-nyid Rangtrol (SR) and its commentary {LN) by Longchen Rabjam.

To develop trust and inspiration in the teachings, it is important to know about the author, his scholarship, and his realization of the teachings on which he is writing. So I have written a detailed life of Longchen Rabjam gathered from his various biographies. I have also quoted his writings extensively to

illustrate his view of nature. As a poet he depicts nature in images of beauty, joy, and peace; as a common trainee of Buddhism, he sees them as the demonstration of impermanence and as false reflections; and as a Dzogpa Chenpo philosopher, he views all in the sameness of utmost peace, the Primordial Awareness.

My main aim in preparing this book is to provide the following clarifications:

(a) The common Mahayana Buddhist views are the basis of Dzogpa Chenpo teachings,

(b) All the essential aspects of Buddhist training are condensed in Dzogpa Chenpo, and Dzogpa Chenpo is the essence of Buddhist teachings.

(c) To become a Dzogpa Chenpo trainee one needs to train through the common preparatory studies and meditations. As Dzogpa Chenpo is the highest and the most simple training, it requires earnest preparation and meditation.

Until a few years ago, I was against being involved in publishing or presenting any tantric texts to the uninitiated public. Then one day I saw a manuscript of a tantric ritual text translated by a scholar who intended to publish it. To my surprise, I was convinced that my own translation of the same

text was a little more accurate. It encouraged me to send my translation for publication to preserve the sacred text in a better form. Since then, my view of translating and publishing scriptures has changed.

For translating and publishing this book, I received the blessings of the two highest living authorities on Dzogpa Chenpo in the world today. Kyabje Dodrup Chen Rinpoche said: “In my view, it seems that ours is most probably the last generation in which there are people who really have the opportunity to have

direct realization or understanding of real Dzogpa Chenpo and to receive the training and transmissions from a true Dzogpa Chenpo master in the light of traditional wisdom. Therefore, as I have kept saying, the most important task for people like you is to propagate this tradition through teaching

or writing, in whatever way you can, whenever there are appropriate circumstances for preserving this tradition purely and making it available to future generations.” Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said: “I think that it is not only permissible but very important to publish your work on Kunkhyen Longchen

Rabjam’s writings on Dzogpa Chenpo as you will make sure to present them as they are. I truly think so.” And so I worked hard on this book to provide a sense of the scope of Dzogpa Chenpo teaching in the realm of Buddhism for the sincere Dharma friends in the West.

I pray to the Buddhas, the lineal masters, and the Dharma protectors and Dharma protectresses for their forgiveness of any mistakes of omission and commission and of the improper disclosure of the secret essence of the

teachings which have been committed in preparing this book. May all the merits accumulated from this work cause happiness and enlightenment for all mother beings, and may it spread the pure Dharma in the world.

I would like to express my thankfulness to Harold Talbott for his [[[wisdom]]]] and patience in editing every line of this work, to Michael Baldwin for taking care of all the needs of life, providing the golden opportunity for me to work on these expressions of Dzogpa Chenpo wisdom, to the members and patrons of

the Buddhayana, U.S.A., under whose sponsorship I have been able to work on my scholarly projects for the last many years, and to the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, where I started my work on this book when I was a visiting scholar there. I am highly grateful to Kyabje Khyentse

Rinpoche for providing many important clarifications and to Kyabje Dodrup Chen Rinpoche for conferring the transmission of the teachings of Longchen Rabjam.

I am also thankful to Khenpo Palden Sherab and Lama Golok Jigtshe (d. 198T) for their scholarly interpretations of many points. Thanks also to Helena Hughes and Linas Vytuvis for preparing the index, and to John Cochran for the cover photograph.

I would like to thank Jeanne Astor of Snow Lion Publications for her thorough editorial work. I am deeply in debted to Victor and Ruby Lam for providing me with a lovely apartment in which to Eve and work on this book.

Tulku Thondup Cambridge December, 1987


In Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism there are four major schools. The Nyingma (rNying-Ma) began in the seventh century a.d. and was fully established in the ninth century by Guru Padmasambhava, Santaraksita, and King Thrisong Deutsen. The Kagyud (bKa’-rGyud) and Sakya (Sa-sKya) schools were founded in the eleventh

century a.d. respectively by Marpa Chokyi Lodro {Mar-Pa Ch’os-Kyi Blo-Gros, 1012-1099) and Khon Konchog Gyalpo (’Khon dKon-mCh’og rGYal-Po, 1034-1102). The Gelug (dGe-Lugs) was founded by Je Tsongk-hapa (rje Tsong-Kha-Pa, 1357-1419) in the fourteenth century

a.d. The differences in the sutra (mDo, exoteric scriptures) aspect of the four schools are mainly a matter of emphasis on particular scriptures and ways of interpretation. In regard to tantra (rGyud, esoteric scriptures), the Nyingma school has unique teachings which were brought to Tibet, translated, and

propagated mainly between the ninth and eleventh centuries. They are known as the “Old Tantras” (sNgags rNying-Ma). The other three schools have common tantric scriptures which reached Tibet in and after the eleventh century, and those tantras are known as the “New Tantras” (sNgags gSar-Ma). The Nyingma is the oldest school and the mother of the other schools. According to Nyingma tradition the entire Buddhist sutric and tantric teachings are classified as “Nine Yanas” (Theg-Pa dGu):

The Three Sutric Yanas:

a. Sravakayana (Nyan-Thos), Hinayana

b. Pratyekabuddhayana (Rang-Sangs-rGyas), Hinayana

c. Bodhisattvayana (Byang-Ch’ub Sems-dPa’), Mahayana The Three Outer Tantric Yanas (Phyi-rGyud sDe-gSum):

a. Kriyayoga (Bya-rGyud)

b. Caryayoga (sPyod-rGyud)

c. Yogatantra (rNal-’Byor rGyud)

The Three Inner Tantric Yanas (Nang-rGyud):

a. Mahayoga (rNal-’By or Ch’en-Po)

b. Anuyoga (rJes-Su rNal-’By or}

c. Atiyoga (Shin-Tu rNal-’Byor)

The unique teachings of Nyingma are the three Inner Tantras, especially Atiyoga. The various levels ofjwm are not a system that presents contradictory

theories or leads to different goals: the yanas are all processes for growing in the same path of training. They lead, directly or indirectly, to the ultimate goal and awaken the enlightened state, which is Buddha-hood. Because of the differences in intellectual sharpness and predispositions of trainees,

some may start from the lower yanas and progress according to the strength of their experiences. A common follower practices a lower yana and continues to practice it until he is ready to move to a higher training. People who have exceptionally brilliant minds and strong karmic foundations from the past may

directly enter the highest yanas, such as Atiyoga, and may even attain the result instantly. To introduce a gifted person into a common training is a waste of life, energy and opportunity, but, equally, to start from a higher training is not only unproductive but an error. So, to be realistic or to have a wise guide is most essential for entering into different types of training.

In Sravakayana the view is the realization of selflessness of persons. The main goal of attainment is the achievement of cessation, the peace and happiness of oneself. The practice is to observe any of “the eight categories of precepts of individual emancipation” } [[So-Thar Ris-brGyad]}. The meditation is to

maintain one’s mind in tranquillity (Zhi-gNas} and to realize the insight (JJiag-mThong} of “the four noble truths” (’Phags-Pa’i bDen-Pa bZhi) with their “sixteen aspects” (Khyad-Ch’os bChu-Drug). The result is the attainment of “the eight stages of levels” (sKyes-Bu Zung-bZhi Ya-brGyad), the eighth being the attainment of the state of the Arhat Subduer of Foes or Worthy One.

In Pratyekabuddhayana the view is the realization of the selflessness of persons and phenomena, but the shortest, indivisible moment of mind is held to be real. The main goal is the attainment of the Arhathood of a Pratyekabuddha for oneself through one’s own efforts. The practice is to observe any one of the

eight categories of precepts. The practitioners meditate on tranquil abiding and on the “four noble truths with their sixteen aspects,” and especially on “the twelve links in the chain of interdependent causation” (rTen-’Brel Yan-Lag bChu-gNyis) sucessively and in reverse order (JLugs-Byung-lDog). The result that is attained is Arhathood.

In Bodhisattwayana the view is the realization of the selflessness of all phenomenal existents. The main goal is to lead all living beings to the fully enlightened state or Buddhahood. The main practice is training on the six perfections: generosity, ethical discipline, patience, diligence, contemplation,

and wisdom. The practitioners meditate on the “twofold selflessness” (bDag-Med gNyis) and “fourfold path of training” (Lam-bZhi]]) with “thirty-seven wings of enlightenment” (Byang-Phogs Kyi Ch’os Sum-bChu rTsa-bDuri). The result is that they attain Buddhahood with “two bodies” (sKu-gNyis), the formless body for themselves and form-bodies for the sake of others.


Perna Ledrel Tsai explains the distinctions between sutra and tantra in the following lines:

In Tshulsum Dronme (Tshul-gSum sGron-Me, Nayatraya-pradipa) it is said:

“(Although) the goal is the same (as in Mahayana sutra), (in tantra) there is no ignorance,

There are many skillful means and less hardship.

It is for people of sharp intellect.

Hence, the tantrayana is superior.”*

Both sutric and tantric traditions have the same goal of final attainment, the state of fully perfected enlightenment. (However, the tantra) is distinctive for superior means of attaining (that goal) .They are the superiority of view free

from ignorance, the superiority of meditation with many skillful means, the superiority of activities of no hardship, and the person of sharp intellect....

(1) The Characteristic Causation (sutric) Yana ascertains that (a) the ultimate nature, the absolute truth (is) free from elaborations of eight extremes, but it does not realize the nature of the union of the ultimate sphere and primordial wisdom, as it is. (Tantra,) having dispelled (that ignorance), realizes the nature of the union of the ultimate sphere and primordial wisdom; so the tantra is not ignorant of the view of the ultimate nature,

(b) The Characteristic Causation Yana ascertains phenomena, the things of relative truth, as the nature of interdependent arising like a magical apparition (maya), but it is ignorant because of not yet having ascertained (phenomena) as the (Buddha-) bodies and primordial wisdoms, (but having ascertained them as just) impure (like) magical apparitions. Vajrayana tantra ascertains (that all are):

the play of the (Buddha-) bodies and primordial wisdoms, the meaning of non-duality of the ultimate sphere and primordial wisdom, the non-duality of the two truths and the supreme ultimate body. So (tantra) is superior in being free from ignorance.

(2) The meditation (of tantra) is superior because of the two stages: the skillful means of the development stage and the wisdom of the perfection stage.

(3) Superiority of activities with no hardship: In the Characteristic Causation Yma there is no path to attain enlightenment which does not abandon the objects of desire. Whereas in this (tantra), having taken the objects of desire, without abandoning, as the path (of training) which protects the mind-consciousness easily and blissfully, one becomes able to attain the state of Vajradhara in this very lifetime with this single body.

(4) The superiority of the person of sharp intellect:

Tantra is the training for exceptional persons who possess superior qualities.

The general (quality is) the superiority of having special fivefold powers (dBang-Po) which generate enlightenment;

and the special (quality is) the wisdom of realizing the profound view of Vajrayana tantra as well as a strong power of faith with “no fear in the heavy activities” (of tantra}.

The goal in both Mahayana siitra and tantra is the attainment of enlightenment. The differences are the means that lead to the goal directly. In tantric teachings, the view is indivisibility of cause and result. The appearances of the five external elements are five female Buddha consorts, the appearances of the five inner aggregates are five male Buddha consorts, the hosts of thoughts are five primordial wisdoms, and the world and beings are equally as pure as the Buddhas and Buddha-fields.

Since the practitioners of tantra realize all phenomena as totally pure, they enjoy everything in the indivisible nature of the two truths. Since the practitioners of sütra perceive things as good and bad, they are unable to take every aspect of phenomena as the support of training, whereas tantrists can transform everything as the means of training.

The view of the inner tantras, and particularly of Atiyoga, is the actual indivisibility of cause and result. While the outer tantras are more concerned with indivisibility than the sutric teachings, the inner tantric yanas are superior to the outer ones in this respect. Therefore, the sütric yanas are

known as the yanas of causation, since the practitioners train in the path as the cause to attain the goal as the result. The tantric yanas are called the resultant yanas because by using the realization of primordial wisdom, which is the significance of empowerment (dBang-Dori) and which is transmitted at

the time of empowerment, tantrists perceive the world and beings as the Buddhas and Buddha-fields, and they develop and perfect the realization. Tantra perfects the result in a short time by using the state of the three hayas as the path of training by profound skillful means.

Tantra is a path of transformation of unenlightenment and emotions as the Buddha-essence and Buddha-virtues. But this is not a transformation of something into something else, like iron into gold, as some recent scholars have understood; it is transforming, purifying, or perfecting (gNas-Su Dag-Pa) something which is stained into its own true state.

The tantric teachings are to be understood and followed by people of high intellect and excellent karma. Longchen Rab-jam summarizes the distinctions between sütric and tantric teachings as follows:

The sütric teachings of Bodhisattvayana (or Mahayana) assert that (beings) possess the Buddha-essence (Tathagatagarbha). With the Buddha-essence as the seed and with training on the two accumulations, the accumulations of merits and primordial wisdom, as the conditions during numerous lives, the Buddha-

essence will blossom, and (as a result) fully enlightened Buddhahood will be achieved. It is called “theyana of causation” since it asserts that cause and result are successive.

In the tantric view (wherein cause and result are indivisible, dByer-Med) the Buddha-essence is naturally present in all living beings with its virtues complete, like the sun with its lights, and that is the “basis of purification.” The eight consciousnesses with appearances [[[percepts]]], like clouds, the

obscurations of the Buddha-essence, are the things “to be purified.” Empowerment and meditation on the “development and perfection stages” (bsKyed-Rim and rDzogs-Rim) causing, as clouds are dispelled by air, the obscurations to be purified and the light of virtues to shine forth, are the “means of

purification.” Thereby, the attainment of the absolute universal ground (Don-Gyi Kun-gZhi) shining forth, as it is, like the sun, is the “result of purification.” At that time, since there are no longer the previous defilements, although the names and habituations of the universal ground have been transformed (as Buddhahood and its virtues), in reality they manifest without differentiation or succession. In Tag-nyee (brTags-gNyis of Hevajratantra) it is said:

Beings are the very Buddha (in their true nature),

But their (nature) is obscured by adventitious obscurations.

When the obscurations are cleansed, they themselves are the very Buddha.”

Do-ngag Tenpa’i Nyima explains that according to Nyingma scholars, the sutras and tantras do not differ regarding the view of emptiness, the absolute truth, but that their differences lie in the view of appearances, the relative truth:JG lla/5

According to the view of Ngagyur Nyingma, there are no differences between the sutras and tantras in respect to (their views of) emptiness, the ultimate sphere. Because the absolute great emptiness of the great Madhyamaka, the absolute great equalness of the great Mahayoga, the absolute Samantabhadra, the

mandala of “as it is” (Ji-bZhin-Pa), and the absolute great primordial purity (Ka-Dag) of Atiyoga are synonyms for the same truth. In the general canonical and commentarial scriptures of Ngagyur (Nyingma) and especially in Ngeshey Dronme Rinpoche (Nges-Shes sGron-Me Rin-Po-Ch’e by Mipham) it is said: “Both Glorious Candrakirti) of the Noble Land [[[India]]] And Rongzom Chozang of Tibet In one voice and mind

Prove that the primordial purity (Ka-Dag) is the great emptiness.”

However, if you analyze from the standpoint of appearances: according to the view of the glorious Mahayoga tradition, the aspect of appearances is the luminous nature, the relative truth of great purity (Dag-Pa Che’n-Po). (According to the view of) Anuyoga, the aspect of appearances is Samantabhadra, the

mandala of the three divine seats (gDan-gSum). (According to) the view of Atiyoga, (the appearances) are the profound “appearances of the basis” (gZhi-sNang), the spontaneously accomplished mandala. These views are unknown, even the terms for them being absent, in the Characteristic [sutnc] yanas. So there are great differences between the views of sutras and tantras (comparable to the distance between the) sky and the earth.


The meaning of tantra is continuum

Sogpo Tentar gives the definition in the following lines:

In Dorje Tsemo (rDo-rJe rTse-Mo tantra) it is said:

Tantra means continuum.

Samsara is the tantra,

And nirvana is the later tantra (rGyud Phyi-Ma).”

Tantra has three aspects, which depend on the connection between sansara and nirvana, a continuum like the strings of a lute:

(a) The Buddha-essence is the tantra of basis,

(b) the union of the view and meditation is the tantra of path and

(c) the bodies and primordial wisdoms are the tantra of result.

As (tantric teaching) is union of skillful means and primordial wisdom by means of the development and perfection stages, its entrance is wide. Unlike sdtric training it is without the hardship of asceticism, and it is a training (that produces its result) extremely swiftly for trainees of sharp intellect.”

Jigmed Tenpa’i Nyima defines the tantras:

The (attainments which) are to be realized are the tantra of cause or basis. That by which one realizes and proceeds (along the path) is the tantra of skillful means or path. The (goal) which one perfects is the tantra of result.... In this way the basis, path and result are linked in the same continuum. So it is called tantra [[[Wikipedia:continuum|continuum]]]. In Gyud Chima (rGyu-Phyi-Ma) it is said:

Tantra means continuum of The cause (basis), skillful means (path) and result.”


According to the Nyingma lineage there are six classes of taniras.


Caryâyoga or Upayoga, and


are the three Outer Tantras and

Mahâyoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga or Mahàsandhiyoga are the

three Inner Tantras.

In Rigpa Rang-shar tantra it is said:

Vajrayana has two (divisions): Outer Tantra of discipline and Inner Tantra of skillful means… .

Outer Tantra has three (sub-divisions):


Upa, and


Inner (Tantra) has three sub-divisions:


Anu, and

[Ati]] .


There are different classes of scriptures that discourse on the tantras :

The tantras are expounded by;

scriptures (Lung),

instructions (Man-Ngag) and

reasoning (Rigs-Pa).

(a) Scriptures: (In the case of Guhyagarbhamâyàjâla-tantra) they include the four “explanatory tantras” (bShad-rGyud) and the “later tantras” (Among the four explanatory tantras, the first two) on gradual

and instant ways of “the liberation path” (Grol-Lam) are Yeshey Nyingpo (Ye-Shes sNying-Po) and Dorje Melong (rDo-rJe Me-Long). The other two tantras on gradual and instant ways of “the path of skillful means” (Thabs-Lam) are Gyatsho (rGya-mTsho) and Thalwa (Thai-Ba). Although there are many interpretations

of “root” (rTsa-rGyud) and “explanatory tantras” (bShad-rGyud), according to Rog Desheg Nyingpo (Rog bDe-gShegs sNying-Po) the tantras which were expounded earlier and have become the matter to be explained (by other tantras) are the “root tantras” and the tantras which appeared later and which explain (the root tantras) are the “explanatory tantras”. ...

(b) Instruction: The commentaries and miscellaneous writings (Thor-Bu), either of superior writers who have the ability to teach through foreknowledge as a result of attainment of (the realization) of the noble path of anuttaratantra, or of mediocre writers who are able to interpret the tantras because they are blessed by the tutelary deities directly, or by lesser writers who possess the authentic transmission of the lineage of the instructions of earlier knowledge-holders. Examples of these texts (in the case of

Guhyagarbha) are Parkhab (sPar-Khab) and the brief commentary called Pindârtha, etc., as well as Lamrim (Lam-Rim), Thugthig (Thugs-Thig), and Tathreng (ITa-’Phreng). (c) Reasoning: Interpreters of the profound vajra-subjects of the tantras who are reckless, and who arrogantly rely on logical knowledge,

succeed only in mixing their own fabrications with the doctrine. Although in those interpretations there may be much dry understanding in the form of quotations—“This is said in such and such a text”— they do not show with any certainty that they are not twisting the meanings of the tantras into

something that they are not. So, it is very important to have certainty (of the meaning of the tantras) in oneself and the ability to teach the “root tantras’ ’ with proper and pure reasoning by relying on the “explanatory tantras” and the instructions of adepts.


The YSnus of tantra differ from each other in respect to their view and techniques of practice, but the practice of two stages is essential to each of them.

Longchen Rabjam explains :

Development Stage: By meditating (or visualizing) the external world as the mansions (etc. of the deities), one purifies the ordinary apprehension of the appearances as (truly existing) in their own nature (or reality) as stones and earth. By meditating on beings as male and female deities, one purifies

attachment to beings as (truly existing) in their own nature (or reality) and abandons attachment to and hatred of them. By visualizing one’s own aggregates

(Phung-Po\ elements (JChams) and sources (sKye-mCh’ed) as the deities, which is what they are from the primordial state, one obtains many benefits. These include purification of the obscurations to the form-body (S. rupakaya\ perfection of the accumulation of merits (bSod-Nams) and generation of the contemplation of tranquillity (Zhi-gNas).…

Perfection Stage:

It purifies even the aspect of slight clinging to the meditation of the development stage as well as that of seeing phenomena as illusions. As it is free from all perception as and concept of “this is this,” it purifies the obscurations of the ultimate body (S. Dharmakaya) and perfects the inconceivable contemplation and the accumulation of primordial wisdom (Ye-Shes). By concentrating the mind one-pointedly on any contemplation (dMigs-Pa), one remains in

the state of bliss, clarity and no-thought, and this leads to the realization of the meaning of innate wisdom, the mahamudra that is the essence (Ngo-Bo') of the perfection stage. In order to view the true nature as it is, having realized the nature of the primordial basis, the nature of the vajra body, and

the ultimate nature of the Mind, one then meditates on it. There are two ways of (training in the perfection stage, which rely respectively on) one’s own body and on another’s. (The training by means of) one’s own body is mental effort such as the yogas of heat, illusory-body, dream, luminous absorption,

intermediate state, and transference of consciousness. Those are the trainings in the perfection stage which bring enlightenment without relying on others. (The training by means of) another’s body is the way of taking bliss as the path by a yogi who is skilled in (the yogas that use the) channels, air [[[energy]]], and essence.

Gyurmed Tshewang Chogdrub summarizes the meaning of the Development Stage and the Perfection Stage :

To meditate [[[visualize]] and perceive] all the appearances without differentiation as the Buddha-bodies of the deities, (in form or structure) similar to the phenomena of the three existents [[[worlds]]], combined with great compassion and contemplation of the bliss of melting, which causes the three Buddha-bodies

to mature (within oneself) is the essence (Ngo-Bo) of the development stage.... To merge the energy/air, mind and thoughts (rLung Sems Yid) into the central channel and to actualize the blissful and empty primordial wisdom directly is the essence of the perfection stage.... The stage of the training

[[[yoga]]] on channels, energies and subtle essence and the stage of (training in using) consorts (S. mudra) which cause the energies to enter, be maintained and dissolve into the central channel is not the actual perfection stage, but since it causes one to achieve it, it is (also) called the perfection stage.

Training in the Two Stages applies to all six levels of tantras. But in comparison to the higher tantras, the lower ones are lacking in the perfection stage, and especially in the union or indivisibility of the Two Stages. Longchen Rabjam writes as follows on this matter:SC II>4b/3 (In the Yoga Tantra of Outer Tantra) one meditates on skillful means and wisdom successively. So one (practices) the stages of development and perfection separately.

The Three Outer Tantras

(A) KRIYAYOGA (Bya-rGyud)

Longchen Rabjam describes Kriyayoga:

In the tantras of Kriyayoga one realizes that all the phenomena of aggregates (Phung-Po), elements (Khams), and sources (sKye-mCh’ed) which appeared in the relative level are subject to being purified. The ultimate sphere, naturally pure Mind, is the basis of purification. One Eves in pure livelihood and

meditates, as the path, on the suchness of the deities by means of seeing the deity as the lord and oneself as the servant, and one wishes for the attainments (as the blessings).

Mipham summarizes the view and meditation of Kriyayoga as follows:

View (Z Ta-Ba}

It asserts that in absolute truth all phenomenal existents are equal in the indivisible nature of the two truths, appearances and emptiness. But in relative truth, it views the tutelary deities as lords, who are free from all faults, are perfect in all the virtues, are the manifestation of the clarity

of the ultimate sphere as the form of the primordial wisdom and who grant the temporary and final attainments. It views oneself as the devotee to be blessed, as one who has still not reached the goal and who has coverings. So, in absolute truth all are equal and in relative truth the interdependent

causation is incontrovertible. Therefore, its view is to believe that through practicing and accepting all (phenomena) as signs of the body, speech, and mind of the deities themselves, for the time being one achieves the power of numerous activities, and finally one attains the essence of the deities itself.

Meditation (bsGom-Pa)

By one-pointed contemplation on the six divine powers (or deities) of Kriya yogá) (Kri-Ya Lha-Drug)—the gestures of the body (of the deity), syllables of speech, implements of the mind, the mansions and the projections and withdrawals of lights, etc.—-and by invoking the deities by reciting their heart-essences (mantras) one receives the blessings (and perfects oneself as the deities as) iron is transmuted into gold through alchemical skills.

