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Deathless Nectar For Helping Others: Notes to a Teaching On the “Crown of Knives”

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Deathless Nectar

For Helping Others:

Notes to a Teaching

On the “Crown of Knives”

teaching by Trichen Tenpa Rabgye (1759-1815),

upon the root text written by Dharma Rakshita (c. 950ad)

notes by Gyalwang Lobsang Trinley Namgyel (fl. 1800)

 

 

translated by Seiji Arao Takahashi

with Geshe Michael Roach

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©2018 individually by Seiji Arao Takahashi and

Geshe Michael Roach.  All rights reserved.

 

 

Sections may be reproduced with the author’s permission.

Please contact:

seijiarao@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Volume 91 of the Diamond Cutter Wisdom Series

 

Diamond Cutter Press

6490 Arizona Route 179A

Sedona, Arizona 86351

USA

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

Introduction………………………………………………………………………….. 5

 

Deathless Nectar For Helping Others:

Notes to a Teaching On the “Crown of Knives”…………………………… 6

 

An offering of praise, and a pledge………………………………………………….. 6

 

 

The First Session………………………………………………………………………………………… 9

 

Buddha’s teachings alive in the world……………………………………………… 9

 

The lineage for the instruction………………………………………………………… 11

 

Instructions for a good heart, vs. the steps of the path……………………. 13

 

What is a crown of knives?…………………………………………………………….. 15

 

To find a killing point…………………………………………………………………….. 17

 

What it means to rage…………………………………………………………………….. 20

 

Learning to thrive on poison………………………………………………………….. 22

 

 

The Root Text for The Crown of Knives………………………………………. 28

 

Appendices…………………………………………………………………………. 32

 

Appendix A

The First Crown of Knives,

from All the Kinds of Karma,

by the Buddha (500bc)………………………………………………………………….. 33

 

Appendix B

On Killing Points,

by Tsarchen Losel Gyatso (1502-1566)………………………………………….. 38

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Sanskrit………………………………. 44

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Tibetan………………………………. 45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

[This introduction will be written once we get further into the translation.  Here is a list of points that it will include:]

 

v Biography of Masters Dharma Rakshita and Atisha; accounts of

how one granted this teaching to the other; note that the

original Sanskrit is likely lost, if there was one

 

v Biography of Trichen Tenpa Rabgye & Gyalwang Trinley Namgyel

 

v Review of relevant commentaries & lineages

 

 

 

Deathless Nectar

For Helping Others:

Notes to a Teaching

On the “Crown of Knives”

 

 

An offering of praise, and a pledge

 

[D1]

[page 1, folio 1a[1]]

*, KHYAB BDAG RDO RJE ‘CHANG CHEN PO NAS BLO SBYONG MTSON CHA ‘KHOR LO’I BSHAD LUNG STZAL SKABS KYI GSUNG BSHAD ZIN BRIS GZHAN PHAN MYU GU BSKYED PA’I BDUD RTZI ZHES BYA BA BZHUGS SO,,

 

Herein contained is Deathless Nectar that Feeds the Sprouts of Helping Others: Notes Taken on the Occasion when the Lord of the Secret World, the Great Keeper of the Diamond, Granted a Teaching upon the “Crown of Knives”—a Book for Developing the Good Heart.

 

 

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[D2]

,GANG MTSAN MTHONG THOS DRAN [f. 1b] PA’I MOD NYID LA,

,BDAG TU ‘DZIN PA’I SA BON DRUNG PHYUNG NAS,

,BDAG MED RTOGS PA’I SHES RAB RGYAS MDZAD PA,

,BKA’ DRIN MTSUNGS MED RDO RJE ‘CHANG LA ‘DUD,

 

There is a certain person that,

In the very moment that we

See or hear or recall their name,

The seeds in our heart

For believing that things are themselves

Are ripped out completely;

And our wisdom which sees

That nothing is ever itself

Suddenly grows strong.

 

I bow down to the Holder of the Diamond,[2]

Whose kindness knows no match.

 

 

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[D3]

,MGON DES SNYIGS DUS ‘GRO LA RJES BRTZE BAS,

,THEG CHEN CHOS KYI NYING KHU MA LUS PA,

,’GAG MED GSUNG GI GSANG BA LAS DRANGS TE,

,SKAL BZANG GDUL BYA’I TSOGS LA BGO BSHAR ‘GYED,

 

This Protector, in his love for beings

Living in the days of darkness,

Drew all the nectar

Of the teachings of the greater way

From the endless well

Of the mystery of the words within him;

And then he shared it among

The crowd of his fortunate disciples.

 

 

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[D4]

,DE LAS CHA TZAM BDAG BLO’I YOL GO RU,

,’KHYIL BA’I LEGS BSHAD BDUD RTZI’I THIGS PA RNAMS,

,RANG DANG SKAL MNYAM RNAMS LA SMAN PHYIR DU,

,DENG ‘DIR RI MO’I LAM DU ‘GOD PAR BYA,

 

Just a few fine words

From the teaching that my master gave

Are like drops of deathless nectar

That will keep us all from dying.

 

The words of my teacher

Are swirling around inside

This crackpot head of mine;[3]

 

Let me scribble down quickly

The little I have learned

To help others

Who might be like me.

 

 

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[D5]

,DE LA ‘DIR SNYIGS DUS KYI ‘GRO BA YONGS KYI MGON SKYABS GCIG [p. 2] PU KHYAB BDAG RDO RJE ‘CHANG CHEN PO BLO BZANG YE SHES BSTAN PA RAB RGYAS DPAL BZANG PO NAS

 

In these days of dark, the one and only lord and protector of every living being in this world is my lord of the secret realm, Vajradhara.  He is the Holder of the Diamond, the great and glorious[4] Lobsang Yeshe Tenpa Rabgye.

 

 

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[D6]

BZHI SDE DGA’ LDAN BSAM GTAN GLING DU BSTAN ‘DZIN GYI BDAG NYID CHEN PO RNAMS KYIS GTZO MDZAD PA’I DGE ‘DUN ‘DUS SDE RNAMS LA BLO SBYONG MTSON CHA ‘KHOR LO’I BSHAD LUNG ZAB MO TSOGS CHOS SU STZAL SKABS KYI

 

In the great monastery of Ganden Samten Ling, he gave this teaching to the assembled monks, headed by esteemed holders of the teachings.[5]  He granted us a profound transmission and the lineage blessing instructions for developing the good heart by the name of the Crown of Knives, in a public teaching.[6]

 

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[D7]

GSUNG BSHAD ZAB GNAD RAGS RIM TSIG ‘GREL DANG BCAS PAR BLOS JI LTAR DPOGS PA RNAMS ZIN [f. 2a] BRIS SU ‘GOD PAR,

 

I will put down in this record a rough version of the deepest, most crucial points of his lecture, along with some commentary on the wording, as well as I was able to follow what he said.

 

 

 

The First Session

 

Buddha’s teachings alive in the world

 

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[D8]

CHOS THUN DANG PO,

 

Here is a record of the first session of his teaching:

 

 

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[D9]

` CHOS THUN DANG PO’I SPYI BSHAD KYI SKABS SU, BDAG NYID CHEN PO SHANTA DE WA’I ZHAL NAS,

 

In his general remarks as he began the first session, our Lama quoted words from the holy lips of that great being, Master Shantideva:

 

 

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[D10]

,DAL ‘BYOR ‘DI NI RNYED PAR SHIN TU DKA’,

,SKYES BU’I DON GRUB THOB PAR GYUR PA LA,

 

This life of leisure and fortune

Is extremely hard to find;

And so you must try to achieve

The purpose of a human life…[7]

 

 

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[D11]

,ZHES SOGS KYI TSIG ‘GREL SKABS DAL ‘BYOR RNYED DKA’ DON CHE TSUL DANG, LHAG TU SKYES BU’I DON GRUB THOB CES PA LA, SKYES BU CHE ‘BRING CHUNG GSUM GYI DON GRUB THOB TSUL MI ‘DRA BA GSUM YOD TSUL SOGS KYI MTHAR,

 

He gave us his comments on these and similar lines in order to show us how difficult it is to achieve the leisure and fortune we possess, and how very valuable it is.  He focused on the expression “achieve the purpose of a human life,” explaining for example how there are in fact three different ways of doing so: we can follow the teachings for a person of great capacity; for someone of medium capacity; or for one of lesser capacity.

 

 

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[D12]

DE BAS NA RANG CAG RNAMS KYIS RNYED PAR DKA’ BA’I DAL ‘BYOR GYI [p. 3] RTEN RNAM PAR DAG PA THOB, MJAL BAR DKA’ BA SANGS RGYAS KYI BSTAN PA RIN PO CHE TSANG LA MA NOR BA KHAMS GSUM ‘GRO BA’I BLA MA TZONG KHA PA CHEN PO’I MDO SNGAGS ZUNG DU ‘JUG PA’I BSTAN PA DANG MJAL ZHES SOGS GSUNGS SKABS

 

He said:

 

Thus, people like you and I have attained this wonderful body and mind, complete with spiritual leisures and fortunes which are incredibly hard to find.  We have met with the teachings of the Buddha, which is also infinitely difficult to do.  And more: We have as well encountered the teachings the teachings of that lama of all the living beings in all three realms of existence—the great Je Tsongkapa, whose instruction is a combination of the two:[8] both the open and secret teachings of Lord Buddha, complete and unerring.

