The Dalai Lama on "Uttaratantra" and Buddha-Nature: Day One

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The Dalai Lama on "Uttaratantra" and Buddha-Nature: Day One
The 14th Dalai Lama
January 2008
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The following is a transcript of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama's teaching on the Uttaratantra given in Bodh Gaya, India, in January 1982. It contains 2 parts: Part 1 is entitled "Uttaratantra: Background of the Text." Part 2 is entitled "Uttaratantra: The Seven Vajra Points." Both parts have been translated by Alexander Berzin and were revised in January 2008.

Part 1. Uttaratantra: Background of the Text

Today, we are gathered in a very special place, Bodh Gaya, the site in India where the most skillful, compassionate, and kind universal teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, manifested his state of enlightenment. The Dharma teaching we shall be dealing with here on this occasion is one by the triumphant Maitreya, the Buddha who will grace the future, the guiding light who will be our Fifth Universal Spiritual Leader. He has composed what are known as The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya, three long and two short. During these coming days, I shall discuss one of them, the treatise entitled The Furthest Everlasting Continuum (rGyud bla-ma, Skt. Uttaratantra).

This hallowed text speaks about taking a safe direction in life (refuge) and about the basis on the mental continuums of all of us that allows for our actualizing a highest state of enlightenment, namely Buddha-nature. In other words, the topic it treats is the basis or womb that has allowed all the Buddhas of the past to have progressed toward and to have reached their states of attainment and which will allow, in the future, those such as us to become totally clear-minded and fully evolved as a Buddha. Thus, the technical terms for Buddha-nature are the source (dhatu), the womb for a Thusly Gone One (tathagata-garbha), the womb for a Blissfully Gone One (sugata-garbha), and the Buddha family-trait (buddhagotra). As it treats such a special and important topic as this, The Furthest Everlasting Continuum is truly one of the greatest Buddhist classics of all time.

Motivation

All of us here today are individuals who want happiness and do not wish for problems. Moreover, however long we have lived, we have spent our lives until now making various efforts to bring about the peace and happiness we desire and to eliminate our unwished for problems. Not only that, but from beginningless previous lifetimes until now we have always lived without ever being parted from the thought of "may I be happy" and "may I be free from my problems." Based on that, then with each of us thinking that if I follow this method I will achieve this happiness and if I follow that method I will get rid of my problems, we have all until now been acting out our various thoughts and ideas concerning the skillful means for bringing this about.

Now we are alive as human beings and, within the scope of all the people who have ever lived, we are humans living at a time of great progress in the world, with advances on both an external physical level and on the internal level of humanity. As exemplified by the enterprising efforts made in various countries, there have been both external material progress and internal progress in knowledge and skills. Yet, despite all the progress on these two fronts, still the deepest level of mental happiness and peace of mind, with which we need never again be frightened or nervous and all our wishes for happiness will have been fulfilled, has not yet come about, has it? Even if we look at just ourselves, regardless of which course of clever techniques, which people in general might follow, that we have tried up until now, we have still not obtained a real, ultimate satisfaction of mind. Nor have we obtained the secure feeling of a deepest level of mental happiness and peace of mind with which we will never have any more problems or worries again. With this being the case concerning ourselves, then no matter to whom else we look as examples, we cannot see anyone who, through using the usual general methods for solving problems and gaining happiness, has actually reached the point of being satisfied about the happiness he or she wanted and never having to worry about any problems again. We cannot see anybody like that, can we? This is something we can decide for certain, can't we? This being the case, what we need to think about and investigate is whether any other methods exist besides the ones we see people trying in general for solving their problems and gaining happiness. Are these the only ones available or is there something else?

Now, we all want to be happy and do not want any problems or suffering. However, as for the methods for gaining happiness and eliminating problems, if there were no other means available other than amassing resources and wealth – on an internal level amassing knowledge and skills for the sake of one's own individual enterprises and efforts, and on an external level amassing money for bettering oneself materially – if we had to say there were no methods other than these, then there would be nothing we could do. For instance, you plant your fields and the crop fails. That is only natural; there is nothing you can do; and it does not help at all to fret. It is exactly like that example. So many problems and sufferings befall us and the happiness we wish never comes about. However, if there is nothing we can do about it, then there is no point in struggling over different methods or thinking up schemes. It is better just to accept it, no matter how miserable we are, and keep quiet. This, however, is not the case.

Let us not just think about one individual; rather, let us consider the way the world has come about. If we think a lot about this, the environment and all the life forms within it have evolved in dependence on causes and circumstances. When causes and circumstances conducive for its evolution have come together, things have come about; and when conditions not conducive for its sustenance have come together, they have perished. It is based on such a situation that things evolve and disappear, correct? It is in dependence on causes and circumstances that everything arises and perishes.

This being the case, then as in the example of the evolution of both the animate and inanimate worlds, it is not out of our own internal knowledge and skills that the world came to be or was made. It was not out of bringing together a mass of material objects that the world was created. The physical world and the beings within it came about not out of an enterprising effort on an internal level of knowledge and skill, nor out of a similar effort on an external level with material objects, did it?

This being so, then if we think further along the lines of this example of the evolution of the world, if there were no other causes and circumstances that could have brought it about, then it is not possible on merely the basis of presently followed methods as causes and circumstances that the world could have been created or could be destroyed. Well, maybe if massive nuclear weapons are employed it does seems possible we can destroy it. However, not counting that in the categories of either a simple material object or skill of knowledge, if we think about how the world first came about, it was not out of an enterprising effort of knowledge and skills; it was not out of an enterprising effort with material objects. This being the case, then by necessity there must have been other causes and circumstances. There must have been other factors that brought this about, this we can decide for sure, can't we?

We ourselves are, in general, phenomena that arise from circumstances, phenomena that change and then pass, phenomena that depend on circumstances. We have all come about and continue to live in dependence on many causes and circumstances. This being the case, then within this framework, in connection with us, our own desired happiness and our unwanted problems both are similarly based on causes and circumstances. Both are dependent on causes and circumstances.

Now concerning these causes and circumstances, as I have just explained, the attainment of happiness and elimination of problems simply on the basis of the power of material objects or simply on the basis of some knowledge or skill are things that do not exist. That being so, if we ask what method is there other than these, what situation can there be other than these – then in answer, when we come up with the situation in which there is a different way of thinking than that of general, ordinary people and which runs counter to it and goes beyond it, then we arrive at the presentation of Dharma, the preventive spiritual measures.

Now today, we have all come together here at Bodh Gaya in a great gathering and we have not done so because there is a grand show going on. You have not come here because I am going to put on a performance, because I am a skilled entertainer, an actor, or a musician. You have not come to see a show, have you? And you have not come, for example, because the Dalai Lama has rabbits' horns on his head, to see some strange form of human being in a zoo or a circus sideshow, have you? Nor have you come to collect some free goods that are being handed out, have you? You have not come because of the delicious food in Bodh Gaya or the comfortable hotels or beautiful picnic grounds either, have you? So, if we ask why is it that you have come here, it is to hear something about spiritual matters. You have heard about the Dharma; it has stuck in your minds; and you feel happy about it. It is for this reason that today you have all gathered here in Bodh Gaya.

