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Sunlight on Suchness

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Sunlight on Suchness

The meaning of the Heart Sutra

 

written by

Choney Lama, Drakpa Shedrup

(1675-1748)

 

translated by

Geshe Michael Roach

with Elizabeth van der Pas


 

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©2018 by Geshe Michael Roach. All rights reserved.

 

Sections may be reproduced with the author’s permission.

Please contact:

geshemichael@gmail.com

 

 

Volume 89 of the Diamond Cutter Classics Series

 

 

Diamond Cutter Press

6490 Arizona Route 179A

Sedona, AZ 86351

USA

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Foreword……………………………………………………………………………… 7

 

Sunlight on Suchness

The Meaning of the Heart Sutra………………………………………………. 11

 

Honoring the teacher………………………………………………………………………………. 11

 

Praise and a promise……………………………………………………………………………….. 11

 

Why we need emptiness………………………………………………………………………….. 13

 

The actual explanation…………………………………………………………………………….. 24

 

What the sutra’s name means………………………………………………………………….. 24

 

The translator bows…………………………………………………………………………………. 28

 

The content of the sutra…………………………………………………………………………… 30

 

How the scene is set………………………………………………………………………………… 30

 

The common setting of the scene…………………………………………………………….. 30

 

Four kinds of excellence………………………………………………………………………….. 31

 

The unique setting of the scene……………………………………………………………….. 37

 

The blessing meditation…………………………………………………………………………… 38

 

Who was blessed…………………………………………………………………………………….. 39

 

The background for the question…………………………………………………………….. 39

 

The question……………………………………………………………………………………………. 43

 

The answer……………………………………………………………………………………………… 49

 

Practicing the paths…………………………………………………………………………………. 49

 

The paths of collection & preparation……………………………………………………… 49

 

No thing has any nature of its own…………………………………………………………. 51

 

The four statements of the profound……………………………………………………….. 54

 

The moon on a lake…………………………………………………………………………………. 57

 

The other four as well……………………………………………………………………………… 64

 

The path of seeing…………………………………………………………………………………… 66

 

The path of habituation…………………………………………………………………………… 74

 

The emptiness of the twelve links……………………………………………………………. 80

 

The emptiness of the four truths……………………………………………………………… 81

 

A summary of what was never there………………………………………………………. 84

 

How practice brings enlightenment………………………………………………………… 88

 

What it’s like, at the end………………………………………………………………………….. 91

 

Enlightenment from the perfection………………………………………………………….. 94

 

The magnificence of the mantra…………………………………………………………….. 102

 

The meaning of the mantra……………………………………………………………………. 106

 

Practice!…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 109

 

The celebration………………………………………………………………………………………. 110

 

The final words……………………………………………………………………………………… 117

 

Ropes & snakes……………………………………………………………………………………… 119

 

Not parts, not wholes…………………………………………………………………………….. 123

 

Learning to apply emptiness…………………………………………………………………. 127

 

Learning to investigate………………………………………………………………………….. 132

 

Learning to avoid the two extremes………………………………………………………. 135

 

The appearing is real……………………………………………………………………………… 144

 

What the world says……………………………………………………………………………… 147

 

Summary with the wagon……………………………………………………………………… 149

 

A sense of wonder…………………………………………………………………………………. 151

 

How this book happened………………………………………………………………………. 153

 

 

Root Text

Of the Heart Sutra………………………………………………………………. 157

 

 

Appendices……………………………………………………………………….. 170

 

Names of divine beings & places…………………………………………………………… 171

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Sanskrit…………………………….. 172

 

Bibliography of works in Chinese………………………………………………………….. 180

 

Bibliography of works originally written in Tibetan……………………………… 181

 

Bibliography of works originally written in English……………………………… 186

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreword

 

Some years ago I visited Vancouver, to take some classes in the classic Dao De Jing (also written as Tao Te Ching, and meaning The Way of Good Deeds) from a Chinese master there, so that I could better understand the history and culture of China. At the same time, I had some lessons in shu-fa, or traditional Chinese traditional calligraphy, with an accomplished expert from China.

 

“Masters of calligraphy in my family go back many generations,” he told me. “For example, my ancestors did the characters for some of the most famous written versions of the Heart Sutra ever to appear in China.”

 

I nodded; I knew that he was indeed an amazing calligrapher. I once watched him use a brush the size of a mop to do a piece, running across a piece of parchment stretching from one side of the room to another.

 

And then it occurred to me to ask,

 

“I’m really interested in how the Heart Sutra was translated into Chinese, and all the different meanings that each character might carry. Could you share with me just a little; say, from the opening of the sutra?”

 

He laughed and said, “You know, the sutra is one of the most famous in China, for many dynasties; but to tell you the truth, I and my ancestors never spent much time learning its meaning. I can tell you that it’s quite difficult, and confusing!” And then we went on with our lesson, learning to craft the characters.

 

The Heart Sutra, along with its cousin the Diamond Cutter Sutra, are the two most famous pieces of Buddhist literature ever taught. Many people, especially in Asia, can even recite it by heart, and do so devotedly every day; but for many of us, including myself, the meaning of the sutra isn’t clear at all. We sense from the sheer holiness of the words that it must be important—extremely important—but we can’t really say that we understand it.

 

I especially had this problem for quite a few years, since I was around the sutra frequently. I was exposed to it now and again during Buddhism classes at Princeton University, where I studied as an undergraduate. And then when I stayed in Buddhist monasteries for over 25 years, working on my geshe degree, we would often recite the sutra as part of a dok ceremony, which is meant to stop obstacles to daily practice and virtuous projects.

 

Several times a week, before our grueling sessions in the monastery debate park, all the hundreds of geshe candidates would sit down together and recite the sutra through 21 times in a row, at breakneck speed, in an exciting roar of song. But to be honest, we rarely got a separate class on exactly what the sutra means.

 

This situation was repaired when I met my main Tibetan teacher, the amazing Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, abbot of the great Sera Mey Tibetan Monastery, who guided me personally for over two decades. I think the first time that I heard him teach the sutra in detail was at Columbia University in New York, in the 1980’s, where he was invited to speak on the topic by the early American Sanskrit scholar, Dr Alex Wayman.

In the years following, I was able to hear many more explanations of the sutra from Khen Rinpoche and other eminent Tibetan lamas. Because the sutra is one of the shortest there is, it’s a popular one to use for a teaching in a single, or just a few, sessions. But among the thousands of ancient Buddhist commentaries, strangely, there are only very few specific explanations of the Heart Sutra.

 

And the sutra does need explanation, for several reasons. First of all, the Buddha is speaking in extremes, to shake his listeners up and get them asking tough questions about this most important topic of all—emptiness. Secondly, the sutra is not even directly spoken by Lord Buddha. As we’ll see in the commentary here, he is deep in silent meditation during almost the entire teaching, manipulating two of his main disciples in a conversation between them, almost as if they were puppets.

 

We are all extremely fortunate that one of the greatest of all Tibetan writers, Drakpa Shedrup, has decided to compose a dedicated commentary to the sutra. Choney Lama, as he is more popularly known, was born in 1675 in the Choney region of northeastern Tibet. As a young man of 21 he traveled to the capital, Lhasa, to study at Sera Monastery. He completed his geshe degree in 1705, and also undertook the course of study at the famous Gyumey Tantric College.

 

Choney Lama was encouraged by the local governor to build a new monastery, and begin teaching there. They completed the new Choney Monastery in 1714, later adding a separate college for the study of the secret teachings. Choney Lama had been teaching students of both colleges for over a decade by the time he wrote the present commentary on the Heart Sutra, which was in 1730.

 

We can sense that this teaching work with many disciples in what was a relatively remote area of Tibet at the time has sharpened his skills as a commentator, for among all the hundreds of eminent writers Tibet has ever produced, he is certainly among the greatest and clearest of all.

 

We encourage interested readers to read the more detailed biography we have prepared for the introduction of Choney Lama’s incredible commentary to the Diamond Cutter Sutra, which also forms a volume of the Diamond Cutter Classics Series being produced by our translation team—which is called the Mixed Nuts!

 

One of the most beautiful stories we read from Choney Lama’s autobiography, written at the very end of his life (he passed on in 1748), is of recurring dreams that he had even as a child.

 

Here he is watching the wide open sky, and the great Nagarjuna—grandfather of all emptiness explainers—is flying across the blue in a body of pure gold. The Realized One is specifically headed to the West, but he swoops down and sinks into Choney Lama, granting him his full and blissful blessing.

 

As you read here this consummate master explain the fine points of emptiness and the Heart Sutra, you will not find it difficult to believe—as those of us who have helped translate this book do—that Choney Lama’s teaching was destined to come to the West; to be translated into the modern languages of the world; and to be shared by all of those who seek a deeper spiritual understanding of life.

 

In closing, I would like to express my thanks to a number of people who provided valuable help with research for the book. Elizabeth van der Pas, a Buddhist nun whose ordination name is Jigme Palmo, has served through thick and thin, with excellence and great devotion to the teachings, as my personal assistant for some 25 years. She worked hard to help with the early versions of the translation, and gave them a very useful test-drive in her classes on the sutra at our Diamond Mountain Retreat Center.

 

Textual assistance with the difficult ancient editions of Choney Lama’s writings, and with the original Sanskrit versions, was provided by Nick Lashaw; Ben Kramer; Christina Kasica; Christine Sperber; and Aisha Maria Nguyen. John Brady has also labored with great dedication as the director of the Asian Classics Input Project for much of the 31 years of its operations, and without him none of this would be possible.

 

Stanley Chen and Alison Zhou of Pure Gold Translation Corporation in Shenzhen, China have given immense help in researching and assembling an authoritative Chinese version of the sutra, which we have included here.

 

Thanks to each of you, and to the many others who help with this invaluable effort, to bring the ancient wisdom of Asia to new generations of people throughout the world.

 

 

Geshe Michael Roach

Rainbow House

Independence Day, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunlight on Suchness

The meaning of the Heart Sutra

 

[1]

*, ,SHES RAB SNYING PO’I RNAM BSHAD ZAB MO’I DE KHO NA NYID GSAL BAR BYED PA’I NYI MA ZHES BYA BA BZHUGS SO,,

 

Herein contained is an explanation of the Heart of Wisdom called The Sun which Illuminates the Suchness of the Profound.[1]

 

 

 

Honoring the Teacher

 

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[2]

#, ,NA MO GU RU MANYDZU GHO sh’A YA,

 

Namo Guru Manjughoshaya.

I bow to my teacher, Gentle Voice.[2]

 

 

 

Praise and a promise

 

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[3]

,RTEN ‘BREL ZAB MO JI BZHIN GZIGS NAS NI,

,DE NYID ‘GRO LA BRTZE BAS ‘DOMS MDZAD PAS,

,MKHYEN DANG STON PA BLA NA MED GYUR PA,

,THUB DBANG SMRA BA’I NYI MAR GUS PHYAG ‘TSAL,

 

He has seen profound dependence, exactly as it is;

In love, he teaches that very thing to beings.

He is peerless in his knowledge and instruction;

I prostrate to the Sun of Teachers, Lord of the Able.[3]

 

 

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[4]

,RGYAL BA KUN GYI THUGS RJE GCIG BSDUS NAS,

,RGYAL SRAS GZHON NU’I GAR GYIS SRID GSUM ‘DIR,

,RGYAL BA’I MDZAD PA MTHA’ DAG SGRUB BRTZON PA,

,RGYAL SRAS THU BO SPYAN RAS GZIGS LA ‘DUD,

 

Compassion of all the Victors, rolled into one;

Playing the dance of the young bodhisattva,

Through all three worlds there are;

Striving to accomplish the Victors’ every deed—

I bow to Loving Eyes, prince of bodhisattvas.[4]

 

 

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[5]

,SHES RAB CHEN PO’I MCHOG GYUR SH’A RI’I BU,

,ZAB DON ‘GREL MDZAD KLU SGRUB ZLA BA GRAGS,

,RGYAL BA GNYIS PA YAB SRAS LA BTUD NAS,

,SHER PHYIN SNYING PO’I RNAM BSHAD BRI BAR BYA,

 

I bow to Shariputra,

Wisdom vast and supreme;

To Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti,

Who clarified that deepest idea—

To the father, the Victor returned to earth,

And to his spiritual son.