 

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[D13]

DA LTA’I GNAS SKABS SU SANGS RGYAS KYI BSTAN PA TSANG LA MA NOR BA RANG RE ‘JAM MGON CHOS KYI RGYAL PO TZONG KHA PA CHEN PO’I BSTAN PA ‘DI NYID YIN TSUL SOGS RGYAS PAR BKA’ BSTZAL BA’I RJES SU,

 

He went on in this vein, describing at length for us how—in these days—the teachings of this gentle protector, the King of the Dharma, the great Tsongkapa, were in fact, for us, the complete and unerring teachings of Lord Buddha.

 

 

The lineage for the instruction

 

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[D14]

GANG GSAN PAR BYA BA’I CHOS KYI TSUL NI DA RES KYI GNAS SKABS SU BLO SBYONG MTSON CHA ‘KHOR LOR GRAGS PA ‘DI NYID [f. 2b] YIN LA,

 

And then he began:

 

So what presentation of the teachings are we going to listen to today?  It is nothing other than the instructions on developing the good heart that we know as the “Crown of Knives.”

 

 

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[D15]

‘DI YANG SNGA DUS PHUR BU LCOG BLA MA RIN PO CHES LAN KHA YAR GNANG ZHING, DE RJES YONGS ‘DZIN RDO RJE ‘CHANG GIS KYANG SKYID GRONG DU LAN KHA SHAS GNANG YOD ‘DUG PA DANG, DE NAS BAR SKABS SU ‘CHAD NYAN CHER MA BYUNG BAS DA LTA’I GNAS SKABS SU SHIN TU DKON PA LTA BUR ‘DUG CING, RGYUN MI NYAMS PAR BYA PHYIR ‘BUL BA YIN LA,

 

Now in the past, teachings on this text were granted a number of times by the precious lama Purbuchok.[9]  Subsequently, the precious tutor and Holder of the Diamond[10] also granted instruction on it a few times in Kyidrong[11]—but there has not been any major tradition of teaching it since then.  In modern days, it has nearly become a rare event to hear this instruction.  I am going to share it with you in order that this lineage should not be lost in the world.

 

 

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[D16]

DE YANG KHO BOS NI SNGAR GRVA SAR SDOD DUS LO NYI SHU’I SKABS SU KE’U TSANG RDO RJE ‘CHANG BYAMS PA SMON LAM DE NYID LA CHOS RA’I BAR GSENG [p. 4] RNAMS SU ZHUS PA YIN CING, KE’U TSANG RDO RJE ‘CHANG GIS NI BLA MA BYAMS PA RIN PO CHER GSAN ZHING,

 

I myself, during the twenty years I spent earlier in the monastery, had an opportunity to request teachings on this text from the Holder of the Diamond, Jampa Munlam of Keutsang[12]—this we were able to accomplish during breaks between the periods when the monks gathered in the debate ground.[13]  And this Holder of the Diamond from Keutsang had himself studied the topic at the feet of Lama Jampa Rinpoche.[14]

 

 

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[D17]

DE YAN CHAD KYI BRGYUD RIM BLA BRGYUD DU GSAL BA LTAR DANG, YANG BYAMS PA RIN PO CHE NAS KHRI CHEN NGAG DBANG MCHOG LDAN DANG, DE NAS RGYAL MCHOG BSKAL BZANG RGYA MTSOR BRGYUD PA’I RIM PA ZHIG KYANG YOD LA,

 

The lineage back before that follows the usual lama lineage tree.  But there is also another branch of the tree, where Jampa Rinpoche passed the teaching down to Trichen Ngawang Chokden, and then from him it goes to the great 7th Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso.[15]

 

 

Instructions for a good heart,

  1. the steps of the path

 

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[D18]

DE YANG BLO SBYONG ZHES PA ‘DI ‘GA’ RE ZHIG LAM RIM SOGS LAS LOGS SU GYUR PA KHO NA YIN PAR SEMS KYANG, BLO SBYONG YIN NA LAM RIM BLO SBYONG GNYIS SU PHYE BA’I BLO SBYONG YIN MI DGOS LA,

 

Now some people’s opinion is that this teaching genre—instructions on how to develop a good heart—must be something distinct from genres such as the teachings on the steps of the path.[16]  But if a work treats the instructions on how to develop a good heart, it need not be an instruction on the good heart in the sense of good-heart instructions which are a separate genre from teachings on the steps of the path.

 

 

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[D19]

SPYIR NA BSHES GNYEN BSTEN TSUL NAS BZUNG STE LAM GYI RIM PA THAMS CAD BLO SBYONG YIN TE, RANG RGYUD KYI BLO ‘DI NYID SBYONG BAR BYED PA’I THABS YIN PA’I PHYIR,

 

Looked at in a broad sense, all the traditional steps of the path—starting with the very first one, which is how to take oneself to a spiritual teacher—are practices of developing a good heart: for they are all different methods of developing, within ourselves, this very heart.

 

 

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[D20]

DE GNYIS SU PHYE BA’I BLO SBYONG NI THOG MA’I BLO SBYONG STE, DE LA’ANG SKYES BU CHE ‘BRING CHUNG GSUM GYI BLO SBYONG GSUM YOD PA’I THOG MA’I BLO SBYONG LTA BU SKYES BU CHUNG NGU’I BLO SBYONG YIN CING, DE BZHIN DU ‘BRING GI BLO SBYONG YANG YOD LA,

 

When we divide out instructions for developing a good heart as a teaching genre separate from the tradition of the steps of the path, we can refer to “initial stages of developing the good heart.”  What this means is that the teachings on the steps of the path are divided into those for people of three different capacities: greater, medium, and lesser.[17]  And so when we say “initial stages of developing the good heart,” we are referring to instructions on developing the good heart which are meant for those people of lesser capacity.  And then there would also be instructions for developing a good heart meant for people of medium capacity.

 

 

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[D21]

DA RES KYI ‘DI NI SKYES BU CHEN PO’I BLO SBYONG STE, ‘DI’I MTSAN LA’ANG, RTZA BA,

 

But the teachings we will give here are instructions for how people of greater capacity develop the good heart.  This is reflected even in the name of our work—which we turn to now, for the opening line of the root text:

 

 

What is a crown of knives?

 

[D22]

 

(title)

,,DHARMA RAKshI TAS AA TI SHA LA GNANG BA’I

BLO SBYONG [p. 5] MTSON CHA ‘KHOR LO

ZHES BYA BA BZHUGS SO,,

 

Herein contained is the Crown of Knives,

a teaching on how to develop a good heart

 which was granted to Lord Atisha

 by the master Dharma Rakshita

 

 

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[D23]

ZHES BDAG GCES [f. 3a] ‘DZIN GYI DGRA BO GZHOM PA LA MTSON CHA’I ‘KHOR LO DANG ‘DRA BAR SHIN TU NUS PA DANG LDAN PAS NA DE LTAR BSHAD,

 

This spiritual instruction referred to in its title line as a “crown of knives” because—just like the real weapon[18]—it is so incredibly powerful in smashing the enemy of our own habit, of cherishing ourselves before others.

 

 

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[D24]

DE LA YANG THOG MAR, RTZA BA,

 

Thus too the subtitle of the text is:

 

 

[D25]

(subtitle)

DGRA BO GNAD LA DBAB PA’I

MTSON CHA’I ‘KHOR LO ZHES BYA BA,

ZHES GSUNGS TE,

 

 

The Crown of Knives

which strikes at the killing point

of our enemy[19]

 

 

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[D26]

‘JIG RTEN NA GZUGS CAN GYI DGRA DANG, GZUGS MED KYI BGEGS ZHES BSHAD PA GNYIS KYI NANG NAS GZUGS MED KYI BGEGS DES SEMS RGYUD LA ZHUGS NAS GNOD PAR BYED PA LAS DNGOS SU GNOD PAR MI BYED LA,

 

People nowadays have this expression: “Physical enemies on the outside, invisible obstacles on the inside.”  Of these two, it is the inner ones that—having entered our mind stream—do us the greatest damage.  But they don’t do it in a direct way.

 

 

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[D27]

GZUGS CAN GYI DGRA DES DNGOS SU LUS SEMS LA GNOD PAR BYED PAS NA DE NYID DGRA’I DVANGS MAR ‘DZIN PA BZHIN DU, ‘DIR YANG RANG CAG RNAMS THOG MA MED PA NAS SDUG TU ‘JUG MKHAN GYI DGRA’I GTZO BO SDUG SHOS RANG DE BDAG GCES ‘DZIN YIN PAS DE LA DGRAR BLTAS PA’I SGO NAS DE NYID GNAD LA ‘BEBS DGOS TE,

 

Outside, physical enemies inflict damage on our body, or our mind, directly; and then we can identify them as a serious foe.  But here your and my greatest enemy—our very worst enemy—is our own habit of taking care of ourselves first; for it has, for time with no beginning, thrown us into pain.  And so we must learn to look upon this as the enemy; we have to find his killing point, and strike at it.

