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Difficult Questions in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism

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Difficult Questions

In the Mind-Only School

Of Buddhism

 

by

Je Tsongkapa, Lobsang Drakpa (1357-1419)

with his autocommentary,

 

and a helpful second commentary by

Fearless Blade:

Jikme Rikpay Reltri (c. 1875)

 

Translated by

Word Smith

with Geshe Michael Roach


 

 

 

Copyright ©2018 individually by Edward Campbell & Geshe Michael Roach.

All rights reserved.

 

Sections may be reproduced with the authors’ permission.  Please contact:

thepostiveword@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Volume 77 of the Diamond Cutter Classics Series

 

 

Diamond Cutter Press

6490 Arizona Route 179A

Sedona, Arizona 86351 USA

 

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction………………………………………………………………………….. 6

 

Part One

Tsongkapa’s Autocommentary……………………………………………….. 10

 

An In-Depth Commentary upon “Difficult Questions about

          Negative Consciousness, and the Foundation Consciousness

          where It Plants Its Seeds”…………………………………………………………………………… 11

 

How the Mind-Only School began………………………………………………………….. 12

 

What there was before the Mind-Only School…………………………………………. 22

 

 

Part Two

The Golden Key:

A Commentary by the Fearless Blade………………………………………. 30

 

The Golden Key: An Annotated Commentary to the Root Text

of “Negative Consciousness and Foundation Consciousness”…………………….. 31

 

A first offering & praise…………………………………………………………………………….. 3

 

An offering of praise……………………………………………………………………………….. 34

 

A promise to write…………………………………………………………………………………… 37

 

How the Mind-Only School evolved……………………………………………………….. 39

 

Strategies for understanding…………………………………………………………………… 42

 

Defining the basis part of foundation consciousness: an introduction…….. 43

 

Defining the basis part of foundation consciousness: some details………….. 47

 

Mind appearing to mind itself…………………………………………………………………. 48

 

How do we see different realms?…………………………………………………………….. 53

 

What objects can appear to foundation consciousness?…………………………… 57

 

Which objects of the sixth consciousness

can appear to foundation consciousness?……………………………………….. 59

 

Is foundation consciousness good, bad, or neutral?………………………………… 61

 

Which mental functions can be

adjunct to foundation consciousness?…………………………………………….. 62

 

 

 

Part Three

Tsongkapa’s Root Text………………………………………………………….. 66

 

 

Appendices…………………………………………………………………………. 75

 

Comparative list of the names of divine beings & places………………………… 76

 

Appendix A:

A traditional presentation of the groups of mental functions…………. 77

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Sanskrit………………………………. 81

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Chinese………………………………. 84

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Tibetan……………………………….. 85

 

Bibliography of works originally written in English………………………….90

 

 

Introduction

 

The Buddha lived a long life, giving thousands of teachings over a period of nearly 50 years.  His teaching career is traditionally divided into three parts, called the Three Turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma.

 

These three are described at length in a famous sutra by the Buddha himself called What I Really Meant.[1]  In the famous seventh chapter of this sutra, a bodhisattva named “Born of the Ultimate” (Paramartha Samudgata) points out to Lord Buddha that—during the first period of his teachings—he said that things had some nature of their own.  And then during the second period, he emphatically denied that anything had any nature of its own.

 

The bodhisattva asks about the apparent discrepancy, and the Buddha’s clarifications—both in this chapter and elsewhere—came to be recognized as the Third Turning of the Wheel; and at the same time the introduction of the concepts which became what we know as the Mind-Only School.  This school, along with the famed Middle-Way School, constitute the teachings granted by Lord Buddha known as the “greater way” (mahayana), presenting the ideal of the bodhisattva: working to become enlightened so that we can help all living beings.

 

A person who devotes themselves to a careful study of these two schools over some time comes to see that the Middle-Way School, formally founded by the realized being Nagarjuna in the 3rd century, offers a perfect explanation of the concepts of the bodhisattva path—and particularly of the idea of emptiness.  The Mind-Only School, founded by Arya Asanga in the 4th century, offers an alternate explanation of the same concepts which contains a number of indefensible points, but is extremely deep and helpful towards gaining the more perfect understanding—and this process was indeed “what the Buddha really meant.”

 

During the centuries that followed, nearly countless sages discussed and debated these two schools, thus sharpening their understanding especially of emptiness, which is considered the key to enlightenment.  By the 9th century, Buddhism was dying out in its Indian homeland, and its foundational writings were almost completely lost in the original Sanskrit.  Almost 5,000 great books though were successfully translated into Tibetan before India was lost, and a robust tradition emerged for the study of both the Middle-Way and Mind-Only Schools.

 

One Tibetan master stands out in clarifying especially the concept of emptiness according to both schools, and that is Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419).  He wrote thousands of pages of brilliant commentary, fearlessly exploring the most difficult concepts, and the arguments about them that had gone on over the centuries.

 

He tackled the teachings of the Mind-Only School most famously in his Essence of Eloquence, on the Art of Interpreting Ideas—a large part of which is founded upon that same sutra by the Buddha, What I Really Meant.  It is in these two presentations that we can—with work—get a clear picture of the teachings of the Mind-Only.  The Great Commentary to this sutra, written in Chinese by the master Yuance in the 8th century, is another valuable resource and really is great: almost 1,500 pages in the Tibetan translation.  (The text was so highly considered that it is a very rare case where an original Chinese composition was accepted into the corpus of ancient Sanskrit commentaries.)

 

Thus it is that our present Diamond Cutter Wisdom Series, projected to encompass 108 volumes and including translations of many great ancient texts, encompasses a group of books dedicated to these three works: the original sutra, Master Yuance’s commentary, and Je Tsongkapa’s subsequent analysis.

 

And yet there are deeper questions about specific, difficult-to-decipher points of the Mind-Only School.  Je Tsongkapa recognized this, and composed a brief, poetical presentation of but three folios to attack them; he then wrote a commentary of about 50 folios to clarify his own lines.  The full name of the former is Difficult Questions about Negative Consciousness, and the Foundation Consciousness where It Plants Its Seeds; while the latter is simply referred to as “The In-Depth Commentary” to the first.

 

We ourselves tackled this commentary, and the original root text, and quickly decided that we needed some help to translate both accurately.  We reviewed a number of traditional commentaries to Je Tsongkapa’s root text and commentary, and found one in particular which was very helpful and precise.  And so in addition to the two works by Tsongkapa, we have included as well in the present volume this commentary, whose title is The Golden Key: An Annotated Commentary to the Root Text of “Negative Consciousness and Foundation Consciousness.”

 

We don’t have a lot of information about the author of this commentary, although its high quality speaks for itself.  Here is what we know so far.

 

He goes by many names, the most interesting of which is Rikdra Rikpay Reldri, which literally means “Sharp Sword-Blade of Thinking, on the Debate Ground.”  No doubt he was a fearsome debater during the open dialectic sessions that are part of the course of study at every great monastery in Tsongkapa’s lineage.  Sometimes the word “Fearless” is added to this title, which reflects as well his ordination name: “Lobsang the Fearless.”  (“Lobsang” is the first part of Je Tsongkapa’s own ordination name, and has been passed on to countless monks since him.)[2]

 

In trying to date Fearless Blade, we note in the St Petersburg Catalog a colophon to one edition of his text the following comment:

 

I, Lobsang the Fearless, have put this work down in writing in order to protect myself from forgetting what I have understood about this subject through the kindness of the teachings I was granted on it by the great bodhisattva Lobsang Chokdrup.[3]

 

We see in the online database of the Buddhist Digital Research Center that a Lobsang Chokdrup is listed as the 59th abbot of the Gomang College of Drepung Monastery;[4] and in fact we ourselves are working from the input by the Asian Classics Input Project (ACIP) of this work as it is found in a collection of rare texts from this same college.[5]  Lobsang Chokdrup is not here dated, but his successor, Kyenrab Tenpa Chupel, said to be the 60th abbot in the line, is dated from 1840 to 1907 or 1908.[6]

 

This would put the successor in the same generation as Fearless Blade, so we have assigned a provisional date of c. 1875 to our author.  There are some other, conflicting references to his date; but this is the most “solid” information we have, and we hope to clarify it further.

 

We have placed these three works in this volume in what we feel is a logical order for a reader to learn about these conundrums of the Mind-Only School.  First you get Je Tsongkapa’s autocommentary, which is a tough bite to chew.  Then you pass through an explanation of the same again, with some very helpful comment, from Fearless Blade.  And then for dessert, and to check your understanding, you collide with the code-like root text from Je Tsongkapa as a complete, separate work.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part One

Tsongkapa’s Autocommentary

 

 

Difficult Points in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism

 

 

[A1]

[folio 1a]

,,MA NO WI DZNY’A NA A’A LA YA WI DZNY’A NA t’I K’A,

 

Mano Vijnanalaya Vijnana Tika:

A Commentary on Negative Consciousness and Foundation Consciousness[7]

 

 

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[A2]

YID DANG KUN GZHI’I DKA’ BA’I GNAS RGYA CHER ‘GREL BA BZHUGS SO,,

 

Here lies An In-Depth Commentary upon “Difficult Questions about Negative Consciousness, and the Foundation Consciousness where It Plants Its Seeds.”[8]

 

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[A3]

,BCOM LDAN ‘DAS GSUNG GI DBANG PHYUG LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

 

I bow down to the Conqueror, Lord of the Exalted Word.[9]

 

 

 

How the Mind-Only School began

 

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[A4]

(1)

,RGYAL DANG RGYAL BA’I SRAS RNAMS GSHEGS PA’I BSHUL,

,LEGS GSUNGS LEGS LAM JI BZHIN THUGS CHUD NAS,

,MA NOR MA ‘DRES RDZOGS PAR STON MDZAD PA’I,

,MKHAS PA’I MKHAS PA DE LA MGOS PHYAG ‘TSAL,

 

You are the one who grasped it as it is—

The pure path spoken pure:

The path of the Victors and their children.

 

And then you taught it unerringly,

Unadulterated, complete.

 

I bow my head low to the Sages of Sages.[10]

 

 

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[A5]

(2)

` ,RNAM RIG GZHUNG GI SHIN TU DKA’ BA’I GNAS,

,YID DANG KUN GZHI GSAL BAR BSTAN PA DANG,

,BDAG NYID DRAN PA GSO BAR BYA BA’I PHYIR,

,BLA MA’I GSUNG LA BRTEN NAS ‘DIR BSHAD BYA ,

 

I will describe here clearly

The most difficult points

In the scriptures of the Conceptualists:

Negative, and foundation, consciousness.

 

I will give my explanation

Based upon the teachings of my lamas,

And only to refresh my own understanding.[11]

 

 

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[A6]

‘DIR YID DANG KUN GZHI GTAN LA ‘BEBS NA DE DAG GANG NAS ‘BYUNG BA’I SEMS TZAM GYI GRUB PA’I MTHA’ DE DUS CI TZAM NAS BYUNG ZHE NA,

 

One may ask, “If you are going to make a presentation on negative consciousness and foundation consciousness, can you first tell us when it was that the school from which these concepts come—the Mind-Only School—first started?”

 

 

 

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[A7]

(3)

` ,SMRA BA’I DAM PAS THEG PA MCHOG ,

,’DZIN PAR LUNG BSTAN ‘PHAGS PA KLUS,

,THEG MCHOG RGYAS PAR MDZAD PA’I RJES,

,LUNG BSTAN BRNYES PA’I THOGS MED KYIS,

,SROL BTOD

 

This system was founded

By Master Asanga, one who had received

His prediction, after the highest way

Was spread widely by the realized one,

Nagarjuna—himself predicted

By that greatest of teachers

As the one who would preserve

The teachings of that highest way.

 

 

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[A8]

THUB PA CHOS KYI DBYINGS SU SNYOMS PAR ZHUGS PA’I RJES SU ‘DZAM BU’I GLING ‘DIR THEG PA CHEN PO’I BSTAN PA NI NUB STE, NYAN THOS KYI BSTAN PA TZAM ZHIG GNAS LA NANG PA’I GRUB PA’I MTHA’ SMRA BA YANG BYE BRAG SMRA BA SOGS ‘BA’ ZHIG TU GYUR PA,

 

After the Able One went into his final contemplation upon the realm of existence,[12] the teachings of the greater way[13] declined in this world.  Only the teachings of the listeners remained, and Buddhist schools were reduced solely to the Detailists and such.[14]

 

 

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[A9]

THEG PA CHEN PO’I MDO RNAMS LA NI GUS PAS GCES SPRAS SU BYED PA DANG, MNGON PAR SBYOR BA PO MED PAS CHOS MNGON PA ‘BUM PA LA SOGS PA CHUD ZOS PAR GYUR,

 

There was no one who honored or valued the sutras of the greater way; nor anyone who continued writing on the teachings of higher knowledge.[15]  As such, works like The Hundred Thousand Verses on Higher Knowledge slowly vanished.[16]

 

 

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[A10]

SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA SOGS PA ZAB CING RGYA CHE BA’I MDO RNAMS NI KLU’I RGYAL PO CHEN PO RNAMS KYI GNAS NA BZHUGS PAR GRAGS TE,

 

Sutras which covered both the profound and widespread teachings[17]—the perfection of wisdom and such—were said to still exist, somewhere in the lands of the great kings of the dragons.

 

 

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[A11]

SLOB SPRINGS LAS,

,BSTAN PA RIN CHEN MCHOG LTAR BZANG LA ‘PHAN MED PA,

,RNAM PAR DAG TSUL GANG YIN KLU MGO’I GDENGS KA CAN,

,CHEN PO RNAMS KYIS GTZUG GI RGYAN BZHIN GUS MNOS NAS,

,SA YI GTING NA GNAS PA’I RAB RIB SEL BAR MDZAD,

,CES SO,,

 

As the Letter to a Student puts it,

 

The great dragons, with their hooded heads,

Raise in respect like crowning jewels

The teachings, fine and uncorrupted,

Like some supreme gemstone—

And keep them in the purest way.

 

There in their lands deep below the earth,

They use these words to cut away

The cataracts that darken knowledge.[18]

 

 

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[A12]

DE NAS ‘PHAGS PA LANG KAR GSHEGS PA LAS,

,MGON PO MYA NGAN ‘DAS ‘OG TU,

,’DZIN PAR SU ‘GYUR BSHAD DU GSOL,

 

What happened next is reflected in that exalted sutra, A Journey to Langka:

 

And they asked him:

“Who will keep these teachings

After the Protector passes

Into his final nirvana?”

 

 

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[A13]

,BDE GSHEGS MYA NGAN ‘DAS ‘OG TU,

,TSUL RNAMS ‘DZIN PAR ‘GYUR BA DE,

,DUS DAG ‘DAS [f. 2a] NAS ‘BYUNG BA NI,

,BLO GROS CHEN PO KHYOD SHES BYOS,

 

He replied,

“You should understand that,

After the One Gone to Bliss

Has passed to his final nirvana,

There will come, after some time,

One who keeps his way;

And this one will be a person

Of magnificent intelligence.”

 

 

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[A14]

,LHO PHYOGS BEE DA’I YUL DU NI,

,DGE SLONG DPAL LDAN CHER GRAGS PA,

,DE MING KLU ZHES BOD PA STE,

,YOD DANG MED PA’I PHYOGS ‘JIG BYED,

 

“He will born in the south,

In the land of Vaidarbha;[19]

A monk who is known

For his eminent glory—

And his name will be ‘The Naga.’

 

He will smash the ideas

That things could exist,

Or that they could not exist.”

 

 

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[A15]

,NGA YI THEG PA ‘JIG RTEN DU,

,BLA MED THEG CHEN RAB BSHAD NAS,

,RAB TU DGA’ BA’I SA BSGRUBS TE,

,BDE BA CAN DU DE ‘GRO ‘O,,

 

“Here in this world

He will teach my way

As the highest way, unsurpassed.

He will attain the level of

Perfect Happiness,

And continue on

To the Heaven of Happiness.”[20]

 

 

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[A16]

ZHES LUNG BSTAN PA’I SKYES BU CHEN PO KLU SGRUB LHO PHYOGS BEE DA’I YUL DU SKU ‘KHRUNGS NAS SANGS RGYAS KYI BSTAN PA LA RAB TU BYUNG STE

 

The person that Lord Buddha is predicting here is that great being, Nagarjuna.  He will indeed then be born in the land of Vaidarbha, in the south of India, and become ordained within the teachings of the Buddha.

 

 

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[A17]

KLU’I YUL NAS SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA SOGS PA’I MDO RNAMS SPYAN DRANGS NAS ‘DZAM BU’I GLING DU THEG PA CHEN PO MTSAN MA MED PA’I TSUL GSAL BAR MDZAD PA’I PHYIR DU RANG GZHAN GYI SDE PA’I LTA BA NGAN PA SEL BAR MDZAD PA DBU MA RIGS PA’I TSOGS LA SOGS PA’I BSTAN BCOS RNAMS MDZAD DO,,

 

He will escort sutras such as The Perfection of Wisdom back from the land of the dragons; and then clarify, here in the world of humans, the teachings of the greater way which describe how nothing has any signs of its own.[21]  To do so, he will compose classical commentaries—such as the Collection of Six Works on the Reasoning of the Middle Way[22]—in which he removes the wrong views of both Buddhist and non-Buddhist schools.

