Verse I.28

From Buddha-Nature
Ratnagotravibhāga Root Verse I.28

Verse I.28 Variations

संबुद्धकायस्फरणात् तथताव्यतिभेदतः
गोत्रतश्च सदा सर्वे बुद्धगर्भाः शरीरिणः
saṃbuddhakāyaspharaṇāt tathatāvyatibhedataḥ
gotrataśca sadā sarve buddhagarbhāḥ śarīriṇaḥ
E. H. Johnston as input by the University of the West.[1]
རྫོགས་སངས་སྐུ་ནི་འཕྲོ་ཕྱིར་དང་། །
དེ་བཞིན་ཉིད་དབྱེར་མེད་ཕྱིར་དང་། །
རིགས་ཡོད་ཕྱིར་ན་ལུས་ཅན་ཀུན། །
རྟག་ཏུ་སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོ་ཅན། །
Since the perfect buddhakaya radiates,
Since suchness is undifferentiable,
And because of the disposition,
All beings always possess the buddha heart.
佛法身遍滿 真如無差別

皆實有佛性 是故說常有

(The Chinese translation collapses verses I:27 and I:28 into one verse. See Takasaki, page 197 note #2, for his speculation on this verse in the various languages.)
The Buddha's Body penetrates everywhere,
Reality is of undifferentiated nature,
And the Germ [of the Buddha] exists (in the living beings).
Therefore, all living beings are
Always possessed of the Matrix of the Buddha.
Takasaki, p. 197[3], from Sanskrit with reference to the Chinese.
Comme la sagesse des bouddhas imprègne la multitude des êtres,
Que sa nature immaculée est non duelle
Et que la filiation spirituelle des bouddhas est une métaphore du fruit,
Il est enseigné que tous les êtres sont porteurs
de la quintessence des bouddhas.

RGVV Commentary on Verse I.28

།དེ་ལ་དྲི་མ་{br}དང་བཅས་པའི་དེ་བཞིན་ཉིད་ཀྱི་དབང་དུ་མཛད་ནས་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ནི་དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་སྙིང་པོ་ཅན་ནོ་ཞེས་གསུངས་པ་གང་ཡིན་པ་དེ་དོན་གང་གི་ཡིན་ཞེ་ན། རྫོགས་སངས་སྐུ་ནི་འཕྲོ་ཕྱིར་དང་། །དེ་བཞིན་ཉིད་དབྱེར་མེད་ཕྱིར་དང་། །རིགས་ཡོད་ཕྱིར་ན་ལུས་ཅན་{br}ཀུན། །རྟག་ཏུ་སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོ་ཅན། །མདོར་བསྡུ་ན་དོན་རྣམ་པ་གསུམ་གྱིས་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ནི་རྟག་ཏུ་དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་སྙིང་པོ་ཅན་ནོ་ཞེས་བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱིས་གསུངས་ཏེ། སངས་རྒྱས་ཡེ་ཤེས་སེམས་ཅན་ཚོགས་ཞུགས་ཕྱིར། །རང་བཞིན་དྲི་མེད་{br}དེ་ནི་གཉིས་མེད་དེ། །སངས་རྒྱས་རིགས་ལ་དེ་འབྲས་ཉེར་བརྟགས་ཕྱིར། །འགྲོ་ཀུན་སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོ་ཅན་དུ་གསུངས། །དོན་དེ་རྣམ་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་དོན་གང་གིས་གསུང་རབ་ཐམས་ཅད་དུ་ཁྱད་པར་མེད་པར་བསྟན་པར་འགྱུར་བ་དེའི་དབང་དུ་བྱས་ཏེ་བཤད་པར་

བྱའོ། །འདི་ལྟ་སྟེ། སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ལ་དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྐུས་འཕྲོ་བའི་དོན་དང་། དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་དེ་བཞིན་ཉིད་རྣམ་པར་དབྱེར་མེད་པའི་དོན་དང་། དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་རིགས་ཡོད་པའི་དོན་གྱིས་སོ། །དོན་གྱི་གནས་གསུམ་པོ་{br}འདི་དག་ཀྱང་དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པའི་སྙིང་པོའི་མདོའི་རྗེས་སུ་འབྲངས་ཏེ་འོག་ནས་སྟོན་པར་འགྱུར་རོ།

Other English translations[edit]

Listed by date of publication [12]
Obermiller (1931) [13]
The Body of the Supreme Buddha is all-pervading,
The Absolute is (one) undifferentiated (Whole)
And the Germ (of Buddhahood) exists (in every living Being).
Therefore, for ever and anon, all that lives
Is endowed with the Essence of the Buddha.
Guenther (1959)[14]
Because of the permeation of Sambuddhakāya, of the
undifferentiatedness of Tathatā,
And of the existence of families, all sentient beings are constantly
endowed with Buddha-nature.
Takasaki (1966) [15]
The Buddha's Body penetrates everywhere,
Reality is of undifferentiated nature,
And the Germ [of the Buddha] exists (in the living beings).
Therefore, all living beings are
Always possessed of the Matrix of the Buddha.
Ruegg (1969) [16]
En raison de l'irradiation du Corps du Sambuddha, de l'indifferenciation de l'Ainsite et de la Lignee, tous les etres incarnes sont toujours (des) buddhagarbha.
Ruegg (1973) [17]
En raison de l'irradiation par le Corps du buddha parfait, de l'indifferenciation de l'Ainsite et de l'existence du gotra, tous les etres incarnes sont toujours pourvus du buddhagarbha.
Ahmad (1983) [18]
Because of the extension (sphara˚a) of the Awakened Body (of the Buddha); because of its interpenetration (vyatibheda) with Suchness; And because of its embryo, all embodied :beings are eternally the wombs of the Buddha.
Holmes (1985) [19]
The buddha-essence is ever-present in everyone because
the dharmakaya of perfect buddhahood pervades all,
the suchness is undifferentiated and they have the potential.
Thrangu Rinpoche and Erik Pema Kunsang (1988) [20]
The body of complete enlightenment is all-pervasive;
Suchness is undivided;
All beings possess the potential;
Therefore, all beings possess the buddha nature.
Guenther (1989) [21]
Because of the pulsation of the gestalt as an awakening process
(evolving like a dissipative structure) in its totality,
Because of (its) inseparability from Being-in-its-beingness, and
Because of (its) existence as a program, all embodied beings
Have within themselves forever this thrust to move in the direction of a total spiritual awakening.
Hookham (1991) [22]
Because the Perfect Buddhakaya radiates,
Because the Tathata is inseparable,
Because the Gotra is present,
All beings have the Essence (garbha) of Buddha.
Holmes (1999) [23]
The buddha-essence is ever-present in everyone because
the dharmakaya of perfect buddhahood pervades all,
suchness is without differences and
they have the potential.
Duckworth (2008) [24]
Because the body of the perfect Buddha is radiant,
Because thusness (de bzhin nyid) is indivisible,
Because of possessing heritage;
Therefore, all beings always possess the essential nature of Buddha.


Brunnhölzl (2014) [25]
Since the perfect buddhakaya radiates,
Since suchness is undifferentiable,
And because of the disposition,
All beings always possess the buddha heart.
Kano (2016) [26]
[It is] because the body of the Perfect Buddha (i.e. the dharmakāya) is all-pervading, because tathatā is inseparable (i.e. since it pervades everything), and because [the Buddha’s] gotra exists [in sentient beings that the Buddha taught] that all sentient beings always have Buddha-nature.
Wangchuk (2017) [27]
All sentient beings have the buddha-essence because
1) the buddha-body radiates [to all sentient beings],
2) the suchness [of a buddha and sentient beings] is indivisible, and
3) the buddha-nature exists [in all sentient beings]
Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron (2018) [28]
Because a perfect buddha's body is pervasive,
because suchness is without differentiation,
and because a [buddha] lineage exists, all embodied [beings]
are always in possession of a buddha essence.
Unlisted Translator on Rigpa Wiki [29]
Because the perfect buddha’s kaya is all-pervading,
Because reality is undifferentiated,
And because they possess the potential,
Beings always have the buddha nature.

Textual sources[edit]

Verse Location

A Note On Verse Order: See notes in Brunnhölzl, K. When the Clouds Part, page 1076. Some text versions have this verse as verse I.27 and either leave out the verse 27 we have here or put it after this verse as verse 28.

Note 1236 in Brunnhölzl, K. When the Clouds Part: In the Tibetan Editions of the Uttaratantra, this verse follows I.28, and some editions omit it altogether. JKC (50) notes this fact and says that it does belong to the text since Dölpopa, Karma Könshön (a student of the Third Karmapa), Rongtön, Gö Lotsāwa, and others quote and comment on it extensively:

སངས་རྒྱས་ཡེ་ཤེས་སེམས་ཅན་ཚོགས་ཞུགས་ཕྱིར། །
རང་བཞིན་དྲི་མེད་དེ་ནི་གཉིས་མེད་དེ། །
སངས་རྒྱས་རིགས་ལ་དེ་འབྲས་ཉེར་བརྟགས་ཕྱིར། །
འགྲོ་ཀུན་སངས་རྒྱས་སྙིང་པོ་ཅན་ཏུ་གསུངས། །27། །

Commentaries on this verse[edit]

Asaṅga
4th century
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 855.

Karl Brunnhölzl notes that neither the RGVV, nor Vairocanarakṣita’s Mahāyānottaratantraṭippaṇī comment specifically on the meaning of verses I.27 and I.28.



Sajjana
11th century
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 855.

Verse 8 of Sajjana’s Mahāyānottaratantraśāstropadeśa offers an interesting reformulation/gloss of the first two reasons. Line 8b “since the welfare of sentient beings depends on the victor” corresponds to the first reason (“since buddha wisdom enters into the multitudes of beings” in I.27a and “because the perfect buddhakāya radiates” in I.28a). It highlights the intrinsic affinity between the buddha natures of buddhas and sentient beings, which enables the former to benefit and awaken the latter. In this vein, an interlinear gloss on verse 11 explicitly relates the twofold dharmakāya—“the utterly stainless dharmadhātu and its natural outflow (teaching the principles of profundity and diversity)” in Uttaratantra I.145 (explained by RGVV as “consisting of the arising of [individually] corresponding [forms of] cognizance in other sentient beings to be guided”) to “the perfect buddhakāya radiates . . .” Line 8c “because suchness operates in accordance with the welfare [of beings]” corresponds to the second reason (“since its stainlessness is nondual by nature” in I.27b and “because suchness is undifferentiable” in I.28b). This line emphasizes the active nature of suchness when it is understood as buddha nature, which always engages in the welfare of sentient beings, be it in the form of external buddha activity or as the internal driving force for the path of ordinary beings and bodhisattvas to attain buddhahood.



Ratnākaraśānti
late-10th century ~ early-11th century
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 855-857.

      The second chapter of Ratnākaraśānti’s Sūtrasamuccayabhāṣya establishes that the teaching of there being only a single yāna ultimately is of definitive meaning. In this context, he says that the tathāgata heart is only temporarily obscured by adventitious stains and quotes a verse by the Buddha also found in RGVV, Nāgārjuna’s Dharmadhātustava, and Uttaratantra I.28. Ratnākaraśānti concludes that the tathāgata heart is the single disposition that serves as the basis for there being just a single yāna.

Since the dharmadhātu has the meaning of gotra, they are inseparable. Therefore, since all [beings] possess tathāgatagarbha, its fruition is just a single yāna. However, since it was taught as various yānas in the form of progressive means of realization and [since] this gotra does not appear due to [being obscured by] afflictions and so on, temporarily, [the Buddha] spoke of five gotras. For, he said:

Just as within stony debris
Pure gold does not appear,
And then appears through being purified,
The sugata is said [to appear] in the world.[30]

Also noble Nāgārjuna says [in his Dharmadhātustava]:

In a pregnant woman’s womb,
A child exists but is not seen.
Just so, dharmadhātu is not seen,
When it’s covered by afflictions.[31]

Likewise, noble Maitreya states [in his Uttaratantra]:

Because the illuminating dharmadhātu radiates,
There is no difference in suchness,
And the actuality of the disposition appears,
All [sentient beings] possess the sugata heart.[32]

Therefore, just as [described in] the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, though [tathāgatagarbha] is ensnared by afflictions, when the conditions for [its] awakening have formed, all [yānas] are simply a single yāna.[33]

      Note that Ratnākaraśānti’s version of Uttaratantra I.28 contains interesting variant readings, especially in lines a and c. Either Ratnākaraśānti paraphrased I.28 in this way himself (or quoted it so from memory) or he used a different manuscript of the Uttaratantra.[34]



Ngok Lotsāwa Loden Sherab
1059 ~ 1109
Excerpted from Kano, Buddha-Nature and Emptiness, 262-263.

RGV I.27-28 states:

[It is] because the Buddha’s wisdom (i.e. the dharmakāya) pervades [all] categories of sentient beings, because these [sentient beings’] immaculateness (i.e. tathatā) is by nature non-dual (i.e. is not different from the Buddha’s immaculateness), and because the fruit of that (i.e. Buddhahood) is termed, metaphorically, the Buddha’s gotra (i.e. potential to become a buddha), [that the Buddha] taught that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature.
[It is] because the body of the Perfect Buddha (i.e. the dharmakāya) is all-pervading, because tathatā is inseparable (i.e. since it pervades everything), and because [the Buddha’s] gotra exists [in sentient beings that the Buddha taught] that all sentient beings always have Buddha-nature.

The three notions dharmakāya, tathatā, and gotra, enumerated in the RGV as constitutive of the intrinsic nature (svabhāva) of Buddha-nature, are identified by rNgog as expressing, respectively, its resultant ( 'bras bu), intrinsic (rang bzhin), and causal (rgyu) aspects. All three are to be equated with emptiness. rNgog's commentary on the first states:

[The dharmakāya pervades all sentient beings], because the dharmakāya is emptiness and because emptiness, in turn, abides in [all] sentient beings. Therefore, it is taught [in the RGVV]: “[There are no] sentient beings who stand outside the dharmakāya of a tathāgata.”


Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 857-858.

Ngog Lotsāwa’s Synopsis of the “Uttaratantra[35] first elaborates on the example of the huge scroll the size of an entire trichiliocosm that is encapsulated in a single minute particle. Here, the buddha wisdom that exists in the mind streams of sentient beings is the dharmadhātu. This dharmadhātu is wisdom in the sense that the prajñā of buddhas knows, in a single moment, all phenomena to lack characteristics. Therefore, this prajñā is inseparable from what it knows. Thus, the ultimate, this very dharmadhātu, is the wisdom that is aware of this dharmadhātu. Since said dharmadhātu abides in all sentient beings in a complete manner, the example and its meaning are very much justified. When the obscurations have subsided, no characteristics whatsoever are seen, and this very nonseeing is the seeing of true reality. The wisdom of nothing to be seen is nothing but suchness itself. Therefore, it is in this sense justified (that dharmadhātu and wisdom are one).

      As for the intention of lines I.28ac, Ngog says that sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart because they (a) possess the fruitional, (b) the natural, and (c) the causal tathāgata heart. (a) The perfect buddhakāya is pure suchness, and its radiating refers to sentient beings’ being pervaded by it. It pervades them because it is suitable to be attained by all sentient beings. From this perspective, the “tathāgata” (in “tathāgata heart”) refers to the actual tathāgata, while it is only in a nominal sense that sentient beings possess the heart of this tathāgata. For those who have the fortune to attain this tathāgatahood are labeled as being pervaded by it. (b) In terms of suchness, both “tathāgata” and sentient beings who possess the tathāgata heart are taken to be the actual suchness. For even when suchness, which is naturally devoid of stains, is associated with adventitious obscurations, it is the nature of a buddha and it definitely abides in the mind streams of sentient beings. (c) In terms of the disposition, “tathāgata” is understood in a nominal sense because the causes for attaining the state of pure suchness—the latent tendencies of virtue that consist of the seeds of prajñā and compassion—are the causes of a tathāgata, whereas it is precisely the disposition that is “the heart of sentient beings.”



Marpa Dopa Chökyi Wangchuk
1042 ~ 1136
Parahitabhadra
11th Century
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 858-864.

CMW’s[36] explanation of I.28 starts by saying that the Uttaratantra is the treatise that determines the meaning of the sūtras of definitive meaning. Therefore, in order to determine the intended meaning of the statement in the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra that "All sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart," first, the comments on the intention of the scriptures of the Tathāgata about the basic element are explained in I.28. Next, CMW indicates that its comments on this verse are based on the purport of verses I.144/147–52/155, which match the dharmakāya, suchness, and the disposition with the nine examples. This is followed by the explanation of the actual words of I.28:

The basic element has three phases—the phase of its being pure, the phase of its being both pure and impure, and the phase of its being impure. The phrase "Since the perfect buddhakāya radiates" refers to the phase of its being pure. [In it,] "kāya" [means] the dharmakāya, which [actually] refers to all three kāyas. "Through what does one know that?" Maitreya himself says [below]:

The dharmakāya is to be known as twofold—
The utterly stainless dharmadhātu
And its natural outflow (teaching
The principles of profundity and diversity).[37]

"Radiates" [means] that these three kāyas pervade all sentient beings. "How do they pervade them?" In order to purify the basic element of sentient beings for as long as saṃsāra is not empty, with the dharmakāya’s functioning as the support, the sambhogakāya promotes the welfare [of sentient beings] through pervading the pure retinues who dwell on the bhūmis, and the three [kinds of] nirmāṇakāya perform the welfare [of sentient beings] through pervading the impure retinues. Therefore, the basis to be purified—the [tathāgata] heart or basic element—exists in [all] sentient beings. "Why?" If the basis to be purified—the basic element—did not exist [in sentient beings], their being pervaded by the three kāyas would be pointless. Having that in mind, [Maitreya] says, "All beings always possess the buddha heart."[38] Such is not only explained in the Uttaratantra alone, but the 'Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra' states:

Just as space is asserted to be always omnipresent,
This is held to be always omnipresent.
Just as space is omnipresent in the hosts of forms,
It is omnipresent in the hosts of sentient beings.[39]

The phrase, "since suchness is undifferentiable" refers to the phase of the basic element’s being both pure and impure—the naturally pure suchness of buddhas and sentient beings is without any difference. This is declared in the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra [as follows]:

Though it is without difference in everything,
Suchness having become pure
Is the Tathāgata. Therefore,
All beings possess its heart.[40]

[The phrase] "since the disposition exists" refers to the phase of the basic element’s being impure—since the disposition of a tathāgata exists in all sentient beings, it abides as what is suitable to give rise to the dharmakāya. Exactly this is explained [in the Uttaratantra] below:

It is held that the three buddhakāyas
Are obtained from these two dispositions—
The first kāya, by virtue of the first one,
And the latter two, by virtue of the second one.[41]

The following paragraph represents CMW’s comments on the nature of the basic element as explained in Uttaratantra I.30–31. However, since this paragraph again takes up the three reasons in I.28 and further elaborates on them through connecting them with I.30–31, it is presented here too.