 

 

To find the killing point

 

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[D28]

‘JIG RTEN NA YANG DGRA BO ZHIG LA MDA’ GRI MDUNG SOGS BSNUN PA NA, GNAD DU MA PHOG NA DE TZAM GNOD MI NUS [p. 6] PAS NGES PAR GNAD DU PHOG PA ZHIG DGOS PA LTAR YIN LA,

 

In the normal world, if we strike at an enemy with an arrow or a knife or a spear—but we fail to hit the killing point—we can’t really hurt them so much.  Instead we need to find their killing point, and hit them there.

 

 

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[D29]

GZHAN YANG SNGON GYIS {%GYI} SA SKYA BA ‘GA’ ZHIG GI GSUNG LAS, SHING MKHAN SHING GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA, BSHAN PA SROG GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA, ‘PHRUL ‘KHOR MKHAN ‘PHRUL ‘KHOR GYI GNAD LA MKHAS PA, ,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR TE,

 

It’s like how sages of the Sakya tradition, in days gone by, would talk about “the woodsman, who is a master of the killing point for a tree; the butcher, who is a master of the killing point for an animal’s life;[20] and the expert machinist, who is a master of the killing point of a mechanism.”[21]

 

 

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[D30]

SHING MKHAN SHING GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA NI, RGYA GAR DU SHING TA LA’I SDONG PO GCOD PA’I TSE, SHING GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA DAG GIS

 

What do we mean by a “woodsman who is a master of the killing point for a tree”?  In ancient India, when someone wanted to cut down a palm tree, they could just find a person who was a master in the killing point for this particular tree.

 

 

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[D31]

DE LA CHU ‘JUG YUL GYI BUG PA CHUNG NGU ZHIG YOD PA DE NYID RTZAD BCAD NAS LEGS PAR BKAG NAS GCAD NA TSEGS MED PAR ‘GYEL ‘GRO BA YIN GYI, DE MIN JI TZAM BCAD KYANG TA LA [f. 3b] DE NI SLAR ‘THUD PAR ‘GYUR BAS GCOD MI THUB PA DANG,

 

The master would look carefully around the trunk of the tree and locate a small opening through which the tree drew its water.  They would cut this supply point by blocking the hole—and then the tree just falls down on its own.  If instead of doing it this way you try to chop away at the palm’s trunk, it will just grow back again—this is not the way to go at it.

 

 

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[D32]

BSHAN PA SROG GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA NI, LUG GSOD MI SOGS KYIS SROG RTZA RTZAD BCAD NAS GTZAG BU CHUNG NGU ZHIG BSNUN PA TZAM GYIS SHI ‘GRO BA LTAR DANG,

 

What is a “butcher, who is a master of the killing point for an animal’s life”?  This is where people who want to kill a sheep for example search out the main channel in the body through which the animal’s lifeforce flows. They insert a small tube at that point, and with no more effort than that, the animal quietly dies.

 

 

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[D33]

‘PHRUL ‘KHOR GYI GNAD LA MKHAS PA DAG GIS LDE MIG CHUNG NGU ZHIG BSKOR BA TZAM GYIS RANG SAR SDOD PA DANG ‘KHOR BA DA LTA’I CHU TSOD ‘KHOR LO SOGS DANG MTSUNGS PA YIN LA,

 

And what is an “expert machinist, who is a master of the killing point of a mechanism”?  This is where someone who knows what they are doing can just turn a small key and a huge mechanism comes to a stop.  Nowadays in Tibet you can see these new gadgets called “watches,”[22] and you can think of the workings of the cycle of suffering as being similar.

 

 

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[D34]

DE BZHIN DU ‘OG NAS ‘BYUNG BA’I BLO SBYONG TSUL ‘DI DAG RE RE [p. 7] BZHIN GYIS KYANG BDAG GCES ‘DZIN GYI DGRA BO GNAD LA SHIN TU PHOG PAR ‘GYUR BAS NA MTSON CHA’I ‘KHOR LO ZHES BYA’O,,

 

Now the instructions that we’re going to give below here for developing the good heart are very similar to how each of these masters does their job: these advices will strike a death blow at the killing point of our enemy—our habit of taking care of ourselves first.  And thus we call these lines the “Crown of Knives.”

 

 

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[D35]

What it means to rage

 

RTZA BA,

 

[prostration]

KHRO BO CHEN PO GSHIN RJE’I GSHED LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

 

I bow down to the Butcher of the Lord of Death,

the mighty being of ferocity.

 

 

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[D36]

ZHES PA NI, YUL KHYAD PAR CAN LA MCHOD PAR BRJOD PA STE, DE YANG GANG LA KHRO NA SEMS CAN RNAMS KYI RGYUD KYI BDAG GCES ‘DZIN ‘DI NYID LA KHROS PA YIN PAS,

 

Here we return to the root text.  Master Dharma Rakshita is here making an offering of praise to an exceptional karmic object.  This is a “being of ferocity”; but who are they being ferocious towards?  They rage against the habit of self-cherishing within the hearts of every living being.

 

 

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[D37]

‘DI ‘DRA BA’I KHRO BO LA NI BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ MTHA’ DAG BZHAG CHOG STE, BDAG GCES ‘DZIN LA DGRAR BLTA BA’I SGO NAS KHRO BA STE MI ‘DOD PA SHA STAG YIN PA’I PHYIR,

 

If this is how we describe the “ferocity” here, then we can say that the each and every bodhisattva there is, is a “being of ferocity.”  The see self-cherishing as the enemy, and then they get fierce: meaning that they hate it, every moment of the day.

 

 

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[D38]

‘ON KYANG BYANG SEMS TSOGS LAM CHUNG NGU BA LAS DANG PO PA LTA BU RANG RGYUD KYI BDAG GCES ‘DZIN ‘BA’ ZHIG TZAM LA KHROS PA NI KHRO BO YIN KYANG KHRO BO CHEN PO MA YIN NO,,

 

But now let’s consider somebody like a bodhisattva who is a beginner: who has only reached the lower stage of the path of accumulation.[23]  They rage at no more than the self-cherishing within their own heart; we can call it “ferocity,” but not “mighty ferocity.”

 

 

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[D39]

SKABS ‘DI’I GSHIN RJE GSHED LTA BU NI KHRO CHEN MTHAR THUG PA STE, DE LA’ANG DRANG NGES GNYIS LAS

 

Someone like the Butcher of the Lord of Death here in the root text though represents the ultimate form of a being of mighty ferocity.  And you should understand that here, as is so often the case in scripture, we have a real Butcher of the Lord of Death; and someone who we just call this Butcher.

 

 

NGES DON GYI GSHIN RJE’I GSHED NI BDE STONG GNYIS SU MED PA’I YE SHES DANG, DRANG DON GYI GSHIN RJE’I GSHED NI DE NYID BZHIN LAG [p. 8] GI RNAM PAR SHAR BA’I KHRO BO GSHIN RJE GSHED DO,,

 

The real Butcher of the Lord of Death is the wisdom of indivisible bliss and voidness.[24]  And what we just call this Butcher is the one who makes their appearance, complete with face and hands, as a divine being called “The Fierce One, Butcher of the Lord of Death.”

 

 

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[D40]

DE LA PHYAG ‘TSAL BA’I PHYAG NI GNYIS SU MED PA’I YE [f. 4a[25]] SHES DANG, ‘TSAL BA NI DE NYID LA MOS PA’O,,

 

And when you “bow down” to such a being, you seek from their hands a boon.[26]  The boon in their hands is indivisible wisdom; and to “seek” it means to aspire, for this very thing.

 

 

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[D41]

‘DI DAG GI SKABS SU GCES ‘DZIN LA BDAG GCES ‘DZIN GYIS MA KHYAB STE, GZHAN GCES ‘DZIN KYANG GCES ‘DZIN YIN TSUL SOGS BKA’ BSTZAL,

 

Our Lama made various special points around here, such as pointing out that the cherishing that we’re talking about in these sections didn’t necessarily have to be self-cherishing.  He showed us how there could be a kind of undesirable cherishing directed at others as well.

 

 

Learning to thrive on poison

 

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[D42]

DE NAS, RTZA BA,

(1)

,BTZAN DUG NAGS SU RMA BYA RGYU BA NA,

,SMAN GYI LDUM RA LEGS PAR MDZES GYUR KYANG,

,RMA BYA’I TSOGS RNAMS DGA’ BAR MI ‘GYUR GYI,

,BTZAN DUG BCUD KYIS RMA BYA ‘TSO BA LTAR,

 

Peacocks wander in the midst

Of a forest of poison trees;

A garden of healing herbs and plants

May be something lovely,

But peacocks have no love for them:

They live off the poison’s essence.