 

 

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[A18]

DE’I RJES SU ‘JAM DPAL RTZA RGYUD LAS,

,THOGS MED CES BYA’I DGE SLONG NI,

,BSTAN BCOS DE NI DON LA MKHAS,

,MDO SDE NGES DON DRANG BA’I DON,

,RNAM PA MANG PO’ANG RAB TU ‘BYED,

 

What happened next is described in the Root Secret Book of Manjushri, the Gentle Voice:

 

There will come a monk

Named “Unstoppable”;[23]

He will become a master

In the meaning of the classics,

And in many ways will distinguish

The literal meaning of the sutras

From that meaning which is figurative.

 

 

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[A19]

,’JIG RTEN RIG PA STON BDAG NYID,

,GZHUNG ‘BYED NGANG TSUL CAN DU ‘GYUR,

,DE YI RIG PA GRUB PA NI,

,S’A LA’I PHO NYA MO ZHES BRJOD,

 

This great being will teach

The knowledge of the world,

And learn the ways of analyzing

All of the great books.

 

The secret teaching that he practices

Will be called “The Lady Messenger

Who comes from the Forest of Shala.”[24]

 

 

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[A20]

,DE YI SNGAGS KYI MTHU YIS NI,

,BLO NI BZANG PO SKYE BAR ‘GYUR,

,BSTAN PA YUN RING GNAS BYA’I PHYIR,

,MDO YI DE NYID DON SDUD BYED,

 

By the mystic power

Of her mantra,

His mind will become strong.

 

He will summarize the real meaning

Of all the various sutras,

To make the teachings remain

Long within this world.

 

 

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[A21]

,LO NI BRGYA DANG LNGA BCUR ‘TSO,

,DE LUS ZHIG NAS LHA YUL ‘GRO,

,’KHOR BA RNAMS SU ‘KHOR BA NA,

,YUN RING BDE BA RJES MYONG NAS,

,BDAG NYID CHEN PO MTHAR GYIS TE,

,BYANG CHUB THOB PAR ‘GYUR BA YIN,

 

He will live to a hundred and fifty,

And after his body perishes,

He will pass to the land of the gods.

 

Here in the cycle of life,

He will circle through a great many lives

For many years, in happiness.

 

And then this great being

Will attain the state of enlightenment.[25]

 

 

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[A22]

,ZHES LUNG BSTAN PA’I SLOB DPON THOGS MED KYIS ‘PHAGS PA BYAMS PA BSGRUBS PAS ZHAL GZIGS TE, DGA’ LDAN DU BYON NAS BYAMS PA’I CHOS LNGA SOGS GSAN CING SLAR ‘DZAM BU’I GLING DU BYAMS CHOS RNAMS KHYER BYON TE RANG NYID KYIS KYANG THEG PA CHEN PO BSDUS PA SOGS MDZAD NAS SEMS TZAM GYI LTA BA’I SROL RGYAS PAR BTOD DE,

 

Now the master predicted in these words was Asanga.  Over a long period of time, he engaged continuously in the practice of Loving One, Maitreya; until finally he was able to meet this divine being face-to-face.  He then traveled to Loving One’s paradise, called the Heaven of Bliss;[26] where he received teachings on the Five Books of Maitreya[27]—among others.  Finally he returned to this world with the Five Books, and also composed his own works, such as A Summary of the Greater Way.[28]  Thus did he establish, widely, the viewpoints of the Mind-Only School.

 

 

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[A23]

JI SKAD DU,

,’JIG RTEN KUN LA [f.  2b] PHAN PHYIR THOGS MED CES BYA BA,

,CHOS RGYUN TING ‘DZIN STOBS KYIS DRANGS PA’I BDUD RTZI’I RGYUN,

,’PHAGS PA MI PHAM ZHAL GYI BUM PA NAS BLUGS PA,

,GSAN PA’I SNYIM PAS GSOL BA DE LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

ZHES PA LTAR RO, ,

 

We see the following words:

 

I bow down to that one

Whose name was Asanga;

Who to help the entire world

Tapped the stream of deathless nectar

With the power of his concentration

Upon the flow of the teachings,

And with his own two hands—

The teachings that he listened to—

Drank deep from the pitcher

Poured out for him

By the realized being

Known as The Invincible.[29]

 

 

 

What there was before the Mind-Only School

 

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[A24]

(4)

` SNGON DU DBU MA NYID,,

 

Before that, there was just the Middle Way.

 

 

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[A25]

‘O NA THOGS MED KYIS SROL BTOD PA’I SNGON DU THEG CHEN GYI LTA BA DE JI ‘DRA BA ZHIG TU GNAS SHE NA, THOGS MED KYI SNGON DU RTEN CING ‘BREL PAR ‘BYUNG BA RTAG CHAD KYI MTHA’ DANG BRAL BA NYID DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA’I BKA’I DGONGS PAR ‘GREL BA DBU MA’I TSUL LAS GZHAN MED DE, THEG CHEN GSAL BAR MDZAD PA PO KLU SGRUB KHO NA YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

One may ask, “Well then, before Master Asanga founded that system, what types of greater-way viewpoints were prevalent?”  Before Asanga, there was just one method of commenting on the true thought of the word of Those Gone Thus which explained it as dependence—that one unique view totally free of the extremes of thinking that things must be unchanging, or else be completely discontinued.  This method was the Middle Way.  That is, the only person bringing clarity to the teachings of the greater way was Nagarjuna.

 

 

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[A26]

DES NA MDO SDE RGYAN SPYOD ‘JUG DBU MA SNYING PO SOGS SU THEG PA CHEN PO BKAR BSGRUB PA ‘BYUNG BA YANG, ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB KYIS THEG PA CHEN PO ‘DZAM BU’I GLING DU DAR BAR BYAS PA’I TSE GRUB MTHA’ ‘OG MA’I PAndI TA RNAMS KYIS RANG NYID KYIS DE GONG DU THEG CHEN MA THOS PA DANG, RANG GIS TSAD MAR KHAS BLANGS PA’I SDE SNOD CI RIGS PA DANG MI MTHUN PAR ‘DUG PA

 

This in fact is why we see sections in works like The Jewel of the Sutras; A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life; and The Heart of the Middle Way[30] where proofs are presented to demonstrate that the teachings of the greater way are, in truth, the word of the Buddha.  That is, during the period when the realized being Nagarjuna was working to spread the greater way in this world, sages of the lower schools had never heard of the teachings of this way; and they perceived these teachings as being inconsistent with any of the bodies of scripture which they accepted as valid.

 

 

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[A27]

RGYU MTSAN DU BYAS NAS THEG PA CHEN PO BKA’ MA YIN NO ZHES SKUR BA BYUNG BA’I TSE DE DAG GI LOG RTOG BSAL BA’I PHYIR DU MDZAD PA YIN NO,

 

For this reason they deprecated the teachings of the greater way, saying that they could not be the word of the Buddha.  This is why references such as those we’ve mentioned were written, to clear away these mistaken views.

 

 

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[A28]

SLOB DPON RANG NYID KYIS KYANG RTEN CING ‘BREL PAR ‘BYUNG BA LA MTHA’ BRGYAD LA SOGS PA’I SPROS PA MTHA’ DAG ‘GOG PA’I RIGS PA DANG,

 

,BCOM LDAN DNGOS DANG DNGOS MED PA,

,MKHYEN PAS K’A TY’A YA NA YI,

,GDAMS NGAG LAS NI YOD PA DANG,

,MED PA GNYIS KA’ANG DGAG PA MDZAD,

 

,CES PA LTA BU THEG DMAN GYI LUNG LA BRTEN NAS KYANG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA BKA’I DGONGS PAR BSTAN PA DANG,

 

This Master himself demonstrated that the idea that things are empty of any nature of their own was the real intent of the Buddha’s word.  To do this, he first used the kinds of reasoning which disprove the eight extremes,[31] and other such fanciful views, with regard to how things occur in dependence.  And then secondly he utilized the scriptures of the lower way itself to prove the same point, in lines such as:

 

The Conqueror grasped

What things there were,

And what things there weren’t;

And so in his advices to Katyayana

He denied both the view

That things could exist,

And the view that they could not.[32]

 

 

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[A29]

SEMS YOD SU ZHIG DE LA SMOD, ,CES GSUNGS PAS NA THEG PA CHEN PO SANGS RGYAS KYI BKAR BSGRUBS PA YIN NO,,

 

Arya Nagarjuna further demonstrated that the greater way really is the word of the Buddha, in statements such as the one which includes the line, “How could anyone with a brain criticize it?”[33]

 

 

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[A30]

DE LTAR KLU SGRUB KYI RJES SU THOGS MED KYIS SEMS TZAM GYI LTA BA’I SROL RGYAS PAR BTOD PA NA SLOB DPON GYI DNGOS SLOB LEGS LDAN ‘BYED LA SOGS PAS RNAM SHES SMRA BA’I ‘DOD PA RNAMS RGYAS PAR BKOD NAS ‘GOG PAR BYED DO,,

 

Thus it was that, after Nagarjuna, Master Asanga founded—in an extensive way—the viewpoint of the Mind-Only School.  After that, sages like the master’s own direct disciple, Bhavaviveka, reported at length the beliefs of the Consciousness philosophers,[34] and then refuted them.

 

 

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[A31]

DE [f. 3a] LTAR BYAS NA ‘DIR DE DAG GI DON ‘DI ‘BYUNG STE, THUB PA MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I RJES LA BYE BRAG TU SMRA BA SOGS KYI PAndI TA RNAMS KYIS MNGON PA SDE BDUN SOGS BRTZAMS NAS RANG RANG GI GRUB MTHA’ RGYAS PAR BYAS TE MDO’I DON GZHAN DU BKRAL NAS BSTAN PA RIN PO CHE DRI MA CAN DU BYAS TE,

 

And so it was that in this world all these things came to be.  After the Able One had entered his final nirvana, sages of groups like the Detailist School composed works such as the Seven Books of Higher Knowledge,[35] and thus spread their own schools of thought.  They interpreted the meaning of the sutras in ways other than intended, and thus polluted the precious teachings.

 

 

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[A32]

JI SKAD DU,

,STON PA ‘JIG RTEN MIG NI ZUM GYUR CING,

,DPANG GYUR SKYE BO PHAL CHER ZAD PA NA,

,DE NYID MA MTHONG RANG DGAR GYUR PA YI,

,NGAN RTOG RNAMS KYIS BSTAN PA ‘DI DKRUGS SO,

,ZHES DANG,

 

‘DI NI STON PAS GSUNGS SO LO, ,ZHES ‘BYUNG BA LTAR,

 

After all, we see references such as:

 

Once the eyes of the world,

Our Teacher, had closed,

And those who had stood in witness

Were largely passed away,

His teachings were jumbled

By those of poor understanding:

By those who had yet to see suchness—

And who made up things on their own.[36]

 

Or:

 

It was spoken by the Teacher;

Or at least, that’s what they claim.[37]

 

 

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[A33]

SANGS RGYAS MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I ‘OG TU BDUD KYI LAS CHER G-YOS, SDE PA RNAMS KYI ‘DZIN PA SO SO NAS LANGS TE PHAL CHER YOD PA NYID DU LTA BA LA MNGON PAR ZHEN PAS BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ KLU SGRUB SA RAB TU DGA’ BA BRNYES PAS THEG PA CHEN PO MTSAN MA MED PA’I STONG PA NYID KYI GSUNG RAB LA BRTEN NAS BSTAN BCOS DBU MA LA SOGS MDZAD CES GSUNGS PA LTAR RO,,

 

It was just the way we see it described in this scripture:

 

After Lord Buddha had passed into his final nirvana, the efforts of the demons redoubled, and different groups began to assert their own different philosophies.  For the most part, they were strongly attracted to the idea that things exist as they seem.  Thus it was that the bodhisattva Nagarjuna—one who had attained the level known as Perfect Happiness—composed works such as the classical commentary we know as The Middle Way,[38] using as his basis teachings by the Buddha about emptiness: the fact that nothing has any signs of its own.[39]

 

 

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[A34]

DE LTAR DUS RING MO’I BAR DU GRUB MTHA’ ‘OG MA SHIN TU DAR LA THEG CHEN MING TZAM YANG MED PA KLU SGRUB KYIS THEG CHEN DAR BAR BYAS TE SROL BTOD, DE RJES SLOB DPON THOGS MED KYIS SEMS TZAM PA’I LTA BA’I SROL RGYAS PAR BTOD PA YIN PA’I PHYIR,

 

In that way, over a long period of time, the lower schools spread quite widely; whereas you could not even hear the name of “greater way” spoken in the world.  Nagarjuna then arrived to the spread this way, thus founding the tradition.  In the wake of Nagarjuna, Master Asanga went on to found and spread the view of the Mind-Only School.

 

 

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[A35]

KLU SGRUB DANG THOGS MED KYI SNGON DU DBU MA DANG RNAL ‘BYOR SPYOD PA’I MING TZAM YOD SRID KYANG MDO’I DGONGS PA GRUB MTHA’ GNYIS THA DAD DU BKRAL NAS GZHUNG ‘DZUGS PA NI, SNGAR BSTAN PA KHO NA LTAR BZUNG STE

 

It is possible that—prior to Arya Nagarjuna and Arya Asanga—there existed just the words “Middle Way” or “Perfect Practice”.[40]  A scriptural tradition to explain what the Buddha meant by using these two separate schools, though, only started from the point I have described above.

 

 

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[A36]

GZHAN DU NA KLU SGRUB THOGS MED SOGS KYI SNGON DU THEG CHEN GYI SROL BTOD PA’I BKA’I DGONGS ‘GREL GYI BSTAN BCOS DANG SLOB DPON GANG YIN PA BSTAN DGOS NA DE YANG RNYED PA MA YIN NO,,

 

If it were otherwise, then there would have to be some indication of texts or masters which commented on the word of the Buddha and reflected some kind of earlier establishment of a Mahayana school, prior to sages such as Nagarjuna and Asanga.  But we see nothing of the kind.

 

 

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[A37]

DE LTAR DE BZHIN GSHEGS PAS LUNG BSTAN PA’I SLOB DPON DE GNYIS DUS CI TZAM NAS BYUNG ZHE NA, ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB NI, RTZA RGYUD DU,

 

“If that’s the case,” you may ask, “in what historical period did these two masters, prophesized as they were by Lord Buddha, appear?”

 

As for the realized being Nagarjuna, we can turn to a reference from the root secret text:

 

 

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[A38]

,NGA NI MYA NGAN ‘DAS ‘OG TU,

,LO NI BZHI RGYA {%BRGYA} LON PA NA,

,ZHES ‘BYUNG LA,

 

After I pass away into Nirvana,

And 400 years have passed…[41]

 

 

To be continued!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Two

The Golden Key:

A Commentary by the Fearless Blade

 

 

 

The Golden Key

 

 

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[G1]

[folio 1a]

,,YID DANG KUN GZHI’I RTZA BA’I MCHAN ‘GREL GSER GYI LDE MIG ,,

 

The Golden Key: An Annotated Commentary to the Root Text of “Negative Consciousness and Foundation Consciousness”[42]

 

 

 

A first offering & promise

 

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[G2]

[f. 1b]

,BDE CHEN CHOS SKU’I MKHA’ KLONG YANGS PAR

MNYAM NYID THUGS RJE’I SPRIN PHUNG ‘KHRIGS,

,MI SHES TSA BAS GDUNG BA RNAMS LA

ZHI BA BSIL BA’I CHAR RGYUN ‘BEBS,

,DAD LDAN BLO GSAL GTZUG PHUD CAN LA

LEGS BSHAD DBYAR RNGAS KUN DGA’ BSKYED,

,SA GSUM BLA MA ‘JAM DPAL SNYING POR

GUS PAS ‘DUD DO BRTZE BAS SKYONGS,

 

In the vast vault of the sky—

Your reality body, great bliss—

Gather mountains of clouds

Of your high compassion,

Equal to each and all.

 

Then falls a stream

Of cooling drops of rain:

Peace for those tormented

By the fierce heat

Of their misunderstanding.

 

The summer drums

Of these excellent words

Delight the ones with crowns:

Clear-minded, full of faith.

 

In respect I bow myself

To the very essence

Of the glorious Gentle Voice,

Lama of the beings of all three realms;

 

In your love,

Care for us.[43]

 

 

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[G3]

,’JIG RTEN DBANG PHYUG RDOR ‘DZIN ZUNG ‘BREL GYI,

,GSANG GSUM YON TAN MTHA’ DAG GCIG BSDUS PA,

,DAD LDAN SEMS NYID AA DARSHA YI NGOR,

,DUR {%NGUR} SMRIG ‘DZIN PAR SHAR BA DE LA ‘DUD,

 

You are the Lord of the World,

The Keeper of the Diamond,

Who in one being combines

All high qualities of the three secrets

In the combination of the two.

 

In the adarsha of the hearts

Of those with faith,

You reflect in a human form,

Dressed in the golden robe;

And to you do I bow.[44]

 

 

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[G4]

,BLO GROS ZAB MOS GZHUNG BZANG DON,

,MCHOG TU JI BZHIN GZIGS PA YIS,

,DON GNYIS LHUN GRUB SEMS DPA’ CHE,

,BLA MA DE LA GUS BTUD NAS,

 

With your intellect deep,

You have seen the beautiful meaning

Of the great books,

Just as it is,

And as high as it is.