Oral Transmission Lineage and Commentaries Followed

As for the spiritual masters from whom I received the oral transmission of The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya, I received that of A Filigree of Realizations (Abhisamayalamkara) and Haribhadra's Commentary Clarifying the Meaning both from Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche. Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche received the transmission of A Filigree of Realizations in conjunction with A Compendium of Sutras from Chone Lama Rinpoche, and that of Haribhadra's Commentary Clarifying the Meaning from Minyag Rinpoche of Kumbum. I received the other four Maitreya texts from Kunu Lama Rinpoche, Gen Rigdzin Tenpa, who received them from Morchog Rinpoche. That is my lineage.

I shall explain this classic from the root text and, as I did not have so much familiarity with The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, I have looked at some of its commentaries. For just explaining the meaning in brief, there are the short notes by the Nyingma master Kenpo Zhenga, which is an interlinear commentary. It is very condensed and, as it is so brief, it is difficult to come to a decisive conclusion about the meaning based on just that. Nevertheless, I have looked a little at these notes. The commentary by the Bodhisattva from Ngulchu, the Sakya master Togme Zangpo, explains from the sutra point of view and treats just the root text itself. It is very good and I have also looked a little at that. Then, there is A Thorough Explanation of "The Furthest Everlasting Continuum" by another Sakya master Rongton Sheja Kunrig. He is really learned. There are various difficult points in relation to Buddha-nature on which various learned masters have held different opinions and explained somewhat differently, and the commentary by Rongton is really a learned and professional one. Thus, I have looked a little at that too.

Then, there is a commentary by the precious Sakya encyclopedist Buton Rinpoche A Filigree to Clarify the Womb Containing a Blissfully Gone One which, although not an actual commentary on The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, yet quotes many of the sources from Buddha's sutras that discuss its subject matter. These include The Sutra on the Womb for a Thusly Gone One (Tathagatagarbha Sutra, The Sutra on Buddha-Nature) and The Sutra of the Great Silk Ribbon for the Three Thousand (World-Systems). Based on these quotations, Buton refutes that Buddha-nature is something that abides permanently, stably, and with true imputed existence. I have looked into that too.

Then there is the all-knowing Gelug master Gyaltsab Je's Commentary to "The Furthest Everlasting Continuum", which is on both the root text and its commentary by the highly realized Arya Asanga. This is the most extensive and decisive one. In addition, there is The Irrepressible Lion's Roar: A Commentary on "The Furthest Everlasting Continuum" by the Rime master Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso, which discusses the text by taking other-voidness (zhentong) as its main point. Basically, he says that those of the past who have explained in connection with the sutras are good, but the view of other-voidness as explained by the Omniscient Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje and the Jonang masters Dolpopa and Taranatha is supreme.

Many exalted, learned Tibetan masters of the past have composed grand refutations of the other-voidness view. Likewise, even many learned masters of the Sakya lineage within which the Jonang tradition developed have composed refutations. For instance, the most learned Panchen Shakya Chogden who asserted a view similar to other-voidness said that the view of other-voidness does not pertain to the presentation of the three everlasting continuums in the glorious Sakya teachings of the paths and their results (lamdray). Thus, even in the Sakya line, many learned Sakya masters have composed refutations of it. In any case, the fact is that many unbiased, learned masters of Tibet have refuted a position given the name other-voidness.

Now, the omniscient Dolpopa and so on, and the source from whom this view originated, Yumo Mikyo Dorje, who was renowned as a yogi of Kalachakra, were hallowed masters. They had their own individual ways of inner practice. Nevertheless, the ways in which they indicated their realizations are a completely different matter. What the actual meanings were that they had in mind, we cannot say. The intended meaning behind a text can differ greatly from the meaning conveyed by the words with which the text is written. Also, there are many persons who, through back-to-front practices, have gained high realizations.

For instance, Jonang Taranatha was really a hallowed master, someone who had reached a high level of realization. This is clear from his enlightening biography by the Gelug master Segyu Konchog Yarpel. Later generations remembered him as Taranatha the Realization Body, meaning someone of very high realizations, with actual powers of extrasensory perception, someone beyond the bounds of imagination. Although the realizations in the enlightening minds of such hallowed masters as exemplified by him are beyond the realms of imagination, yet if we look at their manners of speech, it is another matter.

For instance, I have seen a text on Kalachakra written by Dharmeshvara, the spiritual son of Yumo Mikyo Dorje. In this text, he says that the explanations and commentaries of the most learned Nagarjuna, which are in accordance with the intention of the middle round of transmission of the Dharma, present a most vile view of reality. He spoke of them with such bad words. Thus, in works on other-voidness such as those by the spiritual son Dharmeshvara, it seems as though except for the final round of Dharma, the intentions of the middle round will not do. They say that the self-voidness presented at the occasion of the middle round of Dharma transmission is a voidness or absence of absolutely everything, in other words, a total nothingness. That is why they consider it something despicable. They then assert Buddha-nature, the source of accordant progress to enlightenment, to be static, stable, and truly unimputedly existent. This will not do at all. It is on these points, then, that many unbiased, learned masters of Tibet have written refutations.

The Nyingma master Kenpo Zhenga, for example, also refuted this view of other-voidness. Because some learned masters of old wrote something that was unreasonable, I think it was difficult to make it fit together, in an acceptable manner, with the intentions of the Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, and Nyingma dzogchen traditions. These learned masters of old who refuted the way in which some masters had explained the other-voidness position had realized the point of the Buddhas' enlightening speech. Because of that, they regarded specific assertions as superior and inferior based on their knowing which were supreme and which were abysmal. To discriminate as superior and inferior without knowing which were supreme and which were abysmal is not the way they would write refutations, is it? That is the situation concerning the view of other-voidness.

Now, following Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso's work, the omniscient Nyingma master Mipam composed A Commentary on "The Furthest Everlasting Continuum" and likewise The Lion's Roar: The Great (Collection of) Thousands of Points Concerning the Womb for a Blissfully Gone One. In these classic works, Mipam explains in terms of a combination of the middle and last rounds of Dharma transmission. He speaks of Buddha-nature as possessing a Buddha's enlightening qualities as potential abilities or seeds and as having an actual nature that is unaffected by anything. Yet, other than such a Buddha-nature being devoid of true unimputed existence, he does not at all assert that it is established as being truly and unimputedly existent. Because Mipam's explanation combines in it the intention of the middle round of transmission, then since in the middle round Buddha explained that all phenomena are devoid of inherently findable existence, this omniscient master makes no exception for the essential factors of Buddha-nature. Thus, he says the Buddha-nature factors are, by actual nature, devoid of true unimputed existence. Because of that, his explanation is reasonable and is not something that needs to be purged of unreasonableness.