 

 

(2)

,DPA’ BO ‘KHOR BA’I NAGS SU ‘JUG PA NA,

,BDE SKYID DPAL GYI LDUM RA MDZES GYUR KYANG,

,DPA’ BO DAG NI CHAGS PAR MI ‘GYUR GYI,

,SDUG BSNGAL NAGS SU SEMS DPA’ ‘TSO BA YIN,

 

Bodhisattva warriors are the same:

A garden of glory and pleasures

May be something lovely,

But the warriors have no attachment for them:

They live off a forest of pain.

 

 

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[D43]

,ZHES PA’I BAR GYI LUNG BSTZAL NAS, DE YANG RMA BYA RNAMS BTZAN DUG GI NAGS SU RGYU BA’I TSE, SMAN GYI LDUM RA ME TOG DANG SDONG BU ‘BRAS BU SOGS KYIS MDZES PA JI TZAM YOD KYANG DE DAG LA DGA’ BAR MI ‘GYUR BAR,

 

Our Lama first gave us an oral transmission of the root text verses up to here.  And then he spoke about how peacocks would wander in the midst of a forest of poison trees.  They might come across a garden of healing herbs and plants, made lovely by a variety of beautiful flowers and trees and fruits; but no matter how alluring these may seem, the peacocks have no love for them.

 

 

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[D44]

BTZAN DUG GI BCUD [p. 9] KYIS RMA BYA RANG GI LUS KYI BKRAG {%BKRA?} MDANGS SOGS RGYAS PAR BYED PAS NA DE NYID ‘DOD PA’I SGO NAS ‘TSOL ZHING ‘TSO BAR BYED PA BZHIN DU,

 

The essence of the poison is what causes their brilliant plumage to flourish.  That poison is what the peacocks really want; and so they seek it out, and live off it.

 

 

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[D45]

RANG NYID YAL BAR DOR NAS CI BYED SEMS CAN GYI DON KHO NAR SPYOD PA’I SKYES BU RNAMS NI DPA’ BO YIN LA, DE RNAMS ‘KHOR BA’I NAGS SU STE, ‘KHOR BA ‘DI NYID ‘DOD CHAGS ZHE SDANG GTI MUG GSUM GYIS NAGS TSANG TSING ‘KHRIGS PA GNAM MI MTHONG BA TSOD LTA BUR YOD PA

 

The “warriors” here in the verse are people who devote themselves only to taking care of others; they think nothing of ignoring their own needs.  These beings also wander in the midst of a forest: the wild jungle of this cycle of suffering life.  And here in the cycle, the wild boughs of the three poisons—ignorant liking, ignorant disliking, and dark ignorance—grow tangled in profusion, to the point where we cannot even see the open sky any more.

 

 

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[D46]

DER DPA’ BO BDAG NYID CHEN PO RNAMS ‘JUG PA’I TSE BDE SKYID RNYED BKUR SNYAN GRAGS SOGS KYI DPAL PHUN SUM TSOGS PA ME TOG GI LDUM RA MDZES PA DANG ‘DRA BA JI TZAM ZHIG MTHONG YANG,

 

These warriors, these great beings, walk the forest of this life, and they see things of great beauty: pleasures, temporary happiness; gain, honor, and fame—shining in glorious perfection, just like the lovely gardens of flower blooms.

 

 

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[D47]

DE DAG GI NYES DMIGS DANG ‘BRAS BU SDUG BSNGAL ‘BYUNG TSUL SOGS KHONG DU CHUD PAS RMA BYA SMAN GYI LDUM RA LA MI DGA’ BA LTAR DE DAG LA CUNG ZAD KYANG CHAGS PAR MI ‘GYUR ZHING,

 

And yet the warriors have grasped the problems these things bring; they know how they lead, in the end, only to pain.  And so like the peacocks who have no love for the gardens of medicinal herbs, they have not the slightest attachment to any of these things.

 

 

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[D48]

‘KHOR BA NA SDUG BSNGAL JI TZAM YOD PA RNAMS RMA BYAS BTZAN DUG LA LONGS SPYOD PA BZHIN DU BYANG CHUB KYI SPYOD PA YONGS SU RDZOGS PA’I GROGS SU ‘KHYER ZHING, DANG DU LEN PA’I SGO NAS SEMS DPA’ BDAG NYID CHEN PO RNAMS ‘TSO BAR BYED PA YIN NO, ,[p. 10] ZHES PA’O,,

 

Like peacocks who want to feed off the poison, bodhisattvas take whatever kinds of pain that come to them here in the cycle of suffering, and transform them into tools for fulfilling their bodhisattva’s way of life.  These warriors, these great beings, embrace these troubles: they live off the pain.  This is the point that these two verses are making.

 

 

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[D49]

‘DI DAG GI SKABS SU BYANG SEMS BDAG NYID CHEN PO ‘KHOR BA’I GNAS SU GNAS KYANG ‘KHOR BA PA MA YIN PA’I TSUL DANG, RANG RE MTSAN NYID PA RNAMS KYIS ‘KHOR BA LA THOG MA’I MTHA’ MI ‘JOG CING, MTHA’ MA’I MTHA’ ‘JOG PA YIN TSUL DANG,

 

Our Lama made a number of other points here.  He explained how these bodhisattvas who were great beings could reside in a location called “the cycle of pain,” and yet still not be cycling around in it.  He reminded us of how, as students of the philosophy of Buddhism, we understood how there could be no beginning to this cycle, and yet still we could say it had an end.

 

 

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[D50]

RNYING MA BA ‘GA’ ZHIG GIS THOG MA’I SANGS RGYAS KUN TU BZANG PO DE NYID DANG PO ‘KHRUL RGYUS MA BSLAD PA ZHIG YIN PA LA, JI ZHIG NA ‘KHRUL RGYU BSLAD PAS ‘KHOR BAR ‘KHYAMS PA YIN ZHES THOG MA’I MTHA’ ZHIG DON GYIS KHAS BLANGS YOD KYANG,

 

There are a few followers of the Older School[27] who say that there was a primordial Buddha, named “Always Pure,” who was never infected by any faults at all.  And then at some point, they say, he did start to have faults.  And so by implication they are accepting the idea that there was a first beginning to things.

 

 

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[D51]

RANG LUGS LA THOG MA’I MTHA’ NI NAM DU YANG BZHAG MI RUNG TSUL SOGS RGYAS PAR BKA’ BSTZAL,

 

The actual assertion of Buddhism though is that we could never establish a first beginning at all.  Our Lama went on at some length on points such as this one.

 

 

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[D52]

‘DI’I MTSAMS NAS BSHES GNYEN BSTEN TSUL DANG, DAL ‘BYOR DANG MI RTAG PA’I CHOS SKOR SOGS RAGS RIM ZHU BAR BYA BAS, DE LA THUN GYI NGO BO DANG,

 

From this juncture in his teaching, our Lama also took the opportunity to speak broadly of classical topics from the teachings on the steps of the path to enlightenment—such as the how to take ourselves to a spiritual guide; appreciating our spiritual leisure and fortune; impermanence; and so on.

 

 

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[D53]

THUN MTSAMS GNYIS KYI DANG PO LA GNAS KHANG BYI DOR BYED TSUL SOGS SBYOR CHOS DRUG GI NYAMS LEN BDE LAM LTAR DANG,

 

Our Lama divided our practice day into one period out of meditation; then meditation; and then the part of the day out again.  He taught us how—during the first period—we should undertake the practice of the six preliminaries to meditation: including for example how to clean and straighten up our meditation space before we started meditating.  For these six, he said, we could follow the instructions found in the Path to Bliss.[28]

 

 

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[54]

DE RJES TSOGS ZHING RANG LA BSTIM NAS MDUN GYI NAM MKHAR RANG [p. 11] GI BLA MA RNAMS SKU MDOG CHA LUGS, BZHUGS STANGS SOGS RGYUN GYI GNAS SKABS LTAR NGES PAR GSAL BTAB NAS DE DAG LA [f. 5a[29]] SKYON RTOG GI BLO ‘GOG TSUL SOGS DANG,

 

After our meditation session, we invite the “Garden for Collecting Good Karma”—meaning the assembly of holy beings we have visualized before us—to come and melt down into us, as a blessing.  Our Lama made a point, among others, to remind us that when we picture here our own personal lama, we must always envisage them as they actually are, day to day: they are sitting as they usually do, and so on.  We are to take care to block any thoughts that might come up about faults we think we see in them.

 

 

To be continued!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the root text for

The Crown of Knives

 

 

 

 

 

The Crown of Knives:

Instructions for Developing the Good Heart

in the Greater Way

 

 

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[title]

,,DHARMA RAKshI TAS AA TI SHA LA GNANG BA’I

BLO SBYONG MTSON CHA ‘KHOR LO

ZHES BYA BA BZHUGS SO,,

 

Herein contained is the Crown of Knives,

a teaching on how to develop a good heart

which was granted to Lord Atisha

by the master Dharma Rakshita[30]

 

 

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[first obeisance[31]]

*,,DKON MCHOG GSUM LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

 

I bow down to the Three Jewels.