 

You are the great spiritual warrior

Who without any effort at all

Accomplishes both all you need,

And all that others need—

 

My Lama, I bow to you.

 

 

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[G5]

,SGYID LUG LE LO’I DBANG [f. 2a] ,GYUR PA,

,BDAG ‘DRA ‘GA’ LA PHAN PA’I PHYIR,

,YID DANG KUN GZHI’I MCHAN GYI ‘GREL,

,BKLAG PAS RTOGS NUS BSHAD PAR BYA,

 

My lack of faith in my own abilities

Has drowned me in sloth;

But it would be nice

If I could be of some help

To a few who are like myself.

 

And so I will write for you here

A commentary, with annotations,

To Negative & Foundation Consciousness,[45]

In a way that you’ll be able to grasp

Just by reading it.

 

 

 

An offering of praise

 

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[G6]

,DE LA ‘DIR YID DANG KUN GZHI’I RTZA BA ‘DI ‘CHAD PA LA GSUM, BSTAN BCOS RTZOM PA LA ‘JUG PA’I YAN LAG ,RTZOM PA DNGOS, DE MTHAR PHYIN PA’I TSUL LO,

 

And so we begin.  My explanation of The Root Text on Negative & Foundation Consciousness will proceed in three steps: preliminaries to the composition of the text; the actual composition; and concluding steps.

 

 

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[G7]

,DANG PO LA GNYIS, MCHOD PAR BRJOD PA DANG, RTZOM PAR DAM BCA’ BA’O,

 

The first step has two parts of its own: the offering of praise, and the pledge to compose the work.[46]

 

 

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[G8]

(1)

,RGYAL DANG RGYAL BA’I SRAS RNAMS GSHEGS PA’I BSHUL,

,LEGS GSUNGS LEGS LAM JI BZHIN THUGS CHUD NAS,

,MA NOR MA ‘DRES RDZOGS PAR STON MDZAD PA’I,

,MKHAS PA’I MKHAS PA DE LA MGOS PHYAG ‘TSAL,

 

You are the one who grasped it as it is—

The pure path spoken pure:

The path of the Victors and their children.

 

And then you taught it unerringly,

Unadulterated, complete.

 

I bow my head low to the Sages of Sages.

 

 

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[G9]

,DANG PO NI, BDUD BZHI LAS RGYAL BAS NA RGYAL BA DANG SRAS SU ‘JOG TSUL LA RIGS DANG, GSUNG LAS SKYES PA DANG, BYANG CHUB KYI SEMS KYI SGO NAS ‘JOG TSUL GSUM LAS CI RIGS KYI SGO NAS RGYAL BA’I SRAS SU BZHAG PA’I NYAN RANG BYANG SEMS RNAMS LAM GANG NAS GSHEGS PA’I BGROD BSHUL,

 

We begin with the offering.  Here in Tsongkapa’s first verse, the Buddhas are said to be Victors[47] because they have won the victory over the four demons.[48]  And the listeners and bodhisattvas are considered children of these Victors in any one of three ways that may be apply here: they belong to their same family; they have been born from their words; and they have gained the Wish for enlightenment.  And we are speaking here of the path that they have all taken.

 

 

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[G10]

,THEG PA GSUM GYI LAM ‘BRAS BU DANG BCAS PA RANG GI BRJOD BYAR BYAS TE LEGS PAR GSUNGS PA’I BKA’ SDE SNOD [f. 2b] GSUM DANG, DE’I BRJOD BYA NGES LEGS SU BGROD PA’I LAM JI LTA BA BZHIN THUGS SU CHUD NAS,

 

There are certain ones who have grasped, as it is, that pure path for traveling to what is always good—along with the three collections of the teachings spoken so purely by the Buddha which describe it and took, as their subject matter, the path of the three ways, along with these paths’ results.[49]

 

 

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[G11]

,GDUL BYA RNAMS LA NGO BO MA NOR BA DANG KHYAD PAR MA ‘DRES PAR YONGS SU RDZOGS PAR STON PAR MDZAD PA’I, ,MKHAS PA’I NANG NAS KYANG MKHAS PA‘I MCHOG TU GYUR PA CHOS RJE DON GRUB RIN CHEN, RJE RED MDA’ BA LA SOGS PA’I RJE RANG GI YONGS ‘DZIN DE RNAMS LA MGO BOS PHYAG ‘TSAL ZHES SHIN TU GUS PA STON PA’O,

 

And these people are the highest of sages even among sages in general; they have shared this path and these teachings with their own disciples in a complete way—and without erring in any way about the very essence of this knowledge, without adulterating any of its many particulars.  What this is all referring to is Je Tsongkapa’s own mentors: teachers such as Chujey Dundrup Rinchen and Lord Rendawa.[50]  He “bows his head low” to them—an indication of the extreme respect in which he holds them.

 

 

 

A promise to write

 

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[G12]

,GNYIS PA NI,

 

This brings us to our second part—the pledge to compose the work.

 

 

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[G13]

(2)

` ,RNAM RIG GZHUNG GI SHIN TU DKA’ BA’I GNAS,

,YID DANG KUN GZHI GSAL BAR BSTAN PA DANG,

,BDAG NYID DRAN PA GSO BAR BYA BA’I PHYIR,

,BLA MA’I GSUNG LA BRTEN NAS ‘DIR BSHAD BYA,

 

I will describe here clearly

The most difficult points

In the scriptures of the Conceptualists:

Negative, and foundation, consciousness.

 

I will give my explanation

Based on the teachings of my lamas,

And only to refresh my own understanding.

 

 

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[G14]

RNAM PAR RIG PA TZAM GYI GZHUNG GI DON SHIN TU RTOGS DKA’ BA’I SHES BYA’I GNAS, ,NYON YID DANG KUN GZHI‘I RNAM BZHAG GZHAN LA GSAL BAR BSTAN PA DANG,

 

Je Tsongkapa’s goal here is describe, clearly, the most difficult points to understand among all the ideas found in the scriptures of those who believe that there is nothing but conceptualization.[51]

 

 

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[G15]

,BDAG NYID KYIS KYANG SNANG TSOD LA SNGAR NGES PA RNAMS BRJED KYIS DOGS PAS PHYIS SU DE’I TSE DRAN PA GSO BAR BYA BA’I PHYIR DU,

 

He is saying that he wishes only to refresh his own understanding,[52] since he fears that he may later forget the points as they have appeared to him, earlier on.

 

 

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[G16]

,THOGS MED SKU MCHED KYI GZHUNG DANG DON GSANG BSHAD SBYAR SOGS DANG BLA MA’I GSUNG LA BRTEN NAS RTZA BA ‘DIR BSHAD PAR BYA‘O,

 

And so he promises to give his explanation, here in his root text, based upon the great writings of the Brothers; and works such as An Explanation of the Secret Points; and upon the teachings of his own lamas.[53]

 

 

 

How the Mind-Only School evolved

 

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[G17]

,GNYIS PA LA GNYIS, GANG LAS BYUNG BA’I GRUB MTHA’ BSHAD PA, DE LAS BYUNG BA’I KUN GZHI DANG NYON YID BSHAD PA’O,

 

This brings us to the second of our three major sections—the actual composition of Je Tsongkapa’s text.  We proceed in two steps: an explanation of the school from which the concepts of foundation and negative consciousness come; and then an explanation of these two concepts which are drawn from this school.

 

 

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[G18]

(3-4)

` ,SMRA BA’I DAM PAS THEG PA MCHOG

,’DZIN PAR LUNG BSTAN ‘PHAGS PA KLUS,

,THEG MCHOG RGYAS PAR MDZAD PA’I RJES,

,LUNG BSTAN BRNYES PA’I THOGS MED KYIS,

,SROL BTOD ` SNGON DU DBU MA NYID,

 

This system was founded

By Master Asanga, one who had received

His prediction, after the highest way

Was spread widely by the realized one,

Nagarjuna—himself predicted

By that greatest of teachers

As the one who would preserve

The teachings of that highest way.

 

Before that, there was just the Middle Way. [54]

 

 

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[G19]

,DANG PO NI, CI KUN GZHI DANG NYON YID ‘DOD PA’I GRUB MTHA’ SMRA BA DE SU ZHIG YIN, DUS NAM GYI TSE BYUNG ZHE NA,

 

Here’s the first step.  One may ask:

 

Just who are the philosophers who believe in foundation and negative consciousness? And when was it that their school arose?

 

 

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[G20]

SMRA BA PO PHYI NANG KUN LA YOD MOD KYANG ‘KHOR BA PHRA RAGS MTHA’ DAG LAS SGROL BYED KYI THABS RANG DBANG DU SMRA BAS NA, RANG RANG GI TSUL LUGS SMRA BA’I PHYI NANG GI STON PA RNAMS LAS KYANG SMRA BA DAM PA SANGS RGYAS BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS

 

There are, admittedly, teachers in all traditions—whether they be Buddhist or not.  But there is one of them who teaches—without the need to rely on anyone else—the means by which we can be liberated from all forms of the cycle of pain, whether they be more obvious or more subtle.  This is the Conquering Buddha, and for this reason he is the very greatest of all those teachers—whether they belong to Buddhism or not—who each profess their own particular methodology.

 

 

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[G21]

MDO LANGARKA {%LANGKAR} GSHEGS PA DANG, [f. 3a] ‘JAM DPAL RTZA RGYUD SOGS NAS THEG PA ‘OG MA GNYIS LAS MCHOG TU GYUR PA’I, ,THEG PA CHEN PO’I BSTAN PA ‘DZIN PAR LUNG BSTAN PA’I ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB KYIS,

 

And this teacher—in both The Journey to Langka and in The Root Secret Teaching of Gentle Voice, as well as in other scriptures[55]predicted the coming of one who would preserve the teachings of the greater way: a way which is highest, relative to the two lower ways.  And this person was the realized one,[56] Nagarjuna.

 

 

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[G22]

,THEG PA MCHOG STE THEG PA CHEN PO’I MDO SHER PHYIN SOGS KLU’I YUL NAS SPYAN DRANGS TE DBU MA PA’I LUGS SU BKRAL ZHING SHING RTA’I SROL PHYES TE DAR ZHING RGYAS PAR MDZAD PA’I

 

Nagarjuna ushered back into the world, from the land of the dragons, scriptures—such as the sutras on the perfection of wisdom—belonging to that highest way: to the greater way.  He interpreted them according to the Middle Way, and thus innovated this system, and spread it widely—caused it to flourish.

 

 

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[G23]

RJES SU, ,’JAM DPAL RTZA RGYUD SOGS NAS DRANG NGES ‘BYED PAR LUNG BSTAN BRNYES PA’I ‘PHAGS PA THOGS MED KYIS, ,RJE BTZUN BYAMS PA BSGRUB PAS ZHAL GZIGS TE

 

After this came the one who had received his prediction, in holy books such as the Root Secret Text of Gentle Voice,[57] that he would distinguish between those teachings of the Buddha which are to be taken literally, and those to be taken as figurative.  This was Master Asanga, himself a realized being, who for years performed special practices in order to make contact with Loving One, Lord Maitreya, himself; and then finally succeeded—meeting him face-to-face.

 

 

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[G24]

DGA’ LDAN DU BYON NAS BYAMS CHOS SDE LNGA GSAN, SLAR YANG DZAM BU’I GLING ‘DIR BYON NAS SEMS TZAM PA’I SROL BTOD LA

 

Asanga then travelled to the Heaven of Bliss, and learned from this angel the Five Books of Maitreya.[58]  Returning to our world, he then founded this system: that of the Mind-Only.

 

 

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[G25]

DE’I SNGON DU ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB KYIS SROL PHYE BA’I DBU MA PA NYID LAS GZHAN PA’I THEG PA CHEN PO’I GRUB MTHA’ SMRA BA SU’I GSAL KHA MED DO,

 

There is no clear record of a proponent of any school of the greater way prior to Master Asanga—except for the system founded by the Realized One, Nagarjuna; which is to say, before that, there was just the Middle Way.

 

 

 

Strategies for understanding

 

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[G26]

(5)

` ,MTSAN NYID SGRUB PAR BYED PA DANG,

,DGU DANG GCIG PUR ‘DOD PA DGAG

,DON RNAM BZHI YIS KUN GZHI DANG,

,NYON MONGS CAN YID SHES PAR BYA,

 

Use four different strategies to understand

Foundation and negative consciousness:

Definitions, arguments for their existence,

Refuting the belief that consciousness

 Can be grouped into nine, and the belief

That they can be put in a single group.

 

 

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[G27]

,GNYIS PA NI, ‘O NA SEMS TZAM PA’I GRUB MTHA’ DE LAS BYUNG BA’I KUN GZHI DANG NYON YID DE RGYU GANG GIS SHES PAR BYA SNYAM NA,

 

This brings us to our second step from above—an explanation of the two concepts which are drawn from this school: foundation consciousness and negative consciousness.  What strategies will we use for coming to an understanding of them?

 

 

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[G28]

MTSAN NYID DANG SGRUB PAR BYED PA DANG, ,RNAM SHES TSOGS DGUR ‘DOD PA DGAG PA DANG TSOGS GCIG PUR ‘DOD PA DGAG PA STE, ,DON TSAN RNAM PA BZHI YI SGO NAS KUN GZHI DANG, ,NYON MONGS CAN GYI YID SHES PAR BYA‘O,,

 

We will use four different strategies to understand foundation consciousness and negative consciousness: we will (1) examine their definitions and (2) arguments for their existence; we will (3) refute the belief that consciousness can be grouped into nine; and (4) we will also refute the belief that they can be put into a single group.

 

 

 

Defining the basis part

of foundation consciousness: an introduction

 

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[G29]

(6)

` ,MTSAN NYID GNYIS LAS KUN GZHI NI,

,RTEN DANG BRTEN PA’I DBYE BA YIS,

,MTSAN NYID RNAM PA GNYIS SU ‘DOD,

 

Of the two definitions,

That of foundation consciousness

Is accepted as coming in two divisions:

That of the basis, and that of what

 This basis supports.

 

 

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[G30]

DANG PO MTSAN NYID LA KUN GZHI DANG, NYON YID KYI MTSAN NYID GNYIS LAS DANG PO KUN GZHI‘I MTSAN NYID NI,

 

Let’s cover the first of the four strategies—the definitions.  We will discuss two different definitions: that of foundation consciousness, and then that of negative consciousness.  Of these two, here is the definition of foundation consciousness.

 

 

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[G31]

,RTEN RNAM SMIN GYI KUN GZHI DANG BRTEN PA [f. 3b] SA BON GYI KUN GZHI‘I DBYE BA YIS, ,MTSAN NYID RNAM PA GNYIS SU ‘DOD DO,,

 

The definition of foundation consciousness is accepted as coming in two divisions: that of the basis, or what has already ripened in foundation consciousness; and that of what this basis supports: karmic seeds within the foundation consciousness.

 

 

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[G32]

DANG PO LA GNYIS, MDOR BSTAN PA DANG, RGYAS PAR BSHAD PA’O,,

 

We will treat the first of these divisions in two steps of its own: a brief introduction, and then an expanded explanation.

 

 

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[G33]

(7)

` ,DE LA RTEN GYUR KUN GZHI NI,

,DON DANG SEMS CAN BAG CHAGS LA,

,RNAM PAR RIG PA MI RIG PA,

,LUNG DU MA BSTAN RIG {%REG} LA SOGS,

,LNGA NYID DANG LDAN

 

The part of foundation consciousness

Which acts as a basis

Is focused on the objects,

The person, and the propensities.

 

It sees, but it doesn’t know.

It is karmically neutral,

And linked only with the five

Of contact and the rest.

 

 

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[G34]

DANG PO NI, DE LA RTEN DU GYUR PA RNAM SMIN GYI KUN GZHI NI, ,GANG ZHE NA,

 

One may begin with: “What exactly is the part of the foundation consciousness which acts as a basis—which has already ripened?”

 

 

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[G35]

DMIGS PA GZUGS SGRA DRI RO REG BYA STE, DON LNGA DANG RANG GI THUN MONG MA YIN PA’I BDAG ‘BRAS SU GYUR PA’I SEMS CAN GYI DBANG PO GZUGS

CAN PA LNGA DANG, GANG ZAG DANG CHOS KYI BDAG ‘DZIN GYI BAG CHAGS GSUM LA DMIGS NAS,

 

This part is focused upon three different things.  First there are the five objects: visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangibles.  Secondly there are the five results, subsumed within a person, which are triggered by these five and correspond to each of them individually: the five physical sense powers.  And then finally there are the karmic propensities for the tendency to hold that individuals and things have some nature of their own.

 

 

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[G36]

RNAM PA DBANG DON GNYIS KA RNAM PAR RIG PA STE SNANG YANG MI RIG PA STE MA NGES PA,

 

This part of foundation consciousness “sees” both of these aspects—the sense power and its object; meaning that they appear to the mind.  Nonetheless, it does not “know” them, in the sense of perceiving what they really are.