Longchen Rabjam explains the six divine powers of Kriya-yoga

(a) Having seen the appearances as the illusory divine bodies, one transcends the extremes of singularity and plurality, and the appearances are liberated as the divine body, (b) Having seen the syllables (Yig-’Bru) as divine sound, the wheel of recitation of (the union of) sound and emptiness continues and

the syllables are liberated as divine syllables. (c) Having contemplated on the implements (signifying) the divine mind, the recollections and thoughts arise as contemplation and the concepts are liberated as divine contemplation, (d) Having seen the projections and withdrawals as the colors of the

deities, they are liberated as divine lights, and the letters are liberated as divine, as the primordial wisdom-nature, (e) Having seen the clarity as divine postures, seats, thrones, and costumes, whatever appears is liberated as divine mansions,

(f) Having seen the phenomenal existents as Dharmakáya, the divine liberation of primordial wisdom (emptiness), the (things) to be abandoned are liberated as the primordial wisdom. Likewise, having liberated the six attachments to the six objects and having realized the six aspects, such as seeing appearances as the divine body (or bodies of deities), one purifies the defilements.

According to Sogpo Tentar :

(The six Kriya divine powers) are the divine powers of:





gestures, and


In Nal-jor Kyi Guyd (rNal-’Byor Gyi rGyud) it is said: “They are emptiness, letters, sound, form, gestures and signs.” In common Kriyáyoga there is no visualization of oneself as the deities, but in the uncommon (or higher) Kriyáyoga practices there are visualizations of oneself as the deities.

Mipham summarizes the practice and result of Kriyáyoga as follows :

Practice (sPyod-Pa)

Kriyáyoga asserts that the practice of tantra will only be accomplished if all parts of the ritual (C/i’o-Ga) are observed completely. Otherwise it will not produce any result, as it will be like sowing a seed without water and manure. So it emphasizes the performance of ritual actions of body and speech

and living a clean and pure life by bathing and changing clothes three times a day (etc.), making offerings and performing fire ceremony (sByin-bSreg, S. Homa') as instructed by the tantras

Result (’Bras-Bu)

For the time being one achieves many common accomplishments such as the life of a knowledge-holder whose fortune is comparable to that of the beings in the form and formless realms, and finally one attains the Vajradhara hood of the three Buddha families [[[Tathágata]], Vajra, and Padma families, which are endowed with three Buddha-bodies and five primordial wisdoms] within sixteen lives.


Caryayoga is also known as the “dual tantra” since its practice is similar to Kriyayoga’s and its view is similar to Yogatantra's. Mipham summarizes Caryayoga as follows:

Caryayoga emphasizes equally outer [[[physical]]] cleaning such as bathing and inner mental contemplation. It relies on receiving attainments by seeing the deities as friends and siblings.


In absolute truth all phenomena are equalness. In relative truth, because of unceasing appearances through interdependent causation, Caryayoga believes in relying on the deities for temporary and final attainments. As it is more advanced than Kriyayoga, it sees the deities as a friend. It has the view of believing in the two profound truths.


One visualizes the deities in front of oneself and with recitation concentrates on the turning of the chain of mantras, and that is called the meditation with signs. At the end of the meditation period one bids farewell to the deities and contemplates on the ultimate state, free from conceptualization, and that is called the meditation without signs.


(As in Kriyayoga) it is to lead a pure and clean life.


It actualizes infinite attainments for the time being and finally attains the state of Vajradharahood of the four Bud-dha-families \Tathagata., Vajra, Ratna (Karma is combined with Ratna) and Padma families] with the endowment of three Buddha-bodies and five primordial wisdoms in seven lifetimes.

(C) YOGATANTRA (rNal-’Byor rGyud)

Yogatantra emphasizes mental contemplation and uses physical training such as pure and clean living only as a secondary support. Mipham summarizes Yogatantra as follows:

As its strength of realization of equalness is superior to that of the two previous yanas, one gains certainty in the realization of equalness of oneself and the deities in their true nature. As the blessing of that (realization), in relative truth, by meditating oneself as inseparable from the deities like

water into water, one accomplishes oneself as the deities. As all phenomena are mere perceptions of mind, if one uses the contemplative power, one will become the visualized deity oneself. Yogatantra has the view of extraordinary certainty that by practicing the fourfold signs (Phyag-rGya}, which are the

nature of the divine body, speech, mind, and actions of the deities, one actualizes oneself as the deities. Meditation

After taking refuge and developing the mind of enlightenment, from the emptiness state one visualizes oneself as the mandala of deities with five actualizations (mNgon-Byang) and (then invites and merges the primordial wisdom deities or actual deities into the visualized form, and) one seals (rGya-bTab) them by meditating one’s body, speech, mind, and action as the divine body, speech, mind, and actions of the deities, the four signs (Phyag-rGya).

The five actualizations are:

1. Seat of lotus and moon (and sun), the seed or cause of auspicious dwelling and Buddha-field.

2. Syllables [[[Wikipedia:vowels|vowels]] and consonants] of speech, the seed of auspicious teachings.

3. Signs [[[vajra]], jewel, etc.] of mind, the seed of auspicious presence for eternal and inconceivable time.

4. Wheel of Mandala [[[Vairocana]], etc.] of body, the seed of auspicious retinues and teachers.

5. Primordial Wisdom Deity (Jnanasattva}, the seed of auspicious essence of the body and primordial wisdom (of the deities).

The four signs

1. Great sign (mahamudra), the gestures of body.

2. Teaching (Dharma} sign, the form of speech.

3. Esoteric link (samaya) sign, the form of mind.

4. Action (Karma} sign, perfecting actions through such means as emanation of lights.


Occasionally it carries on the practice of cleaning, etc., but mainly it is more relaxed about physical disciplines than the previous two yanas, and it emphasizes the inner yoga.


For the time being it develops the virtues of experiences and realizations, and ultimately the five aggregates, five senses, and five defilements will be purified and the Buddhas of five families, the nature of five primordial wisdoms, will be achieved in three lifetimes.


The following is a summary of explanations given by Long-chen Rabjam and Mipham.

Concerning view, the outer tantras view the two truths alternately or separately. In most of the outer tantras one meditates the appearances, the relative truth, as deities and at the end, when one dissolves the appearances of the deities, one contemplates on the absolute truth, free from conceptualizations and elaborations. Whereas in inner tantras, one views the two truths as union and meditates on them

simultaneously. In inner tantras, the basis is the sphere of realization of total purity without discrimination, knowing all phenomenal existents as the three mandalas, the mandala of body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas from primordial time. For outer tantras this is not the basis. Regarding the two

stages, in inner tantras one meditates on the development and perfection stages in union, as one sees all as total purity without discrimination; but in outer tantras one meditates on them separately. Regarding empowerments (dBang), in outer tantras the “vase empowerment” (Bum-dBang) is the main one and in

the inner tantras the “secret empowerment” (gSang-dBang), “wisdom empowerment” (Sher-dBang), and “verbal empowerment” (Tshig-dBang) are the main ones.

In practice, in outer tantras one enjoys purity and cleanness of food, clothing, dwelling, and so on, but in inner tantras one enjoys all with equalness. For visualizations, in inner tantras the deities are in union with their consorts and in outer tantras they are not.

For place, in outer tantras one perceives clean and beautiful places such as palaces and the top of Mt. Sumeru, etc, and in inner tantras one perceives cemeteries, the land of Oddiyána, and so on. For vessels, outer tantras use clean vessels made of precious metals and inner tantras mainly use skulls. For

substances of enjoyment, in outer tantras one enjoys three white or pure substances, milk, butter, and curd, and three sweet substances, molasses, honey, and sugar. In inner tantras one enjoys five meats—the flesh of man, cow, dog, horse, and elephant—and five nectars: excrement, semen, brain, blood (seminal

fluid of female), and urine. For result, through inner tantras one will be able to attain Buddhahood in this very lifetime and through outer tantras in the next lives.

The scriptures of the three outer tantras are common to both Old and New Translated Tantric (gSang-sNgags sNga-’Gyur Dang Phyi-’Gyur) traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

But the scriptures of the three inner tantras, Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga, are unique to the Nyingma school, while most of the three divisions of Anuttaratantra, the Matrtantra, Pitrtantra, and Advitiyatantra, are unique to the Kagyud, Sakya, and Gelug schools of Tibet.


In Dorje Sempa Nying-gi Melong Tantra it is said:

Mahayoga, the developing stage, is like the foundation of all the Dharmas. Anuyoga, the perfection stage, is like the path of all the Dharmas. Atiyoga, the great perfection, is like the quintessence (gNad) of all the Dharmas. Texts and scholars have different ways of distinguishing the three inner tantras. Lochen Dharmasri summarizes some of the different interpretations:

In an answer to the questions of Lenchab Parpa (Glan-Ch’ab Bar-Pa, Je Zurchung rje Zur-Ch’ung) said: “(Realizing all phenomena to be appearing as the miracles (Ch’o-’Phrul (Yul? of intrinsic awareness is Anuyoga and to be appearing as the self-appearances of intrinsic awareness is Atiyoga. Because Ru Garab Dorje Ru dGa’-Rab rDo-rJe) said, “They are appearing as miracles, power, and self-appearances.”

The meaning is that in Mahayoga one realizes all phenomena as the miraculous display of the Mind, the indivisibility of appearances and emptiness (sNang-sTong). In Anuyoga one realizes all phenomena as the power of the Mind, the indivisibility of the ultimate sphere and primordial wisdom dByings-Ye). In

Atiyoga one realizes all phenomena as the self-appearances of the Mind, the primordially self-arisen primordial wisdom, free from birth and cessation. Da (mDa’) and Len {Gian) both cherish this view.

According to Kyo Kongbupa sKyo Gong-Bu-Pa), Mahayoga puts more emphasis on practice, Anuyoga on contemplation, and Atiyoga on view. According to Lhaje Rog (Lha-rje Rog), Mahayoga (which emphasizes the) development stage, visualizes the deities gradually through three contemplations (Ting-Nge ’Dzin gSunv,

emptiness, all pervading compassion and seed letters), Anuyoga (which emphasizes the) perfection stage, does not rely on gradual visualization but on instant contemplation of deities, and Atiyoga or great perfection has no visualization as it transcends both stages.…

Menyag Jungtrag (Me-Nyag ’Byung-Grags) says: “Although in all the three inner tantras one trains on the two stages, Mahayoga emphasizes the development stage, Anuyoga the perfection stage, and Atiyoga freedom from efforts.” Challo (dPyal-Lo) and Kundor (Kun-rDor) both think that this is the best

definition. The Great Omniscient One (Kun-mKhyen Ch’en-Po, i.e., Longchen Rabjam) asserts that Mahayoga is the father tantra. It concerns appearances and skillful means and is for the trainees who possess more concepts and emotions of anger. Anuyoga is the mother tantra. It concerns emptiness and primordial wisdom and is for the trainees who possess more stable mind and emotions of desire. Atiyoga concerns non-duality and is for the trainees who possess more ignorant emotions.…

In Semnyid Ngalso, Longchen Rabjam writes:

Mahayoga is mainly concerned with air, the development stage and skillful means.

Anuyoga is mainly concerned with essence, the perfection stage and wisdom.

Atiyoga is concerned with everything, non-duality and primordial wisdom.

Do-ngag Tenpa’i Nyima briefly explains how the view of the three Inner Tantras is based on the Mahayana view of the two truths

Mahayoga presents the appearances and emptiness as the two truths: the aspect of appearances as the relative truth of great purity [[{Dag-Pa Ch’en-Po]]) and the aspect of emptiness as the absolute truth of great equalness (mNyam-Pa Ch’en-Po). Likewise, Anuyoga presents the two truths: the aspect of appearances

as the relative truth, Samantabhadra, the mandala of the three divine seats (gDan-gSum), and the aspect of emptiness as the absolute truth, Samantabhadri, the mandala of primordial suchness K Ji-bZhin-Pa). In Ati also, the aspect of appearances is the relative truth,

appearances of the basis” (gZhi-sNang), the spontaneous accomplishment, and the aspect of emptiness is the absolute truth, ultimate sphere at the basis (gZhi-dByings), the primordial pure essence. In all the tantras) there is no other way (of presenting the philosophical views) except in terms of the two truths of appearances and emptiness.

In Shingta Chenpo Longchen Rabjam describes the unique character of the three [[inner tantras] in the following lines:

In Mahayoga, the father tantras of skillful means, one achieves the common and supreme attainments mainly by training on the two means. They are skillful means, the development stage of the mandalas of the deities; and primordial wisdom means, the freedom from thoughts, which is (the union

of) clarity and emptiness (that produces the result of) purifying the air (rLung) of five elements. In Anuyoga, which is the mother tantra, the primordial wisdom means, there is little training on the development stage. In it the great blissful essence (Khams) reaches enlightenment through the (training on the) great bliss

of the primordial wisdom of fourfold joy (dGa’-Ba bZhi’i Ye-Shes) by means of syllables and the Bhaga mandala, through the stages of enlightened womb, relying on a consort, another’s body, and on skillful means, one’s own body. In Advitiya Yoga, one achieves enlightenment by emphasizing (the union of) the

two stages, and especially the great primordial wisdom, the ultimate nature with clarity, which is tied to (the postulations neither of) singularity nor plurality.

In Palchen Zhalung Jigmed Lingpa writes:

Dzogpa Chenpo is for the supreme,

Anuyoga is for the mediocre

And Mahayoga is for those of lesser intellect. (Mahayoga) develops (the mandala) gradually.

It is like the basis of all the tantras.

(Anuyoga) perfects (the mandala) instantly.

It is like the path of all tantras.

Dzogpa Chenpo, which is free from mental phenomena, Is said to be the result of all the tantras.

In Mahayoga:

Through the miracles of the three contemplations,

The power of ultimate nature, the unborn absolute truth. To purify clinging to the world and beings,

It [the power] arises as the mandala of the basis Buddha-fields and the based [[[deities]]].

Jigmed Lingpa continues

In the great teachings of Anuyoga:

From the pure vast womb

Of Samantabhadri, the absolute ultimate sphere, Arises Samantabhadra, the intrinsic awareness. Without relying on words,

In the state of spontaneously accomplished view Of indivisibility of the ultimate sphere and intrinsic awareness,

Through the power of recollecting awareness, The conventional mandala of the deities develops. By means of spontaneously perfected profound contemplations, The two obscurational defilements are purified

And the four Buddha-bodies develop.…

In the absolute Dzogpa Chenpo:

It is the realization that the deities are the enlightened mind And the Mind is the Buddha.

There is nothing to develop, as they are (Buddhas) from primordial time.

Whatever uncertain (phenomena) arise,

Dzogpa Chenpo does not prevent or create them. In the natural clarity,

The natural glow (mDangs) which is free from conceptions and expressions,

Appear all the signs of the major and minor characteristics (of the Buddhas).

They are emptiness, at the very moment of their arising.

Jigmed Tenpa’i Nyima gives a brief outline of the three Inner tantras :

In Anuttara Tantra, there are the tantras of the divisions of [[[Maha]], Anu, and Ati. The ultimate essential meaning of all those tantras is the sole suchness of the luminous innate (nature), which has the characteristics of non-duality of profundity [[[emptiness]]] and clarity. There are three entrances to that practice:

(a) the elaborate ritual of the development stage for taking the three kayas as the path,

(b) the ritual of the development stage which is not elaborate but trains in the two aspects of taking the intrinsic wisdom and the ultimate sphere gradually as the path, and

(c) actualization of the intrinsic wisdom by means of natural contemplation without effort and without reliance on fabricated rituals of the development stage. These tantras which mainly emphasize the first, second, and third entrances are identified respectively as Maha, Anu, and Ati.

Jigmed Tenpa’i Nyima explains the main emphasis of training in the three Inner Tantras-

(a) In father tantra (or Mahayoga) by the power of control over the air/energy (rLung), one brings about the clarity [[[Wikipedia:luminous|luminous]] absorption] (A’od-gSal) nakedly or empowers oneself with the clarity. To the extent that one controls and increases the air, the clarity will become stable,

(b) In Mother tantra (or Anuyoga), by the power of perfecting the essence (Thig-Le), one controls the yoga of clarity. To the extent that (the bliss) of blazing up and flowing down of the essence increases, the force of arising and increasing of the radiance of clarity grows. To the extent that one gains control over the air and

that the bliss blazes up, concepts will be eliminated and the clarity will become clearer. Both (the father and mother tantras') possess (the practice) on both (air and essence), but (the difference lies) in which one is emphasized,

(c) In Atiyoga, in the clarity, one maintains the aspect of intrinsic awareness or the knowledge which ascertains the ways of being present (of the clarity) nakedly without dissolving. This clarity is free from the defilements of delusions, uncreated by new conditions, present from primordial time and (now) awakened through the inspirations of air of the clarity

itself. As the ultimate cognition which sees clearly the presence of the ultimate sphere and intrinsic wisdom, the realization of clarity radiates and shines like millions of suns.


Each of the three inner tantras could again be subdivided into three categories according to their particular characteristics of view and meditation.

Jigmed Lingpa explains briefly:

Within each of the Three Inne Yogas,

By dividing them subtly,

There are nine (subdivisions):

The development of the mandala gradually Is called the Mahayoga of Maha yoga.

The accomplishment of the mandala spontaneously Is called the Anu of Maha

The unborn ultimate sphere

Is known as the Ati of Mahayoga').

Instant completion of the mandala

Is named the Maha of Anu.

In the mandala of the relative deity, Perfection of the ultimate sphere] Is called (Anu of Anu).

Indivisibility of the deity and self-awareness

Is the - Ati of Anu.

Realization of samsara and nirvana as the mandala from primordial time

Is the - Maha of Ati.

Spontaneous accomplishment of one’s mind as the body of the deity

Is the - Anu of Ati.

Mind is the ultimate sphere with no entity:

Freedom from all elaboration

Is the - Ati of Ati

By the aspects of the development and perfection stages Of the basis, path, and result,

I have explained the nine subdivisions.


According to the history of the tantric scriptures, most of the tantras of the New Translation School of Tibet—such as Guhyasamaja and Kalacakra and the tantras belonging to the division of Outer Tantras were expounded by Sákyamuni Buddha. But the tantras of the three Inner Tantras of the Old Translation School did not originate with Sákyamuni Buddha.

The original tantras of Mahayoga and Anuyoga first appeared in the human realm when they were received by a group of five Buddhist adepts called the Five Excellent Beings (Dam-Pa’i Rigs-Chan Dra-Ma INga) from Vajrapani Buddha in a pure vision on Mt. Malaya [Sripáda, Srilahka?] twenty-five years after the

Mahaparinirvana, the passing away of Sákyamuni Buddha. They were then transmitted to King Jha (Dza} of the Oddiyána kingdom by Trimed Tragpa (Dri-Med Grags-Pa, Vimalakirti) of the Licchavi tribe, who was one of the Five

Excellent Beings

In Mahayoga, in addition to the tantras there is another category of scriptures known as the sâdhanas [propitiations]. The following eight categories of scriptures of the sàdhana section of Mahayoga were received in two ways, in canonical (bKa*-Ma) form and discovered Dharma treasure (gTer-Ma) form.

(a) The following scriptures were received by different masters by means of canonical transmission, which means transmission from person to person:

Vajra Heruka (or Ying-Dag) scriptures received by Hümkâra, Yamântaka by Manjusrïmitra,

Hayagriva by Nâgârjuna, Vajramrta (bDud-rTsi ’Khyil-Ba) by Vimalamitra, and

Vajrakila by Prabhahasti and Padmasambhava.

(b) Discovered Treasure Sâdhanas-

The following scriptures were concealed and entrusted by Dâkini Lekyi Wangmo (Las-Kyi dBang-Mo) to the following masters, and those scriptures are known as the discovered treasure Sâdhanas-. Heruka (Ch’e-mCh’og) scriptures entrusted to Vimalamitra, Vajra Heruka to

Hümkâra, Yamarâja to Manjusrimitra, [[[Hyagriva]]]] to Nâgârjuna, Vajrakila to Padmasambhava, Mamo (Ma-Mo) to Dhanasamskrta, [Chod-tod]] (mCh’od-bsTod) to Rombhuguhya, and Trag-ngag (Drag-sNgags) to Sântigarbha. She also entrusted theDesheg Dupa (bDe-gShegs ’Dus-Pa) to Padmasambhava. Those masters transmitted the teachings to their disciples and most of them are in practice today.

The original tantras of Atiyoga were received in pure vision by Garab Dorje (dGa’-Rab rDo-rJe, S. Prahevajra), the first human master of Atiyoga, directly from Vajrasattva, a Buddha in Sambhogakâya form. He transmitted them to Manjusrimitra. The teachings of Atiyoga were brought to us through various lineages and are known in Tibetan as Dzogpa Chenpo, the Great Perfection, which is the subject of this book.





The first chapter is on the arising of the “appearances of the basis” (gZhi-sNang), samsara and nirvana, from the “basis” (gZhi). This philosophical view is unique to Dzogpa Chenpo. The chapter is composed of excerpts from the first four chapters of Tshigdon Dzod (TD 1-63), which is based on the Dzogpa Chenpo tantras including Thal-’Gyur, Klong-Drug-Pa, Rig-Pa Rang-Shar, Mu-Tig Phreng-Ba, Seng-Ge rTsal-rDzogs and rDo-rje sNying-Gi Me-Long.

The “basis” is the primordial purity, free from expressions and concepts. It has the threefold nature of primordially pure essence (Ngo-Bo), spontaneously accomplished nature (Rang bZhiri), and omnipresent compassion power (Thugs-rje). Compassion, the “spontaneous appearances of the basis,” arises from the “basis” with “the eight modes of arising of spontaneous accomplishments” (Lhun-GrubKyi ’Ch’ar-Tshul brGyad). If, when they arise, one does not realize them to be

self-appearances, that is, the “basis” and “the appearances of the basis,” but sees them as other than self-appearances, one will become associated with three unenlightenments (Afa-Rig-Pa). One will be distracted into the distinctions between samsara and nirvana and will be trapped in them. The “eight modes

of arising of spontaneous accomplishments” of the “appearances of the basis” arise from the “basis.” If, when they arise, one realizes them to be self-appearances, no distraction will occur, and the appearances will dissolve into the primordial purity. That is the attainment of primordial Buddhahood. The

appearances of the basis” are the basis of liberation if one realizes them as self-appearances. They are the basis of delusion if one perceives them as other than self-appearances.

The “basis” in Dzogpa Chenpo is totally different from the “universal ground” (Kun-gZhi) of the Cittamatra school. “Universal ground” is the basis of the distinctions between samsara and nirvana. The “basis” here has three aspects: essence, nature, and compassion, which are the Primordial Wis-doms(yfc-Sfos)

of the Ultimate Body (Ch’os-sKu). It is the spacelike Intrinsic Awareness (Rig-Pa), unstained by samsaric phenomena. It is also crucial to know the differences between the mind (Sems) and Primordial Wisdom (Ye-Shes). Mind is a samsaric phenomenon having the stains of

karma and its traces. Mind’s objects are the delusory appearances of samsara, the sixfold objects. When the true nature of mind, the Intrinsic Awareness, becomes free from mind, that is the attainment of enlightenment. Primordial Wisdom is the virtues of nirvana; it is free from samsaric karma, traces and

concepts. The object of Primordial Wisdom is the space-like Ultimate Nature and Luminous Buddha-fields of Buddha-bodies and Primordial Wisdoms. For the attainment of liberation, the “appearances of the basis” are the basis of liberation; and the “basis” is the goal at which one attains liberation.


The second chapter is on the karma of samsaric deeds (Srid-Pa sGrub-Pa’i Las'). This chapter is an abridged translation of the first section of the fourth chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC I, 78b-97d), which is based on Mahayana sutras and texts including Karmasataka, Mahayanaratnakuta-sutra, Suvarnaprubha-

sottama-sutra, Avatamsaka-sutra, Uttaratantra-sastra, RatnavaR, Madhyamakdvatara, Abhidharma-kosa and Abhisamdyalamkara. In their view of karma—the ways of wandering in samsara after delusionDzogpa Chenpo and other Mahayana scriptural traditions are identical. Ordinary people, after being deluded into samsara because of their unenlightenment, begin to cling to their egoistic selves, enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and soaked in poisonous negative emotions. As a result, they are bound to the torment of samsara by the chains of karma. Buddhists believe that as long as one is not enlightened or liberated, one will wander in the world endlessly through the interdependent causations of

one’s own deeds and the traces created by those deeds, the basis of which is one’s mental apprehensions and unenlightenment. The ten negative and ten positive deeds of body, speech, and mind with their traces produce painful and pleasant births in different migrations. The systematic functioning of cause

and result is called karma. This chapter also illustrates the causation of external phenomena and internal phenomena as the chain of interdependent causation.


The second chapter is on the karma of samsaric deeds (Srid-Pa sGrub-Pa’i Las). This chapter is an abridged translation of the first section of the fourth chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC I, 78b-97a), which is based on Mahayana sutras and texts including Karmasataka, Mahayanaratnakuta-sutra, Suvamaprabha-sottama-sutra, Avatamsaka-sutra, Uttaratantra-sastra, Ratnavali, Madhyamakavatara, Abhidharma-kosa and Abhisamayalamkara.

maitreya praepitcha-sutra, ’[[Phags-Pa gZungs-Kyi rGyal-Pos Zhus-Pa, dPal-’Phreng Seng-Ge’i Nga-Ro sGras Zhus-Pa, Bu-Mo Rin-Ch’en Gyis Zhus-Pa, Bu-Mo Dri-Ma Med-Pas Zhus-Pa, Aspisdhasrikdprajndpdramitd-sutra^ Prajndparamita-sancai agatha Uttaratantra-sastra, Ratnavah^ Guhyagarbhamdyajala-tantra and Dvikalpa-tantra of Hevajra.