 

 

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[subtitle]

,DGRA BO GNAD LA DBAB PA

MTSON CHA’I ‘KHOR LO ZHES BYA BA,

 

The Crown of Knives

which strikes at the killing point

of our enemy

 

 

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[second obeisance]

KHRO BO GSHIN RJE’I GSHED LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

 

I bow down to the Butcher of the Lord of Death,

the mighty being of ferocity.

 

 

1

,BTZAN DUG NAGS SU RMA BYA RGYU BA NA,

,SMAN GYI LDUM RA LEGS PAR MDZES GYUR KYANG ,

,RMA BYA’I TSOGS RNAMS DGA’ BAR MI ‘GYUR GYI,

,BTZAN DUG BCUD KYIS RMA BYA ‘TSO BA LTAR,

 

Peacocks wander in the midst

Of a forest of poison trees;

A garden of healing herbs and plants

May be something lovely,

But peacocks have no love for them:

They live off the poison’s essence.

 

 

2

,DPA’ BO ‘KHOR BA’I NAGS SU ‘JUG PA NA,

,BDE SKYID DPAL GYI LDUM RA MDZES GYUR KYANG ,

,DPA’ BO DAG NI CHAGS PAR MI ‘GYUR GYI,

,SDUG BSNGAL NAGS SU SEMS DPA’ ‘TSO BA YIN,

 

Bodhisattva warriors are the same:

A garden of glory and pleasures

May be something lovely,

But the warriors have no attachment for them:

They live off a forest of pain.

 

 

To be continued!

 


 

 

 

 

Appendices


 

 

 

Appendix A

 

The First Crown of Knives,

from All the Kinds of Karma,

by the Buddha

 

 

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[K1]

[folio 465a]

DE LA YUL GZHAN DU RNAM PAR SMIN PAR ‘GYUR BA’I LAS YOD DE,

 

And Lord Buddha said:

 

Now there is a kind of karma that is created in one location on earth, and then its result is experienced in a different location.

 

 

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[K2]

DE GANG ZHE NA, DE NI TSE ‘DI NYID DAM, TSE GZHAN LA YUL GZHAN DU BDE BA’AM, MI BDE BA RNAM PAR SMIN PA STE,

 

And what is that like?  It is an action which ripens into an experience of happiness, or pain, in a country for example which is different from where the seed was planted—whether it be in this life, or another life.

 

 

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[K3]

DPER NA, BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS BKA’ STZAL PA, DGE SLONG DAG, SNGON ‘DAS PA’I DUS NA ‘DZAM BU’I GLING GI MI’I TSE DPAG TU MED DE, RGYAL PO MAN DA TA LTAR GYUR PA’I TSE,

 

For example, said the Buddha, the Conqueror, there was a time millions of eons ago, here in this world, when people used to live for billions upon billions of years.  In those days, there were kings so rich that they were like the mythical Tree of Coral.

 

 

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[K4]

GRONG KHYER GCIG CIG NA DED DPON GYI BU BYAMS PA MCHOD SBYIN ZHES BYA BA ZHIG YOD PA GROGS LNGA BRGYA TZAM GYIS BSKOR TE,

 

And there was a young man, living in a certain town, whose name was Maitra Yajna.  He was part of a group of 500 youths, who were all friends.

 

 

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[K5]

BZA’ SHING GI RA BAR PHYIN PA DANG, GROGS PO DE DAG GIS SMRAS PA, GRONG ‘DI NA KHYOD KYI PHA LA SOGS PA TSOD {%TSONG} PA RNAMS RGYA MTSO LAS RGYU ZHING,

 

One day they all went to sit together in an orchard, and his friends said to Maitra:

 

In this town, all the older men, like your own father, left to sea to do business in distant lands.

 

 

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[K6]

GSER GNAS LA SOGS PA YUL GZHAN DAG TU YANG ‘DONG, GLING GZHAN DAG KYANG LTA ZHING NOR LA SOGS PA YANG BYED NA, KHYOD LA SOGS [f. 465b] PA BDAG CAG KYANG RGYA MTSO LAS RGYUS TE NOR BSAGS PAR BYA’O ZHES SMRAS PA DANG,

 

Then travelled to other countries, like the Land of Gold; they saw many places, and were also able to amass great wealth.  You and us should also go to sea, and make our own fortunes.

 

 

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[K7]

DES DE LTAR BYA’O ZHES MNYAN TE DGONGS MA’I GAN DU SONG NAS, MA GSER GNAS SU ‘GRO’O ZHES MA LA DRIS PA DANG

 

Maitra said to himself, “Well that’s exactly what we should do!”  And he went to his mother and asked her, “May I go on a journey to the Land of Gold?”

 

 

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[K8]

,DE’I MAS SMRAS PA, BU, NOR LTA ZHIG KHYIM NA DPAG TU MED PA YOD KYI MA ‘GRO ZHIG CES SMRAS PA DANG, DES MA’I DAG MNYAN TE, MI ‘GRO BAR BYAS NAS

 

And his mother replied, “My son, what need to we have of riches?  We have piles of them here at home!  Please don’t go.”  And Maitra obeyed his mother, and decided not to go.

 

 

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[K9]

DE’I ‘OG TU BZA’ SHING GI RA BAR PHYIN PA DANG, GROGS PO RNAMS KYIS DON DE NYID LA DA DUNG YANG GSOL BA ‘DEBS SO ZHES SMRAS PA DANG, DES DE LTAR BYA’O ZHES NAS DE DAG GI NGAG MNYAN TE,

 

Later on he went back to the orchard, and all of his friends again asked him to come with them to sea.  And he agreed with their request, saying, “Yes, let’s do it!”

 

 

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[K10]

YANG SONG NAS MA LA DRIS PA DANG, MAS RKANG PA NAS BZUNG STE ‘DUG PAR GYUR NAS DE LTAR LAN GSUM BYAS PA’I ‘OG TU BZA’ SHING GI RA BA DER PHYIN PA DANG, GROGS PO RNAMS KYIS NGES PAR MI ‘DONG DU MI RUNG NGO ZHES BSGO NAS,

 

Once more Maitra went to his mother, and made his request.  She knelt and grabbed him by the leg, and made him agree to stay.  This happened three times total, and then once more Maitra went to the orchard to meet his friends, who said: “Now see here; it is absolutely a mistake if we don’t go to sea now!”

 

 

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[K11]

DES YANG MA LA YUL GZHAN DU ‘GRO’O ZHES ZHUS PA DANG, MAS BDOG PA THAMS CAD BSOG NAS RKANG PA YA GCIG NAS BZUNG STE MI ‘GRO BAR BYAS PA LAS,

 

Maitra went home and told his mother, “Now I must go abroad.”  But when he had collected all his things together to leave, his mother again knelt and grasped him by the leg and said, “My son, please don’t leave me.”

 

 

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[K12]

DUS GZHAN ZHIG NA KHYE’U DE BZA’ SHING GI RA BA DER PHYIN PA DANG, GROGS PO DAG GIS SMRAS PA, KHYOD KYIS NYES PAS BDAG CAG KYANG DA DUNG MA DONG STE, DA NI TSES BCU GSUM LA ‘DONG NGO ZHES SMRAS PA DANG,

 

Still later, Maitra went to meet his friends at the orchard, and they said to him: “Because of this problem of yours, we haven’t been able to leave either; so no matter what, we are going to depart, on the coming 13th of the month.”

 

 

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[K13]

DES MA LA MA BYAS PAR RGYA RDZAS THAMS CAD PHYIR BTON NAS DE LAM DU ‘JUG PAR BYAS [f. 466a] PA DANG,

 

Without asking his mother, Maitra collected together everything he would need for the trip, and stepped out on the porch of their home to begin his journey.

 

 

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[K14]

DE’I MAS SGO KHAR BSDAD DE RKANG PA NAS BZUNG BA DANG, BU, MA ‘GRO ZHIG CES BYAS PA DANG, DE KHROS NAS MA’I MGO LA ‘GOMS TE SONG NAS RGYA MTSO’I NGOGS SU PHYIN PA DANG,

 

But then he found his mother there outside the door; and again she knelt and held him tightly by the leg.  “My son, my son,” she said, “please don’t go.”  Suddenly Maitra was overcome with anger; he pushed his mother over and ran, stepping upon her head in the process.  Down to the seashore he went.

 

 

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[K15]

DES GROGS PO RNAMS LA BSGO BA, RGYA MTSOR ‘JUG PAR NI BYA NA ‘TSO’AM, MI ‘TSOR YANG GTOL MED KYI BDAG CAG KUN GYIS KHRIMS BRGYAD GNOD PAR BYA’O ZHES SMRAS NAS, DE DAG GIS KYANG DE’I DAG MNYAN TE KHRIMS MNOS SO,,

 

 

He met his friends, and announced to them: “When a man goes to sea, he never knows if he will live or die.  And so I say that we should each commit ourselves to the Code of the Eight Rules.[32]

 

To be continued!