 

 

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[G37]

NGO BO DGE BA DANG MI DGE BA GANG DU YANG LUNG DU MA BSTAN PA,

 

The basic nature of the basis part of foundation consciousness is that it is karmically neutral; that is, it is neither a good deed nor a bad deed.[59]

 

 

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[G38]

‘KHOR REG PA LA SOGS PA’I, ,KUN ‘GRO LNGA NYID DE KHO NA DANG MTSUNGS PAR LDAN ZHING TSOGS DRUG NYON YID LAS NGO BO THA DAD PA’I RNAM PAR SHES PA SHIN TU PHRA BA RGYUN BRTAN PA,

 

This part of foundation consciousness is linked mentally only with the “ever-present five” of the contact and so forth that attend upon it.  And it is the subtle and durable flow of the group of six types of consciousness, separate from negative consciousness.[60]

 

 

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[G39]

DGE BA DANG MI DGE BA’I BAG CHAGS THAMS CAD BSGO BA’I GZHIR GYUR PA ZHIG GO,

 

Finally, it acts as the foundation onto which all the seeds from good and bad deeds are imprinted.

 

 

 

Defining the basis part

of foundation consciousness: some details

 

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[G40]

(8)

` SA BON GYI,

,DBANG GIS GNAS DON LUS SU NI,

,SNANG PHYIR DMIGS PA DAG TU ‘DOD,

 

Due to the power of the seeds,

It appears as the locations,

The objects, and the body.

Because of this, they are accepted

As objects of its focus.

 

 

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[G41]

GNYIS PA NI, GAL TE DBANG DON BAG CHAGS GSUM LA DMIGS PAR BSHAD NA, BAG CHAGS DE KUN GZHI’I DMIGS PAR JI LTAR ‘GYUR SNYAM NA,

 

Here is the second division from above: an expanded explanation of the definition of the basis part of foundation consciousness.  You might ask yourself the following question:

 

You have described the basis part of foundation consciousness as focusing on the sense powers, their objects, and certain propensities.  But how is it that these propensities serve as objects upon which the foundation consciousness focuses?

 

 

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[G42]

BAG CHAGS KYI MING GI RNAM GRANGS SA BON GYI, ,DBANG GIS GNAS TE DBANG RTEN KHOG PA DANG DON TE GZUGS SOGS YUL LNGA DANG LUS SU STE DBANG PO LNGAR NI, ,SNANG BA’I

 

Another name for these propensities is simply “seeds.”  And due to the power of these seeds, this basis part of the foundation consciousness appears as the locations—referring to the physical seats of the five senses; the objects (visible form and the rest of the five); and the body, meaning the five sense powers.

 

 

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[G43]

PHYIR NA BAG CHAGS SAM SA BON DE KUN GZHI’I DMIGS PA DAG GI NANG TSAN TU DE’I THA SNYAD BTAGS PAR ‘DOD KYI, KHO RANG KUN GZHI LA SNANG BA NI MA YIN NO,,

 

Because they perform this function, the propensities—these seeds—are accepted as being (you can say “just called”) objects of focus for the foundation consciousness; but it’s not as if they actually appear to this consciousness.

 

 

 

Mind appearing to mind itself

 

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[G44]

(9)

` ,KUN GZHI’I GZUNG CHA DAG LA NI,

,RNAM SHES LNGA YIS ‘DZIN BYED CING,

,DRUG PAS THA SNYAD ‘DOGS PAS NA,

,KHAMS GNYIS DAG TU NGES PA STE,

,DE LTA MIN NA GZUGS MED PA,

,GZUGS KYI ‘DU SHES MA ‘DAS DANG,

,GZUGS CAN SA RU THAL ‘GYUR TE,

,SHES LA GZUGS SU SNANG BA LAS,

,MA GTOGS PHYIR ROL MED PHYIR RO,

 

The five consciousnesses

Function to perceive those

That are a portion of the foundation

Which comes in an object aspect.

 

The sixth type applies names to things;

As such, that is restricted

To two of the three realms.

 

If this were not the case,

Then beings living in the formless realm

Could not have gone beyond

Conceptions of physical form;

And they would necessarily be

Beings inhabiting levels

Which were physical.

 

Mind appears to the mind itself

As physical form;

There do not in fact exist

Any objects which are outer.

 

 

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[G45]

KUN GZHI’I GZUNG CHA [f. 4a] STE ‘DZIN STANGS KYI YUL GZUGS SOGS DON LNGA DAG LA NI, ,MIG SOGS DBANG PO’I RNAM PAR SHES PA LNGA YIS ‘DZIN PAR BYED CING,

 

The five consciousnesses of the sense powers of the eye and so on function to perceive objects as they apprehend them: visible form and the rest, which are a portion of the basis part of the foundation consciousness that comes in an object aspect.

 

 

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[G46]

,DRUG PA YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA {%PAS?} ‘DI NI GZUGS SO, ,’DI NI MIG GO ,ZHES PA’AM, ‘DI NI YUL LO, ,’DI NI DBANG PO’O, ,ZHES THA SNYAD ‘DOG PAS NA,

 

The sixth type of consciousness—consciousness of the thought—applies names to things: “This is visible form” and “this is the eye”; or “this is the object” and “this is the sense power.”

 

 

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[G47]

,SNGAR JI SKAD BSHAD PA LTAR GYI MTSAN NYID JI LTA BA BZHIN DU TSANG BA’I KUN GZHI’I RNAM PAR SHES PA NI, KHAMS ‘OG MA GNYIS KHO NA DAG TU YOD PAR NGES PA STE,

 

As such, a form of foundation consciousness which is complete in every aspect of the definition we have so far laid out here is restricted only to the lower two of the three realms.[61]

 

 

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[G48]

,GAL TE DE LTA MIN NA GZUGS MED PA RNAMS, ,GZUGS KYI ‘DU SHES LAS MA ‘DAS PAR THAL BA DANG, ,GZUGS CAN GYI SA PA RU THAL BAR ‘GYUR TE,

 

If this were not the case, then it would mean that beings living in the formless realm could not have gone beyond conceptions of physical form; and that they were, necessarily, beings inhabiting levels that were physical.

 

 

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[G49]

,GANG GI PHYIR NA, KHAMS ‘OG MA GNYIS NA’ANG KUN GZHI’I STENG GI DON SNANG GI BAG CHAGS SMIN PA LAS SHES PA LA RANG GI RDZAS TZAM GZUGS SU SNANG BA LAS, ,MA GTOGS PA’I PHYI ROL NA RDUL PHRA RAB BSAGS PA’I BEM PO ZHIG MED PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

And why is that?  Even in the lower two realms, when seeds ripen in the foundation consciousness and objects appear to the consciousness, it is nothing more than the substance of the mind appearing to the mind itself as physical form.  There do not in fact even exist any outer objects made up of tiny particles massed together.

 

 

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[G50]

GANG ZAG DE’I KUN GZHI LA SNANG BA’I DON LNGA NI, DE’I DBANG SHES LA MNGON DU GYUR DGOS PA BSHAD PAS, MIG MED KYI KUN GZHI LA GZUGS MI SNANG BA SOGS SHES PAR BYA’O,,

 

It is explained that—when the five objects appear to the foundation consciousness of a particular person—they must be directly manifest to the sense consciousness.  That is, we need to understand that visible form could never appear to someone’s foundation consciousness if it included no physical eye.

 

 

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[G51]

ZHIB CHA GZHAN YANG MNGAL DU NYING MTSAMS SBYAR MA THAG PA DANG, ‘CHI SRID LA GNAS PA’I GANG ZAG GI KUN GZHI LA YUL GANG SNANG DPYAD DGOS SHING,

 

We need to explore other questions here as well.  What kinds of objects can appear to the foundation consciousness of a person who has just made the crossing into conception within the womb?  And to the foundation consciousness of someone who is in the final moment of their life?

 

 

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[G52]

DKA’ ‘GREL LAS, GZUGS MED KYI KUN GZHI DMIGS BRAL GYI SHES PA LTA BUR GSUNGS MOD KYANG, SHES PA RANG MTSAN PAR ‘DOD PHYIN YUL ZHIG MED DU MI RUNG BAR SNANG [f. 4b] DGOS SO,

 

The Commentary on Difficult Points does admittedly speak of something like a state of mind within the foundation consciousness of a person in the formless realm which is devoid of any object of focus;[62] but it would appear that—once you have posited any particular manifestation of mind—then it would be untenable to say that it had no object.

 

 

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[G53]

,GAL TE NAM MKHA’ MTHA’ YAS SOGS KYI SNYOMS ‘JUG LA NAM MKHA’ SOGS KYI SNANG BA DE, SA DE DANG DE’I KUN GZHI LA SNANG BAR ‘DOD NA’ANG DPYAD PAR BYA STE,

 

A question also arises if you assert that—when you are in a deep meditation on levels such as the one called “infinite space,”[63] and space or some similar object is appearing to you—this object appears to the foundation consciousness of the particular level.

 

 

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[G54]

SNYOMS ‘JUG ZAG BCAS DE DAG RTOG BCAS YIN PAS SNANG BA DE DAG KYANG SGRO BTAGS YIN DGOS NA, DE KUN GZHI LA CI’I PHYIR SNANG SNYAM STE, ‘DUS MA BYAS SGRO BTAGS KUN GZHI LA MI SNANG BA ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR BA’I PHYIR RO,

 

Since these stained forms of meditation still involve false perceptions of reality, then these appearances would have to be false overlays; and in such a situation, we would have to wonder how they could appear to the foundation consciousness at all—for we also see explanations which state that false overlays of existing things which were not produced by causes and conditions cannot make an appearance to this consciousness.

 

 

 

How do we see different realms?

 

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[G55]

(10)

,’OG NA’ANG SEMS CAN GCIG GI NI,

,KUN GZHI LA NI SNOD DANG BCUD,

,THAMS CAD SNANG NA GZUGS KHAMS KYI,

,LHA LA’ANG DMYAL SNANG ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

,DMYAL BA LA YANG LHA RNAMS KYI,

,SNOD BCUD SNANG BA ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

,THA MAL RNAMS LA’ANG BSKAL PA {%BA} YI,

,YUL SNA TSOGS PA SNANG BAR ‘GYUR,

 

Suppose that, even with the lower,

The entire vessel and its contents

Could appear to the foundation consciousness

Of a single living being.

 

In that case, it would also happen

That the realms of hell

Could also appear to a pleasure being

In the realm of form;

 

And that the vessel and contents

Of the pleasure beings

Could appear as well

To a being in the hells.

 

And a great variety of objects

That are beyond their ken

Would also make their appearance

To average types of people.

 

 

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[G56]

KHAMS ‘OG MA GNYIS NA’ANG RNAM PA GCIG TU SNANG BA’I LUGS ‘DOD MKHAN BAL PO DZA HU NA RE, MI’I KUN GZHI LA LHA DANG DMYAL BA SOGS ‘JIG RTEN THAMS CAD MI’I ‘JIG RTEN LTA BUR SNANG ZER BA DANG,

 

Even just with the lower two of the three realms,[64] there are several positions about how things appear to us.  First there is the Nepalese master Jahu,[65] who proposes what we can call the “unified appearance” system.  He says that the entire world—including the realms of the pleasure beings and the realms of the hell beings—appears to the foundation consciousness of a human as though it were all part of the human realm.

 

 

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[G57]

RNAM PA KHRA BOR SNANG BA’I LUGS ‘DOD MKHAN MNGON PA BA KHA CIG GIS, MI LTA BU’I SEMS CAN BYE BRAG PA GCIG GI NI, ,RGYUD KYI KUN GZHI LA NI ‘GRO BA RIGS DRUG GI SNOD DANG BCUD, ,THAMS CAD RANG RANG JI LTA BA BZHIN DU SNANG BAR ‘DOD DO,,

 

And then there are a number of followers of the teachings on higher knowledge[66] who propose a so-called “patchwork appearance” system.  They believe that the entire vessel and its contents[67]—relating to all six of the different types of beings—can appear to the foundation consciousness within the mind of a single particular type of living being, such as a human; and that it appears to them in the same way that it would appear to each of these types of creatures individually.

 

 

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[G58]

DE MI ‘THAD DE, DE LTA NA GZUGS KHAMS KYI, ,LHA LA’ANG LCAGS BSREG ‘BAR BA SOGS, DMYAL SNANG MTSAN NYID PA ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

 

And yet this position is incorrect, for in that case it would also happen that the actual realms of hell, with their red-hot iron floor and so on, could also appear to a pleasure being in the realm of form.

 

 

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[G59]

,DMYAL BA PA RNAMS LA YANG LHA RNAMS KYI, ,LUS LONGS SPYOD PHUN SUM TSOGS PA SOGS SNOD BCUD KYI SNANG BA ‘BYUNG BAR THAL BA DANG,

 

Furthermore, it would happen as well that the vessel and contents of the pleasure beings—things like their exquisite bodies and possessions—could appear to a being in the hells.

 

 

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[G60]

,THA MAL PA RANG RE LTA BU RNAMS LA RANG LA BSKAL DON DU SONG BA YI, ,’OD ZER CAN GYI ZHING KHAMS KYI ‘GRO BA’I KHYAD PAR DANG, MDUN GYI SHA ZA DANG, LHA’I BAR SRID PA LTA BU’I YUL SNA TSOGS PA SNANG BAR THAL BAR ‘GYUR TE,

 

In addition, a great variety of objects that are things beyond their ken would also make their appearance to average types of people like you and I—things like the features of the enlightened beings who live in the Paradise of Light;[68] hungry spirits standing here in the very room where we’re sitting; or beings in the intermediate state,[69] headed for example to a rebirth as a pleasure being.

 

 

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[G61]

,DE DAG GI RGYUD KYI  [f. 5a] KUN GZHI LA SNANG BA GANG ZHIG ,KUN GZHI LA SNANG NA KUN GZHI’I STENG GI YUL DE DAG SNANG BA’I BAG CHAGS SMIN PA’I STOBS KYIS, GANG ZAG DE’I RGYUD KYI ‘JUG SHES LA SNANG DGOS SHING,

 

This would be the case because these objects would be appearing to the foundation consciousness within these beings’ minds; and if an object does appear to this consciousness, then it would necessarily have to appear to the states of consciousness within their being which were engaging in their respective objects—all due to the ripening of deep seeds then appearing as objects within the foundation consciousness.

 

 

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[G62]

DER MA ZAD BDE BA DANG SDUG BSNGAL BSKYED PAS PHAN PA DANG GNOD PAR YANG ‘GYUR DGOS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

And not only that.  It would also necessarily be the case that—as feelings of pleasure or pain were induced by these objects—then the person in question would be helped, or hurt.

 

 

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[G63]

DE’I PHYIR MNGON PA BA KHA CIG GIS KUN GZHI GCIG LA ‘DOD GZUGS GNYIS KA SNANG BAR ‘DOD PA DANG, LA LAS BSAM GTAN BZHI PA NI THUN MONG MA YIN PA’I LAS KYIS BSKYED PAS MI SNANG LA, GZHAN THAMS CAD SNANG BAR ‘DOD PA DANG,

 

This is why some followers of the teachings of higher knowledge believe that both the desire and form realms make their appearance to a single foundation consciousness.  There are others of this school who say that the fourth concentration level[70]—as it is created by a unique type of karma—will not appear to this consciousness; but all the other levels do.

 

 

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[G64]

GZHAN DAG GIS, TSAD KYIS BCAD PAR MI NUS PA’I SNOD BCUD THAMS CAD SNANG BAR ‘DOD PA MI ‘THAD PAR SHES PAR BYA’O,,

 

Still others believe that the entire universe—all its places and people, beyond any capacity to fathom—makes its appearance to the foundation consciousness.  One should understand that all these positions are incorrect.

 

 

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[G65]

‘O NA, KHAMS ‘OG MA GNYIS KYI KUN GZHI LA CI ‘DRA ZHIG SNANG ZHE NA,

 

“Well then,” you may ask, “what kinds of things can appear to the foundation consciousness of someone living in the lower two of the three realms?”

 

 

 

What objects can appear to foundation consciousness?

 

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[G66]

(11)

,` DNGOS SU RANG GI DBANG DON NO,

,BRGYUD NAS DE YI TSOGS DRUG GI

,YUL DU SNANG BAR GANG NUS PA,

,KUN GZHI’I YUL DU’ANG ‘JOG PA YIN,

 

What appears directly

Are the person’s own

Powers, and their objects.

 

We can also say that

Anything which can appear indirectly,

As an object of the group

Of this person’s

Six different states of consciousness,

Can also be considered

An object of their

Foundation consciousness.

 

 

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[G67]

DNGOS SU RANG RGYUD LA LDAN PA’I GANG ZAG GI DBANG PO LNGA DANG, DE’I YUL DON LNGA SNANG BA YIN NO,,

 

What appears directly to the person who possesses them are that person’s own five sense powers, along with their five objects—the spheres in which they engage.

 

 

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[G68]

‘O NA KUN GZHI’I YUL DER ZAD DAM ZHE NA,

 

“Well then,” one may continue, “is that the limit to the objects of the foundation consciousness?”