Beings possess the Buddha-essence (S. tathagatagarbha\ the absolute truth, although it has been obscured by karma and its traces created by their apprehending a self, so that unenlightened mind and negative emotions cover the Buddha-essence like clouds before the sun. They have the potential to

become Buddhas, should any one of them pursue the path of realizing and perfecting the Buddha-essence. To dispel the obstructions and to attain liberation, one must train in the dual accumulations, the accumulations of merits and primordial wisdom. By perfecting the dual accumulations, one purifies negative karma and its traces together with the unenlightened mind. Thereby one realizes the Buddha-essence, and by perfecting the realization by meditating on it

one attains Buddhahood. This view is common to the Dzogpa Chenpo tradition and many other Mahayana sutric and tantric traditions. It is important to note here, as I explained in the introduction, that Dzogpa Chenpo asserts that all beings possess the Buddha-essence, as the sutras of

the “second turning of the Dharma Wheel” and their followers including the Yogacarya school maintain, and as the tantras also teach. But, instead of viewing the Buddha-essence as “thoroughly established” (Yongs-Grub) as Yogacarya does, Dzogpa Chenpo views the Buddha-essence as free from extremes of

elaborations, expressions, designations, and conceptions as Prasahgika Madhyamaka does. Longchen Rabjam concludes that in comprehending the freedom from extremes, Dzogpa Chenpo is similar to the views of Prasahgika Madhyamaka.


The fourth chapter is on the philosophical view of the realization of the “basis,” the Primordial Wisdom which does not dwell in either of the two extremes, eternal or nil. The chapter is an abridged translation of the tenth chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC-II, 60a-92a), which is based on Mahayana sütras, tantras, Dzogpa Chenpo tantras, and their commentaries.

They include:







Arya-maitreya pariprekshya-sütra,





Padma rNam-Par Rol-Pa,

sPyan-Ras-gZigs brTul-Zhugs,

rMad-Byung rGyal-Po,


Kun-Byed rGyal-Po,

Mülamadhyamakakárika-prajña and


The chapter explains the essence of phenomenal existents, which is unborn (emptiness); the view of realization; the unenlightened mind that is to be purified; and the Awareness Wisdom, the true nature of the mind free from extremes, which purifies obscurations. It emphasizes that through theoretical or

intellectual words and understanding one will neither realize the essence nor perfect the realization of the “basis.” This chapter lays the foundation of the views common to Dzogpa Chenpo and other Mahayana sütric and tantric traditions.



The fifth chapter is on the meditation on the view. It is an abridged translation of the first section of the eleventh chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC-II, 92a-123b), which is based on Mahayana sütras, tantras and Dzogpa Chenpo tantras and their commentaries. They include Samadhiraja-sütra, Ratnaküta-sütra,

Ratnamegha-sütra, Prajñapáramita-sütra, Upalipariprccha-sütra, Tattva Prakasha-sütra (?), Sañcayagathá-sütra, Ye-Shes Rol-Pa, Ye-Shes mNgon-Par ’Byung-Pa’i rGyud Phyi-Ma, sGyu-’Phrul rDo-rJe, Kun-Byed rGyal-Po, Abhisamayá-lamkara-sastra, Catuhsataka-sástra, Doha, Caryamelápaka-pradipa, and Bodhicaryavatara.

After determining the view, one needs to meditate on it in order to attain the realization of its meaning. This chapter summarizes the different levels of meditations for meditators of higher, mediocre, and lesser intellect. Meditators of high intellect attain liberation at the realization of the natural

state of the mind, the ultimate state. Meditators of mediocre intellect train in and realize the innate wisdom through five aspects of meditation and eight ways of contemplation. Meditators of lesser intellect train in and attain virtues of various modes of absorption through meditations in tranquillity,

insight, and their union. These meditations directly or indirectly introduce to, lead to, or lay the foundation for the tantric and Dzogpa Chenpo meditations and realizations.


The sixth chapter is on Dzogpa Chenpo meditation. It is an abridged translation of Changchub Lamzang (BL 43a-52a). It is an instruction condensing the training in Dzogpa Chenpo meditation given in Semnyid Ngalso (SN), Relaxation in the Natural State of Mind, arranged in meditation periods. It consists of

twenty-seven courses of training: four courses in determination of the view, twenty courses in meditation on maintaining the realization of the view, and three courses on the attainment of confidence in the result of the meditation. The instruction is that meditators who are ready for this training should meditate on each course for five days, three days, or at least one day.


The seventh chapter is the complete translation of Naturally Liberated Mind (Sems-Nyid Rang-Grol) (SR). This text is hard to understand in many places, and there is no commentary to clarify it. It elucidates the view of the Mind Division (Sems-sDe) of Dzogpa Chenpo teachings, the view that all phenomenal existents are nothing but the Mind, which is free from all

defilements and elaborations. The text consists of three chapters totaling seven hundred and forty-three lines of verse. It provides instructions on the view, meditation, and result of the naturally liberated and enlightened mind, which is unborn and free from concepts, perceptions, and apprehensions. The

first chapter is on the attainment of self-liberation by realizing the view of the “basis.” The second chapter is on the attainment of self-liberation through the experiences of the path of meditation. The third chapter is on the attainment of selfliberation by achieving the great spontaneously accomplished result of Dzogpa Chenpo.


The eighth chapter is the complete translation of Lamrim Nyingpo’i Donthri (f the Meaning Instruction of the Essence of the Stages of the Path (NDK 17b-28a). It expounds the ways of training on the essential teachings given in Naturally Liberated, Mind (SR). It divides the training into three categories.

The first is the instructions for meditators of higher intellect on the attainment of self-liberation in this lifetime. It covers the preliminary trainings, the actual introduction and meditation, and the turning of various activities of off-meditative periods into training or support of training.

The second is the instructions for meditators of mediocre intellect on the attainment of self-liberation by contemplation on the luminous absorptions, the basis for arising of the Intermediate State {Bar-Do). The third is instructions for meditators of lesser intellect for generating virtuous perceptions and

meditations in the Intermediate State to attain self-liberation or at least a better rebirth. The final result of these trainings is the attainment of Buddhahood endowed with three Buddha-bodies and five Primordial Wisdoms.


The ninth chapter is on the stages of the five paths (Lam-lNga) taught in the sutras. It is an abridged translation of the last section of the eleventh chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC-II, 123b-136a), which is based on Mahayana sutras, texts and commentaries. They include Ratnakuta-sutra, Avatamsaka-sutra, Arya-subahupari pracha-sutra, Commentary of Pancavimsatisa-hasrikd-prajndpdramita, Great Commentary of Arya-astasahasrikd-prajhaparamita, Uttaratantra-sastra, Abhisamayalamkara-sastra, Mahayanasutralamkara-sastra, and Madhyanta Vibhaga-karika.

It explains the trainings and perfections of the “thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment” (Byang-Ch’ub Kyi Phyogs Ch’os Sum-Chu rTsa-bDuri) in the stages of the first four paths—the paths of accumulation, application, seeing, and meditation—and, as the result, the attainment of the path of “no more training,”

which is Buddhahood. It is important to note that there are great differences between the methods of training employed in the stages of the paths of sutras, tantras, and Dzogpa Chenpo tantras. But they all train in and perfect the “thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment” in the stages of “the five paths.” Therefore, to understand the path of training in Dzogpa Chenpo it is important to study the aspects, stages, and paths in this chapter and in other common scriptures.


The tenth chapter is on the stages of the path of tantric training. It is an abridged translation of the twenty-first chapter of Perna Karpo (PK-II, 175a-183a), which presents a comparative study of sutric and tantric paths relying on both sutric and tantric texts including: Samadhiraja-sutra, sGyu-’Phrul Dam-Pa, Abhisamayalamkara-sastra, Mahayanasutralamkara-sastra, and Catuhasataka-sastra.

By perfecting the mind (Sems) and energies (rLung) in the four wheels of channels (rTsa-’Khor bZhi), one perfects the

“thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment” in the first four levels of the path and arouses the virtues of the ten stages. As the final result, one attains the path of “no more training,” Buddhahood itself, and having pacified the mind and mental events into the ultimate sphere, one remains with the Buddha-bodies and Primordial Wisdoms.


The eleventh chapter is on the attainments of the paths of Dzogpa Chenpo. The following are excerpts from ChoyingDzod (CD), Namkha Longchen (NKC), Namkha Longsal (NKS) of Lama Yangtig (Vol-II), Sem-nyidRangtrol (SR), and Tshigdon Dzod (TD). They explain the attainment of Enlightened Mind ([[Byang-Ch’ub [Sems]]')

and the “four visions” (sNang-Ba bZhi), the attainments of Thodgal and Thregchod trainings of Dzogpa Chenpo. By training in and perfecting the “enlightened mind” and “four visions” of Dzogpa Chenpo one accomplishes the paths and stages with the “thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment.” The mind and mental events dissolve into the ultimate sphere and from the sphere of the Ultimate Body arise the Form Buddha-bodies with all the other Buddha-virtues. They serve the needs of beings, assuming the appearance of various manifestations with the primordial wisdom of dual Knowledge (rnKhyen-gNyis).

This chapter is very brief. I did not include any texts of Longchen Rabjam which give detailed explanations of the “four visions.” The main purpose of this chapter is just to show the principles of the path of training which are common to Dzogpa Chenpo tantras and other common sutras and tantras. It is appropriate to present full details of such teaching only to those who have been matured by the common trainings.



The twelfth chapter is on the result of the path of training. It is an abridged translation of the twenty-second chapter of Perna Karpo (PK-II, 183a-192b). It is based on Mahayana sutras and tantras including Avatamsaka-sutra, Aryamanjusnnamasa-mgiti-tantra, Cakrasamvara-mula-tantra, Padma Mukuta-tantra, Mahaguru-guhyagarbha-tantra, Guhyagarbha Mayajala-tantra, Uttaratantra-sastra, Mahayana-sutralamkara-sastra and Madhyamakdvatara.

When one completes the tenth stage (Sa-bChu-Pa) and the fourth path, one attains the result, the fifth path, which is Buddhahood. Buddhahood consists of Buddha-bodies (sKu) as the basis and the Primordial Wisdoms (Ye-Shes) as the essence.

This chapter, based on Manjusnnamasamgiti-tantra and Guhyagarbhamaydjala-tantra, classifies the Buddha-bodies into five aspects. They are the three Buddha-bodies: the Ultimate Body (Ch’os-sKu), Enjoyment Body (JLongs-sKu), and Manifested Body (sPrul-sKu). In addition to the three Buddha-bodies, the Great

Blissful Body (or Enlightened Body) (bDe-Ba Ch’en-Po’i sKu or mNgon-Par Byang-Ch’ub Pa’i sKu) and the Changeless Vajra-body (Mi-’Gyur rDo-rJe’i sKu) constitute the Five Buddha-bodies. In many scriptures, such as Suvarnaprabhasottama-sutra, the Buddha-bodies are classified as three Buddha-bodies.

Mahayanottaratantra-sastra and Mahayana-sutralamkdra, and so forth, classify them into four Buddha-bodies—the three Buddha-bodies and the Essence body (Ngo-Bo-Nyid sKu). Dvikalpa-hevajra-tantra classifies them into four Buddha-bodies; the three Buddha-bodies with the Great Blissful Body. These classifications are made on the basis of the varieties of virtues of the Buddha-bodies, but they are all one in essence and the same in the phenomena of Buddhahood. ba Shingta Chenpo it is said

The (different systems of dividing Buddha-bodies) are just ways of dividing and condensing the classes and virtues (of the Buddha-body). In actual meaning they do not differ, as they are merely the different ways of classifying the dharma of the Buddha-stage. Their essence is one.

Primordial Wisdom, the essence of the Buddha-bodies, has five divisions. They are the Primordial Wisdom of the Ultimate Sphere, Mirror-like Primordial Wisdom, the Primordial Wisdom of Equanimity, Discriminative Primordial Wisdom, and the Primordial Wisdom of Accomplishment. This chapter concludes with the description of Buddha-actions, which fulfill the needs of beings spontaneously.


The thirteenth chapter is on the result of the path of training. It is an abridged translation of the eleventh chapter of Tshig-don Dzod (TD 227b-240a). This chapter is based on Thal-’Gyur and Rang-Shar, two of the ancient tantras. It also includes quotations from other scriptures including Avatamsaka-sútra Mahâ-yâna-sütralamkâra, Abhisamayàlamkâra, Mahâyânottaratantra, and Madhyamakâvatâra. It describes the attainment of the Buddha-bodies and Primordial Wisdoms, the results of the path of training. The Buddha-body consists of three aspects:

the Ultimate Body, the Enjoyment Body, and the Manifested Body. The Ultimate Body is endowed with three Primordial Wisdoms, which are called “the Primordial Wisdoms at-the-basis” (gZhi-gNa Kyi Ye-Shes'). They are the Primordial Wisdoms of originally pure essence, spontaneously accomplished nature,

and omnipresent compassion. This classification of the Primordial Wisdom of the Ultimate Body is based exclusively on the Dzogpa Chenpo tantras. The Enjoyment Body is endowed with five Primordial Wisdoms, which are called the “Primordial Wisdoms Endowed with Characteristics” {mTshan-Nyid ’Dzin-Pa’i Ye-Shes). They are the Primordial Wisdom of the Ultimate Sphere,

Mirror-like Primordial Wisdom, the Primordial Wisdom of Equanimity, Discriminative Primordial Wisdom, and the Primordial Wisdom of Accomplishment. The Manifested Body is endowed with two Primordial Wisdoms, which are called “the Primordial Wisdom of Omnipresence” (Kun-Khyab Kyi Ye-Shes). They are the

Primordial Wisdoms of the two kinds of Knowledge (mKhyen-gNyis)’, the Knowledge of “suchness” (Ji-lTa-Ba) and of the “varieties” (Ji-sNyed-Pa). Dzogpa Chenpo tradition agrees with the Mahâyâna sütras and tantras in their interpretations of general view, meditation, and result concerning relative truth and their presentation of the general meaning of absolute truth. But concerning the most definitive meaning of the innermost essence of the Absolute Truth, Dzogpa Chenpo has a unique interpretation of view, meditation, and result. Essentially these unique aspects of Dzogpa Chenpo are: View: The “basis” is the absolute purity and the “appearances of the basis” are the source and way of arising of the delusions as samsara and nirvana.

Meditation: The innermost essence of the way of training is that one distinguishes the Intrinsic Awareness (.Rig-Pa), the Buddha-essence, from the mind, and remains in it without stains and waverings; and one accomplishes the appearances as the power, play, and vision of the Intrinsic Awareness.

Result: The attainment of the Ultimate Body, the union of the primordially pure essence (emptiness), the spontaneously accomplished nature (clarity), and the omnipresent compassion (power).


1. How Samsara and Nirvana Originated from the “Basis” as “the Appearances of the Basis” According to the Innermost Dzogpa Chenpo Teachings In Thegchog Dzod, Tshigdon Dzod, and other works, Longchen Rabjam gives the interpretations of the “basis,” the primordial purity, and the arising of the

appearances of the basis” and the delusions through the chain of twelve interdependent causations, according to the Innermost Esoteric teachings of Dzogpa Chenpo. He explains the distinction between the fourfold “universal ground,” and the “Dharmakâya” (the ultimate body) and between “mind” and “primordial wisdom” (Jññna). The following are abridged translations of selected passages from [[Tshig-Don Rin-Po-Ch’e’i mDzod9 9 (TD):



The primordial purity of the original basis transcends the extremes of existence and non-existence, and it is the great transcending of (the objects of) conception and expression. As the essence (Ngo-Bo) (of the basis) is primordially pure, it transcends the extreme of existence, eternalism, and it is not

established as the phenomena of things or characteristics. As the nature (of the basis) is spontaneously accomplished, it transcends the extreme of non-existence, nihilism, and it is present as the purity, the ultimate nature (fCh’os-Nyid) of emptiness clarity, as the nature of the primordial Buddha, as

the state (dGongs-Pa) of changeless ultimate body (Dharmakaya), as non-existent either as samsara or nirvana, and as the selfarisen great intrinsic wisdom which is present from primordial time like space.

Rangshar (Rang-Shar tantra') it is said: “The primordial purity, the basis, is present (in the mode of) essence [[[entity]]], nature [[[character]]], and compassion [power]. The essence is the ceaselessness of the changeless intrinsic wisdom, and it is called the nature of “the youthful vase body” (gZhon-Nu Bum-sKu). The nature is the ceaseless appearances of the five lights. The appearances of compassion are (pervasive) like the cloudless sky. These are called the nature of primordial purity as they do not fall into any (extremes) of dimensions or partialities.


Having broken the shell (rGya) of the “youthful vase body,” the primordial basis of the originally pure inner ultimate sphere, by the flow (gYos-Pas) of the energy/air of primordial wisdom, the self-appearances of the intrinsic awareness flash out (’Phags) from the basis as the “eight spontaneously accomplished doors” (Lhun-Grub Kyi sGo-bGyad).1

As everything (nirvana and samsara) is spontaneously arisen from the appearances of the “eight spontaneously ac-

The Eight Spontaneously Accomplished Doors (Lhun-Grub sGo-brGyad or IHun-Grub Kyi ’Ch’ar-Tshul brGyad) are:

(1) As (in the basis, the original purity) the space for the arising of (the appearances of the basis) as compassion (Thugs-rje) is ceaseless, there arises compassion towards living beings.

(2) As the space for arising as the light (A’od) is ceaseless, there arise the self-lights of the primordial wisdom like the colors of the rainbow and they pervade all the appearances.

(3) As the space for arising as the primordial wisdom (Ye-Shes) is ceaseless, it remains in the state of no-thoughts.

(4) As the space for arising as the bodies (sKu) is ceaseless, the bodies of clarity [[[Wikipedia:luminous|luminous]] absorption] (in the form of) peaceful and wrathful (Buddhas) fill space.

(5) As the space for arising as non-duality (gNyis-Med) is ceaseless, there is no analysis (of things) as plural or singular.

(6) As the space for arising as the liberated from extremes (mTha’-Grol) is ceaseless, the spontaneous accomplishments are clear as the self-essence.

(7) As the space for arising as the door of pure primordial wisdom (Dag-Pa Ye-Shes) (i.e., nirvana) is ceaseless, the appearances of the originally pure essence, the cloudless sky-like appearances, appear above.

(8) As the space for arising as the door of impure samsara (Ma-Dag ’Khor-Ba) is ceaseless, the appearances of the six classes of beings appear below.

How Samsara and Nirvana Originated 207 accomplished doors,” it is called the “great simultaneous arising of the appearances of samsara and nirvana.” When they (the appearances) spontaneously arise from the inner clarity (Nang-gSal) as the outer clarity (JPhyi-gSat), the appearances of (their) essence ÇNgo-

Bo) are self-clarity, which is the space of unobstructedness, the appearances of (their) nature (Rang-bZhiri) are the original (or natural) glow(g£)angs) as the five lights, and the appearances of compassion (Thugs-rje) are the aspect of providing the cloudless sky-like space. (This is the arising of the appearances of the basis from the basis.)

When (the appearances of the basis) arise, phenomenal existents arise as the lights and (Buddha-) bodies. It is called the appearances of everything as the spontaneously accomplished (Buddha-) field (Lhun-Grub Kyi Zhing-sNang). From the power of the essence of that (field) arise the appearances of

Sambhogabâya, from the power of their qualities arise the appearances of Svabhavanirmànakàya, and from their power of compassion arise the door (aspects) of samsara, like dreams.


the very movement of the arising of (the intrinsic awareness) from the basis, “the eight spontaneous appearances of the basis” arise naturally. (At that moment) by not apprehending those appearances as others and by realizing them as the natural glow (or self-radiance) (gDangs) with a pure mind (gZu-Bo’i Bios), the movements (’Gyu-Ba) (of the intrinsic awareness) cease in themselves. At the first movement, by realizing the self-essence of the self-appearances, the realization (of the true meaning) develops.... At the second movement, the delusions are dispelled and the (perfection) of primordial wisdom develops. That is the development of the basis (itself) as the result (of enlightenment). It is called the re-enlightenment (or self-liberation) through the realization of the essence, the primordial Buddhahood. Having dissolved the self-appearances into the primordial purity and become enlightened at the basis before all, it is (also) called the Lord Universal Goodness (the primordial Buddha).


Through the aspect of not realizing the essence of the “appearances of the basis” themselves (as they are), one becomes distracted into the delusions.... When (phenomena) arise as the “appearances of the basis,” there arises the cognition which is the power of compassion arisen naturally (in

the nature of) clarity and awareness with the ability of analyzing the objects. (At that point,) owing to (ITos-Nas) not realizing itself (as it is), it (i.e., the essence of the “appearances of the basis”) becomes associated (mTshungs-lDan) with three unen-lightenments (Ma-Rig-Pa'): (a) The not knowing of

the arisen cognition (itself) as (the primordial purity) is the unenlightenment of single self, the cause (rGyu bDag-Nyid gChig-Pa'). (b) The simultaneous arising of the cognition and the not knowing of the self-essence (watching the spontaneously accomplished appearances, not knowing that they are self-

appearances without existence) is the “innate unenlightenment” (IHan-Chig sKyes-Pa). (c) The analyzing of the self-appearances as others (i.e., apprehended and appréhender) is the unenlightenment of imaginarles (Kun-lù brTags-Pa). These three are one in essence (Ngo-Bo) and have different aspects (IDog-Pa).

So, when one analyzes the self-appearances, because of not realizing the “basis” and the “appearances of the basis,” that the “basis” (as the) essence, nature, and compassion and the mode of spontaneous accomplishments is the “appearances of the basis,” and because of apprehending the (self-appearances) as others, one becomes distracted into delusions. When, through the aspect of the cause, (namely) the three unenlightenments, and because of the four conditions,1 the impure concepts, the appearances (of the basis), one becomes deluded into the appear-

Four conditions (of delusions): (1) (Because of the three unenlightenments) not knowing the “appearances of the basis” has arisen (from) itself and is the condition of cause (of the delusions). (2) The arising (of the appearances of the basis) as the objects is the condition of conceptually

(observed) object. (3) Apprehending them as “I” and “my” is the empowering condition. (4) Simultaneous arising of these three (conditions) is the immediately preceding condition of the delusions.

How Samsara and Nirvana Originated 209 ances (of the basis) as the (dualistic) cognitions of apprehended and apprehender; (then) six thoughts (Yid) arise as the ceaseless apprehenders; and the six emotional defilements2 arise in the (form of) dormancies; they bind the intrinsic awareness, and one becomes

deluded into the appearances of six objects.3 24a/4The intrinsic awareness having flashed out (’Phags) from the “basis” and not (yet) having ripened (through realizing it as it is), one wanders in the three realms and six migrations of beings through the chain of twelve interdependent causations because of the karmas of individual (beings).... (The twelve interdependent causations are:)

(1) When the “appearances of the basis” arise from the “basis,” mental cognition arises from the power of the intrinsic awareness, and as this (cognition) is accompanied by not realizing its own essence, it is unenlightenment (Afa-jRig-Pa).

(2) From which arise the delusions, and that is the compositional factor [formation of karma} (’Du-Byed).

(3) From which arise the analyses of the modes of the objects, and those are the consciousnesses (rNam-Shes).

(4) (From which arise) the distinguishing (of the objects) by designations such as “this is an object” and “this is an appearance,” and then the consciousness apprehends the named objects as forms. That is the primary delusion into the existents (samsara), and it is name-and-form (Ming-gZugs).

(5) From which arise the senses and projections towards the six objects, and those are the six sources [[[sense organs]]] (sKye-mCh’ed Drug).

(6) From which arises the apprehension of the objects, and that is the contact (between objects, faculties, and consciousnesses) (Reg-Pa).

(7) From which arise attachment, hatred (or happy, unhappy) and neutral experiences, and that is feeling [[[sensation]]] (Tshor-Ba). (8) From which arises attachment to the objects, and that is craving [[[desire]]] (Sred-Pa).

===Six thoughts (Yid):=== 

The thought associated with unenlightenment,

thought of mind-consciousness,

thought of seeking,

thought of ascertaining,

the gross (emotional) thought, and

the thought of contemplation.

ix emotions:





pride, and


Unenlightenment prevails in all the five poisons, and ignorance is one of the five poisons. So they are counted separately.

’TD 21a/6 The six objects: Form, sound, smell, taste, feeling, and mental objects (dharma).

(9) From which arise the grasper and grasping of the objects, and that is grasping [[[attachment]]] (Len-Pa).

(10) From which arise the (formation of) uncertain appearances and...experiences of numerous delusions, and that is becoming [[[existence]]] (Srid-Pa).

(11) From which arise births in the desire, form, and formless realms, and that is birth (sKye-Ba).

(12) From which arise old age and sickness up to death (and that is old age and death) (rGa-Shi). In that process, one wanders again and again (in samsara).

That is the first arising of the chain of twelvefold interdependent causation, the cause of samsara, from the “appearances of the basis.” Then the (various succeeding chains of) twelvefold interdependent causation take place, while one wanders in different existences (of samsara').