I have looked at such commentaries as these, but only roughly, and I really do not know them in all their profound detail. Moreover, I have not had the time and my intelligence is not up to it. Nevertheless, I have looked at them roughly with the little time that I have had. The way that I shall explain, then, during the next days will be a word-for-word commentary based in some places on the omniscient Rongton's explanations, since they are easy to put together. In some places, I shall explain in terms of what the all-knowing Gyaltsab Je has said, since that is conclusive. These are the commentaries upon which I shall base my explanations and how they will derive from them.

Everlasting Continuums in Sutra and Tantra

The precious Gyeltsab Je's work deals primarily with the essential factors of Buddha-nature and discusses them in a manner that is solely in terms of the sutras. It does not address itself to these factors as discussed in the secret mantra tradition, or more specifically in the tradition of the highest class of tantra, anuttarayoga.

The term everlasting continuum (tantra) has many meanings. When the secret mantra tradition mentions everlasting continuums, it is referring to phenomena that go on with continuity. Thus, there is the presentation of three everlasting continuums, isn't there – the basis, path, and resultant continuums. For instance, when the glorious Sakya teachings of the paths and their results present three everlasting continuums, they include the causal everlasting continuum of the alaya, the all-encompassing foundation. Of course, among the works of the learned Sakya masters, for instance in Notes on the Paths and Their Results by Kyentse Wangchug and in the text of the same name by Mangto Ludrub Gyatso, some differences arise. When it comes to the point of identifying or recognizing the all-encompassing foundation, the learned masters of old apparently differed in their explanations. In any case, there are manners of discussing everlasting continuums in connection with the tantras and one in connection with only the sutras. What the precious Gyaltsab Je has presented is a discussion solely in terms of the sutra tradition. Therefore, I shall explain this classic roughly, by following these commentaries.

Organization of the Text

The sacred works delivered orally by the triumphant Buddha's staid, our guiding light Maitreya, such as A Filigree of Realizations and A Filigree for the Mahayana Sutras, have their own special uncommon way of expression, don't they? Almost in the manner of an outline having first a brief indication of the subject matter and so on, they first give summary verses. Then, when they treat each point in the summary verses, they give a brief indication, an extensive explanation, and finally an abbreviated review of the meaning. This is not the case with every section in A Filigree of Realizations; but, except for a few instances, the text treats most points in this outline form.

The Furthest Everlasting Continuum is like this as well. Each chapter presents its main points as if with an outline and then goes on to comment on them. Each of Maitreya's works proceeds like this; but especially in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, Maitreya explains with a brief indication, an extensive explanation, and then an abbreviated review of the meaning. When you are reading the text, it is as if all of a sudden a notice appears of the next section, making it easy to understand and clear. Consequently, this classical scripture is excellent.

The text is in five chapters. The first chapter indicates the source. It speaks of the three sources of safe direction and then Buddha-nature as a source, as a womb containing a Thusly Gone Buddha. The second chapter is on enlightenment. It presents the resultant state of a Buddha, in which all fleeting stains associated with the Buddha-nature womb have been removed. It discusses the situation of what the womb contains being totally purified and fully grown. After that, comes the chapter on a Buddha's enlightening qualities, which, free of stains, are corrections of all inadequacies. The chapters on enlightening influence and then on the benefits follow that. The actual nature of the text is that it has these five chapters.

History of the Text

As for the way in which this classic came about, its actual compiler was the highly realized Arya Asanga. To realize the meaning of the extensive and profound Mahayana classics on far-reaching discrimination ( prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom), Asanga understood that he would have to rely fully on our guiding light Maitreya. Moved by this necessity, he meditated for many years and finally, when he developed true love for all beings, he was able to actualize this exceptional Buddha-figure. Maitreya actually appeared before him. Through the force of Maitreya's compassionate extraphysical powers, Asanga was then miraculously transported to the joyous Buddha-field Tushita, and there he listened to the stages of the profound and extensive Mahayana paths from Maitreya himself. When he reappeared on our southern island world, Asanga revealed The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya. Such a description comes from the grand tradition of the learned Indian masters.

Of The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya, it seems that Asanga publicly taught only A Filigree of Realizations, A Filigree for the Mahayana Sutras, and Differentiating the Middle from the Extremes. Later, he concealed The Furthest Everlasting Continuum and Differentiating Phenomena and Their Deepest Nature as hidden treasure texts (terma). Masters could teach them only inside a stupa relic monument from these treasure texts and not speak of them outside. So it has been said. Several eye-opening translators in Tibet seem to have translated these classics during the earlier transmission period.

Philosophical Views of The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya

A Filigree of Realizations, which, as I just mentioned, constitutes one of The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya, makes clear the stages of realization of both what is hidden and what is obvious in The Mother (Prajnaparamita) Sutras, namely far-reaching discrimination, and is a remarkable, excellent explanation. Corrected of anything wrong, it is extremely broad and extensive - a truly remarkable explanatory work. As for its philosophical view or outlook on reality, in certain places it indicates the ultimate point according to the Prasangika Madhyamaka position, although basically, of course, it explains from the Svatantrika Madhyamaka viewpoint in terms of the ways of practice of three families of disciples. Thus, it is something extremely extensive.

The Furthest Everlasting Continuum explains in the manner of the ultimate Madhyamaka view of reality, whereas A Filigree for the Mahayana Sutras and the two Differentiating texts treat primarily the Chittamatra view. Some learned scholars have said that Differentiating Phenomena and Their Deepest Nature is like a commentary on Buddha-nature as explained in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, and so there is that way of discussing this text as well.

In any case, because these classics are really substantial works and very vast, then for example, just as Aryadeva's Four Hundred Verse Treatise has commentaries written from the Chittamatra as well as Madhyamaka viewpoints, so too the works spoken by our guiding light Maitreya, being likewise substantial and deep, also have various types of commentaries. This is the presentation of The Five Dharma Texts of Maitreya.

The Relation between A Filigree of Realizations and The Furthest Everlasting Continuum

A Filigree of Realizations takes as its subject matter the levels of voidness (the absence of impossible ways of existing) as what The Prajnaparamita Sutras manifestly indicate and the levels of their realization as what they indicate in a hidden manner. The hidden way in which these sutras indicate these levels of realization that arise from meditating on the manifestly indicated levels of voidness is that they explain them as bases that are devoid of these levels of impossible ways of existing. A Filigree of Realizations elucidates these obscurely indicated stages. In other words, it explains clearly the distinguishing features and the ways to develop these stages of realization from one to the next as levels of awareness of things, doesn't it?

The Furthest Everlasting Continuum deals with the root from which these stages of realization can arise as levels of awareness of things, namely Buddha-nature, the source or womb containing all the core factors for becoming a Buddha. With this womb, as a basis or foundation, one can actualize oneself as someone in whom previously undeveloped good qualities newly arise and as someone in whom faults, which only fleetingly abide, are removed by opponent forces. It is probably, then, because the text explains about how, on the basis of the everlasting mental continuum of a practitioner, good qualities are developable and faults are removable that it is called The Furthest-Reaching or Superlative Everlasting Continuum. Thus, we can understand something from the title.