 

And now I will explain for you

The Heart of Perfect Wisdom.[5]

 

 

 

Why we need emptiness

 

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[6]

‘DI LA GSUM, SPYIR ZAB MO’I DON LA ‘JUG DGOS PAR BSTAN PA, SKABS KYI GZHUNG DON BSHAD PA, ZAB DON RIGS PAS GTAN LA ‘BEB TSUL MDOR BSDUS BSHAD PA’O,,

 

We will proceed in three steps: an explanation of why, generally speaking, we really must engage in this deepest of ideas; an explanation of the body of the present commentary; and finally a brief explanation on how to establish this same deepest idea—emptiness—through the use of reasoning.

 

 

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[7]

DANG PO NI, THAR ‘DOD KYI SKYES BU SA {%BUS} GANG LA ‘JUG PAR BYA BA’I BZHIN {%GZHI} NI RGYAL BA’I BSTAN PA YIN LA, DE’I NANG NAS KYANG STONG NYID KYI LTA BA ‘TSOL BA LA ‘JUG DGOS PA YIN TE, LTA BA DE NI RTOGS PA’I BSTAN PA THAMS CAD KYI GTZO BO ‘AM SNYING PO DANG,

 

Here now is the first step. The teachings of the victorious Buddhas are the foundation from which those who seek for freedom must begin. And among all these teachings, it is crucial that we engage in the correct view of emptiness.   This view is the most important of all—the heart—of the teachings in the form of realizations.[6]

 

 

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[8]

DE STON PA’I GZHUNG NI LUNG GI BSTAN PA THAMS CAD KYI GTZO BO ‘AM SNYING PO YIN PAS, CHOS STON PA THAMS CAD KYI NANG NAS RTEN ‘BREL ZAB MO’I DE KHO NA NYID STON PA DE STON PA’I MCHOG DANG, CHOS SHES PA THAMS CAD KYI NANG NAS RTEN ‘BREL ZAB MO’I DE KHO NA NYID SHES PA DE SHES PA’I MCHOG YIN PA’I PHYIR TE,

 

The scriptures which instruct us in this view are the principal ones, the heart of all the teachings that exist in the form of words. The One who teaches the suchness of profound dependence is the great teacher of all teachers. And of all the understandings of his teaching, the one where we understand the suchness of this deep dependence is the great understanding of all understandings.

 

 

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[9]

RJES RTEN ‘BREL BSTOD PA LAS, BSTAN PA’I SNYING PO STONG PA NYID, ,ZHES PA DANG,

 

This fact is reflected in the Praise for Dependence, where Je Tsongkapa himself says that “emptiness is the heart of the teachings.”[7]

 

 

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[10]

,STON PA’I NANG NAS RTEN ‘BREL STON PA DANG,

,SHES RAB NANG NAS RTEN ‘BREL SHES PA NYID,

,’JIG RTEN DAG NA RGYAL BA’I DBANG PO BZHIN,

,PHUL BYUNG LAGS PAR KHYOD MKHYEN GZHAN GYIS MIN,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

In the same work he states:

 

Of all the teachers in the world,

The King of Kings

Is the teacher who taught us

That things happen in dependence.

 

Of all the wisdoms in the world,

The King of Kings

Is this one: the knowledge

That things happen in dependence.

 

And there is no one but you

Who understood

How very perfect they are.[8]

 

 

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[11]

THAR PA THOB PA LA STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I LTA BA MED MI RUNG GI YAN LAG YIN TE, TING NGE ‘DZIN RGYAL PO LAS,

 

The view of the world where we realize emptiness is a component of our practice which is completely indispensable for reaching freedom. As the King of Concentration puts it,

 

 

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[12]

,GAL TE BDAG MED CHOS LA SO SOR RTOG

,SOR SOR DER BRTAGS GANG ZHIG SGOM BYED NA,

,DE NI MYA NGAN ‘DAS ‘THOB ‘BRAS BU’I RGYU,

,RGYU GZHAN GANG YIN DES NI ZHIR MI ‘GYUR,

,ZHES DANG,

 

If you analyze the fact

That nothing is itself,

And then meditate upon

The results of your analysis,

This is the cause that produces

The fruit of nirvana itself—

There is no other cause

That can bring you to this peace.[9]

 

 

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[13]

KLU SGRUB KYIS KYANG,

,GANG DAG STONG NYID MI SHES PA,

,DE DAG THAR PA BSTEN {%RTEN} MA YIN,

,’GRO DRUG SRID PA’I BRTZON RAR NI,

,RMONGS PA DE DAG ‘KHOR BAR ‘GYUR,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Nagarjuna too has stated,

 

Freedom is a complete impossibility

For anyone who does not understand emptiness.

Those who are blind will continue to circle

Here in the prison of six different births.[10]

 

 

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[14]

DE’I GNAD KYANG, BDAG DANG BDAG GIR RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PAR BZUNG NA ‘KHOR BAR ‘KHOR ZHING, DE RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PAR RTOGS NA ‘KHOR BA LAS GROL BAR ‘GYUR BA’I RGYU MTSAN GYIS YIN TE,

 

Here’s how we can express just why this point so crucial:

 

If you hold on to the belief that “me” and “mine” exist through some nature of their own, then you will continue to wander through the cycle of pain. And if you finally realize that neither of these exists through any such nature, then this will act as the cause that liberates you from the cycle.

 

 

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[15]

SDUD PA LAS,

,DE BZHIN BYIS PA BDAG DANG BDAG GIR KHAS LEN PA,

,BDAG DER ‘DU SHES YANG DAG [f. 2b] MIN RTOG SKYE ZHING ‘JIG

,JI LTAR ‘DZIN PA DE LTAR KUN NAS NYON MONGS BSTAN,

,BDAG DANG BDAG GIR MI DMIGS RNAM PAR BYANG BAR GSUNGS,

ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

The Brief Presentation on the Perfection of Wisdom puts it this way:

 

And so children believe

In some “me” or “mine”—

While those who hold

To this wrong idea,

Conceiving of some self,

Continue to be born, and die.

 

I teach that those who hold

Beliefs like this

Will continue in their negativities;

And I say that those who no longer see

Any “me” or any “mine”

Will see this negativity

Cleaned from them forever.[11]

 

 

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[16]

DE’I PHYIR RGYAL BA’I GSUNG RAB MTHA’ DAG DNGOS DANG BRGYUD PA CI RIGS KYI SGO NAS RTEN ‘BREL ZAB MO’I DE KHO NA NYID STON PA LA GZHOL BA YIN TE, SPYOD ‘JUG LAS,

 

Thus it is that every single teaching of the victorious Buddhas eventually flows—whether it be directly or indirectly—into an instruction on the suchness of profound dependence. As the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life puts it,

 

 

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[17]

,YAN LAG ‘DI DAG THAMS CAD NI,

,THUB PAS SHES RAB DON DU GSUNGS,

,ZHES DANG,

 

Each and every one of these topics

Was spoken by the Able Ones

In order to bring us wisdom.[12]

 

 

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[18]

RJE NYID KYIS KYANG,

,KHYOD KYIS JI SNYED BKA’ STZAL PA,

,RTEN ‘BREL NYID LAS BRTZAMS TE ‘JUG

,CES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

And the Lord himself has said:

 

Everything you ever taught

Started off

From this one essential dependence.[13]

 

 

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[19]

STONG NYID ZAB MO LA MOS NAS NYAN PA DANG STON PA DANG RTOGS PA’I PHAN YON NI MDO SNGAGS GNYIS KA LAS MANG DU GSUNGS SHING, KHYAD PAR DU RDOR GCOD DU GRAGS PA’I SHER PHYIN SUM BRGYA BA {%PA} LAS,

 

The benefits of developing a hunger for this deep emptiness, and then working to study it; teach it; and realize it are described in a great many works of both the open teachings and the secret ones. Most especially, the 300 Lines on the Perfection of Wisdom—which we commonly know as the “Diamond Cutter Sutra”—includes the following section:

 

 

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[20]

RAB ‘BYOR GANG GIS ‘JIGS RTEN GYI KHAMS DE SNYED RIN PO CHE SNA BDUN GYIS GANG BAR BYAS TE, DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA DGRA BCOM PA YANG DAG PAR RDZOGS PA’I SANGS RGYAS RNAMS LA SBYIN PA BYIN PA BAS, GANG GIS CHOS KYI RNAM GRANGS ‘DI LA THA NA TSIG BZHI PA’I TSIGS SU BCAD PA TZAM BZUNG NAS, GZHAN DAG LA YANG DAG PAR BSHAD DE YANG DAG PAR RAB TU BSTAN NA, DE NYID GZHI DE LAS BSOD NAMS CHOS {%CHES} MANG DU GRAGS {%GRANGS} MED DPAG TU MED PA BSKYED DO, ,ZHES DANG,

 

Yes Subhuti, suppose that someone did do this: suppose they did take all these planets, and cover them with the seven kinds of precious substances, and offer them as a gift to the One Gone Thus, the Destroyer of the Foe, the Totally Enlightened One, the Buddha.

 

And now suppose that someone else held but a single verse of four lines from this particular presentation of the Dharma, and explained it to others, and taught it correctly. This second person would create much more merit from their action; their merit would be countless, and beyond all calculation.[14]

 

 

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[21]

KHYE’U RIN CHEN BYIN PA’I MDO LAS KYANG, ‘JAM DPAL BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ THABS MKHAS PA DANG BRAL BAS BSKAL PA BRGYA STONG DU PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA DRUG LA PHYAD {%SPYAD} PA BAS, GANG GIS CHOS KYI RNAM GRANGS ‘DI THE TSOM DANG BCAS PAS NYAN PA

 

The Sutra of the Youth named Ratnadana says as well,

 

O Gentle Voice, suppose a bodhisattva who does not practice skillful means spends a hundred, or even a thousand, eons devoted to practicing the six perfections. And suppose another person listens to this particular teaching of the Dharma, without even feeling sure whether it is correct or not.

 

 

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[22]

‘DI BSOD NAMS CHES MANG DU BSKYED NA, GANG THE TSOM MED PAR NYAN PA LTA CI SMOS, GANG GIS YI GER BRIS NAS LUNG ‘BOG PA DANG ‘CHAD PA {%’CHANG BA} DANG GZHAN DAG LA YANG RGYA CHER RAB TU STON PA LTA CI SMOS, ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR TE,

 

The latter would create much greater good karma. And what need mention what would happen if they listened without any doubt at all? And what need, beyond that, to mention a person who wrote this teaching down; or gave an oral transmission of it to someone else; or kept it; or gave a detailed explanation of it to another?[15]

 

 

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[23]

NYAN PA NAS GZHAN [f. 3a] LA STON PA’I BAR SNGA MA SNGA MA LAS PHYI MA PHYI MA PHAN YON LHAG PAR CHE BAR STON PA YIN NO,,

 

What this is saying is that each of the actions listed—from listening to this particular kind of presentation up to teaching it to others—is of greater benefit than the previous one.

 

 

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[24]

STONG NYID MA RTOGS KYANG DE LA DON ‘GYUR GYI THE TSOM SKYES PA TZAM GYIS KYANG SRID PA HRUL POR BYED CING, THAR PA’I SA BON ‘JOG NUS PA YIN TE, ‘PHAGS PA LHAS

 

Even if you haven’t yet realized emptiness, and only just managed to reach a feeling of doubt about it where you are tending towards accepting it, you have already torn a great rent in the fabric of this suffering life. This in itself has as well the power to plant a seed for freedom in us. As Master Aryadeva puts it,

 

 

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[25]

,BSOD NAMS CHUNG DUS {%NGUS} CHOS ‘DI LA,

,THE TSOM ZAB BA {%ZA BA} YANG MI ‘GYUR,

,THE TSOM ZOS PA TZAM GYIS KYANG,

,SRID PA HRUL POR BYED PAR ‘GYUR,

 

Those who have little good karma

Will not even feel unsure

About the truth of this teaching.

