Gö Lotsāwa on the Tsen Tradition of the Dharma Treatises of Maitreya

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Gö Lotsāwa on the Tsen Tradition of the Dharma Treatises of Maitreya

Roerich, George N., and Gendün Chöpel. "The 'Five Treatises of the Blessed Maitreya'." In The Blue Annals Parts I & II, 347–50. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2007.

The "Five Treatises of the Blessed Maitreya"

Though the great lo-tsā-ba bLo-ldan śes-rab and bTsan Kha-bo-che have heard (their exposition) from the same Sañjana (The text has Sajja-na/ ch. VI. folio 9b/), their methods of exposition of the basic texts show certain differences.

      Namely: According to the History of the school of bTsan (bTsan-lugs), the Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra (Theg-pa chen-po rgyud bla-ma'i bstan-bcos, Tg. Sems-tsam, No. 4024) and the Dharmadharmatāvibhaṅgakārikā (Chos daṅ chos-ñid rnam-par 'byed-pa'i tshig le'ur byas-pa, Tg. Sems-tsam, No. 4023) remained unknown to scholars. The Venerable Maitrī-pa saw once a shining light coming out from a crack in a stūpa, and having investigated it, discovered the two books (from inside the stūpa). He then offered prayers to the Venerable Ajita (Ma-pham, i. e. Maitreya) who appeared before him surrounded by clouds, and expounded the books to him. Maitrī-pa then preached the two books to Ānandakīrti. Disguised as a beggar this latter journeyed to Kāśmīra. Sañjana discovered that Ānandakīrti was a remarkable man, paid him homage and obtained from him the two books. He then prepared several copies of the books and offered them to the paṇḍita Jñānasrī and others. bTsan Kha-bo-che has been a disciple of Grwa-pa mNgon-śes (here mkhan-bu means a disciple ordained by Grwa-pa mNgon-śes). Before going to Kāśmīra, he requested his upādhyāya (Grwa-pa mNgon-śes) to perform an offering ceremony. The upādhyāya said to him : 'Till your return from Kāśmīra, I shall be responsible for your safety, and you will never get even a toothache!" bTsan Kha-bo-che was born in the Iron-Female-Hen year (lcags-mo-bya -I021 A.D.). At the age of 56 he proceeded to Kāśmīra, and said to Sañjana: "Now I have grown old! I cannot master many books. I wish to make the Doctrine of the Blessed Maitreya my death prayer ('chi-chos-byed-pa, to recite a religious text at death time). Pray Instruct me in it!"

      Sañjana entrusted him to the lo-tsā-ba gZu dGa'-ba'i rdo-rje who is said to have instructed (gdams-pa) bTsan Kha-bo-che. In those days there existed a text-book on the Uttaratantra commented upon by gZu, a translator named Pad-ma seṅ-ge explained it in conformity with the Commentary by bTsan. There appears also to have existed an extensive commentary on the Sūtrālaṃkāra (Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkārakārikā, Theg-pa chen-po mDo-sde'i rgyan zes-bya ba'i tshig le'ur byas-pa, Tg. Sems-tsam, No. 4020) which was written down by Pad-ma seṅ-ge at the time of his meeting with Sañjana. bTsan returned to Tibet before rNgog lo-tsā-ba. At various places he preached the Doctrine of Maitreya to kalyāṇa-mitras, who were in search of it, and great benefit arose. bTsan took up residence at Brag-rgya of Yar-stod, and taught the Doctrine (of Maitreya) to a kalyāṇa-mitra known by the name of lCaṅ-ra-ba. This latter preached the Doctrine to Dar-ma brtson-'grus of mDo-sde-sbug of Phyogs who composed an extensive commentary on the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra (mDo-sde rgyan). Copies of this book are found frequently. There exists also a commentary on the Uttaratantra, in which the name of the author is not mentioned, but which was (commonly) regarded to be a commentary belonging to the school of bTsan (Kba-bo-che), and in which precepts on practice (man-nag ñams-len) are added to the text of the exposition (i. e. the exposition of the text is made from the standpoint of meditative practice). There also exist several short treatises, such as the Ye-śes-kyi bzhag-sa ("Repository of Wisdom") and others containing precepts of the school of bTsan.

      I have not heard (people) saying that "this method was preserved by this kalyāṇa-mitra". Many learned men who had belonged to the spiritual lineage of rNgog lo-tsā-ba, had also composed commentaries on (the Uttaratantra). Now, though the great lo-tsā-ba and the teacher gTsaṅ-nag-pa have maintained that the so-called Tathāgatagarbha or the Essence of Buddhahood represented the Paramārtha-satya (Transcendental Truth), they asserted that the Paramārtha-satya could not be the object of even an approximate judgment (zhen-pa, adhyavasāya), to say nothing of it being a direct object of perception (determined by words and thought-construction, vikalpa. In Tibetan philosophic literature, apart of Logic, zhen-pa means approximation, approximative judgment). On the other hand the ācārya Phyā-pa asserted that the absolute negation (med-par dgag-pa) of the reality of external objects represented the paramārtha-satya which, according to him, was the object of an approximate judgment determined by words and thought-constructions. According to the followers of the school of bTsan: the pure nature of the Mind was the Essence of the Sugata, and therefore it was stated to be the fertile seed of Buddhahood. The Venerable Red-mda'-pa believed at first the Uttaratantra to be a Vijñānamātra work, and even composed a commentary from the standpoint of the followers of the Vijñānamātra school. Later, when he became a hermit, he used to sing: "It is impossible to differentiate between the presence and absence of this our Mind. The Buddha having perceived that it penetrated all living beings, as in the example of a subterranean treasure, or the womb of a pregnant woman, had proclaimed all living beings to be possessed of the Essence of the Sugata." In general, it seems to be true that the Venerable Maitrī-pa had rediscovered these two basic texts of the Maitreya Doctrine, for the Abhisamayālaṃkāra-āloka and other works contain numerous quotations from the Madhyāntavibhaṅga and the Sūtrālaṃkāra, but do not contain any quotations from these two later śāstras. The Kha-che paṇ-chen was also said to have imparted precepts of the "Five Treatises of Maitreya" on the Srin-po-ri. Now-a-days they are not extant. Though many had reproached the All-knowing Jo-mo naṅ pa for having erroneously admitted the Tathāgatagarbha to represent a material truth, numerous persons in dbUs and gTsaṅ who had studied assiduously the Uttaratantra, appear to have been instructed by him. The Uttaratantra and its commentary were first translated by the Master (Atīśa) and Nag-tsho. Then by rNgog, sPa-tshab lo-tsā-ba and the Yar-kluṅs lo-tsā-ba. Jo-nag lo-tsā-ba made a translation of the basic text only, It is also stated that Mar-pa Do-pa had translated all the "Five Treatises" of Maitreya (Mar-pa Do-pa Chos-kyi dbaṅ-phyug of Ya-'brog). The Chapter on the bTsan school of the Doctrine of Maitreya.