In terms of the particular [characteristics of the nature of the basic element], during the phase of the basic element’s being pure, the dharmakāya radiates into all sentient beings, thus possessing the power to accomplish the goals that sentient beings think about. Therefore, it is similar to a precious gem. During the phase of the basic element’s being both pure and impure, the suchness of buddhas and sentient beings is undifferentiable. Therefore, it is similar to space. During the phase of the basic element’s being impure, the mahāyāna disposition exists in all sentient beings. Therefore, it is similar to water since it moistens the mind streams [of beings] by way of compassion. In terms of its general characteristic, in analogy with these three examples [of a jewel, space, and water] being pure by nature, their meaning refers to the basic element’s being pure by nature.[42]

Later,[43] CMW’s comments on I.144/147–52/155 explicitly correlate verses I.145/148–147/150 with line I.28a; verse I.148/151, with I.28b; and verses I.149/152–152/155, with I.28c. In particular, the dharmakāya consists of the actual stainless dharmakāya (suchness endowed with twofold purity) and its natural outflow—the two rūpakāyas. Due to explaining the mahāyāna dharma, the rūpakāyas serve as the concordant cause for others attaining the dharmakāya through studying, reflecting, and meditating on this dharma. Furthermore, since the rūpakāyas represent the result that is concordant with the cause that is the dharmakāya, the dharmakāya itself is also their concordant cause. In terms of ultimate reality, the rūpakāyas teach the profundity of emptiness to bodhisattvas (ultimately, this represents the sambhogakāya). In terms of seeming reality, they explain the diversity of the three yānas (ultimately, this represents the nirmāṇakāya).

      Suchness is compared to three attributes of gold—its being pure by nature, its color being changeless, and its being suitable to be made into ornaments (suggesting that, though suchness is undifferentiable in buddhas and sentient beings, it can eventually manifest as all kinds of precious qualities of realization and relinquishment).

      As for the disposition, verse I.149/152 is said to describe its essence in terms of the naturally abiding and the unfolding disposition. Just as a treasure exists since the beginning of the world and is not created by humans, the naturally abiding disposition exists since beginningless time and is not created by the efforts of people. Just as a tree grows through water, manure, and so on, the unfolding disposition represents the arising of proper mental engagement such as studying. Verses I.150/153–152/155 present the power or capacity of the disposition. Just as a precious statue is not produced now and all kinds of desired things arise if it is supplicated, the dharmakāya is unproduced by causes and conditions and is a treasure of qualities such as the powers. Just like a prince, the sambhogakāya enjoys the mahāyāna dharma like a kingdom. Just as a golden statue is not an actual body but an image of a body, the nirmāṇakāya arises as an image in samādhi.

      This is followed by a discussion of the ālaya and its relation to the disposition,[44] which is primarily based on the first chapter of the Mahāyānasaṃgraha and its commentary Vivṛtagūḍhārthapiṇḍavyākhyā. Being phrased throughout in classical Yogācāra diction, this section is a clear example of an early Tibetan commentary that based on the position of the Indian master Parahitabhadra, explicitly combines the Yogācāra teachings with those on buddha nature, which is exactly what later Tibetans such as the Third Karmapa and virtually all Shentongpas did in great detail. In particular, CMW quotes Parahitabhadra as saying that the ālaya and the disposition are the same—the naturally abiding ālaya’s being the same as the naturally abiding disposition and the adventitious ālaya’s being the same as the unfolding disposition. The ālaya is the foundation of both contaminated seeds and the uncontaminated seeds of the supramundane mind, which coexist like a mix of water and milk. However, the uncontaminated seeds do not exist substantially, are not able to produce manifest uncontaminated results yet, and are not the primary seeds in the ālaya, while the seeds of afflicted phenomena have the opposite characteristics. Therefore, the Mahāyānasaṃgraha refers to the ālaya as the support of afflicted phenomena alone. As for the coexistence of both uncontaminated and contaminated seeds in the naturally abiding disposition or ālaya, until one focuses on this ālaya through the remedial path, the seeds of afflicted phenomena exist in it as adventitious stains. However, once one focuses on this ālaya through the path, the adventitious stains become purified.

      Furthermore, CMW’s introduction[45] elaborates on "the three natures" that are used in the three reasons in I.28: (1) the stainless dharmakāya, (2) changeless suchness, and (3) the disposition endowed with qualities. The text also provides instructions on how to work with these three in meditation. First, CMW describes the stainless dharmakāya as follows:

The stainless dharmadhātu of one’s own mind, by its very essence beyond [ordinary states of] mind and inconceivable by thoughts, is the instruction beyond expression on the definitive meaning, that is, the profound that is of one taste. Though this mind—the nature of phenomena free from speech, thought, and expression—is expressed by all kinds of yānas [in different ways], regard it as the definitive meaning of the heart of the matter, luminous mind as such. There are three guiding instructions about this dharmakāya. First, the mind appearing as all kinds of thoughts is the means. This being free from identification is prajñā. Mind’s appearing but being without nature, lucid yet without clinging, is the nondual path. This is [how to] rest in the dharmakāya first. In between, if thoughts arise, their being examined by prajñā is the indication of profundity. In the end, letting them be as lucid wisdom in an uncontrived manner is the indication of guidance through means.

      Next, the text explains suchness’s not changing through thoughts in three parts:

(a) With regard to guidance through examples, as the example for [suchness’s] being changeless, consider the sky—no matter how much dust and smoke may arise [in it], the sky is not tainted. Thoughts are like this example. As the example for [suchness’s] being untainted, consider gold—gold is not tainted by a film and stains [on it], which are like thoughts. As the example for [suchness’s] being pure, consider water—if water is not muddied, [this resembles suchness’s] not being muddied by thoughts.

      (b) Guidance through the meaning is sixfold. (1) At the time of being a sentient being, the true nature of the mind—suchness—does not change into the stains in its essence, no matter which afflictions and thoughts may arise. If suchness became the stains of thoughts, one would not become a buddha. (2) At the time of being a buddha, [suchness] does not change into qualities—there is no enhancement in the essence of the dharmakāya, which is self-arisen wisdom. If there were, one would not become a buddha through the path. (3)–(4) The stainless true nature of the mind is not tainted by flaws at the time of being a sentient being, nor is it tainted by qualities at the time of being a buddha. [As the Uttaratantra says:]

There is nothing to be removed in this
And not the slightest to be added.[46]

[And:]

Similarly, with the treasure of jewels lodged within the mind,
Whose true nature is stainless and without anything to be added or to be removed,
Not being realized, all these beings continuously experience
The suffering of being destitute in many ways.[47]


(5) Sentient beings are the adventitious flaws of thoughts. Therefore, one familiarizes with them as being nonentities. (6) Buddhahood is one’s own mind’s being stainless of these adventitious stains of thoughts. [Thus,] one familiarizes with this luminosity of one’s own mind.

      (c) You may wonder, "How does one familiarize [with this]?" [One does so through] the three inconceivable [ways of] taking these very [guiding instructions] as the path. (1) At the time of being a sentient being, suchness is naturally pure and the essence of the mind is real as self-arisen wisdom. Through [mind’s] not recognizing its own face, the stains of thoughts arise, which is inconceivable. What one makes a living experience is thoughts being pointed out to be unidentifiable. (2) At the time of being a buddha, naturally stainless mind is real as self-arisen wisdom. Through [mind’s] recognizing its own face, it is free from the adventitious stains of thoughts, which is inconceivable purity. One makes this certainty about natural luminosity a living experience. (3) The [tathāgata] heart—the dharmakāya, self-arisen wisdom—is without distinction in buddhas and sentient beings. Its essence—alpha-pure ultimate luminosity—is the inconceivable nature. The temporary lack of realizing the true nature of the mind is its inconceivable appearance as all kinds of thoughts and flaws for sentient beings. The realization of the true nature of the mind is its inconceivable appearance as the kāyas and wisdoms for buddhas. [Thus,] natural luminosity is to be resolved through the view, temporarily to be made a living experience through familiarization, and thereafter one should train in compassion and bodhicitta.

Finally, the disposition endowed with qualities is discussed in five parts:

(a) The luminosity of one’s own mind is the disposition for the dharmakāya. Since it abides primordially and by nature as buddhahood, it is not that something nonexistent is accomplished. There is not the slightest buddhahood to be added apart from the realization of one’s own mind. (b) To realize thoughts as being adventitious is the sambhogakāya. (c) The arising of compassion for those who do not realize this is the nirmāṇakāya. (d) By virtue of the wisdom of realizing the two rūpakāyas, which is the supreme accomplished disposition, [luminosity] is free from the stains of thoughts—the buddhahood that is the dawn of realization is unceasing. Through realizing one’s own mind, there is not the slightest to be removed because there is no sentient being to be relinquished apart from [mind’s] playing as thoughts without a basis. (e) [The Uttaratantra says]:

It is held that the three kāyas are attained
By virtue of these two dispositions—[48]

Therefore, through that, at the time of recognizing one’s own mind as the inseparability of the expanse and wisdom, the following kind of experience arises. Since one’s own mind’s being unidentifiable (the expanse) and its being lucid and unceasing (wisdom) are inseparable, the characteristics [of mind’s nature] are beyond [ordinary states of] mind. Therefore, without thoughts and clinging, [all] that appears and exists dawns as the essence of the three kāyas. This has three parts. (1) The nature of the mind is the dharmakāya—the essence of the minds of all sentient beings in the three realms is real as luminosity. (2) The arising of one’s own realization of this actuality through instructions and familiarization is the sambhogakāya. Through that, though [this luminosity] itself may arise as all kinds of thoughts, one realizes that their essence lacks a root. (3) The arising of compassion without deliberately familiarizing with apprehending the conceptual cognitions of mind to be independent real entities is the nirmāṇakāya. Through various means, this is what arises in the mind stream [as] the bodhicitta that is associated with the thoughts of sentient beings. Those are [the ways of] bringing the naturally luminous [tathāgata] heart onto the path to buddhahood.


Gampopa
1079 ~ 1153
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 864-867.

In its section on buddha nature as the fundamental cause for the entire path and its fruition, Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation[49] quotes Uttaratantra I.28 to support its explanation about the three reasons why all sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart. (1) The first reason is that the dharmakāyaemptiness—pervades all sentient beings, which means that buddhahood is the dharmakāya, the dharmakāya is emptiness, and emptiness pervades all sentient beings. (2) The second reason is that the nature of phenomena—suchness—is undifferentiable, that is, the suchness of buddhas and the suchness of sentient beings cannot be differentiated in terms of being better and worse, bigger and smaller, or higher and lower, respectively. (3) The third reason is that the disposition exists in all sentient beings, that is, beings have five kinds of buddha disposition: (a) the cut-off disposition, (b) the uncertain disposition, (c) the śrāvaka disposition, (d) the pratyekabuddha disposition, and (e) the mahāyāna disposition.

      (a) According to Asaṅga, those with the cut-off disposition are those who have the six characteristics of not feeling the slightest weariness even when seeing the flaws of saṃsāra, not feeling the slightest faith even when hearing about the qualities of the Buddha, not feeling the slightest regret about excessively engaging in wrongdoings, and not having the slightest shame, embarrassment, and compassion. Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.11 says:

Some are solely devoted to wrongdoing,
Some have completely destroyed the immaculate dharmas,
Some lack the virtue conducive to liberation,
Some have inferior immaculate [dharmas], and [some] lack the cause.[50]

When the Buddha spoke about beings with the "cut-off disposition," he had in mind that they remain in saṃsāra for a very long time but not that they will absolutely never attain buddhahood—if they make efforts, they too will attain it. Thus, the Mahākaruṇāpuṇḍarīkasūtra says:

Ānanda, even if a sentient being who has no karmic fortune to pass into nirvāṇa does as little as tossing up a flower into space by focusing on the Buddha, the result of this root of virtue will be the result that is nirvāṇa. I say that [this being] will reach the culmination of nirvāṇa and the end of nirvāṇa.[51]

      (b) The uncertain disposition depends on conditions. For example, it turns into the śrāvaka disposition upon relying on a spiritual friend who is a śrāvaka, associating with companions who are śrāvakas, or seeing the scriptures of the śrāvakas. The same goes for the conditions that make the uncertain disposition turn into the pratyekabuddha disposition or the mahāyāna disposition.

      (c) The characteristics of the śrāvaka disposition consist of being afraid of saṃsāra after having seen its flaws, having confidence in nirvāṇa, and possessing little compassion (that is, not being very interested in the welfare of beings).

      (d) The characteristics of the pratyekabuddha disposition consist of the three of the śrāvaka disposition as well as being very proud, keeping one’s master secret, and liking to be in solitude.

      (e) The mahāyāna disposition is classified as twofold—the naturally abiding disposition and the accomplished disposition. The nature of the naturally abiding disposition is the capacity of generating the buddha qualities that is of beginningless time and obtained by virtue of the nature of phenomena. The nature of the accomplished disposition is the capacity of generating the buddha qualities that is obtained by having familiarized with roots of virtue before. The synonyms for the mahāyāna disposition are "seed," "basic element," and "nature." It is superior to the dispositions of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas because the latter reach their level of complete purity through having purified just the afflictive obscurations, whereas the mahāyāna disposition reaches its level of complete purity through having purified both obscurations.

      The mahāyāna disposition can be either awakened (that is, its signs being observable) or unawakened. The four adverse conditions for its awakening are being born in states lacking leisure (such as in the lower realms or as long-living gods), being heedless, engaging in wrong ways, and possessing the flaws of the obscurations. The favorable conditions for its awakening are the outer condition of being taught the genuine dharma by others and the inner condition that consists of proper mental engagement, striving for roots of virtue, and so on. According to the Daśadharmakasūtra, the signs of the bodhisattva disposition are that, without relying on a remedy, one’s body and speech are naturally gentle, one’s mind has little deceit and hypocrisy, and one is loving and open toward all sentient beings. According to Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.5, the signs are that whatever bodhisattvas do is preceded by their compassion for sentient beings, they have faith in the mahāyāna dharma, they endure all hardships without second thought, and they engage in the roots of virtue that have the nature of the pāramitās.

      Among these five dispositions, the existence of the mahāyāna disposition is the proximate cause of buddhahood. Since the dispositions of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas also lead to the attainment of buddhahood in the end, they are the distant causes of buddhahood. Within the uncertain disposition, there are some that are a proximate cause and some that are a distant cause. Since the cut-off disposition only refers to a long time before attaining buddhahood but not to absolutely never attaining buddhahood, it is the very distant cause of buddhahood.

      The examples for the existence of the disposition for buddhahood in all sentient beings include being like silver in silver ore, sesame oil in sesame seeds, and butter in milk. Thus, just as silver can be manifested in silver ore, oil in seeds, and butter in milk, buddhahood can be manifested in sentient beings.



Tanak Rinchen Yeshe
13th Century ~ 1345/1346
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 867-868.

Rinchen Yeshé’s commentary on the Uttaratantra[52] begins by repeating what RGVV says on I.28 and then elaborates on the meaning of the first three lines of this verse. As for the meaning of the dharmakāya of a tathāgata pervading all sentient beings, the naturally pure dharmakāya pervades all sentient beings. The dharmakāya that is also pure of all adventitious stains pervades all sentient beings as being suitable to be attained. Or, the phrase, "the perfect buddhakāya" refers to being pervaded by all three kāyas. To support this, Rinchen Yeshé first quotes Uttaratantra I.144 and RGVV on I.146–47. As for the manner of the three kāyas’ pervading sentient beings, he says that they exist in beings as being suitable to be attained as the manifest three kāyas. Or, in order to purify the basic element of sentient beings for as long as saṃsāra is not empty, the dharmakāya functions as the support for that, while the sambhogakāya promotes the welfare of pure retinues by pervading them, and the nirmāṇakāya promotes the welfare of impure retinues by pervading them. Therefore, the basis to be purified by these three kāyas—the basic element that is the tathāgata heart—exists in sentient beings. If this basis to be purified did not exist in beings, the promotion of their welfare through the three kāyas would be pointless.[53]

      As for the meaning of suchness’s being undifferentiable, since its nature never changes into anything else, it is suchness. It exists in all sentient beings and buddhas in an undifferentiable manner. As Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra IX.37 says:

Though it is without difference in everything,
Suchness’s having become pure
Is the Tathāgata. Therefore,
All beings possess its heart.

Also the prajñāpāramitā sūtras say:

The suchness of the world, the suchness of arhats,
The suchness of pratyekabuddhas, and the suchness of the victors—
As just a single suchness, free from being and never other,
Has prajñāpāramitā been realized by the Tathāgata.[54]

And:

The element of space in the eastern direction, in the southern direction,
Likewise in the western direction and the northern direction is boundless.
Existing above, below, in the ten directions, and in as many as there are,
There is no difference and there is no distinction.

The suchness of the past, the suchness of the future,
Likewise the suchness of the present, the suchness of arhats,
The suchness of all phenomena, and the suchness of the victors—
All this is the suchness of dharma, and there is no distinction.[55]

As for the meaning of the disposition’s existing in sentient beings, the disposition of the manifest three kāyas’ being suitable to be attained, if this disposition is purified, exists in all sentient beings. Therefore, one should understand that all beings possess the buddha heart.[56]



Butön Rinchen Drup
1290 ~ 1364
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 868-870.

