The Meanings of the Titles Ratnagotravibhāga and Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra
Brunnhölzl, Karl. "The Meanings of the Titles Ratnagotravibhāga and Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra." In When the Clouds Part: The Uttaratantra and Its Meditative Tradition as a Bridge between Sūtra and Tantra, 95–103. Boston: Snow Lion Publications, 2014.
The Meanings of the Titles Ratnagotravibhāga and Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra
There is no room here to address the complex treatment of the term gotra in different texts, but its meaning in Yogācāra texts usually differs from the Uttaratantra ’s primary use of the term as a synonym of buddha nature. Like the Laṅkāvatārasūtra, the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra generally refers to gotra as "roots of virtue" and speaks of five types of gotra (those of bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas, śrāvakas, those with uncertain gotra, and those without gotra). Following Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.4cd and its Bhāṣya, the hermeneutical etymology of gotra is often explained as meaning guṇottāraṇa, with the syllable go in gotra standing for guṇa ("qualities") and the syllable tra representing uttāraṇa ("delivering," "setting free"). Thus, the gotra is the disposition from which qualities arise and increase or which sets them free. On Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.9 and III.11, its 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. In addition, the distinction between the naturally abiding (prakṛtistha) and the accomplished (samudānīta) or unfolding dispositions in Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra III.4 differs from how these terms are understood in the Uttaratantra. For the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra defines the former as what has the nature of being a cause or support for further virtue and the latter, as what is thus supported. The former sense is also evident from Sthiramati’s (c. 510–570) commentary on the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra, 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. Further descriptions of the disposition in Yogācāra texts include "the latent tendencies of listening" and "the seeds of the supramundane mind" in the Mahāyānasaṃgraha as well as "the distinctive feature of the six āyatanas" in the Bodhisattvabhūmi.
The commentaries on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra, such as those by Āryavimuktisena and Haribhadra, generally follow the hermeneutical etymology in the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra but identify gotra as the unconditioned dharmadhātu or suchness. Based on Indian hermeneutical etymologies, the Tibetan commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra by Butön furthermore explains that, among the nine meanings of go, the ones relevant here are "direction" and "ground" or "earth" (bhūmi), while tra(yaṇa) means "protecting." Thus, the gotra is the disposition because it protects the sentient beings that are contained in the dharmas or bhūmis directed toward awakening. Or, it refers to kula ("family," "clan," or "collection") in the sense of being the disposition because it merges with the lower realms out of compassion or because it is the foundation of the collection of qualities. As for its synonyms, Abhayākaragupta says in his Munimatālaṃkāra:
The dharmadhātu, which solely has the defining characteristic of all phenomena’s being without nature, is the cause for the dharmas of the noble ones. Therefore, it is expressed through the synonyms "naturally abiding disposition," "basis," "reliance," "cause," "foundation," "abode," "precursor," "matrix," "seed," "dhātu," and "nature."
Gö Lotsāwa’s commentary on the Uttaratantra first comments on the general meanings of gotra and its synonyms kula and vaṃśa. As for gotra, its above-mentioned explanation "setting free qualities" (guṇottāraṇa) is said to mean that, through something’s itself being stable and firm, the qualities that are supported by it increase and therefore become transcendent. This is like saying that the bodhicitta of those who are endowed with the disposition is stable and firm, while it will deteriorate if the disposition is lacking. Gotra can also mean "what protects qualities" (guṇatraya). Or, when go is taken to mean "ground," it means "what sustains its own ground." That is, it "sustains" because it distinguishes those with the disposition from others. It is also called gotra because it divides into categories, like calling the generality of cattle "the gotra of cattle." Kula can also refer to "ground" or "earth," thus having the meaning of the source from which something arises. Vaṃśa has the meaning of a succession from one to another, thus referring to a continuum. In this text here, Gö Lotsāwa says, gotra has the meaning of being the source for the arising of the three jewels in the mind stream of a sentient being, thus being their substantial cause. This is also the meaning of tantra because a buddha arises by virtue of the functioning of the basic element of sentient beings as the substantial cause. The three vajra points of awakening, the qualities, and enlightened activity are described as the gotra that makes someone attain awakening—they are of similar type, like paternal relatives.