The Text in Connection with the Three Rounds of Dharma Transmission

Out of a distinguished method of great compassion, the universal teacher Buddha set flow three rounds of transmission of the Dharma concerning the two true phenomena (two truths). Whether we call the three rounds simply the first, second, and third, or the rounds concerning the four true facts (four noble truths) and so on, we have many ways of asserting and dividing the three. One way is in accordance with what Buddha explained in The Sutra Unravelling What Is Intended (Samdhinirmocana Sutra) and elsewhere with respect, for instance, to developing bodhichitta.

In any case, in order to tame wild undisciplined minds, Buddha taught in the beginning for the sake of ordinary or common persons. He taught in terms of the four true facts in accordance with the level of mind of ordinary disciples needing to be tamed. That constituted the first round of Dharma transmission.

As for the middle round, at the distinguished place of Vultures' Peak, in the presence of sharp-witted disciples with pure karma, Buddha indicated with one set of enlightening words the extensive, intermediate, and abbreviated classics on prajnaparamita, the far-reaching attitude of discriminating awareness. Each disciple understood these enlightening words in varying levels of elaborateness in accordance with his or her disposition and capacity. In teaching far-reaching discrimination like this, Buddha presented voidness, the absence of impossible ways of existence, by way of showing that all phenomena are devoid of true unimputed existence and thus totally pure by self-nature.

The third round of transmission has as its source several sutras, such as The Sutra on the Womb Containing a Thusly Gone One and others in this family. With the second round, Buddha had presented the abiding nature of all phenomena, namely voidness, the very nature of reality, clear light as an object apprehended by a mind. Having done that, in the last round Buddha explained, with a very extensive presentation, the mind that apprehends as its object this clear light (voidness) – the mind based on which all faults are removable and all good qualities developable. It seems as though Maitreya composed this treatise, The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, by taking as its sources or roots the sutras that had this subject matter, such as The Sutra on the Womb Containing a Thusly Gone One and others. So, that is that.

Our guiding light, the highly realized Arya Nagarjuna, composed Collections of Logical Reason in connection with the intended meaning of the middle round of Dharma transmission and Collections of Praise in connection with the intended meaning of the final round. Within the Collections of Praise composed by Nagarjuna, in Praises to the Sphere of Reality, Praises to the Vajra Mind, and so on, a manner of discussion very similar to that in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum appears, doesn't it? Kunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsan used to say that Collections of Praise were in connection with the intended meaning of the last round of transmission, didn't he?

Thus, when we speak of the last round of transmission of the Dharma, there is no need to identify it exclusively as most Gelug commentaries do with The Sutra Expressing Clearly What Is Intended. Many teachings are to be included in the last round; and here we are dealing with The Sutra on the Womb for a Thusly Gone One. Within the literature concerning Buddha-nature, various texts such as this Sutra on the Womb for a Thusly Gone One need commentary as having interpretable meanings intended to guide us deeper.

If, before assembling here, we could have read the Kangyur (The Translations of Buddha's Enlightening Words) on this topic and had a good look, we could have discovered a great deal. However, I personally did not have the time. I have only two eyes, no more; and it would not do for me to take time off. I have a great interest in reading and if I had a quiet, isolated place and some free leisure time, I would love to read further. It never happens, however, does it? The Dalai Lama is always kept busy without any spare time. There are quite a few Geshes here, however; so, you have to look at these. Look with burning eyes, now, you hear? (Much laughter) You understand me?

In short, then, I shall speak merely from tradition, whatever comes to my mind. I have not prepared anything professional. In the first place, the material is very tough and, secondly, as I have not had the time to look at all of it, there is not too much that I can explain. Nevertheless, as I have to say something, this is how my explanation has derived.

Mind in Connection with the Three Rounds of Dharma Transmission

As frequently appears in the sutras, "Mind does not have a mind; the functional nature of mind is clear light." When we come to identify the mind or awareness of objects, we see that the mind is what gives rise to all uncontrollably recurring phenomena (samsara) as well as all phenomena released from such strictures (nirvana). When the mind is tamed, happiness comes about; and when the mind is untamed, problems arise. Therefore, since taming the wild, undisciplined mind comes from pondering the main points of what is to be adopted or rejected in light of the four Noble Truths or four true facts, Buddha explained the four facts at the occasion of the first round of transmission.

Then, concerning the "mind does not have mind," Buddha explained the essential nature of the reality of the mind as voidness: it is devoid of all impossible ways of existing. Thus, in the middle round of Dharma transmission, Buddha explained the essential nature of mind as voidness with such words as "mind does not have a mind."

As for "the functional nature of mind is clear light," there are two ways to understand this clear-light functional natur of mind. We can think of clear light as the actual nature encompassing everything in other words, as voidness or clear light as something having this actual nature, in other words, as a mind that is void by nature. Buddha commented on these two ways of understanding "the functional nature of mind is clear light" in an uncommon manner at the occasion of the last round of Dharma transmission. It was like that. The last round was undoubtedly with such texts as The Sutra on the Womb for a Thusly Gone One and so on, which are the scriptural sources for the subject matter discussed in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum.

This being the case, first we need to ponder the main points for taming the gross faulty behavior of the mind. Next, we need to try to see the abiding nature of the reality of the mind. The ultimate endpoint we need to understand about mind is in relation to secret mantra, the hidden measures to protect the mind, in other words in relation to tantra. Thus, for an accurate and total understanding of Buddha-nature, the subject matter indicated here in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, I think we undoubtedly have to depend on the classic texts of tantra. For example, just as it is said that for the explanation of what is perfect and accurate, one must depend on the classics of tantra, likewise for the most deep-reaching and complete explanation for understanding Buddha-nature, I think we also need to explain it in connection with tantra.

Buddha-Nature in Connection with Tantra

When the learned Sakya masters explain the causal everlasting continuum of the all-encompassing foundation – one group of their learned masters gives the name all-encompassing foundation (alaya), or causal everlasting continuum of the all-encompassing foundation, to the mind's mere clarity and awareness – then, ultimately, they take this to be the primordial, simultaneously arising mind of clear light. This is because the clear light mind is precisely that which abides as the foundation for all phenomena of samsara and nirvana. Every phenomenon of samsara and nirvana is founded on clear light mind as its basis.

In the context of mahamudra, the great sealing nature of mind, the root phenomenon to be ascertained is also that which comes from recognizing or identifying the primordial, simultaneously arising clear-light mind. In the explanation of dzogchen, the great completeness, as well, the root is the primordial, simultaneously arising mind of clear light, recognized as inseparable pure awareness (rigpa) and voidness.