In his Ornament That Illuminates and Beautifies the Tathāgata Heart,[57] Butön says that the teachings on tathāgatagarbha are of expedient meaning. He supports this by lengthy quotes from the Ghanavyūhasūtra, the Laṅkāvatārasūtra, the Śrīmālādevīsūtra, and the Aṅgulimālīyasūtra. Butön also adduces the typical three criteria that are considered to determine a teaching as being of expedient meaning: (1) its basis of intention (dugongs gzhi), (2) its purpose (dogs pa), and (3) the logical invalidation of the explicit statement (dngos la gnod byed).

      (1) The general basis of intention of the teachings on buddha nature is the ālaya-consciousness, which refers to the sheer cause of buddhahood. In particular, Maitreya in his Uttaratantra had a threefold basis of intention in mind: (a) the dharmakāya, (b) suchness, and (c) the disposition.

      (2) The purpose of teaching tathāgatagarbha lies in the indirect intention (ldem por dgongs pa) of its being the remedy that eliminates the five flaws described in Uttaratantra I.157–67.[58] In addition, Butön adduces Uttaratantra I.28, showing that the statement "all beings contain the buddha heart" was taught for three reasons. Following RGVV, Butön matches these three reasons with the nine examples in Uttaratantra I.144–52. However, his explanation of these three consists mainly of extensive quotes from the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra, the Avatamsakasūtra, and the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra.

      (a) As for the dharmakāya, Butön cites the Avataṃsakasūtra as saying that the dharmakāya pervades all sentient beings, all phenomena, and all realms, just as formless space does. According to Butön, this was said with the intention that the dharmakāya is not attained right now, but will be attained later. Citing the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra, he also refutes the notion that buddhahood dwells within due to the dharmakāya’s pervading everything and thus dwelling within sentient beings.

      (b) As for suchness’s being undifferentiable, Butön says that the basic nature of all sentient beings—natural luminosity, which does not change into anything else—is the suchness of mind. It exists in buddhas and sentient beings without difference. Once that suchness—natural luminosity—has become pure of all adventitious stains without exception, it is buddhahood. Since this suchness also exists in sentient beings without difference, its complete purification of all stains will be attained later if they have cultivated the path. Therefore, the statement that suchness is undifferentiable is also made with the intention of referring to another time.

      (c) As for all sentient beings’ possessing the disposition, the disposition is what gives rise to the three kāyas of a buddha. Since the tathāgatadhātu exists in all sentient beings, it is taught that they possess the tathāgata heart. Quoting Uttaratantra I.27, Butön says that since the teaching on the disposition is a case of labeling the cause with the name of the result, it likewise bears the intention of referring to another time. Also the example of the big scroll in the Avataṃsakasūtra was given with such an intention. Butön quotes that sūtra as saying that, due to being uninterrupted from the birth of all buddhas up through their entering parinirvāṇa, the buddhas fill up the entire dharmadhātu, and the seeing of all the diverse births of buddhas represents the eighth expertise in explanations with an intention. According to Butön, this passage refers again to the above threefold basis of intention (dharmakāya, suchness, and disposition), because it bears the intention of the seeds of all dharmas (chos) that are the buddha qualities existing in a complete manner and their true nature (chos nyid)— suchness—existing without difference before and after. According to the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra, the nature of a buddha exists in all sentient beings because the seeds of buddhahood exist in them.

      (3) Finally, Butön says that all this also establishes the invalidation of what the teachings on buddha nature say explicitly. In addition, he quotes the well-known passage from the Śrīmālādevīsūtra:

The tathāgata heart is empty of all cocoons of afflictions that are separable [from it] and [can] be known to be divisible [from it]. It is not empty of the inconceivable buddha qualities that are inseparable [from it], [can]not be known to be divisible [from it], and far surpass the sand grains in the river Gaṅgā [in number].[59]

      However, Butön gives a very peculiar interpretation of the phrase "empty of . . . [can] be known" (she's pa rnams kyis stong pa), taking it to mean "empty of knowing" (she's pas stong pa) and concluding that this phrase explains the tathāgata heart as lacking wisdom. Therefore, he says, it also lacks all the qualities that are contained in this wisdom, because these two (wisdom and qualities) must be produced by the two immeasurable accumulations of wisdom and merit, respectively.



Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
1292 ~ 1361
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 870.

Dölpopa’s commentary on the Uttaratantra[60] explains I.28 as the manner in which the dharmadhātu pervades everything. Since the dharmakāya of the perfect buddhas radiates toward and pervades all phenomena, since suchness—the nature of all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa—is undifferentiable, and because the disposition of the tathāgatas—the naturally pure dharmadhātu—exists in all sentient beings as being suitable to be purified from its obscurations, all beings always possess the ultimate buddha heart since the very beginning in an uninterrupted manner.[61]



Gyaltsap Je Darma Rinchen
1364 ~ 1432
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 870-871.

In his commentary on the Uttaratantra,[62] the Gelugpa scholar Gyaltsab Darma Rinchen says that the tathāgata heart is explained by way of the result that is a tathāgata, the nature of a tathāgata, and the cause of a tathāgata. However, it is not that mere suchness and the dharmakāya of perfect buddhas are taken as instances of the tathāgata heart because the Uttaratantra and Asaṅga’s commentary explain the latter as pertaining solely to the phase of sentient beings and the phase of the cause. As for identifying the three instances of the tathāgata heart in Uttaratantra I.28, the result of having cultivated the path that purifies the basic element— the enlightened activity of the dharmakāya of perfect buddhas—radiates toward and pervades all sentient beings.[63] Beings are explained to possess the tathāgata heart because they have this very factor of being suitable for enlightened activity to engage them, which is associated with them as the special phenomenon that exists solely in the mind streams of sentient beings. This is similar to Abhisamayālaṃkāra VIII.11ab:

By virtue of the vastness of activity like that,
Buddhahood is described as "all-pervading."

Though suchness naturally devoid of stains is the nature of both sentient beings and buddhas, by taking its being the nature of buddhas as a reason, it refers to the tathāgata heart at the time when it is associated with the stains of the mind streams of sentient beings. It is said that all sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart with the intention that suchness with stains—the very suchness that is naturally devoid of the stains of the mind streams of sentient beings—exists in all beings. The same is also said with the intention that all beings possess the buddha disposition during the phase of the cause that makes them attain the three kāyas. Though there is also the naturally abiding disposition, when it is explained that beings possess the tathāgata heart through taking the existence of the disposition as a reason, this must be explained from the perspective of the cause of a tathāgata. When the same is explained through taking the existence of suchness as a reason, it must be explained from the perspective of the nature of a tathāgata.

      Therefore, one should understand that the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, the Uttaratantra, and Asaṅga’s commentary (RGVV) excellently determine the tathāgata heart as being all of the following three—the capacity in sentient beings’ mind streams of their being suitable for enlightened activity to engage them, the suchness with stains in the mind streams of sentient beings, and the buddha disposition in the mind streams of beings that is suitable to change state into the three kāyas. Without realizing these meanings, to assert even the ultimate dharmakāya as the tathāgata heart through dividing the latter into the triad of the resultant, the natural, and the causal tathāgata heart is a presentation that may amaze the ignorant, but it is not the meaning of the Uttaratantra and Asaṅga’s commentary.



Rongtön Sheja Kunrik
1367 ~ 1449
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 871-873.

According to Rongtön Shéja Günsi’s commentary on the Uttaratantra,[64] all sentient beings are said to possess the tathāgata heart because the dharmakāya of perfect buddhas radiates, because they possess the suchness that is undifferentiable from the aspect of the natural purity of the suchness of the dharmakāya, and because they have the disposition for the dharmakāya—the capacity of the basic element.

      After briefly reporting Ngog Lotsāwa’s above explanation of I.28 and quoting I.27, Rongtön presents the manner in which Uttaratantra I.144–52 and RGVV match the dharmakāya, suchness, and the disposition with the nine examples for buddha nature. He says that the meaning of the tathāgata-dharmakāya’s radiating in all sentient beings is that the dharmakāya of realization pervades all sentient beings, quoting RGVV:

These three examples of a buddha image, honey, and a kernel explain that all sentient beings possess the heart of a tathāgata in the sense of the tathāgata-dharmakāya’s pervading the entire realm of sentient beings without exception.[65]

      The citation of Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra IX.15 in RGVV is taken as being the reason for this. According to Rongtön, this means that the factor of natural purity—the cause for attaining the fundamental change of both the dharmakāya of realization and the dharmakāya of the teachings—pervades all sentient beings.

      As for the meaning of suchness’s being undifferentiable, it is explained as "undifferentiable" because its being empty of any real nature pervades everything in terms of the ground and the fruition and everything internal and external. As for being pervaded by the disposition, this refers to the capacity of the mind that is to be awakened by conditions—the substantial cause of buddha wisdom. As Uttaratantra I.104c says:

So the uncontaminated wisdom in beings is like honey . . .

This explains the basic element to be purified, whose function is the function of the disposition—seeing the qualities of happiness and the flaws of suffering. Here, the assertion that the meaning of "the dharmakāya’s radiating" as being pervaded by enlightened activity is not justified because this contradicts the meaning of Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra IX.15, which is adduced as the reason for this. Therefore, there is no flaw of repetition either since natural purity is used in terms of its being contained within the mind stream, while suchness pervades everything internal and external. Suchness and natural purity exist in the manner of a quality and the bearer of this quality, respectively. As Uttaratantra I.164c says:

. . . the qualities, whose nature is pure.

The meaning of the suchness of a tathāgata’s being undifferentiable from all sentient beings is that the suchness of buddhas exists in all sentient beings in an undifferentiable manner. For RGVV says:

Thus, in the sense of suchness’s being undifferentiable, this one example of gold explains that the tathāgata—suchness—is the heart of all these sentient beings.[66]

      The citation of Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra IX.37 is taken as being the reason for this. Thus, the nature of phenomena—being empty of a nature—is without difference.

      The meaning of the tathāgata disposition’s existing in all beings is that the disposition for giving rise to the three buddhakāyas exists in sentient beings. For RGVV says:

The remaining five examples of a treasure, a tree, a precious statue, a cakravartin, and a golden image explain that the tathāgata element is the heart of all these sentient beings in the sense that the disposition for the arising of the three kinds of buddhakāyas exists [in all beings].[67]

      The citation from the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra is taken as being the reason for this.



Gö Lotsāwa Zhönu Pal
1392 ~ 1481
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 873-875.

Gö Lotsāwa’s commentary[68] says that the explanation of the three points of the buddhakāya’s radiating and so on is based on the passage from the Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśaparivarta that is quoted at the beginning of RGVV as the source of the fourth vajra point. GC’s actual comments on I.27–28 state that the buddha wisdom that enters all sentient beings is expressed as "the tathāgata heart."[69] Though this buddha wisdom is the actual tathāgata, it is only the nominal heart of sentient beings because it is not contained in the mind streams of sentient beings. Also, the nature of the mind (suchness without adventitious stains) that exists in both buddhas and sentient beings without any difference is called "tathāgata heart." The suchness that exists in buddhas is the actual suchness and the suchness of sentient beings is buddhahood in a nominal sense. As for the buddha disposition, it is the factor in all sentient beings that represents the manner in which their skandhas and so on are similar to buddhahood. This disposition is also called "tathāgata heart" by metaphorically referring to it as its fruition, tathāgatahood. Among the Sanskrit synonyms of garbha, sāra represents a basis from which many dharmas radiate or emanate, thus referring to the dharmakāya. Hṛdaya has the sense of being crucial or something to be cherished, like the heart of a person. Thus, it refers to suchness because those who wish for liberation need to regard it as crucial or cherish it. Garbha itself means "seed" or "womb." Since it stands for something that is present in an enclosing sheath, it refers to the disposition. Maṇḍa means "something very firm" or "quintessence," as in calling the vajra seat in Bodhgāya bodhimaṇḍa or speaking of "the essence of butter."

      Thus, sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart because they are pervaded by the perfect buddhakāya, because their suchness exists as being undifferentiable from buddhas, and because they have the buddha disposition. This can be proven by either one of these three reasons—that there are three is only for the sake of guiding different sentient beings. However, all they prove is only a convention (and not a fact), that is, they just explain the meaning of the statement, "All beings possess the tathāgata heart" in different words, but they do not prove the fact that all sentient beings possess it.

      Furthermore, GC describes Ngog’s above division into resultant, natural, and causal tathāgata heart as being "very excellent" and further divides each one of these into their seeming and ultimate aspects.[70] The dharmakāya is twofold in terms of its qualities of freedom and maturation. The disposition is twofold as the naturally abiding and the accomplished dispositions. Suchness is not said to be divided in the Uttaratantra, but the teachings of the Buddha in general speak of the suchness of the ultimate and the suchness of the seeming. The division into three (dharmakāya, suchness, and disposition) is nothing but a division of the nature of the single suchness that is unchanging throughout all three phases. Thus, the three consist of nothing but suchness.

      At the end of its comments on the fourth vajra point, GC says that the entire chapter on the basic element is an explanation of nothing but the meaning of Uttaratantra I.28.[71] This meaning is comprehensively summarized in the ten points (such as nature and cause) through which the basic element is presented, while the verses on the nine examples are simply an elaboration on it.



Śākya Chokden
1428 ~ 1507
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 875-879.

Śākya Chogden’s explanation of the Uttaratantra[72] criticizes Ngog Lotsāwa’s position on buddha nature, saying that it is not good that Ngog takes the emptiness of the mind with stains as the tathāgata heart because this tathāgata heart must be identified from the point of view of its qualities whereas its identification as sheer emptiness is not suitable. The identification of the tathāgata heart by later Tibetans as the naturally abiding disposition is not tenable either because the disposition has to be identified from the point of view of its being associated with stains, whereas the tathāgata heart needs to be identified from the point of view of there being no stains to be eliminated any more. Therefore, the actual tathāgata heart that is to be identified as what is taught by the Uttaratantra is the suchness that is naturally pure of all flaws and in which all the many qualities such as the ten powers are naturally and spontaneously present. Thus, the lines "since suchness is undifferentiable . . . all beings always contain the buddha heart" in Uttaratantra I.28 including their commentary and related sūtras are to be taken literally. However, the lines "since the perfect buddhakāya radiates . . . all beings always contain the buddha heart" are not to be taken literally. The line "because of the disposition" teaches the basis of intention; I.157 on the five flaws such as faintheartedness, the purpose; and I.84c "There is no nirvāṇa apart from buddhahood," the invalidation of the explicit statement. One may think then that it is strange that one and the same treatise gives the two contradictory explanations of the tathāgata heart’s pervading and not pervading sentient beings. However, Maitreya, by differentiating the identification of the tathāgata heart in terms of the two realities, has excellently explained the intention of the two ways in which the Buddha stated in distinct teachings that the tathāgata heart pervades and does not pervade all beings.

      Thus, Śākya Chogden explicitly distinguishes the tathāgatagarbha as the resultant suchness free from all obscurations and endowed with all qualities from the disposition, which refers to obscured suchness as the cause. This is also what Tāranātha’s outline of twenty-one differences between Śākya Chogden and Dölpopa says about Śākya Chogden’s position:

The tathāgata heart does not exist in the mind streams of sentient beings. The natural luminosity of the minds of sentient beings is merely the cause and the basic element of the tathāgata heart. Therefore, though the causal tathāgata heart or the tathāgata heart that is the basic element exists in all sentient beings, this is not like the [actual tathāgata heart] that fulfills this definition. [Rather,] the tathāgata heart is buddha wisdom. . . . [Śākya Chogden] holds that [statements about] the [tathāgata] heart’s having the nature of its essence and its qualities being inseparable refer to the phase of the fruition alone. During the phase of the cause, there exists only the seed that is the capacity for the qualities being suitable to arise. . . . He holds that only a seed of the fruition exists inherently in the natural luminosity of the mind. Through cultivating the path, the increase [of this seed] is attained. Finally, the fruition arises in its manifest form.[73]

      Later in his text,[74] Śākya Chogden says that the tathāgata heart does not pervade all sentient beings. For Asaṅga explains that "inseparable qualities" belong only to the last phase among the three phases of impure sentient beings, partly pure bodhisattvas, and utterly pure buddhas. Also, the Uttaratantra ’s example of a king’s portrait (I.88–92) clearly says that the emptiness endowed with all supreme aspects does not exist in śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and so on. The example of the sun and its rays (I.93–94) states how the tathāgata heart inseparable from all its qualities does not exist until perfect buddhahood is made manifest. Let alone the tathāgata heart’s being realized by those with great desire, śrāvakas, and pratyekabuddhas, they are not even explained as supports for this tathāgata heart.

      When the Uttaratantra explains the intention behind the statement that all sentient beings possess the buddha heart, it first distinguishes three bases of intention—the dharmakāya, suchness, and the disposition. The first one is the pure dharmadhātu without any adventitious stains, which is classified as twofold in terms of its natural outflow—the profound and vast teachings. Suchness is said to be nothing but the presentation of its nature. The disposition is twofold, being classified as the naturally abiding disposition and the unfolding disposition, with the latter consisting of the threefold capacity of giving rise to the three kāyas. Among these three bases of intention, the dharmakāya is the actual tathāgata heart, suchness is twofold in being and not being the tathāgata heart, and the disposition is a case of labeling the cause with the name of the result. The dharmakāya of perfect buddhahood entails pervading or radiating toward all sentient beings. Suchness pertains to all phenomena, but the disposition is a phenomena solely in sentient beings. Suchness is threefold in terms of existing in the four kinds of persons—buddhas, noble bodhisattvas, those of great desire, and tīrthikas. In buddhas, it is the perfect dharmakāya; in noble bodhisattvas, a mere fraction of the dharmakāya; and in the others, not even a fraction of the dharmakāya. Therefore, it is not suitable as the disposition. In other words, all noble ones of the mahāyāna (buddhas and bodhisattvas) possess the tathāgata heart, but all sentient beings other than those are only labeled as possessing the tathāgata heart because suchness and the disposition exist in them.

