Verse I.41

From Buddha-Nature
Ratnagotravibhāga Root Verse I.41

Verse I.41 Variations

गोत्रे सति भवत्येतदगोत्राणां न विद्यते
gotre sati bhavatyetadagotrāṇāṃ na vidyate
E. H. Johnston as input by the University of the West.[1]
སྲིད་དང་མྱ་ངན་འདས་ལ་དེའི། །
སྡུག་བདེའི་སྐྱོན་ཡོན་མཐོང་བ་འདི། །
རིགས་ཡོད་ལས་ཡིན་གང་ཕྱིར་དེ། །
རིགས་མེད་དག་ལ་མེད་ཕྱིར་རོ། །
This seeing of the flaws of suffering and the qualities of happiness
In [saṃsāric] existence and nirvāṇa
Occurs [only] when the disposition exists
Because it does not occur in those without the disposition.
見苦果樂果 此依性而有

若無佛性者 不起如是心

Le fait de voir que le saṃsāra a pour défaut la souffrance
Et que le nirvāṇa a pour qualité le bonheur
Est dû à la présence de la filiation spirituelle –
Ce n’est pas le cas chez ceux qui en sont dépourvus.

RGVV Commentary on Verse I.41

Other English translations[edit]

Listed by date of publication
Obermiller (1931) [15]
This contemplation
Of the sufferings of Phenomenal Life and the bliss of Nirvāṇa,
Of the defects (of the former) and the advantages (of the latter)
Is (conditioned) by the existence of the Germ. Therefore,
With those in whom there is no Germ, this contemplation
does not exist.[16]
Takasaki (1966) [17]
The perception of Phenomenal Life and Nirvāṇa, —
The former is full of Suffering, hence it is the fault,
The latter is of bliss, therefore it is the merit;
It exists only in case the Germ of the Buddha exists,
And does not exist with people of no Germ.
Holmes (1985) [18]
Perception of suffering, saṃsāra 's fault,
and happiness, nirvāṇa's quality,
is due to the potential's presence.
Why should this be?
Without such potential
It will not be present.
Holmes (1999) [19]
Awareness of saṃsāra’s shortcoming, suffering,
and nirvāṇa’s quality, happiness,
are due to the existence of this potential.
Why is this so? Without such potential
they would not be present.
Fuchs (2000) [20]
That with regard to existence and nirvana their respective fault and
quality are seen,
that suffering is seen as the fault of existence and happiness as the
quality of nirvana,
stems from the presence of the disposition to buddhahood. "Why so?"
In those who are devoid of disposition, such seeing does not occur.

Textual sources[edit]

Commentaries on this verse[edit]