 

Even just entertaining

Some doubt about its truth

Is enough to rip the fabric

Of this life of suffering.[16]

 

 

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[26]

,ZHES DANG, MDO LUNG SNGA MA SA {%MAS} KYANG ‘GRUB PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

The same point is established by the citations from sutra that we gave before.

 

 

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[27]

RDOR GCOD KYI GZHUNG GI PHAN YON YONGS SU RDZOGS PAR NI, DE’I BRJOD BYA DON GYI SHER PHYIN LAS ‘BYUNG BAR DGONGS PA YIN GYI, GZHUNG BKLAG PA TZAM LAS NI MA YIN NO,,

 

In the selection above from the Diamond Cutter Sutra, where certain benefits were described, you should understand that what the Buddha intends to express is that these benefits come from the actual perfection of wisdom described by the work—and not just from reading the book itself.

 

 

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[28]

KHA CIG ,SHER SNYING ‘DON PA THAMS CAD KYANG GNOD PA ZHI BA’I CHED TZAM DU DMIGS NAS BYED PA NI, DGOS PA’I GTZO BO PHYIN CI LOG TU SONG BA YIN TE, BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS SHER PHYIN GYI MDO THAMS CAD THAR PA DANG THAMS CAD MKHYEN PA THOB PA’I THABS KYI GTZO BO BDAG MED RTOGS PA’I LTA BA RGYUD LA BSKYED PA’I CHED DU GSUNGS KYI, GNOD PA PHAL PA ZLOG BYED TZAM DU GSUNGS PA MA YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

On this subject, some people—when they recite the Heart Sutra—do so only for the specific purpose of blocking harmful presences in the world around us. Making this the main point of the practice though is a mistake. The fact is that each and every sutra the Conqueror[17] ever taught, he spoke primarily in order to help people develop, within their hearts, the viewpoint where we realize that nothing is itself—for this is the main method for achieving freedom, and the state of knowing all things. He did not give these teachings just so that people could use them to block these everyday sources of harm.

 

 

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[29]

‘ON KYANG DA LTA ZLOG PA’I CHED DU DMIGS NAS ‘DON PA DAR BA NI, SNGON LHA’I DBANG POS SHER PHYIN GYI DON YID LA BYED CING TSIG KHA TON BYAS PAS BDUD PHYIR LDOG PAR GSUNGS PA LA BRTEN PA STE, DGOS PA PHAL PA’O,,

 

It has happened though in modern times that the custom of reading the sutra for the specific purpose of stopping harmful influences has become widespread. This is but a common use for the work, which came about from statements in scripture about the lord of the worldly gods, in days gone by, reciting the sutra out loud as at the same time he thought about what it meant—all for the purpose of blocking negative spirits.

 

 

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[30]

DGOS PA’I GTZO BO NI THAR PA DANG THAMS CAD MKHYEN PA THOB PA’I CHED DU BDAG MED RTOGS PA’I SHES RAB BSKYED PA DANG ‘KHOR BA DANG NGAN SONG LAS THAR PA DANG, LAS SGRIB ‘DAGS PA’I

 

The main use of the sutra though is to help us develop the wisdom where we realize that nothing is itself—so that we can come to attain freedom, and the state of knowing all things. Then we are freed from the cycle of pain, and from the lower realms; and we purify our karmic obstacles.

 

 

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[31]

CHED DU DMIGS NAS ‘DON DGOS LA, ZHAR BYUNG NGAM PHAL PA NI RANG GZHAN GYI GNOD BZHI PA’I {%PA ZHI BA’I} CHED DU DMIGS NAS ‘DON PA NI SKABS DANG BSTUN DGOS PAR MNGON NO,,

 

These are the purposes that we need to keep in mind as we recite the sutra. And it seems to me that we could go ahead and—depending on the particular circumstances—do the recitation as well for the purpose of putting a stop to negative influences in our own or others’ lives: for achieving incidental or common goals, as they apply to the main goal.

 

 

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[32]

GANG LTAR YANG KUN SLONG ‘PHEN PA RGYA CHEN {%CHE NA} PHAN YON CHE ZHING CHUNG NA NI [f. 3b] DE DANG ‘DRA BAS KUN SLONG BZANG BA GAL CHE’O,,

 

Whatever, what we can say is that whether benefits the sutra brings us are great or small according to the motivation we feel in our hearts; as such, it’s very important that our intentions around it should always be as pure as we can make them.

 

 

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[33]

MDOR NA RDOR GCOD SOGS LAS SHER PHYIN GYI GZHUNG DON LA THOS BSAM BYAS NA PHAN YON MANG PO ‘BYUNG BAR GSUNGS PA LTAR, PHAN YON SHIN TU CHE BA’I {%BAS?} SHER PHYIN ZAB MO ‘DI’I DON SHES PA LA ‘BAD PAR BYA’O,,

 

To summarize, the scriptures state that there are a great many benefits to be derived from studying and contemplating of the meaning of the scriptures on the perfection of wisdom: teachings such as the Diamond Cutter and others.

 

 

 

The actual explanation

 

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[34]

GNYIS PA LA GSUM, MTSAN GYI DON DANG, GZHUNG GI DON DANG, MJUG GI DON NO,,

This brings us to our second step from above—the explanation in the body of the present commentary. We proceed in three sections, on the meaning of the name of the sutra; the meaning of its content; and the meaning of its conclusion.

 

 

 

What the sutra’s name means

 

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[35]

DANG PO LA GNYIS, DNGOS DANG, ‘GYUR GYI PHYAG GO ,,

 

The first of these we cover in two parts of its own: the actual treatment of the sutra’s name, and then the translator’s obeisance.

 

 

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[C1]

Atha Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtram.

 

般若波罗蜜多心经

 

梵文为Arya Bhagavati Prajna Paramita Hirdaya

藏文为Pakpa Chomden-dema Sherab kyi Parul tu Chinpay Nyingpo

英文为The Exalted One, the Lady of Conquest,

the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom

 

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[f. 259a]

,,RGYA GAR SKAD DU, A’ARYA BHA GA BA T’I PRA DZNY’A P’A RA MI T’A HRi DA YA, BOD SKAD DU, ‘PHAGS PA BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNYING PO,,

 

In the language of India,

this sutra is called Arya Bhagavati Prajna Paramita Hirdaya.

 

In Tibetan,

this is Pakpa Chomden-dema Sherab kyi Parul tu Chinpay Nyingpo.

 

In English,

it is The Exalted One, the Lady of Conquest, the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.[18]

 

 

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[37]

DANG PO NI, RGYA GAR NA SKAD RIGS BZHI YOD PA’I NANG NAS LEGS SBYAR GYI SKAD DU BHA GA WA TI {%T’I} ZHES SOGS YIN LA,

 

Here is the first. There were four great language groups in ancient India[19]—one of these was Sanskrit. And in this tongue, the name of the sutra is the part which includes Bhagavati.

 

 

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[38]

DE NYID BOD SKAD DU BSGYUR NA, BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA ZHES SOGS SU ‘GYUR BA YIN TE,

This same part is translated into Tibetan with the words Chomden-dema and so on; [and into English with The Lady of Conquest and the rest].

 

 

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[39]

BHA GA WA TI {%T’I} NI BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA, PRADZNY’A NI SHES RAB, P’A RA MI T’A NI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA, HRi DA YA NI SNYING PO CES BYA BAR ‘GYUR BA’I PHYIR,

 

Bhagavati means Lady of Conquest. Prajna means wisdom, while paramita is perfection. And then hirdaya is heart.[20]

 

 

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[40]

‘DIR PHAR PHYIN ZHES BRJOD PA’I RGYU MTSAN CI ZHE NA

 

Now you might ask,

 

Why are they using the word “perfection”—or in the original Sanskrit literally “gone to the far side”—here in the title?

 

 

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[41]

SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN ZHES PA NI ‘KHOR BA’I RGYA MTSO’I PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I DON YIN LA, DE YANG BYED TSIG LA SBYAR BA DANG, LAS TSIG LA SBYAR BA GNYIS YOD PA’I SNGA MA LTAR NA, PHYIN PAR BYED PA’I DON YIN PAS SLOB LAM NA’ANG SHER PHYIN DNGOS YOD LA,

When we speak of the “perfection of wisdom” in this sense, the meaning is “gone to the other side of the ocean of the cycle of pain.” Now you can take the Sanskrit here either in an agentive sense, or in the sense of an action itself. Considering it in the former sense, it is expressing “something that takes us to perfection,” rather than “perfection.” This is a reference to the paths where we are still training ourselves spiritually—which is an allusion to the actual perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[42]

PHYI MA LTAR NA PHYIN ZIN PA’I DON YIN PAS SANGS RGYAS KYI SAR YOD PA DANG SBYAR DGOS SO,,

 

Taken in the latter sense, we can read it as “gone to perfection,” in which case we would have to say that it refers to something which is found at the level of a person who has already reached enlightenment.

 

 

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[43]

BRJOD BYA DON GYI SHER PHYIN DNGOS NI STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I YE SHES ZHIG LA BYED PA YIN KYANG, YUM DANG SHER PHYIN LA SGRAS BRJOD RIGS KYIS DBYE NA, RANG BZHIN GYI SHER PHYIN, GZHUNG SHER PHYIN, LAM SHER PHYIN, ‘BRAS BU SHER PHYIN RNAMS SU YOD CING,

 

The “actual” perfection of wisdom which is the subject matter of the sutra refers to one that consists of the wisdom with which we realize emptiness. Nonetheless, there exists a nominal division of what we call “The Mother”—another name for the perfection of wisdom—into four different types. These are the natural perfection of wisdom; the textual perfection of wisdom; the path perfection of wisdom; and the result perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[44]

DE’I DANG PO NI STONG NYID DANG DON GCIG ,GNYIS PA NI STONG NYID STON PA’I THEG CHEN GYI MDO LTA BU, GSUM PA NI BYANG SEMS ‘PHAGS PA’I MKHYEN PA LTA BU, BZHI PA NI RNAM MKHYEN NO,,

 

The first of these is just another word for emptiness itself. An example of the second would be the sutras of the greater way which treat the subject of emptiness. An example of the third would be the knowledge of a realized being who is also a bodhisattva.[21] And the fourth would be the omniscience of an Enlightened One.

 

 

 

The translator bows

 

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[C3]

Om namo Bhagavatyai ārya prajñāpāramitāyai.

 

礼敬诸佛菩萨。

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

 

            I bow down to the Lady of Conquest, the perfection of wisdom.[22]

 

 

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[46]

GNYIS PA ‘GYUR PHYAG NI, BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO, ,ZHES PA STE LO TZ’A BAS BKOD PA’O,,

 

Here is our second part from above: a treatment of the translator’s obeisance. This has been inserted into the sutra by the master translator who translated it from the Sanskrit to the Tibetan; and it says: “I bow down to the Lady of Conquest, the perfection of wisdom.”[23]

 

 

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[47]

‘DIR BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA [f. 4a] NI, SHER PHYIN NYID LA DGAG SGRA SBYAR BA YIN GYI, GANG ZAG ZHIG LA MI BZUNG NGO,,

 

As for the expression “Lady of Conquest” here, it is simply the result of an ending intended to indicate an individual[24]—although we are not to take it as actually referring to a person.

 

 

 

The content of the sutra

 

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[48]

GNYIS PA LA GNYIS,

 

This brings us to our second broad section promised above, which is the meaning of the content of the sutra.