      This means that the statement "all beings possess the buddha heart" is made in terms of a basis of intention, a purpose, and an invalidation of the explicit statement. The basis of intention is suchness with stains; the purpose, to relinquish the five flaws; and the invalidation of the explicit statement according to the Uttaratantra itself is as follows. The dharmadhātu of those of great desire, tīrthikas, śrāvakas, and pratyekabuddhas is not the tathāgata heart because they fall into the views about a real personality and because their minds are distracted from emptiness. Also, the four obscurations that obscure the tathāgata heart (hostility toward the mahāyāna dharma, views about a self, fear of saṃsāra’s suffering, and indifference about the welfare of sentient beings) are relinquished by their four remedies (confidence in the mahāyāna dharma and cultivation of prajñāpāramitā, samādhis, and great compassion). Therefore, it is once the four remedies have arisen that the persons who are the supports of these remedies are said to possess the tathāgata heart.

      Furthermore, the dharmadhātu of those four persons is not the tathāgata heart because it lacks the five points of nature, cause, fruition, function, and endowment explained in Uttaratantra I.30–44. The dharmadhātu of those persons lacks the point of being the nature of the tathāgata heart because it is not moistened by power and compassion. Also, the point of its being the cause of the tathāgata heart is incomplete because it lacks the four causes that purify the above four obscurations. It lacks the point of fruition because it lacks the remedies that are the opposites of the four kinds of mistakenness. The point of function is also incomplete because it is uncertain that the dharmadhātu of those persons possesses the functions that arise from the awakening of the power of the disposition through the conditions of the four wheels (relying on wise persons and so on). Otherwise, these functions (weariness of suffering and striving for nirvāṇa) would arise even in those with wrong craving. Likewise, the point of endowment is incomplete because the dharmadhātu of those persons is not endowed with the triad of the dharmakāya, the cause of buddha wisdom, and great compassion. Also, let alone the dharmadhātu of those four persons being inseparable from the qualities that consist of the five supernatural knowledges, wisdom, and the termination of contamination, not even a fraction of these qualities exists in that dharmadhātu. In brief, let alone saying that the tathāgata heart that is adorned with all the major and minor marks exists in all sentient beings, the Uttaratantra does not even state that the mere tathāgata heart exists in them because the basis of intention, the purpose, and the invalidation of the explicit statement "all sentient beings possess the buddha heart" are contained in the words of the Uttaratantra itself.

      Though some Tibetans say that the Uttaratantra is a commentary in terms of the expedient meaning, there are no earlier commentaries that explain this treatise to be of expedient meaning. Among the two great system founders of the mahāyāna, Nāgārjuna says in his Dharmadhātustava that suchness exists in all sentient beings. He also explains through the example of the waxing moon’s gradually increasing that the dharmakāya exists and increases from the first bhūmi up through buddhahood.

      In Asaṅga’s tradition, there is his actual system and the one that entails an intention. As for the first one, in his commentary on the Uttaratantra, he describes the manner of seeing the boundary lines of the tathāgata heart from the first bhūmi up through buddhahood through the example of the sun’s shining in a clouded and a cloud-free sky.[75] If suchness with stains were the actual tathāgata heart, this would contradict Uttaratantra I.154–55 ("There is nothing to be removed from this . . .") because these two verses teach the tathāgata heart that is the dharmakāya pure of all adventitious stains. When one sees a part of one’s own true nature pure of stains, one sees that all sentient beings are like that too. This seeing is called "seeing that all sentient beings possess the buddha heart," "realizing that the dharmadhātu is omnipresent," and "realizing variety" (ji snyed rtogs pa).

      In the explanation of the system that entails an intended meaning, the sugata heart refers to sugatahood, which has the two aspects of (1) relinquishment and (2) realization. (1) Relinquishment is of two kinds—actual and concordant. The latter is twofold—the purification of the stains of the basic element through the four causes such as confidence in the mahāyāna dharma and the relinquishment of the afflictive stains through the prajñā of the lower yānas. The first one of these is the actual tathāgata heart while the latter is not even explained as the basis of intention of the tathāgata heart. Suchness with stains is said to be the basis of intention of the tathāgata heart from the point of view of its being suitable to become free from adventitious stains, but there is no clear explanation that it is the actual tathāgata heart. Once the power of the disposition is awakened through the four conditions’ having come together and certain parts of the stains of the basic element are eliminated through the four causes such as confidence in the mahāyāna dharma, this is presented as the actual tathāgata heart. (2) Realization is also of two kinds—actual and concordant. The latter is divided into being and not being specified through the four causes such as confidence in the mahāyāna dharma. The first one of these is further classified as being pure of stains as appropriate on the different levels of the path and not being pure of stains at all. Among these two, it is only the former that is explained as representing the dharmakāya and the sugata heart. Therefore, the buddha heart is divided into two aspects—conditioned and unconditioned—which are the seeming and the ultimate, respectively. It is its unconditioned aspect alone that is held to be what exists in all sentient beings. To say that the buddha heart is solely ultimate reality is the system of others but not the scriptural tradition of Maitreya.



Dumo Tashi Özer
c. 15th Century
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 879.

Dümo Dashi Öser (fifteenth/sixteenth century) omits Uttaratantra I.27. On I.28, he comments that all beings possess the tathāgata heart since the dharmakāya of a perfect buddha radiates in all sentient beings (that is, the dharmakāya becomes manifest in them through their having familiarized with uncontrived mind as such), since the suchness of sentient beings and the suchness of buddhas is undifferentiable, and since the disposition (the seed of uncontaminated mind) exists in all sentient beings.



Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje
1507 ~ 1554
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 879.

In his Lamp That Excellently Elucidates the System of the Proponents of Shentong Madhyamaka, the Eighth Karmapa provides lengthy explanations of the three reasons in Uttaratantra I.28.[76] However, in his commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, the Karmapa also presents a detailed refutation of these very reasons’ being able to prove the existence of buddha nature in sentient beings.[77]

Excerpted from Higgins and Martina Draszczyk, Mahamudra and the Middle Way - Vol. 2, 105.

David Higgins and Martina Draszczyk have studied the Eighth Karmapa's views on buddha-nature and present a translation of the relevant passages of the above mentioned text by the 8th Karmapa:

At issue in this particular excerpt is the view that "when the buddhagarbha [is said to] be present in all sentient beings, it is not buddha[hood] that is present" but "rather something typologically similar to the buddha."[78] The Eighth Karma pa responds that it is wrong here to introduce a dichotomy between buddhahood and its quintessence (*sugatagarbha). In particular, he objects to 'Gos lo's use of Rang byung rdo rje's statement in his Hevajra commentary that "the spiritual potential (rigs) consists in aspects of sentient beings' body, speech and mind (sku gsung thugs)". Mi bskyod rdo rje counters, with support from Kaṇha's Hevajra commentary, that a buddha's and sentient being's body, speech and mind are only similar in number and formal aspects. Otherwise, they should be understood to be completely different since the former are innate and the latter are adventitious. Yet, as Kaṇha had observed, when the latent tendencies of ordinary embodiment are relinquished, the latent tendencies of the undefiled aggregates are strengthened. Thus, to the extent that the body, speech and mind of sentient being are purified away, those of buddha(hood) are able to fully manifest. Against the claim that only something similar to the uncorrupted exists in sentient beings, the Karma pa will elsewhere contend that it is the actual uncorrupted buddhajñāna which is latently present in beings, and not a mere facsimile of it.[79]



Pema Karpo
1527 ~ 1592
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 879-880.

Padma Karpo[80] explains that "Since the perfect buddhakāya radiates" refers to the dharmakāya of the tathāgatas pervading the nonphysical basic elements of sentient beings because Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra IX.15cd says:

Just as space is omnipresent in the hosts of form,
It is omnipresent in the hosts of sentient beings.

"Since suchness is undifferentiable" indicates that, in all, suchness is not different, with tathāgatas having its pure nature too. "Because of the disposition" refers to the existence of the disposition that produces the three buddhakāyas. As for the disposition, it is a seed or a cause. As the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra says:

The dhātu of beginningless time
Is the foundation of all phenomena.
Since it exists, all beings
And also nirvāṇa are obtained.

To speak about the definite disposition here is done with the intention that all sentient beings are suitable to eventually become buddhas.

      The dharmakāya is the power to accomplish what one wishes for, suchness never changes into anything else, and the disposition means to be moistened through compassion. In this order, these three specific characteristics of the nature of the tathāgata heart accord with the examples of a jewel, gold, and water.



Jamgön Kongtrul
1813 ~ 1899
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 880-882.

Lodrö Taye’s commentary on the Uttaratantra (which is basically a copy of Dölpopa’s commentary) briefly explains I.28 as follows:

Because the dharmakāya of perfect buddhas radiates toward and pervades all phenomena, because suchness—the true nature of the entirety of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa—is undifferentiable, and because the tathāgata disposition—the naturally pure dharmadhātu—exists in all sentient beings as being suitable to be purified from the obscurations, all beings possess the ultimate buddha heart in an uninterrupted manner at all times since beginningless [time]. As the Bhagavān said in the [Tathāgatagarbha]sūtra:

Sentient beings always have the tathāgata heart.[81]

Here, in due order, the great Ngog Lotsāwa explains [the first three lines of I.28] as the fruitional, the natural, and the causal sugata heart. The first one—the dharmakāya—is the actual Tathāgata but the nominal heart of sentient beings. It pervades sentient beings because it is suitable to be attained by them.[82]

      The same author’s Guiding Instructions on the View of Great Shentong Madhyamaka comments on this verse in a very similar way under the heading of distinguishing well between existence, nonexistence, and so on, and pointing them out in accordance with the third turning of the wheel of dharma and the vajrayāna, once any suitable samādhi of calm abiding and superior insight has arisen. In this context, the verse is explained in connection with two famous stanzas from the Laṅkāvatārasūtra as follows:

By relying on mere mind,
One does not imagine outer objects.
By relying on nonappearance,
One should go beyond mere mind too.

By relying on the focal object of actual reality,
One must go beyond nonappearance.
If yogins rest in nonappearance,
They do not see the mahāyāna.[83]


[Thus,] the realization that the mistakenness of the seeming is mere mind is scrutinized by the Madhyamaka without appearances. Going beyond even that, through the Madhyamaka with appearances, one must engage in the unmistaken way of being of true reality.

      Here, you may wonder, "What is the focal object of actual reality?" Just as there are no four elements that are not pervaded by space, there are no knowable objects that are not pervaded by the dharmakāya of buddhas. Also, in the suchness of buddhas, oneself, and all sentient beings, there are no distinctions of good and bad, big and small, high and low, and so on. Furthermore, the naturally abiding disposition or the basic element that is able to produce the buddha attributes and has been obtained through the nature of phenomena since beginningless time exists in all living beings who consist of the life-force breath. Therefore, all sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart. In order to bring that to mind clearly, recite [Uttaratantra I.28]:

Since the perfect buddhakāya radiates,
Since suchness is undifferentiable,
And since the disposition exists,
All beings always possess the buddha heart.[84]


Mipam Gyatso
1846 ~ 1912
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 882-898.

Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary on the Uttaratantra and Synopsis of the Sugata Heart were both compiled by Shechen Gyaltsab, Gyurmé Pema Namgyal, based on the notes of Mipham Rinpoche’s teachings (these notes were later edited by Mipham himself). The commentary’s explanation of Uttaratantra I.28 consists exclusively of excerpts from the Synopsis,[85] which is by far the most detailed explanation of this verse in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist literature.

      The Synopsis starts by saying that buddha nature is the quintessence and the most profound intent of all the Buddha’s teachings of sūtra and tantra.[86] Some of these teachings elucidate the essence (ngo bo) of the dharmadhātu that is the tathāgata heart by way of teaching emptiness, while some others elucidate the nature (rang bzhin) of this tathāgata heart by way of teaching it as being primordially endowed with qualities such as the ten powers. This essence and nature must be a unity without contradiction. However, under the sway of lacking trust in the very profound essential point of the inseparability of the two realities, some assert that the tathāgata heart is something permanent and really established that is not empty of a nature, while others hold that it is nothing but bare emptiness that cannot be posited as being primordially endowed with the inseparable qualities of kāyas and wisdoms, thus getting stuck on the side of denial and views about extinction. Though these people make all kinds of noises of refutation and affirmation in the hope of establishing their respective claims, the fortunate ones who are embraced by the pith instructions of a guru rest in the state of trusting the actuality of the noncontradictory unity of the empty expanse and luminous wisdom through having destroyed any biased clinging to either of the extremes of appearance and emptiness.

      According to them, in general, the valid words of the Tathāgata are the undeceiving and correct scriptures. However, to ascertain their validity, these scriptures are analyzed in a general way in terms of their being pure through the three kinds of analysis.[87] In particular, it is by way of the lack of invalidation through reasoning and the existence of correct means of proof that the literal meaning of certain scriptures must be taken to be their definitive meaning. It is not sufficient to throw out reasoning as the means of assessing the purity of a scripture and simply believe whatever is said. For it is undeniable that there are both fake and authentic scriptures and that the latter entail the distinction between expedient and definitive meanings. Therefore, irreversible trust arises in those ordinary beings who, having cut through doubts by study and reflection, are able to ascertain the points to be engaged by means of the three kinds of valid cognition.[88] Conversely, if one is neither able to ascertain something through one’s own valid cognition nor able to establish it for some other opponents, through just claiming certain things without any proof, one is not able to give rise to trust in oneself or others.

      When the proofs for the ways in which buddha nature is taught are assessed by casting away biased clinging and with an honest mind through pure reasonings, both the assertion that the tathāgata heart is something permanent and really established that is not empty of a nature as well as the claim that it is a bare emptiness that lacks any qualities can be seen to lack any proof but entail logical invalidations. On the other hand, for the actual tathāgata heart, whose essence is empty, whose nature consists of being primordially endowed with qualities, and which exists in the basic element of beings, no invalidations but the existence of correct proofs can be seen. These proofs consist of the three reasons in Uttaratantra I.28. In order to determine these through reasoning, Mipham Rinpoche (A) reports first what others say and then (B) presents the Nyingma School’s authentic own way of explanation.

      (A) According to Mipham Rinpoche, the usual brief glosses on the three reasons in Uttaratantra I.28 by other commentators do not penetrate the essential point of this text’s explanation of buddha nature. A common interpretation by others is that the dharmakāya (whether it is regarded as emptiness or wisdom) pervades all objects, that the suchness of buddhas and sentient beings is of the same type in being nothing but emptiness, and that the existence of the disposition refers to nothing but the suitability or potential to become a buddha.

      However, as for the first reason, the disposition that actually fulfills this definition is not established merely through the dharmakāya’s pervading all objects. That buddha wisdom, which appears to be contained in someone else’s mind stream, pervades objects goes for all entities. However, the mere fact that this buddha wisdom pervades all entities is not a sufficient reason for all of these entities’ becoming buddhas. On the other hand, since the dharmakāya in one’s own mind stream has not become manifest at present, the reason "because the buddhakāya radiates" is doubtful.

      As for the second reason, a mere nominal emptiness lacks any meaning of "the disposition." If those who claim such assert that this disposition represents the suitability or potential to newly become a buddha when conjoined with the conditions of the path despite not having any buddha qualities whatsoever at present (just like a seed’s being transformed into a sprout), such a feature of potential transformation is not tenable in the emptiness of real existence (an aspect that is an isolate consisting of a nonimplicative negation), which is an unconditioned phenomenon that is empty of the ability to perform a function. This is similar to the aspect of a conditioned seed’s conventionally being suitable to transform into a sprout, but it is impossible for the aspect of a seed’s lack of real existence to ever transform into a sprout. Furthermore, it is nonsense to claim that the suitability or potential to become a buddha is established through the point of being empty of real existence. It is true that if the mind were really established, it would lack the suitability or potential to become a buddha, but the mere fact of being something that is not really established cannot produce certainty about its becoming a buddha. Though all phenomena such as earth and rocks also lack real existence, who is able to establish that everything that lacks real existence has the suitability or potential to become a buddha? Likewise, to posit the disposition solely due to the ability to relinquish the obscurations by focusing on the lack of real existence is nonsense. According to those who claim such, merely focusing on emptiness is not a sufficient cause to relinquish the cognitive obscurations, but this focusing must be further adorned by infinite accumulations of merit (see Gyaltsab Darma Rinchen below on Uttaratantra I.154). Thus, to assert that such a nonimplicative negation is "the sugata heart" is meaningless. It would at most just represent a disposition that is in common with śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, but this nonimplicative negation does not establish the suitability or potential to become a buddha for the following reasons. One cannot justify the occurrence of omniscient wisdom in this mere nonimplicative negation after the cognitive obscurations have been relinquished. Since a nonimplicative negation’s own nature lacks any cognitive capacity, it is impossible for it to cognize anything whatsoever even at the time of supposedly being a buddha.

      Therefore, if one is fond of the disposition’s having the character of transforming and being conditioned, rather than asserting a nonimplicative negation as the disposition, it is better to assert it to be a seed of knowledge, loving-kindness, and power that exists in the mind streams of all beings since beginningless time (even wild beasts and so on possess love for their offspring, and recognize benefit and harm, and so on) and represents the mere suitability or potential to become a buddha endowed with immeasurable knowledge, loving-kindness, and power, when it is further developed through being conjoined with the path and thus is freed from obstacles. Once the disposition needs to be a cause that actually produces a result, to disregard its being a productive cause that is a momentary entity and assert an unconditioned and unproductive nonentity as a cause is indeed amazing.

      Some people think, "Everything that lacks real existence is not the disposition but only the lack of real existence that is the nature of the mind is tenable as the disposition." Even if the disposition were the lack of real existence of the mind, it would still not be able to perform the slightest activity of producing. Since only moments of mind are suitable to produce later such moments, an unconditioned disposition is obviously not needed by these people, so they should get rid of it.

      Some may think, "The disposition is not posited through distinguishing the two realities. Rather, the disposition is asserted as the basic nature that is the inseparability of mind’s lucidity (the bearer of the true nature; chos can) and emptiness (the true nature, chos nyid)." If this is also asserted as the unconditioned and unchanging wisdom in the dichotomy of consciousness and wisdom, it is indeed correct because it is established as such through scriptures and reasoning. However, to have in mind that the bearer of the true nature of emptiness, which is to be in union with emptiness, is the aspect that is momentary consciousness and then to think that this consciousness gradually transforms into buddhahood is meaningless because it would follow that the disposition has both a conditioned and an unconditioned aspect. If that were the case, something unconditioned that has no purpose or capacity would just be the nominal disposition and something conditioned would be the disposition that actually fulfills this definition in that it is capable of producing its result. Consequently, this amounts to nothing but casting out the true intention of all mahāyāna sūtras that assert the unconditioned naturally abiding disposition to be the dharmadhātu. Therefore, without being able to mentally let go of a disposition that is posited by way of a producing cause and produced result, though one may speak of the pure dharmadhātu as being the naturally abiding disposition, this is simply blatant evidence of one’s own actual opinion and one’s words being contradictory.