In sum, a poetic but still quite literal rendering of the name Ratnagotravibhāga would be "Opening the Jewel Mine." The title thus contains the analogy of buddha nature as the precious disposition in the minds of all sentient beings that, when "unearthed," gives rise to, or manifests as, the three jewels of Buddha, dharma, and saṃgha. However, to use a less materialistic term for this intrinsic mental potential to become a buddha, I chose the translation "jewel disposition." Unlike in texts such as the Madhyāntavibhāga and the Dharmadharmatāvibhāga, vibhāga in Ratnagotravibhāga does not mean "distinction" (since there are no two things to be distinguished) but "analysis" or "critical study." Thus, more formally, I render Ratnagotravibhāga as "An Analysis of the Jewel Disposition."
As for the meaning of Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra, tantra can mean "continuum," "doctrine," "propagation," "theory," "model," "system," "framework," "principal part," "main point," and "section." Relevant meanings of uttara here include "ultimate," "higher," "more excellent," "predominant," "later," "subsequent," and "concluding." As Uttaratantra I.160 explains, the word Uttaratantra refers to the teachings on buddha nature as being the latest and also highest teachings of the Buddha, with VT’sglossing this as uttaragrantha ("latest text" or "latest section").
Similarly, Butön’s History of Buddhism says that the Uttaratantra bears its name because it is the supreme one (uttara) within the system or continuum (tantra) of the mahāyāna teachings. The word uttara also means "later," so the Uttaratantra is an exegesis of the latest teachings of the mahāyāna. The same author’s Ornament That Illuminates and Beautifies the Tathāgata Heart explains that a skilled physician first teaches to all his students, including the ordinary ones, the first parts of the medical system (tantra). Once they have well trained in that, he teaches his own children the profound medical methods that are not to be taken literally, such as mantras and how to turn poison into nectar. Likewise, the Buddha first teaches on impermanence and so on, thus producing weariness in his students and introducing them to the vinaya. Then, he teaches on the three doors to liberation, thus teaching the guiding principle of the tathāgatas. Finally, he teaches the tathāgata heart, which resembles the last parts of the medical system and represents the dharma wheel of irreversibility, the discourse on the purity of the three spheres, the single road to travel, the single yāna, the single refuge, and the profound dharma not sought from anywhere but the Buddha (compare this with the example of the stages of cleansing a beryl in the Dhāraṇīśvararājasūtra quoted in RGVV). As for the word Uttaratantra, Butön says, uttara means "supreme" and "later," with the latter meaning applying here. Or, it means "highest" because it is the highest continuum or section (rgyud gong ma) within the mahāyāna. This is followed by a quote from the Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra with the same purport, which concludes by saying that the Buddha finally teaches in the last continuum or section (rgyud phyi ma) of his teachings, the one on the tathāgata heart, that the tathāgata heart is permanent.
Gyaltsab Darma Rinchen’s commentary says that since tantra means "continuous flow" it refers to the scriptures that teach the means to purify the stained mind, while uttara means "later" or "latest," thus referring to the latest mahāyāna scriptures.
The commentary by Rongtön Shéja Günsi (1367–1449) also explains that tantra means "continuous flow," but that this refers to the primary subject matter of this treatise—the tathāgata heart—being a continuous flow throughout all phases of the ground, the path, and the fruition. Or, the term is similar to tantra in the vajrayāna sense: the basic element is similar to the causal tantra; the three conditions that purify the stains of this basic element (the vajra points of awakening, its qualities, and activity), to the method tantra; and the result that consists of the three jewels, to the fruitional tantra (note that this explanation of the term Uttaratantra accords more with the nowadays more common understanding of Uttaratantra as "supreme continuum" in the sense of the changeless continuity of buddha nature itself). "Unsurpassable" (bla ma) means that there is no text higher than it and that it is particularly eminent because it teaches the seven vajra points—the meaning of the sūtras of definitive meaning that is difficult to realize. Obviously referring to Butön and others, Rongtön says that some take Uttaratantra to mean "the last section" (rgyud phyi ma) and thus explain this treatise to be a commentary on the intention of the last dharma wheel, but that this is not the case because this treatise is also linked to the prajñāpāramitā sūtras and the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra (referred to in Uttaratantra II.58), with the latter sūtra declaring itself to belong to the second dharma wheel. In sum, Uttaratantra as the title of this treatise signifies both its subject matter and its function.