 

 

 

How the scene is set

 

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[49]

GLENG GZHI DANG, DNGOS KYI DON,

 

We proceed in two steps: describing how the scene is set; and then explaining the actual content of the sutra.

 

 

 

The common setting of the scene

 

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[50]

DANG PO LA THUN MONG DANG THUN MONG MA YIN PA’I GLENG GZHI GNYIS YOD PA’I DANG PO LA BZHI STE, DUS DANG STON PA DANG GNAS DANG ‘KHOR PHUN SUM TSOGS PA BZHI’O,,

 

The first of these has two parts of its own: the common setting of the scene, and the unique setting of the scene. The first of these covers in turn four different types of excellence here: the occasion, the teacher, the place, and the retinue.

 

 

 

Four kinds of excellence

 

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[C4]

Evam mayā śrutam.

 

如是我闻。一时。

 

‘DI SKAD BDAG GIS THOS PA’I DUS GCIG NA,

 

Once did I hear these words.

 

 

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[52]

DUS PHUN SUM TSOGS PA NI, ‘DI SKAD BDAG GIS THOS PA DUS GCIG NA ZHES PAS STON TE, ‘DI SKAD CES PA NI ‘CHAD ‘GYUR GYI MDO ‘DI SKAD CES PA YIN LA, BDAG GIS THOS PA ZHES PA NI GZHAN LAS BRGYUD NAS MA YIN KYI, BDAG GIS DNGOS SU BCOM LDAN ‘DAS LAS THOS ZHES PA’O,,

 

The excellence of the occasion is indicated in the words, “Once did I hear these words.” When it says “these words” here, the reference is to the words of the sutra that we are about to explain. When it says “did I hear,” the point is that the person recording the sutra is saying, “I heard this directly from the Conqueror himself, and not through someone else.”

 

 

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[53]

DUS GCIG NA ZHES PA NI, SBYIR {%SPYIR} CHOS GZHAN DUS GZHAN DANG GZHAN DU THOS LA, DUS GCIG GI TSE NA ‘DI THOS ZHES PA STE, YANG YANG MA THOS PAS THOS DKA’ BA’O,,

 

When the line says “once” here, the point is that this person had—in general—heard certain other teachings on other occasions; but that on one certain occasion they heard this particular teaching. The point is that, since they did not hear this teaching repeatedly, we can consider it something which is difficult to hear even the once.

 

 

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[54]

YANG DUS GCIG GI TSE LAN GCIG THOS PA TZAM GYIS BZUNG BAR STON PAS SHES RAB CHE BA BSTAN TO,,

 

You can also say that the reason the “once” is mentioned is to indicate that this person was of great intelligence, since they were able to commit this teaching to memory upon but a single hearing.

 

 

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[C5]

Ekasmin samaye Bhagavān Rājagṛhe viharati sma Gṛdhrakūṭa parvate mahatā bhikṣusaṅghena sārdham mahatā ca bodhisattvasaṅghena.

 

世尊在王舍城鹫峰山中。与大比丘众。千二百五十人俱。并诸大菩萨众而共围绕。

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS RGYAL [f. 259b] BO’I {%PO’I} KHAB NA BYA RGOD PHUNG PO’I RI LA DGE SLONG GI DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’I DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO DANG THABS CIG TU BZHUGS TE,

 

The Conqueror was staying on Vulture’s Peak, in the Keep of the King. With him was a great gathering of monks, and a great gathering of warrior saints.

 

 

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[56]

STON PA PHUN SUM TSOGS PA NI BCOM LDAN ‘DAS ZHES PA STE, BHA GA WAN NI BCOM LDAN ‘DAS SKAL LDAN GNYIS KA LA ‘JUG PAS, DANG PO’I DBANG DU BYAS NA, BCOM LDAN NI JI SKAD DU

 

The excellence of the teacher is indicated in the word “Conqueror.” The Sanskrit original here, Bhagavan, can refer both to “Conqueror” and to “one who possesses their share of goodness.” The first of these may be explained as we see it in the following verse:

 

 

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[57]

,NYON MONGS LAS DANG DE BZHIN SKYE,

,NYON MONGS SHES BYA’I SGRIB DE BZHIN,

,GANG YANG MI MTHUN PHYOGS CHOS BCOM,

,DE ‘DIR BCOM LDAN ‘DAS SU BSHAD,

,CES BSHAD PA LTAR YIN LA,

 

We call a person “The Conqueror”

When they have defeated

Their negative emotions, and karma,

And in the same way rebirth;

 

As well as both the obstacles

Of their negativities,

And those which prevent

The knowledge of all things—

 

When they have defeated

All the things that can work against

Achieving spiritual goals.[25]

 

 

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[58]

PHYI MA’I DBANG DU BYAS NA, SAm BHU tI LAS,

,DBANG PHYUG DANG NI GZUGS BZANG DANG,

,DPAL DANG GRAGS DANG YE SHES DANG,

,BRTZON ‘GRUS PHUN SUM TSOGS PA STE,

,DRUG PO DE LA SKAL ZHES BYA,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR TE,

The second sense of the word “Conqueror” is as we see it in this verse, from The Kiss:

 

When we say “share of goodness,”

It can refer to six different things:

Lord of power; exquisite form;

Glory; fame; wisdom;

And excellent effort.[26]

 

 

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[59]

LUNG SNGA MA BCOM PA DANG, LUNG PHYI MA LDAN PA’I DON DU SO SOR SBYAR YANG RUNG NGO,,

 

In Sanskrit, the word “Conqueror” can be broken down into “the one who possesses the victory”; there is an appropriate way as well of relating the first of the citations just given to the victory, and the second of the citations to the possessing.

 

 

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[60]

BHA GA WAN LA ‘DAS ZHES PA’I DON DNGOS SU MED KYANG, DON GYIS THOB PA’I DBANG DU BYAS NAS BLA THABS SU BSNAN PA STE, SRID ZHI GNYIS KYI MTHA’ LAS ‘DAS SHING ‘JIG RTEN PA’I LHA LAS KHYAD PAR ‘PHAGS PA’O,,

 

The Tibetan translation for the Sanskrit here, Bhagavan, also includes the word for “going beyond.” It’s true that there is no element of the Sanskrit which translates directly into this word, but it has been skillfully added because it is absolutely implied. It is meant to indicate that the Buddha has gone beyond the two extremes of the world, and of a lower peace;[27] and also to express the fact that he is far beyond any worldly deity.

 

 

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[61]

GNAS PHUN [f. 4b] SUM TSOGS PA NI, RGYAL PO’I KHAB BYA RGOD PHUNG PO’I RI LA ZHES PAS BSTAN TE, RGYAL PO BZHUGS PA’I GNAS YIN PAS NA RGYAL PO’I KHAB DANG, DE’I SHAR NA RI BYA RGOD KYI GZUGS PHUNG LTAR YOD PAS BYA RGOD PHUNG PO DANG,

 

The excellence of the place is indicated in the words, on Vulture’s Peak, in the Keep of the King. This locale was called “Keep of the King”[28] because it was the place where the king of that land resided. In the eastern part of this area there was a mountain which was called “Vulture’s Peak,” because it resembled a vulture’s form.

 

 

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[62]

BYA RGOD SPUNGS PA LTAR DANG, RIN PO CHE’I BRAG BYA RGOD KYI MGO BO LTA BU YOD PAS BYA RGOD PHUNG PO’I RI ZHES BYA BA DE LA BZHUGS NAS SO, ,DE LTA BU’I RI DE BSKAL PA ‘JIG PA’I TSE YANG MI ‘JIG CES MKHAS PA KHA CIG GSUNG,

 

That is, first of all, the mountain resembled a huge pile, or peak, composed of vultures. Secondly, it was covered with boulders of gemstone that were each shaped liked the head of a vulture. Thus the name, “Vulture’s Peak”—and the Buddha was staying on it. Some sages have said that even in the days of the end of this world, the Peak will remain.

 

 

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[63]

‘KHOR PHUN SUM TSOGS PA NI DGE SLONG GI DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO DANG BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’I DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO DANG THABS GCIG TU BZHUGS TE ZHES PAS STON TE, DGE SLONG GI DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO NI NYAN THOS KYI DBANG DU BYAS PA DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’I DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO NI SGRAS ZIN LTAR RO,,

 

The excellence of the retinue is indicated in the words: With him was a great gathering of monks, and a great gathering of warrior saints. The part about a “great gathering of monks,” is a reference to disciples who were listeners;[29] whereas we can read the part about “a great gathering of warrior saints” as being just that.

 

 

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[64]

DGE SLONG NI BSNYEN PAR RDZOGS PA STE MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA DANG NYE BAR BYED PA’I DON DANG,

 

The word “monk” here refers to someone who has received full ordination. And the Tibetan word for “full ordination” literally means “finished getting close.”[30] The point then is that full ordination brings one close to nirvana.

 

 

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[65]

BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ NI BYANG CHUB CHEN PO THOB PA’I CHED DU SEMS PAS NA DE SKAD CES BYA ZHING,

 

The word “warrior saint” here—or “bodhisattva” in the original Sanskrit—literally means “hero of thoughts of enlightenment” in the Tibetan. They are so called because they direct their thoughts towards attaining the great enlightenment.

 

 

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[66]

DGE ‘DUN NI MI MTHUN PHYOGS KYIS MI PHYED PA’I DON DANG, CHEN PO SNGA MA NI SPANGS RTOGS KYI YON TAN MTHON PO THOB PA’I DON YIN LA,

 

The word “gathering” here has connotations, in the original Sanskrit,[31] of a group which cannot be split up by forces that would work against it. The word “great” occurs twice here; the first of the two is to indicate that the members of the first group have attained high personal qualities which relate to having given up negativities and having reached certain realizations.

 

 

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[67]

CHEN PO PHYI MA NI DON BDUN LA ‘JUG STE, MDO SDE RGYAN LAS, DMIGS PA CHE BA DANG, SGRUB PA GNYIS DANG, YE SHES DANG, BRTZON ‘GRUS DANG, THABS MKHAS DANG, SGRUB PA DANG, ‘PHRIN LAS CHEN PO STE BDUN LA ‘JUG PAR BSHAD PA LTAR RO,,

 

The second use of “great” has seven different connotations. As the Jewel of the Sutras puts it, the word “great” refers to a great focus and greatness of the two accomplishments; of wisdom; effort; skillful means; practice; and deeds.[32]

 

 

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[68]

THABS GCIG TU BZHUGS PA NI DE RNAMS DANG LHAN CIG TU BZHUGS PA’O,,

 

The words “with him was” indicates that Lord Buddha was staying with these disciples.

 

 

 

The unique setting of the scene

 

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[69]

GNYIS PA THUN MONG MA YIN PA LA GSUM, GANG GIS BYIN GYI RLOB PA’I TING NGE ‘DZIN, GANG LA BYIN GYIS RLAB PA’I GANG ZAG ,JI LTAR BYIN GYIS BRLABS PA’I TSUL LO,,

 

This brings us to the second part from above: the unique setting of the scene. This comes in three steps: the meditative state of mind which accomplished the blessing; the person who was thus blessed; and the way in which they were blessed.

 

 

 

The blessing meditation

 

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[C6]

Tena khalu samayena Bhagavān gambhīrāvabhāsam nāma dharmaparyāyam samādhim samāpannaḥ.

 

尔时世尊入定。名广大甚深照见三摩地。

 

DE’I TSE BCOM LDAN ‘DAS ZAB MO SNANG BA ZHES BYA BA’I CHOS KYI RNAM GRANGS KYI TING NGE ‘DZIN LA SNYOMS PAR ZHUGS SO,,

 

At a certain moment the Conqueror went into deep meditation on the part of the teaching known as the “awareness of the profound.”