      Hence, once one asserts that the unchanging dharmadhātu is the buddha disposition, one must first identify the essence of the basis that is designated as "dharmadhātu," which is the nonnominal ultimate—the great union of the two realities that is the actuality of the utterly nonabiding Madhyamaka. Without identifying this essence, if one asserts just the nominal ultimate as the disposition, one takes what is not the dharmadhātu as being the dharmadhātu, just as when confusing a group of monkeys in the forest for the gods in a divine realm. Thus, all presentations that assert this nominal ultimate as being the buddha disposition, assert a familiarization with prajñāpāramitā through focusing on this kind of ultimate, assert this ultimate to be the cause of the svābhāvikakāya, and so on, are established as being the path of fake mahāyāna, which is also stated in the prajñāpāramitā sūtras and others.

      Therefore, what is called "the naturally pure dharmadhātu" and "emptiness" is the actuality of the expanse of the inseparability of the two realities that is free from the entire web of reference points and is to be personally experienced. All mahāyāna sūtras and all commentaries on their true intention say that this is what represents the buddha disposition that actually fulfills this definition and will become the svābhāvikakāya endowed with twofold purity. Consequently, this naturally abiding disposition can only be asserted as being unconditioned. Once it is something unconditioned, it is not tenable that it, by virtue of its very own nature, performs the activity of producing a result that is other than it and then ceases. Hence, the qualities of the dharmakāya cannot be asserted as anything but a result of freedom or separation (from adventitious stains). That this is the case is declared by the great tenth-bhūmi bodhisattva Maitreya in his Uttaratantra, and it is also clearly stated by the glorious protector Nāgārjuna in his Dharmadhātustava. Thus, by following these texts, our own system is to assert the unconditioned dharmadhātu as the disposition. Though this dharmadhātu is the basic nature of all phenomena, its essence is that it lacks arising and ceasing and it has the character of the inseparability of appearance and emptiness but is without any bias. Since all conditioned phenomena, which appear to be arising and ceasing, are not established in the way they appear, they never affect the fundamental ground of the dharmadhātu. Consequently, the causes and results of saṃsāra are primordially pure and are beyond meeting with, or parting from, the appearances of uncontaminated spontaneously present luminosity. It is through this essential point that the mode of being of the tathāgata heart must be identified in an unmistaken manner.

      (B) As for presenting our own system, (1) the meaning of Uttaratantra I.28a ("because the perfect buddhakāya radiates") is that the ultimate kāya of a completely perfect buddha—the dharmakāya—whose qualities are equal to the extent of space becomes clearly manifest (gsal), radiates ( ’phro), or is revealed (mngon du gyur) at a later point from the mind stream of an ordinary person who previously possessed all fetters. Therefore, it is established that the tathāgata heart exists in the mind streams of sentient beings at present.

      This is justified in two ways—common and uncommon. As for the first one, if there is a sentient being who manifests the wisdom dharmakāya, the disposition of being suitable to become a buddha necessarily exists in the mind of this being because such is untenable in anything that absolutely lacks this disposition. As verse 11 of the Dharmadhātustava says:

If this element exists, through our work,
We will see the purest of all gold.
Without this element, despite our toil,
Nothing but misery we will produce.

As for the uncommon justification, one may think, "The above justification establishes that the mind of such a being is the mere cause of being suitable to become a buddha, just as it is suitable for a harvest to arise in a field. However, how does one establish the special disposition that is primordially endowed with the buddha qualities?" This is established as follows. The buddhas possess the wisdom kāya that has the character of being unconditioned because it is established through scriptures and reasonings that they do not have the nature of being conditioned and impermanent. As for the scriptures, the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra says:

O monk Excellent Discipline, it is better to become a tīrthika and die than saying that the unconditioned Tathāgata is the conditioned Tathāgata.[89]

And:

O son of good family, now see the Tathāgata as the permanent kāya, the indestructible kāya, the vajrakāya, not a body of flesh, and the dharmakāya.[90]

And:

It is better to touch this blazing pile of wood with your tongue and die than say that the Tathāgata is impermanent. You should not listen to these words.[91]

As for the mere aspect of a nonimplicative negation’s not being suitable as nirvāṇa, this scripture also says:

Even when searching for what is called "emptiness," "emptiness," there is nothing to be found. Even the Nirgrantha have a "nothing whatsoever," but liberation is not like that.[92]

And:

That which is liberation is the uncontrived basic element. This is the Tathāgata.[93]

The Vajracchedikā also states:

Those who see me by way of form
And those who follow me by way of sound
Have engaged in the wrong approach—
Such persons do not see me.

The buddhas are seen by way of the dharma—
The guides are dharmakāya indeed.
Since the nature of phenomena is not cognizable,
One is not able to cognize it.[94]

As illustrated by these and other passages, this is taught extensively in all sūtras of definitive meaning.

      As for the reasonings that the wisdom dharmakāya is unconditioned, if omniscient wisdom—the ultimate fruition that is of equal taste and not dual with the primordial dharmadhātu—were something impermanent that is newly formed by causes and conditions, this would entail many flaws such as the absurd consequences that it is not self-arisen wisdom, has not relinquished the problem of change, entails the aspects of repeated ceasing and repeated arising, is deceiving due to disintegrating by its own nature, is not the absolute refuge because of ceasing as soon as it arises and because of abiding only as something limited where the collection of its causes is complete, is not of equal taste in all phenomena, has not transcended all extremes, does not lack phenomena such as the birth that is of a mental nature, and is a formational dependent phenomenon due to lacking independence. Thus, such a claim would entail the enormous flaw of regarding the vajrakāya as being impermanent.

      Therefore, casting away this bad path, the kāya of nondual wisdom is to be regarded as unconditioned and genuinely permanent. Nevertheless, through evaluating this merely by reasonings that rely on the perspective of ordinary beings, some think, "Unconditioned wisdom is impossible because a common locus of cognition and what is permanent is impossible." Though the limited cognitions that cognize objects are necessarily impermanent, the wisdom in which what cognizes and what is cognized are of equal taste—"the vajra of space’s pervading space"—is not like that. For it is established through a reasoning consciousness that analyzes for the ultimate that there is primordially no arising or ceasing in the essence of that wisdom because all phenomena of nirvāṇa and saṃsāra are contained within the state of the unchanging luminosity that is the self-radiance (rang gdangs) of the unconditioned. Consequently, this kind of wisdom is the great unconditioned that does not abide in either of the extremes of being conditioned and unconditioned. It is absolutely not like a sheer nonentity. Since both entities and nonentities are bearers of the nature of phenomena and arise in mutual dependence or are labeled in mutual dependence, if analyzed correctly, they are conditioned, hollow, fake, delusive, and deceptive. On the other hand, the tathāgata heart is the great unconditioned true nature of all phenomena that consist of entities and nonentities, which is perfectly undeceiving. As the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā says:

A nature is not artificial
And does not depend on anything else.[95]

And:

Entities and nonentities are conditioned.
Nirvāṇa is unconditioned.[96]

Hence, once the ultimate wisdom of the dharmakāya is established through the scriptures that are the sūtras of definitive meaning and the reasonings that analyze for the ultimate as pervading all of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, equality, the unconditioned, and the unchanging nature of the ultimate, the nature of this wisdom dharmakāya abides at present in all mind streams that are suitable for its becoming manifest at some time, and it does so without decrease or increase and in the manner of being the true nature of these mind streams. From the perspective of the way in which it appears to be free or not to be free from the adventitious stains, it appears to be manifest or not manifest. However, from the perspective of the way things are, there is not even the slightest difference in terms of before and after or better and worse because it has the nature of being unchanging and unconditioned. The Uttaratantra states:

Its true nature of being changeless
Is the same before as after.[97]

And:

The luminous nature of the mind
Is completely unchanging, just like space.
It is not afflicted by adventitious stains,
Such as desire, born from false imagination.[98]

Thus, all saṃsāric phenomena are changing and not stable. Though they all appear as if transforming within the state of the nature of phenomena, it should be understood that, as is said again and again, that the purity of the mind—the tathāgata heart—is without any transformation, just like space. In this way, the unconditioned expanse of luminosity is never tainted by mistakenness but is naturally pure. The spontaneously present fruitional qualities such as the powers abide within this unmistaken self-radiant basic nature without being separable from it, just like the sun and its rays. The Uttaratantra says:

The basic element is empty of what is adventitious,
Which has the characteristic of being separable.
It is not empty of the unsurpassable dharmas,
Which have the characteristic of being inseparable.[99]

All flaws of saṃsāra arise from the mistaken mind that clings to a personal self and an identity of phenomena. Since this mistaken mind from the beginning neither taints nor mixes with the luminosity that is the primordial ground, but is adventitious like clouds in the sky, these flaws can be distinguished from the basic element and are suitable to be removed from it. Therefore, the essence of the basic element is empty of these flaws, that is, it is untainted by them. However, this basic element is not empty of the ultimate qualities that cannot be separated from the self-arising wisdom that does not depend on being affected by mistakenness but, all on its own, is luminous and operates as the true reality of all phenomena. In its own essence, it is the fundamental ground from which these qualities are inseparable, just like the sun and its rays.

      If the naturally abiding disposition is established as the unconditioned essence of the dharmakāya that is primordially endowed with the qualities, since this is suitable to be buddhahood, the wisdom dharmakāya must reside in the mind streams of all sentient beings without decrease or increase. It is established by the power of entities (dngos stobs) that it is suitable to become a buddha if one has cultivated the path. Since the dharmakāya at the time of buddhahood is unconditioned, it is impossible for it to be newly conditioned by causes and conditions. Therefore, it is established that it abides as buddha nature at present.

      Regarding this, some people think, "If the dharmakāya abides at present as buddha nature, why does that omniscient wisdom not dispel the obscurations of the sentient beings in which it abides?" Also, clinging to the theories of the common yāna, they think, "Since a buddha is the result and a sentient being is the cause, if the result is present in the cause, this is invalidated by reasonings such as eating food absurdly entailing eating excrement." Having been guided by merely an understanding of the common scriptures, it is no wonder that such qualms arise in those who have not trained in the meaning of the extremely profound sūtras of definitive meaning. Still, what they say is not the case. Though the nature of phenomena that is luminous wisdom exists in everything without distinction, when the adventitious mistakenness of one’s own mind arises, the basis of designation of saṃsāra is only this mistaken mind together with its objects, but this mistakenness does not know the nature of phenomena that exists in oneself as it is. For example, when sleeping, it is due to the power of consciousness alone that infinite appearances such as a body, objects, and an eye-consciousness arise. At that time, the mental consciousness apprehends and observes subject and object separately, but this mental consciousness itself is not able to know its own actual mode of being of apprehender and apprehended’s not being established as different. However, even though it does not know its actual mode of being, there is nothing in it that is other than this actual mode of being. Likewise, though all phenomena abide as emptiness, merely being emptiness does not entail that everyone realizes this because there is the possibility of the mistakenness in which the way things appear and the way they are do not accord. Consequently, since the wisdom of buddha nature and mind are the true nature and what bears this nature, respectively, buddhas and sentient beings are taught in terms of the way things are and the way they appear, respectively. Hence, to bring forth invalidations by reasoning such as the result’s already existing in the cause simply means not to understand the thesis here.

      Thus, this first reasoning here in Uttaratantra I.28 establishes through the reason of the clear manifestation of the dharmakāya at the time of the result that the disposition that is primordially endowed with the qualities exists at the time of the cause. From the perspective of how things actually are, there is no earlier cause or later result as far as buddha nature is concerned, but from the perspective of how things (mistakenly) appear, one needs to present this process in terms of cause and result. Therefore, the result of the future manifestation of the dharmakāya in a being proves the prior existence of the cause that is the disposition in that being, which is called "the principle of dependence."[100]

      (2) As for the second reason in Uttaratantra I.28b ("because suchness is undifferentiable"), since all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are undifferentiable and of one taste within emptiness or suchness—great primordial luminosity—buddhas and sentient beings too are ultimately undifferentiable, which is the equality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. Therefore, it is established through "the principle of the nature of phenomena" that even what is projected by adventitious mistakenness and looks like a sentient being does not move even an inch from the ultimate nature of phenomena. Therefore, it is certain that these sentient beings possess the buddha heart. Having in mind all phenomena, the sūtras also speak of their primordially being luminosity, nirvāṇa, and the nature of completely perfect buddhahood.

      One may think, "But as was explained to others above, if the existence of the disposition is established merely by everything’s being undifferentiable as suchness, it follows that the disposition also exists in earth, rocks, and so on." If what is called "the disposition" must be presented as the infallible cause of buddhahood, which is the complete relinquishment of the two obscurations under the sway of a mistaken mind and thus the unfolding of mind’s being unmistaken about the nature of what is to be known, any practice of the path to accomplish the result of buddhahood is absent in what is not mind, that is, matter such as earth and rocks. Therefore, even though conventionally matter is undifferentiable from mind as suchness, there is no need to posit that the disposition exists in matter. Also, stones and such equally appear through the power of the mind—it is not that mind arises through the power of external stones and such. This is to be understood through the example of the relationship between appearances in a dream and the consciousness during that dream.

      Through understanding that the nature of phenomena—the sugata heart, which has the nature of ultimate uncontaminated virtue—resides in this mind that is the creator of the three realms, just as wetness is inherent in water, the appearances of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are merely the play of consciousness and wisdom and therefore do not need to be different. We emphatically assert that, in actual reality, all appearances, which do not stray from the natural state of the nature of phenomena that is primordial buddhahood, do not go beyond the mode of being of a tathāgata. The Prajñāpāramitāsaṃcayagāthā says:

The purity of form should be known as the purity of the fruition.
The purity of form and the fruition represents the purity of omniscience.
The purity of omniscience and the fruition as well as the purity of form,
Similar to the element of space, are inseparable and indivisible.[101]

Accordingly, the purity of the subject liberated from the obscurations is the purity or the nature of objects, such as form, because apart from the mere manner of seeing the process of progressively becoming free from the obscurations that are one’s own appearances, their actual nature abides as being primordially free from obscurations. Therefore, when one has become a buddha through the stains of the basic element that is the disposition (the subject) having been exhausted, no impure entities that are objects remain as leftovers, just as blurred vision is automatically cleared when an eye disorder is cured.

      Someone may think, "But this means that when one person becomes a buddha, all impure appearances cease." This is not the case because the seeing of the way things are and the way they appear being contradictory is due to the obscurations that are each person’s own individual appearances obscuring these persons themselves (and no one else). One may think, "On the buddhabhūmi, on which the way things are and the way they appear accord in all respects, do buddhas then have or not have impure appearances? If they have, all phenomena have not become fully perfect buddhahood. If they do not have impure appearances, it is impossible for buddhas to know the paths that lead everywhere in saṃsāra and nirvāṇa[102] and so forth." It is from within the state of these phenomena’s being of equal taste with omniscient wisdom that this omniscient wisdom effortlessly and spontaneously knows all possible phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. While it, from its own perspective, does not go beyond seeing everything as great purity, it also sees the appearances of the six classes of beings in accordance with the ways in which they individually appear. Due to the power of all obscurations of the dualistic appearances of subject and object having been exhausted, all the many bearers of the nature of phenomena are encompassed in an unmixed and complete way within the expanse of the nature of phenomena. Through this essential point, they are simultaneously seen by the wisdom of equal taste that is free from arising and ceasing. Let alone ordinary beings with their limited perception, this is difficult to fathom even for those who dwell on the bhūmis. This principle is explained in the Bodhisattvapiṭaka:

The equality of all phenomena is realized
To be equal by self-arisen [wisdom].
Therefore, the seeing of the tathāgatas,
The fully perfect buddhas, is equal.

And:

>By virtue of knowing the natural luminosity of mind as it is, therefore, this is called "fully and completely awakening into unsurpassable truly perfect awakening through the prajñā that is a single instant of mind."

Accordingly, master Candrakīrti says:

Just as there are no divisions in space by virtue of the divisions of vessels,
There are no divisions of entities whatsoever in true reality.
Therefore, if you fully comprehend their being of equal taste,
You with excellent knowledge understand [all] knowable objects in an instant.[103]

Thus, the great wisdom that is nondual with the expanse pervades all phenomena, and its effortless seeing pervades them in the manner of the moon and stars’ appearing in the ocean. This seeing from within the state of all conceptions’ being at utter peace is so due to the power of self-arisen luminous wisdom—the nature of phenomena that resides in the ground— having become manifest as it is after all obscurations have become exhausted. Therefore, if one relies on the correct principle of the nature of phenomena in the context of analyzing for the ultimate, irreversible trust is found. Otherwise, when this is evaluated with a narrow mind, we witness the rise of a lot of contradictions and impurities of imagination, such as assertions that wisdom does not exist on the buddhabhūmi, or, even if it does, it is established as being just like an ordinary mind that entails change; assertions that buddhas do not see the realms of sentient beings or that buddhahood entails impure appearances; and the inability to establish the natures of the wisdom that knows suchness and the wisdom that knows variety as being of equal taste.

      (3) As for the third reason in Uttaratantra I.28c ("because of the disposition"), all sentient beings have the disposition of being suitable to become buddhas since the adventitious stains are established to be relinquishable, while the dharmakāya that is primordially endowed with the qualities is established to exist without any difference in all beings. If sentient beings have such a disposition of being suitable to become buddhas, it is certain that they possess the buddha heart because there is a situation of actually becoming buddhas for them and the dharmakāya of a buddha is unconditioned in nature, therefore lacking any differences in its nature in terms of being worse before or better after.

      Through this third reasoning, one understands that a result is produced from a cause, which is "the principle of performing activity." Here, this is not just inferring that a result comes forth through the mere existence of the cause, which is due to the following essential points: the disposition that is suchness (the nature of phenomena) is changeless; at the time of the fruition, its nature is still without being better or worse; since the adventitious stains are always separable from it, no matter how long they have been associated with it, it is impossible for this disposition to ever lose its capacity or power to become buddhahood.