Gö Lotsāwa’s commentary explains that all teachings of the Buddha can be summarized into the three dharma wheels according to the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra. The Uttaratantra bears its name because it belongs to the last one among these three. In general, uttara means "north" (in terms of direction), "supreme" (in terms of qualities), "other" (in terms of substance), and "later" or "subsequent" (in terms of time). Here, it means "later" (with the Tibetan bla ma also being a synonym of "later"). Like Rongtön, GC also says that tantra means "continuous flow," but that it must be understood according to the context. Thus, the term here refers to the continuous process of progressively guiding a person through the three dharma wheels, with the Uttaratantra ’s being referred to as the last, supreme, or highest stage in that process. This point is also explained in Uttaratantra II.73cd:
Therefore, this final stage of the self-arisen ones is not even known
By the great sages who have obtained the empowerment.
Later, GC also explains "continuous flow" as the meaning of tantra as follows. Until one attains the first bhūmi, saṃsāra is a continuous flow and is thus described as a continuum (tantra). Likewise, the enlightened activity that is performed from the first bhūmi onward for as long as space exists is such a continuous flow, but it is "later" (phyi ma) because it has gone beyond saṃsāra. Even through combining saṃsāra and what is pure, this is still a single continuum because there is a continuous connection in terms of the one’s having arisen from the other in that the later one (what is pure) arose from the earlier one (saṃsāra). Thus, what is condensed into one in this way is true reality—the luminous nature of the mind. Since it is obscured by ignorance earlier during the phase of saṃsāra, it is like a secret treasure. Through realizing it, it becomes the continuum of what is pure. How is it a "continuum," how does it go beyond saṃsāra, and how is it "later"? As for uttara, the Sanskrit tara means "crossing over" and "setting free." The prefix ud has meanings such as "very" (lhag par), "on" (steng), "later" (phyi ma), and "superior" (rab). Thus, great bodhisattvas first progress to the first bhūmi beyond saṃsāra, but even on all ten bhūmis, they do not cross over the ocean that is the ground of the latent tendencies of ignorance. When they reach the final bhūmi of a buddha, they have even crossed that ocean. If the meaning of this explanation is summarized, it consists of verse 2 of the Dharmadhātustava:
Due to just that being purified
What is such circling’s cause,
This very purity is then nirvāṇa.
Also the dharmakāya is just this.
GC says that this principle is truly amazing. For, even through having experienced limitless sufferings in the six realms of saṃsāra since beginningless time for such a long period, the tathāgata heart did not become rotten. Through its power, the disposition is awakened, great weariness of saṃsāra arises, and awakening is attained through effort. At that time, it will abide until the end of space as nothing but this basic element of sentient beings, who are just a continuous flow of afflictions and suffering. Furthermore, in terms of the continuum (tantra) that represents the means of expressing all this, the Uttaratantra teaches the meaning of all yānas, but its primary meaning consists of the later or ultimate (bla ma) dharma wheel.
Jamgön Kongtrul’s JKC says that the Uttaratantra is the highest of all dharmas taught by the Buddha, being the unsurpassable one or the peak of the mahāyāna scriptures. It is the commentary on the intention of teach- ing the heart of the matter, the lion’s roar of irreversibility, thus being the king of all treatises. In general, the all-pervading dharmadhātu—nondual wisdom—is the nature of the disposition. This dharmadhātu’s being endowed with the twofold purity of having relinquished the two obscurations is the nature of the dharmakāya. The means to attain this dharmakāya— the view of being free from all reference points and nonconceptual meditation—is the nature of the path. The well-spoken words of the perfect Buddha that teach these three (the disposition, the dharmakāya, and the path) represent the ultimate or supreme scriptures (gzhung bla ma’am dam pa). When these scriptures are analyzed finely, they are threefold. The first one, the actual ultimate scriptures, consists of the aspects of speech that are the mahāyāna scriptures, which are simply a subdivision of the melodious speech that appears for the buddhas themselves—their nondual wisdom that can arise as all kinds of aspects. This is of the same nature as natural purity or the result of freedom that is the dharmakāya. The second kind of scripture consists of the mahāyāna scriptures in the form of the collections of names, words, and letters that appear as the aspects of term generalities in the minds of noble ones and ordinary beings. The third kind of scripture consists of the words and terms that are expressed as actual speech in accordance with the former two kinds and are called "the scriptures that represent the continuum or section (rgyud) of the mahāyāna sūtras of definitive meaning." The latter two kinds of ultimate scriptures are very different in nature from the triad of nature, fruition, and path. However, since they arose from the aspiration prayers of a buddha, represent the natural outflow of the dharmakāya, and have the power to relinquish the two obscurations, one should understand that they are included in the uncontaminated dharmas of a buddha, the focal object for purification, and the perfect nature. Elsewhere, JKC says that, similar to the tantras (rgyud), the final dharma wheel explains the ultimate actuality because it teaches the continuous (rgyun mi chad pa) dharmadhātu.