Thus, the delusory appearances manifest as samsara because of the strength of the traces (Bag-Ch’ags) of not knowing (the true nature of the appearances) themselves (as they are), and apprehending them as self. Thereby the appearances become established as the (five) aggregates, (eighteen)

elements, and (twelve) sources [[[sense organs]]] of the body of the individual being, who wanders through successive (lives) and remains in samsara forever.

The Buddha-essence is present and pervades the nature (Khams) of living beings.... In rDo-rJe Sems-dPa’ sNying-Gi Me-Long Gi rGyud it is said: “In all living beings of the world, the Buddha-essence is present and pervades like oil in sesame seeds.”


the universal ground (Kun-gZhi) is the root of samsara, it is the foundation of all the traces, like a pond. As the Dhar-makdya (ultimate body) is the root of nirvana, it is the freedom from all traces, and it is the exhaustion of all


In the state of clear ocean-like Dharmakaya, which is dwelling at the basis, the boat-like universal ground filled with a mass of passengers—mind and consciousnesses, and much cargo, karmas and traces—sets out on the path (of enlightenment) through the state of intrinsic awareness, Dharmakaya.

In some sütras, and tantras, the aspect of the “basis” is termed the universal ground. Here, some people who did not understand the actual meaning asserted that the basis and the universal ground are the same. This is a grave mistake. If they are the same, then there are many faults: since the universal ground

has traces, the Dharmakaya would also have traces; since the universal ground changes, the Dharmakaya would also change, and since the universal ground is temporary, the Dharmakaya would also be temporary.


53a/5The entity: It is unenlightenment and a neutral state, which belongs to the (category of) mind and mental events, and it has become the foundation of all karmas and traces of samsara and nirvana...

. Definition: It is called universal ground (Kun-gZhi), as it is the basis of masses of traces.

Divisions: There are four,

(a) The aspect of (unenlightenment, the not knowing the intrinsic awareness which is) simultaneously arisen with the intrinsic awareness, like gold and its oxide from primordial time is the “ultimate primordial universal ground” (Ye Don-Gyi Kun-gZhi). This unenlightenment (is defined as such) in relation to (ITos-Pa’i) enlightenment. This is the aspect of being the primary foundation of all sam-sdric phenomena,

b) A neutral state which is the foundation of the aspect of action (karma') and the root foundation that connects (one) to samsara and nirvana through different deeds is the “ultimate universal ground of union” (sByor-Ba Don-Gyi Kun-gZhi).

(c) A neutral state which is the aspect of various dormant actions of the mind and mental events that create the (births) in samsara is the “universal ground of various traces” (Bag-Ch’ags sNa Tshogs-Pa’iKun-gZhi).

(d) The aspect of unenlightenment, which is the foundation of the arising of the three different aspects of appearances of bodies: the appearances in the gross body with limbs and secondary parts, formed of atoms (of the desire realm), the clear light body (of the form realm), and the body appearing as the absorption (of the formless realm) are the “universal ground of the body of traces” (Bag-Ch’ags Lus-Kyi Kun-gZhi).


55a/4The entity: It is the space-like intrinsic awareness unstained by samsara.... Definition: In Thalgyur (Thal-’Gyur tantra) it is said: “By definition, the Dharma (Ch’os) means the perfect path. Body (sKu) means the accomplishment derived from it [the path]

Division: Again it says: “It is classified into káyas of the Dharma, Sambhoga, and Nirmánakaya. ...” According to (the Dzogpa Chenpo interpretation), the Dharmakaya is described as the ultimate body, pure in nature and dwelling at the basis with the characteristics of essence, nature, and compassion. In Rangshar (Rang-Shar tantra) it is said: “Essence, nature, and compassion are the characteristics of the Dharmakaya.”


Whatever is mind, that is the phenomena of samsara. When the faults, the mode of karma and traces, arise as stains and are associated with its intrinsic awareness, it is called a being. Through mind beings are deluded in six migrations of beings (’Gro-Drug). When one’s intrinsic awareness becomes

free from the mind, one is called the Buddha, who has become detached from the adventitious defilements. Whatever is intrinsic awareness, that is (the phenomena) of nirvana. It burns up the karma and traces like a fire. As it is detached from all conceptions, its nature is emptiness and clarity like space.

Mind According to Innermost Dzogpa Chenpo The entity of mind (Sems) is a cognition (in the mode) of apprehender and apprehended and (in the form of) the mentalities of any of the three realms. Mind has three aspects: mind (Sems), which is the consciousness of the universal ground; thought (Yid), which

enters into everything and enjoys the objects; consciousness (rNam-Shes), which is the consciousnesses of the six entrances. These three are cognitions of one entity, which is rooted in not knowing itself (and accompanied) by five poisons.

Primordial Wisdom

It is the luminous intrinsic awareness, the Buddha-essence (Tathdgatagarbha)....

Definition: It is primordial wisdom as it is present primordially (Jfc) and it is the holy cognition (Shes)... . Division: There are three: The primordial wisdom which dwells at the basis; the primordial wisdom which is endowed with characteristics; and the primordial wisdom which pervades all phenomenal objects....

The essence, nature, and compassion are the intrinsic wisdom which dwells at the basis. The primordial wisdoms of the ultimate sphere, mirrorlike, equanimity, discriminative, and accomplishment are the primordial wisdom which is endowed with characteristics. Knowing (the ultimate truth, quality) as it

is (Ji-lTa-Ba mKhyen-Pa) and knowing all phenomena (of relative truth as they appear, quantity) (Ji-sNyed-Pa mKhyen-Pa) is the primordial wisdom which pervades the phenomenal objects.... The dwelling places: The dwelling place of mind is the universal ground and of primordial wisdom is the Dharmakaya.

2. Karma of Samsaric Deeds, the Cause of Wandering of Beings in Delusory Samsara

In chapter four of Shingta Chenpo (SC Vol. Z), on the cause and effects of actions (karma'), Longchen Rabjam divided karma into two categories, samsaric deeds and liberative virtues. To clarify samsaric deeds he terms the ultimate sphere (dByings) “the universal ground”, which is a neutral state with

respect to samsara and nirvana. He differs from the interpretation in the previous section and divides it into two aspects instead of four: the ultimate universal ground of union (sByor-Ba Don-Gyi Kun-gZhi) and the universal ground of various traces (Bags-Ch’ags sNa-Tshogs-Pa’i Kun-gZhi) of samsara with its

root, unenlightenment (Ma-Rig-Pa, S. avidya) and the eight consciousnesses. Although the universal ground itself is one entity and has no differentiations, it appears as two because of the two aspects which are based on it, just as the earth remains the same but because of day and night it appears clear and

dark. He also explains the process of the cause and effect of actions in the case of the ten non-virtuous deeds with their root, unenlightenment. The Perna Karpo (PK 5a4-) and Thegchog Dzod) have different ways of classifications and different meanings for the universal grounds. For further details of the categories of Karma, see Appendix I.


What js reason for the various occurrences of happiness and suffering to every individual while wandering in the painful cyclic existence? It is because of karma.... The fruit of different karmas, composed of different causal conditions, of each individual being ripened in the form of various migrations and resources, as well as happy and painful experiences. In Karmasataka it is said:


The world has arisen from Karma.

Happiness and suffering are the drawings of karma.

The formation of karma takes place when the conditions are completed.

Karma (in turn) produces the happy and painful (results).


The karma for hundreds of eons

Will not be exhausted, and when the time comes

And (circumstances) gather, by embodied beings

It is certain that the effects will be experienced.

In {Saddharmanpuridanka sutra) it is said:

Karma creates all like an artist,

Karma composes like a dancer.

There are two categories of samsaric karma from the point of view of their effects. The first is the karmas of evil or non-virtuous deeds, which create suffering. The second is the karmas of virtuous deeds associated with merits, which create the happiness of samsara.


79a/A Samsara is produced by the ten merit-making virtuous deeds and the ten non-virtuous deeds.... Non-virtuous deeds generate sufferings and birth in the inferior migrations and by virtuous deeds one obtains birth in high migrations and among happy beings. In the {Arya-saddharma^smrtyupasthdna it is said: “By non-virtuous deeds one obtains (life in) inferior migrations and suffering. By virtuous deeds one obtains happiness and (birth in) high migrations.”


Briefly: Where are the karmas based and being stored?... All the karmas both of samsara and enlightenment are based on the universal ground as the seed. In the ’Jam-dPal Ye-Shes Dri-Ma Med-Pad sidra it is said: “The universal ground is the ground of all. It is the basis of samsara and its cessation (nirvana) and the basis of enlightenment.”

The ultimate sphere of suchness (dByings De-bZhin Nyid) has been designated as the universal ground, the basis of divisions, and it is the aspect of the (mere) indivisible neutral state (in respect to samsára and nirvana).

The aspect of intrinsic awareness (Rig-Pa), the nature of which is primordially uncompounded, and spontaneously based on the state (of the ultimate sphere), is called the ultimate universal ground of union (sByor-Ba Don-Gyi Kun-gZhi).

Because of not realizing it (the intrinsic awareness of the ultimate sphere of suchness), the samsaric elements such as the eight consciousnesses and their habitual tendencies are (established and conjoined by) being based on it (the ultimate sphere) .This aspect is called the universal ground of various traces (Bags-Ch’ags sNa-Tshogs-Pa’i Kun-gZhi). With all the compounded categories of virtuous and non-virtuous actions based on it (the universal ground of traces), the various experiences of happiness and suffering arise...

. In Detail: All the phenomena of non-virtuous karmas and of the lesser virtuous karmas, which are the causes and effects of samsara, are based on the neutral universal ground (Kun-gZhi Lung-Ma bsTari), and all the virtuous karmas associated with liberation, which cause the freedom of nirvana and

realizations of the path of enlightenment, are also based on it. The (aspect of) virtuous karmas associated with liberation and belonging to the truth of the path, which are compounded and adventitious, is based on the universal ground of traces as the cause of freedom. The result of freedom is based on the lineage (or essence—Rigs), as the sun’s clarity because of (clouds) clearing is based on the sun itself....

In the Mind, which is naturally free like space, are present primordially the pure lands and the qualities of Buddhas in the form of two lineages (which are) the beginningless virtuous nature (Thog-Ma Med-Pa’i Ch’os-Khams dGe-Ba, i.e., Buddha-essence). It is the basis of freedom, and it is the basis of nirvana.

In this matter (the attainment of freedom) there are four aspects to be understood:

(a) The basis of freedom is the essential nature or essence (Khams or sNying-Po).

(b) The cause of freedom is the means of virtues associated with liberation and the means of purifying the defilements from it (the essential essence),

(c) The result of freedom is to become the Buddha-essence (Tathdgagarbha) free from all the defilements and having attained the qualities (of the Buddha-essence).

(d) The aspect from which to be freed is the eight consciousnesses with their habits, as they are based on the universal ground of traces.

In tantric scriptures these (four aspects) are known as the basis of purification {sByang-gZhi), the means of purification (sByong-Byed), the result of purification (sByang-’Bras), and the aspect which is to be purified (sByang-Bya). The terms are different but their meaning is the same. Thus, upon the

unenlightened nature of the universal ground of traces, the cause of impure samsara with the consciousnesses and the compounded virtuous aspects which lead to liberation appear to be based for a long time without (actually) being based (anywhere). From the point of view of being, it (the ultimate sphere) is the base of the qualities of nirvana, and it is called the absolute universal ground.

The (absolute universal ground’s) essence (Ngo-Bo) is voidness, its nature Rang-bZhin) is clarity, its compassion (i.e., manifestative power) is all-pervading, and its qualities are spontaneous accomplishment like wishing-jewels. It is neither stained nor free from stains. It is the absolute meaning, luminous from the primordial state, the vision of non-fusability and inseparability (fDu-’Bral Med-Pa) of the bodies and wisdoms. Although from

the point of view of the purity of its nature it is designated as space-like, free from characteristics, voidness, uncompounded, and so forth, it is not nothing, an extreme of voidness, because it is a spontaneously accomplished state of luminous bodies and wisdoms, and it is the liberation and voidness of all elements of samsara.

In the Ghanavyuha sutra it is said:

The immaculate disc (mandala) of the moon

Always is unstained and completely full.

But in relation to the days of the world

It is perceived as waxing and waning.

Likewise, the ultimate universal ground also Has always been with the Buddha-essence (Tathagatagarbha),

And this essence in terms of the universal ground Has been taught by the Thus-Gone (Tathagata, i.e., Buddha).

The fools who do not know it,

Because of their habits, see even the universal ground As (having) various happiness and suffering And actions and emotional defilements.

Its nature is pure and immaculate,

Its qualities are as wishing-jewels;

There are neither changes nor cessations.

Whoever realizes it attains liberation....

There are numerous synonyms for (the ultimate universal ground) according to its basis, source, and its being the cause of freedom, such as the absolute universal ground, virtue of beginningless ultimate nature, Buddha-essence, nature (Khams), luminous nature of the mind, ultimate sphere, the meaning of the suchness nature, naturally pure thatness, transcendental wisdom, and so on.

The aspect of the habits of samsara being based on the Mind ({{Sems-Nyid[[, i.e., neutral state of universal ground) is called the universal ground of traces. Why? Because it is the basis of accumulation of the karmas (which generate the) virtues, non-virtues, liberation, and enlightenment, which do not exist in

the true nature from the primordial state but arise adventitiously. It is the basis of both virtuous and non-virtuous karmas, its nature ({{Ngo-Bo[[) is ignorance (gTi-Mug), and it is neutral (in respect to both virtuous and non-virtuous karmas').

Some say that this is not ignorance because it is the basis of all the five poisons (including ignorance) as well as of enlightenment. That is just a misunderstanding. This is not the ignorance of the five poisons. (But) it is the innate unenlightenment ({{Lhan-Chig sKyes-Pa’i Ma-Rig-Pa[[) arisen from the

time of the delusion leading into samsara, and it has also been called ignorance. Also, it is subject to examination whether this is the basis of enlightenment. This is the basis of neither the essence nor the wisdom of the Buddha, which possess two purities, the purity from the primordial state and

the purity of adventitious defilements, because the universal ground has to transform (into wisdom). In the {{Suvarnaprabhdsottama sutra]] it is said: “The

transformed universal ground is the essence, the ultimate body (Ngo-Bo Nyid-Kyi Ch’os-Kyi-sKu)^ In ’Byung-bZhi Zad-Pa’i rGyud it is said: “The purified universal ground is the ultimate sphere (fJh’os-dByings).” (The universal ground of traces) is

not the basis of the nature {Khams'), as it is (only) the basis or the cause of freedom from the defilements. So it does not act other than as the basis merely of (becoming) enlightened through the training on the compounded path of accumulation of merits and wisdom. They (the accumulations) belong to the

category of the “truth of the path,” and they are delusory and temporary, because of their being based on the universal ground of traces. How can it (the training) be harmful to (the universal ground of traces) while depending on it? As fire based on wax bums down the wax itself and fire based on firewood

burns the firewood itself, by being based on the universal ground of traces the path of two accumulations purifies the habits of samsara and dispels the stains from the essential nature, and causes enlightenment to be fully attained, as it is, primordially. Therefore, the (two accumulations) are known as

the pure conditions(rKyen Dag-Pa). Then later on, the antidotes, the means of purifications (the two accumulations) themselves, will also be burnt down because they are the virtues imagined by the mind...

In Madhyamahdvatdra it is said: “The peace (achieved) by burning the entire fuel of knowable subjects is the ultimate body of the Buddhas.... Synonyms for the universal ground of traces are: innate unenlightenment (Lhan-chig sKyes-Pa’i Ma-Rig-Pa), the universal ground of traces, beginningless and endless obscuration, great darkness, originally present unknowing, and so on.

The Mind (Sems-Nyid), the beginningless sphere, present like space: from the point of view of liberation being based on it, it is known as the ultimate (universal ground) and from the point of view of its being the basis of samsara, it is known as the (universal ground of) habits. And (from the

beginningless sphere) the happiness and suffering of various appearances of samsara and nirvana and the faults and virtues arise. In the commentary of Uttaratantra it is said:

The (ultimate) sphere of beginningless and endless time Is the abode of all the Dharmas.

Because of the presence of this (in them), every living being Is able to attain nirvana.


The universal ground of various traces, the neutral state (with respect to virtues and non-virtues), is like a mirror. Of the consciousness of the universal ground (in the ’Jam-dPal Ye-Shes rGyari)^™1’^! it is said: “Mind (Sems) is the consciousness of the universal ground. Apprehending selfhood is thought (Yid).” It is like the aspect of clarity of a mirror. The five consciousnesses of entrances are like the arising of reflections (in a mirror).

Arising first, the analysis of the preceding percept (Don) or raising of the (recognition of the) percept of the five sense-doors (as just) “this is this” is (thought or) mind consciousness. Following it, the arising of hatred, attachment, or neutral emotions towards the objects is the defiled-mind-consciousness.

Some earlier masters have said that the six consciousnesses (i.e., mind and the five sense-faculties) do not accumulate karma if one does not analyze (the percepts) with defiled-mind-consciousness, because they are not composed of any of the three poisons. But this (observation) needs to be examined. While

one is pursuing (the path of) view, meditation, and conduct, after the realization of the (ultimate) nature of phenomenal existents, there will be such a state (of not producing any karma), but people whose minds have not yet reached such a level have ignorance and they produce evil karmas.

The means of producing karma are the faculty of mind and the five faculties of the sense-entrances with their bases. The producers of karma are the defiled mind, the virtuous mind, and the mind that is neutral (in respect to virtues and nonvirtues). The basis on which the karmas are being accumulated is the universal ground (of neutral state). The consciousness of universal ground provides the space for the developing, maintaining, decline, and so forth, of

karma. In the great commentary on the Mahaydnasiar^mkdra by Acarya Sthiramati it is said: The mind and the five faculties, such as that of the eyes, are the entrance, the doors of karma. The virtuous, non-virtuous, and neutral minds are the

producers of karmas. The six percepts, such as form, are the objects of karma. The consciousness of the universal ground provides the space for (producing karmas). The universal ground is the basis, like the place and the house (where and in which the karmas are stored).

Here, the consciousness of the universal ground is the aspect of the sense which is clear but cognizes neither object nor subject. From this the senses (consciousnesses) of the five entrances arise. The eye-consciousness is the aspect of a sense which sees (the object) as the form, but no (analytical)

thoughts have arisen yet. Likewise, the senses which (just) see generally (the respective objects), sound, smell, taste, and touch as the objects by the (senses of) ear, nose, tongue, and body while no thoughts have yet arisen (are their consciousnesses).

The clear (appearances) arisen from the object of percept of the five entrances or a similar form of percept arising (before the senses) is phenomena (Ch’os, S.dharma), and it is also the mind-consciousness. Here, the aspect of object is phenomena and the aspect of the arising of those phenomena in the

senses is called the (mind-) consciousness.... The consciousness which has arisen immediately at the point of cessation of the aspect of the universal ground-consciousness and six senses, the five entrance-consciousnesses of (perceiving) the previous object is called thought (Yid). In the Abhidharmakosa

it is said: “The consciousness (arisen) immediately after the cessation of the six (consciousnesses) is the Mind.” For example, when a form is perceived, the aspect of the object seeing clearly but without apprehending is the consciousness of the universal ground, and

the aspect of the arising of the form to the senses is the eye consciousness. Leaving (or moving out from) those two states is called the cessation of them, and then the arising of the momentary thought, “This is form” is thought (Yid) or mind (Sems). (In some contexts, Sems was explained as the

consciousness of the universal ground.) This momentary thought moves very fest and doesn’t think subtly, so it is called “no-thought” (rTog-Med). It is also called percept (or objective thought) (gZung-Ba’i rTog-Pa) as it sees the object first. After this, the subtle analysis (of the percept arises and) is

called perceiver (or subjective thought ’Zkin-Pa’z rTog-Pa). Even if one first sees the percepts, if one doesn’t continue it by analysis (through the perceiver), it will not produce any karma. All the lords of the sages agree on this.

Longchen Rabjam made two statements on how consciousnesses produce karma. His earlier observation, quoting earlier masters, is that although there is no defiled-mind-consciousness, still the six consciousnesses (mind and the [[five sense consciousnesses) produce karma because the mind-consciousness is complete with both its aspects, percept [[[objective]] perception] and perceiver [[[subjective]] percep

tion] and it is based on ignorance. Here the point is made that although the percepts are appearing in the mind-consciousness, there is neither the aspect of analysis by perceivers nor any contemplations, so it does not produce any karma.


virtuous, non-virtuous, and neutral karma with discriminative thoughts of gross apprehended and apprehender, one falls into (or takes birth in) the desire realm. Contemplation in the state of an absorption (Ting-Nge ’Dziri) which is not the essential nature (gNas-Lugs and in which the percept {s Nang-Yuf

appears but no thought has yet arisen, accumulates karmas in the universal ground to take rebirth in the form-realm. Contemplation on no-thought by preventing percepts, sows the karmic seed in the universal ground to take birth in the formless realm....

(One’s mind) flowing one-pointedly without any thoughts toward any object is the state (sKabs) of the universal ground. The stage of seeing percepts clearly yet remaining without any thoughts about them is the consciousness of the universal ground. The stage of perceiving any of the various percepts

which have arisen clearly (before any of the senses) is the consciousnesses of the five entrances. (When one perceives) any object, in the first stage, for a moment, they arise as a percept, then in the second stage the analyzer mixed with emotional defilements arises as the perceiver, and they are (respectively) the mind-consciousness and the defiled-mind-consciousness.


There are (different levels of) cognitions (Shes-Pa) which have no connection with liberation (from samsara) and which are in the state of the universal ground. They are (a) the cognition which is in the state of contemplation, a stable one-pointed tranquillity, (b) the cognition which is in the

contemplation of clarity and no-thought, stable and a partial insightLhag-mThong and (c) the cognition which is gross cognition arisen after (the appearances) of objects with the dominant conditions (bDag-rKyeri), the six sense faculties. The virtuous and non-virtuous karmas accumulated through those

three kinds of cognitions delude beings (respectively) in the formless realm, form realm, and desire realm.... The reason is that they do not lead to liberation and do not transcend the appréhender and apprehended (duality). Here the state of contemplation of no-thought (itself) is the apprehended and

contemplation on that one-pointedly without wavering is the appréhender. Pure contemplation is (as follows): although it is a meditation on the skillful means of compassion and on the wisdom free from extremes, it has no conceptualization of subject and object and there is no meditation designating “in this

state.” So it relates to the inconceivable nature. Although in this contemplation one achieves joy, bliss, miracles, and foreknowledge, there will not be attachment to the pleasure of it, nor are they apprehended in characteristic form.


The various consciousnesses have their various roles as principal and subordinates in their own and others’ realms.... In the commentary of Kun-gZhi Dang Ye-Shes brTag-Pa by Àcârya Buddhaguhya it is said:

In the realm of desire the seven consciousnesses, such as that of the eyes, are principals and the others (universal ground and the consciousness of the universal ground) are subordinates. In the form realm the consciousness of the universal ground and the consciousnesses of entrances (consciousnesses of

five faculties, of mind and of defiled mind) are the principal and the other (the universal ground) is subordinate. In the formless realm the universal ground itself is the principal and the others (the eight consciousnesses) are inactive.


A person of the desire realm goes to sleep, (first) the consciousnesses of five entrances and of defiled-mind dissolve into mind-consciousness. The mind-consciousness dissolves into the consciousness of the universal ground and (then a state of) clarity and no-thought arises for a while. Some masters

of New Tantra (gSar-Ma) assert that those who are able to realize this state and can contemplate on it, enjoy the ultimate nature of clarity without having any dreams. The consciousness of the universal ground dissolves into the thoughtless universal ground. Then upon the dissolving of the universal ground

into the ultimate sphere (Jh’os-dByings), the gross and subtle perceptions dissolve and the ultimate nature, (union of) emptiness and clarity, free from elaborations, arises. If one realizes this, then (all) the delusions will be repulsed.... Then they regenerate again. From the ultimate state arises the

universal ground, from the universal ground arises the consciousness of the universal ground and from that the mind-consciousness arises alone. At this point, various kinds of dream (-like phenomena) arise and one apprehends the phenomena, the objects of the mind of habituations.


Sleep is the time when all the consciousnesses are in union with the universal ground, and there is no outward projection (of any consciousness). While dreaming, the mind consciousness has arisen from the consciousness of the universal ground. So it is the time when the consciousness projects outward slightly and the universal ground and the consciousnesses of the universal ground and of the mind are in one entity. When one awakens, one’s consciousnesses have projected outward from the universal ground and the universal ground and the eight consciousnesses are in one entity.


The luminous Mind (Sems-Nyid) is the basis and source of all existents. In Mind there is no differentiation of samsara and nirvana, and they are inseparable and changeless. So it is the.. .ultimate nature of union (sByor-Ba Don-Gyi gNas-Lugs), the Buddha-essence and the source of samsara and nirvana. In Doha it is said:

Mind alone is the seed of all.

For beings it projects samsara and nirvana', It provides the fruit of wishes: Wish-fulfilling gem-like Mind, to you I pay homage. in the Gandavyuha sutra it is said:

Various stages (of the path) are the universal ground. The Tathagatagarbha (Buddha-essence) is also that. That essence, designated as the universal ground, The Tathagata (Buddha) has expounded.

l ground. (But) people of foolish intellect do not understand it.