 

 

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[71]

DANG PO NI, DE’I TSE BCOM LDAN ‘DAS ZAB MO SNANG BA ZHES BYA BA’I CHOS KYI RNAM GRANGS KYI TING NGE ‘DZIN LA SNYOMS PAS {%PAR} ZHUGS SO ZHES PAS BSTAN TE, DUS DE’I TSE ZHES PA DUS KYI KHYAD PAR, [f. 5a] BCOM LDAN ‘DAS NI STON PA’I KHYAD PAR,

The first of these is indicated in the words, At a certain moment the Conqueror went into deep meditation on the part of the teaching known as the ‘awareness of the profound’.” The words “at a certain moment” in time are meant to indicate a detail of timing. And then the mention of “the Conqueror” details the teacher of these lessons.

 

 

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[72]

ZAB MO NI YUL GYI KHYAD PAR TE STONG PA NYID YIN LA, SNANG BA ZHES BYA BA’I TING NGE ‘DZIN NI YUL CAN GYI KHYAD PAR TE, DE LTA BU’I ZAB MO RTOGS PA’I TING NGE ‘DZIN DE LA SNYOMS PAR ZHUGS PA STE MNYAM PAR BZHAG PA’O,,

 

The word “profound” conveys the detail of the object—meaning emptiness itself. And then “awareness” specifies the subject state of mind involved: the deep meditation with this name. Lord Buddha then “went into” this deep meditation, meaning that he set his mind into this kind of meditative balance.

 

 

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[73]

SPYIR SANGS RGYAS BCOM LDAN ‘DAS NI DUS RTAG TU DE BZHIN NYID LA SLAR MI LDANG BA’I TSUL GYIS MNYAM PAR BZHAG PA YIN PAS, GSAR DU ZAB MO SNANG BA’I TING NGE ‘DZIN LA MNYAM PAR BZHAG PA MIN YANG, SNYOMS PAR ‘JUG PA’I RNAM PA BSTAN PA TZAM NI MI ‘GAL LO,,

 

Now generally speaking, the Conqueror—a Buddha—is perpetually within a state of meditation on the true nature of things, and never comes out of this meditation. As such, it’s not as if Lord Buddha here is going into a meditation on the awareness of the profound that he hasn’t been in already. And yet there is no contradiction here: the point of the line is simply to indicate that he was displaying an aspect of being in meditation.

 

 

 

Who was blessed

 

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[74]

GNYIS PA NI, STON PA TING NGE ‘DZIN DE LA SNYOMS PAS {%PAR} ZHUGS NAS YUL SH’A RI BU LA ZAB MO’I DON ZHU BAR BYIN GYIS BRLABS PA’O,,

 

Here next is the second point—who it was that was blessed. Once he has gone into this deep meditation, the Teacher blesses Shariputra to ask his question on the subject of the profound.

 

 

 

The background for the question

 

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[75]

GSUM PA LA GNYIS, DRI BA’I RGYU DANG, DRI BA DANG LAN GYI TSUL LO,,

 

Which brings us to the third point: the way in which the person was blessed. Here we cover two topics—the background for the question, and then the way in which the questioning and answering proceeded.

 

 

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[C7]

Tena ca samayena Āryāvalokiteśvaro bodhisattvo mahāsattvo gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryām caramāṇa evam vyavalokayati sma. Pañca skandhās tāṃśca svabhāvaśūnyān vyavalokayati.

 

时观世音自在大菩萨。行深般若波罗蜜多时。照见五蕴皆空。度一切苦厄。

 

YANG DE’I TSE BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO SPYOD PAR RNAM PAR BLTA ZHING, PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG LA YANG NGO BO NYID KYIS STONG PAR RNAM PAR BLTA’O,,

 

At that moment too did the realized being, the great warrior, the lord of power, Loving Eyes, see into this one deep practice, the practice of the perfection of wisdom. And he saw perfectly that the five heaps—the five parts of a person—were empty of any nature of their own.

 

 

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[77]

DANG PO LA ‘OG GI DRIS LAN RNAMS ‘BYUNG BA’I RGYU NI, YANG DE’I TSE BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG, ZHES PA NAS, RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA RNAM PAR LTA’O, ,ZHES PA STE,

 

So here first is the background for the question and answer that will be going on below. This is indicated in the wording of the sutra that begins with “At that moment too did the realized being, the great warrior, the lord of power, Loving Eyes…” and goes on up to “…empty of any nature of their own.”

 

 

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[78]

YANG NI STON PA ZAB MO SNANG BA’I TING NGE ‘DZIN LA SNYOMS PAR ZHUGS PAR MA ZAD CES PA’O,,

 

The word “too” at this point is meant to say, “not only did the Teacher go into a deep meditation on the awareness of the profound.”

 

 

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[79]

DUS DE’I TSE SANGS RGYAS KYI BYANG CHUB DE NI BYANG SEMS RANG DON LA DMIGS NAS THOB PAR ‘DOD PAS NA BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ DANG, GZHAN DON DU DMIGS NAS THOB PAR ‘DOD PAS NA SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO’O,,

 

At this moment, the bodhisattva Loving Eyes is focusing on the enlightenment of a Buddha, with a desire to achieve it, in order to attain his own goals; thus the word “warrior.” In the same moment, he is focusing on this same enlightenment in order to attain the goals of others—and thus he is a “great” warrior.

 

 

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[80]

SO SKYE’I SA LAS ‘DAS SHING MI DGE BA’I CHOS LAS RING DU SONG BAS NA ‘PHAGS PA, RGYUD LNGA’I ‘GRO BA LA THUGS RJES DUS DRUG TU GZIGS PAS NA SPYAN RAS GZIGS,

 

He is here called a “realized being” because he has transcended the level of a ordinary being; and because he has travelled far away from things of non-virtue.[33] And he is named “Loving Eyes” because in all six watches of the day he looks upon beings of the five different classes with compassion.[34]

 

 

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[81]

CHOS KYI DBANG PHYUG YIN PAS DBANG PHYUG CES BYA STE, DE NYID KYIS KYANG STON PA DANG MTHUN PAR SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA NYID LA SHES RAB KYIS RNAM PAR LTA ZHING,

 

Loving Eyes is here referred to as the “lord of power” because he is a lord of the teachings; and for this very reason he uses his wisdom—in the same manner as the Teacher does—to see into this one deep practice: the practice of the perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[82]

GZUGS LA SOGS PA’I PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG LA YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PAR SHES RAB KYIS RNAM PAR LTA [f. 5b] BAR MDZAD PA’O,,

 

He also here undertakes with his wisdom to see, perfectly, that the five heaps[35]—form and the other four parts of a personare empty of any nature of their own.

 

 

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[83]

BLTA’O ZHES BAS {%PAS} ‘PHUL YOD PA LTAR BYAS NA BLTA BAR BYA’O ZHES PA’I DON DU ‘GYUR BAS CUNG MI BDE SNYAM YANG, PHAL CHER LAS DE LTAR ‘BYUNG BAS BRTAG

 

Where it says “he saw” here the verb form that is actually used is the future tense—“he will see.” It’s uncomfortable to take this tense literally here, but this is the way we see it in the great majority of the editions, which makes it something worth looking into further.

 

 

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[84]

,SPYIR RGYAL SRAS KYI SPYOD PA LA PHYIN DRUG YOD KYANG, ‘DIR ZAB MO RTOGS PA’I SHES RAB SGOM PA LA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA ZHES BYA STE, DE LTA NA SPYIR LTA SPYOD GNYIS MI ‘GAL BAR SEMS SO,,

 

Generally speaking, the practices followed by the children of the Victors encompass all six of the perfections.[36] Nonetheless, the sutra does specifically mention here the “practice of the profound,” referring to the practice of meditating upon the wisdom we use to realize the profound. As such I would say that—in this general sense—it’s not the case that one thing cannot be both a view and a practice.[37]

 

 

 

The question

 

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[85]

GNYIS PA LA GNYIS, DRI BA DANG DE’I LAN JI LTAR MDZAD PA’I TSUL LO,,

 

Here is our second point from above: the way in which the questioning and answering proceeded. We will describe separately how each of these was accomplished.

 

 

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[C8]

AthāyuṣmāñCāriputro buddhānubhāvena Āryāvalokiteśvaram bodhisattvam mahāsattvam etadavocat.

 

即时青年比丘舍利子。承佛威神。合掌恭敬。白观世音自在大菩萨言。

 

DE NAS SANGS RGYAS KYI MTHUS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RA DVA TI’I {T’I’I} BUS BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG LA ‘DI SKAD CES SMRAS SO,,

 

And then, by the power of the Enlightened One, the junior monk named Shariputra turned and asked this question of the great warrior, Loving Eyes, the realized one, the lord of power:

 

 

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[87]

DANG PO NI, DE NAS SANGS RGYAS KYI MTHUS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RI BUS ZHES PA NAS, ‘DI SKAD CES SMRAS SO ZHES PA STE

 

The first, the questioning, goes from the words “And then, by the power of the Enlightened One, the junior monk named Shariputra…” up to “…lord of power.”

 

 

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[88]

’GO’I DE NAS ZHES PA NI MTSAMS SBYAR BA STE DUS KYI KHYAD PAR RO,,

 

The words “and then” at the beginning of the sentence indicate a detail of timing, and serve as a segue to what comes next.

 

 

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[89]

SANGS RGYAS KYI MTHUS ZHES PA NI ‘DIR SH’A RI’I BUS DRI BA MDZAD PA ‘DI RANG STOBS TZAM MIN GYI, SANGS RGYAS KYI MTHUS ZHUS PA STE RGYU’I KHYAD PAR RO,,

 

The words “by the power of the Enlightened One” provide a detail of causation. That is, Shariputra is not asking the question on his own power; rather, it is happening by the power of the Enlightened One.

 

 

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[90]

TSE DANG LDAN PA NI SPYIR TSE MA DOR BA ZHIG LA BYED KYANG, ‘DIR BSNGAGS PA’AM ZHES SA’I KHYAD PAR RO,,

 

The word for “junior monk” here literally means “the one with time, or life.” And so in general the words refer to someone who has yet to lose their life. Here though it is an expression of extolment, or an honorific way of referring to an ordained person.[38]

 

 

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[91]

MA SH’A RI KA’I BU YIN PAS NA SH’A RI’I BU STE, DRI BA PO’I GANG ZAG GI KHYAD PAR RO,,

 

The name of this monk here, Shariputra, literally means “son of Shari,” and refers to the fact that his mother’s name was Sharika.[39] This name supplies the detail of who it was that asked the question.

 

 

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[92]

‘DI DNGOS PO LA NYAN THOS MTSAN NYID PA MA YIN TE, SGRON GSAL LAS SGRIB SEL GYI SPRUL BAR {%PAR} YIN PAR BSHAD PAS SO,,

 

In reality, Shariputra was not actually a listener. For it is explained in the Lamp of Illumination that he was an emanation of Obstacle Destroyer.[40]

 

 

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[93]

BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ZHES SOGS NI SNGAR LTAR YIN LA,

 

The words “great warrior” and so on are to be understood as before.

 

 

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[94]

‘DI SKAD CES SMRAS SO ZHES PA NI ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR BA LTAR BRJOD PA’I DON NO,,

 

The expression “turned and asked this question” means the Shariputra spoke about what we are about to explain.

 

 

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[C9]

Yaḥ kaścit kulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryām cartu kāmas tena katham śikṣitavyam.

 

若有善男子善女人。欲学甚深般若波罗蜜多行。云何修行。

 

RIGS KYI BU’AM, RIGS KYI BU MO GANG LA LA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA SPYAD PAR ‘DOD PA DES JI LTAR BSLAB PAR BYA,

 

If any son or daughter of noble family hoped to follow the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom, what would they have to do?

 

 

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[96]

DE NAS DRI BA DNGOS NI, RIGS KYI BU, GANG LA LA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA, ZHES PA NAS, JI LTAR BSLAB PAR BYA, ZHES DRIS PA STE,

 

Next comes the actual question, where Shariptura makes the inquiry which goes from “If any son or daughter…” up to “…what would they have to do?”