      Thus, to briefly summarize these three reasons in Uttaratantra I.28, (1) the existence of the cause—the disposition—is not distinct in nature from the dharmakāya at the time of the fruition. (2) If the dharmakāya at the time of the fruition exists, it must also exist without increase or decrease at the time of sentient beings. (3) Although there are the imputations of cause and result as well as before and after, in actuality, the dharmadhātu is of one taste as the unchanging essence. Through these three reasons, it is established that all sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart, which is the outcome of the path of correct reasoning that operates through the power of entities.

      In this way, through these reasonings that establish that a tathāgata exists in all sentient beings, ultimate liberation, the state of a tathāgata, and the ultimate basic nature of all phenomena are established as not being different. If one understands that this liberation and buddhahood have arisen through the power of the tathāgata heart, it is also established that there is only a single yāna ultimately. Otherwise, in the systems of those who turn their back on the mahāyāna (such as those who say that the tathāgata heart does not exist in the basic element of sentient beings, that it does not exist at the time of buddhahood, and that it lacks any qualities at the time of the cause, while it newly possesses the qualities at the time of the result), the reasonings to establish a single yāna ultimately are just empty verbiage. Hence, those who aspire for the topics of the supreme yāna should greatly train their intelligence in this topic.

      Thus, since the presentation that the basic element that is primordially endowed with the qualities exists at the time of sentient beings is a profound and inconceivable topic, even the Buddha spoke about it to his audiences in a manner so that they should trust what he says and said that though it is undeceiving, it is difficult to understand through one’s own power. Therefore, since it is taught as the ultimate of what is profound, small-minded dialecticians continuously dispute it, but no matter how many qualms that rely on conventions they may bring up, such as the consequence that there would be a mind that is a common locus of the mind of a buddha and a sentient being, they are all nonsense. The Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra states:

The defining characteristic of the conditioned realms and the ultimate
Is their defining characteristic of being free from being one and different.
Those who think of them in terms of oneness and difference
Have engaged them in an improper manner.[104]

Accordingly, there is no need to claim that mind’s true nature—the basic element that is the tathāgata heart—and the mind that is the bearer of this nature are either the same or different. Not only is it not contradictory that this mind does not go beyond its true nature (the way things are) and that mistakenness (the way things appear) is still possible, but otherwise there would be flaws such as there being no liberation and it being impossible for any being to be mistaken. Because there is the discordance between the way things are and the way they appear, the possibility of mistaken sentient beings as well as the existence of buddhas after these beings have relinquished their mistakenness through having entered the path is established.

      Though all phenomena are established as emptiness through the reasonings that analyze for the ultimate, they do not negate the qualities of the tathāgata heart because those who follow the teachings on buddha nature also accept that, though these unsurpassable qualities exist, their nature is empty. Therefore, the meaning taught by the middle wheel of dharma that all afflicted and purified phenomena are empty is established in that way because the tathāgata heart too is the nature of emptiness. However, the teaching on the tathāgata heart that is specified by being inseparable from the appearances of the kāyas and wisdoms whose nature is empty is the true intention of the sūtras of definitive meaning of the final wheel of dharma. Therefore, it is merely by virtue of this principle that this teaching is superior to the middle wheel of dharma. Consequently, the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra ’s praise of the meaning of the final wheel of dharma does not refer to everything that is included in the final wheel of dharma, but this praise is pronounced in the way it is from the perspective of the definitive meaning of the teachings on the tathāgata heart. One is able to ascertain this in such a way through other sūtra passages, such as those that teach the basic element through the example of cleansing a jewel. Therefore, the emptiness taught in the middle wheel of dharma and the kāyas and wisdoms taught in the last wheel of dharma need to be integrated as the unity of appearance and emptiness. Consequently, without dividing or excluding the sections of definitive meaning in the middle and last wheels of dharma, both should be taken as being of definitive meaning, just as this is asserted by the omniscient Longchen Rabjam. If one takes both of them to be of definitive meaning, there is not only no contradiction that one of them must be taken as being of expedient meaning, but, through having unified them as the tathāgata heart and thus taking this tathāgata heart to have the meaning of the causal tantra, it also comes forth as the essential point of the pith instructions of the vajrayāna.

      Therefore, one should understand that the teachings of the Buddha come down to this single essential point. The noble ones such as Nāgārjuna and Asaṅga are of a single mind with regard to this final meaning because such can be clearly realized through Nāgārjuna’s Dharmadhātustava, Bodhicittavivaraṇa, and so on, as well as Asaṅga’s commentary on the Uttaratantra and so forth. As master Nāgārjuna’s Dharmadhātustava states:

The sūtras that teach emptiness,
However many spoken by the victors,
They all remove afflictions,
But never ruin this dhātu.[105]

Accordingly, the outcome of analyzing for the ultimate—the vajra-like point of indivisible ultimate reality—is the expanse that cannot be split by dialectic cognition. Therefore, there are no grounds for engaging in qualms that are based on the ultimate.



Bötrul Dongak Tenpai Nyima
1898 ~ 1959
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 898.

Dongag Tenpé Nyima’s notes on Mipham Rinpoche’s Synopsis follow the latter’s matching of the first three lines of Uttaratantra I.28 with the principles of dependence, the nature of phenomena, and performing activity, respectively, and refers to them as result, nature, and cause, respectively.[106] He adds that the first reason is a result reason ( ’bras bu’i rtags), while the latter two are nature reasons (rang bzhin gyi rtags). Also, when it is said that "sentient beings are buddhas," this refers only to buddhahood in the sense of natural purity (but not in the sense of being endowed with twofold purity). Therefore, it speaks about the true nature of the mind but not its result. Hence, there is no flaw of the result’s already abiding in the cause (as in the Sāṃkhya system).

Excerpted from Duckworth, Mipam on Buddha-Nature, 123-124.

Botrül takes up Mipam’s three reasons and describes the first reason as evidence that is a result (’bras rtags) and the last two as evidence of [identical] nature (rang bzhin gyi rtags):

There are three reasonings that establish Buddha-nature: (1) reasoning of dependency [concerning] the effect, (2) reasoning of the nature of things [concerning] the essence, and (3) reasoning of efficacy [concerning] the cause. Moreover, the first is evidence that is an effect (’bras rtags) and the latter two are evidence of [identical] nature (rang bzhin gyi rtags). The first, through putting forward as evidence the effect—that which is endowed with the twofold purity—establishes the presence of the essence of the primordially pure Buddha; it is posited by means of the two separate contradistinctive aspects: (1) the Buddha that is the primordial pure essence and (2) the Buddha that is endowed with the twofold purity. Since the statement, “sentient beings are Buddhas,” is [in reference to] the Buddha that is natural purity, it [refers to] the suchness of mind, not the effect which is that [Buddha endowed with the twofold purity]; therefore, there is also no fault of the effect abiding in the cause.[107]

Botrül shows that the relationship of essential identity[108] between sentient beings and Buddhas refers to (1) the suchness of the mind of a sentient being and (2) the natural purity, or primordial purity, of the Buddha; it does not refer to the twofold purity of a Buddha at the time of the effect when the qualities of a Buddha are manifest. The actualized Buddha is endowed with the twofold purity: (1) natural purity and (2) purity that is free of the adventitious [defilements]. In the case of the essential identity of a sentient being and Buddha, Botrül states that it is posited by means of the contradistinctive aspect, or conceptual distinction, of only the Buddha’s natural purity, not the twofold purity. Therefore, he concludes that there is no fault here of accepting an effect as abiding in a cause.[109]


Zurmang Pema Namgyal
20th Century
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 898.

The Kagyü scholar Surmang Padma Namgyal’s (twentieth century) Full Moon of Questions and Answers explains Uttaratantra I.28 through linking it with all four principles and even adding the nine examples for buddha nature in the Uttaratantra.[110] He says that the first line proves the cause by way of the result, applying the principle of performing activity and examples 1–3. As for the second line, the true nature of buddhas and sentient beings is the same and without any distinction of purity and impurity, referring to the principle of the nature of phenomena and example 4. The third line shows that the result of the three kāyas depends on both the naturally abiding and the unfolding dispositions, thus applying the principle of dependence and examples 5–9 (the principle of demonstrating evidence is said to be contained implicitly in all three lines).



Ngawang Kunga Wangchuk
1921 ~ 2008
Excerpted from Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 899.

The contemporary Sakya scholar Ngawang Kunga Wangchug’s commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra says that the Mādhyamikas explain the nature of the disposition in many ways, such as being the dharmakāya, the dharmadhātu, or mind.[111] However, its own fully complete nature is stated in Uttaratantra I.28. Among the first three lines of this verse, "Since the perfect buddhakāya radiates" refers to what is suitable for the condition of the Buddha’s enlightened activity engaging it. "Since suchness is undifferentiable" indicates what is suitable for relinquishing the adverse conditions of the obscurations. "And because of the disposition" teaches what is suitable for the arising of all buddha qualities as the fruition. Thus, these three points are complete in both the sugata heart and the buddha disposition. However, in order to present it as the sugata heart, all three must be complete, while they need not be complete in order to present it as the disposition because the disposition itself represents one of these three points.

      In brief, the definition of the sugata heart at the time of its being a cause is "the dharmadhātu that is suitable for (a) the condition of the Buddha’s enlightened activity engaging it, (b) relinquishing the adverse conditions of the obscurations, and (c) all buddha qualities arising as its fruition. The definition of the buddha disposition is "the dhātu that is not liberated from the stains and whose own nature is suitable to become any one of the three kāyas, or the causal factor that consists of any roots of virtue at the time of the disposition’s being awoken."


Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
1961
Excerpted from teachings given by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at the Centre d'Études de Chanteloube, Dordogne, France, 2003-2004. Buddha-Nature: Mahayana-Uttaratantra-Shastra.[112]

The first reason that an ordinary being can practice and then manifest as the perfect Buddha, adorned with all the qualities of perfection, is that ordinary beings have the Buddha-nature. Therefore they can manifest as the Buddha just as Siddhartha did, as we saw yesterday.

      The second reason is that all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana are free from all extremes, and therefore they are equal. They are not separate entities. So in the ultimate sense, Buddha and sentient beings cannot be separated. You might have a question at this point. If all phenomena are equal in the ultimate sense, if they are equally emptiness, does this also includes stones and pieces of wood? Do they have the kham? Do they have this element or nature? This is where we can talk about rig or race. This quotation is quoted so much, especially by mahasandhi people. Until now, we have been hearing that there is something called Buddha-nature, and that problems arise because of the wrapping, the defilements. Now for the first time, we are going to hear some kind of benefit of having that wrapping, because wood and stones don’t have it. Also, it is our mind that sees or projects inanimate things like wood and stones. It is never the other way around. Here we are continuing to slowly construct the definition of Buddha-nature, what we call family, element, or nature. With three reasons, all sentient beings have the essence of the Buddha.


Thrangu Rinpoche
1933
Excerpted from Thrangu Rinpoche and Erik Pema Kunsang, Buddha Nature: Ten Teachings on the Uttara Tantra Shastra, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1988, pages 55-57.

Why are all sentient beings endowed with the enlightened essence?

A four-line verse appears in the text listing three reasons why all sentient beings are never apart from the buddha nature:

The body of complete enlightenment is all-pervasive;
Suchness is undivided;
All beings possess the potential;
Therefore, all beings possess the buddha nature.

      Other religions and belief systems describe the final fruition of practice as the attainment of something new which arises from some other source. In Buddhism, this is not the case. Because dharmakaya is all-pervasive, the end result of complete enlightenment is already present within oneself. The bodies of complete enlightenment, dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya originate from oneself and not from any place outside. When attaining enlightenment, these two latter bodies are manifested from dharmakaya.

      Right now, we may doubt the possibility of someday possessing the same vast enlightened capacity and unfathomable qualities as Buddha Shakyamuni, but since we do, in fact, possess the same enlightened essence, when evolving the body of complete enlightenment we will automatically manifest all of these wondrous attributes.

      Next, suchness is undivided. There is no difference whatsoever between the suchness, or dharmadhatu nature, that is present at the time of complete enlightenment and the suchness that we possess at this moment. In essence, they are identical. The suchness of fully enlightened buddhas and the suchness of ordinary beings, like ourselves, is exactly the same. If the suchness of complete enlightenment were very exalted and the suchness of sentient beings were inferior, it would then appear as though we lacked the sugatagarbha, the buddha nature, but this is not the case. There is not the slightest difference. Hence, the qualities which will manifest at the time of reaching complete enlightenment are spontaneously present within oneself right now.

      Finally, each sentient being naturally possesses this enlightened potential. Of any hundred beings, all one hundred have the potential for enlightenment. We cannot say that only ninety-five of the hundred will attain enlightenment while the remaining five have no chance, no matter how hard they try. Each and every being has this potential for enlightenment.

These three reasons explain why all sentient beings are endowed with the enlightened essence.

      It is crucial to acknowledge what we naturally possess. Why? In terms of Dharma, the major obstacles to practice and accomplishments are laziness and discouraging oneself. 'Discouragement' includes putting oneself down, thinking, "I can't practice. People like Milarepa can attain enlightenment, but someone like me has no such capacity. I'll never become enlightened." Instead of discouraging ourselves, we should remember that Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment because he possessed the sugatagarbha. Milarepa also attained complete liberation due to the enlightened essence. Because we have this same buddha nature, we are absolutely identical to them in our ability to attain enlightenment. Regardless of whether we are rich or poor, male or female, educated or uneducated, we are capable of practicing the Dharma and attaining liberation. In this respect, we are all the same.

      In an ordinary worldly context, people sometimes discourage themselves saying, "I can't get a job. I don't know what to do. I wish I were dead," and they may even consider suicide. This happens. Nevertheless, if people would acknowledge their potential for accumulating enlightened merit, they could then tap this immense capacity to discover new ways of living. Therefore, understanding that we have the enlightened essence as our natural possession is extremely important and beneficial both for this present life, future lives, and for the attainment of the ultimate fruition, complete liberation and perfect buddhahood.

      When the Buddha taught that sentient beings possess the sugatagarbha, it was not solely for the purpose of encouraging us to practice. He was simply stating the truth. Through understanding our real condition, how things truly are, we can then develop the perseverance and fortitude to complete our journey along the path.


The 14th Dalai Lama
1935
Excerpted from Dalai Lama, 14th, and Thubten Chodron. Saṃsāra, Nirvāṇa, and Buddha Nature. Library of Wisdom and Compassion 3. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018, pages 310-315.


Three Aspects of the Tathāgatagarbha

Maitreya asserts that each sentient being has the buddha essence and can attain buddhahood (RGV 1.27).

Because a perfect buddha's body is pervasive,
because suchness is without differentiation,
and because a [buddha] lineage exists, all embodied [beings]
are always in possession of a buddha essence.

      He gives three reasons for stating that all sentient beings have the buddha essence and can attain full awakening: (1) The buddhas' bodies are pervasive so sentient beings can engage with the awakening activities of the buddhas. (2) The suchness (natural purity) of the buddhas' minds and of sentient beings' minds cannot be differentiated because both are the emptiness of inherent existence. (3) Sentient beings possess the transforming buddha nature that can develop all of a buddha's excellent qualities and transform into the three buddha bodies. These reasons, confirmed by the nine similes, indicate the following three aspects of the tathāgatagarbha.

1. The tathāgatagarbha has the nature of the dharmakāya of self-arisen pristine wisdom.

The tathāgatagarbha possessing the nature of the dharmakāya refers to the clear light nature of the tathāgatagarbha being called the dharmakāya. This is another case of giving the name of the result (dharmakāya) to the cause (tathāgatagarbha). Although the emptiness of the mind is permanent and is not an actual cause, it is called a cause because it is the foundation on which the dharmakāya is attained. The first three similes describe this.

      The tathāgatagarbha is pervaded by the awakening activities of the dharmakāya. This means that sentient beings have the potential to be engaged with and influenced by the buddhas' awakening activities that will guide them to awakening.

      Within this first aspect of the buddha essence, the dharmakāya, there are two parts: (1) The dharmakāya of realizations is the undefiled empty nature of a buddha's mind that is realized by that buddha's wisdom dharmakāya. This emptiness is the actual dharmakāya and refers specifically to the dharmadhātu that is totally free from defilements and has the nature of clear light. It is what is perceived and experienced by the wisdom dharmakāya of a buddha. (2) The dharmakāya of the teachings leads to the realization of this empty nature. These teachings consist of the profound teachings of the definitive sūtras that explain the ultimate truth, and the interpretable teachings of the provisional sutras that explain various veiled truths—such as the person, aggregates, grounds and paths—that are taught in accordance with the dispositions and interests of various disciples. The dharmakāya of the teachings is called the dharmakāya although it is not the actual dharmakāya. The actual dharmakāya is experienced by a buddha. The teachings are the conditions to attain this dharmakāya.

      Just as the buddha image hidden in the closed lotus in the first simile cannot be seen, the wisdom dharmakāya—the ultimate, supreme meditative equipoise on emptiness—is not perceivable in the world. The honey (simile 2) resembles the profound teachings on the ultimate truth. Just as all honey shares the same taste of sweetness, all phenomena have the same "taste" of being empty of inherent existence. The grain (simile 3) corresponds to the vast teachings on the method side of the path. Just as the grain needs to be removed from its husk and cooked to become edible food, the vast teachings are provisional and require interpretation.

      The definitive and interpretable teachings and the profound and vast teachings are given to disciples of all three dispositions—śrāvakas, solitary realizers, and bodhisattvas—as well as to sentient beings who are temporarily of uncertain disposition. This latter group consists of individuals who will later become disciples with one of the three dispositions, depending on the teachers they meet and the teachings they receive. By hearing, reflecting, and meditating on both the vast and profound teachings, sentient beings will attain the actual wisdom dharmakāya.

      The chief way in which buddhas' awakening activities engage with and influence sentient beings is by means of the buddhas' speech—the teachings they give. This ability of the buddhas' awakening activities to influence sentient beings is always present, and in this sense sentient beings are pervaded by the awakening activities of the dharmakāya.