 

 

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[G69]

BRGYUD NAS GANG ZAG DE YI RGYUD KYI RNAM SHES TSOGS DRUG GI ,YUL DU SNANG BAR GANG NUS PA, ,PHAL CHER GANG ZAG DE’I RGYUD KYI KUN GZHI’I YUL DU’ANG ‘JOG PA YIN TE,

 

We can also say that anything which can appear indirectly—as an object of the group of six different states of consciousness found in this particular person’s mind—can for the most part also be considered an object of this particular person’s foundation consciousness.

 

 

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[G70]

,YUL DRUG GA GANG ZAG DE LA SNANG ZHES PA’I SNANG MKHAN GYI GANG ZAG DE’I BTAGS DON BTZAL NA KUN GZHI LAS MI RNYED PAS SO,

 

And suppose you go looking for the person you’re referring to when you say “all six objects appear to them.”  What you will find when you seek this “person to whom things are appearing” is nothing other than the foundation consciousness itself.

 

 

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[G71]

,’ANG SGRAS KUN GZHI’I YUL DBANG DON GNYIS SU MA ZAD PAR STON PA’O,,

 

The word “also” in these particular lines of the root text is meant to indicate that the list of objects which appear to the foundation consciousness isn’t limited to those two—the sense powers and their objects.

 

 

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[G72]

,’O NA GANG ZAG DE’I TSOGS DRUG GI YUL THAMS CAD KUN GZHI LA SNANG BA YIN NAM SNYAM NA,

 

“Next question!” one may continue: “Can we then say that all of the objects of the group of six consciousnesses within this person’s mind appear to the foundation consciousness?”

 

 

 

Which objects of the sixth consciousness

can appear to foundation consciousness?

 

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[G73]

(12)

` ,DBANG DON LAS GZHAN DRUG PA’I YUL,

,KUN GZHI’I YUL DU MI ‘GYUR TE,

,DRUG PA BTAGS PA’I YUL CAN DANG,

,KUN GZHI BKRAR ‘DZIN GYIS DBEN PHYIR,

 

Certain objects of the sixth

Other than the powers and their objects

Cannot serve as objects

For the foundation consciousness.

 

This is because the sixth

Holds objects that it names;

And because foundation consciousness

Is devoid of any tendency

To hold to its objects

 In an illumined way.

 

 

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[G74]

DBANG PO LNGA DANG, DE’I YUL DON LNGA DANG, KUN GZHI’I STENG GI MNGON PAR BRJOD PA DANG, BDAG TU [f. 5b] LTA BA DANG, SRID PA’I YAN LAG GI BAG CHAGS RNAMS LAS GZHAN PA DRUG PA YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA KHO NA‘I ‘DZIN STANGS KYI YUL,

 

In reply, let’s consider certain objects which are exclusively things regarded by the “sixth”—referring to the consciousness of our thoughts.  That is, let’s consider objects which are other than the five sense powers; their five objects, or spheres in which they engage; and the deep seeds within the foundation consciousness for mental verbalization, the tendency to see some self-nature, and the links of the cycle of pain.[71]

 

 

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[G75]

,GSUNG RAB YAN LAG BCU GNYIS KYI GZHUNG TSIG TU GYUR PA’I MING DANG YI GE DU MA ‘DUS PA’I MING GI TSOGS DANG, TSIG GI TSOGS LDAN PA MA YIN PA’I ‘DU BYED DANG, ‘DAS PA DANG, MA ‘ONGS PA DANG, NAM MKHA’ DANG, ‘GOG PA SOGS NI, KUN GZHI’I ‘DZIN STANGS KYI YUL DU MI ‘GYUR TE,

 

The objects that we’re talking about here are things like:

 

¨ “collections of names,” meaning collections of many names or letters

which constitute the words of the scriptures found in the

twelve different divisions of the holy word;

¨ collections of names considered as examples of those changing

things which are neither physical nor mental;

¨ the past, the future;

¨ empty space, and cessations.

 

Things such as these cannot serve as objects which are regarded by the foundation consciousness.

 

 

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[G76]

,GANG GI PHYIR NA DRUG PA YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA NI ‘DI’O, ,DE’O ZHES THA SNYAD SNA TSOGS PA BTAGS NAS YUL ‘DZIN PA’I KHYAD CHOS CAN YIN PA DANG, ,KUN GZHI NI RANG DANG MTSUNGS LDAN GYI BKRA BAR ‘DZIN PA’I ‘DU SHES KYIS DBEN PA’I PHYIR RO,

 

And why is that?  It is because the sixth consciousness—consciousness of our thoughts—is distinguished by holding objects that it names; that is, it applies various terms to things, saying “This is this, and that is that.”  Moreover, foundation consciousness is devoid of any kind of conceptualization which is linked with it and which exhibits the tendency to hold to its objects in an illumined way.[72]

 

 

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[G77]

,’O NA, KUN GZHI DGE MI DGE LUNG MA BSTAN GSUM LAS GANG YIN SNYAM NA,

 

This may lead to yet another question: “Now is the foundation consciousness something which is karmically virtuous; karmically non-virtuous; or karmically neutral?”

 

 

 

Is foundation consciousness

good, bad, or neutral?

 

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[G78]

(13)

` ,BAG CHAGS BSGO GZHI YIN PHYIR DANG,

,DGE DANG MI DGE MNGON GYUR DANG,

,RGYUD GCIG LA NI ‘JUG PA’I PHYIR,

,MA BSGRIBS LUNG MA BSTAN DU GRUB,

 

We can establish that

Foundation consciousness

Is karmically neutral,

 

Since it is the foundation

Upon which karmic seeds

Are imprinted,

 

And because it manifests,

Within a single mindstream,

As both virtue and non-virtue.

 

 

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[G79]

DGE MI DGE’I BAG CHAGS BSGO GZHI YIN PA’I PHYIR DANG, ,DGE BA DANG MI DGE BA GANG DANG YANG CIG CHAR DU MNGON GYUR DU, ,RGYUD GCIG STE GANG ZAG BYE BRAG PA GCIG GI RGYUD LA NI ‘JUG PA’I PHYIR NA, ,’CHAD ‘GYUR LTAR MA SGRIB LUNG MA BSTAN DU RIGS PAS GRUB BO,

 

We can establish, logically, that foundation consciousness itself is karmically neutralsince first of all it is the foundation upon which karmic seeds, whether they be virtuous or non-virtuous, are imprinted.  This is also because foundation consciousness manifests, within a single mindstream (meaning, within the mind of any particular person) as both virtue and non-virtue; that is, it could come up with either of them.  This point will be explained further below.

 

 

 

Which mental functions

can be adjunct to

foundation consciousness?

 

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[G80]

(14-15)

` ,LUNG MA BSTAN DANG MI GSAL PHYIR,

,REG SOGS LNGAR NGES ` TSOR BA NI,

,BAR MA’O

 

Since foundation consciousness

 Is karmically neutral

And also unclear,

Its adjuncts are invariably

The five of contact and such.

 

As for feeling,

It is the one between.

 

 

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[G81]

,MA SGRIB LUNG MA BSTAN YIN PAS DGE BA BCU GCIG DANG, RTZA NYON DRUG , NYE NYON NYI SHU ‘KHOR DU MI ‘BYUNG BA DANG MI GSAL BA STE YUL BYE BRAG TU GSAL BAR GCOD MI NUS PA DANG, DGE BA MA YIN PA’I PHYIR NA, YUL DES {%NGES} LNGA ‘KHOR DU MI ‘BYUNG NGO,

 

Since foundation consciousness is karmically neutral, certain groups of mental functions never occur as its adjuncts.  These are the eleven mental functions which are karmically virtuous; the six primary negative emotions; and the 20 secondary negative emotions.  And because this consciousness is also unclear (in the sense that it cannot clearly delineate the specifics of its objects), and also because it is not non-virtuous, the group of five mental functions that are “fixed” with regard to their objects can never occur as its adjunct either.

 

 

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[G82]

,GZHAN YANG SEMS PA DANG SHES RAB CI RIGS LA BRTEN NAS DON GYI NGO BO [f. 6a] RAGS PA LA RTOG PA DANG KHYAD PAR DPYOD PA MED PAS, RTOG DPYOD GNYIS MI ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

 

Moreover, there are no cases where foundation consciousness—whether we’re talking from the viewpoint of a movement of the mind, or through wisdom—utilizes the mental function of (1) nothing, in a rough way, the essence of its object; or the mental function of (2) examining, in a finer way, its particulars.  As such, neither does the pair of these two mental functions occur as its adjunct.

 

 

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[G83]

SAD MA SAD KYI GNAS SKABS KUN TU ‘BYUNG BA DANG, DBANG SHES YUL LA ‘JUG PA RANG DBANG MED PAR SDUD PA MED PAS GNYID MI ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

 

Foundation consciousness occurs on all occasions, whether we are awake or not.  And it is not the case that this consciousness withdraws, despite itself, from engaging in the objects of sense consciousness, as would occur in sleep.  And so neither does the mental function of (3) sleep occur as its adjunct.

 

 

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[G84]

TSOR BA YID MI BDE DANG MTSUNGS PAR MI LDAN PAS ‘GYOD PA MI ‘BYUNG BA STE, DE LTAR GZHAN ‘GYUR BZHI YANG ‘KHOR DU MI ‘BYUNG NGO,,

 

The mental function of (4) regret cannot occur as an adjunct of foundation consciousness, because it cannot be linked mentally with a feeling of mental unease.  In sum then we can say that the group of four “variable” mental functions never occurs as an adjunct to this consciousness.[73]

 

 

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[G85]

DES NA KUN GZHI’I ‘KHOR LA REG PA LA SOGS PA KUN ‘GRO LNGAR NGES LA

 

Thus we can say that the adjuncts of foundation consciousness are invariably the five of contact and such: the group of five mental functions which accompany all states of mind.

 

 

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[G86]

DE’I NANG GI TSOR BA NI, ,BDE SDUG BTANG SNYOMS GSUM LAS GANG ZHE NA,

 

One may ask, “Within this group, let’s talk about the mental function of feeling.  It can come in three different forms: pleasure, pain, or neutral feeling.  Which one is relevant here?”

 

 

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[G87]

BDE BA DANG SDUG BSNGAL GANG RUNG YIN NA, DGE BAS KYANG RNAM SMIN GYI TSOR BA SDUG BSNGAL ‘BYIN PAR ‘GYUR BA SOGS KYIS GNOD PAS, BDE SDUG GANG YANG MA YIN PA’I BAR MA’O,

 

As for feeling, suppose we said that pleasure or pain were adjuncts here.  That would be contradicted by the fact that, for example, the virtue would further be producing feelings of pain.  As such, we must say that the feeling here is the one between: neutral feeling, which is neither pleasure nor pain.

 

 

To be continued!!!

 

 

 

 

Part Three

Tsongkapa’s Root Text

 

 

 

 

The Root Text on

Negative & Foundation Consciousness

 

 

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[folio 1a]

*,,MA NO WI DZNYA’ NA A’A LA YA WI DZNYA’ NAm,,

*,,YID DANG KUN GZHI’I RTZA BA BZHUGS SO,,

 

Mano Vijnana-Aalaya Vijnanam:

Herein contained is The Root Text on Negative and Foundation Consciousness.

 

 

(1)

,RGYAL DANG RGYAL BA’I SRAS RNAMS GSHEGS PA’I BSHUL,

,LEGS GSUNGS LEGS LAM JI BZHIN THUGS CHUD NAS,

,MA NOR MA ‘DRES RDZOGS PAR STON MDZAD PA’I,

,MKHAS PA’I MKHAS PA DE LA MGOS PHYAG ‘TSAL,

 

You are the one who grasped it as it is—

The pure path spoken pure:

The path of the Victors and their children.

 

And then you taught it unerringly,

Unadulterated, complete.

 

I bow my head low to the Sages of Sages.

 

 

(2)

` ,RNAM RIG GZHUNG GI SHIN TU DKA’ BA’I GNAS,

,YID DANG KUN GZHI GSAL BAR BSTAN PA DANG,

,BDAG NYID DRAN PA GSO BAR BYA BA’I PHYIR,

,BLA MA’I GSUNG LA BRTEN NAS ‘DIR BSHAD BYA,

 

I will describe here clearly

The most difficult points

In the scriptures of the Conceptualists:

Negative, and foundation, consciousness.

 

I will give my explanation

Based on the teachings of my lamas,

And only to refresh my own understanding.

 

 

(3)

` ,SMRA BA’I DAM PAS THEG PA MCHOG

,’DZIN PAR LUNG BSTAN ‘PHAGS PA KLUS,

,THEG MCHOG RGYAS PAR MDZAD PA’I RJES,

,LUNG BSTAN BRNYES PA’I THOGS MED KYIS,

,SROL BTOD

 

This system was founded

By Master Asanga, one who had received

His prediction, after the highest way

Was spread widely by the realized one,

Nagarjuna—himself predicted

By that greatest of teachers

As the one who would preserve

The teachings of that highest way.

 

 

(4)

` SNGON DU DBU MA NYID,

 

Before that, there was just the Middle Way.

 

 

(5)

` ,MTSAN NYID SGRUB PAR BYED PA DANG,

,DGU DANG GCIG PUR ‘DOD PA DGAG

,DON RNAM BZHI YIS KUN GZHI DANG,

,NYON MONGS CAN YID SHES PAR BYA,

 

Use four different strategies to understand

Foundation and negative consciousness:

Definitions, arguments for their existence,

Refuting the belief that consciousness

Can be grouped into nine, and the belief

That they can be put in a single group.

 

 

(6)

` ,MTSAN NYID GNYIS LAS KUN GZHI NI,

,RTEN DANG BRTEN PA’I DBYE BA YIS,

,MTSAN NYID RNAM PA GNYIS SU ‘DOD,

 

Of the two definitions,

That of foundation consciousness

Is accepted as coming in two divisions:

That of the basis, and that of what

This basis supports.

 

 

(7)

` ,DE LA RTEN GYUR KUN GZHI NI,

,DON DANG SEMS CAN BAG CHAGS LA,

,RNAM PAR RIG PA MI RIG PA,

,LUNG DU MA BSTAN RIG {%REG} LA SOGS,

,LNGA NYID DANG LDAN

 

The part of foundation consciousness

Which acts as a basis

Is focused on the objects,

The person, and the propensities.

It sees, but it doesn’t know.

It is karmically neutral,

And linked only with the five

Of contact and the rest.

 

 

(8)

` SA BON GYI,

,DBANG GIS GNAS DON LUS SU NI,

,SNANG PHYIR DMIGS PA DAG TU ‘DOD,

 

Due to the power of the seeds,

It appears as the locations,

The objects, and the body.

Because of this, they are accepted

As objects of its focus.

 

 

(9)

` ,KUN GZHI’I GZUNG CHA DAG LA NI,

,RNAM SHES LNGA YIS ‘DZIN BYED CING,

,DRUG PAS THA SNYAD ‘DOGS PAS NA,

,KHAMS GNYIS DAG TU NGES PA STE,

,DE LTA MIN NA GZUGS MED PA,

,GZUGS KYI ‘DU SHES MA ‘DAS DANG,

,GZUGS CAN SA RU THAL ‘GYUR TE,

,SHES LA GZUGS SU SNANG BA LAS,

,MA GTOGS PHYIR ROL MED PHYIR RO,

 

The five consciousnesses

Function to perceive those

That are a portion of the foundation

Which comes in an object aspect.

 

The sixth type applies names to things;

As such, that is restricted

To two of the three realms.

 

If this were not the case,

Then beings living in the formless realm

Could not have gone beyond

Conceptions of physical form;

And they would necessarily be

Beings inhabiting levels

Which were physical.

 

Mind appears to the mind itself

As physical form;

There do not in fact exist

Any objects which are outer.

 

 

(10)

,’OG NA’ANG SEMS CAN GCIG GI NI,

,KUN GZHI LA NI SNOD DANG BCUD,

,THAMS CAD SNANG NA GZUGS KHAMS KYI,

,LHA LA’ANG DMYAL SNANG ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

,DMYAL BA LA YANG LHA RNAMS KYI,

,SNOD BCUD SNANG BA ‘BYUNG BA DANG,

,THA MAL RNAMS LA’ANG BSKAL PA {%BA} YI,

,YUL SNA TSOGS PA SNANG BAR ‘GYUR,

 

Suppose that, even with the lower,

The entire vessel and its contents

Could appear to the foundation consciousness

Of a single living being.

 

In that case, it would also happen

That the realms of hell

Could also appear to a pleasure being

In the realm of form;

 

And that the vessel and contents

Of the pleasure beings

Could appear as well

To a being in the hells.

 

And a great variety of objects

That are beyond their ken

Would also make their appearance

To average types of people.

 

 

(11)

,` DNGOS SU RANG GI DBANG DON NO,

,BRGYUD NAS DE YI TSOGS DRUG GI

,YUL DU SNANG BAR GANG NUS PA,

,KUN GZHI’I YUL DU’ANG ‘JOG PA YIN,

 

What appears directly

Are the person’s own

Powers, and their objects.

 

We can also say that

Anything which can appear indirectly,

As an object of the group

Of this person’s

Six different states of consciousness,

Can also be considered

An object of their

Foundation consciousness.