That being the case, then since the middle round indicated voidness and the last round the situation of pure awareness, we may conclude that what is to be understood by the combination of these two – whether in the Old Translation (Nyingma) terms of the unity of pure awareness and voidness, or inseparable sphere of reality (dharmadhatu) and pure awareness – and what is to be understood by what the New Translation tantras call inseparable blissful awareness and voidness, come down to exactly one and the same thing.

When the tantras speak of greatly blissful deep awareness or simultaneously arising blissful awareness, we need to think of blissful awareness within the context of the deep awareness (ye-shes) of the primordial, simultaneously arising mind of clear light. Blissful awareness in this context applies only to that level of mind. Thus, whether we say in Gelug the unity of blissful awareness and voidness, in Sakya the unity of clarity and voidness, or in Nyingma the unity of pure awareness and voidness, the basic point all of them revolve around comes down to the same thing.

Nevertheless, even though the explanation of Buddha-nature found in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum comes down to the same ultimate endpoint as the intention of what anuttarayoga tantra explains, still the way it indicates it is slightly different. For example, in A Lamp for Illuminating the Five Stages (of the Guhyasamaja Complete Stage), the ennobling Tsongkhapa, discussing as he does in A Grand Presentation of the Graded Stages of the Secret Mantra Path, explains that when the charya tantra Vairochana-abhisambodhi speaks of the rainbow body, the ultimate endpoint of what is intended comes to the illusory body. Thus, Tsongkhapa quotes a source for the exclusively anuttarayoga tantra topic illusory body from a practice from the second class of tantra charya tantra. On its surface value, however, the charya tantra text is not speaking about illusory body, is it? Nevertheless, we can understand the ultimate endpoint of its intention as illusory body. As this is the case with a text from the charya class of tantra, in the same way here, the ultimate endpoint of what is intended concerning Buddha-nature undoubtedly needs to be understood in relation with the classic texts of tantra.

Therefore, if I explain this text in accordance with what is proper to understand on the levels of sutra and tantra, and make a clear-cut distinction between the two, then this is a manner of explanation that does not mix and confuse two distinct ways of understanding. On the other hand, to explain the text by mixing the two would, in many ways, turn out to be nothing but some sort of quasi-eclecticism of lumping together as harmonious two contradictory things.

The Four Tibetan Traditions Come to the Same Point

When I explain, as I usually do, that Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, and Nyingma all have the same intended point, I am thinking of this. The Gelug masters take what the classic Madhyamaka texts discuss and explain it as the topic on which to meditate with respect to the correct view of reality, but they do this usually only in the manner of sutra meditation. On the other hand, mahamudra and dzogchen explain ways to meditate on this view in connection with the highest classes of tantra. This being so, then to say that the way of asserting and meditating on this view of reality in terms of the sutras and the ways of doing it in terms of the highest classes of tantra are equivalent is a bit uncomfortable.

Therefore, if you ask how do you explain this, it is like this. When we take the Gelug explanation of how to meditate on the Madhyamaka view of reality in connection with the methods of anuttarayoga tantra and put them together with the methods used in mahamudra, dzogchen, and the glorious Sakya tradition of the view of the inseparability of samsara and nirvana, then we are speaking of methods that are all on the same level. It is in this way that Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, and Nyingma all come to the same intended point in their discussions of the methods for asserting the correct view of reality.


Part 2. Uttaratantra: The Seven Vajra Points

Explanation of the Title

With these points in mind, let us now turn to the text. The title of this classic is, in Sanskrit, Mahayana-uttaratantra Shastra and in Tibetan Theg-pa chen-po rgyud bla-ma'i bstan-bcos (An Indicative Composition on a Vast Vehicle of Mind, the Furthest Everlasting Continuum). As for the explanation of the title, Mahayana, meaning a vast vehicle of mind, can be either a causal vehicle that leads to a goal or a resultant one to which one is led. Out of modest and vast such vehicles, this is a vast one; and when we say vast, there are seven points by which it is vast.


1. It is vast in aim, as it is aimed at the most extensive scriptural texts of prayers,
   enlightening deeds, and so on.
2. It is vast in what it actualizes, namely the meanings of the texts.
3. Vast in deep awareness, it has the complete levels and stages of deep awareness all
    the way to the goal of enlightenment.
4. It is vast in perseverance, to help all limited beings (sentient beings) and to reach
    the highest state of enlightenment to be best able to do so.
5. Vast in undertakings, it is a vehicle of the mind to engage in what will bring about
    the aim of the two intentions (superior rebirth and the superlative states of
    liberation and enlightenment), and further it has
6. a vastness of skillful methods, to actualize those two noble goals. Finally,
7. it is vast in its enlightening influence, to bring about what is of meaningful
    benefit to self and others. A vehicle of mind with seven excellent qualities like
    these is what is called mahayana, a vast vehicle of the mind.

Among the classics that discuss such a vast vehicle, some treat the bodhisattva pathway minds and arya bodhisattva levels of a bhumi mind; others concern the very nature of reality; and so on. There are many such topics. Here, since the text indicates primarily the cleansing of the everlasting continuum of the mind when it is tarnished with fleeting stains, and thus since it concerns the everlasting mental continuum, it includes the term tantra, meaning everlasting continuum, in its title. Moreover, the word tantra has the connotation of something that goes on and on with continuity, something that continues over time with connection from prior to later moments. We can undoubtedly understand something from that connotation as well.

Further, everlasting continuums may also refer to meanings discussed by words or the words of texts discussing them, as is the case when the word tantra refers to the secret mantra teachings. In addition, an everlasting continuum may mean something fit to be a foundation. Because the text primarily discusses the fact that good qualities can be developed and faults removed on the basis of the everlasting continuum of the mind as a foundation presently tarnished with fleeting stains, the term everlasting continuum can undoubtedly also imply this meaning. We cannot explain the term, however, as meaning tantra from the pair: sutra and tantra.

Furthest or, literally, "superlative" in the sense of ultimate, means latest or last, and is referring to the last or third round of Dharma transmission, with The Sutra on the Womb for a Thusly Gone One, and so on. This is the furthest, latest, or superlative, ultimate transmission. Because these furthest or latest expositions indicate how to actualize ever-higher good qualities on the basis of our presently stained everlasting mental continuum, it is the furthest everlasting continuum.

Lastly, it is a treatise or, literally, an indicative composition, in that it indicates the meaning of the sutras that have this as their subject matter. Thus, the text is called An Indicative Composition on a Vast Vehicle of Mind, the Furthest Everlasting Continuum. That is the explanation of the title. Here, the author has chosen a title in terms of the subject matter discussed, hasn't he?

Homage

I prostrate to all the Clear Evolved Buddhas and the spiritual hero
bodhisattvas
.

The Seven Vajra Points

The presentation of the main body of the text now follows. There can be many outlines here, but since I do not have any grounds for certainty in making a definitive one, it is not necessary to give an outline.


(1) The Buddhas, the preventive measures of Dharma, the Assembly, and the source, the purified state, the enlightening qualities and finally the enlightening influence of the Buddhas – the body of all indicative compositions, when gathered in brief, is these seven diamond-strong vajra points.