2. The tathāgatagarbha has the nature of emptiness, suchness. The tathāgatagarbha—the emptiness of sentient beings' minds—cannot be differentiated from the aspect of the natural purity of the dharmakāya. The gold buried in filth (simile 4) illustrates the emptiness of the mind. Just as pure gold does not change into a base metal, the emptiness of the mind does not change into something else. Like pure gold, the tathāgatagarbha is pure and faultless. The ultimate nature of sentient beings' minds and the ultimate nature or natural purity of the tathāgatas' minds cannot be differentiated in that both are emptiness. They appear the same and cannot be distinguished to the face of the meditative equipoise directly perceiving emptiness. In this sense it is said that the suchness of the Tathāgata is the essence of sentient beings. 3. The tathāgatagarbha has the nature of the buddha lineage or disposition. This disposition culminates as the three bodies of a buddha, thus accomplishing buddhahood. Encompassing the remaining five similes, this disposition has two parts: (1) The buddha disposition that has existed beginninglessly resembles a treasure under the ground (simile 5). Just as no one put the treasure there and its beginning is unknown, the naturally abiding buddha nature has existed beginninglessly. (2) The transforming buddha disposition that has the potential resembles a sprout (simile 6). Just as a tiny sprout, upon meeting the conditions that nourish it, will gradually grow into a tree, the transforming buddha disposition has the potential to accomplish buddhahood and the three buddha bodies when it encounters the right conditions, such as learning, reflecting, and meditating on the Dharma. The buddha statue covered by tattered rags (simile 7) represents the beginningless, naturally abiding buddha disposition. Just as a beautiful, precious statue shines forth when the impediment of the tattered rags is removed, the beginningless purity of the mind—its emptiness of true existence—is revealed when all adventitious defilements have been forever banished owing to the collection of wisdom. At this point the naturally abiding buddha disposition is called the nature dharmakāya of a buddha.

      The transforming buddha disposition blossoms owing to the accumulation of merit. When it is fully evolved, it becomes the enjoyment and emanation bodies of a buddha. Just as a future great leader who is now in his mother's womb (simile 8) will come to enjoy majesty, the enjoyment body enjoys the majesty and wealth of the Mahāyāna Dharma. Similar to a golden buddha statue emerging from the dust that surrounds it (simile 9), emanation bodies, which represent the actual dharmakāya, appear in whatever forms are most conducive to subduing the minds of sentient beings.

      In our practice, our buddha disposition is initially awakened through listening to and reflecting on the Dharma, especially teachings on the value and purpose of bodhicitta and the two methods of generating it. Upon generating bodhicitta, we have the strong aspiration to attain the three buddha bodies. To accomplish this, we engage in the bodhisattva deeds—the six perfections and the four ways of maturing disciples—and fulfill the collections of merit and wisdom. Cultivating the collection of wisdom leads to gaining the pristine wisdom directly perceiving the ultimate nature of all phenomena. When this wisdom is developed further and used to fully cleanse all obscurations from our mindstreams, our naturally pure buddha nature becomes the nature dharmakāya—the suchness of the mind that has the two purities: the natural purity of inherent existence and the purity from adventitious defilements. The cultivation of the collection of merit, done through practicing the method aspect of the path, leads to our transforming buddha nature becoming the two form bodies—the enjoyment body and the emanation body. In this way, the three bodies of a buddha are actualized and our pristine wisdom perceives all existents throughout the universe.

Three Aspects of the Buddha Disposition

1. The clear light nature of the tathāgatagarbha that will become a buddha's dharmakāya in the future.

  • The dharmakāya of realizations: the undefiled empty nature of a buddha's mind that is realized by that buddha's wisdom dharmakāya; buddha image (1).
  • The dharmakāya of the teachings that are the conditions to attain it.
  • Profound teachings of the definitive sutras on the ultimate truth; honey (2).
  • Interpretable teachings of the provisional sutras on veiled truths; grain (3).

2. The tathāgatagarbha's empty nature (suchness) that cannot be differentiated from the emptiness of a buddha's mind; gold (4).

3. The tathāgatagarbha that has the buddha lineage and accomplishes the state of a buddha.

  • Beginningless buddha nature; treasure (5).
  • Transforming buddha nature that has the potential to accomplish buddhahood; sprout (6).
  • When purified, the beginningless, naturally abiding buddha disposition becomes the nature dharmakāya of a buddha; statue (7).
  • When the transforming buddha disposition is fully evolved, it becomes the enjoyment body of a buddha; the future great leader in his mother's womb (8).
  • The emanation bodies of a buddha; golden statue (9).

In summary, in his commentary to the Sublime Continuum, Asaṅga says:

The similes taught in the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra explain that the mind, which has existed without beginning in all realms of sentient beings, is empty by nature and therefore the afflictions are adventitious. Being empty by nature, this beginningless mind is inseparable from the innate development of the qualities of awakening.[113]

Academic notes[edit]

  1. Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon Unicode Input
  2. Brunnhölzl, Karl. When the Clouds Part: The Uttaratantra and its Meditative Tradition as a Bridge between Sūtra and Tantra. Boston: Snow Lion Publications, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, 2014.
  3. Takasaki, Jikido. A Study on the Ratnagotravibhāga (Uttaratantra): Being a Treatise on the Tathāgatagarbha Theory of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Serie Orientale Roma 33. Roma: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (ISMEO), 1966.
  4. The wordings identical or similar to the phrase "all sentient beings possess the tathāgata heart" (also found in the text below right after I.133) or "all sentient beings always possess the tathāgata heart" (see the text below right after I.28) in RGVV occur several times in the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra. As RGVV says just below in the text (following I.28), it is precisely according to that sūtra that the three meanings of this phrase will be explained.
  5. In the Tibetan editions of the Uttaratantra, this verse follows I.28, and some editions omit it altogether. JKC (50) notes this fact and says that it does belong to the text since Dölpopa, Karma Könshön (a student of the Third Karmapa), Rongtön, Gö Lotsāwa, and others quote and comment on it extensively.
  6. DP and C reverse the order of verses I.27–28 and insert this sentence between them. For the sake of conforming with the pattern of the respective initial two verses on each one of the three jewels in the text above and the following topics below, Takasaki suggests to insert "What is taught by this?" (anena kiṃ darśitam /) between these two verses.
  7. This follows Schmithausen’s suggestion of sadbhāvārthena for saṃbhāvārthena. Schmithausen points out that the virtually identical term gotrasadbhāvārtham appears in the text below (J72.8; see the comments on I.149ff.).
  8. There are many volumes in Tibet as well as by Japanese and Western scholars on how Uttaratantra I.28 in general and its compound buddhagarbhāḥ in particular can be interpreted, so I will highlight just a few points here. As for the somewhat differing Sanskrit and Tibetan versions, spharaṇa in I.28a literally means "quivering," "throbbing," "vibrating," or "penetrating" (the Tibetan here is ’phro ba but khyab pa in the text below in the comments on I.146). Also, Uttaratantra II.13, II.93, and IV.61 use spharaṇa in connection with light rays, and the version of I.28a in Ratnākaraśānti’s Sūtrasamuccayabhāṣya (D3935, fol. 297a.1) says "the illuminating dharmadhātu radiates" (chos dbyings snang byed ’od ’byung). SM 8b "since the welfare of sentient beings depends on the victor,"which is a reformulation of Uttaratantra I.27a and I.28a, suggests an interaction between the dharmakāya of a buddha and the buddha natures of sentient beings. In this vein, an interlinear gloss on verse 11 explicitly relates the twofold dharmakāya—"the utterly stainless dharmadhātu and its natural outflow (teaching the principles of profundity and diversity)"in Uttaratantra I.145 (explained by RGVV as "consisting of the arising of [individually] corresponding [forms of] cognizance in other sentient beings to be guided")—to "the perfect buddhakāya radiates."Compare also the even more explicit explanation on such an interaction between the dharmakāya of a buddha and the tathāgata hearts of beings in CMW on I.28a (473), which says the following. In order to purify the basic element of sentient beings, with the dharmakāya functioning as the support, the sambhogakāya and the nirmāṇakāya perform the welfare of beings through pervading pure and impure retinues, respectively. Therefore, the basis to be purified—the tathāgata heart—exists in all sentient beings. For, if this basis to be purified did not exist in them, their being pervaded by the activity of the three kāyas would be pointless. CMW (480) also says that even those with wrong craving thrive through virtue (the cause for meeting a buddha in the future) because they have the naturally pure disposition. Without this naturally pure disposition, they would not thrive through the light rays of the wisdom of the tathāgatas and virtue. Similarly, YDC (374) answers some objections to enlightened activity by explaining it as the interaction between the dharmakāya of a buddha and the basic element of sentient beings: "‘There is no object for the enlightened activity of awakening to engage because sentient beings are by nature afflicted, similar to the activity of digging for gold’s not engaging anything if there is no gold.’ This is not true—since awakening exists in sentient beings too without any difference, it is that in which enlightened activity engages. ‘But if awakening exists in them without difference, enlightened activity does not need to engage it.’ Since it is obscured by adventitious afflictions, just as the sky is by clouds, these must be dispelled. ‘Enlightened activity does not have the power to do so.’ It does have that power because it entails great compassion." In addition, compare Padma Karpo’s explanation of I.28a in appendix 1. See also Ruegg (1969, 273) and Ruegg (1973, 97), who translates spharaṇa in I.28a as "irradiation." For these reasons, I chose "radiating"for spharaṇa since that English word covers both the meaning of "penetrating" and the sense of the tathāgata heart’s being vibrant with the energy of its natural luminosity (see the example below in this note of violins vibrating). As for vyatibheda in I.28b, rendered as "undifferentiable"above in the text (which corresponds more to Tib. dbyer med), it literally means "pervading." In the Tibetan, I.28c says "because the disposition exists (yod)," and I.28d ends in can, which literally means "to possess." However, can is also a common way to indicate a bahuvrīhi compound in Tibetan translations from Sanskrit, as is the case here. The two most basic renderings of the Sanskrit of the fourth line with its compound buddhagarbhāḥ are "all beings are always such that they contain a buddha/have a buddha as their core." Interestingly, in the early Tibetan translations, this line ended in yin ("are"), which was only replaced by can at a rather late point. The most obvious reason for this is to avoid the reading "all beings are the buddha heart,"which is immediately suggested to readers of Tibetan unfamiliar with the underlying Sanskrit. Though I use the word "possess" in I.28d, it is not meant in the sense of sentient beings’ actually owning buddha nature. Nevertheless, especially some later Tibetan (and Western) commentators greatly emphasize that beings actually possess the buddha heart or even full-fledged buddhahood. This is denied at length by the Eighth Karmapa’s commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra (see Brunnhölzl 2010, 438–43). It is also contradicted by Uttaratantra I.27, which explicitly says that the disposition is not the actual buddhahood or dharmakāya—the fruition—but a case of labeling the cause with the name of its result. So, one way to look at these two verses is in terms of cause, fruition, and their fundamental equality. In this way, the disposition is the cause for the fruition of the buddhakāya, with suchness indicating that this "cause" is not different from the result (the nature of the mind being always the same in sentient beings and buddhas, or, throughout ground, path, and fruition). This is underlined by Uttaratantra I.142ab:

    Its nature is buddhakāya,
    Suchness, and the disposition.