As this nature (gShis) is the cause of perfections such as the bodies and wisdoms (of Buddhahood), it is called the stainless ultimate universal ground (Don-Gyi Kun-gZhi). As it is the basis of samsara, it is called the universal ground of traces with stains. The essence (Ngo-Bo) of the basis, the universal ground, is one, but it is divided (into two) because of the different qualities which are based on it....

In the nature of the moon there is neither increase nor decrease, but because of circumstances, in the four continents we see the differences of waxing and waning. Likewise, in the nature of the luminous Mind after becoming enlightened there is neither real happiness nor real suffering, but beings in samsara perceive different entities, such as high and inferior migrations. If one has trained in (or attained) the absolute meaning, it is called reaching the perfection of the universal ground as the absolute meaning.....

Karmas are produced by the delusions of the unenlightened mind-consciousness. In the (Udanavarga) sutra it is said: “Mind is the chief and it is swift. Mind is the forerunner of all things.”

Because of imaginaries {Kun-bTags) and not knowing the thoroughly established nature (ybngs-Grub), one becomes dependent (gZhan-dBang) on various impure delusory appearances. To overturn the dreamlike delusory samsara, one has to realize the thoroughly established Mind and meditate on the infallible path of the development and perfection stages, skillful means and wisdom, to attain the essential nature in the primordial state, as it is.


All beings are deluded in samsara by laying the foundation of apprehended (object) and apprehender (subject) through not realizing the self-face of the Mind. In (Prajndparamita)sancayagathd it is said: “All living beings of low, medium and excellent (type) have arisen from unenlightenment. Thus it is said by the Blessed-Gone.”

The beings of the lower, the inferior migrations, medium, the human migration, and higher, the god migration are all experiencing happiness and suffering (produced) by their own different karmas. The root of karma is enlightenment accompanied by the three poisons and followed by the non-virtuous karmas as well as the merit-making virtues which create the happy results of samsara.


Virtuous (merit-making) karmas produce happiness and birth in the happy migrations (in samsara'), and non-virtuous karmas produce suffering and births in the inferior migrations (in samsara).


There are ten non-virtuous deeds which cause one to fall into the inferior migrations from the higher migrations and which generate only suffering.

They are:

The three non-virtuous karmas of the body:

Killing, taking what is not given, and sexual misconduct. The four non-virtuous karmas of speech:

Lies, divisive talk, harsh words, and senseless speech.

The three non-virtuous karmas of mind: Covetousness, ill-will, and wrong view.

Effects of the Non-Virtuous Karmas

Briefly: Non-virtuous karmas are generated through non-virtuous object, intention, thought, and efforts. They produce three categories of effects. In the great scriptures they are classified as the effects of maturation (rNam-Par sMin-Pa) (which is the principal effect), compatibility (rGyu-mThun), and dominance (or environment) (bDag-Pof In the instructional teachings (commentaries) there are four effects with the addition of cumulative effect (Byed-Pa’i ’Bras-Bu)....

(1) [[The effect of maturation: In (Arya-saddharma)smrty-upasthana (sutra) it is said]]:

The maturation of the effect of a minor karma (of any of the ten non-virtuous deeds) produces birth in the animal realm, of a medium deed produces birth in the hungry-ghost migration and of a grave deed develops into birth in the hell migration.

After completion of the experience of the actual effect of the evil karmas, as the effect of maturation in one of the three inferior migrations, even if one takes rebirth in a higher migration because of one’s other virtuous deeds, one still has to experience three more after-effects:

(2) The effect of compatibility:

It has two categories: the effect of compatibility of cause (Byed-Pa rGyu-mThun) and the effect of compatibility of experiences (rNam-sMin rGyu-mThun) ....

(a) [[Concerning the effect of compatibility of cause, in Karnataka sutra) it is said]]:

Since a person has been habituated to the non-virtuous karmas even after (he has already experienced the effect of maturation), he will take birth where he will rely on non-virtuous deeds and will perform and follow them.

(b) The effect of compatibility of experience:

in this effect there are two types for each of the ten non-virtuous karmas....

In the Karnataka sutra) it is said:

Even if a person takes rebirth in the god migration or human migration (because of his other, virtuous deeds), still he will experience the following after-effects: having a short life and many illnesses because of (the non-virtuous karmas of) killing (in the past), having few possessions and sharing

them with enemies because of taking what is not given, having an unattractive spouse and sharing one’s spouse with others because of adultery, being abused and deceived by others because of lying, having bad and unharmonious companions because of slandering, hearing insults and (even if one speaks gently)

provocations because of harsh speech, one’s words not being considered worthy of respect and oneself not inspiring confidence in others because of foolish chatter, becoming greedy and discontented because of covetousness, becoming the object not of benefits but harm because of ill will, and being around evil views and cunning because of wrong view....

(3) The effect of dominance: (In Semnyid Ngalso (SN) it is said:)

The effect of dominance refers to the effects on the environment.

While one is in the impure (samsara) controlled by external factors:

By killing (one takes rebirth as the after-effect) in a land which is unattractive,

Where the medicine, trees, crops, flowers, food, drink, and so on

Will provide little nourishment, will be hard to digest and will be life-threatening.

By taking what is not given, in a land where no crops are harvested,

Where there are the dangers of frost, hail-stones, and famine, one will take rebirth.

By adultery, among pits of excrement and urine,

Filth, dirt, and stench,

In a narrow, fearful, and unenjoyable land, one will take rebirth.

By lies, in a hostile and frightening land

Where wealth is insecure and one is deceived by others, one will take rebirth.

By divisive speech, in a land where travel is difficult, which is uneven,

With deep rugged chasms and narrow ravines, etc., Various uncomfortable conditions, one will take rebirth. By harsh words, in non-virtuous lands (full of) logs, sharp pebbles, and thorns,

Dust, rubbish, poor crops, a rough and

Saline (environment), and so on, one will take rebirth.

By senseless speech, in lands where crops and fruit do not ripen and the seasons are inconsistent,

Where nothing is stable and durable, one will take rebirth.

By covetousness, in lands where there is little harvest but many husks,

Seeing good times turn to bad, one will take rebirth.

By ill-will, in a land where the grain and fruit will have a burning, bitter taste,

Where there are rulers, robbers, wild men, snakes and so on,

Many circumstances of a harmful nature, one will take rebirth.

By wrong view, in lands where there is no source of precious substances

And few medicinal trees, flowers, and fruit,

orce, one will take rebirth....

(4) The Cumulative Effect: In the short (Arya-saddharma-smrttyupasthana it is said: “Those who are ignorant and have committed evil deeds (in the past) will further increase their evil deeds and will suffer more.”

The differences between effects of compatibility and cumulative effects: In compatibility one will be involved in doing the same karma or deeds as an effect of that which one has committed and of which the results previously have been experienced; and in cumulative, the evil deeds and the experiences of the same karma increase as after-effects.


the Vinayagama it is said:

Non-virtuous karmas are like poison, which even in small doses creates great suffering. They are like wild men who destroy the accumulated merits. Therefore, one should try to abandon non-virtuous deeds and devote oneself to virtuous karmas.


The mere absence of the ten non-virtuous karmas does not become the ten virtuous karmas because the disciplining of the mind by acting according to them is lacking. The abandoning of the ten non-virtuous deeds is the ten virtuous deeds (associated with the accumulation of merits).

The Effects of Virtuous Karmas

In respect to their maturation effects, the minor virtues produce rebirth in the human realm, the medium ones among the gods of the desire realm, and the major ones, combined with contemplation, in the (two) upper realms, the form and formless realms. By the virtuous deeds one achieves (the happiness of) higher migrations and seals the doors of inferior migrations.

The after-effects of the virtuous karmas will be the experiences of the reverse of the results of the ten non-virtuous deeds. The ten virtuous deeds are the means of perfecting the accumulation of merits.


According to Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, nothing is present with true existence. In relative truth, however, all things appear through the law of interdependent origination, like reflections in a mirror or appearances in a dream. An external phenomenon such as a flower is subject to arising through

the interdependent causation of arising, in the process of succession of its seed, new shoots, leaves, stem, flower, and so forth, and with the coming together of the conditions of earth, water, fire,

air, space, and time. The internal phenomena, the mind, mental events, and the bodies of beings in samsara arise and function or cease through the interdependent causation of the successive reverse process of the twelve-linked interdependent causation. A set of twelve links of causation completes

itself in two or more lives. Also, in one life and at one time there are many more sets of twelve-linked causations that are starting, are in progress, and are ceasing. The internal phenomena arise, function, or cease depending on the coming together or separation of the six interdependent conditions: earth,

water, fire [heat], air, space, and time. That is broadly or roughly known as karma or causation, the process of cause and its effects. Through it beings wander in samsara endlessly, like counting on a rosary, or they attain nirvana by its cessation. Longchen Rabjam touches on the subject of interdependent origination in his Shingta Chenpo.

External Interdependent Causation

sc-i, 3oia/3it is objective appearances of the mind, the appearances as the external phenomena such as the appearances in the form of mountains, walls, earth, water, fire, air, and space, which are designated as the secondary qualities of the elements (’Bywng-’Gyur) or the forms of the elements (’Bywtg-gZugs). These develop in various types of material through their own common and specific causes and conditions, as cloth (from) thread and woolen cloth (from) woolen thread. It is called the interdependent causation of external phenomena, because they arise by depending on each other and appear as external inanimates (Bem-Po).

Internal Interdependent Causation

(a) Interdependent Causation by which from unenlightenment arise the formations (and so forth in succession) through old age and death is internal interdependent causation....

The twelve (interdependent causations) are:

(1) Unenlightenment:

It is the (aspect of) not knowing perfectly the absolute essence, the ultimate nature, the nature which is primordially pure, and also the phenomena (dharma) characterized (mTshon-Pa) by it (unenlightenment). From this arises the formation of karma.) since it formulates the karma of samsara.

(2) Formation of karma

The virtuous deeds which are associated with merits, the ten unvirtuous deeds, and the neutral karmas of body, speech, and mind, which are obscured by unenlightenment, are formation. Virtuous (karma formulates birth in) high migrations and non-virtuous in inferior migrations. Neutral (karma) contributes to both (births) and is associated with non-virtuous karma....

3) Consciousness:

Then, in accordance with the formulated karma (which has been sown in the consciousness of the universal ground), one enters into one of the (six) migrations and develops the cognition of that (particular migration). This is consciousness. ...

(4) Name and Form:

Then, when consciousness enters into its (particular) migration by means of the coming together of the mind, energy (rLung}, and the (parental) white and red essences, one establishes the (five) aggregates: “four names”—the feeling, discrimination, formation (of karma), and consciousness—and the “form”. . .

When one enters into the womb of the mother, “name” and “form” are established. ...

(5) Sense Organs:

Then the sense organs (sKye-mCh’ed') of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind develop....


Then, the coming together of the objects, sense faculties (dBang-Po), and mental application (Yid-La Byed-Pa) is contact. ...

(7) Feeling:

From contact arises feeling. The arising of happy, unhappy, and neutral experiences with desirable, undesirable, and neutral objects respectively is feeling....

(8) From feeling arises craving for it

There are three cravings: craving the feeling of (for example the taste of) the sweetness of brown sugar is the craving for happiness (or craving of desire). Having experienced unhappiness, wanting to abandon it is craving for happiness (or craving of fear). From neutral (objects) craving develops for (remainingin) neutral (feelings)....

(9) Grasping:

From craving arises grasping (of the objects directly) for which one is craving....

(10) Becoming:

From grasping arises becoming. The arising of the five aggregates, form, feeling, discrimination, formation, and consciousness (for birth in the next life in one of the six migrations) is becoming. ...

11) Birth: From becoming arises birth....

12) From birth arises youth, old age, and cessation of life, which is death. . . .

The Mind Only school asserts that a cycle of cause and result (of the twelve-linked causation) is completed in two lives.

In the first life the six causes are completed and in the second life the six results.... The six causes are unenlightenment, formation, consciousness, craving, grasping, and becoming. The remaining six are results. According to Sravakayana, a cycle of the entire cause and result (of the twelve-linked

causation) is completed in three lives. Based on the causes, the unenlightenment and formation of the previous life, the five results arise, such as consciousness (name and form, sense organs, conduct, and feeling) in the present life, and the craving, grasping and becoming of this life generate the birth and death of the next life.

According to rTen-sNying ’Grel-Ba by the third Dodrup Chen (based on Nagarjuna’s Pratityasamudpadahrdaya), 2a: Unenlightenment, craving, and grasping are the three emotional defilements. Formation and becoming are the two means of karma. Those are the five causes. Consciousness, name and form, sense organs, contact, feeling, birth, old age, and death are the seven results.

(b) Internal Dependent Condition

because those (twelve-linked) causations, the preceding ones cause the succeeding ones to arise, it is called interdependent causation. Because those (interdependent originations) are developed on condition of the coming together of inner earth, fire, air, space, and consciousness, they are called origination from interdependent conditions (in the formation of the fives of beings).

3. Karma of Liberative Virtues, The Means of Liberation from Samsara

The karma of virtuous deeds associated with liberative virtues leads the person to enlightenment. Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam explains in his Shingta Chenpo (SC, The Great Chariot), auto commentary on Semnyid Ngalso (SN, “Relaxation in the Natural Mind”) the presence of two lineages (Rigs) of the Buddha-essence

(Tathagatagarbha) in all living beings, because of which we have the potential to become Buddhas if we train ourselves in the virtuous karmas which lead to Buddhahood. The first of the two lineages is “the naturally present lineage” (Rang-bZhin gNas-Rigs), which is the aspect of the lineage or essence which

is primordially present as the absolute nature of beings. The second is “the developed lineage” (sGrub-Pa Las Byung-Ba or rGyas-’Gyur Gyi Rigs]]), which is the aspect of the essence which has been developed by dispelling the coverings, which are the defilements. He explains who should awaken the lineage and by what means, or else how one strays into samsara if one does not realize the lineage, and how it is important to train in the liberative virtues in order to realize the lineage.


The virtuous karmas which transcend both merit making virtues and evil deeds and are free from all the stains that are causes of taking rebirth in samsara are (the karmas), the causes of liberation. Of these, the virtues with conception ([[sNang-bChas] such as the ten virtuous deeds and the first

five of the six perfections of the accumulation of merits, are deeds of the level of relative truth. The virtues without conception, the wisdom free from the two extremes, is the accumulation of primordial wisdom (the absolute truth). The unity of these two accumulations, which is embodied in the stages of

the five paths, leads one to Buddhahood. So it transcends the samsaric virtues. Samsaric beings perceive (the virtuous deeds) as substantial and as having characteristics. But in respect to the (liberative virtues), from the beginning of the training there is no perception (of them) as substantial or as

having characteristics. They are free from the concepts of merits or demerits, and they have the essence of voidness and compassion.... Generosity, and so forth, the (first) five (of the six perfections) are for the accumulation of merits, and wisdom is for the accumulation of primordial wisdom. Through the combined (training) in these two (accumulations one) attains the two bodies (of the Buddhas).


The actual liberative virtues belong to the “truth of the path” (of liberation), the cause of cessation (Bral) (from suffering). Although they are based on the universal ground of habits, the result, cessation itself, which is achieved through the cause (of cessation of suffering and samsara), is based on the lineage (Rigs) or the (BwJiZAd)-essence (sNying-Po). That is why the virtues become the cause of changeless supreme liberation.

(In the root-text [SN] it is said):

The basis of the virtues is the lineage (Rigs)

That is the luminous natural (Rang-bZhin) state of mind, The immaculate nature (Khams), and it is “the naturally present lineage” (Rang-bZhin gNas-Rigs). The appearance aspect (sNang-Ch’a) of the (nature) is the two bodies,

Which have been characterized by nine examples.

It is the nature of compassion present primordially, and It is “the developing lineage” (rGyas-’Gyur Gyi Rigs). This was said by the Bliss-gone (Buddha)....

The scriptures of the third turning of the Dharma wheel expound the definitive meaning and show the great secret (qualities) of all the Buddhas, as they are.

These scriptures are:


Krya-srimaladevi-simhanàda-pariprcchà sütra. Bu-Mo Rin-Ch’en Gyis Zhus-Pa’i mDo.

Vimaladevï pariprcchd. Arya-ahgulimdla sütra.

Arya-mahâparinirvàna sütra.

Krya maitreya pariprcchd sütra.

Krya tathàgatagarbha sütra, and so on.

In these scriptures are given the explanations of the nature (Khams) or the natural state (Rang-bZhin) of the mind, which is present primordially in all living beings, and is the Buddha-essence (Tathàgatagarbha'). It is present from primordial time and is changeless. In this (nature) are present

primordially the spontaneous accomplishment of its appearance aspect as the source of major and minor signs of the form-bodies (gZugs-sKu) and its voidness aspect as the freedom of the ultimate-body (Ch’os-sKu) from all the elaborate extremes. This nature is explained by examples: the spontaneous accomplishment of virtues by the wish-fulfilling jewel, changelessness by space, and omnipresence in all living beings by clear water. In Uttaratantra it is said: “As a wish-fulfilling jewel, space and water, the (Buddha) nature is always free from defilements.”

In its essence (Rang-N go) there is no defilement from the very moment of obscuration (of the essence) by stains, and it remains (pure) as it is. In (Arya)-astasdhasrika (prajndpdramita sütra) it is said: “In mind there is no mind, as the nature of the mind is luminous.”

It is the nature or lineage of the Buddhas and it is present in every living being. In Uttaratantra it is said: “Because they are indivisible from suchness, and because they possess the lineage, living beings always possess the Buddha-essence.”

The (lineage) is also called “the beginningless (or omnipresent) virtuous ultimate nature” because it is Buddha from the primordial ground. In Mañjusrmdmasamgiti it is said: Buddha Mind ha has neither beginning nor end, the primordial has no partiality.”

In (Hevajra^dvikalpa-tantra it is said: “Living beings are the very Buddha. No matter that they have been obscured by adventitious defilements, when the obscurations have been cleared, they are the very Buddha.”

When one is a living being, in the suchness of one’s mind one possesses the perfection of the virtues of the form-body (of the Buddha) in its aspect of appearances and the virtues of the ultimate body in its aspect of voidness. But (the Buddha-essence) has been obscured by defilements and the virtues have

become manifestatively unclear. So it is called nature (Khams) or lineage (Rigs). When one becomes Buddha, one will be free from all obscurations. So it is called enlightenment.The difference is just whether the power (Nus-Pa) of the

nature of the mind is manifested completely. We do not assert that it is a development of a new virtue which did not exist when one was (an ordinary) living being, because the nature is changeless.

In sNying-Po Rab-Tu brTan-Pa sütra it is said:

The ultimate sphere (Ch’os-dByings) of beginningless time Is the abode of all phenomenal existents.

Because of the presence of that, all living beings Are able to achieve nirvana.

The suchness (tathata) is changeless.

It was and will be as it is.

The luminous nature of the suchness (Ch’os-Nyid) of the mind is never defiled by emotional obscurations. In Uttaratantra it is said:

The nature of the mind, which is luminous,

Is changeless like space.

By attachment and the rest, which came from defiled concepts,

The adventitious obscurations do not defile it.


There are two divisions (in the lineage):

(a) The naturally present lineage (Rang-bZhin gNas-Rigs), which exists primordially, and

(b) the developed lineage (bsGrub-Pa’i Rigs'), which is generated depending on the cleansing of the adventitious defilements.

(1) In the naturally (present lineage there are two aspects):

(a) The naturally present lineage of the ultimate nature of phenomena (Ch’os-Nyid), which is voidness, free from all elaborations, the Mind (Sems-Nyid), and the cause of freedom of the essence-body (Ngo-Bo Nyid-sKu).

(b) The naturally present lineage of phenomenal existents (Ch’os), which is the cause of freedom of the form-bodies (gZugs-sKu). They abide as phenomena and their nature from primordial time. In the Mahaparinirvána sütra it is said:

O son of good family!

The nature of the mind, which is naturally luminous and naturally non-existing essence, is not separate from the appearances, the radiant attributes of major and minor signs and marks (of the Buddha-bodies) of the naturally pure mind. In any case, they are classified by (the denominations) appearance and voidness.

(2) The developed lineage:

through training in the development of the mind of enlightenment and so on, the skillful means and wisdom of the “path of training” and the “dual accumulation,” the accumulation of merits and primordial wisdom, perfect one into the naturally present lineage. In the Gan-davyüha sütra it is said:

‘O son of the victorious one! That which is known as the lineage of enlightenment is the attainment of the ultimate sphere (Ch’os-Kyi Byings) by realizing the space-like vastness and natural luminosity and by training in the great accumulations of merit and primordial wisdom.

In Uttaratantra it is said:

As a treasure and as the fruit of a tree

The two lineages should be known.

They are (a) the naturally present lineage which exists primordially and

(b) The excellent (lineage) which arises by development— From these two lineages the three bodies

Of the Buddhas will be acquired.

From the first (lineage) one acquires the first (essence-body).

From the second (lineage) one acquires the two later (form bodies).

The beauty of the essence-body should be understood as a gem,

Because it (the essence-body) is naturally uncreated, and Is the treasure of virtues.

Because it has the greatness of lordship of phenomena, The enjoyment body is like the universal king.

As it is the nature of the reflection of (the enjoyment body), The manifested body (sPrul-sKu) is like a golden image.

The essence-body, the naturally present lineage of the Mind (Sems-Nyid), has been accomplished spontaneously as a gem. From this basis (the essence-body) arises the reflection of the naturally present lineage of phenomena (Ch’os-Chari), the enjoyment-body, the universal lordship, and the manifestative body

for living beings. But the bodies have become invisible and obscured by defilements while one remains as a living being. Thus the accumulation of merits through the development of the enlightened attitude, and so forth, cleanses the obscurations to the form bodies, and the accumulation of wisdom through

meditation on voidness, and so forth, cleanses the obscurations to suchness, the essence-body. The two lineages are present primordially, relating as the basis and the based. The naturally present lineage is the basis, like clear water. The developed lineage is that which is based on it, comparable to the arising of various reflections (in the water).

The naturally present lineage of the nature of phenomena

and (the naturally present lineage of) phenomena exist as the cause of freedom but not as the result, freedom (itself). The developed lineage, which purifies the defilements, functions as antidotes and not as the actual causes of the two bodies, as cause and result of a creator and creature.

In the Mahayanasutralamkara it is said:

One should understand that natural and developed (lineages) Are the basis and the based.

(The natural lineage) exists (as cause but) not (as result). Through the virtues one attains liberation.


The Buddha-essence pervades all living beings. Nine examples show how it is present in the midst of emotional defilements. ... (The following is an abridged translation):

The Buddha-essence is present in the midst of four defilements in lay people (So-So sKye-Bo) who have not entered the path (of enlightenment) and who have entered the path of accumulations (Tshogs-Lam) and the path of application (mThong-Lam):

(a) The Buddha-essence is present in the midst of quiescent (Bag-La Nyal) desire (’Dod-Ch’ags} like a Buddha in an unattractive bud,

(b) in the midst of quiescent anger like honey in the midst of honey-bees,

(c) in the midst of quiescent ignorance like grain in a husk, and

(d) in the midst of the arising of strong desire, anger and ignorance, the manifest emotions, like gold in a pit of filth,

(e) The Buddha-essence is present in the midst of habits of ignorance of Arhats, Sravakas, and Pratyeka-buddhas like a treasure in the earth. There are two examples illustrating the presence of the Buddha-essence in the midst of (objects of) abandonment in the path of insight of Bodhisattvas:

(f) It is like the seed of a mango (which has the potential to give fruit) and

(g) like a Buddha-image made out of a gem wrapped in rags. There are two examples illustrating the presence of the Buddha-essence in the midst of (objects of) abandonment in the path of meditation of Bodhisattvas.

(h) It is like the embryo of a royal child in the womb of a poor and unattractive woman, and (i) like a piece of gold in the mud.


in Ârya-atyayajnàna sütra it is said:

The water in the earth

Remains clean.

In the emotional defilements primordial wisdom Likewise abides unstained.

In Guhyagarbha (màyâjâla tantra) it is said:

In any of the four times and ten directions Enlightenment will not be found

Except in the Mind, which is the fully enlightened state. Do not seek the Buddha in any other source.

(Otherwise) even if Buddha (himself) searches, it will not be found.

In brief, .. .one should understand that in all living beings the bodies and wisdoms of the Buddhas are present without any separation, primordially, like the sun and its rays. The {Buddha-} nature {Khams) is always and naturally pure, its essence is changeless, and its defilements are changing, adventitious, and imaginary.


The Buddha-essence is pure gTsang-Ba because there has never been any stain on it. It is self-sacred (bDag Dam-Pa) because it is changeless. It is eternal (rTag-Pa) because it is present at all the times. And it is the perfection of bliss (transcending mundane bliss) because it will not be subdued

by suffering even if one fells (takes rebirth) into the totally suffering samsara. In Uttaratantra it is said: “Pure, self, bliss and eternal—The perfection of these is the result.”

The Buddha-essence is omnipresent. The Mahâyânasùtra-lamkara says, “People assert that space is always all-pervading. As space pervades all forms, it also pervades all beings.”