 

 

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[97]

DE LA RIGS KYI BU ZHES PA NI CHOS SAM BYANG CHUB KYI RIGS SU SKYES PA STE, MKHAS PA KHA CIG SKABS ‘DIR RIGS KYI BU MO ZHES ‘BYUNG BA NI MA DAG CES BZHED PA LTAR NA, RIGS KYI BU NI SPYAN RAS GZIGS LA BSNYAGS DGOS LA,

 

The phrase “son of noble family” here refers to someone who is born into the family of the Dharma, or into the family of bodhisattvas—the spiritual warriors. Some scholars take the position that the expression “daughter of noble family” here is a corruption of the original reading; and so from their point of view, “son of noble family” here would have to come down to Loving Eyes.

 

 

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[98]

KHA CIG RGYA DPE LA ‘DIR RIGS KYI BU MO ZHES ‘DUG CES GSUNG BA LTAR NA SHER PHYIN ‘DI LA BSLAB PAR ‘DOD PA’I SKYES PA DANG BUD MED SPYI LA SBYOR DGOS SO,,

 

Others say that the expression “daughter of noble family” can be found in the Chinese version of the sutra;[41] according to them, “son or daughter of noble family” would have to apply to any general male or female who desired to train themselves in the perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[99]

CI LTAR YANG, GANG LA LA NI SKYES PA’AM BUD MED [f. 6a] GANG LA LA ZHES PA’AM RIGS KYI BU’AM BU MO GANG LA LA ZHES SBYAR KYANG RUNG NGO,,

 

Regardless, it would seem appropriate to say that the specific use of the word “any” here is a reference to any man or woman; that is, to any son or daughter of this noble family.

 

 

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[100]

SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA LA BRTZON PAS SPYAD PA STE BSGRUB PAR ‘DOD PA’I GANG ZAG DES TSOGS SBYOR DANG MTHONG SGOM GYI LAM RNAMS SU TSUL JI LTAR BSLAB PAR BYA ZHES DRIS SO,,

 

The question being asked here in the sutra boils down to:

 

Suppose a person hoped to follow—that is, hoped to devote themselves to accomplishing—the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom. What would they have to do; how should they practice the paths of accumulation and preparation, and the paths of seeing and habituation?[42]

 

 

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[101]

SH’A RI’I BUS DE SKAD CES SMRAS PA DANG ZHES BA {%PA} NI ZHUS ZIN PA’I MTSAMS SBYAR RO,,

 

When the sutra says “Shariputra asked this question,” followed by “this then,” what it’s saying is that the question was completed, and that we are moving on to the answer.

 

 

 

The answer

 

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[102]

GNYIS PA LA BZHI, BSLAB TSUL SO SOR PHYE STE BSTAN PA, SNGAGS TSIG GIS BSDUS NAS BSTAN PA, MDOR BSDUS TE BSLAB PAR GDAMS PA, RJES SU YI RANG MDZAD PA’O,,

 

This brings us to our second step from above: the answering of the question. This comes in four sections: individual instructions for the practice of these paths; a summary of these instructions contained in the words of the mantra; summary advice to practice; and a celebration.

 

 

 

Practicing the paths

 

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[103]

DANG PO LA BZHI, TSOGS LAM DANG SBYOR LAM GNYIS KYI SKABS SU SHER PHYIN LA SLOB TSUL, MTHONG LAM DU SLOB TSUL, SGOM LAM DU SLOB TSUL, MI SLOB PA’I SANGS RGYAS THAMS CAD KYANG SHER PHYIN LA BRTEN NAS THOB TSUL LO,,

 

The first of these has four parts of its own: how we practice the perfection of wisdom while we are on the path of collection and the path of preparation; how we practice it at the path of seeing; how we practice it at the path of habituation; and how each and every Enlightened Being—each person at the stage of no more learning—has attained their goals by relying upon this same perfection of wisdom.

 

 

 

The paths of collection & preparation

 

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[104]

DANG PO LA GNYIS, MTSAMS SBYAR DANG, SLOB TSUL DNGOS SO,,

 

The first of these we cover by explaining the transition, and then giving the actual instructions of how to practice these two paths.

 

 

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[C10]

Evamukta Āryāvalokiteśvaro bodhisattvo mahāsattva āyuṣmantam Śāriputram etadavocat.

 

Yaḥ kaścicChāriputra kulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryām cartu kāmas tenaivam vyavalokayitavyam.

 

尔时观世音自在大菩萨告青年比丘舍利子言。

 

若善男子及善女人。欲修行甚深般若波罗蜜多者。彼应如是观察。

 

DE SKAD CES SMRAS PA DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG GIS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RI’I BU LA ‘DI SKAD CES SMRAS SO,,

 

SH’A RI’I BU, RIGS KYI BU’AM, RIGS KYI BU MO GANG LA LA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA SPYAD PAR ‘DOD PA DES ‘DI LTAR RNAM PAR BLTA BAR BYA STE,

 

This then is the answer that the lord of power, the realized one, the great warrior Loving Eyes gave to the junior monk named Shariputra:

                                                         

Here, Shariputra, is what any son or daughter of noble family should see who hopes to follow the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[106]

DANG PO NI, DE LTAR ZHUS PA’I LAN DU, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS, ZHES PA NAS, SMRAS SO ZHES PA’I BAR TE DE NAS SH’A RI’I BU ZHES BOS NAS, RIGS KYI BU’AM RIGS KYI BU {%BU MO} GANG LA LA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA, ZHES PA NAS, ‘DI LTAR RNAM PAR BLTA BAR BYA STE ZHES PA NI MTSAMS SBYAR BA’O,,

 

Here is the transition. It is accomplished as the answer to the question begins—that is, it starts with the part from “This then is the answer that the lord of power…” up to “…gave to the junior monk named Shariputra.” And then it crosses over to the section where Shariputra is addressed (“Here, Shariputra…”); then leads off with “what any son or daughter of noble family should see”; and continues through “…deep practice of the perfection of wisdom.”

 

 

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[107]

GZHAN SLA ZHING ‘DI LTAR NI ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR BA’I SLOB TSUL ‘DI LTAR BYA ZHES PA’I DON NO,,

 

The wording here is easily understood; the point is to say, “They should undertake their practice as I am about to explain that practice to you.”

 

 

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[108]

KHA CIG ‘DI TSOGS SBYOR GNYIS LA SLOB TSUL TZAM DANG SBYAR YANG ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR BA’I NYAMS LEN THAMS CAD LA SLOB TSUL DANG SBYOR RGYU YIN NO,,

 

Some have said that this would apply only to how we are to practice the paths of accumulation and preparation; but actually it should be applied to how to undertake all the practices that are going to be covered.

 

 

 

No thing has any nature of its own

 

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[109]

GNYIS PA LA GNYIS, MDOR BSTAN PA DANG, PHYE STE BSHAD PA’O,,

 

Which brings us to the instructions on practicing these two paths. We proceed with a brief introduction followed by separate instructions.

 

 

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[C11]

Pañca skandhās tāṃśca svabhāvaśūnyān samanupaśyati sma.

 

舍利子。应观五蕴性空。

 

PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG KYANG NGO BO NYID KYIS STONG PAR RNAM PAR RJES SU BLTA’O,,

 

See first all five heaps—all five parts to a person—as being empty of any essence of their own.

 

 

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[111]

DANG PO NI, PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG KYANG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PAR RNAM PAR YANG DAG PAR RJES SU BLTA’O, ,ZHES PA STE,

 

The first of these is expressed in the words, “See first purely all five heaps—all five parts to a person—as being empty of any essence of their own.”[43]

 

 

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[112]

PHUNG PO LNGA LA SOGS PA’I CHOS THAMS CAD DON DAM DPYOD BYED KYI RIGS PAS BTAGS DON MA BTZAL [f. 6b] PAR THA SNYAD DU ‘JOG NAS MOD,

 

Now it is admittedly the case that all the things there are in the world—the five parts to a person and so on—are established in a nominal way, without the kind of investigation where we use reasoning that deals with the ultimate nature of things to seek out what it is that we have created with our projections.[44]

 

 

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[113]

BTAGS DON BTZAL NA RIG SHES KYI DPYAD BZOD DU MA GRUB PAS, GZUGS SOGS KYI PHUNG PO RE RER MA ZAD, PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG THAMS CAD KYANG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PAR RNAM PAR YANG DAG PAR TE PHYIN CI MA LOG PAR GNAS TSUL JI LTA BA BZHIN RJES SU BLTA BAR BYA’O ZHES STONG NYID ZAB MO LA BLTA TSUL MDOR BSDUS TE BSTAN PA YIN LA,

 

When we do seek out the creation of our projections, though, it cannot bear up under the examination of our logical mind. As such, we should see first that all five heapsall five parts to a person, and not just each of them, such as the heap of form, individually—are empty of any nature of their own. When we say “see” here what we mean is that we should see this thing purely: meaning unmistakenly, just as it really is. The lines here constitute a brief summary of how it is that we should come to see profound emptiness.

 

 

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[114]

DE YANG TSOGS SBYOR GYI GNAS SKABS SU DON SPYI’I TSUL GYIS RTOGS PA DANG, MTHONG LAM NAS MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PA DANG, SGOM LAM NAS MNGON SUM DU RTOGS ZIN GOMS PA LHUR LEN GYI TSUL DU SGOM PAR BYED DGOS PAR BSTAN PA’O,,

 

All this is moreover indicating that—at the point when we are on the paths of accumulation and preparation—we must perceive emptiness using only mental archetypes. And then on the path of seeing, we perceive it directly. After that, on the path of habituation, we meditate on what we perceived directly earlier, in a way in which we practice or habituate ourselves to it.

 

 

 

The four statements of the profound

 

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[115]

GNYIS PA LA GNYIS, GZUGS PHUNG GI STENG DU ZAB MO BZHI SBYOR BSTAN PA DANG, RIGS PA DE PHUNG PO GZHAN BZHI LA BSGRE BAR BSTAN PA’O,,

 

Here then are the separate instructions, in two separate steps. First we’ll give a presentation using what we call the “four statements of the profound,” as they relate to the heap of physical form. After that, we’ll apply the same reasoning, in a parallel way, to the other four heaps.

 

 

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[C12]

Rūpam śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpam. Rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śūnyatāyā na pṛthagrūpam. Yadrūpam sā śūnyatā yā śūnyatā tadrūpam.

 

色不异空。空不异色。色即是空。空即是色。

 

GZUGS STONG PA’O, ,STONG PA NYID GZUGS SO, ,GZUGS LAS STONG PA [f. 260a] NYID GZHAN MA YIN, STONG PA NYID LAS GZUGS GZHAN MA YIN NO,,

 

Your body is empty; emptiness is your body. Emptiness is nothing but your body, and your body is nothing but emptiness.

 

 

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[117]

DANG PO NI, GZUGS PHUNG LTA BU RANG BZHIN MED PAR BLTA TSUL JI LTAR BYA ZHE NA,

Here is the first. “Just how is it,” one may ask, “that something like the heap of form—that is, our body—lacks any nature of its own?”

 

 

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[118]

GZUGS STONG PA’O, ,STONG PA NYID GZUGS SO, ,GZUGS LAS STONG PA NYID GZHAN MA YIN, STONG PA NYID LAS KYANG GZUGS GZHAN MA YIN NO ZHES PA STE,

 

The answer is found in the next lines of the sutra: “Your body is empty; emptiness is your body. Emptiness is nothing but your body, and your body is nothing but emptiness.”

 

 

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[119]

GANG ZAG GI GZUGS PHUNG NI MA BRTAGS MA DPYAD PA’I THA SNYAN {%SNYAD} PA’I SHES NGOR SNANG BA TZAM MA GTOGS, DON DAM DPYOD BYED KYI RIGS PAS RNAM PAR BRTAGS SHING DPYAD PA NA BTAGS DON MI RNYED PAS RANG NGOS NAS SAM RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PAS STONG PA’O,,

 

A person’s physical body is something that exists only by appearing to the mind as it operates in a nominal mode, without examining or exploring what’s really there. And when we do undertake an examination or exploration using logic which operates in the realm of the ultimate, we lose the thing that we were projecting. And then we can say that this thing is empty of coming from its own side: that it is empty of existing through any nature of its own.