 

 

 

 

Appendix B

 

On Killing Points,

by Tsarchen Losel Gyatso (1502-1566)

 

The following selection on killing points is by Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, a famed practitioner of the secret teachings from the Sakya tradition.  It is taken from a text with the title: On Naropa’s Heaven: The Supreme High Road of the Lady Foe of the Heaven of the Woman Warrior: The Ultimate Essence of All Learning for High Practitioners of the Glorious Six Instructions.

 

 

 

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[T1]

[folio 28b]

BSKYED RDZOGS KYI LAM ZAB MO GNAD MA ‘KHRUL BAR BSTAN PA BZHIN DU NYAMS SU BLANGS PAS

 

Suppose we are able to receive teachings on the profound paths of creation and completion[33]—teachings which are absolutely correct in their crucial points.[34]  And then suppose that we practice these teachings, just as they have been granted to us.

 

 

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[T2]

MTSON BYED DPE’I YE SHES RGYUD LA SKYE, ‘DI’I RGYUD GOMS PA LAS MTSON BYA DON GYI YE SHES MNGON DU ‘GYUR BA YIN LA,

 

We then develop, within our hearts, what is called the “approximate wisdom, which represents the real one.”[35]

 

 

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[T3]

DES NA SKABS ‘DIR PHYI MA CHOS NYID BRGYUD NAS STON PA’I GDAMS NGAG STON PAR BYED PA LA, DPE GSUM GYIS DON GCIG GTAN LA ‘BEBS PAR BYA STE,

 

And so here I will present advices on the latter method: of teaching suchness through a medium.[36]  We will use three different metaphors to establish a single point.

 

 

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[T4]

DE’ANG SHAN PA SROG GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA DANG, SHING MKHAN SHING GI GNAD LA MKHAS PA DANG, SGYU MA MKHAN ‘KHRUL ‘KHOR GYI GNAD LA MKHAS PA’O,,

 

These three are the butcher, who is a master of the killing point for an animal’s life; the woodsman, who is a master of the killing point for a tree; and the expert magician, who is a master of the killing point of a mechanism.

 

 

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[T5]

DANG PO NI, SROG CHAGS ZHIG GSOD PAR BYED PA NA, GNAD MI SHES PA DU MAS SROG CHAGS DE’I YAN LAG SOGS BCAD, LUS THAMS CAD PHUG KYANG SROG GI GNAD MA SHES PAS MYUR DU ‘CHI BAR MI ‘GYUR LA,

 

Here’s how we describe the first.  Suppose someone wants to kill an animal.  One way would be to have a whole group of individuals who don’t know about killing points chop away at the creature’s limbs, or pierce it all over its body with sharp instruments.  And yet—because they are ignorant of the killing point—the animal will take a long time to die.

 

 

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[T6]

BSHAN PA DES GANG LA SROG GNAS PA’I GNAD SHES PA LA BRTEN NAS, DER SMYUG TSAL LAM MTSON PHRA MO CUNG ZAD RE BRGYAB PAS KYANG SKAD CIG LA SROG ‘GAGS PAR ‘GYUR,

 

The master butcher though knows the killing point, where the life-force of the animal is located.  Then can just tap this point with a little piece of bamboo, or with some short blade, and in that very instant the life will stop.

 

 

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[T7]

DE BZHIN DU SBYANG GZHI GANG NA GNAS KYI GNAD MI SHES PAR LAM LA ‘BAD PA [f. 29a] BYAS KYANG BDE CHEN GYI YE SHES BSKYED MI NUS LA, SBYANG GZHI’I GNAD SHES PA’I DMIGS BA {%PA} PHRA MOS KYANG LHAN SKYES KYI YE SHES MYUR DU BSKYED PA YIN GSUNG,

 

The same is true for a person who hasn’t yet learned the “killing point” for spiritual practice.  They can make all the efforts they want in some practice, but they still won’t be able to bring the wisdom of great bliss into their heart.  And yet it’s been said that a person who knows the killing point of practice can just focus the mind in a certain subtle way, and quickly reach this “simultaneous” wisdom.[37]

 

 

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[T8]

GNYIS PA NI, RGYA GAR LHO PHYOGS d’A KI N’I PA TA ZHES BYA BA’I YUL NA SHING SPOM BO’I {%SBOM PO’I} RIGS SHIG GCOD PAR ‘DOD PA’I MON BA {%PA} STVA RE THOGS PA BRGYA STONG TZAM ‘TSOGS TE, SHING GI PHYOGS RE NAS BCAD TZA NA PHYOGS RE NAS ‘GRUB TE BCAD PAR MI NUS LA,

 

 

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[T9]

As for the second metaphor, suppose hundreds or even thousands of forest people carrying axes walk up to one of those huge trees that grow in the southern regions of India—around Dakinipata.  They can surround that massive trunk and chop away, each one from their own angle, but they’ll never be able to fell it.

 

 

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[T10]

SHING MKHAN SHING DE’I GNAD SHES PA ZHIG GIS CHU RGYU BA’I GNAD YOD SAR BUG PA CHUNG DU {%NGU} ZHIG TU GZER BTAB TE BZHAG PAS, RING POR MA LON PAR SNGOD {%SDONG} PO RANG NYID ‘GYEL BAR ‘GYUR BA

 

And then suppose a master woodsman comes along: someone who knows the killing point of this kind of tree.  They can find a small spot on the tree, a killing point, where the water flows.  They drive a small spike there and go back home and wait.  Before long, the monster tree falls down on its own.

 

 

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[T11]

BZHIN DU, GNAD MI SHES PA’I LUNG RIGS GTAN TSIGS DU MAS KHA PHYIR BLTAS KYI DPYAD PA MANG PO BYAS KYANG GZUNG ‘DZIN JE ‘PHEL LAS RNAM RTOG GCOD PAR MI NUS LA,

 

There’s a similar case here.  It’s said that a person who doesn’t know the killing point of spiritual practice can spend all day using scriptural authority and logical proofs—methods that use a plethora of words, all kinds of examination directed towards the outside world—but in fact it could just increase their belief in self-existent subjects and objects, and never have the power to cut through their wrong ideas.

 

 

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[T12]

GNAD DANG LDAN PA’I LAM ZAB MO CHUNG DU {%NGU} RES KYANG GNYIS SNANG THAMS CAD RANG GROL DU GCOD PAR NUS PA YIN GSUNG,

 

But then along comes someone who follows a profound path that recognizes the killing point—and with just a little touch of this method they are able to cut through all their tendencies to see things in a way different than they really are; and these problems disappear all on their own.

 

 

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[T13]

GSUM PA NI, ,RGYAL PO BHO DZA DE WA ZHES BYA BA’I KHANG BA {%PA} LA, SGO BZHIN SHING GI MI HRING RAL GRI’I ‘KHRUL ‘KHOR RGYUN MI CHAD PAR BSKOR BAS SRUNGS BA’I NANG, RGYA MTSO CHEN PO NYA DANG CHU SRIN SOGS DU [f. 29b] MA RGYUG PA’I RNAM PA CAN DU YOD PA

 

Here’s the third metaphor.  In India there was a king by the name of Bhojadeva, with a huge treasure house.  It was guarded by mannequins of wood with steel swords that spun all the time, since they were hooked up to a huge mechanism of some kind.  There was also a massive pool filled with deadly artificial animals in the form of sharks and alligators, all circulating constantly, on guard.

 

 

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[T14]

DER ‘JUG PAR ‘DOD PA LA ‘KHRUL ‘KHOR GYI GNAD MI SHES PA BRGYA STONG DU MAS ZHI DRAG GI THABS JI SNYED BYAS KYANG ‘JUG MI NUS LA,

 

A hundred men, or even a thousand, could use violence or more subtle means to try to get into the treasure house, but if they didn’t know about the killing point for the mechanism, whatever they tried would never work.

 

 

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[T15]

‘KHRUL ‘KHOR GYI GNAD SHES PA DES SKUD PA PHRA MO GCIG BCAD PA LTA BUS ‘KHRUL ‘KHOR DE DAG ZHIG NAS BDE BLAG TU ‘JUG NUS PA

 

A single person who did know the killing point for the mechanism could cut something like a thin single cord with a knife, and the whole machine would come to a stop—and then he comes in free.

 

 

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[T16]

BZHIN DU, GNAD MED PA’I ‘BAD RTZOL MANG YANG DBU MAR RLUNG SEMS

‘JUG MI NUS LA, GNAD DANG LDAN PA’I MAN NGAG CUNG ZAD TZAM GYIS

KYANG RLUNG SEMS DBU MAR MYUR BA NYID DU ‘JUG NUS PA YIN GSUNG,

 

Just so, it’s said that we might make all kinds of efforts to get our inner winds and our mind into the central channel; but if we don’t know about the killing point for doing so, they will never enter.  If we receive just a few simple instructions that do include this point, though, we can get them into the channel almost immediately.