Thus, although the Buddha-essence is obscured by emotional defilements, it remains unstained like the sun in clouds. This essence remains indestructible from primordial time to enlightenment.


Who realize (or attain) the lineage as it is? People who have not realized the natural state (gNas-Lugs) yet (but) are guided by a virtuous teacher,the Sravakas, and Pratyeka buddhas, who have appreciation (Mos-Pa) for the Mahayana, and the Bodhisattvas who have attained stages can have a general understanding of it. Bodhisattvas who are in the tenth stage have a partial realization of it. But except for the Buddhas no one else (fully) realizes it as it is....

The (Buddha) nature or essence abides in the form of one’s own Mind’s {Sems-Nyid) wheel of prosperities [riches] of the Buddha-fields with three bodies and primordial wisdoms. If one realizes it, that is enlightenment.... People who are in the path of training {Slob-Lam) have a general understanding (of the Buddha-essence) through faith.

Uttaratantra says:

The ultimate truth, (the object of) spontaneously arisen (wisdom),

Is to be realized by faith alone,

(As) the brightness of the disc of the sun Cannot be seen without eyes.

The Buddhagarbha sütra says:

Beings who are lay people, Sravakas, Pratyeka-buddhas, and [[[Bodhisattva]]s do not realize the Buddha-essence as it is. For example, a blind person asks others, “What does the color of butter look like?” A person answers, “It looks like snow.” The blind person touches snow and feels the coldness of it, and

he assumes that the color of butter is cold. Another person answers, “It is like the wing of a swan.” He hears the sound of swans’ wings and assumes that the color of butter is “oor-oor.” Another answers, “The color of butter is like a conch.” He feels the smooth touch of the conch and assumes that the color of butter is smooth. As a blind person cannot know color as it is, the Buddha-essence is also very difficult to realize (for anyone other than the realized ones)....

The difficulties of ordinary people in realizing the Buddha-essence have been (further) illustrated in the same text (Buddhagarbha):

A king summons many blind people and asks them to describe the shape of an elephant. The person who touches the trunk describes the elephant as a hook, the

one who touches the eye describes it as a bowl, the one who touches the ear describes it as a winnowing basket, the one who touches the back describes it as a mount, and the one who touches the tail describes it as a rope. Their descriptions are not unrelated (to the elephant), but they did not have complete understanding. Likewise the Buddha-essence will not be understood by different interpretations, such as voidness, apparition-like, and luminescent.


what is the use of teaching the Buddha-essence, which is subtle and difficult to analyze, since it won’t be realized by ordinary people? There are five merits in pointing out the presence of the Buddha-essence: (a) The fear (in a person’s mind) will be removed and he will become eager to achieve

liberation, knowing that it is not difficult (to realize), (b) contempt for other beings will be removed and he will become respectful to all, who are equal to the Buddhas, as to our teacher (Shakyamuni Buddha), (c) ignorance concerning the presence of the absolute meaning, the visions of the bodies and

wisdoms, will be removed from our minds, and the wisdom of the realization of the ultimate sphere (JDon-Dam-Pa’i dByings) will arise, (d) By understanding the nature in this

way one removes the exaggerations and diminishments of existing and not existing and eternal or nil, and the primordial wisdom of the realization of perfect meaning (Yang-Dag-Pa’i Don) will arise, (e) and the sense of the importance of self and of attachment to self will be removed, one will see self and others as equal, and will develop great loving-kindness towards others.


The view of the “self’ in the perverted schools is not similar to (the Buddha-essence). For they impute a self without any knowledge of it. (According to them) this self does not exist in its natural state. They assign it limits of size and do not assert that it has the virtues of the (Buddha-)

bodies and primordial wisdoms. Your (Madhyamaka) view clings to no-self and voidness as just an antidote to (the view of) self and non-voidness, but it is not the absolute meaning. Therefore, the Mahaparinirvana sutra says: (Abridged translation:)

A woman’s infant son who is breast-feeding gets sick and the worried mother calls a physician. The physician mixes medicine with milk and brown sugar, gives it to the infant, and instructs the mother, saying, “I have given medicine to the child. Until the medicine has been digested, do not feed the child

milk.” The woman applies bile to her breast so that the infant will not have milk, and she tells the infant, “You can’t have milk as I have applied poison to my breast.” The child tries to get milk but he can’t stand the bitter taste of bile. When he has digested the medicine, the mother washes her breast and

says to her son, “Come here, have some milk.” The infant is suffering from thirst but he doesn’t want to have milk even if he is invited, because of the previous taste of bitterness. The mother insists again, explaining the details, and only then does the child relax and come and take milk. So, son

of good family! The Buddha likewise, for the sake of liberating all living beings, emphasizes the teachings of no-self to all living beings. By his emphasizing it, the thought of self will not remain (with the trainees) and they will attain the cessation of sorrow (Parinirvana). So in order to dispel

the wrong views of Lokayata (nihilism) and to teach the transformation into a perfect body through the meditation on voidness, the Buddha taught that all phenomenal existents have no self and he taught (his disciples) to meditate on voidness. The Buddha said it just as the woman applied bile to her breast

for the sake of her son. As the woman washes her breast and asks her son to take milk, I, the Buddha, teach you the Buddha-essence. O Bhiksus! Do not be afraid, as the mother calls her son and lets him have milk, Bhiksus, you also should identify (yourself with the infant). The Buddha-essence is not

nonexistence. You should understand that in the past I taught all phenomena as voidness in the Prajnaparamita teachings and that it was meant merely to teach the non-existence (of phenomena) in (their true) nature {Rang-bZhin Med-Pa). Otherwise, by meditating on the voidness of nothing, the bodies and wisdoms of the Buddha will not be developed, since results follow causes.

The voidness is the voidness of conceptualizations (sPros-Pa) of perceiving phenomena from the very moment of their appearance as one or many (gChig Du-Ma), and it is the voidness in their own essence (Ngo-Bos sTong-Pa), like a reflection in a mirror. But it doesn’t mean that ultimately there will be nothing and that there was and is nothing in the past and present but just illusory appearances .The Prajnaparamita Hrdaya says:

Form is voidness, Voidness is form, Form is not other than voidness, Voidness is also not other than form.

Likewise feeling, perception, compositional factors and consciousnesses are void....

Uttaratantra says:

In this Buddha-essence there is nothing to abandon, There is nothing to maintain.

If you view the perfection (nature) properly,

And if you realize it, that is liberation.

The (Buddha-)essence is voidness of the characteristics Of adventitious (defilements) with discriminations,

But it is not voidness of the supreme attributes (of Buddhahood),

Which have the character of differentiations....

The two bodies of the Buddhas are present primordially and the obscurations (in them) are dispelled by the two accumulations, but they (the accumulations and bodies) are not the cause and result of a creator and creation. Otherwise the ultimate body and enjoyment body become composite, and therefore they will become transitory. Concerning the changelessness of the ultimate body the MadhyamakävatcLra (MDA 57a) says:

The peaceful (pacified of conceptualization) body is clear as a wish-fulfilling gem,

As a wish-fulfilling gem it doesn’t conceptualize (anything). It is always present until all beings are liberated.

It appears for (Bodhisattvas') who are free from conceptualizations....

One should understand the meaning of no-self, voidness, and non-duality and so forth as follows: The Arya-mahäparinirväna sütra says: I teach you that the totally pure nature of the Buddha, the secret essence of the Thus-gone (Tathagata^ i.e., the Buddha) is unchanging and inexhaustible

(Mi-’Pho-Ba). But if I say that it does exist, it is not correct for learned and wise people to cling to it (its existence). If I say that

it does not exist, then I am not speaking the truth, and uncultivated people would propagate nihilism and would not know the secret essence of the Thus-gone (i.e., Buddha-essence). If I talk about suffering, they won’t know of the existence of the blissful nature of the body. Foolish people take the body

to be like an unfired clay pot, thinking, “All bodies are impermanent.” Wise people make distinctions, and they do not say that all are impermanent by all means. Why? Because in one’s body is present the seed, the Buddha nature. Foolish people apprehend that the attributes of the Buddha are no-self. The view

wise people is that the term no-self is purely a conventional expression and that it is “untrue.” By understanding thus they won’t have any doubts (about

the Buddha-essence). If I say that the Buddha-essence is voidness (sTong-Pa\ when foolish people hear it, they will develop the view of nihilism or of non-

existence. Wise people will determine that the Buddha-essence is unchanging and inexhaustible. If I say that liberation is like an apparition (Jlaya), foolish people perceive liberation as the teachings of Mara (the devil). The wise discern that among men, like a lion (among animals), the Thus-gone alone

is eternal, present, changeless, and inexhaustible. If I say that because of unenlightenment (Ma-Rig-Pa) the compositional factors (’Dw-Byed) arise, foolish people by hearing it distinguish a duality between enlightenment and unenlightenment. Wise and learned people realize the non-duality (gNyis-Med)

(of enlightenment and unenlightenment); and what is nondual, that is perfect.... If I say that phenomenal exis-tents have no self and even the Buddha-essence has no self, foolish people perceive the duality (of self and no-self). Wise and learned people realize that they are naturally nondual. Both self and no-self in their nature do not exist as dual. All the fully enlightened Buddhas praised the meaning of the Buddha-essence as inconceivable, inmmeasurable, and endless, and I also discoursed elaborately on its virtues in the sutras.


There are two signs of the awakening of the lineages (Rigs Sad-Paf. The first is the awakening of the natural lineage, the ultimate body. The Madhyamakavatara™^ says:

Even at the time that one is an ordinary person, by hearing of voidness

Great joy is generated in one again and again.

Tears of joy moisten one’s eyes.

The hairs rise from the pores of the body. That is because In one is the seed of wisdom of the Buddha.

One is a potential vessel for receiving the teachings on it (voidness).

So one should be given the (teachings on) supreme absolute truth.

The second is the awakening of the lineage of phenomenal (qualities) (Ch’os-Chari) (of developed lineage), the form bodies. The Mahayanasutralamkara says:

(Even) before entering (into the training) for having compassion,

Devotion, patience, and

Devoting oneself properly to virtues

Are said to be the definite signs of (possessing) the lineage.


Concerning the virtues of the awakening of the lineage, the Mahayanasutralamkara says:

After a long time, even if one has to take rebirth in an inferior migration (because of past karmas'), One will be liberated quickly.

(Even in the inferior migrations one) will experience little suffering

And will develop revulsion and help to mature other beings.

After the lineage has been awakened, even if one has to take rebirth in inferior migrations, one will be liberated as quickly as the touch of a silken ball. There will be little suffering, in one will arise strong revulsion, and one will help to ripen other living beings (into the right path). If beings did not possess such a lineage, they would have no revulsion from suffering, and they would have no wish for renouncing samsara and attaining nirvana, and

it would be impossible for the wish for liberation to arise in them. So developing compassion toward other suffering people without being taught by anyone, and developing revulsion by experiencing suffering, and so on, occur because of the power of possessing the “beginningless virtuous ultimate nature” (i.e., the Buddha-essence). Uttaratantra says:

If there were no Buddha-nature,

There would be no revulsion from suffering; One would not have the wish for nirvana, and One would not have aspirations for it nor would one seek for it.

To recognize suffering and happiness and the virtues and faults of samsara and nirvana

Is a result of possessing the lineage.

For if one did not have the lineage, one would not have these (faculties).


Even though everyone possesses the lineage of that nature, they wander in samsara. Why is that so? The causes of beings wandering in samsara are that they do not realize the presence (of the Buddha-essence in themselves) and they apprehend self without reason; and the conditions are successive emotional defilements, (influences of) of evil friends, poverty and external control. The Mahayanasutralarnkdra says:

The experiences of emotional defilements, the force of evil friends,

Poverty, and external control-

in brief these are the four faults (obscuring) the lineage Which you should understand.

Od-Rim says:

Not realizing the luminous primordial wisdom,

Perceiving mind as “I” and being attached to the selfhood (of it),

Perceiving objects as “others” and apprehending the selfhood (of them),

Because of these, beings are wandering in samsara

And experiencing varieties of happiness and suffering.


The primordial Mind is luminosity, voidness, clarity, and self-arisen wisdom. Its essence (Ngo-Bo') is voidness like space, its nature (Rang-bZhiri) is clarity like the sun and moon, its radiance (mDangs') of compassion is ceaseless arising like the surface of a stainless mirror. It is the Buddha-essence,

the nature of the ultimate body, enjoyment body, and manifested body, and it is free from falling into the partiality of samsara and nirvana. (Anyhow,) in that state, the delusions develop (as follows, because of not realizing the spontaneously arisen awareness wisdom as it is and the appearances as its

manifestative power:) (The aspect of) void essence ([[Ngo-Bo]) opens (or provides) the door (or opportunity) of arising; from (the aspect of) clear nature appear the five spontaneously arisen lights as objects (by not realizing the lights as the power of awareness wisdom); and (the aspect of) compassionate awareness wisdom arises as the analytic cognition. The Guhyagarbhamâyajàlatantra says: “Wonderful! From the Buddha-essence beings are deluded by concepts and karma.”


ii5b/4At the time (of distraction into delusions), the aspect of one’s not realizing the wisdom (which dwells in) oneself is called innate unenlightenment (Lhan-Chig sKyes-Pa’i Ma-Rig-Pa). The aspect of perceiving self-percepts as others is called imaginative unenlightenment (Kun-Nas brTags-Pa’i Ma-Rig-Pd).

By not realizing that (the delusions have) arisen from the natural state, and by clinging to the apprehended selfhood (bDag-’Dziri) (of the percepts) as objects, beings are deluded by them as the external world and internal beings having individual bodies (created by) the maturation (of their karma') and habituations, and minds with the five poisons....

The root (of delusion) is unenlightenment. (Prajnâpàramita)-sancayagàthà says: ‘All beings of lesser, middle, and excellent (intellect) arise from unenlightenment. Thus said the Buddha.”

Concerning apprehending duality, the condition of delusion, ÇPrajnâpâramità-)astasâhasrikâ says: “By apprehending “I” and “my” beings are wandering in samsara.”


Sentient Beiugs are wandering in samsara through the twelve (links in the chain of interdependent causation). From the two unenlightenments arise the formation (of one’s life process) in samsara, and from this arise successively becoming, name and form, and so on. Then, after the completion of the body, starting from the stages of “aquatic creative” (Mer-Mer-Po) to birth, (they experience) contact, feeling, the six sense entrances, and old age and death, and they wander in samsara.


if y0U think that it is not correct that the wandering (in samsara) occurs from the Buddha-essence, the primordial state which does not exist as samsara, it is wrong. Even clear, unpolluted, and unhindered water becomes ice, hard as stone, because of the winter wind. Likewise, because of the arising of apprehended and appréhender, from the primordial state delusory appearances appear in various forms as being solid. Dohâkosa-nàma-caryâgiti says:

By being blown and stirred by the wind, Even soft water becomes (hard) like stone.

Stirred by thoughts, the non-existent but delusory forms Become very firm and solid.

In the Mind is present the state of ultimate body, which is primordially pure essence (Ngo-Bo), called the ultimate universal ground of union, with the attributes of form bodies, Buddha-fields, and wisdoms. But when one is distracted (JKhrul) from the Buddha-essence, those attributes (of Buddhahood) will

be obscured because of the deluded unenlightenment of (seeing) them as apprehended and apprehender, thereby sowing the seed of various delusory habits from beginningless time in the universal ground of habits. Thereafter, depending on the strength (of various habits), beings will experience the happy and

inferior realms, and so on. While beings are wandering in samsara as in a dream, they apprehend (the perceptions as) “I” and “self,” become involved in hatred and desire and the rest, the five poisons, and accumulate karma and habits. They become deluded without any reason and indulge in various types of

attachment (perceiving them) as real, and they wander continuously in the round of delusory appearances, day and night without cessation. But the continuity (of wandering in samsara) has no basis. So (although) it seems that they are distracted from liberation (the Buddha-essence), they are wandering

with happiness and sufferings like the delusion of a dream. For example, when a prince wanders through the streets, suffering from the loss of his princely state, although he naturally possesses the excellent wealth inherited by birth in the royal lineage, he might be suffering temporarily.... Likewise, at the very moment when one is wandering aimlessly in samsara, the Buddha-essence is present in living beings.


The Mind, the wisdom of the Buddhas, which is the naturally pure and immaculate essence (Ngo-Bo), is present primordially. Through the manifestative aspect of the luminous nature of the mind (the Buddha-essence), the attributes of the form-bodies of the Buddha have been spontaneously accomplished. This

has been explained by nine examples (as given earlier in this section). The aspect of voidness (of the luminous mind) is the attributes of the ultimate body, which has been explained by the example of space in all the tantras and sutras. The inseparability (of appearances and voidness) is the “virtues of

the beginningless ultimate nature” of all phenomena. Although it is called the “naturally present lineage” because it is changeless, and it (the lineage) is also called the “developed lineage” because it manifests the development of virtues by the purification of defilements, its root is the luminous self-

awareness wisdom itself. When, by accomplishing the two accumulations, one awakens the two lineages, the obscurations of the two lineages are dispelled and their virtues become capable of manifesting, and finally one obtains the two bodies with their virtues. The six perfections are included in the two accumulations, as are also the stages of “development” (bsKyed-Rim) and “perfection” (rDzogs-Rim).... The three empowerments (dBang), the vase (Bum-Pa), secret (gSang-Ba), and wisdom (Shes-Rab) empowerments, are for perfecting the “development stage.” So they belong to the accumulation of merits, which

includes the visualization of the mandalas of deities, and so on, all the (spiritual trainings) associated with conceptualization. The precious verbal empowerment (Tshig-dBang Rin-Po-Ch’e) is for perfecting the “perfection stage.” So it belongs to the accumulation of wisdom, which includes all the

contemplations on luminescence and all the (trainings) associated with freedom from conceptualization. By undergoing training in these (two accumulations), one purifies the obscurations of the lineages, and from the womb of obscuration the Buddhahood which abide in oneself arises like the sun from the midst of clouds.


The ten virtuous deeds and (contemplations of) absorptions ([[Sam-gTan], of the form realms) and (the contemplations of) the formless realms belong to merit-making virtues (and not liberative virtues). But if a person is able to apply the mind of enlightenment through skillful means and wisdom, then the ten virtuous deeds and the absorptions (of the form realm) and (the contemplations of) the formless realm, and so forth, will become liberative virtues.

The Middle Prajriàpàramitâ says:

O Subhuti! When one develops the excellent mind of enlightenment, even the ten virtuous deeds, the four absorptions (of the form realm) and the four (contemplations of) the formless realm, the practices of an ordinary person, will become (the training associated with) liberative virtues. So, it will become the cause of omniscience....


if yOU think that since the merit-making virtues cause wandering in samsara, the liberative virtues, too, might cause samsara, (the answer is) no. Training in understanding the nonreality of karma leads one to liberation, and this has been explained by examples. It is a method to attain liberation from samsara but not to generate it. Because of great compassion, even if one remains in samsara for the protection (of others), one will not be defiled by the faults of samsara because of one’s realization that all phenomena are unborn, and because of one’s not falling into the bias of peace (or nirvana for oneself) because of skill of great compassion. The Abhisamayâlamkâra says: “Because of realization one does not remain in samsara, because of compassion one does not remain in peace (for oneself).”


(There are one main and three subordinate effects:) (a) Maturation Effect: (The liberative virtues) will never be exhausted, unlike the merit-making virtues. For the time being one will experience happiness in the human and godsrealms and finally one will attain enlightenment.

The {Prajnapamita astasahasrika says:

O Venerable Sariputra! Because of such root-virtues, after taking birth in realms of gods and human beings, they (those who perfected the two accumulations) attain supreme enlightenment. Why? Because the ten virtuous deeds, four absorptions, four contemplations of the formless realms and six perfections, which were generated with the supreme mind of enlightenment, will never be exhausted mid-way (until the attainment of the goal).

(b) Effect of Compatibility:

The Dasa Kusala Nirdesa-sutra says: One will keep endeavoring in the ten virtuous deeds and the effects of virtues will keep increasing. They will have long lives, great prosperity, harmonious spouses, no opponents, no one slandering them, they will be pleasant for all to see, their words respectable, having charming speech for all to hear, contented minds, affection for each other, and right view.

(c) The [[effects of Dominance]:

(As the effect of) refraining from killing, one will take rebirth in an excellent and pleasant land, refraining from taking what is not given, one will take rebirth in a land with nutritious and tasty food and drink and effective medicines, refraining from adultery, one

will take rebirth in a clean land with scented medicinal trees, refraining from lying, one will take rebirth in a land where there is no deception and danger from enemies, robbers and so forth, refraining from divisive speech, one will take rebirth in a land with few sharp pebbles and thorns, where people will be living harmoniously, refraining from harsh words one will take

rebirth in a land where the seasons will be regular and the crops and fruit will ripen in time, refraining from senseless speech, one will take rebirh in a smooth land ornamented with lakes and ponds, refraining from covetousness, one will take rebirth in a land where one will witness the best harvests, fruit

and flowers, refraining from ill will, one will take rebirth in a land with many good-tasting medicinal herbs and fruits, and refraining from wrong view, one will take rebirth in a land of great resources of crops and gems, prosperity of protection and strength....

(d) The Cumulative Effect: The Lalitavistara says:

One will become eager for virtues, will increase the accumulation of merits, and

Will possess the accumulation of excellent enlightenment.


Although karma and the defilements do not exist in their true nature, their appearance is ceaseless .Karma and the defilements are rooted in unenlightenment, they arise through the circumstantial conditions of objects, and are related to the cause, the three poisons. The Arya-sadharma smrtyupasthana sutra) says:

The basis of karma is unenlightenment because if one knows (or is enlightened), one will not be influenced by karma. Karma produces various (creations) like a painter. Its circumstantial condition is the conceptualizing of the objects. Karma acts in various manners like a monkey, and it remains in the

samsaric ocean like a fish. It accumulates various types of habits like a householder, and appears without (even) existing like an apparition. Karma follows beings like a shadow. It does not alternate like suffering and happiness.Karma is difficult to reverse, like the flow of a river, and it dictates the (experiences) of happiness and suffering like a king. Karma is vast like space and (the effects) are not interchangeable as the masses of blue lotus (S. utpala) and white water-lily (S. kumudd) (are not).


Even if one searches for karma and defilements in the inner sphere (sense-faculties, etc.) and in external phenomena by thought and analysis, they can never be found.

The Bodhicaryavatara says:

The defilements exist neither in objects, sense-faculties, in between, nor

In any other place. So where do they abide and harm all beings?

It is like an apparition, so one should try to understand (how to) free the heart of fear (of them).

Although karma does not exist in its true nature, in the dreamlike relative truth the virtuous and non-virtuous deeds create happiness and suffering separately.


Some foolish and arrogant people who do not know the (various) meanings of the Dharma say, “There is no karma and no effects of karma. In suchness there is nothing. It is like space;” and they abandon virtuous deeds and indulge in evil deeds. They say, “Beings are self-appearance like a dream. They do not exist as an external factor. So even killing is not an evil deed, since they are like a piece of wood.” Those are nihilists and not followers of the Dharma. The Subahu-sutra says,

Some say, “There is no karma and no effect of karma. The (karma theory) is taught (by the Buddha) to lead the simple-minded people,” and they five with hosts of non-virtuous deeds. You should know that they are not followers of this Dharma but are boasting. They are based on the path of atheists and are deceived by maras (devils).


Some say (from Root Text, SN):

Cause and effect, compassion and merits

Are the Dharma for ordinary people, and it will not lead to enlightenment.

O great Yogis\ You should meditate upon

The ultimate meaning, effortless as space.

These kinds of statements are

The views of the utmost nihilism.

They have entered the path of the most inferior. It is astonishing to expect the result while abandoning the cause.


is (your meditation) like space? If it is, then there is no use in meditating upon it since it has already been established (as space). If it is not, then even if one meditates upon it, it is useless, since one cannot create anything that is not there as space, which is empty and changeless. So what is

the use of it? If you say that it is for attaining liberation, freedom from defilements, you have represented suchness as the result of a cause. Now do not say that there is no cause and result. If you attain liberation by meditating upon non-existence (Chi-Yang Med-Pa}, then even the existentialists

(Tshu-Rol mDzes-Pa) will achieve liberation for the same reason. Because of that Doha says: “The Archer (Saraha} said: for space-minded people there is no liberation at all.”


Enlightenment is achieved through the apparition-like dual accumulations, which appear but do not exist in (their true) nature.

The Bhadramayakara-pariprccha sutra says:

By acquiring the apparition-like accumulation, One attains apparition-like enlightenment.

For the sake of apparition-like beings

(One) performs apparition-like services.

4. Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existence

Longchen Rabjam explains the philosophical views of common Mahayana as well as of Dzogpa Chenpo and how to realize them in the tenth chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC Vol-II). The view of the ultimate nature of all phenomenal existents is unborn and non-existent in its true nature from the beginning, and the innate primordial wisdom is the essential nature of all.


aspects (of training), starting from the entry (into the path of training) up to its perfecting, are for the purpose of learning the nature. The nature is unborn and it transcends the four extremes.

Attachment to external objects will be abandoned by realizing them as (the projections of) one’s mind, and so forth, or as the deities and their mansions. (Then) by realizing that the view (of phenomena being projections of the mind itself) is unborn, the antidote itself (becomes) nonexistent. So the nature of phenomena is unborn.