 

 

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[120]

DPER NA, CHU NANG GI ZLA BA DANG ME LONG GI GZUGS BRNYAN DANG SMIG RGYU’I CHU DANG RMI LAM GYI MI DANG SGYU MA’I RTA GLANG SOGS THA SNYAD PA’I SHES NGOR SNANG BA TZAM MA GTOGS, SNANG TZAM NYID NAS ZLA BA SOGS SU MA GRUB PA BZHIN NO,,

 

This is like, for example, the way in which other things exist only as they appear to a nominal state of mind: things like a moon reflected in the water; or someone’s reflection in a mirror; or a mirage of water appearing in a desert; people we meet in a dream; or an illusory horse or elephant conjured up by a magician. These exist only in appearance; they do not exist as the moon itself, and so on.

 

 

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[121]

BTAGS DON ‘TSOL TSUL NI ‘OG TU ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR RO,,

 

What it means when we say we “go looking for the thing we projected” is something we’ll cover later on in the text.[45]

 

 

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[122]

GAL TE RANG BZHIN GYIS MA GRUB NA MED PAR MI ‘GYUR RAM SNYAM NA,

 

Now you might think to yourself:

 

When you say that something “cannot exist through any nature of its own,” are you saying that it cannot exist at all?

 

 

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[123]

DER MI ‘GYUR BA NI DE LTAR RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA NYID YIN BZHIN DU THA SNYAD TZAM DU GZUGS SU SNANG NGO,,

 

No, that’s not the case. At the same time that form is empty this way of any nature of its own, it also appears—although only nominally—as form, as your body.

 

 

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[124]

DPER NA, ZLA BA’I GZUGS BRNYAN NI ZLA BA YIN PAR MA GRUB KYANG ZLA BAR SNANG BA TZAM MI ‘GAL BA LTAR RO,,

 

It is, for example, no contradiction that a reflection of the moon on the surface of a lake can simply appear as though it were the moon, even though it is not in fact the moon itself.

 

 

 

The moon on a lake

 

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[125]

‘O NA, ZLA BA’I GZUGS BRNYAN ZLA BAR MA GRUB PA DE BZHIN DU, GZUGS NYID KYANG GZUGS [f. 7a] SUM {%SU MA} GRUB PA YIN NAM, GZHAN DU DE’I DPER JI LTAR RIGS ZHE NA,

 

One may then ask this question:

 

And so a reflection of the moon is not the moon. Are you saying that, in the same way, form itself is not form? Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense to use this as an example for your point.

 

 

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[126]

‘DI LTA BU NI DOGS PA’I GNAS CHEN PO YIN PAS RGYAS PAR BSHAD DGOS PA YIN YANG, ‘DIR MANG DU DOGS PAS RJE YAB SRAS KYI GZHUNG CHE BA DAG LAS SHES PAR BYA DGOS LA,

 

This issue could indeed be major source of doubt, and deserves a detailed treatment. Nonetheless, I feel that if I did so here it would go on too long for the scope of the current work. As such, I would advise my readers to study this question as it is covered in the major treatises of the Lord father and sons.[46]

 

 

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[127]

CUNG ZAD BRJOD NA, DPE DON DE LTAR SBYOR BA NI GZUGS BRNYAN BYAD BZHIN DU MA GRUB PA DE BZHIN DU, GZUGS NI GZUGS SU RANG BZHIN GYIS MA GRUB CES GO BAR BYED PA YIN ZHING,

 

Perhaps though I could say just a bit about it here. Let’s look at how the metaphor, and what it refers to, relate to one another. The reflection of a thing is not the thing being reflected itself; just so, what the metaphor is meant to help us understand is that physical form is not something which exists, through any nature of its own, as physical form.

 

 

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[128]

DE YANG ME LONG GI GZUGS BRNYAN LTA BU NI ‘JIG RTEN PA’I RGAN PO BRDA BYANG RNAMS KYIS BYAD BZHIN DU MA GRUB PAR RTOGS NUS PAS, GZUGS BRNYAN DE ‘JIG RTEN NA BRDZUN PAR GRAGS LA,

 

Now something like a reflection in the mirror is something that even old fogies in the everyday world—anybody who knows what the words “reflection in the mirror” mean—is capable of understanding is not the thing itself: the thing which is being reflected in the mirror. As such, just normal people in the world might say that “a reflection is false: not what it appears to be.”

 

 

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[129]

GZUGS RANG BZHIN GYIS MA GRUB KYANG DER MA GRUB PAR ‘JIG RTEN RANG GA BAS RTOGS MI NUS PAS, GZUGS DE NI ‘JIG RTEN RANG GA BA’I SHES NGOR BDEN PAR SNANG ZHING DE’I NGOR BDEN YANG,

 

The fact that physical form does not exist through any nature of its own though is not something that your average person in the world would be able to figure out on their own. As such, physical form is something which appears to exist—at least, to the mind of your average person—as something that exists really; we can even say that, to their perceptions, is does exist really.

 

 

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[130]

DBU MA’I RIGS PAS SNANG BA LTAR MA GRUB PAR RTOGS NUS PAS DBU MA PA LA GRAGS PA’I BRDZUN PA YIN NO,,

 

Nonetheless, it is possible—by using the reasoning presented by the middle way—to come to a realization that this same physical form cannot in fact exist the way it seems to exist. And thus it would be unreal, in the sense that this word is understood by followers of the middle way.[47]

 

 

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[131]

DE’I PHYIR ‘JIG RTEN NA GRAGS PA’I BRDZUN PA ZHIG DPER BZUNG NAS, DE LA BRDZUN PAR MA GRAGS PA’I GZUGS SOGS RANG GI NGO BOS GRUB PAR SNANG YANG, DER MA RUB PAR {%RUNG BAR} SGRUB PAR BYED PA YIN NO,,

 

Thus we have started here with the metaphor of something which is understood, by average people of the world, to be unreal. And then we move on to something which is not commonly thought, by these same people, to be unreal: physical form and the rest. And what we do is to prove that—even though these things appear to exist through some essence of their own—it would be wrong to say that they actually did.

 

 

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[132]

DES NA GZUGS BRNYAN BYAD BZHIN DU MA GRUB KYANG GZUGS BRNYAN DU GRUB PA LTAR, GZUGS RANG BZHIN GYIS MA GRUB KYANG GZUGS SU GRUB PAR THA SNYAD PA’I TSAD MAS ‘JOG NUS TE, DE ‘DRA BA GZHAN LA’ANG SBYAR RO,,

 

A reflection in a mirror is not the thing which is being reflected in the mirror—but it is a reflection. In the same way, we can say that—even though physical form does not exist through any nature of its own—it can be established by an accurate, nominal type of perception as being physical form. And this same idea can be applied to everything else as well.

 

 

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[133]

GAL TE GZUGS NI KUN RDZOB PA’I NGO BO ‘DUS BYAS YIN LA, GZUGS RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA NI DON DAM ‘DUS MA BYAS YIN PAS DE GNYIS NGO BO THA DAD DU ‘GYUR RO SNYAM NA

 

The following question might then come to mind:

 

The apparent nature of physical form is a produced thing; whereas the fact that this same form cannot exist through any nature of its own is an unproduced thing. Doesn’t this then mean that these two would have to be essentially different?

 

 

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[134]

DER MI ‘GYUR BA NI, GZUGS PHUNG LAS DE’I RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID NGO BO GZHAN TE NGO BO THA DAD PA MA YIN TE, NGO BO GCIG YIN NO ZHES PA’O,,

 

That though is not the case. What’s being said here is that the fact that the heap of physical form—meaning the body—is empty of any nature of its own is, essentially, nothing but (meaning essentially separate from) your body. That is, to be one is to be, essentially, the other.

 

 

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[135]

DPER NA GZUGS BRNYAN ZLA BAR SNANG BA DANG DE ZLA BAR MA GRUB PA GNYIS [f. 7b] NGO BO GCIG CING THA DAD MA YIN PA LTAR RO,,

 

For example, the fact that the reflection of the moon on a lake is appearing as though it were the moon itself is essentially the same as the reflection’s not actually being the moon; essentially, they are no different things.

 

 

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[136]

DE YANG GZUGS BRNYAN ZLA BAR SNANG BA DANG GZUGS BRNYAN ZLA BAR MA GRUB PA GNYIS GZHI GCIG LA DUS GCIG TU TSOGS PA ‘JIG RTEN PA’I THA SNYAD PA’I TSAD MAS NGES PA MNGON SUM GYIS GRUB PA YIN LA,

 

Moreover, the fact that the reflection appears to be the moon and the fact that it is not actually the moon are two things which can be established directly, through the perceptions of a nominal form of accurate perception in the mind of your average person, to exist in tandem—and at the same moment—with regard to a single shared object.

 

 

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[137]

GZUGS DANG DE’I RANG BZHIN MED PA GNYIS NGO BO GCIG PA DE ‘JIG RTEN RANG GA BAS MI NGES KYANG DBU MA’I RIGS PA SHES PAS DES NUS SO,,

 

Now the fact that physical form and its lack of having any self-nature are essentially the same is not something that your normal person of the world would be able to ascertain on their own. It is though something that a person who understood the reasoning of the middle way would be able to grasp.

 

 

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[138]

DE LTAR NA GZUGS LAS DE’I RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID NGO BO GZHAN MA YIN PAR MA ZAD, GZUGS KYI RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID LAS KYANG GZUGS NGO BO GZHAN TE NGO BO THA DAD MA YIN NO,,

 

Not only is it not the case that the fact that physical form is empty of having any nature of its own is essentially different from the physical form itself; neither is it the case that physical form, your body, is itself essentially different from the fact that this form is empty of any nature of its own—that is, your body is nothing but emptiness.

 

 

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[139]

DPER NA GZUGS BRNYAN BYAD BZHIN GYIS STONG PA LAS GZUGS BRNYAN NGO BO THA DAD DU MED PA BZHIN NO,,

 

It’s like, for example, how the reflection of something in a mirror is not essentially separate from the fact that this reflection is empty of actually being the thing which is reflected in the mirror.

 

 

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[140]

MA DOR {%MDOR} NA GZUGS SOGS RNAMS RANG GI RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID DNGOS PO GCIG LA LDOG PA THA DAD TZAM YIN TE, DPER NA, BYAS PA DANG DE’I MI RTAG DANG NGO BO GCIG LA LDOG PA THA DAD PA BZHIN NO,,

 

To sum then, things like physical form—and the fact that they are empty of having any nature of their own—are really just separate manifestations of the very same thing. They are, for example, similar to how made things, and the fact that these things are in a state of constant change, are actually just separate manifestations of the same thing as well.

 

 

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[141]

DE LTAR YANG, MGON PO KLU SGURB {%SGRUB} KYIS BYANG CHUB SEMS ‘GREL LAS,

,KUN RDZOB LAS NI THA DAD PAR,

,DE NYID DMIGS PA MA YIN TE,

,KUN RDZOB STONG PA NYID DU BSHAD,

,STONG NYID KHO NA KUN RDZOB YIN,

,MED NA MI ‘BYUNG NGES PA’I PHYIR,

,BYAS DANG MI RTAG JI BZHIN NO,,

ZHES GSUNGS SO,,

 

Our protector, Nagarjuna, has expressed this as follows in his Commentary on the Wish for Enlightenment:

 

Suchness is not something

You can ever see

Separate from the deceptive,

For deceptive things

Have been described

As nothing other than emptiness.