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. I follow MB agotrāṇāṃ na tad yataḥ and DP gang phyir de / rigs med pa dag med pa’i phyir against J agotrāṇāṃ na vidyate.
  4. J śuklāṃśa (Pāli sukkāṃsa: "good fortune") P dkar po’i cha D dkar po’i chos C kuśalamūla. According to Takasaki, the Buddhagotraśāstra (Taishō 1610) explains 3 aṃśas— merit, liberation, and attainment.
  5. This phrase is missing in J, but exists as MB kiṃ kāraṇam and DP de ci’i phyir zhe na.
  6. I follow Takasaki’s emendation of pāpasamucchedayogena to pāpāsamucchedayogena.
  7. RYC (81) defines "adventitious" as what is primordially nonexistent or what does not taint the nature of the mind.
  8. I follow MB satpuruṣasaṃsevādicatuścakra° and VT saṃsevādi (fol. 12v3) as well as DP skyes bu dam pa la bsten [text: brten] pa la sogs pa ’khor lo bzhi against J satpuruṣasaṃsargādicatuḥśukla°.
  9. The other three wheels are the accumulation of merit, a favorable dwelling place, and proper vows and aspirations. Note that this a case of RGVV’s using the term "disposition" (gotra) not in its usual sense of unconditioned buddha nature but with its other meaning of conditioned virtue. This latter meaning of the term is found frequently in other mahāyāna texts in general and Yogācāra works in particular (such as the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra).
  10. I follow MB °jñānaraśmayaḥ and DP ye shes kyi ’od zer against J °raśmayaḥ.
  11. This phrase is not found in J, but in the Sarvabuddhaviśayāvatārajñānālokālaṃkārasūtra (D100), DP, and C.
  12. D100, fol. 285b.6–7.
  13. That is, these persons are actually able to attain nirvāṇa at some point in the distant future. This represents a typical case of "the intention with regard to another time,"one of "the four intentions" (Skt. abhisaṃdhi, Tib. dgongs pa) of the words of the Buddha (these four are explained in Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra XII.16ff. and its commentaries). Among them, (1) the intention in terms of equality means to take the three equalities between all buddhas in terms of the accumulations of merit and wisdom, the dharmakāya, and the welfare of beings accomplished by them as the reason for the Buddha’s saying something like "At that time, I was the Tathāgata Vipaśyī." (2) The intention in terms of another meaning means to take the threefold lack of nature of the imaginary, dependent, and perfect natures in terms of characteristics, arising, and the ultimate, respectively, as the reason for the Buddha’s saying something like "All phenomena lack a nature." (3) The intention in terms of another time means to take the time in the far future when a certain person will actually be born in Sukhāvatī as the reason for the Buddha’s saying something like "If you make the aspiration prayer to be born in Sukhāvatī, you will be born there." (4) The intention in terms of the thinking of a person refers to something like the Buddha’s disparaging discipline and praising generosity by intending to make persons who content themselves with discipline alone engage in other means, such as generosity, too. In addition, there are "the four indirect intentions" (Skt. abhiprāya, Tib. ldem dgongs). Just like the Sanskrit and Tibetan words, the English term "intention"can be understood in many ways (see Ruegg 1985), which has led to different (mis)interpretations. Also, the Tibetan terms are often used in different ways than the Sanskrit ones. As the examples for the different kinds of intention and indirect intention show, there is no consistency in what they refer to—it is not always just another meaning (as the content of an intention) or an intention per se, and there also are overlaps. In a general sense, "having something particular in mind"when making a statement often seems more correct. For details, see Broido 1984, Ruegg 1985, and Brunnhölzl 2010, 289–91.
  14. As already mentioned, according to Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé’s commentary on the Third Karmapa’s Pointing Out the Tathāgata Heart (Kong sprul blo gros mtha’ yas 1990, 133), this verse is from the Abhidharmamahāyānasūtra. As for the question whether the Yogācāra School teaches that some beings have no disposition to attain awakening at all (and what exactly "disposition"means in this context), there have been long-standing and intricate debates in Tibet. The Gelugpa School in particular answers this question in the affirmative and many modern scholars do so too. As mentioned before, unlike the primary meaning of the term gotra in the Uttaratantra, in Yogācāra texts it is not synonymous with buddha nature. Like the Laṅkāvatārasūtra, the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra speaks about five categories of gotra (those of bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas, śrāvakas, those with uncertain gotra, and those without gotra). The Laṅkāvatārasūtra identifies the last category with those who just follow their great desire (icchantika) and reject the dharma, thus having eliminated all their roots of virtue and not attaining parinirvāṇa. The Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra follows this very common definition of gotra in general, which is "roots of virtue" (see also Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā, Yamaguchi 1934, 188). Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.4cd and its Bhāṣyā explain that gotra is that from which qualities arise and increase. Also the distinction between the naturally abiding (prakṛtistha) and the accomplished (samudānīta) or unfolding dispositions in this verse differs from how these terms are understood in the Uttaratantra, with the former’s being defined as what has the nature of being a support for further virtue (prakṛti can also mean "cause") and the latter as what is thus supported. On Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.9 and III.11, the Bhāṣya comments that accumulating roots of virtue is indispensable for acquiring a disposition, but once the bodhisattva disposition is acquired, it serves as the source of an infinite number of further roots of virtue. Thus, gotra in this sense refers to conditioned and multiple phenomena, whereas gotra in the sense of buddha nature is clearly unconditioned and single. The former sense is also evident from Sthiramati’s commentary (D4034, fols. 41b.6–43a.2), which says that beings have infinite gotras, all of which refer to some (conventional) nature of theirs, such as being an angry or passionate person, or liking sweet versus other tastes. Just as the possession of the gotra of desire functions as the cause for giving rise to desire but not for hatred, the three different gotras of the three yānas are indispensable for there being three yānas. As for Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.11, the Bhāṣya explains that to be without disposition means to possess the nature of