Nature (gNas-Lugs)

(The nature of) all phenomena is emptiness and selflessness. But by not realizing it, because of apprehending “I” and “my,” beings are deluded in the dream-like samsara and they are experiencing varieties of happiness and suffering. So one should realize the non-existent nature of (phenomena).

Refutation of the Assertion That the (Phenomenal) Appearances Are Mind

Although forms appear to the mind, the (objective) appearances are not mind.... When the reflection of your face appears in a mirror, it appears as the face looks, because the clear surface of the mirror is capable of making the reflection appear and the face has the potential of appearing or of projecting

the reflection. At that time, the reflection of the face is not the face, nor is there any other face than the face which imprinted it. Likewise, various kinds (of phenomena) are appearing in the deluded mind because of the interdependent origination of the causes and conditions of delusion. The various

objective appearances, such as mountains, are not mind. Also there is nothing in the mind which truly exists, but (merely) appearances (created by the) delusory habituations of the mind. So they are the forms of delusory appearances. They are wrong appearances, just as a person who has “hairy vision” will see hair before his eyes....

Some (scholars) inquire: “What are the appearances of earth and stone and so on if they are neither external (objects) nor internal (senses)?” Response: I say—“You who think that all (phenomena) exist in the duality of (either) appréhender or apprehended are pigs!” Anyhow, it is said (in the scriptures) that all phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana are non-existent as external, internal, or in between, from the very time of their appearance, as (illustrated by) the eight examples of illusion....

From those appearances (of the objects in the mind), which are non-existent, arise the delusions of the apprehenders and the apprehended. Here, the apprehended means the thought arisen at the first instant (of encountering the appearances),through the apprehended objects. So it is the mind itself arisen as the apprehended.

Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existents 263 ing (thought) which arises after (the thought of the apprehended) and it arises from the mind (Sems). In sPyan-Ras-gZigs brTul-Zhugs it is said:

The apprehended arises from the mind which apprehends (the appearances) as the objects,

The appréhender arises from the mind which analyzes it (the apprehended objects).

Here, some foolish and arrogant people boast: “The apprehended is the appearances, such as mountains, and the appréhender is one’s senses.” Herdsmen! Enough of your inverted thoughts! If that is so, do the objects appear for a Noble [[[Realized]] ] One, who has renounced apprehender and apprehended? If they

appear, then the apprehender and the apprehended would appear (for them), as you have accepted that the object is the apprehended and the senses are the apprehender and that they (the objects) are appearing (for the Realized Ones). If the objects do not appear for him (the Realized One),then there are

numerous sources (in scriptures to refute it), saying, for example: “the appearances for the Noble Ones are like Maya” “the mountains seen by the Arhats of Smvakas” and “Appearing as the objects (the relative truth) of the knowledge of the all-knowing Buddha....”

The appearing objects [[[percept]] or things that appear] (sNang-Yul) are not mind (Sems), because the objects remain, even when the person himself is not there. The objects won’t move when the person moves elsewhere; and the (objects) possess various colors, and so on. If the objects are the mind itself,

then they should change as he changes. They should be present if he is present and if he is not, they shouldn’t be. As mind has no color and design, neither should the objects have them. The presence and absence of appearance are the projections of the mind. So the mere appearances can be classified as the mind. But boasting that the objects of appearance are the mind is a grave folly.

Phenomena Are Like Illusions

The reflections appear in a mirror without the face passing into the mirror, nor do the reflections occur separately from the face. Likewise, it should be understood that from the very moment that all phenomena appear in the mind, they exist neither as the mind nor as anything other than the mind, as illustrated by the eight illusory examples.

Non-Inherent Existence of Mind

All phenomena seem true while they are not analyzed. But if you investigate the external appearances, reducing them to (partless) atoms, they (will be found to be) non-existent in their nature; so the objects of the grasping are inconceivable. (If you analyze) the subject, the mind, there is no aspect of a moment of inner apprehender, so its essence is beyond apprehending, and the mind of the apprehender is inconceivable (Mi-dMigs). They are non-dual, free from elaborations, and beyond subject and object of expression.

Illustrations of Non-Existence (in True) Nature

Phenomena appear while they do not exist.... They are unborn from the very moment of their birth, like the watermoon (reflection of the moon in water) and the water in a mirage.

(The Ignorance) Which Is to Be Purified

For example, when a patient with phlegm (Bad-Kan) has “hairy visions,” he should receive treatment. Likewise, (the eyes of) all living beings are covered, from beginningless time, with the cataract (Ling-Tog) of ignorance and the concepts of “self’ and “of self.” Hence, they are not only not seeing

as it is the luminous Mind, the Buddha-essence which is present in themselves, but they see the appearances of external objects, such as mountains and rocks, and the internal passionate thoughts generated by emotional defilements like “hairy visions.” They do not exist from the very moment of their appearance, but they function like tricks to fool infants....

Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existence

Since the Aryas [the Realized Ones] see (phenomena) as nonexistent in their (true) nature, they realize them perfectly in accordance with the nature of the (Buddha-) essence and the non-existence of the true nature.


To Learn the Middle Way, Free from Extremes For dispelling the cataract of ignorance, the pure wisdom is the discriminative awareness wisdom. When one is observing the nature of phenomena through (discriminative wisdom), one attains liberation by means of the emptiness (openness) of seeing the karma, emotional defilements with their traces, appearing without truly existing in the manner of apparitions (sPrul-Pa) and so on....

The non-existence of separate relative and absolute truth is the indivisible truth. The suchness of the middle view is pure as the very essence of the non-existence of things (Ngos-Po Med-Pa) from primordial time. By learning this, one attains Nirvana, which is free from the categories of etemalism and nihilism and of Samsara and Nirvana. That is called the meaning of the Natural Great Perfection (Rang-bZhin rDzogs-Pa Ch’en-Po), which transcends actions and efforts.

Cutting the Root of the (Apprehending) Mind 70b/2The appearances themselves do not bind (you to the delusions of Samsara ) because if you do not attach by clinging to the appearances, they will not defile you, since there is no connection. The bondage is the attachment, and it is important to abandon that attachment....

Even if you renounced attachment to the appearances of form, sound, smell, taste, and touch by investigating their nonexistence and impurity in (their true) nature, the mind which becomes attached has itself not been liberated. If a stone is thrown at a dog, the dog chases the stone and does not catch the

thrower of the stone. That kind of (Dharma) training will not bring liberation from the emotional defilements. If a stone is thrown at a lion, the lion kills the thrower. Similarly, the

root of all the emotional defilements, such as anger and attachment, is the mind. So one should ponder inwardly and pacify (the mind) through the wisdom of (the realization of) non-existence in (the true) nature.

The Mind Which Is Projected at {the Objects of) the Six Consciousnesses Is Not Real

When your mind watches your mind, realizing that the essence of the mind is nowhere recognizable is the realization of its nature.... This nature transcends all concepts, thoughts, and elaborations.... This nature has no basis and root (of existence).

Mind Is Unfabricated

(Mind) seems to be projecting {’Ch’ar-Ba)^ but it is not an entity since it does not develop or decline during the three times. From the very moment of its arising, the past (of the mind) has ceased and its future has not yet arisen. In its present, there are no separate aspects of rising, dwelling, and cessation, and it doesn’t exist (even) if you search for it down to temporally indivisible moments. So the mind exists neither as the perceiver nor the perceived. Therefore, one should remain natural.

Mind Is Momentary

Whatever kind of thought arises in the mind, if you search for it, it will not be found, because (mind) itself is the searcher. The reason that when it is searched for by itself it will not be found is that they (searcher and searched) are not two. If the mind is perfectly investigated, not only (will it be seen that) the mind itself does not exist, but all the concepts will be pacified.

Mind Is Primordially Pure and Has No Birth

The Mind Sems-Nyid) is called emptiness as it is naturally pure and doesn’t have basis and root. (In the mind) the mode of the arising of a variety (of things) is ceaseless, and it is called appearance. Even if one investigates, it is free from the extremes of eternalism as it has no substance and

character, and it is free from the extremes of nihilism as the aspect of just awareness does not cease. There is no third aspect of “both” or “neither.” So it is beyond expression but merely can be called “the natural purity,” since it transcends recognition as “this is it.” It is the wisdom unstained by

extremes .... It has aspects such as being eternal, because it is free from change, it is free from the nets of reverse concepts, and it is enlightened. {In the Mind) There is Nothing to Be Abandoned When the mind is examined with many kinds of investigation it is proven to be non-existent in its

(true) nature; likewise it is non-existent while it is not being investigated. So the mind is non-existent. (In scriptures) It has been taught that one should remain in the state of non-continuity of analysis, recognition, and thoughts, as when the hungry Brahmans and elephants are satisfied with food, without renunciation or acceptance and expectations or doubts.


It Will Not Be Realized by a Person Who Has Pride 3People who comprehend only the words of the theories will not understand the pure meaning of it “as it is.” Those people (logicians) who are stewing the concepts of calculating “the property of the subject (Phyogs-Ch’os)” “forward pervasion” and “reverse

pervasion” (rJes-Su ’Gro-lDogf and whether the reasoning has been applied to “similar classes” (mThun-Phyogs) or to “dissimilar classes” {Mi-mThun Phyogs) and so on, fan the fuel of emotional defilements with the bellows of perverted (views), ignite the huge fire of manifold suffering, and bum their minds and

those of others. Their pride is equal to a mountain.... (The teachings on the nature) are not like those (so-called) teachings in the form of elaborate nets of imagination (Kunblags) which have been multiplied into thousands by those peopie. The nature of the mind and of phenomena is primordially pure. Therefore, there is nothing to be established or rejected....

All phenomena are in their nature non-dual and pure. If you realize the insight of the very essence (Ngo-Bo-Nyid) which is non-existent in its real nature (Rang-bZhin Gyis Med-Pa), then you realize the natural state of (how things are) present (gShis-Kyi gNas-Lugs). If you realize the mind, free from goings

or comings, then there is no place where the emotional defilements are arising and ceasing. Thereby, you realize that the antidotes and the (defilements) which are to be abandoned are non-existent as two, and they will (spontaneously) be perfected in their own (natural) place....

(The attainment) of liberation by realizing the essential point does not rely on recognition of the objects. (It is as) when you are having a dream, if you recognize the object and perceiver itself (as a dream), you will at once spontaneously be awakened (from the dream). Although other (yanas) assert that

liberation will be achieved by renouncing the objects, one will not be bound by the mere appearances of the mind and the objects (Yul Dang Ch’os-Su sNang-Ba\ but will be bound if one attaches (Zhen-Pa) to them. So it is taught (in scriptures) that one should renounce apprehension and attachment, lilopa said:

Appearances do not bind but attachments do. So, Naropa, cut off the attachments....” Mere appearance is not the entity to be rejected or accepted. So one should not apprehend and attach (to the objects). Except at the beginning, when one

realizes the mind as unborn essence, one does not make intellectual investigations all the time (about its being unborn). Because even if one analyzes, there is nothing more to realize than one has already, and it will (only) distract one with conceptualization.

(Mind) Will Not Be Realized through Theoretical Distinctions The real meaning of the nature, the Mind, is freedom from concepts and expressions. So it won’t be understood by conceptual tenets and expressions. It neither exists nor is non-

Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existents 269 existent and it is neither the extremes nor middle. So, in it there is nothing to be designated as tenets. It is non-dimensional like the nature of space, and has not fallen into any biased assertion that “this is the system of it....”

There are no words and letters because the (true) meaning of phenomena is beyond (the object of) mental conceptions and concepts, which cause delusions.... So it should be known that all phenomena are peaceful, natural, pure, and that they transcend all the characteristics of conceptualizations.

Example to Illustrate That the Basis Is Non-Existent and

It Will Not Be Realized by Investigation

What is the purpose of arguing about the meaning of the nature which is free from (the concept of) center and extremes? It is like arguing about whether the color of the lotus in the sky is yellow.

Instructions on How Intellectually Created Meditation Vitiates (the Mind)

Through the elaborate (training of) the development and perfection stages, the nature which is spontaneously present from primordial time will not be realized but will be deviated from, and the nature which is beyond rejections and acceptances will not be seen. So one has to reach (La-bZa-Ba) the great perfection of spontaneously present equality.... In nature (gShis) there is no path in which to be trained.


The Perfection of the Nature Which Is (Changeless) Equal to Space

The Mind (Sems-Nyid) is enlightened from the origin and there is nothing new to be purified. So there is no need of clinging to rejecting and acquiring.... Since there is no apprehended and apprehender of either external or internal (aspects), there is no apprehending.... As there is not a single aspect which can be pointed out, saying, “this is it,” the attachment is uprooted.

When One Realizes, One Perfects (the Goal)

Totally through Confidence When one realizes (the nature), one will attain confidence and will perfect realization totally in the (changeless) nature of space.... In the state of one’s changeless mind, whatever joy or distress and happiness or suffering arise, at that very moment (of arising), if one

does not apprehend it, it will be liberated by itself. So there are no other antidotes. It is instant liberation, as it has no earlier and later aspects. Perfection (of the State), Free from the Watcher and the To Be Watched

watching whatever arises, the watcher loses (itself) in its own place. By searching where it has gone, not only will it be found nowhere or in any

direction, but the searcher itself will dissolve into non-conceptuality. Thereby, both the senses which do the searching and the rejections and acceptances of the objects of the search disappear without a trace. Absence of any thing to be recognized is my (Longchen Rab-jam’s) Mind, which is like space.

The Perfection without Dwelling Place by Reaching the Basis At that time, having spontaneously accomplished (for) one’s Mind the vision which is indivisible from space, one has secured the state of the Ultimate Body, which is present in oneself.... Whatever arises (in one’s mind, if) one has

attained the realization of liberation into the basis, like clouds clearing in the sky, the Mind will be unified with the ultimate sphere (dByings) and the naturally liberated wisdom of whatever arises. Therefore, there is no place or dwelling to which the Mind will return from the natural state. Since it is

the perfection of the dissolution of phenomena, it is freedom from the adventitious negating and accepting senses and (freedom) from the narrow path of grasping (things) as real and of characteristics. Now the perfection of the ultimate nature, freedom from goings and comings, has been achieved. Then where to go?

Nowhere. The yogi who has reached that kind of state has transcended the objects of delusion, and no one will return to the samsáric cities, because he has reached the space-like basis. Therefore, when my (Long Chen Pa’s) Mind has attained the (ultimate) sphere, the apprehending thoughts are purified into the

basis of the primordial state and my three doors are liberated without efforts. How can other people see in what state of (realization) I am? Even if I speak, those less fortunate people do not see it “as it is.” This is the occasion of having confidence in the (attainment of absolute) meaning.


This is the time when I have no aspirations for other (teachings), since I have total confidence in my (realized) nature. Other yogis who have been liberated are, because of their realizations, as I (Longchen Rabjani) am. Now I do not have any more doubts to clear (through other sources), as there is

no one who has more to teach than I have already realized.... There are people who, in the past, through the levels and sequences of excellent views, meditations, and activities, and by relying on the higher and lower stages and paths like steps, have gained their intellects and the experiences of the

phases of development of the higher and lower training (yogas), but have now lost them all because they have lost the root-basis of the mind. Now, for me (Longchen Rabjani) there is no objective (gTad-So) or goal to aim for. However things appear, like a drunk, I have no apprehension. Although things appear,

like an infant, I do not identify (Ngos-gZung) them. For me all the activities arise as equalness, naturalness, openess, and aimlessness, and they are sameness because of transcending apprehension. It is said in the Doha, “The wish-fulfilling gem-like realization of the learned ones who have dissolved the delusions is wonderful....”

By the arising of whatever arises as the ultimate nature (Ch’os-Nyid), one attains liberation from Karma (actions) and the compounds, because one has cleansed the delusions into the basis

and perfected the state (dGongs-Pa) which has no object, like space.... Whatever one does, since (now) action has been liberated as having no aim (gTad-Med), it is naturally absence of grasping. So there is neither liberation nor bondage.... When one reaches such a stage, that is liberation by the transference of the blessings of the Lama’s realization dGongs-Pa) .... At the time (when the realization is perfected), one sings the innate absolute song of the self-arisen wisdom Mind. You should know that this (teaching, which is) the realization of the essential point, the great freedom from falling

into partialities, and (from labelling) whether it is the nature or not, is illuminated (discoursed upon) by the arising of thousands of Immaculate Rays of Light (Dri Med A’od-Zer) for intelligent seekers of liberation, and that he (Longchen Rabjam) has gone to the state of great blissful Samantabhadra.


Reaching the Great Perfection

(i) The object of appearances is emptiness. he reflections arising in a mirror are identical to the clarity of the mirror’s face. Actually these are not forms distinct from the brightness of the mirror. Likewise, all phenomena do not exist separately from emptiness.

(ii) The mind which discriminates (the appearances') is emptiness. When one is enjoying the appearances which are nonexistent:

Watch the mind which distinguishes the appearances, The mind is like sky, free from rejecting and accepting. In the sky, although the clouds gather and disappear, The display of the sky is non-dual and pure. Likewise, the nature is unstained, primordial Buddha, Uncreated and spontaneously accomplished nature.

The watcher mind is liberated at the (arising of the) objects and the forms of the objective appearances are cleansed. It is the perfection of the three times into the nature of space as

Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existents the mind has been liberated at (the arising of) the objects. For example, when the clouds in the sky disappear, they dissolve into themselves and become invisible without going anywhere but the sky.... Always, all phenomena first arise from the unborn sphere, then dwell in it, and finally are liberated in it. Whatever senses arise, first they arise from the state of emptiness, the Mind, at present they dwell in it, and finally they will cease in it.

(iii) The objects and the mind are non-dual and emptiness. 85b/6The appearing object [[[percept]]] (sNang-Ba’i Yul) and the apprehending senses [[[Wikipedia:perceiver|perceiver]]] (’Dzin-Byed Kyi Shes-Pa) in actuality appear like a dream but do not exist as two. So they should be understood as free from abandoning and acquiring or

rejecting and accepting.... Therefore, by realizing whatever appears as empty of true (existents), like water in a mirage, one should train in the aimless mind (Bio gZa’-gTad Dang Bral-Ba), perceiving all phenomena as the same as reflections.

(iv) Uncertainty of the objects and the aimlessness of the mind. 86a/4As the appearances are (manifest in) various (forms) and are not certain in any (form), the mind which apprehends them is also aimless and (it attains its) liberation in the sole impartiality, the Natural Great Perfection.... Reason

(rGyu-mTshan): One should understand that all phenomena have no distinction of good or bad for one to accept or reject, since they are in fivefold equality,

(i) All phenomena are equal, for their past has ceased without returning,

(ii) They are equal, for their future has not yet been born, so they are not present,

(iii) For the present they are equal in appearing for an unexamining mind, and if they are examined, the means of recognizing their identities will not be found....

(iv) The time is equal in being emptiness, since the three times do not exist as times, for they are totally unrelated ('Brel..Med), (v) They are equal in being unborn and not existing anywhere since they have arisen from, are dwelling in, and cease in the unborn state.

(vi) The mind is changeless. Whatever appears are delusory traces, like the arising of reflections in a mirror.... All phenomena, the perishable container (world) and its dependent, the perishable contained (beings), are appearing like a dream, because of one’s experiences of the traces of the

deluded mind, and they are not established from (the very moment of) their appearing. Hence, one has to confirm that the appearances are delusions of the mind, and the mind which grasps the appearances is emptiness, like space.... Space is changeless .... The meaning of that changelessness is peace and nirvana from primordial time, and it is the nature of Samantabhadra.

Completion of All in the Great Marvelous (Nature)

(i) The appearances and emptiness are sameness from primordial time. All phenomena are completed in the primordial, infinite, marvelous Great Perfection.... All phenomena transcend the elaborations of single or plural and they are nonduality of emptiness and appearances. So there is no falling into partiality, as their meaning is as the nature of space.... Space is sameness in its meaning, in the same way that the appearances (of all phenomena

are) the same (mNyam-Pa) (in being) like a reflection in a mirror. The appearances (of all are) the same (in being) like (the reflections which ) do not have a real form. They are the same in (having) just the capacity to act for the deluded mind, as both a form and its reflections have the capacity to

create for the eye-consciousness the sense of apprehending the forms. They are the same in their falseness as, in the nature of nothingness, the delusory appearances appear, like the visions produced by eating datura. They are the same in their presence like the apparition (sPrul-Ba) of a cow. They are the

same in their non-presence as the water in a mirage. They are the same in transcending the extremes as (having a nature) like the sphere of the vastness of space. They are the same from primordial time, in the sphere (dBy-ings) of ultimate nature (Ch’os-Nyid), which transcends rejecting and dividing and is beyond examples. It is emptiness from primordial time.

(ii) All the assertions of the intellect are empty of entity. 88b/1The theories of aggregates and constituents (Phung Khams) and so Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existents 275 on are the assertions of the intellect (Blos-bTags), and as those (things) are asserted by the intellect,

they do not exist as things (Ch’os); they are emptiness of entity. All the attributions of names do not exist either externally or internally in relation to those things. So they are adventitious (Gio-Bur) and nonexistent. The attributions of specific characteristics to things are also pictures of the mind.

Although people consider that the object of attribution is like the fire (igniting) from fuel, it is the form of delusory appearance from habituation, like a fire in a dream, and it does not exist in its nature ([[[Shis']]). So all the phenomena which appear for deluded (mind) are appearances of mere attributions.

The objects (of the aspect of appearance) from their very moment of appearance, are the same in being only false, but (in their true nature) there is no duality, neither truth nor falsehood, in them. If the appearances of the objects and the senses which apprehend them are analyzed, since they do not stain

each other, there is actually no relation between them.If the objects and the subjects are analyzed, they are like space; there is no object related to and subject relating, so in reality there is no relation. Not only is there no relation (between the perceiver and perceived objects), but also the things

which are designated as general and specific by our intellects do not exist with their specific characteristics (Rang-mTshari), because they are equal in that no improvement or decline is made by designating them as general or specific. This analysis shows that the meanings (subjects) of expressions are

unrelated and that there is nothing to grasp the duality of grasped and grasper. So all the apprehensions by ignorance are delusions. (For example,) in the period of infancy (in one’s mind) there are no assertions of theories and divisions, but later the experience of assertions develops, and it is an obscuration which arises by learning the wrong theories.

The Middle Length Prajnaparamita (Him Bar-Ba) says: “Subhuti! All phenomena are mere indications and assertions. Whatever is mere indication and assertion, that is adventitious and empty of entity.”

(iii) The mind has not been transferred and the objects have not arisen. In a mirror, when the reflection of a face appears, it appears without the face and its reflection becoming two or the reflection being transferred Phos-Pa') from the face to the object. Likewise, various objects of the sense-

faculties appear for the six individual consciousnesses. At the time (that the objects appear to the mind), the mind does not transfer to the object because it is the forms of the object that are appearing to the sense-faculties. For example, the appearance of the face in the mirror is not that the face has been transferred to the mirror, but that the reflection or its

form is appearing in the mirror. So (beings) are deluded into cyclic existence (the world) because of apprehending the forms with their intellects when they appear. If (we) analyze the meaning further, it is not established that the mind has not been transferred (to the objects) but that the forms have

arisen to it; because (firstly,) the mind, to which the objects have arisen, itself does not exist externally, internally, or in between, and so the apprehender of the form does not exist. (Secondly,) if (we) analyze the form itself, its entity (Ngo-Bo) is non-existence, so that which arises is not established. Therefore, it is correct that the appearances are established with neither object nor subject.

In the Mulamadhyamakakarika:

Whatever arises by depending on others,

Is temporal, neither itself

Nor other than it.

Therefore, it is not nothing or eternal.

(iv) Mind and objects are naturally liberated since they do not exist naturally. All (the phenomena) which appear in various (forms) are the same in not existing in (their true) nature. They are like the various dreams which are the same as the state of sleep. The intellects in which the appearances

seem to be arising are the same in the state of unrecognizable being. They are like the waves which are the same as the nature of water. The mind and the appearances do not exist as two and they are the same in the ultimate nature. Similarly, shadowy (visions) and the eye-sense which apprehends them are

Philosophical View of Phenomenal Existents 277 the same in being delusions. There is nothing to analyze for anything. It is like the garden in the sky, which is beyond analysis. So (the objects and subjects) are (the same) in the nature of space.

(v) Whoever realizes the natural liberation of whatever arises is a learned one. ^^The rivers flowing in the four directions are the same in the ocean. Likewise,samsara and nirvana are the same in that they are the states of mind.... All the changes of the four elements are not (taking place) outside of

(the sphere of) space. Likewise, whatever experiences of view, meditation, activities, and effects arise, they are the same in the innate nature. ... The arisings of rejecting and accepting thoughts in the mind are the same in emptiness because they haven’t moved away from the innate wisdom. The waves are

the same in (being) water. Likewise, whatever arises is the same in the unborn (nature). (That is to say) that the elaborations of the mind are (the same) in the state of Mind, and that the Mind is the state which is primordially free from projecting and withdrawing .... The dissolving of the thoughts into the basis is like water being poured into water.