Unlike most other commentaries, CMW explains that tantra here is to be understood in its vajrayāna sense since the Uttaratantra resembles a tantra in two ways. Thus, the text is clearly regarded as a bridge between the sūtrayāna and the vajrayāna:
A tantra is a tantra in the sense of being concealed, hidden, or secret, that is, it is presented [as "tantra"] by keeping it secret from those who are not [proper] vessels. Likewise, if this treatise is taught to those who are not [proper] vessels (those who have the dispositions of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas and those with the cut-off disposition), fear will arise [in them]. Therefore, it is presented by keeping it hidden or secret from them. Or, in tantra there is the triad of causal tantra, fruitional tantra, and method tantra. Likewise, in this treatise, what resembles the causal tantra is the basic element. What resembles the method tantra are the means to purify this [basic element]—awakening, the qualities, and enlightened activity. What resembles the fruitional tantra are the three jewels.
Yeshé Dorje’s commentary YDC combines the above explanations with what CMW says, beginning by saying that tantra means "something that is continuous" (rgyun chags pa), which is twofold—the continuum of saṃsāra and the continuum of nirvāṇa. Since the tantra in question here is the supreme or later continuum, it is called "the ultimate continuum" or "the later continuum." As the Vajraśikharatantra says:
Tantra is called "something that is continuous"—
Saṃsāra is to be expressed as a continuum.
What is called "the later" is the yonder side—
The later continuum is nirvāṇa.
"Tantra" in the sense of the meaning that is to be expressed is threefold— causal tantra, fruitional tantra, and method tantra. (1) The causal tantra is what is continuous as the naturally luminous basic nature of phenomena since beginningless time, which is the meaning of "sugata heart" or "primordial buddha." It is also called "nature" or "aspect." YDC quotes a text called Man ngag snye ma as saying that the essence of the emptiness of entities means nothing other than this "nature" or "aspect." It is a cause— the substantial agent that is the causal Vajradhara. Through it, there is the buddhahood that is established by nature and is not tainted by the stains of beginningless latent tendencies. This is the meaning of "the cause of the buddhahood that is characterized by nothing but this causal tantra’s having attained stainlessness." Therefore, all omniscient mighty scholars say that it is not the intention of the tantra collection to explain the meaning of the causal tantra as being the ālaya-consciousness. (2) The fruitional tantra is what is continuous as the buddhakāya and its enlightened activity, which is nothing but the causal tantra free from adventitious stains. (3) The method tantra represents the methods to manifest the causal and fruitional tantras, which is the continuous path. One may think that since this is the vajrayāna’s manner of explaining tantra, it is unrelated to this context here. This is not the case for the following reasons. The three tantras represent ground, path, and fruition, with the causal and fruitional tantras respectively representing the dhātu in its phase of being impure and the awakening that is the phase of this very dhātu’s having become free from stains. Therefore, there is no difference in meaning. Also, one must explain the meaning of the explicitly appearing term "tantra" in the name Uttaratantra. "Tantra" in the sense of the words that are the means to express this meaning consists of the texts that teach the three tantras just described. Therefore, the last turning of the wheel of dharma and the commentaries on its intention are also called "the ultimate continuum," which is evident from Uttaratantra I.160b.
Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary says that "tantra" here refers to the continuity of the tathāgata heart (the main topic of the Uttaratantra) throughout ground, path, and fruition. Or, this text is similar to a tantra because the basic element resembles the causal tantra; the three conditions that purify it from stains (such as awakening), the method tantra; and the three jewels, the fruitional tantra. "Ultimate" means unsurpassable and most eminent because the text teaches the seven vajra points—the meaning of the sūtras of definitive meaning that is difficult to realize.
In an attempt to accommodate all these explanations of Uttaratantra, I chose the rendering "ultimate continuum," with the English word "ultimate"—like uttara—being understandable as both "latest" and "supreme." Thus, the Mahāyānottaratantraśāstra is "A Treatise on the Ultimate Continuum of the Mahāyāna."
- See also Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā, Yamaguchi 1934, 188.
- See Gampopa’s explanation of these five in appendix 1.