If we ask what is the subject matter discussed in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, it is the seven vajra points. If we ask why is this subject matter given the name vajra, meaning diamond-strong, it is because the seven are so profound that except for their being objects of experience that aryas can know – those who have achieved paths of mind of high realization from straightforward, non-conceptual perception of voidness – they are beyond the comprehension of ordinary beings, beginners such as ourselves. Thus, they are difficult to realize and since, once realized, they are points that are of great meaningful benefit, they are called diamond-strong vajras. Moreover, since nothing can shatter or destroy the points discussed in the text, which are so profound and difficult to realize, they are diamond-strong vajras. Thus, the collection of words that indicate them constitutes an explanation having seven diamond-strong vajra points.

If we ask what are the seven vajra points, they are:


1. The Clear Evolved Buddhas, the ultimate type of beings that we can become, the
    endpoints of evolution to what is of most meaningful benefit to self and others,
    the totally clear and fully evolved ones.
2. The preventive measures of the Dharma that they proclaim, namely the verbal and
    realized Dharma.
3. The Assembly or Sangha, those intent on a positive goal, who have actualized the
    Dharma measures correctly, the intent assembly.
4. The source (khams, Skt. dhatu) refers to "Buddha-nature", namely, the family-trait
    of a Clear Evolved Buddha (sangs-rgyas-kyi rigs, Skt. buddhagotra; Buddha family-
    trait). It is called the "essential factor for a Thusly Gone One" (de-gshegs snying-po,
    Skt. tathagatagarbha; literally, "womb for a Tathagata") or the "essential factor for a
    Blissfully Gone One" (bde-gshegs snying-po, Skt. sugatagarbha; literally, "womb for a
    Sugata"), referring to the actual nature of the mind when tarnished by fleeting
    stains.
5. The purified state or, literally, the state of purified growth (byang-chub, Skt. bodhi).
    When, in addition to, on the basis of, and because of the natural purity of mind,
    one removes the fleeting stains through the power of opponent forces, then one
    has the stainless purified state, the enlightenment of a Buddha. On the basis of
    such a state, there are:
6. The enlightening qualities (yon-tan, Skt. guna), which are corrections of all
    inadequacies. Specifically, there are the thirty-two qualities that are "ripenings."
    These are the enlightening qualities of a Buddha. What is continually connected
    with these qualities is:
7. A Buddha's enlightening influence ( 'phrin-las, Skt. samudacara, Buddha-activity).
    These are the seven. The text adds the word finally to enlightening influence from
    these seven vajra points undoubtedly to make the count certain. Thus, the text
    reads"... qualities and finally enlightening influence... these seven vajra points." Do you
    understand?

Scriptural Sources for the Seven Vajra Points

If we ask did our guiding light Maitreya put together these seven vajra points on his own or did he have scriptural sources from the sutras of our universal teacher, the vanquishing master Shakyamni Buddha; he did have such scriptural sources. If we ask which sutras were his source,


(2a) The sequential connection of these that is due to their defining characteristics, in the order in which they are to be understood, is as in The Sutra (Requested) by King Dharani .

Specifically, Shakyamuni Buddha indicated the seven vajra points in The Sutra Requested by the Bodhisattva King Dharani Ishvara. Nevertheless, Maitreya undoubtedly gathered together meanings and points from many sutras, such as from The Sutra on the Womb for a Thusly Gone One, The Sutra of the Arya Goddess Shrimala Sinhanada, The Sutra Inciting Exceptional Resolve, The Sutra Requested by the Maiden Vimala, and The Prajnaparamita Sutras. Thus, in explaining in accordance with what Shakyamuni Buddha indicated on numerous occasions with such sutras as The Sutra Requested by King Dharani, Maitreya had a scriptural source in the Vanquishing Master's sutras.

The Manner of Indicating the Vajra Points

Now, if we ask how The Sutra Requested by King Dharani indicates these seven vajra points,


(2b) From its introduction, one is to be aware of three of its points, while four from its delineations of the Dharma measures of those with the mindset and the Triumphant Ones.

The introductory chapter of The Sutra Requested by King Dharani indicates the three points of the Three Rare and Supreme Gems. The commentaries indicate how it does this with many quotations from the sutra. As for the remaining four points: the source, enlightenment, its qualities, and enlightening influence, these derive from its delineations of the Dharma measures of those with the mindset and the Triumphant Ones.

The sutra explains the source, Buddha-nature, with its delineation of sixty methods that those with the mindset (blo-ldan, Skt. dhiman) of bodhichitta, namely bodhisattvas, use for purifying their Buddha-nature source. If we ask what are the sixty Dharma measures that those with the mindset of bodhichitta use for purifying their Buddha-natures, they are as found in the commentaries.

First are the four adornments that make these bodhisattvas' behavior beautiful, namely the three trainings and the vital measures (gzungs, Skt. dharani). These are the four adornments. Then, since these bodhisattvas have achieved the awareness that illuminates the hallowed Dharma and have separated themselves from the darkness of naivety, they make very clear the gateways of the Dharma through mindfulness, intelligence, realizations, Dharma, and so on. There are these eight types or aspects of a bodhisattva's illuminating awareness.

Then, there are the sixteen aspects of their compassion. Bodhisattva compassion is aimed at limited beings sick with problems and, through an internal division of these beings as its objects, there are, for instance, individual aspects of compassion aimed at limited beings who have come under the control of various distorted views of reality. We may distinguish limited beings who have four inverted views, those who grasp at things in terms of "me" and "me, as their possessor," and those with the five types of obscurations. Further, there are those with attachment to objects of the six types of cognitive stimulators, those with the seven types of pride, and so forth. The sixteen divisions of compassion derive from its being aimed at such types of limited beings.

Then there are the thirty-two types of enlightening influence that bodhisattvas have. Bodhisattvas have the influence to waken others from the sleep of their naivety, the influence to connect with the broad and extensive Mahayana teachings those with limited awareness who have aspirations for the more modest Hinayana teachings, the influence to connect with the wish for Dharma those whose wishes are not for Dharma, and so on. Bodhisattvas have thirty-two such types of enlightening influence. This makes sixty Dharma measures all together. The chapter of The Sutra Requested by King Dharani that presents these sixty measures through which bodhisattvas purify their Buddha-natures indicates in a thorough fashion the source that is to be purified. That covers the Dharma measures of those with the mindset.

As for the Dharma measures of the Triumphant Ones, the chapter that delineates the Dharma measures of the triumphant Buddhas indicates the remaining three, namely stainless enlightenment, its qualities, and enlightening influence. If we ask what are the Dharma measures of the triumphant Buddhas' enlightenment, these are the sixteen aspects of compassion characterizing the state of enlightenment. They are called rootless and non-abiding, serenely stilled and stilled beyond, possessing natural clear light, having nothing to adopt or reject, and so forth. Enlightenment has sixteen Dharma measures like this and, having attained them, triumphant Buddhas have great compassion with sixteen aspects, differentiated according to a difference in the objects at which it aims. The compassion of a Buddha aims at limited beings who have not attained each of these sixteen measures respectively and who have not realized the meaning of the manner in which enlightenment abides. The chapter that presents these sixteen aspects of compassion in the state of greatest purification and growth indicates enlightenment.