 

 

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[T17]

DE LTA BU’I ZAB GNAD DANG LDAN PA’I LAM DE NYID NYAMS SU LEN PA LA, GZHI CHOS CAN ‘KHOR BA’I GNAD, LAM BSGOM PA’I GNAD ‘BRAS BU SANGS RGYAS KYI SA’I GNAD GSUM…

 

Now if we want to learn to put into practice this exact path—with its profound killing point—we’re going to need to learn three things: the killing point for the period in our life when we are still living in the normal world—the basic condition of this cycle of pain; and then the killing point while we are on the spiritual path; and finally the killing point for the period when we have achieved the goal: the level of an enlightened being.

 

 

To be continued!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Sanskrit

 

An asterisk (*) indicates that the Sanskrit has been reconstructed and is conjectural.

 

S1

Dharmarakṣita (Tib: Chos-‘tso), c. 950ad.  The Crown of Knives: Instructions for Developing the Good Heart in the Greater Way (Mahāyāna Cīrabuddhi Asidhara Cakra*) (Tib: Theg-pa chen-po’i blo-sbyong mTson-cha ‘khor-lo [sometimes seen as mTson-cha’i ‘khor-lo], Tibetan translation found at ACIP S06969-7, pp. 96-110 of A Compendium of Texts on Developing the Good Heart compiled by that Great Bodhisattva, Konchok Gyeltsen (Sems-dpa’ chen-po dKon-mchog rgyal-mtsan gyis phyogs-bsgrigs mdzad-pa’i Blo-sbyong brgya-rtza dang dkar-chag gDung-sel zla-ba bcas, ACIP S06969), 478pp.

 

S2

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc.  An Exalted Sutra which Relates How the Bodhisattva Maitreya Took Birth into the Heaven of Bliss, within the Sky (originally translated into the Tibetan from the Chinese, with the following given in Tibetan for the Chinese title: Kvan ji li’u phus zhang shyan te’u shis thyan kyin, Tibetan translation at ACIP KL00199, ff. 468b-478b of Vol. 15 (Ba) in the Sutra Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S3

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc.  All the Kinds of Karma (Karma Vibhanga) (Tib: Las rnam-par ‘byed-pa, Tibetan translation at KL00338-2 [which is version 2 of the work], ff. 455a-490b of Vol. 26 (La) in the Sutra Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S4

Śāntideva (Tib: Zhi-ba lha).  A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra) (Byang-chub sems-dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03871, ff. 1b-40a of Vol. 26 [La] of the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).


 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Tibetan

 

B1

Khri-chen bsTan-pa rab-rgyas (1759-1815), as recorded in notes by (Ser-stod mkhan-po sprul-ming ‘dzin-pa) Blo-bzang ‘phrin-las rnam-rgyal (c. 1790).  Deathless Nectar that Feeds the Sprouts of Helping Others: Notes Taken on the Occasion when the Lord of the Secret World, the Great Keeper of the Diamond, Granted a Teaching upon the “Crown of Knives”—a Book for Developing the Good Heart (Khyab-bdag rDo-rje ‘chang chen-po nas Blo-sbyong mtson-cha ‘khor-lo’i bshad-lung stzal-skabs kyi gsung-bshad zin-bris gZhan-phan myu-gu bskyed-pa’i bdudirtzi, ACIP 25002), 211 pages.

 

B2

Tsar-chen Blo-gsal rgya-mtso (1502-1566).  On Naropa’s Heaven: The Supreme High Road of the Lady Foe of the Heaven of the Woman Warrior: The Ultimate Essence of All Learning for High Practitioners of the Glorious Six Instructions (the title as we have been able to ascertain it is questionable, but seems to include these parts; the Tibetan here is Na-ro mkha’-spyod, dPal sdom-drug-pa rnal-‘byor gsan-mtha’i bcud, dPa’-mo mKha’-spyod dgra-ma’i ne [sne?]-lam mchog, ACIP @), ff. @-@.

 

B3

dByangs-can grub-pa’i rdo-rje (1809-1887).  The Drumsong of the Gods, which Beckons us to the Heaven of the Angel of the Sky: An Explanation, in Prose, of the Entire Prayer for the Path of the Queen of Naropa’s Heaven, the Holy Angel of Diamond (rJe-btzun rDo-rje rnal-‘byor-ma N’a-ro mkha’-spyod dbang-mo’i lam gyi smon-lam cha-tsang-ba’i tsig-don lhug-par bshad-pa mKha’-spyod zhing du ‘bod-pa’i lha’i rnga-dbyangs, ACIP S19111), 49ff.

 

B4

(sKyabs-rje) Pha-bong-kha-pa bDe-chen snying-po, 1878-1941.  A Supplication to the Lineage for the Secret World of the Body in the Glorious Union of the Spheres (Chakrasanvara), and a “Realization” Type of Ritual for the Secret World of the Body in the Same Teachings, both in the Tradition of Ghantapada (dPal ‘Khor-lo sdom-pa Dril-bu lus-dkyil gyi bla-brgyud gsol-‘debs dang, De’i lugs kyi bCom-ldan-‘das ‘Khor-lo sdom-pa’i lus-dkyil gyi mngon-par rtogs-pa, ACIP S00333), 42ff.

 

B5

(Paṇ-chen sku-phreng dang-po) Blo-bzang chos kyi rgyal-mtsan (1565-1662).  The Path of Bliss, for Travelling to the State of Knowing All Things: Instructions, in the “Dissection” Format, on the Steps of the Path to Enlightenment (Byang-chub lam gyi rim-pa’i dmar-khrid Thams-cad mkhyen-par bgrod-pa’i bde-lam, ACIP S05944), 33ff.

 

B6

(Tse-mchog gling) Yongs-‘dzin Ye-shes rgyal-mtsan (1713-1793).  An Excellent String of Jewels, Highest Ornament for Adorning the Teachings of the Victorious Ones: Biographies of the Lamas of the Lineage who have Passed Down the Instructions on the Steps of the Path to Enlightenment (Byang-chub lam gyi rim-pa’i bla-ma brgyud-pa’i rnam-par thar-pa rGyal-bstan mdzes-pa’i rgyan-mchog phul-byung nor-bu’i phreng-ba, ACIP S05985), in two volumes; Vol. 1, 474ff; Vol. 2, 498ff.

 

B7

Co-ne bla-ma Grags-pa bshad-sgrub (1675-1748).  The Cloud of Offerings, which Pleases the Wise, and Illuminates the True Thought of the Treatise known as the “Ornament of Realizations”: A Combined Word Commentary and Dialectical Analysis of the Work (mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan gyi dgongs-pa gsal-bar byed-pa mKhas-pa dgyes-pa’i mchod-sprin, tsig don mtha’ dpyod zung ‘brel du bshad pa, ACIP S00195), in 6 volumes with the following pagination: Vol. 1 (on Chapter 1 of the root text), 173ff; Vol. 2 (on Ch. 2), 55ff; Vol. 3 (on Ch. 3), 28ff; Vol. 4 (on Ch. 4), 77ff; Vol. 5 (on Chs. 5-7), 33ff; and Vol. 6 (on Ch. 8), 36ff.

 

[1] Page 1, folio 1a: The text has been input from a book typeset on computer, but which records as well the original folio numbers; hence, we include both for the benefit of researchers.

[2] Holder of the Diamond: The person who took the lecture notes presented here, Gyalwang Lobsang Trinley Namgyal (c. 1800), is referring to his teacher, the lama who granted the lecture: Trichen Tenpa Rabgye (1759-1815).  The “Holder of the Diamond,” or Vajradhara, is the form that Lord Buddha assumed to grant the high secret teachings of Buddhism.

[3] Old dirty pot: It is a custom in Tibetan text that the writer (in this case, the monk who took notes of the teaching) starts with a humble introduction of himself.

[4] The great and glorious: It is a vow in the secret teachings not to use your Teacher’s name lightly.

[5] Esteemed holders of the teachings: Referring to the great lamas. The word “lama” in a monastic setting refers, nowadays, primarily to the reincarnated teachers.  The monastery’s name, “Ganden Samten Ling,” literally means “The Heaven Meditation Center”: a Buddhist institute of learning where you can go into a deep heaven-like meditation.  The Tibetan word for “monastery” here, bzhi-sde, is literally an ancient expression for an abbey with a required core group of four monks.

[6] Public teaching:  A “lineage blessing” is where a lama give a public recitation of the root text to the assembly, apart from the formal explanation, simply as a deep blessing.  This particularly teaching went on for eleven sessions, most likely each of them requiring most of a day.  The Tibetan word for “a teaching for developing the good heart” is lojong, a genre of teaching which became popular in Tibet almost exactly a thousand years ago.