(i) Instructions on the meaning of the freedom from accepting and rejecting which has no apprehending and appréhender. 91a/3(All phenomena) arise as the play of “as-it-is” (suchness, the absolute truth), which is pure in its essence (Ngo-Bo). So, contemplate upon the non-dual great bliss, transcending activities, efforts, recollection, and thoughts.

(ii) Absence of grasping is the natural great apprehension. When contemplating on it, .. .on whatever (object) one negates or affirms, at that (very) time, the natural awareness arises free from grasping and the Great Perfection will spontaneously be accomplished.


5. Meditation on the Meaning of the View

For meditation, having realized the view free from extremes, one contemplates on it to purify the defiled emotions and to perfect the paths and stages in order to reach the ultimate goal. Longchenpa summarizes the meditation in three categories of approach to meditation for the three intellectual levels of trainees in the eleventh chapter of Shingta Chenpo (SC Vol-II).


After having ascertained (the meditation) by (realizing the) view, it is necessary to contemplate in the meditative state. Otherwise, one will not achieve liberation from the hosts of emotional defilements and will not be able to perfect the stages and paths. So it is certain that one should practice meditation. (The meditation) is to contemplate in the natural state, which is naturally pure like space, by the means of freedom from conceptualizations, doubts, and expectations....

(First, one) should study (the path), then ponder upon it, and after that one should enter into the practice on it, as it is necessary to generate the essential meaning in oneself.


Meditation for People of High Intellect

(i) People of most gifted intellect attain liberation upon realization. Fortunate people of most gifted intellect,who have accumulated merits in the past, attain liberation merely upon realizing the natural state of the Mind, the space-like meaning, which transcends meditation and non-meditation, due to the circumstances (of the blessings) of the Lama. They remain naturally in the state of the yoga of the stream of the Mind, all the time, with no need of meditation with effort.

(ii) For a totally realized person, there is no meditation to be praticed. When a person attains the totally realized state (Klong-Gyur)... because he has been liberated from attachment to (the concept of) true (existence) (JbDen-Zheri), there will be no antidotes on which to meditate. So the

realized state is meditationless. Having remained in the continuity of the absence of attachment to the true (existence), it is a (meditative) play of indefinite (character) with no intervals, transcending dimensions, and it is enjoyment of the Buddha-field of self liberated Samantabhadra.... (In this

meditation) there are no signs and levels, as there are (in training on) materialistic and characteristic meditations.... (In it) there are no places of deviation, as it has gone nowhere. There are no obscurations of the watcher, as it has not been watched....

The occurrence of obscurations and errors: when the meditator watches the Mind, which is imperceptible by watching, that becomes itself the obscuration. Proceeding to (where there is) no place to go becomes itself the error.... By first having the certainty that one’s Mind is spontaneously the real Buddha

from primordial time, later one realizes that there is no need of aspiration for Buddhahood from any other source. At that very time one dwells in Buddhahood.

(iii) For people of mediocre and lower intellect it is necessary to meditate. For people who are of mediocre and lower intellect, it is necessary to meditate with great diligence, because

Meditation on the Meaning of the View 283 they have not been liberated from apprehension of self(W)ag-’Dziri), the cause of samsara. The distinction

between meditation and no-meditation is made according to whether or not (the concept of) apprehender and apprehended (subject and object) in the mind has been dissolved.

(iv) Rightness of doing meditation. 95a/2As long as the arisings (in one’s mind) are not self-arisen and self-liberated, all thoughts are ordinary concepts.... So they lead to rebirths in the inferior realms. ... By meditating to pacify those concepts, it is certain that wisdom, the liberation of phenomena, will arise later.

(v) Need of uniting tranquillity and insight. 95a/6(Root, SN:) “Tranquillity subdues the emotional defilements, insight uproots the emotional defilements....”

There are two aspects of the identities, (the sameness and separate identities of tranquillity and insight). For sameness: The aspect of abiding is the tranquillity and the aspect of clarity is the insight. The union of tranquillity and insight, the realization of clarity and emptiness free from extremes, liberates one from samsara....

For separate identity: etymologically, the mind concentrated on the meaning of what has been learned is tranquillity and the realization of the meaning is insight. According to the meaning, being able through meditation to concentrate (the mind) one-pointedly at the beginning is tranquillity, and then realizing that (contemplation) as absence of inherent existence (Rang-bZhin Med-Pa) is insight.

(vi) The reason (why the meditation is necessary). 96a/5For people of high intellect, just as on a golden island, even if you search, you won’t find earth or stone, whatever arises is liberated into the ultimate nature (CITos-Nyid). So the antidotes have been purified into the ultimate sphere (dByings)> and there is no longer a need for contemplative periods....

For people of mediocre intellect: after having realized the view, by contemplating without moving, in the state of birth-lessness and clarity which is free from torpor and elation, like an unpolluted pond, (one) unites tranquillity and insight and dissolves the concepts into the ultimate sphere, and space-like realization arises....

For people of lesser intellect, one should meditate and tame the monkey-like wild mind, which does not abide even for a while, by means of one-pointed tranquillity. When one becomes able to concentrate, then by meditating, as the antidote, upon the discriminative insight such as emptiness, the absence of inherent existence in phenomenal existence, and by meditating that all appearances are illusions, one realizes the meaning of birthlessness.


Method of Meditation

(i) Advice to contemplate on no-thought. When there are strong waves in water no reflections appear, although the water has the potential of having reflection. Likewise, mind spontaneously possesses the qualities such as foreknowledge, but because of the speed of the waves of discursive thought,

the qualities do not manifest. So it is important to contemplate one-pointedly.... If you contemplate, then the disturbing waves of concepts will disappear and the light of the luminous Mind-lamp will naturally shine forth. So contemplate without disturbing the mind-water.

(ii) Body postures and the way of contemplation. 97a/60ne should contemplate in the three unmoving states free from extremes....

(a) For a motionless body there are sevenfold physical posture: legs crossed, hands in the contemplative gesture, spine straight, tongue touching the (upper) palate, breathing slowly, eyes looking at the (level of the) tip of the nose and the neck slightly bent.

(b) For motionless sense-faculties: eyes (keep fixed) without moving and do not stop the sense-faculties of ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Whatever forms, sounds, smells, tastes,touch, and thought are encountered, neither block the door (of their arising) nor follow after them. If those sense faculties are blocked, then the five (enlightened) eyes, such as the divine eyes and the six fore knowledges of the mind, which are the virtues of the purified aspect of the sense faculties, will not be attained. If the thoughts are followed, the continuous chain of thoughts will never cease and (one will)

remain indistinguishable from an ordinary person. Therefore, one should contemplate in the motionless pond of the sense-faculties with ceaseless arisings

of various appearing objects (sNang-Yut), like reflections of the stars and planets. If the various objects are not apprehended by thoughts, then not only will the (objects of appearance) not harm (one’s contemplation), but their qualities will arise. It is called “the primordial wisdom with no thoughts

(rNam-Par Mi-rTogs-Pa’i Ye-Shes), as the (forms) appear but there are no concepts. If there is no (appearance of) forms, then there is no intellect (that sees) them, and then there is no question of being with thoughts or without thoughts, and there won’t be “the primordial wisdom with no concept.”

Therefore, when the objects appear to the senses, by remaining in no-thought, the master (Lama) of discriminative awareness attains directly the cessation of goings and comings of the thoughts, and that is designated as “the cessation of breathing.” Although breathing through mouth and nose continues,

thoughts will not waver. The cessation of conceptualization is designated as the death of thoughts. When there is no conceptualization, there is no need of meditation as its antidote and there is no need of wisdom, the yogim of freedom from conceptualizations, which is the antidote of conceptualizations....

When one perfects that essential point (of cessation of breathing), it is called the (state of) the natural or unfabricated six consciousnesses. Since the objects are appearing to the senses, the senses do not conceive the objects, and although the “senses fall to the objects” or the objects become clear (in the senses), not only do the senses not affect the contemplation, the luminous vision, but they help it to progress....

(c) For a motionless mind: the contemplation (of the mind) in the freedom from extremes occurs spontaneously when the body and sense-faculties are motionless. It is the contemplation unmoving from the state of clear and luminous mind free from projections and withdrawals....

At that time, if you are distracted by conceptions to the substances of the external appearing objects (sNang-Ba’i Yul) and to the insubstantials of the internal mind, then a tie is created which obscures the Buddha-essence, the innate Mind. So one should not have the slightest apprehension and attachment

to samsara and nirvana as bad or good, and even to the contemplation. Thus, having no concepts of either substances or unsubstantial, there will be no thoughts of any other things. At that time, all the movements of thought dissolve into the Mind, the basis (Sems-Nyid gZhi). Then, when the mind becomes

changeless and stable, one attains liberation from samsara and will not have attachment to oneself and others and apprehension of duality. That is the attainment of the excellent Ultimate Body, transcendent to elaborations, conceptions, and expressions.

(iii) Way of developing virtues. " When contemplating (in that way), all the conceptualizations will be freed.... Then as the conceptions are transcended in the ultimate nature (Ch’os-Nyid) and all the thoughts are dissolved into the (ultimate) sphere, there arises the Luminous Great Perfection (A’od-gSal rDzogs-Pa Ch’en-Po), the realization of one-tasteness as the Dharmakaya, which transcends the signs and significances of bliss, clarity and no-thought with their experiences (Nyams).

(iv) Realization of the ultimate nature. At the time of arising of the self-arisen innate primordial wisdom in the mind of the yogi, .. .he sees completely the inseparable identity of emptiness and the appearances as the eight illusory examples, and the ultimate nature of phenomena, the unborn

nature.... The Mind arises as the play of non-duality of samsara and nirvana, the primordial wisdom of transcending existence and non-existence, and the changelessness of clarity.... At that time, the primordial wisdom which is non-dual in respect to the objects to be known and the knower intellect arises in the equalness (state).

(v) It is the direct cause of the primordial wisdom of the noble ones. After immense progress in the experiences of the primordial wisdom of non-conceptualization, as the result of deeds, the high attainments such as the Path of Insight will be achieved spontaneously. Method of Contemplation

(i) Contemplation in (the state of) unwaveringness and nonconceptualization. In the sky-like Mind, by letting the thoughts of the mental events remain naturally (Rang-Sor bZhag), they dissolve (Dengs-Pa) like clouds disappearing (in the sky). One should contemplate in the state of that view, the nature of the example (the sky), without wavering.

(ii) Contemplation in clearness and clarity without pollutions. Contemplate with clarity in the state which is unpolluted by concepts of apprehender and apprehended and in clarity without torpor and in calmness without elation, like a peaceful ocean, that remains where it is.

(iii) Contemplation without partiality, like space. Contemplate in the state of the Mind, which is emptiness from its origin like space, without projections and withdrawals of thoughts.

(iv) Contemplating naturally and effortlessly. 1 Contemplate on the mind in the state of changelessness like Mt. Meru, without (any concept of) preventing or defending and expectation or doubt.

(v) Contemplation of the objects of appearances without ceasing. in state of purity and clarity of mind, contemplate on the objects of appearances (which appear) before the senses, vividly without concepts of apprehending or wavering.

(vi) Contemplation in the originally liberated clarity and purity. 1 Contemplate in the vivid clarity and purity without torpor or elation.... Contemplating thus, one will realize the appearances as emptiness, like rainbow lights.

(vii) Contemplation in one-pointedness like an archer. Contemplate on the mind in the state of ultimate nature, nakedly and straight, without wavering, like aiming an arrow straight.

(viii) Contemplation in effortlessness and spontaneity. 1 (First) having confidence (in the realization of) the Ultimate Body in its own place by contemplating the mind naturally, later contemplate by relaxing in the state of freedom from expectations and doubts.... There is no need of very active

recollection, but of relaxing the three doors naturally and merely remaining,without wandering. Even if the (mind) is freely distracted, since it has folien into the ordinary state (of mind), contemplate naturally in the ordinary mind (Tha-Mal-Gyi Shes-Pa) without wavering.

(ix) Conclusion of the eight ways of contemplation. In those contemplations) there is no apprehended and appréhender, so they are the naturally pure contemplations. They are the union of tranquillity and insight. Although it is said that the aspect of their abiding in “what it is” is tranquillity and

the aspect of their clarity is insight, (actually) they are indivisible, and it is called the union. At that point, having no distinctions of either aspect, the concept of tranquillity subsides and the insight is no longer conceived as insight. It is the indivisible, the innate union.

The Progress of the Path in Seven Aspects

(i) The way of seeing the inexpressible (state) through eight contemplations. Explanation of the progress of the path through four levels of primordial wisdom as the result of contemplation. ... Having pacified the penetrations of the intellect into the state of Mind which transcends thoughts and expressions, the arising for the first time of the clear, bright and changeless primordial wisdom is

(1) the “manifesting primordial wisdom” (sNang-Ba’i Ye-Shes; i.e., the Path of Accumulations). It is the perfection of the luminous primordial wisdom.

(ii) Signs of attainment of the path of liberation. Having realized, (1) the luminousmanifesting primordial wisdom,” one has recognized the Mind, the innate wisdom. By having entered the path of liberation, the seed of enlightenment has been sown (in oneself).... When a person recognizes the

Mind, “the luminous ground primordial wisdom” (fVod-gSal gZhi’i Ye-Shes), the adventitious thoughts are liberated instantly and the son and mother luminescences are unified. Because all the activities have become solely virtues, he becomes free from attachment to various phenomena, the five external objects and the internal recollecting and aware mind of negating and affirming (thoughts). Through the state of self-clarity and emptiness mind, he enjoys the virtues of developing compassion toward all living beings without distinctions of distance and dimensions. He also inspires others to virtuous

(activities). He renounces distractions and entertainments and enjoys solitude in mountains and forests. Even in his dreams, there will be only pure, virtuous thoughts. Because his body, speech, and mind are highly trained, he develops the qualities of the “Path of Accumulation” and sees various luminous visions in his meditation cell.

(iii) Primordial wisdom of progress. When one has made great progress in the experiences through the previous meditation, and the obscurations to emptiness and clarity mind, “spontaneously accomplished primordial wisdomRang-Byung Gi Ye-Shes), have been reduced, wisdom, contemplation and

experiences become powerful. The external appearances will spontaneously be seen as dreams and illusions. The realization of (seeing) various phenomena as having the same taste will arise and remain in the space-like state. It is (2) the “primordial wisdom of progress” nCh’ed-Pa’i Ye-Shes, i.e., Path of Application).

(iv) The signs of attainment of heat. i(At that time,) as the realization is extraordinarily immaculate, one attains extraordinary signs of pliancy (Shin-sByang) of body and mind. Remaining day and night in the united extraordinary contemplation, one cannot possibly be separated from it. Because of

compassion one acts for the benefit of living beings and develops uncommon revulsion and definite emergence from samsara. Even in dreams, one sees phenomena as dreams and illusions and so on. There will be no worm inside the body nor lice and their eggs upon it. These are the attainments of the signs of the “Path of Application” sByor-Lam), and one soon reaches the “Path of Seeing {mThong-Lam).”

(v) The realized noble primordial wisdom. Having first seen the Mind, the uncontaminated Zag-Med) luminous primordial wisdom, one attains what is known as the (3) “realized primordial wisdomThob-Pa Zhes-Bya-Ba’i Ye-Shes). (At that time,) the hundred-petalled {’Dab-Ma) air which dwells in the cakras of the heart will be purified. The wisdom of clear essence {Khams Dangs-Ma) becomes highly luminous, and by radiating other cakras too, 1200 virtuous (aspect of) air and mental (events) will be stabilized and 1200 emotional airs will cease. Then (as a result) according to tantras, the

primordially present pure lands appear in (one’s) internal essence {Nang Gi Khams). According to Sutras, the external pure lands, such as the faces of hundreds of Buddhas, appear (before him). One will achieve a great many more pure and unobscured eyes and fore knowledges than the eyes and fore knowledges

of ordinary beings So-So’i sKye-Bo), which have obscurations and limitations of the stages. One has been liberated from the emotional defilements of imagination, the “objects of abandonment of the Path of SeeingmThong-Bas sPang-Bya), and has actualized primordial wisdom, the luminous vision.

(vi) By training in what has been realized, the primordial wisdom arises. To train in what has already been seen (in the path of insight) is the “path of meditationbsGom-Pa’i Lam). One attains lower, middle and higher (cycles of this path), and in each stage one achieves the previously mentioned

virtues manyfold and acts for the benefit of living beings. From the attainment of the first through the seventh stage, there will be concepts during the off-meditation periods and differences between meditation and off-meditation. In the three pure stages (eighth-tenth), as there are no direct mNgon-Gyur) thoughts, there is the unification (of meditation and off-meditation), and here everything is one taste in the very primordial wisdom.

(vii) Full perfection, the completion of the noble path. The primordial wisdom of the “meditation path” is called the “fully realized primordial wisdomNye-Bar Thob-Pa’i Ye-Shes).

Having meditated upon the eight noble paths, one has purified the defilements of the nine stages (of the meditation path). Generally, the virtues of the path and stages appear by relying on the proper veins, air, and essence. The accumulations of merits and primordial wisdom are generated through the perfections (of veins, air, and essence) and through the efforts of training in their perfection.

The Path for People of Lesser Intellect

(i) The stages of meditation.



First (the question) is how to find tranquillity.... One should contemplate in a place where there are no thorns (disturbances) of contemplation,

such as danger from people, entertainments, and noise, but where the mind will naturally be able to relax. Sit on a comfortable seat in the crossed-legged posture, cover the knees with the palms and visualize the three channels (in the body). While exhaling, think that one exhales through the white Roma

channel on the right (side of the body) and then the right nostril, and that all the sickness, harmful effects, and unvirtuous obscurations are cleared like smoke going out a chimney. While inhaling, think that the absorptions of the Buddhas, in the form of light have entered through the left nostril, the

red Kyangma (channel at the left side of the body) and then have emerged into the central channel. For a little while, hold the breath (directly) below the navel (by pushing the breath a bit) both downwards and upwards. Then slowly exhale as before, but hold in a little (of the remaining breath). During the

three spring months, the air is earth-air, and it is the time that phlegm develops. So, as its antidote, one should visualize it as air-of-air in green. During the three summer months, to dispel the heat-of-fire, visualize it as water-air in white. During the three autumn months, to dispel the movements of the bile, visualize it as earth-air in yellow. During the three

winter months, as the antidote of coldness-of-water, visualize it as fire-air in red. For the shape of the air, visualize the essence of the mind and air in the designs of a bow, triangle, circle, and square in the heart. (Visualize them) as having the same feeling. For the number (of breaths): count up to

seven cycles in the mind. A beginner should visualize the air in the form of a square and so forth, and while emitting it through the nostrils, it gradually grows bigger till it becomes the size of the three thousand world system, and so on. One should contemplate on it without one’s mind wavering.

When the elements are congested, it should be overcome by saying a forceful Ha! without holding in any breath. When bliss and devotion, and so forth, arise, one should hold in the breath (for a while). By practicing breathing for a few days and nights, the tranquillity of clear and radiant mind without

concepts will arise. At that time, as there will be no moment of gross air and there are no thoughts, the white and red moon and sun, the essence of the Roma and Kyangma channels, will become stable. In that (stability), there will not be (even a) subtle movement of air, because one remains in the state of no-thought in the central channel and thereby realizes the innate primordial wisdom.


After suppressing the gross thoughts, .. .one should train in the four boundless states of mind, such as loving-kindness, and in the two minds of enlightenment, which are aspirations and practice. The Bodhicaryavatara says: “Having pacified the thoughts, meditate on the Mind of Enlightenment.” Or

concentrate on the developing stage or on (objects such as) volumes and paintings of deities. The Samadhiraja-sutra says: “On the golden color of the image beautifying the world, whoever focuses his mind is a Bodhisattva who is in contemplation.” Briefly, a person who has not yet become experienced in the meditation of “no-thought” should contemplate on any virtuous objects without deviating to any other objects.


When there is no projection of thoughts as long as one doesn’t abandon the contemplation of concentrating on the object, mind and body are at ease, speech is lessened, words become gentle and the complexion becomes rich; then one has accomplished the one-pointed tranquillity.

(b) INSIGHT (Lhag-mThong)


Meditate on (perceiving phenomena as) non-existent from their origin but appearing like the eight illusory examples .... In their true meaning, all things, the world and beings, which are the impure perceptions of the deluded mind, and the triple gem, which are the pure perceptions, are non-existent

like a dream. But in the deluded mind they appear because of the accumulation of habituations. All appearances seem to be true, but they are false since they appear to the dualistic perceptions.... The Buddhas who have appeared to the deluded perceptions are false, as they have the nature of manifested

bodies like reflections of the moon in water, and as they are appearances (for ordinary people), while (the Buddhas themselves) do not descend from the spheres of the Ultimate Body and the Enjoyment Body. The pure nature of the Buddhas, however, which is present in the unexcelled pure sphere, is not false.

Because of deluded thoughts, it seems that one wanders in samsara during one life after another and experiences successive suffering and happiness, and that one goes through successive lives. But at that very moment (of wandering), according to the view of the unborn state of the Mind, there is no

distinction between wandering or not wandering in samsara. The dream-like appearances of delusion are non-existent at the very time of their appearing during the sleep of delusory habituations....

Briefly, the phenomena of appearance and imputation

are non-existent but appear like the eight examples of illusion. One should contemplate upon this with clarity but no apprehensions.


it is the meditation of (seeing all) as space without having any conceptualization even of the perception (of things) as illusions.... Even the (view of) “appearing but being unreal” (sNang-La bDen-Par Med-Pa is itself a (mere) assertion. In meaning, it (the nature) is not an object of

conceptualizations about whether it exists or not in its true nature. So one should contemplate on this meaning. By this practice, the thought of viewing external phenomena as true or as untrue like illusions will also be arrested. So, when one realizes the non-conceptualization of the objects of

apprehension, since the thought of apprehended, the aspect of the attachment (to the object also) does not exist, subsequently (Zhar-La) one realizes the nonexistence of the apprehender. Contemplate on the realization of the nature of non-existence of any entities and the nature of the transcending of concepts.

(ii) Analysis of contemplation.


the mind, when the chain of thoughts of liking and disliking, true, and false, and happiness and unhappiness arises, one should make efforts to examine it without wavering even for a moment: where did the thoughts come from at the beginning, where do they remain now, where do they go in the end, what are their color, design, and characteristics?


Perceiving the existence of the mind is a pollution by thoughts. Because in its (true) meaning it has no existence, (mind) has no cause of arising. So it is empty of the cause of arising. There is nothing which exists because nothing has been bom. So the presence (of the mind) is emptiness of entity. As (the mind) is not present, there is nothing to cease. So the cessation (of the mind) is empty of characteristics. (Mind) has no color, design, and there

is nothing to be shown or to find, even if one examines it and searches thoroughly outside, inside, or in between. This not finding (the mind) is a space-like state, clear, equal, free from designations and analysis, and detached from actor and acted upon. It is the vision of the nature of the Ultimate Body.


Like resting after exhaustion from carrying heavy loads, it is, by abandoning the past experiences of applying gross and subtle analyses, to be in total ease, like reaching the goal or the resting place when one has been totally exhausted. In accordance with this tradition, contemplate by remaining in

total ease through relaxation, in the state in which all appearances show clearly, fully and perfectly, free from any memories or thoughts and without the ceasing of the natural glow (mDangs) of awareness and bliss.... Generally, it is natural that if you meditate and concentrate the mind one-pointedly, the

mind projects. If you ease the mind, thinking “Go wherever you like to go,” it will remain as it is, like a camel.... When you let the mind go, saying, “Do not return even for a while,” even if it seems to have gone, it will return inwardly and remain as the self-dwelling emptiness. It is like a crow in a

boat.... While the mind is being projected to the objects such as forms, since the objects are unreal, the mind will not continue to rely on them even for a moment. The mind will return and remain in the emptiness free from bonds of analysis. For example, a crow flying from a boat in the ocean will not land on other objects but will come down on the boat itself.


By gaining experience in the significance of not finding the thought of attachment to “I” and “self’ by investigation, one realizes the non-existence of the appréhender “self of person” and thereby (one realizes) the

non-existence of the apprehender [[[subject]]]. One has already realized (in the previous lessons) the non-existence of the “self of phenomena,” since the apprehended (object) is non-existence in its essence. After realizing the two emptinesses of self, both the objects among which one takes samsaric birth

and the subject who takes birth are established as non-existent. The liberation of samsara as the non-existent in true nature (JKhor-Ba Rang-bZhin Med-Pa) is the attainment of the vision of nirvana, because samsara is nothing else than mind.... If one realizes thus, even if one could not attain liberation in this life, it is certain that one will do so in the next one.... It is like “the karma of definite effect,” by which, if one has committed a grave evil or a virtuous act, it is impossible that one will not experience its effects in the next life.


When the reflection of the moon appears in a pond, the water and the reflection of the moon are inseparable. Likewise, when (things) appear (before the mind) and when they are being apprehended (by mind), the mind is inseparable (from the appearances). It should be understood that the appearances (before the mind) are the apprehended (phenomena) (gZung-Ba) and not the appearing objects (¿Nang-YuT). The object of appearances and its emptiness are inseparable like water and the (reflection) of the moon in water.


By apprehending the non-existent object as self, one deludes (oneself) into samsara, just as by perceiving water in a dream as fearful, fear is further aggravated. The creations of the stabilized habits of delusory perceptions are non-established (nothing but delusions). T