The Buddhas' good qualities are indicated with the ten forces, the four proclamations about which Buddhas are fearless, and the eighteen measures unshared with arhats (liberated beings). Further, as each of these thirty-two qualities – the ten forces, four fearless proclamations, and eighteen unshared measures – acts as an uncommon cause for bringing limited beings under their enlightening influence, this delineation indicates the Buddhas' enlightening influence as well. That covers the delineation of the Dharma measures of the Triumphant Ones.

The Order in Which to Understand the Seven Vajra Points

If we ask what is the order in which to understand the seven vajra points, or what is the way to involve ourselves with them in sequence,


(3) From the Buddhas, the Dharma; from the Dharma, the highly realized arya Assembly; from the Assembly, the essential factor deep awareness, the source (up to) the endpoint, its attainment. And from the attainment of that deep awareness, the supreme purified state, endowed with the powers and so forth, the Dharma measures that bring meaningful benefit to all limited beings.

In general, if we explain the steps within the context of our perishable world, for example in the case of the universal spiritual leader, the Lion of the Shakya Clan, first he indicated the enlightening deed of manifesting his prior state of Buddhahood. Thus, the Buddhas come first, don't they? Then, it is from the Buddhas that rounds of transmission of the verbal Dharma measures are set flowing and from that come the rounds of the realized Dharma. Because of that, the text says, From the Buddhas, the Dharma.

Once the triumphant Buddhas have set flow rounds of transmission of the Dharma like this, then when, on the everlasting mental continuum of someone who has practiced them correctly, there arises the quality of having seen with straightforward perception the four true facts (four noble truths) and so on, this person reaches the level of being a member of the arya Sangha, the assembly of highly realized beings who have beheld reality. Thus, because it is from the Buddhas' enlightening speech, or rather from the Dharma set flowing by its rounds of transmission of the Dharma measures, that the arya Assembly comes about, the arya Assembly comes next. As it says in the text, from the Dharma, the highly realized arya Assembly. This explains the order in which we are to understand them.

Now comes from the Assembly, the essential factor. Through the members of the arya Assembly purifying the Buddha-nature sources that are on their everlasting mental continuums – in other words, through the actual paths of the mind that they develop purifying their Buddha-natures of the fleeting stains that tarnish them – the ultimate endpoint is that they manifest enlightenment, a state of greatest purification and growth. Then, since the qualities and enlightening influence are born from their attainments of enlightenment, the text says from the Assembly, the essential factor [translator: more literally from Sanskrit "from the Assembly, the womb" or in a variant Sanskrit manuscript, "in the Assembly the womb."]

Actually, several different ways to explain this point appear in the commentaries. For example, from the Arya Assembly comes the dissolving of tarnishes from their Buddha-natures, the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One. From this dissolving of tarnishes from their Buddha-natures or family-traits, the good qualities – literally, corrections of inadequacy – come to increase, don't they? From the Assembly, the essential factor ("from the Assembly, the womb") connotes this as well.

The Boundary for the Essential Factor Buddha-Nature

Then come the words, the essential factor deep awareness, the source (up to) the endpoint, its attainment. According to one commentarial tradition, the arya Sangha's development of progressive levels of highly realized minds purifies the Buddha-nature source within each of them. If we ask up until when does this source remain or what is the boundary for this source or essential factor for a Thusly Gone One; then, according to one commentarial tradition, the essential factor deep awareness is the stainless deep awareness of a Buddha. Up until the endpoint – the final attainment of this stainless deep awareness of a Buddha – the actual reality of the mind, namely the voidness of the mind, when it is with the characteristic of not having been rid of all its fleeting stains is what is called the source. In other words, up until the ultimate attainment of the essential factor deep awareness, the actual reality of the mind is tarnished with fleeting stains. If we think in terms of the uninterrupted path of mind at the final moment of continuity of someone as a limited being, then it is up until this stage, when its fleeting stains are all gotten rid of, that the actual nature namely, the voidness of deep awareness is called the source or "essential factor (the womb) for a Thusly Gone One."

Alternatively, if we still take the essential factor deep awareness as the deep awareness of a Buddha, then since it is from being aimed at the Buddha-nature source or essential factor for a Thusly Gone One – the voidness of one's stained deep awareness – that one must make manifest the stainless essential factor deep awareness, it is like the name of the result being given to the cause. In other words, the "essential factor (the womb) for a Thusly Gone One" as the cause is being given the name of its result. The voidness of one's stained deep awareness is being called the essential factor deep awareness, the deep awareness of a Buddha. One needs to focus on the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One in order to manifest the result, namely stainless enlightenment. If there were no essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, the result would not come about. It would not do if the essential factor (or "womb") were not present as the cause. Therefore, the name of the result is being given as the name of its cause. If we think only in terms of the unaffected actual nature encompassing everything namely, voidness, then it is explained like that.

Now, if we comment on this in connection with what is understood with tantra and explain in terms of the mind of clarity and awareness, it is a different matter all together, isn't it? However, if we take it in accordance with the paramita tradition of far-reaching attitudes (the sutra tradition), then we must think in terms of an unaffected (unconditioned) phenomenon.

Logical Pervasions

As for the extent of the pervasion between the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One and the naturally abiding family-trait, this is something I do not know very clearly. When we speak of the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, then, as comes later in the text concerning what establishes the existence of Buddha-nature family-traits, there are three points that establish them. Moreover, from the point concerning the existence of family-traits, when the text goes on to explain the family-traits, it explains two of them. It explains the naturally abiding family-traits such as the voidness of the mental continuum and the evolving family-traits such as the network of positive force (collection of merit). Since the text explains two types of traits, do we understand the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One (tathagata-garbha) as being all these family-traits (gotra)?

Even if we do consider them like that, then since the naturally abiding traits are static (permanent) and, as we say in logic, if you include in a set both elements that are static and elements that are functional phenomenon (nonstatic, impermanent), then the set is to be considered static, we would have to conclude like that rule of logic. Even though the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One includes elements that are not static in addition to some that are not functional phenomena; nevertheless, speaking in general, we would inevitably have to say it is static. On the other hand, there are undoubtedly those who say that the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One refers exclusively to the naturally abiding family-traits, which have existed without any beginning. I do not know how to decide on this matter.

Addressing the most learned masters in the audience, so what could it be? What is the pervasion between the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One and the naturally abiding family-traits? Are they the same, or how do we set them? One of you speak up; I do not know clearly myself. When we say the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, do we need to think in terms of it pervading in general both the evolving traits and the naturally abiding ones, or should we think only in terms of the naturally abiding traits?