This genre emphasizes developing (jong) the mind (lo); in this case, “mind” has the specific meaning of bodhichitta, or the Wish to become enlightened, in order to be of help to all living beings.  The common rendering of lojong into English as “mind training” then is an undertranslation.  For a good explanation of the term see for example f. 410a, Volume 2, of the famed Life Stories of the Teachers of the Steps to Enlightenment by the master tutor Yeshe Gyeltsen, who was also Trichen Tenpa Rabgye’s own lama (%B6, ACIP digital text S05985).

[7] Purpose of a human life: For the original, see f. 1b of his famous Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Life (%S4, ACIP digital text TD03871).  The remainder of the verse reads: For if you cannot manage / To do some good in the here and now, / How will you ever be blessed again / With such an opportunity?

[8] Combination of the two: A purposely loaded expression, for this is the term used in the secret teachings for enlightenment itself.

[9] Precious lama Purbuchok: Referring to Purbuchok Ngawang Jampa (1682-1762), who took his geshe degree at Sera Monastery and became the tutor of His Holiness the 8th Dalai Lama in 1761; he is best known for his textbook on Buddhist logic and perceptual theory.

[10] Precious tutor and Holder of the Diamond: Referring to Trichen Tenpa Rabgye’s own lama, Yongdzin Yeshe Gyaltsen (1717-1793) from Tsechok Ling monastery.  He also served as a mentor to the same Dalai Lama, and is best known for his exhaustive history of the teachers through whom the teachings on the steps to the path to enlightenment (lam-rim) have been passed down.

[11] Kyidrong: A province on the border between Tibet and Nepal.

[12] Keutsang: In this instance, the name seems to connote a college of a monastery.  Jampa Munlam’s dates are unknown, but obviously overlap with Trichen Tenpa Rabgye’s; he is said to have served as the 32nd abbot of Sera Jey Monastery, where our speaker also studied.

[13] Breaks in the debate ground: A monastic way of saying, “between semesters.”

[14] Lama Jampa Rinpoche: This is an alternate name of Purbuchok Ngawang Jampa, just mentioned.

[15] Another branch of the tree: Trichen Ngawang Chokden (1677-1751) was associated closely with Gyumey Tantric College and served as the 54th holder of the Throne of Tsongkapa, one of the highest monastic positions in Tibet.  His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso, was a renowned writer especially on topics in the secret teachings, and lived 1708-1754.

[16] Teachings on the steps of the path: That is, the famous lam-rim.

[17] Three different capacities: Traditionally explained in this way: People of lesser capacity seek only to save themselves from falling to a lower rebirth (as a hellbeing, craving spirit, or animal) after they die.  Those of medium capacity are developed enough to want to escape, by themselves, from all forms of rebirth in the cycle of suffering.  Those of higher capacity seek to achieve enlightenment so that they can gain the capacity to lead every living being out of their pain.

[18] Just like the real weapon: The title of our text has sometimes been translated into English with names like “Wheel of Sharp Weapons”; but we are drawing our translation, “Crown of Knives,” from a specific reference in the ancient sutras to a circular device like a bicycle wheel that floats like a modern drone in the air, and has knife-like blades swirling around on the inside, something like the rotor blade on a helicopter but facing inward from the hub.

The context of the crown’s appearance in scripture is very moving, and so we have included a translation here of the entire story in which it appears (see Appendix A).  This is from a work called All the Kinds of Karma (Sanskrit: Karma Vibhanga, see ff. 465a-469b of bibliography entry %S3, KL00338-2), which in fact will itself appear as one of the volumes translated for our Diamond Cutter Wisdom Series.  A Sanskrit version is still extant, and from it we learn that the wheel has a unique Sanskrit name, asidharam chakra, meaning “the wheel fitted with knife blades” (see p. 54 of Levi’s edition below, same reference numbers).  In Tibetan this is ral-gri ‘khor-lo in the sutra and mtson-cha ‘khor-lo in modern times, both referring to a wheel of swords or other blades.

[19] Killing point: In English we have the expression of “go for the jugular,” because the jugular vein in the neck is a vulnerable point which, if pierced even slightly, will cause a person to quickly bleed to death.  The corresponding Sanskrit here is to “strike at the death point,” or marmahata—where marma means death (related English words are mortal or murder); and hata comes from the verbal root /han, meaning to strike (related word ahinsa, or “non-violence”; and even the English gun).

[20] Killing point for an animal: Lord Buddha, for example in the famous Lotus Sutra, prohibited his followers from taking the life of a human or an animal, for any purpose.  The example here is simply drawn from the everyday life of much of the world’s population, which so far still murders animals for food or other purposes.

[21] Sages of the Sakya tradition: Sakya is a district in south central Tibet known for the unique pale (kya) color of the soil (sa) there.  It’s the area where one of the four great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism was born, and thus the tradition is also called “Sakya” (not to be confused with Shakya, which is the clan in ancient India to which Lord Buddha belonged).

The Sakyas have a strong heritage of explaining the concept of spiritual “killing points,” with considerable more detail for example on the third master here.  And so we have added an appendix to the current text of a translation of one of their traditional explanations, by the great master of the secret teachings, Tsarchen Losel Gyatso (1502-1566).  Please see Appendix B below.

[22] New gadgets called “watches”: Remember that this teaching is being delivered in Tibet around 1800; there were very few such devices in the country at that time, all imported from India or China.

[23] Path of accumulation: Buddhism, by tradition, charts our spiritual progress through five different stages of understanding, each one called a “path.”  We attain the very first path—known as the “path of accumulation”—when through something like a personal tragedy we gain a great sadness about the pain of this life.  See for example f. 55a of part 4 of Choney Lama’s analysis of the Jewel of Realizations (%B7, S00195).

[24] Indivisible bliss and voidness: Basically, the direct perception of emptiness achieved through having enough karmic seeds to experience spiritual bliss—a topic of the secret teachings.

[25] Folio 4a: The notation for folio 4b is missing from our input; it picks up again at f. 5a. {Seiji check scan}

[26] Seek from their hands a boon: There’s an elaborate pun in the Tibetan for these lines: the Tibetan expression for “prostration” is chak-tsel, where chak means “a boon in the hands,” and tsel means to aspire to, or to seek.

[27] The Older School: Again, one of the four Buddhist traditions of Tibet: the Nyingma School.  These four traditions should not be confused with the four great schools of ancient India.

[28] Follow the Path to Bliss: The six traditional preliminaries to be followed before starting a meditation session are (1) preparing our meditation space; (2) putting forth offerings; (3) taking our meditation posture and preparing our heart; (4) looking upon the “Garden of Karma,” meaning the lamas and other holy beings of the lineage; (5) amassing good seeds and purifying ourselves of bad seeds, in order to have a successful meditation session; and (6) asking the high beings for help in our practice.  The Path of Bliss is an awesome, detailed presentation of the steps of the path to enlightenment composed by His Holiness the First Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chukyi Gyeltsen (1565-1662, see %B5, S05944).  It starts right out on the first page with how to conduct a meditation session.

[29] Folio 5a: The notation for folio 5b is missing from our input; it picks up again at f. 6a. {@Seiji check scan}

[30] Herein contained is the “Crown”: Here in the title, and if needed elsewhere, we will be adjusting the wording of the root text to follow that given by our commentator.

[31] First obeisance: This could well be the traditional obeisance by the translator of the original Sanskrit into Tibetan, but we haven’t yet confirmed this.

[32] Code of the Eight Rules: We have not been able to find a clear record of these eight, but the fact that they do constitute a powerful method for karmic purification is mentioned in The Sutra of How Maitreya Took his Birth in Heaven.  See f. 475a of %S2, KL00199.

[33] Profound paths of creation and completion: The two famous stages of practice in the highest teachings of Buddhism.  During the first stage, we work to make contact with divine angels; during the second, they instruct us personally, to change our body and mind to become like theirs—eternally enlightened.

[34] Crucial points: A pun here, since the Tibetan for “crucial point” (gnad) is the same as for “killing point.”

[35] Approximate wisdom, which represents the real one: A stage in the practice of the secret teachings where spiritual energy (called prana in Sanskrit; chi in Chinese; and lung in Tibetan) enters the inner channels, especially the central channel.  See for example the treatment by Yangchen Druppay Dorje (1809-1887) in his lovely commentary to the incredible versed summary of the practice of the Diamond Angel by Tsarchen himself—a summary known as A Staircase for the Fortunate, for Ascending to the Heaven of the Angel (see f. 40a, %B3, S19111).

[36] Through a medium: As opposed to the direct experience; a famous dichotomy in the secret teachings—it’s secret!

[37] Simultaneous wisdom: A direct perception of emptiness brought on when—during a combined moment of great bliss—the inner winds move smoothly in the central channel (see for example Pabongka Rinpoche Dechen Nyingpo at ff. 22b-23a, %B4, S00333).

Source: http://texts.10000booksofwisdom.com/deathless-nectar-for-helping-others-notes-to-a-teaching-on-the-crown-of-knives/