- Sūtrālaṃkāravṛttibhāṣya, D4034, fols. 41b.6–43a.2.
- As for the Sanskrit term śrutavāsanā, śruta can mean "heard," "listened to," "taught," " orally transmitted (knowledge)," and "instruction." Thus, the term can be understood as "the latent tendencies of or through hearing/listening/studying" or "the latent tendencies for hearing/listening/studying." The Tibetan rendering thos pa’i bag chags and some of the glosses in the commentaries on the Mahāyānasaṃgraha seem to suggest the rendering "the latent tendencies of listening," which can also be understood as covering both options. Therefore, the term may refer to the latent tendencies of having listened to the dharma (which have been planted through having listened) or the latent tendencies of being prone to listen to the dharma again at any time in the future. In that way, these latent tendencies are both a result of having listened to the dharma and a cause for further such listening. In addition, the latent tendencies for listening to the dharma in general can also be said to be an innate quality of the dharmadhātu in all sentient beings. Indeed, the Mahāyānasaṃgraha describes the latent tendencies of listening as having all these meanings. On the one hand, they are said to be a "remedy," "mundane," and to increase "by virtue of being associated with listening, reflection, and meditation that are performed many times." On the other hand, the term refers to "the seeds of the supramundane mind," "the natural outflow of the pure dharmadhātu," "the seeds of the dharmakāya," and they are said to be "included in the dharmakāya." Therefore, the latent tendencies of listening spring from studying the teachings and make one study them again, thus serving as the causes for eventually attaining the dharmakāya (thus being acquired "latent tendencies of or through listening"). However, since those tendencies are also said to be primordially present in the mind stream through the nature of phenomena, they are the natural outflow of the dharmadhātu and are merely revived through listening but are not newly created (thus being inherent "latent tendencies for listening"). The Buddhist teachings are seen as the natural outflow or activity of the dharmadhātu upon its being fully realized by a buddha. When these teachings meet with the latent tendencies of listening in the minds of other beings, those tendencies are activated and thus are also called the natural outflow of the dharmadhātu—the nature of the mind—of those beings. The comments on these different ways of describing the latent tendencies of listening in the Eighth Karmapa’s commentary on the Abhisamayālaṃkāra (Brunnhölzl 2010, 431–33) account for the latent tendencies of listening being said to be both mundane and supramundane, but clearly treat them primarily from an ultimate perspective. The Karmapa says that they are "not something that must be input newly under the influence of conditions" but are "what allows one to listen to all the twelve branches of a buddha’s speech," "the capacity of uncontaminated cognition that is active through the power of the nature of phenomena," and they allow "the enlightened activity of the dharmakāya to engage the mind streams of sentient beings." Also, they do not really increase, but "it is only the power of the decline of the factors to be relinquished that appears as if the latent tendencies of listening, which are the natural outflow of the completely pure dharmadhātu, increase from small to medium and so on." The meaning of their being "mundane" is explained as referring only to their being the remedy for what is mundane, but in being the natural outflow of the supramundane dharmadhātu, they are not contained in mundane mind streams. The gist of their being a "natural outflow of the dharmadhātu" is said to lie in this term’s addressing the need for some factor that is other than the completely pure dharmadhātu itself yet outside of all impure phenomena. Thus, from the perspective of this factor of the natural outflow’s being associated with a mind stream on the path, it is presented as a bodhisattva and yet also as being included in the dharmakāya. In this way, "in the single body of a yogin that appears as the dependent nature, there are two modes of engagement—the mode of engagement of the continuum of consciousness, and the mode of engagement of the power of wisdom." Thus, depending on whether the latent tendencies of listening are regarded from the perspective of seeming reality, the path, and ordinary consciousness or from the perspective of ultimate reality, the ground/ fruition, and nonconceptual supramundane wisdom (both perspectives are found in the Mahāyānasaṃgraha and the Karmapa’s commentary), these tendencies can be described as either mundane, conditioned, and acquired (being a remedy, increasing, and associated with listening, reflection, and meditation) or as supramundane, unconditioned, and innate (being the capacity of uncontaminated cognition that is active through the power of the nature of phenomena, an outflow of the dharmadhātu, and belonging to the dharmakāya). According to the Eighth Karmapa, these tendencies are the spontaneous impulses and habits of listening to, and engaging in, the dharma that are the natural expression of one’s own buddha nature as the causal condition. Thus, the dharma, teachers, and texts’ appearing for oneself as well as one’s being attracted to and engaging them come about through the main cause that consists of the revival of these internal tendencies appearing as if external, with the compassion and the enlightened activities of buddhas and bodhisattvas aiding as the dominant or contributing conditions. Fundamentally, all of this happens nowhere else than in the minds of the disciples and as nothing other than appearances in their minds, which in these cases, are increasingly less stained by obscurations.