    As the Eighth Karmapa demonstrates in detail, it is impossible to establish verses I.27– 28 as strict logical proofs for buddha nature’s actually existing in all beings or their possessing it (these verses may only serve as indications or metaphors from the perspective of convenient parlance). This is also highlighted by the fact that in the Tibetan tradition, buddha nature is typically considered as a "very hidden phenomenon," which by definition does not lie within the reach of inferential valid cognition, but can be approached only through valid Buddhist scriptures. For a selection of Indian and Tibetan that offer more affirmative explanations of the three "proofs"in Uttaratantra I.27–28, see appendix 1.
    Without going into further details, I would like to present another more path-oriented example that adds to the perspective on the three "proofs,"especially "the buddhakāya radiating." As we saw, the first lines in the three verses I.27, I.28, and I.142 of the Uttaratantra equate buddhakāya, buddha wisdom, and dharmakāya, respectively, clearly indicating that the dharmakāya is not just mere emptiness but—as buddha wisdom—it actively engages and communicates with sentient beings. This is also clearly suggested by Uttaratantra I.145, which describes the dharmakāya as twofold: (a) the completely unstained dharmadhātu and (b) its natural outflow that consists of the teachings of the principles of profundity and diversity—which is used by SM as a gloss of the first line of I.28. RGVV explains that the dharmakāya of buddhas consists not only of (a), which is the dharma that represents the sphere of nonconceptual wisdom and is to be personally experienced by these buddhas. The natural outflow of the pure dharmadhātu (b), which is the cause for attaining (a), consists of the arising of individually corresponding forms of cognizance in the beings to be guided, which is the dharma that is the teaching. This fits with the explanation of line I.28a in the Eighth Karmapa’s Lamp (14–15): "At the point when the wisdom of realization—the awareness that exists primordially as not being different from the sugata heart as the expanse—rises from the expanse that is the profound matrix of the sugata heart, all seeds of obscuration are relinquished. The self-awareness of this wisdom of realization is accomplished through the wisdom of the fundamental change of [having gathered] immeasurable accumulations [of merit and wisdom]. You may wonder, ‘How is it accomplished?’ The cognition that frees from stains [and exists] in the cognizance of sentient beings that is associated with obscurations is blessed by the inconceivable power of the wisdom [of a buddha]. In addition, there [also] exists the element of wisdom in the element that is the cognition [of sentient beings] free from stains. It is by virtue of the power of both [the cognition that frees from stains and is blessed by buddha wisdom and the intrinsic wisdom of sentient beings] that their cognizance fundamentally changes into being without stains, and thus the wisdom of realization becomes of one taste with the dharmakāya."Later, the Lamp (30–31) says: "That certain [beings] to be guided see these miracles of the body, speech, and mind of the [buddhas] is by virtue of the power of both the tathāgatas’ compassion of blessing, emanating, and transforming adventitious seeming [reality] through their having gained mastery over powerful ultimate reality and the tathāgata hearts of those to be guided, whose mind streams are endowed with the tathāgata heart. [Through this,] even ordinary beings are able to realize the miracles of the bhagavāns, the indestructible vajra points." In addition, as mentioned above, the Sanskrit term spharaṇa for "radiates"literally means "vibrates." So, as far as the "awakening"of buddha nature in sentient beings is concerned, one may think of both buddhas and sentient beings as violins, with the "buddha violins"being in perfect tune and playing loudly, clearly, and all the time (teaching the dharma in various ways), while the strings of the "sentient being violins"are covered by a very light cloth. In that situation, the strings of the latter violins will not resound when the former play, but all the strings with the same tuning will at least start to vibrate, even if they are covered by such a light cloth. The less they are covered and the louder the strings of the "buddha violins"play, the stronger they will vibrate, so that the cloth starts moving and gradually slips off the strings, resulting in the strings of the "sentient being violins"gradually resounding louder and clearer too. Likewise, on the path, the more the qualities of buddha nature in beings are stimulated and thus "shake off,"so to speak, their adventitious obscurations, the more these qualities manifest fully. In brief, the first line of Uttaratantra I.28 refers to the "buddha violins"vibrating and the third line to the "sentient being violins." The fact that the former can actually make the latter vibrate too is shown by the second line, which states (in effect) that their "strings"are indeed of the same nature. For further discussions of Uttaratantra I.27–28, see appendix 1 as well as Ruegg 1969, 272–86, Mipham Rinpoche’s Lamp of Certainty (Pettit 1999, 384–87), and Kano 2006.
  9. RGVV provides an explanation of I.27–28 in the context of matching the nine examples for buddha nature with its threefold nature of dharmakāya, suchness, and the disposition (see I.143–52).
  10. DP have this sentence in a slightly different form ("This topic in all its aspects should be explained through the sense in which it is invariably taught in all the words [of the Buddha]") immediately after verse I.27 and preceding the above sentence "That is, [he spoke of this] in the sense . . ." As for "the sense in which it is invariably taught in all the words [of the Buddha],"it seems difficult to ascertain that buddha nature is always explained by way of the following ten topics in the scriptures. However, as mentioned in the introduction, the first six seem to be a rather common template, at least in Yogācāra texts, in particular in their descriptions of ultimate reality, and RGVV (J40) says at the end of the sixth topic that the remaining four topics are simply extensions of the sixth one. GC (330) also states that this template of six topics is found in many texts besides the Uttaratantra (such as the Abhidharmasamuccaya) and explains that the first topic "nature" is the main point to be understood, while the remaining five topics represent the means to understand this first topic. In addition, the Uttaratantra also uses the very same six topics in its second chapter to describe awakening, with the seventh and eighth topics in this chapter being again extensions of the sixth one.
  11. Due to the above-mentioned differences in PD, the section after "By virtue of which purport is that [said]?"reads: "I.28. In brief, it is in a threefold sense that the Bhagavān spoke of ‘all sentient beings always possessing the tathāgata heart.’ I.27. This topic in all its aspects should be explained through the sense in which it is invariably taught in all the words [of the Buddha]. It is based on this that I shall discuss it [here]. That is, [he spoke of this] in the sense that the dharmakāya of the Tathāgata radiates in [or into] all sentient beings, in the sense that the suchness of the Tathāgata is undifferentiated [from the suchness of beings], and in the sense that the tathāgata disposition exists [in these beings]. These three topical points will be taught [in detail] below according to the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra. [Here, I begin with] a synopsis."GC (263.6–7 and 22–25) reads: "I.27. This topic in all its aspects is pointed out through the sense in which it is invariably taught in all the words [of the Buddha]. It is based on this that I shall discuss it first. I.28. In brief, it is in a threefold sense that the Bhagavān spoke of ‘all sentient beings always possessing the tathāgata heart.’ That is, [he spoke of this] in the sense that the dharmakāya of the Tathāgata radiates in [or into] all sentient beings, in the sense that the suchness of the Tathāgata is undifferentiated [from the suchness of beings], and in the sense that the tathāgata disposition really exists [in these beings]. These three topical points will be taught [in detail] below according to the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra. [Here, I begin with] a synopsis."
  12. Many of the sources in this list come from an unpublished essay by Kurtis Schaeffer, who kindly shared his work.
  13. Obermiller, E. "The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation Being a Manual of Buddhist Monism." Acta Orientalia IX (1931), pp. 81-306.
  14. Guenther, Herbert V. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Berkeley, CA: Shambhala, 1986 (First Published in 1959).
  15. Takasaki, Jikido. A Study on the Ratnagotravibhāga (Uttaratantra): Being a Treatise on the Tathāgatagarbha Theory of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Serie Orientale Roma 33. Roma: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (ISMEO), 1966.
  16. Ruegg, David Seyfort. La Theorie du Tathāgatagarbha et du Gotra. Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient. Publications De l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient Volume LXX. 1969.
  17. Ruegg, David Seyfort. Le Traite du Tathāgatagarbha de Bu ston Rin chen grub. Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient. Publications De l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient Volume LXXXVIII. 1973.
  18. Ahmad, Zahiruddin. "The Womb of the Tathāgata or Buddhist Monism." Journal of The Oriental Society of Australia 15/16, 1983-84. pp 27-44.
  19. Holmes, Ken & Katia. The Changeless Nature. Eskdalemuir, Scotland: Karma Drubgyud Darjay Ling, 1985.
  20. Thrangu, Chökyi Nyima, and Erik Pema Kunsang. Buddha Nature: Ten Teachings on the Uttara Tantra Shastra. Hong Kong: Rangjung Yeshe, 1988, page 56.
  21. Guenther, Herbert V. From Reductionism to Creativity. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1989.
  22. Hookham, S. K. The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine According to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991.
  23. Holmes, Ken & Katia. Maitreya on Buddha Nature. Scotland: Altea Publishing, 1999.
  24. Duckworth, Douglas S. Mipam on Buddha-Nature: The Ground of the Nyingma Tradition. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2008.
  25. Brunnhölzl, When the Clouds Part, 356-357
  26. Kano, Buddha-Nature and Emptiness, 262-263.
  27. pages 15-16, The Uttaratantra in the Land of Snows: Tibetan Thinkers Debate the Centrality of the Buddha-Nature Treatise by Tsering Wangchuk. Albany: SUNY Press, 2017.
  28. page 310, Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2018.
  29. http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Buddha_nature
  30. RGVV (J6) adds that the Buddha uttered this verse while having the pure disposition and buddha nature (the tathāgatadhātu) in mind.
  31. Verse 27. This corresponds to the eighth of the nine examples for buddha nature in the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra (D258, fols. 253b1–254a5) and Uttaratantra I.121–23.
  32. I.28: chos dbyings snang byed ’od ’byung zhing / de bzhin nyid la tha dad med / rigs kyi don ni snang ba’i phyir / thams cad bde gshegs snying po can /.
  33. D3935, fols. 296b.5–297a.2.
  34. Given the significant differences in lines I.28ac and the well-known literalness of Tibetan translators, it seems rather unlikely that the translator here just produced a very free rendering of the Sanskrit as it is found in J and translated in DP.
  35. Rngog lo tsā ba blo ldan shes rab 1993b, fols. 28b.4–29b.2.
  36. 472–74.
  37. Uttaratantra I.145/148.
  38. This agrees with another passage in CMW (480–81), which comments on a passage from the Jñānālokālaṃkārasūtra: "The meaning of this sūtra passage is that even these persons with wrong craving thrive through virtuous dharmas because they have the naturally pure disposition. For if they did not have the naturally pure disposition, they would not thrive through the light rays of the wisdom of the tathāgatas and virtuous dharmas. You may wonder, "Above it was explained that seeing saṃsāra as a flaw and seeing nirvāṇa as a quality does not occur in those with wrong craving, who have the disposition of absolutely not passing into nirvāṇa. Is that not contradictory to the explanation in this sūtra that [even] those with wrong craving generate virtue—the cause for meeting a buddha in the future?" It is not contradictory—the above [explanation pertains] to the time of those with wrong craving not being endowed with the four wheels. In this [sūtra] here, at the time of being struck by the light rays of the wisdom of the Tathāgata, their time of being endowed with the four wheels has come."
  39. IX.15.
  40. IX.37.
  41. I.150/153.
  42. CMW, 474.
  43. Ibid., 496–98.
  44. Ibid., 498–99 (for details, see there).
  45. Ibid., 415–17.
  46. I.154/157.
  47. I.113/116.
  48. I.150ab/153ab.
  49. Lha rje bsod nams rin chen 1990, 7–16.
  50. For Vasubandhu’s and Sthiramati’s comments on this verse, see the note on the potential verse from the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra in the translation of RGVV (J37).
  51. D111, fol. 87a.7–87b.1.
  52. RYC, 57–59.
  53. Note that the last three sentences are found almost verbatim in CMW.
  54. Ratnaguṇasaṃcayagāthā XII.3. Rin chen ye shes 2010 omits the fourth line and has "children of the victors"instead of "victors"in the second line.
  55. Ratnaguṇasaṃcayagāthā, XVI.1–2.
  56. Note that RYC does not include Uttaratantra I.27 and that its comments on I.154–55 add nothing to what RGVV says.
  57. Bu ston rin chen grub 1965–71, fols. 12a.5–19a.3.
  58. The text later elaborates on these flaws in detail (ibid., fols. 19a.3ff.).
  59. D45.48, fol. 272a.7–272b.1. *2747. Dol po pa shes rab rgyal mtshan 1992b, fols. 12a.2–a.
  60. Dol po pa shes rab rgyal mtshan 1992b, fols. 12a.2–a.
  61. The same passage is found in JKC (49–50), which adds that, according to Ngog Lotsāwa, the perfect buddhakāya is the resultant tathāgata heart, suchness is the natural tathāgata heart, and the disposition is the causal tathāgata heart. The dharmakāya is the actual tathāgata, while it is only the nominal heart of sentient beings. It is explained to be all-pervading because it is suitable to be attained by sentient beings. Suchness is the actual heart of both tathāgatas and sentient beings—in terms of the isolate of natural purity, suchness actually exists in both. Since the disposition is the cause of tathāgatas, it is labeled as "tathāgata heart,"but it is the actual heart of sentient beings.
  62. Tibetan as quoted in Ruegg 1969, 291–92.
  63. Interestingly, this interpretation of the first reason in I.28 is very close to Sajjana’s gloss on this verse, as well as CMW’s (473) explanation of I.28a, and YDC’s (374) above-mentioned explanation of enlightened activity as the interaction between the dharmakāya of a buddha and the basic element of sentient beings.
  64. Rong ston shes bya kun gzigs 1997, 80–83.
  65. J70.
  66. J71.
  67. J72.
  68. GC, 24.3–5.
  69. 262.12–263.4 and 263.13–22.
  70. 268.2–8.
  71. 451.24–452.3.
  72. Śākya mchog ldan 1988a, 122.5–123.5.
  73. Tāranātha 1982–87, 790.3–792.1 (see also Mathes 2004).
  74. Śākya mchog ldan 1988a, 126.2–131.4.
  75. J77.
  76. See the translation of the Lamp (14–31).
  77. See Brunnhölzl 2010, 438–43.
  78. See Mathes 2008, 321.
  79. Higgins, David and Martina Draszczyk. Mahāmudrā and the Middle Way: Post-Classical Kagyü Discourses on Mind, Emptiness and Buddha-Nature. Volume 2: Translations, Critical Texts, Bibliography and Index. Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 90. Vienna: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien Universität Wien, 2016: p. 105.
  80. Padma dkar po 1991, fol. 74a.2–74b.3.
  81. D258, fol. 248b.6.
  82. JKC, 49–50. For the comments on I.27 in JKC’s introduction, see my introduction.
  83. X.256–57. 2769. GISM, 188–89.
  84. GISM, 188–89.
  85. ’Ju mi pham rgya mtsho 1984b, 371.5–383.3.
  86. ’Ju mi pham rgya mtsho 1984c, 564.2–587.2. For a complete translation of the Synopsis, see Duckworth (2005, 221–60).
  87. That is, they may neither contradict valid perception, nor valid inferential cognition, nor any other scriptures that have already been established as authentic.
  88. These are valid perception, valid inferential cognition, and the valid cognition of trustworthy scriptures.
  89. D120, fol. 35a.7–35b.1
  90. Ibid., fol. 45b.5–6.
  91. Ibid., fol. 52b.3–4.
  92. Ibid., fol. 76b.6–7.
  93. This sentence appears many times in ibid., fols. 70aff.
  94. Sections 26a–b. The translation follows the Sanskrit as quoted in Makransky 1997, 375.
  95. XV.2cd.
  96. XXV.13.
  97. I.51cd.
  98. I.63.
  99. I.155.
  100. In explaining the three reasons in Uttaratantra I.28, Mipham Rinpoche and others join them with the Buddhist standard set of "the four principles" (Skt. yukti, Tib. rigs pa). The Śrāvakabhūmi clarifies that yukti in the context of these four is equivalent to yoga and upāya, and RGVV (J73) gives the same two synonyms for yukti in its discussion of the nature of phenomena being such a principle. Any of these three terms can mean "application," "means," and "expedient" (yet another way of understanding yukti here would be as "consistency" or coherence"). In answer to the question how one reflects on the teaching about the skandhas by using a form of investigation that applies various principles, the Śrāvakabhūmi (D4036, fol. 57b.2–58b.1) says that one investigates this teaching by means of the four principles. (1) The principle of dependence is twofold in terms of arising (Skt. utpattyapekṣā, Tib. skye ba’i ltos pa) and in terms of designation (Skt. prajñaptyapekṣā, Tib. gdags pa’i ltos pa). (a) Dependence in terms of arising means that the skandhas appear by virtue of causes and conditions and that their arising thus depends on these causes and conditions. (b) Dependence in terms of designation means that any designations of the skandhas depend on certain collections of names, words, and letters. These dependencies are principles or means or methods with regard to the arising and the designation of the skandhas. (2) The principle of performing activity is the principle or means or method of correlating the skandhas, which have arisen through their own individual causes and conditions, with the performance of their respective specific activities or functions, such as the eyes’ seeing visible forms, the ears’ hearing sounds, the mind’s cognizing phenomena, visible form’s functioning as the perceptible sphere of the eye, sound’s functioning as the perceptible sphere of the ears, and phenomena’s functioning as the perceptible sphere of the mind. In addition, there is the performance of specific activities through certain phenomena’s interacting with each other in certain ways. (3) The principle of demonstrating evidence means that the skandhas are investigated through the three kinds of valid cognition that establish the skandhas as being impermanent, being dependently arisen, having the nature of suffering, being empty of a self, and not constituting a self. These three forms of valid cognition are trustworthy scripture, direct perception, and inference. (4) The principle of the nature of phenomena is applied in response to questions such as, "Why do the skandhas have such a nature?" "Why does the arrangement of the world have that nature?" "Why does the earth element have the characteristic of hardness, the water element the characteristic of wetness, the fire element the characteristic of heat, and the wind element the characteristic of motility?" "Why are the skandhas impermanent?" "Why is nirvāṇa a state of peace?" "Why does form have the characteristic of displaying the quality of form?" "Why do feelings have the characteristic of experiencing?" "Why do discriminations have the characteristic of causing phenomena to be discriminated?" "Why do formations have the characteristic of forming?" and "Why does consciousness have the characteristic of being conscious?"The fact that this is the very nature, essence, or dharmatā of these phenomena is here the principle or means or method that is called "the principle of the nature of phenomena." Alternatively, the principle that everything has its own nature or is based on its own nature is applied for the sake of settling the mind upon and making it understand that this is the way things are, that they are not some other way, that they do not become something other, and that they are this way everywhere and always. In this way, the four principles serve to properly investigate the teachings on the skandhas or any other teaching. The Abhidharmasamuccaya (D4049, fol. 103a.3–5) basically agrees with this, saying that the four principles serve to analyze the dharma. (1) The principle of dependence is the fact that when formational or conditioned phenomena arise, they depend on conditions. (2) The principle of performing activity is that phenomena, which have different specific characteristics, perform their own specific activities. (3) The principle of demonstrating evidence is to show that an established meaning does not contradict valid cognition. (4) The principle of the nature of phenomena refers to what are known since beginningless time as the individual natures of all phenomena that exhibit specific and general characteristics. The tenth chapter of the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra (D106, fols. 51a.3–52b.4) also agrees on the first three principles and further elaborates on the third one. (1) The principle of dependence refers to the causes and conditions for the arising of formational or conditioned phenomena and for designating them with conventional expressions. (2) The principle of performing activity refers to the causes and conditions that perform the functions of phenomena arising, being obtained, and being established. (3) The principle of demonstrating evidence refers to the causes and conditions for cognizing, explanation, establishing the meaning of statements, and thorough comprehension. This is twofold—pure and impure. As for the five characteristics of the pure demonstration of evidence, (a) the characteristic of direct observation consists of the direct observation in the world that all conditioned phenomena are impermanent, have the nature of suffering, and are without a self, as well as everything that accords with those. (b) The characteristic of directly observing what is based on something consists of the direct observation of the principle of impermanence’s being based on all conditioned phenomena’s being momentary, the existence of worlds beyond this one, and virtuous and nonvirtuous karmas’ not disappearing (without having produced their respective results); the direct observation of diverse sentient beings’ being based on their diverse karmas; the direct observation of the happiness and suffering of sentient beings’ being based on their virtuous and nonvirtuous karmas, respectively; what is not directly observed by these but is to be inferred; and everything that accords with those. (c) The characteristic of matching this with examples of their own type consists of matching it with examples of observing the disintegration and arising of inner and outer conditioned phenomena that is well known in the world; matching it with examples of observing the suffering of being born and so on; matching it with examples of observing the lack of independence; matching it with examples of observing prospering and deteriorating as they are well known in all worlds, even those beyond this one; and everything that accords with those. (d) The characteristic of thorough establishment is listed in order to fully ascertain that characteristics (a)–(c) apply to what is to be established. (e) The characteristic of teaching through determining utterly pure scriptures refers to the teachings by omniscient persons that nirvāṇa is peace and so on as well as everything that accords with such teachings. Omniscient persons are characterized by five features: when they appear in the world, they are renowned as being omniscient; they possess the thirty-two marks of a great being; they eliminate the doubts of all sentient beings through the ten powers; by virtue of the four fearlessnesses, the words with which they teach the dharma cannot be disputed by any opponents; and in their vinaya teachings, the eightfold path of the noble ones and the fourfold practices of a śramaṇa (not scolding back even when being scolded, not becoming angry even when others are angry at one, not hitting back even when being hit, and not exposing hidden faults even when being exposed) appear. Thus, the principle of demonstrating evidence is pure due to these five characteristics by means of valid perception, valid inferential cognition, and the valid cognition of trustworthy scriptures. (4) The principle of the nature of phenomena refers to the abiding of the dhātu of the nature of phenomena in order to make phenomena abide, no matter whether tathāgatas appear or do not appear. GC (431.16–432.15) also explains these four based on this sūtra.
  101. VIII.1.
  102. This is one of the ten powers of a buddha.
  103. Madhyamakāvatāra XI.11.
  104. D107, fol. 9b.1–2.
  105. Verse 22.
  106. Bod sprul mdo sngags bstan pa’i nyi ma n.d., 17.5–18.1
  107. Bötrül, Notes, 271–272: gshegs snying sgrub byed kyi rigs pa la/ ’bras bu ltos pa’i rigs pa dang/ ngo bo chos nyid kyi rigs pa dang/ rgyu bya ba byed pa’i rigs pa dang gsum gyis sgrub/ de yang dang po ’bras rtags dang/ phyi ma gnyis rang bzhin gyi rtags yin/ dang po dag gnyis ldan gyi ’bras bu rtags su bkod nas ngo bo ye dag gi sangs rgyas yod par sgrub cing ngo bo ye dag dang/ dag pa gnyis ldan gyi sangs rgyas gnyis ldog cha tha dad kyi sgo nas ’jog go sems can sangs rgyas yin zhes pa rang bzhin rnam dag gi sangs rgyas yin pas sems kyi chos nyid yin gyi de’i ’bras bu min pas rgyu la ’bras gnas kyi skyon med do.
  108. The evidence of identical nature that Bötrül references here is such that, for example, if it is a dog, then it is necessarily an animal; or, if it is a product, then it is necessarily an impermanent phenomenon—the two entities have a relationship of essential identity. Moreover, in the case of an impermanent phenomenon and a product, the two are equivalent (don gcig). They are not actually distinct, but are merely conceptually distinct; they are said to have “different contradistinctions.” Also, there are only two types of affirming evidence (sgrub rtags) in Buddhist logic, corresponding to the two types of relations accepted—causal relationships and relationships of essential identity. The observation of a lack of relationship permits the third of the three types of evidence in Buddhist logic, the evidence of non-observation (ma dmigs pa’i rtags). For more on these three types of inference, see Bimal Krishna Matilal, The Character of Logic in India (Albany: SUNY Press, 1998), 108–116. See also Karma Phuntsho (slob dpon karma phun tshogs), tshad ma rigs pa’i them skas (Bylakuppe, India: Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, 1997), 18–19; 40–44; 72–82.
  109. Such concerns show the similarity of Buddha-nature with doctrines that Buddhists have tended to refute, such as the claim that the effect is present in the cause (satkāryavāda) and the claim that change is a transformation of a single substance (parināṃavāda). I should note that Mipam affirms that the Sāṃkhya (grangs can pa), the classic exemplar of satkāryavāda and parināṃavāda, is “the best of the non-Buddhist philosophies” (phyi rol pa’i nang nas grub mtha’ legs shos) and that it has been said to be “very similar to the philosophical slant of the False-Aspectarian Mind-Only” (grub mtha’ bab sems tsam rnam brdzun pa dang ches nye ba). Mipam, Words That Delight, 248.
  110. Zur mang padma rnam rgyal n.d., 32–33.
  111. Ngag dbang kun dga’ dbang phyug 1987, 197–99.
  112. Page 37-38. Buddha-Nature: Mahayana-Uttaratantra-Shastra. Edited by Alex Trisoglio. Published online by Siddhartha’s Intent, 2007. http://www.siddharthasintent.org/assets/pubs/UttaratantraDJKR.pdf
  113. Gyaltsap Darma Rinchen, "The Tathāgata Essence," trans. Gavin Kilty, unpublished manuscript, 170