 

 

(12)

` ,DBANG DON LAS GZHAN DRUG PA’I YUL,

,KUN GZHI’I YUL DU MI ‘GYUR TE,

,DRUG PA BTAGS PA’I YUL CAN DANG,

,KUN GZHI BKRAR ‘DZIN GYIS DBEN PHYIR,

 

Certain objects of the sixth

Other than the powers and their objects

Cannot serve as objects

For the foundation consciousness.

 

This is because the sixth

Holds objects that it names;

And because foundation consciousness

Is devoid of any tendency

To hold to its objects

In an illumined way.

 

 

(13)

` ,BAG CHAGS BSGO GZHI YIN PHYIR DANG,

,DGE DANG MI DGE MNGON GYUR DANG,

,RGYUD GCIG LA NI ‘JUG PA’I PHYIR,

,MA BSGRIBS LUNG MA BSTAN DU GRUB,

 

We can establish that

Foundation consciousness

Is karmically neutral,

 

Since it is the foundation

Upon which karmic seeds

Are imprinted,

 

And because it manifests,

Within a single mindstream,

As both virtue and non-virtue.

 

 

(14)

` ,LUNG MA BSTAN DANG MI GSAL PHYIR,

,REG SOGS LNGAR NGES

 

Since foundation consciousness

Is karmically neutral

And also unclear,

Its adjuncts are invariably

The five of contact and such.

 

 

(15)

` TSOR BA NI,

,BAR MA’O

 

As for feeling,

It is the one between.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be continued!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendices

 

 

 

Comparative list of the names

of divine beings & places

 

English         Sanskrit        Chinese                 Tibetan

 

Able One           Muni                            牟尼/牟尼           Thub-pa

 

Conqueror                 Bhagavān          世尊/世尊           bCom-ldan-‘das

 

Gentle Voice              Mañjughoṣa,              妙音菩薩/妙音菩萨  ‘Jam-dbyangs

Mañjuśrī            文殊師利/文殊师利    ‘Jam-dpal dbyangs

 

Heaven              Sukhāvatī          極樂淨土/极乐净土    bDe-ba can

of Happiness

 

The Invincible  Ajita                   阿逸多/阿逸多   Mi-pham

 

Keeper               Vajradhara                 金刚持/金刚持   rDo-rje ‘chang

of the Diamond

 

Loving One                Maitreya            彌勒/弥勒           Byams-pa

 

One Gone Thus Tathāgata          如來/如来           De-bzhin gshegs-pa

 

Perfect Happiness     Pramuditā                  雚喜地/欢喜地   Rab tu dga’-ba

(first bodhisattva

level)

 

Victor                          Jina                     最勝/最胜           rGyal-ba

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A

A traditional presentation

of the groups of mental functions

 

Generally speaking, there are two traditional presentations of the functions of the mind.  The general literature on higher knowledge (abhidharma)—specifically Master Vasubandhu’s Treasure House of Higher Knowledge—presents them in six groups (five “fixed” groups and one “not fixed” group) totaling 46 functions.

 

The specific higher-knowledge presentation emphasizing the Mind-Only School and best known from Master Asanga’s Compendium of Higher Knowledge gives 51 mental functions in six groups.  Naturally, Je Tsongkapa and Fearless Blade are here using the latter, which also became the standard used for the famed Collected Topics of Logic presentations of these functions associated with the Sutrist School.

 

Our primary source for the following table has been A Commentary to the Root Text of the Collected Topics of Reasoning, by the great Kachen Lobsang Supa (d. ~1998) of Tashi Hlunpo Monastery (%B23, S00978).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A

A traditional presentation

of the groups of mental functions

 

Generally speaking, there are two traditional presentations of the functions of the mind.  The general literature on higher knowledge (abhidharma)—specifically Master Vasubandhu’s Treasure House of Higher Knowledge—presents them in six groups (five “fixed” groups and one “not fixed” group) totaling 46 functions.

 

The specific higher-knowledge presentation emphasizing the Mind-Only School and best known from Master Asanga’s Compendium of Higher Knowledge gives 51 mental functions in six groups.  Naturally, Je Tsongkapa and Fearless Blade are here using the latter, which also became the standard used for the famed Collected Topics of Logic presentations of these functions associated with the Sutrist School.

 

Our primary source for the following table has been A Commentary to the Root Text of the Collected Topics of Reasoning, by the great Kachen Lobsang Supa (d. ~1998) of Tashi Hlunpo Monastery (%B23, S00978).

 

 

 

The 51 Mental Functions

     of the Mind-Only School

             
English Tibetan Sanskrit Chinese  Simples Pinyin Pali
             
The Five Omnipresent Mental Functions (Tib: Kun-‘gro lnga)    
1) feeling tsor-ba vedanā shòu vedanā
2) discrimination ‘du-shes saṃjñā xiǎng saññā
3) movement

of the mind

sems-pa cetana mano-sañcetanā
4) contact reg-pa sparśa chù phassa
5) attention yid la byed-pa manasikāra 作意 作意 zuò yì manasikāra
             
The Five Mental Functions with Definite Objects (Yul-nges lnga)  
6) aspiration ‘dun-pa chanda chanda
7) wishing mos-pa adhimukta  勝解 胜解 shèng jiě adhimokkha
8) memory dran-pa smṛti niàn sati
9) concentration ting-nge-‘dzin samādhi 等持 等持 děng chí samādhi
10) wisdom shes-rab prajñā huì paññā
             
The Eleven Virtuous Mental Functions (dGe-ba bcu-gcig)    
11) faith dad-pa śraddhā xìn saddhā
12) shame ngo-tsa shes-pa trapā cán hiri
13) consideration khrel yod-pa apatrāpya kuì ottappa
14) seeing people

equally

 

btang-snyoms

upekṣā 行捨 行舍 xíng shě upekkhā
15) mindfulness bag yod-pa apramāda 不放逸 不放逸 bù fàng yì appamāda
16) pliancy shin-sbyangs pariṣuddha 輕安 轻安 qīng ān passaddhi
17) lack of

ignorant liking

‘dod-chags

med-pa

alobha

 

無貪

 

无贪

 

wú tān

 

alobha

 

18) lack of ignorance gti-mug med-pa amoha 無癡 无痴 wú chī amoha
19) lack of

ignorant disliking

zhe-sdang

med-pa

adveṣa 無瞋 无瞋 wú chēn adosa
20) not harming mi ‘tse-ba ahiṃsā 不害 不害 bù hài ahiṃsā
21) joyful effort brtzon- ‘grus vīrya qín vīrya
             
The Six Root Negative Emotions (rTza-nyon drug)    
22) ignorant liking ‘dod-chags rāga tān rāga
23) ignorant disliking khong-khro dveṣa chēn dosa
24) pride nga-rgyal māna màn māna
25) misunderstanding ma-rig-pa avidyā chī avijjā
26) doubt the-tsom vicikitsā vicikicchā
27) wrong view lta-ba kudṛṣṭi jiàn kudiṭṭhi
             
The Twenty Secondary Mental Afflictions (Nye-nyon nyi-shu)  
28) anger khro-ba krodha 忿 忿 fèn kodha
29) resentment ‘khon-‘dzin upanāha hèn upanāha
30) hiding your faults ‘chab-pa mrakṣa makkha
31) irritation tsig-pa pradāsa nǎo padāleti
32) jealousy phrag-dog īrṣyā issā
33) stinginess ser-sna mātsarya qiān macchariya
34) deceit sgyu māyā kuáng māyā
35) dissembling g.yo śāṭha  諂 chǎn saṭha
36) arrogance rgyags-pa mada jiāo mada
37) violent feelings rnam-par ‘tse-ba hiṃsā hài himsā
38) shamelessness ngo-tsa med-pa āhrīkya 無慚 无惭 wú cán ahirika
39) lack of

consideration

khrel med-pa anapatrāpya 無愧 无愧 wú kuì anottappa
40) confusion rmugs-pa laya 惛沉 昏沉 hūn chén thīna
41) restlessness rgod-pa auddhatya 掉擧 掉举 diào jǔ uddhacca
42) lack of faith ma-dad-pa aśraddha 不信 不信 bù xìn assaddhiya
43) laziness le-lo ālasya 懈怠 懈怠 xiè dài kusīta
44) carelessness bag med-pa pramāda 放逸 放逸 fàng yì pamāda
45) forgetfulness brjed-nges muṣita-smṛti 失念 失念 shī niàn muṭṭhassati
46) lack of awareness

 

shes-bzhin

min-pa

asaṃ-prajanya 不正知

 

不正知

 

bù zhèng zhī asampajañña

 

47) distraction g.yeng-ba vikṣepa 散亂 散乱 sǎn luàn vikkhepa
             
The Four Variable Mental Functions (gZhan-‘gyur bzhi)    
48) noting rtog-pa vitarka xún vitakka
49) examining dpyod-pa vicāra vinicchaya
50) sleep gnyid nidrā 睡眠 睡眠 shuì mián middha
51) regret ‘gyod-pa kaukṛtya 惡作 恶作 è zuò kukkucca

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Sanskrit

 

Please note that throughout this translation, a Sanskrit term which is reconstructed from the Tibetan (and not yet confirmed in the original Sanskrit) is marked with an asterisk (*).

 

S1

Candragomi (Tib: Btzun-pa zla-ba) (c. 650ad).  A Letter to a Student (Śiya Lekha) (Tib: Slob-ma la springs-pa’i spring-yig, Tibetan translation at ACIP digital text TD04183, ff. 46b-53a of Vol. 94 [Nge] in the Epistles Section [Lekha, sPring-yig] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S2

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “A Journey to Langka” (Ārya Lakāvatāra Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa Langkar gshegs-pa’i theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00107, ff. 87b-307a of Vol. 5 (Ca) of the Collection of Sutras Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S3

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc.  The Root Secret Book of the Realized One, Gentle Voice (Manjushri) (Ārya Mañjuśrī Mūla Tantra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa ‘Jam-dpal gyi rtza-ba’i rgyud, Tibetan translation at KL00543, ff. 53b-448b of Vol. 10 (Tha) of the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S4

Asaṅga (Tib: Thogs-med), 350ad.  A Summary of the Greater Way (Mahāyāna Sagraha) (Tib: Theg-pa chen-po bsdus-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04048, ff. 1b-43a of Vol. 55 (Ri) of the Mind-Only Section [Cittamatra, Sems-tzam] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S5

Maitreya (Tib: Byams-pa), with dictation taken by Asaṅga (Tib: Thogs-med), 350ad.  The Jewel of the Sutras of the Greater Way, Set in Verse (Mahāyāna Sūtrālakāra Nāma Kārikā) (Tib: Theg-pa chen-po mdo-sde’i rgyan zhes-bya-ba’i tsig-le’ur byas-pa, Tibetan translation TD04020, ff. 1b-39a of Vol. 44 [Phi] of the Mind-Only Section [Cittamatra, Sems-tzam] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S6

Śāntideva (Tib: Zhi-ba lha), c. 750ad.  A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattva Caryāvatāra) (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]).

 

S7

Bhāvaviveka (Tib: Bha-bya or Legs-ldan-‘byed), c. 550ad.  Verses on the Heart of the Middle Way (Madhyāmaka Hdaya Kārikā) (Tib: dBu-ma’i snying-po’i tsig-le’ur byas-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03855, ff. 1b-40b of Vol. 19 [Dza] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S8

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad.  Nothing to Fear: A Commentary to the “Root Verses on Wisdom” (Mūlamadhyamika Vtti Akuto’bhaya), Tibetan translation at TD03829, ff. 29b-99a of Vol. 17 [Tza] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S9

Avalokitavrata (Tib: sPyan-ras-gzigs brtul-zhugs), @.  A Detailed Commentary to the “Lamp of Wisdom” (Prajñā Pradīpa īka), Tibetan translation at TD03859; Vols. 20-22 [Wa, Zha, Za] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S10

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad.  The String of Precious Jewels, Words Offered to the King (Rāja Parikathā Ratna Mālī) (Tib: rGyal-po la gtam-bya-ba Rin-po-che’i phreng-ba, Tibetan translation at TD04158, ff. 107a-126a of Vol. 93 [Ge] in the Epistles Section [Lekha, sPring-yig] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S11

Yaśomitra (Tib: Grags-pa’i bshes-gnyen), @.  A Commentary in Explanation of the “Treasure House of Higher Knowledge” (Abhidharma Koa īka) (Tib: Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod kyi ‘grel-bshad, Tibetan translation at TD04092, in two parts; ff. 1b-330a of Vol. 63 (Gu) and ff. 1b-333a of Vol. 64 (Ngu) of the Higher Knowledge Section [Abhidharma, mNgon-pa] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S12

Vasubandhu (Tib: dByig-gnyen), c. 350ad.  The Treasure House of Higher Knowledge, Set in Verse (Abhidharma Koa Kārikā) (Tib: Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod kyi tsig-le’ur byas-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04089, ff. 1b-25a of Vol. 61 [Ku] in the Higher Knowledge Section [Abhidharma, mNgon-pa] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S13

Author unknown.  An Abbreviated Explanation of the Details of Secret Points (Vivta Guhyārtha Piṇḍa Vyākhyā) (Tib: Don gsang-ba rnam-par phye-ba bsdus te bshad-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04052, ff. 296b-361a of Vol. 12 (Ri) in the Mind-Only Section [Cittamatra, Sems-tzam] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).  Said by native catalog to the Derge edition of the Tengyur to have been attributed, “it would seem mistakenly,” to Vasbandhu in the past.

 

S14

Jinamitra (Tib: Dzi-na mi-tra), c. @.  An Explication of the “Levels of Practice” (Yogacaryā Bhūmi Vyākhyā) (Tib: rNal-byor spyod-pa’i sa rnam-par bshad-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04043, ff. 69a-140b of Vol. 10 (‘I) in the the Mind-Only Section [Cittamatra, Sems-tzam] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).  Author supplied from native catalog to the Derge edition of the Tengyur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Chinese

 

C1

Yuance (Chinese: 圓測; Tib: Wang-tsig aka Wen-tseg aka Wen-tsig aka Wen-tsegs), 613-696ad.  An Extensive Commentary to the Exalted Sutra entitled “An Explanation of the Deep Ideas that I Really Had in Mind” (解深密經疏) (Ārya Sandhi Gambhīra Nirmoca Sūtra īkā) (‘Phags-pa dgongs-pa zab-mo nges-par ‘grel-pa’i mdo rgya-cher ‘grel-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04016, Vols. 39-41 [Ti, Thi, Di] of the Commentaries on Sutras Section [Vtti, mDo-‘grel] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Tibetan

 

B1

rJe Tzong-kha-pa (Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419).  Difficult Questions on Negative and Foundation Consciousness (Yid dang kun-gzhi’i dka’-ba’i gnas, ACIP digital text S05414A), 4 ff.

 

B2

rJe Tzong-kha-pa (Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419).  The Ocean of Fine Explanation: An In-Depth Commentary upon “Difficult Questions on Negative and Foundation Consciousness” (Yid dang kun-gzhi’i dka’-ba’i gnas rgya-cher ‘grel-ba), ACIP digital text S05414B), 44 ff.

 

B3

mKhas-grub bsTan-pa dar-rgyas (1493-1568).  The Lamp for Those of Clear Minds: An Overview of the Great Classical Commentary known as “Entering the Middle Way,” and an Illumination of the True Thought of “The Illumination of the True Thought” (bsTan-bcos chen-po dBu-ma la ‘jug-pa’i spyi-don rNam-bshad dgongs-pa rab-gsal gyi dgongs-pa gsal-bar byed-pa’i Blo-gsal sgron-me, ACIP S00021), 162 ff.

 

B4

Ke’u-tsang Blo-bzang ‘jam-dbyangs smon-lam (b.  1689).  The Union of the Sun and Moon, Illuminating both the Root Text and the Commentary on Difficult Questions in the Presentation by the School of Deep Practice on Negative Consciousness and Foundation Consciousness (rNal-‘byor spyod-pa-ba’i lugs kyi yid dang kun-gzhi’i rtza-‘grel gyi dka’-gnas gsal-byed nyi-zla zung-‘jug, ACIP S06514), 73 ff.

 

B5

lCang-skya Rol-pa’i rdo-rje (1717-1786).  Part Two of “The Lovely Jewel for the Mountain Peak of the Teachings of the Able Ones”: A Survey which Clearly Explains the Schools of Philosophy (Grub-pa’i mtha’i rnam-par bzhag-pa gsal-bar bshad-pa Thub-bstan lhun-po’i mdzes-rgyan zhes-bya-ba las sde-tsan gnyis-pa, ACIP S00061), 36ff.

 

B6

(Paṇ-chen sku-phreng bcu-pa) Blo-bzang bstan-‘dzin ‘phrin-las ‘jigs-med chos kyi dbang-phyug (1938-1989).  A Gift of Happiness: A Praise of the Six Jewels and the Two Supreme, with a Commentary (rGyan drug mchog gnyis kyi bstod-‘grel dang-ldan dGa’-bskyed, ACIP S25007), 44ff.

 

B7

(Che-shos rin-po-che) Blo-bzang byang-chub bstan-pa’i sgron-me (1861-1933).  Writings on the Subject of the Three Traditional Advices (Man-ngag rnam-gsum gyi skor, ACIP S12419), 89ff.