not attaining parinirvāṇa—either for a certain time (the first four kinds of beings in the verse) or forever (the last one). According to Sthiramati’s commentary (D4034, fols. 48a.4–49b.1), this refers to those who have the nature of not attaining parinirvāṇa (that is, buddhahood) for a certain time and those who have the nature of not attaining any kind of nirvāṇa for a certain time. He says that the first four pertain to those who do possess the bodhisattva disposition, but, by virtue of certain conditions, will temporarily (for many eons) not attain parinirvāṇa (that is, buddhahood). Among these, "those who are solely devoted to wrongdoing"are engaged in the five negative actions without interval. "Those who have completely destroyed the immaculate dharmas"are those who, under the influence of wrong spiritual teachers, have fallen into the wrong view of nihilism, thus denying karma, the three jewels, and so on. "Those who lack the virtue conducive to liberation"have not gathered the complete accumulations of merit and virtue necessary to attain parinirvāṇa, but only the virtues for higher rebirths as gods and humans within saṃsāra. "Those who have inferior immaculate dharmas"have only gathered a fraction of the merit and wisdom necessary to attain parinirvāṇa. Thus, as long as these four do not fully remove their negative actions and wrong views and accumulate the complete accumulations of merit and virtue necessary to attain parinirvāṇa, they will not attain this state. As for those who will not attain any nirvāṇa, "lacking the cause"refers to lacking the roots of virtue and the disposition for any of the nirvāṇas of the three yānas because without such a disposition, they do not attain any of these three nirvāṇas. They do lack the nature of attaining nirvāṇa, just as the natures of stones and trees do not turn into something that has the nature of consciousness, such as minds and mental factors. Thus, in the first four cases, Sthiramati says, "lack of disposition" has only a pejorative sense, while "lacking the cause"means utter nonexistence because they absolutely do not attain nirvāṇa. However, considering the text’s (and the commentators’) understanding of "disposition" (roots of virtue), its explicit stance that all beings possess tathāgatagarbha (IX.37), and its statement that mind is natural luminosity, which is merely obscured by adventitious stains (XIII.18–19), being without gotra (agotraka; the text does not use icchantika) forever is not equivalent to saying that some beings have no buddha nature or absolutely can never attain awakening. Rather, there are some beings who simply never acquire a "disposition"for actually entering any of the yānas in the sense of never acquiring any—or at least a significant— amount of virtue that qualifies as such a disposition (on the Sanskrit atyantam being used here in the temporal sense of "forever"rather than in its meaning "absolutely" and the consequences, see also d’Amato 2003, 126–27 and 132–35). In other words, all beings have the potential for buddhahood, but some just never actualize this potential even remotely, which is exactly why saṃsāra in general is said to be endless. This is basically also what RGVV on I.40–41 explains, using the term gotra in both the above way and also for buddha nature. Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā (Yamaguchi 1934, 55.19–56.6) on I.19a ("the emptiness of the primordial nature"among the sixteen emptinesses) juxtaposes the positions on there being three versus a single gotra, but takes all of them to be primordial: "As for [I.19a] ‘In order to purify the disposition,’ its emptiness is the emptiness of the primordial nature. The reason for this is that, [according to the Bhāṣya,] ‘disposition is the primordial nature.’ How so? ‘Because of having a nature of its own,’ which means to have a nature of its own from beginningless time that is not adventitious. Just as some [phenomena] in beginningless saṃsāra are sentient and some are insentient, here too, some [sets of] the six āyatanas represent the buddha disposition, some the śrāvaka disposition, and so on. The disposition is not accidental because it has been continuing since beginningless time [up through the present], just as the distinction between what is sentient and insentient. Others say that since all sentient beings are endowed with the tathāgata disposition, the disposition should be understood here in this way" (depending on how the Sanskrit here is reconstructed, "in this way"could also be read as "as suchness," which would conform to the above-mentioned comments by Vasubandhu, Sthiramati, and Asvabhāva on Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra IX.37). Compare also CMW (480–81) that says that even those with great desire thrive through virtue (the cause for meeting a buddha in the future) because they have the naturally pure disposition. Without this pure disposition, they would not thrive through the light rays of the wisdom of the tathāgatas and virtue. This is not contradictory to some sūtras’ explaining that seeing saṃsāra as a flaw and nirvāṇa as a quality does not occur in those with great desire, who have the disposition of absolutely not passing into nirvāṇa. For that explanation pertains to the time of those with great desire not being endowed with the four wheels, whereas at the time of their being struck by the light rays of the wisdom of the Tathāgata, their time of being endowed with the four wheels has come. GC (33.17–21) explains that "being without gotra"refers to being without the unfolding disposition, which is not made explicitly clear in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra. However, it is not just the sheer lack of the unfolding disposition that is called "disposition."Rather, the mere fact that everybody has the naturally abiding disposition does not mean that no one lacks the unfolding disposition. Since everybody who possesses a mind also possesses the naturally abiding disposition, they are said to possess the disposition. However, some Yogācāras take the statement that some beings have no disposition literally.
  15. Obermiller, E. "The Sublime Science of the Great Vehicle to Salvation Being a Manual of Buddhist Monism." Acta Orientalia IX (1931), pp. 81-306.
  16. This is verse 40 in Obermiller's translation
  17. 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.
  18. Holmes, Ken & Katia. The Changeless Nature. Eskdalemuir, Scotland: Karma Drubgyud Darjay Ling, 1985.
  19. Holmes, Ken & Katia. Maitreya on Buddha Nature. Scotland: Altea Publishing, 1999.
  20. Fuchs, Rosemarie, trans. Buddha Nature: The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra. Commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul and explanations by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. Ithaca, N. Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2000.