You say it is a general term. If we look at the classic texts, it seems as though this should be the case. There are two types of family-traits: the traits that have been present with the mental continuum without beginning and those that arise from pure training. Then, if it is an essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, it is not pervasive that it is an unaffected phenomenon. Yet, it is said that the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One is unaffected. What does it say in the various monastic college textbooks? Abbot Emeritus Khen Rinpoche and then Tsultrim Rinchen, the two of you tell me. You are holders of the two main Gelug opinions.

First Khen Rinpoche, tell me, is there mention or not in your textbooks of which has greater and which has less pervasion? It has? What does it say? The family-traits are taken as more pervasive. Then, the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One is taken as the naturally abiding family-trait, is it? It is exclusively the naturally abiding trait, isn't it; and the evolving family-traits are not included as it. Correct? So then, if it is a essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, it is pervasive that it is an unaffected phenomenon.

Now, what is the difference concerning this in the textbooks of your monastic college, Tsultrim Rinchen? Does it say that the evolving traits are not included as the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One? They say they are not, correct? Well then, what is the pervasion between the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One and the naturally abiding family-traits? What does it explain? What does it set for the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One? The actual nature of the reality of the mind, does it? And, is this the naturally abiding family-trait? I see; the textbook does not actually present it like that.

The Sakya Views

When the Sakyas explain the causal everlasting continuum of the all-encompassing foundation, Kyentse Wangchug in his Notes on the Paths and Their Results says that the source, the essential factor for a Blissfully Gone One, is the simultaneously arising clear light mind; and, out of being affected or unaffected, it is an affected (conditioned) phenomenon. Out of affected phenomena being either a form of physical phenomena, a way of being aware of something, or an affecting variable that is neither, it is a way of being aware of something; and out of the two true phenomena (two truths), it is a superficially true phenomenon (a superficial truth, relative truth, conventional truth) that conceals something deeper. He says that, doesn't he?

However, Mangto Ludrub Gyatso says in his works that it is a deepest true phenomenon (deepest truth, ultimate truth), doesn't he? Thus, among the learned Sakya masters, this is a point upon which the learned Sakya masters give varying explanations. Then later on, I think it was the learned Sakya master from Kham, Dezhung, who wrote a refutation of this position, that it is a deepest true phenomenon.

When it the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One is explained as the actual nature of the mind when tarnished with stains and asserted as that, then when it the actual nature of the mind is cleared and evolved as a Buddha, it is not counted as an essential factor (a womb) any more. However, when we think in terms of the causal everlasting continuum of the all-encompassing foundation, taken in terms of mere clarity and awareness, how are we to understand this? When it is spoken of as acting as the foundation for the coming about of all three – samsara, nirvana, and the paths of the mind – then would it not be better to count it in the deep awareness of the level of being a Buddha?

The Essential Factor for a Blissfully Gone One as an Unaffected Phenomenon or as an Affected Phenomenon

Gen, do you take the essential factor for a Blissfully Gone One as pervasive with being unaffected? You say it is? No, it is not pervasive. The essential factor for a Blissfully Gone One is not pervasive with being unaffected. The all-knowing Gyaltsab Je himself has said in his works that the essential factor for a Blissfully Gone One is to be explained as three-fold and these include the parts or factors on the mental continuums of limited beings that allow for a Buddha's enlightening influence to enter and affect them. There is the enlightening influence for superior rebirth and the enlightening influence for the superlative states of liberation and enlightenment. Correspondingly, there are the factors for the enlightening influences for what is superior and what are superlative to enter. This makes the essential factor for a Blissfully Gone One lose its position of being unaffected. After discussing that point, Gyaltsab Je includes among the essential factors (this womb) the abilities or potentials for generating a Buddha's qualities as explained in the sutras. These qualities have nowhere to go other than being affected phenomenon.

Furthermore, in A Commentary on "The Sutra on Highly Realized Deep Awareness for the Point of Going Beyond," the supremely triumphant Seventh Dalai Lama has said that the mind of mere clarity and awareness is a essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, and it evolves to the state of a Buddha. Thus, concerning the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One, the voidnesses of them are unaffected phenomena, but within the set of their elements, one can undoubtedly explain that there are affected phenomena. This is probably the case even in terms of the sutras. What Gyaltsab Je said, after all, was strictly and solely in terms of the sutras. Thus, in terms of them as well, the essential factor for a Thusly Gone One is not pervasive with being an unaffected phenomenon.

Naturally Abiding and Evolving Traits

Nevertheless, as for being unaffected and being a naturally abiding family-trait, could there be among the naturally abiding traits some that are affected phenomena? I have a little indecisive wavering concerning this. If we try to understand the evolving traits and the naturally abiding traits from the point of view of the terms for them, when we say "naturally abiding traits," they are traits that, without beginning, have been abiding as parts of ourselves. "Evolving traits" are traits that come about newly from circumstances and conditions and which, through fertilization by conditions such as listening to the Dharma, are fit to evolve to become the Buddha-bodies that are affected phenomena. They are the traits that come about from a perfect adopting of Dharma measures.

This being so, then although mind's nature of mere clarity and awareness changes from moment to moment, nevertheless since it cannot be set as something the nature of which did not exist before and has to be made anew, it turns out to be something with no beginning, doesn't it? Because of that, when we speak of family traits that have been present without beginning or traits that have been abiding as our self-nature, we need to consider, for instance, primordial mind or simultaneously arising deep awareness. They are present with no beginning; they are not made anew by circumstances; they are not affected fleetingly by causes and conditions. These are points that we must ponder like this in terms of tantra. And, whether it is inappropriate to call them naturally abiding traits, I really do not know.

The paramita classics, the sutras, set only voidness as the naturally abiding family-trait. So, are there differences here? Are the ways of explaining in the context of The Furthest Everlasting Continuum and in the paramita sutras somewhat different, or is it that in terms exclusively of the sutras, the naturally abiding family traits are pervasive with being unaffected phenomena, but in terms of the sutras and tantras together, they are undoubtedly not pervasive? I really do not know. In any case, that is the way it is. The essential factor deep awareness, the source (up to) the endpoint of its attainment.

The Last Three Vajra Points

And from the attainment of that deep awareness refers to the fact that up until attaining the deep awareness of a Buddha, it is called the source, the essential factor for a Blissfully Gone One. Then, from having purified the mind of its fleeting stains together with their propensities, comes the purified state, supreme enlightenment. Based on that, come the qualities of the powers and so forth: And from the attainment of that deep awareness, the supreme purified state, endowed with the powers, and so forth. The final line of the verse, the Dharma measures that bring meaningful benefit to all limited beings refers to a Buddha's enlightening influence, which brings about what is beneficial for all limited beings. That is the explanation of the order in which we are to understand the seven vajra points. Let us leave it here for today.

Dedication

May whatever I have just explained all be put into practice. May whatever positive force I have built up from explaining the Dharma contribute toward all beings accordantly achieving it.