 

B8

Gung-thang dKon-mchog bstan-pa’i sgron-me (1762-1823).  A Lamp which Illuminates the Hidden Meaning: Notes to a Teaching consisting of a Profound Explanation of the Trilogy of the Extensive, Middle-Length, and Briefer Presentations of the Perfection of Wisdom; the “Ornament of Realizations” (Both Root Text and Commentary); and Other Works, based on the “Commentary which Illuminates the Meaning,” and Composed as a Jewel Anthology of the Sutras (‘Grel-pa don-gsal gyi steng nas rGyas-‘bring-bsdus gsum mNgon-rtogs rgyan rtza-‘grel sogs mdo-rgyan sbyar-ba’i gzab-bshad kyi zin-bris sBas-don gsal-ba’i sgron-me, ACIP S00903), 174ff.

 

B9

Chos-rje Ngag-dbang dpal-ldan (b. 1806).  “The Section on those Who Assert that Working Things Exist in Truth,” from “A Cherished Gem for Those Who Think Clearly, a Book which Unravels the Knots of Every Difficult and Crucial Point,” being an Annotated Commentary to “The Great Survey of the Schools of Philosophy” (Grub-mtha’ chen-mo’i mchan-‘grel dKa’-gnad mdud-grol blo-gsal gces-nor zhes-bya-ba las dNgos smra-ba’i skabs, ACIP S00986-2), 167ff (incomplete).

 

B10

(sKyabs-rje) Pha-bong-kha (bDe-chen snying-po) (1878-1941).  The Text of “A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,” with Scattered Interlinear Notes (Byang-chub sems-dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa zhes-bya-ba bKa’-mchan thor-bu dang bcas-pa, ACIP S00360), 82ff.

 

B11

lCang-skya Ngag-dbang blo-bzang chos-ldan (1642-1714).  Entertainment for those of the Higher Way: An Explanation of the Letter of Instruction known as “The Eight Verses,” a Work of Advice on Developing the Wish for Enlightenment composed by that Great Bodhisattva, Dorje Senge of Langri Tang (Sems-dpa’ chen-po Glang-ri thang-pa rDo-rje seng-ges mdzad-pa’i Byang-chub sems-sbyong gi gdams-pa Tsig-brgyad-mar grags-pa’i khrid-yig Theg-chen dga’-ston, ACIP S00135), 7ff.

 

B12

rJe Tzong-kha-pa (Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419).  The Great Book on the Steps of the Path, composed by the Great One, the Incomparable Tsongkapa (mNyam-med Tzong-kha-pa chen-pos mdzad-pa’i Byang-chub lamrim che-ba, ACIP S05392), 523ff.

 

B13

lCang-skya Ngag-dbang blo-bzang chos-ldan (1642-1714).  An Easy Path to Omniscience: Verses of Advice on the Steps of the Path to Enlightenment (Byang-chub lam gyi rim-pa’i gdams-pa’i tsigs su bcad-pa Kun-mkhyen bde-lam, ACIP S00464), @ff (incomplete).

 

B14

Gung-thang dKon-mchog bstan-pa’i sgron-me (1762-1823).  Continuation of a Commentary (incorporating Interlinear Notes) upon the Analysis of the First Chapter of the Perfection of Wisdom [the “Ornament of Realizations”] (Phar-phyin skabs dang-po’i mtha’-dpyod kyi mchan-‘grel rtzom-‘phro, ACIP S00908), 110ff.

 

B15

Various authors (n.d., modern).  A Catalog of Some of the Great Books of Tibet (Bod kyi bstan-bcos khag-cig gi mtsan-byang, ACIP R00004), 687pp.

 

B16

Rigs-grva Rig-pa’i ral-gri (aka Blo-bzang ‘jigs-med, c. 1875).  The Golden Key: An Annotated Commentary to the Root Text of “Negative Consciousness and Foundation Consciousness” (Yid dang kun-gzhi’i rtza-ba’i mchan-‘grel gSer gyi lde-mig, ACIP S25001), 15ff; input from A Collection of Texts Drawn from the Group of Works of our Tradition, composed by Lords of Sages from the Shining Gomang College, which are Extremely Rare in Modern Times (Mundgod, India: sGo-mang dGe-bshes bsKal-bzang thabs-mkhas, 1974).

 

B17

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.

 

B18

mKhas-grub rje dGe-legs dpal bzang-po (1385-1438).  The Great Presentation of the Interlude on Emptiness: A Classical Commentary which Opens the Eyes of the Fortunate, Clarifying Perfectly the Profound Concept of Emptiness, the Suchness of All Things (Zab-mo stong-pa-nyid kyi de-kho-na-nyid rab tu gsal-bar byed-pa’i bstan-bcos sKal-bzang mig-‘byed, ACIP S05459), 179ff.  Commonly known by the name of The Great Interlude on Emptiness (sTong-thun chen-mo).

 

B19

(Zhu-chen) Rin-chen tsul-khrims (1697-1774).  A New Moon that Grows the Sea of Amazing Words [original native catalog to the Derge edition of the Tengyur] (gTam ngo-mtsar chu-gter ‘phel-ba’i zla-ba gsar-pa, ACIP R00059), @ ff.

 

B20

rGyal-tsab rje Dar-ma rin-chen (1364-1432).  Eloquent Words on the Essence of the Sea of Higher Knowledge: An Explication of the “Compendium on Higher Knowledge” (mNgon-pa kun las btus-pa’i rnam-bshad Legs-par bshad-pa’i chos-mngon rgya-mtso’i snying-po, ACIP S05435), 215ff.

 

B21

(Co-ne bla-ma) Grags-pa bshad-sgrub (1675-1748).  The Sun that Illuminates the True Intent of the Entire Mass of Realized Beings, the Victors and All Their Sons and Daughters: A Commentary upon the “Treasure House of Higher Knowledge” (Chos-mngon mdzod kyi t’ikka rGyal-ba sras bcas ‘phags-tsogs thams-cad kyi dgongs-don gsal-bar byed-pa’i nyi-ma Co-ne mdzod, ACIP S00027), 211ff.

 

B22

‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa’i rdo-rje Ngag-dbang brtzon-‘grus (1648-1721).  The Jewel Lamp which Illuminates every Meaning of the Perfection of Wisdom: A Dialectical Analysis of the Classical Commentary known as the “Jewel of Realizations” (bsTan-bcos mngon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan gyi mtha’-dpyod Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa’i don kun gsal-ba’i rin-chen sgron-me, ACIP S19088), 290ff.

 

B23

bKa’-chen Blo-bzang bzod-pa (d. c. 1998@).  The Supreme Jewel of Those Who Follow Scriptural Authority and Logic: A Commentary to the Root Text of the Collected Topics of Reasoning (bsDus-rtza’i ‘grel-pa Lung-rigs smra-ba’i rgyan-mchog, ACIP S00978), 238 ff.

 

B24

(Bse) Ngag-dbang bkra-shis (1678-1738).  Fulfilling the Hopes of the Fortunate: A Necklace for the Wise, a Great Explanation which is Designed for All Three Types of People—those of Highest, Medium, and Lesser Capacity; and which Wraps into it the Meaning of the “Commentary on Correct Perception,” that Great Classical Work which itself Comments on the True Intent of the Teachings on Correct Perception (Tsad-ma’i dgongs-‘grel gyi bstan-bcos chen-po rNam-‘grel gyi don gcig tu dril-ba Blo rab ‘bring tha-ma gsum du ston-pa legs-bshad chen-po mkhas-pa’i mgul-brgyan skal-bzang re-ba kun-skong, ACIP S00217), 158ff.

 

B25

(Gung-thang) dKon-mchog bstan-pa’i sgron-me (1762-1823).  Entry Point for the Wise: An Explanation of “Difficult Points on the Mind and Foundation Consciousness” (Yid dang kun-gzhi’i dka’-gnas rnam-par bshad-pa mKhas-pa’i ‘jug-ngogs, ACIP S00910) 64 ff.

 

B26

‘Gos lo-tztsa-ba (gZhon-nu dpal) (1392-1481).  The Blue Annals: The Stages in which Buddhist Teachings and Teachers Appeared in the Land of Tibet (Bod kyi yul du chos dang chos smra-ba ji-ltar byung-ba’i rim-pa Deb-ther sngon-po, S25006), in 2 volumes: Vol. 1 is pp. 1-670; and Vol. 2 is pp. 671-1274.  Also translated into English, by George Roerich (Kolkata: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1949; reprint by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1978), 1275pp.

 

B27

rGyal-tsab rje (Dar-ma rin-chen) (1364-1432).  A Commentary to the “60 Verses on Reasoning” (Rigs-pa drug-cu-pa’i ’ikka, ACIP digital text S05443), 33ff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in English

 

E1

The St Petersburg Catalog Cataloging Team: Lev Serafimovich Savitsky, Geshe Michael Roach, Thupten Pelgye, Ngawang Khetsun, and Jampa Namdrol (modern).  A Catalog to the Tibetan Manuscript Collection of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the St Petersburg Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 1992-2010, ACIP R01003), digital file with 140,129 entries.

 

E2

“bLo-bzang mchog-grub,” Buddhist Digital Research Library, accessed January 4, 2019, https://www.tbrc.org/#!rid=P8LS12046.

 

E3

“mKhyen-rab bsTan-pa chos-‘phel,” Buddhist Digital Research Library, accessed January 4, 2019, https://www.tbrc.org/#!rid=P253.

 

E4

Roach, Geshe Michael.  King of the Dharma: The Illustrated Life of Je Tsongkapa, Teacher of the First Dalai Lama (Wayne, NJ: Diamond Cutter Press, 2008), 465pp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] What I Really Meant: An easily understood and still accurate rendering of the full title, which is An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “Unraveling the Deep True Thought.”

 

[2] Sharp Sword-Blade of Thinking: The reference to our author as Rikdra Rikpay Reldri (Rigs-grva rig-pa’i ral-gri) may be found in A Catalog of Some of the Great Books of Tibet (%B15, ACIP digital text R00004, p. 616).  He refers to himself as “Lobsang the Fearless” (Blo-bzang ‘jigs-med) in the colophon to the edition used in this volume (f. 14b, %B16, ACIP digital text S25001).

[3] The great bodhisattva Lobsang Chokdrup: Spelled Blo-bzang mchog-grub.  See entry 14917, corresponding to the original Institute of Oriental Studies entry B7829/1 (%E1, ACIP R01003).

[4] Listed as the 59th abbot: See %E2.

[5] Collection of rare texts from Gomang College: See %B16.

[6] Dates for Kyenrab Tenpa Chupel: Spelled mKhyen-rab bsTan-pa chos-‘phel.  See %E3.

[7] Mano vijnana: Tibetan Buddhism is founded on about 4,600 scriptures from India which were translated into Tibetan from Sanskrit in ancient times.  It was a custom to include the original Sanskrit title at the beginning of each work translated, both to indicate their eminent source (the land where Lord Buddha was born and taught, and where many practitioners achieved high goals) and to honor the labors of the translators.  Je Tsongkapa here follows a custom of inserting a faux original Sanskrit title into his own composition, for the same purposes.

[8] Negative Consciousness, and the Foundation Consciousness where It Plants Its Seeds: The original title of the work here, in Tibetan, has for this phrase simply Mind and Foundation Consciousness (Yid dang kun-gzhi).  Je Tsongkapa is assuming that his readers will understand that the word “mind” here (yid) stands for the Mind-Only School’s concept of “negative consciousness,” or nyon-yid: the state of mind which misunderstands who we are, and thus plants karmic seeds in the foundation consciousness (kun-gzhi)—so called because all (kun) of the reality around us springs from seeds which have been planted in this foundation (gzhi), or mental garden soilWe have expanded the title for the ease of our modern readers, based on presentations such as those by the other commentator whose work is included in this volume, Jikme Rikpay Reldri, the “Fearless Blade of Reasoning”; as well as by thinkers such as Kedrup Tenpa Dargye (1493-1568) (f. 121b, %B3, S00021) and Keutsang Lobsang Jamyang Munlam (b. 1689) (f. 244b, %B4, S06514).

[9] Conquerer, Lord of the Exalted Word: Epithets of Lord Buddha.  These and other names used for divine beings are listed in different languages in the appendices.

[10] I bow my head low: The structure of Je Tsongkapa’s work is a root text, written in poetry, combined with a prose explanation of it.  We will be indicating the root text verses in bold print both here and in the Fearless Blade’s commentary; we have also included the entire root text in Part Three below, as a separate work.

[11] Only to refresh my own understanding: Another way of saying “I have no illusions that my work will be of any use to anyone else.”  This is a traditional way of opening a commentary, using the concept of kengpa kyung (Tibetan: khengs-pa skyungs): “humility to counteract possible pride.”  “Conceptualist” (Sanskrit: Vijñaptika; Tib: rNam-rig-pa) is an alternate name for a member of the Mind-Only School.

[12] His final contemplation: That is, the Buddha’s appearing to die—in about 500bc.

[13] Teachings of the greater way: The “greater way” (Skt: mahāyāna; Tib: theg-chen) refers to teachings of Buddhism based on the bodhisattva principle, where we work to achieve enlightenment so that we can be in a position to help all living beings.  In the literature it is distinguished from the “lower way” (Skt: hīnayāna; Tib: theg-dman), where one is working only for a personal nirvana, or permanent end to negative emotions.

[14] Detailists and such: The “Detailists” (Skt: Vaibhāika; Tib: Bye-brag smra-ba) are the first and lowest of the four classical Buddhist schools of ancient India; they are adherents of the lower way.  The derive their name from the fact that they take as their principal scriptural source a text called The Greater Book of the Detailed Explanation (Skt: Mahāvibhāā; Tib: Bye-brag tu bshad-pa chen-po).  See for example f. 5b of Part II in Changkya Rolpay Dorje’s classic review of the ancient schools of Buddhism (%B5, ACIP S00061).  “Listeners” in the present context refers to the followers of the lower way, so named because they can listen to the teachings of the higher way—and even report their content to others—but are not attracted to following them personally.

[15] Higher knowledge: That is, the abhidharma (Tib: chos mgon-pa), one of the principal subjects of the Detailist school.  It later came to be equated with the teachings of the Treasure House of Higher Knowledge (Abhidharmakoa), the great survey of the school by Master Vasubandhu in the 4th century.

[16] The “Hundred Thousand Verses” slowly vanished: And in fact we can find no record of it in the ACIP scriptural database as it now stands.

[17] Profound and widespread teachings: A reference to teachings on the subject of emptiness, and those on the subject of the bodhisattva ideal—which extends to all living beings in all places where they may reside in the universe.

[18] The great dragons, with their hooded heads: See ff. 46b-47a of this classic epistle by Master Chandragomi, who lived circa 650ad (%S1, TD04183).

[19] The land of Vaidarbha: Currently an area to the east of Mumbai, India.  The full name for the abbreviation we see here (“Vaida”) is given for example on f. 4b of Panchen Chukyi Wangchuk’s Gift of Happiness: A Praise of the Six Jewels and the Two Supreme, along with its Commentary (%B6, S25007).

[20] Perfect Happiness and the Heaven of Happiness:  The first is the technical name for the first bodhisattva level (Skt: Pramuditā; Tib: Rab tu dga’-ba), which is marked by the experiences of seeing emptiness directly, and becoming a true bodhisattva.  The second is a Buddha paradise (Skt: Sukhāvatī; Tib: bDe-ba can) which is a popular destination for those who reach a high state of realization in this life.  For the text of the quotation, see f. 265a of the sutra (%S2, KD00107).

[21] How nothing has any signs of its own: Another term for emptiness.

[22] The Collection of Six Works on the Reasoning of the Middle Way: A group of six famous books by Arya Nagarjuna to explain the views of the Middle-Way School.  Their names in English are Wisdom; Crushing to Powder; Overcoming Argument; Seventy Verses on Emptiness; Sixty Verses on Reasoning; and A String of Precious Jewels.

[23] A monk named “Unstoppable”: The literal meaning of the name of the eminent Indian sage Asanga.

[24] The Lady of the Shala Forest: Also known as the Crimson Form of Sarasvati, the Lady of Song.  See for example f. 72a of Writings on the Subject of the Three Traditional Advices, by Cheshu Rinpoche Lobsang Changchub Tenpay Drunme (1861-1933) (%B7, S12419).

[25] Attain the state of enlightenment: See ff. 408a-408b of the tantra (%S3, KL00543).

[26] Heaven of Bliss: Called, in Sanskrit, Tushita; and in Tibetan, Ganden.

[27] Five Books of Maitreya: These are The Jewel of Realizations, The Jewel of the Sutras, Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes, An Analysis of the Sphere of Reality, and The Higher Line.

[28] A Summary of the Greater Way: See bibliography entry %S4, TD04048.

[29] That realized being known as The Invincible: These are the opening lines of the commentary to Master Asanga’s Levels of Practice listed as composed by Jinamitra (see f. 69a, %S14, TD04043).  “Invincible One” (Skt: Ajita; Tib: Mi-pham) is another name for Loving One, or Maitreya.  Reference is made here to “concentration upon the flow of the teachings,” which is a technical term (Skt: sroto’nugata nāma samādhi; Tib: chos-rgyun gyi ting-nge-‘dzin) for a point in ones personal practice (the greater stage of the path of accumulation) when you can recall all of the teachings you have received in all your lives.  See for example ff. 30a-30b of Gungtang Konchok Tenpay Drunme on the perfection of wisdom (%B8, S00903).