- Bu ston rin chen grub 2001, 1:382–83.
- D3903, fol. 169b.6–7. For more details of the understanding of the term gotra in different Yogācāra and Madhyamaka texts, see Ruegg 1968–69, 1969, 1976, and 1977 as swell as Brunnhölzl 2010, 284–92 and 428–88 and 2012a, 124–30 and 651–59.
- GC, 209.11–21.
- The terms tathāgatakula and buddhakula are used, for example, in the Gaṇḍavyūhasūtra, the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra, and the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra. Buddhavaṃśa is found in the Kāśyapaparivarta and tathāgatavaṃśa, in the Bodhisattvabhūmi and Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā.
- One of the meanings of kula is the residence of a family, that is, as much ground as can be ploughed by two ploughs, each drawn by six bulls.
- The original meaning of this term is bamboo or any other type of cane. Due to the resemblance to the succession of joints in a bamboo cane, the term came to be used in the sense of a pedigree or genealogy, dynasty, lineage race, and family.
- Fol. 14r1–2.
- Bu ston rin chen grub 1931, 1:54.
- Bu ston rin chen grub 1965–71, fols. 1b.4–2b.5.
- Dar ma rin chen 1982, 12.3.
- Rong ston shes bya kun gzigs 1997, 53.
- Rongtön’s entire passage up to here is also found verbatim in Mipham’s commentary (’Ju mi pham rgya mtsho 1984b, 352).
- GC, 9.4–13.
- CMW, 424.
- Compare also Tagpo Dashi Namgyal’s Jewel Light Rays (Roberts 2011, 439) equating the causal tathāgata heart with the causal tantra and quoting Uttaratantra I.28 in support.
- ’Ju mi pham rgya mtsho 1984b, 352.
- As for the meanings of "continuum" that are relevant here, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary gives the following explanations (which accord quite well with some of the meanings of tantra): "1 : something that is absolutely continuous and selfsame: a : something of which no distinction of content can be affirmed except by reference to something else . . . something of which the only assertable variation is variation in time or space 2 a : something in which a fundamental common character is discernible amidst a series of insensible or indefinite variations < a sensation ~ > b : an identity of substance uniting discrete parts; broadly : CONTINUITY . . 4 a : an ideal substance or medium containing no vacant spaces and devoid of discrete structure b : a continuous portion of a spectrum." Under "continuity," we find: "1 . . . b : the quality or state of continuing without essential change : uninterrupted persistence of a particular quality or essential with reference to conjoint changing qualities . . . c : continuousness in time . . . 2 : something that shows continuity . . . 3 : an individual feature, element, or unit of a connected series . . ."
- According to GC (8.6–18), the meaning of "treatise" (Skt. śāstra, Tib. bstan bcos) should be understood as explained in Sthiramati’s Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā (Pandeya ed., 1999, 4.7–15; D4032, fol. 190a.4–190b.1): "A treatise consists of the cognizances that appear as the collections of names, words, and letters. Or a treatise consists of the cognizances that appear as the special sounds (or terms) that cause one to attain supramundane wisdom. How do cognizances guide one or express [something]? Since the cognizances of the listener arise due to the cognizance of the guide and explainer, there is no flaw. It is a treatise by virtue of correcting [śās] disciples. Since correcting them gives rise to distinct forms of discipline, samādhi, and prajñā, they turn away from inappropriate actions and engage in appropriate actions. Or, it is a treatise because it exhibits the characteristics of a treatise. The characteristics of a śāstra are that through which one will relinquish the afflictions including their latent tendencies through having familiarized with all received instructions and that protects [trāya] one from the lower realms and [saṃsāric] existence, which are frightening due to all kinds of intense, incessant, and long-lasting sufferings. Therefore, it possesses the characteristics of a treatise because it corrects the enemies that are the afflictions and protects one from the lower realms and [saṃsāric] existence" (for variant readings of this passage in D4032 and Pandeya 1999, see note 1875. This explanation of "treatise" through the two qualities of correcting (or mending) and protecting is the one that is generally adopted in Tibetan texts too.