[30] Jewel, Guide, and Heart: Composed, respectively, by Lord Maitreya (in about 350ad, with Arya Asanga taking dictation); Master Shantideva (c. 750ad); and Master Bhavaviveka (c. 550ad).  Chujey Ngawang Pelden identifies eight proofs for the greater way in the first work; see f. 58b in the section, of his commentary to Changkya Rinpoche’s masterwork, on the Functionalists (%B9, S00986-2).  For the Guide, see Pabongka Rinpoche’s interlinear notes on the work at f. 63a (%B10, S00360).  And finally see f. 147b of the Heart itself (%S7, TD03855).

[31] The eight extremes: The ideas that—in and of themselves—things can start or stop; or never change or simply discontinue; or go or come; or be the same or be separate.  A nice reference is found in the commentary by Changkya Ngawang Lobsang Chunden to the famous Eight Verses on Developing the Good Heart, itself written by Diamond Lion, Dorje Senge (see f. 113b, %B11, S00135).

[32]The Conqueror grasped: From Nothing to Fear, Arya Nagarjuna’s own commentary to his classic Wisdom (ff. 61a-61b, %S8, TD03829).  Here he identifies the “advices to Katyayana” as a separate sutra of the same name, but we have not yet located this work in the canon as it currently exists—even with the help of a direct quotation of this section from the work in the second volume of the massive commentary to Bhavaviveka’s Lamp by Avalokitavrata (f. 321a, %S9, TD03859).

[33] Anyone with a brain: See f. 121a of the Arya’s String of Precious Jewels (%S10, TD04158).

[34] Consciousness philosophers: “Consciousness School” (Tib: rNam-shes smra-ba) is yet another name for the Mind-Only School.

[35] Seven Books of Higher Knowledge: They are identified as follows in the first volume of Master Yashomitra’s commentary to the Treasure House of Higher Knowledge (f. 9a, %S11, TD04092): Entering Wisdom, by Katyayana; The Basis of Divisions, by the elder Vasumitra; The Collection of Consciousness, by the venered Devakshema*; The Mountain of Dharma, by the arya Shariputra; The Commentary on the Names, by Maudgalyayana; The Collection of Categories, by Purna; and Different Names for the Ways to Go, by Mahakaushthila.

[36] Made up things on their own: From the closing remarks in Master Vasubandhu’s Treasure House of Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma Kosha) (f. 25a, %S12, TD04089).

[37] That’s what they claim: Referring to the entire system of the abhidharma, or higher knowledge; this is Master Vasubandhu himself speaking, at the beginning of his definitive presentation of the school (f. 1b, %S12, TD04089).

[38] The Middle Way: A popular nickname for Nagarjuna’s famous Wisdom; this in fact is one of the meanings of “Middle Way” in the title of Master Chandrakirti’s renowned commentary to that work: Entering the Middle Way.

[39] Nothing has any signs of its own: From the massive commentary, to the sutra by Lord Buddha called What I Really Meant, written by the Korean sage who is called Wen-tsek in Tibetan (in Chinese, Yuance 圓測, 613-696ad); he lived in China and was a close disciple of the eminent Chinese translator and philosopher, Xuanzang.  See f. 26b of the first volume of the work (%C1, TD04016), and the description of him in the introduction to this volume.

[40] Perfect Practice: Yet another designation of the Mind-Only School.  The Sanskrit is Yogachara (Yogācāra), and the Tibetan Nelnjor chu-pa (rNal-‘byor spyod-pa).  The word “yoga” here refers not to a tradition of physical exercises, but rather to a personal practice which is very well-grounded and accurate; and this is reflected in the traditional Tibetan translation of the word (literally, to apply oneself accurately).  Nice explanations along these lines can be found in Tsongkapa’s own classic, The Great Book on the Steps of the Path (Lam-rim chen-mo), at f. 51a (%B12, S05392); in Changkya Ngawang Lobsang Chunden’s Easy Path to Omniscience (which also covers the “practice” part; ff. 185b-186a, %B13, S00464); and especially Gungtang Konchok Tenpay Drunme’s work on the Ornament of Realizations (f. 37a, %B14, S00908).

[41] 400 years have passed: See ff. 408a of Root Secret Book of Manjushri, the Gentle Voice (%S3, KL00543).

[42] The Golden Key: We have inserted into our edition the full title, from the St Petersburg Catalog (see the introduction to this volume).

[43] In your love, care for us: There are some classical poeticisms here.  “Summer drums” refers to rumbling sounds of thunder, which for some reason peacocks—according to ancient Asian tradition—find particularly enjoyable.  “Those with crowns” is a name for peacocks, referring to the antenna-like tufts on their heads.  “Glorious Gentle Voice” is the translation of the name of Manjughosha, with its equivalent Manjushri: the embodiment of the wisdom of all the Buddhas—a wisdom which we require to understand this book.

A full list of the Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, and English names of divine beings is included in the appendices.  The “three realms” are the three sectors of the Buddhist universe—desire realm; form realm; and formless realm; the phrase can also refer to all creatures in the sense of those who walk upon the earth; those who burrow below; and those who fly above.

[44] Keeper of the Diamond: In Sanskrit, Vajradhara: the form that the Buddha took when he granted the secret teachings of the Diamond Way.  The “three secrets” are the high qualities of the actions, words, and thoughts of an enlightened being; and the being who embodies them as the “three diamonds” is in fact Vajradhara; see Je Tsongkapa’s treatment in his works on the Secret Collection (ff. 39a-39b of %B@, S05284; and f. 395b of %B@, S05282).  The Sanskrit word adarsha means mirror, and is a common metaphor in the Diamond Way for the crystalline medium of our awareness, in which the world and the people around us are reflected.  The image here is of a divine being masquerading in human form, as our personal teacher.

[45] Negative & Foundation Consciousnesses: Referring to Je Tsongkapa’s root text.

[46] Offering of praise: As we go through Fearless Blade’s commentary, we’ll insert Tsongkapa’s root text in bold.

[47] Said to be Victors: Where Fearless Blade weaves the words of Je Tsongkapa’s root text into his commentary, we will italicize them.

[48] The four demons: An excellent presentation of the four appears in a commentary to the Jewel of Realizations by Choney Lama Drakpa Shedrup entitled The Cloud of Offerings (see ff. 75a-75b, %B14, S00195-4)He divides them into two versions: a less subtle, and a more subtle.  The less subtle are (1) the five impure parts to a person that we have taken on at birth; (2) the negative emotions which block us from achieving nirvana; (3) a certain powerful spirit known as “Lord of Desires,” who tends to distract us from doing good things; and (4) the Lord of Death, which actually refers to the fact that—because of our past deeds and negative emotions—the power of our life force must one day end.

The more subtle are (1) the five parts of a person that we are born into due mainly to the seeds of misunderstanding our world; (2) our subtle negative emotions, referring to our subtle seeds of misunderstanding (here Choney Lama also adds forms of unstained karma); (3) the Lord of Desires considered actually as the same thing as the subtle seeds just mentioned; and (4) the discontinuation—due to the seeds of misunderstanding, or even unstained karma—of an homogenous form of the five parts of a person

[49] That pure path: There are a few Buddhist technical terms here.  “What is always good” is a phrase used to describe nirvana and enlightenment.  The “three collections” are three groupings of the Buddha’s teachings, sometimes called the “three baskets” from the Sanskrit, tri-pitaka.  These three are described nicely by Tsongakapa’s disciple Kedrup Je in his brilliant work, Great Presentation of the Interlude on Emptiness (f. 8a, %B18, S05459).

The collection of vowed morality (vinaya) features teachings on the extraordinary training of an ethical life; the collection of sutra features teachings on the extraordinary training of meditation; and the collection of higher knowledge (abhidharma) features teachings on the extraordinary training of wisdom.

The “three ways” mentioned here can refer either to the lower way, the open teachings of the higher way, and the secret teachings of the higher way; or to the three tracks through the five paths: listener, self-made buddha, and bodhisattva.

[50] Chujey Dundrup Rinchen and Lord Rendawa: Two of Je Tsongkapa’s principal teachers.  The former (1308-1385) tutored Je Rinpoche from childhood, and gave him his first ordination vows; the latter (1349-1412) guided him, for much of his life, through major subjects such as vowed morality; higher knowledge; the Mind-Only School; and middle-way philosophy.  See Je Tsongkapa’s illustrated biography, King of the Dharma, for details throughout (%E4).

[51] Those who believe there is nothing but conceptualization: A reference to the “Conceptualists” of the root text, meaning followers of the Mind-Only School.

[52] Refresh his understanding: This wording represents a traditional preliminary to the composition of a scripture wherein the author expresses humility: “I am just writing this for myself; I would never assume it would help someone else.”  But of course it does!

[53] The Brothers: A reference to Arya Asanga and Master Vasubandhu, who had the same mother.  The Explanation of Secret Points is a text found in the Mind-Only Section of the Tengyur Collection of classical commentaries from ancient India (%S13, TD04052).  It is described in the native catalog to the Derge edition of the Tengyur as “as much as we could find of a commentary to the first chapter of [Arya Asanga’s] Summary of the Greater Way; it is said in earlier catalogs to have been composed by Master Vasubandhu, but it would seem that this is mistaken” (see f. 446a, %B19, R00059).  From his syntax in the Tibetan here, Fearless Blade would appear to agree, although he does not identify the true author.

[54] Sections 3-4: Please note that Je Tsongkapa’s root text is not divided regularly; it is so brief that he is using traditional Tibetan divider symbols (tseg-shad) to isolate sections even in half-lines, as here.  We therefore number each section that he divides out with these symbols with a separate reference number.

[55] Foretold the coming: The reference in the Journey to Langka may be found on f. 265a (%S2, KL00107); that in the Root Secret Teaching of Gentle Voice is located on f. 408a (%S3, KL00543).  Both citations (the latter only in part) are given by Je Tsongkapa in his autocommentary above; see sections %A12 to %A15, and section %A38, respectively.

[56] Realized one, Nagarjuna: A “realized one” (arya in Sanskrit) is one of those rare persons who has seen emptiness directly; Nagarjuna is possibly the most famous of them in history, and is sometimes simply called “The Arya” (“The Realized One”).

[57] Received his prediction: See ff. 408a-408b of the tantra (%S3, KL00543).

[58] Five Books of Maitreya: That is, The Jewel of Realizations, The Jewel of the Sutras, Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes, An Analysis of the Sphere of Reality, and The Higher Line.

[59] Karmically neutral: Meaning an object that will neither produce a positive karmic result nor a negative karmic result.  The technical term here is avyakirta in the Sanskrit and lung ma bstan in the Tibetan, both meaning “not clarified.”  The basic idea here is that if Lord Buddha during his life did not clarify an action as being positive or negative, then it is neutral—although obviously he did not clarify every single possible action, and this is not a definitive description.

For a nice explanation of the “unclarified” concept, see Gyaltsab Je at ff. 37a-37b of his commentary to the Compendium of Higher Knowledge (%B20, S05435).  For the concept of karmic neutrality, see Choney Lama’s commentary to the Treasure House of Higher Knowledge (f. 106b, %B21, S00027).  For a good general description see Jamyang Shepa’s analysis of the Jewel of Realizations (f. 256a, %B22, S19088).

[60] Subtle and durable flow: Again, a pile of Buddhist technical terms here.  “Linked mentally” refers to a situation where the main mind is linked to one or more mental functions, in five different ways: they share the same support (sense power); the same object of focus; the same aspect (e.g., “bluish”); same duration; and same substance (mental stuff).  For a clear explanation see Kachen Lobsang Supa’s excellent modern Logic Topics (ff. 22a-22b, %B23, S00978).

The “ever-present five” are five mental functions which always accompany main mind.  These are the capacity of feeling; capacity of discrimination; mental movement; contact (between consciousness, related sense power, and its object); and attention.  They are pictured as being “in attendance” on main mind, the way attendants might sit in a circle on the ground before a king seated on a throne.  See for example the famed Collected Topics of Ngawang Tashi (1678-1738) (f. 36a, %B24, S00217).

The “group of six types of consciousness” consists of consciousness of the eye; ear; nose; tongue; body; and thought.

[61] Lower two of the three realms: The Buddhist universe is pictured as including three sectors: the desire realm, form realm, and formless realm.  The desire realm (where we live) is one inhabited by beings attracted to gross physical objects such as food and sex.

The form realm is distinguished by extraordinary physical forms; the beings there, for example, look a lot like the superheroes in modern movies.  Beings in the formless realm possess no manifest physical form—thus the debate here.

We are reborn into one of the higher two realms by engaging in deep meditations, and thereby avoiding our usual constant flow of small negativities.  Unfortunately the good power that sends us to these two inevitably wears out, and we always fall then into the lower realms.  The classic presentation of these realms is the third chapter of Master Vasubandhu’s Treaure House of Higher Knowledge (%S12, TD04089).

[62] The commentary admittedly speaks: See the discussion beginning at f. 5a of Je Tsongkapa’s autocommentary (%B2, S05414B).

[63] Levels such as “infinite space”: This is one of the meditations just described in a footnote as projecting us into a rebirth in the form realm.  “Infinite space” is the name of the first of the four levels of this type of meditation.

[64] Lower two of the three: Referring to the desire and form realms.

[65] The Nepalese master Jahu: We don’t know a lot about him, or his dates; some references might place him about a millennium ago.  Sometimes we see “Jahu” mistakenly written for “Jahnu,” an ancient Indian king and sage who is said to have drunk the oceans.  One very possible identification is a Nepalese scholar named Ja-hung mentioned in the Blue Annals at p. 465 and p. 1004 of volumes 1 & 2, respectively (%B26, S25006).  He is said to have been a teacher of Kirshnapada, which would put him in the right time frame.  Ja-hung is Sanskrit (Dza: h’u in the Tibetan) and is coincidentally the first part of a mantra of unification in the Vajra Yogini literature (see for example f. 4a of Pabongka Rinpoche Dechen Nyingpo’s commentary, %B@, S00344).

In any event, Jahu’s position on this point—as well as the second position here—are quite clear, from the commentary to this same text of Je Tsongkapa written by Konchok Tenpay Drunme (1762-1823) (see ff. 25b-26a, %B25, S00910).

[66] Teachings on higher knowledge: See footnote %#15 above.

[67] Vessel and its contents: A Buddhist technical term for the physical world and all the creatures who inhabit it.

[68] Paradise of Light: A particular Buddha paradise (Skt: Mārīcī; Tib: ‘Od-zer-can gyi zhing-khams).

[69] Intermediate state: That is, the famed bardo, where people between births live in a kind of spirit form.

[70] Fourth concentration level: There are four levels of deep meditation which produce, as a karmic result, rebirth into four corresponding levels of the form realm.  See note %#61 above.

[71] Links of the cycle of pain: Referring to the twelve links of the Wheel of Life, or dependence.

[72] Holding objects in an illumined way: This phrase is as arcane in Tibetan as it is in English.  But it can be easily understood by the most common reference to it, which occurs in the study of meditation—and specifically the four levels of meditation which result in a rebirth into the formless realm.  (These are similar to the four levels of meditation, already discussed, which result in a rebirth into the form realm.)

During the third and fourth levels of these “formless realm” meditations, we purposely try to “shut down” our own consciousness—much in the way that we would turn out a light, except here the “light” is awareness itself, in the sense of holding things in an illumined way.  These two forms of meditation incidentally are not a true spiritual goal and have—over the entire history of Buddhism, and in many meditation studios in the present day—been mistaken for the gloriously useful meditation on emptiness.

For a great presentation on “the tendency to illumine,” see the magnificent Interlude on Emptiness by Je Tsongkapa’s close disciple Kedrup Je (1385-1438), f. 60b (%B18, S05459).  For a neat discussion of mistaking these “shut down” meditations for emptiness meditations, see the extended discussion by Je Rinpoche’s other close disciple, Gyaltsab Je (1364-1432), in his commentary to Arya Nagarjuna’s Sixty Verses (starting at f. 4b, %B27, %S05443).  The translation of the former will be volume 94 in the present Diamond Cutter Classics Series; and the latter volume 84.

[73] Four variable mental functions: Meaning that whether they are karmically virtuous, non-virtuous, or neutral depends upon the mental context in which they occur.  We have numbered these four in these sections to make it easier for the reader to identify them.

Generally speaking, there are two traditional presentations of the functions of the mind.  The general literature on higher knowledge (abhidharma)—specifically Master Vasubandhu’s Treasure House of Higher Knowledge—presents them in six groups (five “fixed” groups and one “not fixed” group) totaling 46 functions.

The specific higher-knowledge presentation emphasizing the Mind-Only School and best known from Master Asanga’s Compendium of Higher Knowledge gives 51 mental functions in six groups.  Naturally, Je Tsongkapa and Fearless Blade are here using the latter, which also became the standard used for the famed Collected Topics of Logic presentations of these functions associated with the Sutrist School.

For the interested reader, we have provided a complete, traditional listing of the 51 mental functions, in their six groups, in Appendix A.

Source: http://texts.10000booksofwisdom.com/difficult-questions-in-the-mind-only-school-of-buddhism/