 

If you cancel one of the two,

The other always disappears—

Just the same as things that are made

And things that constantly change.[48]

 

 

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[142]

GZUGS SOGS DANG DE RNAMS KYI RANG BZHIN MED PA GNYIS GCIG DANG NGO BO THA DAD LA, GNOD BYED BZHI DGONGS ‘GREL LAS GSUNGS KYANG, BSDUN {%BSDU NA} GZUGS DANG DE’I RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA GNYIS NGO BO GCIG YIN KYANG GTAN NAS GCIG MA YIN TE, GZUGS KUN RDZOB DANG DE’I RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA NI DON DAM BDEN PA YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Things like physical form and their lack of any self-nature, these two, are separate manifestations of the same thing; but four problems relating to this idea have been stated in the sutra called What I Really Meant.[49] We may summarize these four by saying that—even though physical form and the fact that it is empty of any nature of its own, these two things, are essentially the same—that is not at all to say that they are the same thing. That is, physical form is something that belongs to deceptive reality; while the fact that this form is empty of having any nature of its own belongs to ultimate reality.

 

 

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[143]

DE GNYIS NGO BO THA DAD MA YIN TE, YIN NAM {%NA MA} ‘BREL BAS GZUGS RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA MA YIN PAR THAL BAR ‘GYUR BA’I PHYIR,

 

But neither is it true to say that these two are essentially separate from one another; for if they were, then they would be unrelated, and in that case physical form would no longer be empty of any nature of its own.

 

 

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[144]

DE’I TSUL YANG CHOS THAMS CAD RTEN ‘BREL YIN PAS RTEN ‘BREL MA YIN PA’I CHOS MED LA, DE MED PAS RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA MA YIN PA’I CHOS KYANG MED DE, RTEN ‘BREL BSTOD PA LAS,

 

The way this works is that—since all things in the universe exist in dependence—then there is no object which does not exist in dependence. And since that is the case, then neither can there exist anything in the universe which is not empty of having any nature of its own. As the Praise for Dependence puts it,

 

 

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[145]

,DE PHYIR BRTEN [f. 8a] NAS ‘BYUNG BA LA,

,MA GTOGS CHOS ‘GA’ YOD MIN PAS,

,RANG BZHIN GYIS NI STONG PA LA,

,MA GTOGS CHOS ‘GA’ MED BAR {%PAR} GSUNGS,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR,

 

Thus it was that you said

That there exists nothing

In the entire universe

Except things which exist

In dependence;

 

And that therefore

There exists nothing

Except things which are empty

Of any nature of their own.[50]

 

 

 

The other four as well

 

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[146]

GNYIS PA NI,

 

This brings us to the second step from above: applying this same reasoning, in a parallel way, to the other four heaps.

 

 

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[C13]

Evam vedanā sañjñā saṃskāra vijñānāni ca śūnyatā.

 

受想行识。亦复如是。

 

DE BZHIN DU TSOR BA DANG, ‘DU SHES DANG, ‘DU BYED RNAMS DANG, RNAM PAR SHES PA RNAMS STONG PA’O,,

 

The same is true of your feelings, and your ability to discriminate between things, and the other factors that make you up, and all the different kinds of awareness that you possess: all of them are empty.

 

 

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[148]

DE BZHIN DU TSOR BA DANG, ‘DU SHES RANG, ‘DU BYED DANG, RNAM PAR SHES PA RNAMS STONG PA’O, ,ZHES PA STE, GZUGS PHUNG LA BSHAD PA’I DPE DON DE BZHIN DU, TSOR BA SOGS BZHI PO RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PA STONG PA’O,,

 

The corresponding sutra lines here go: The same is true of your feelings, and your ability to discriminate between things, and the other factors that make you up, and all the different kinds of awareness that you possess: all of them are empty.” What these are saying is that the other four heaps—feelings and the rest—are empty of existing through any nature of their own; that is, we can take the same metaphor, and its meaning, from the explanation of the heap of the body, physical form, and apply it to these four.

 

 

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[149]

TSOR BA SOGS BZHI RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG YANG THA SNYAD DU TSOR BA SOGS BZHI PO DER SNANG NGO,,

 

And even though feelings and the other three are empty of any nature of their own, nominally speaking the four do appear as feelings and the rest.

 

 

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[150]

TSOR BA SOGS BZHI LAS DE BZHI’I RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA NYID NGO BO GZHAN MA YIN DE BZHI’I RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID LAS TSOR SOGS BZHI PO DE NGO BO GZHAN NAM NGO BO THA DAD MA YIN TE NGO BO GCIG GO ZHES SBYOR RGYU YIN NO,,

 

Apply then the same pattern as before. That is, the fact that these four are empty of any nature of their own is not something which is essentially different from the four of feelings and the rest. Nor are the four of feelings and the rest essentially different, or separate, from the fact that these same four are empty of any nature of their own—which is to say, these things are essentially one.

 

 

 

The path of seeing

 

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[151]

GNYIS PA MTHONG LAM LA SLOB TSUL NI,

 

This brings us to the second part from above: how we practice the perfection of wisdom at the path of seeing.

 

 

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[C14]

Evam Śāriputra sarvadharmāḥ śūnyatālakṣaṇā anutpannā aniruddhā amalā avimalā anūnā asampūrṇāḥ.

 

舍利子。诸法即空。无有自性。不生不灭。不垢不净。不增不减。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA, CHOS THAMS CAD STONG PA NYID DE, MTSAN NYID MED PA, MA SKYES PA, MA ‘GAG PA, DRI MA MED PA, DRI MA DANG BRAL BA MED PA, BRI BA MED PA ,GANG BA MED PA’O,,

 

And thus we can say, Shariputra, that every existing thing is emptiness. Nothing has any characteristic of its own. Nothing ever begins. Nothing ever ends. Nothing is ever impure. Nothing ever becomes pure. Nothing ever gets less, and nothing ever becomes more.

 

 

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[153]

SH’A RI’I BU DE LTA BAS NA CHOS THAMS CAD STONG PA NYID DE, MTSAN NYID MED PA, MA SKYES PA, MA ‘GA’ {%’GAG} PA, DRI MA MED PA, DRI MA DANG BRAL BA MED PA, BRI BA MED PA, GANG BA MED PA’O ZHES PA STE, ZAB MO KHYAD PAR BRGYAD DANG LDAN PAR BSTAN TO,,

 

This section is meant to convey how things possess a profound nature with eight qualities: “And thus we can say, Shariputra, that every existing thing is emptiness. Nothing has any characteristic of its own. Nothing ever begins. Nothing ever ends. Nothing is ever impure. Nothing ever becomes pure. Nothing ever gets less, and nothing ever becomes more.”

 

 

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[154]

DE YANG SH’A RI’I BU ZHES BOS NAS, SNGAR PHUNG PO LNGA RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PAR BSHAD PA DE LTAR SKYE MCHED BCU GNYIS DANG, KHAMS BCO BRGYAD KYI CHOS THAMS CAD KYANG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA NYID DE DE YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG YANG CHOS DE RNAMS SU SNANG NGO,,

 

Now here, Shariputra is again being called by name; and again we are referring to the fact that things are empty of any nature of their own. That is, we are being told that every existing thing in the universe—which includes the twelve doors of sense, and the eighteen categories[51]is empty too of any nature of their own. And even though they are thus devoid of any self-nature, nonetheless they appear to us as each separate thing.

 

 

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[155]

CHOS DE RNAMS LAS DE’I RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID NGO BO GZHAN MA YIN, DE RNAMS KYI RANG BZHIN STONG PA NYID LAS CHOS DE RNAMS NGO BO GZHAN MA YIN NO ZHES SBYAR BAR BYA STE, DES RNAM PAR THAR PA’I SGO STONG PA NYID BSTAN TO,,

 

Learn to apply the same pattern here: that is, the fact that each of these things is empty of any nature of its own is not something which is essentially separate from the things themselves. And neither are these things something which is essentially separate from the fact that they are empty of any nature of their own. All this is presenting the door to freedom called “emptiness itself.”[52]

 

 

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[156]

CHOS THAMS CAD RANG GI MTSAN NYID GZUGS SU RUNG BA LA SOGS PA DANG, SPYI’I MTSAN NYID MI RTAG PA DANG BDAG MED PA LA SOGS PA RNAMS KYANG RANG GI MTSAN NYID KYIS GRUB PA MED PA DANG,

 

Further, nothing in the universe has any characteristic of its own which defines it as itself—a characteristic like being something we can point to as being physical form,[53] and which at the same time exists by definition. Nor does anything possess any more general characteristic—such as being a changing thing, or something with no self-nature—which could exist by definition.

 

 

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[157]

GZUGS SOGS ‘DUS BYAS KYI CHOS RNAMS THA SNYAD TZAM DU SKYE LANG {%YANG} RANG BZHIN GYIS MA SKYES PA DANG,

All produced entities, such as physical form, do begin—although only in a nominal way. But nothing ever begins through some nature of its own.

 

 

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[158]

DE RNAMS [f. 8b] SKYES MTHAR ‘GAG PA YAR {%YANG} THA SNYAD TZAM DU YIN GYI RANG BZHIN GYIS MA ‘GAGS PA DANG,

 

And when these things, at the end of their beginning, come to an end, that too occurs only in a nominal way. But nothing ever ends through some nature of its own.

 

 

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[159]

THAR ‘DOD KYI SKYES BU RNAMS KYI SPANG BYA’I DRI MA ‘KHOR BA RGYU DANG BCAS PA RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA YIN LA,

Nothing among all the things that those who seek for freedom must rid themselves of—nothing which is impure, such as the cycle of pain, and all the things which trigger it—ever exists through any nature of its own.

 

 

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[160]

BLANG BYA DRI MA DANG BRAL BA MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I THAR PA YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS MED DO ZHES PAS RNAM PAR THAR PA’I SGO MTSAN MA MED PA BSTAN TO,,

 

And nothing among all the things we should take up—nothing which becomes pure, the freedom of nirvana—ever exists through any nature of its own either.[54] These points then are presenting the second door to freedom, where “nothing has any quality.”

 

 

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[161]

KUN NAS NYON MONGS PA’I PHYOGS BRI BA STE ZAD PAR ‘GYUR BA YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA DANG,

 

Nothing ever gets less, either—meaning that as the negative side of things comes to a finish, it never does so through any nature of its own.

 

 

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[162]

RNAM PAR BYANG BA’I PHYOGS GANG BA STE RDZOGS PAR ‘GYUR BA ‘AM GO {%GONG} ‘PHEL DU ‘GRO BA YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA’O ZHES PAS RNAM PAR THAR PA’I SGO SMON MED BSTAN PAR BZHED DO,,

 

And nothing ever becomes more; which is to say that—as the pure side of things comes to completion in us, or simply increases there—that doesn’t happen through any nature of its own either. These points present the third door to freedom: where there are “no wishes for the future.”

 

 

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[163]

DE YANG YUM GYI MDO LAS, GZUGS NI GANG NAS KYANG MA ‘ONGS, GANG DU YANG MI ‘GRO, GANG YANG GNAS PAR ‘GYUR BA MED DO, ,ZHES SOGS DANG,

 

As the Mother Sutras put it,

 

Physical things

Don’t come from anywhere;

They aren’t going anywhere;

And never stay anywhere.[55]

 

 

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[164]

‘GRES MOS ZHUS PA LAS, SRING MO SKYE BA GANG NAS KYANG MA ‘ONGS,

 

And as Lord Buddha also says in The Sutra Requested by the Elder Woman, “O sister, nothing starts from anywhere.”[56]

 

 

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[165]

ZHES SOGS MANG DU GSUNGS PA LTAR TE, ‘DI LA SPYIR CHOS THAMS CAD RANG BZHIN GYIS MED TSUL SHES NA, BYE BRAG TU ‘DUS BYAS KYIS {%KYI} CHOS THAMS CAD DANG POR RANG BZHIN GYIS MA SKYES PA’I TSUL SHES LA,

 

Such references are numerous. The point is that—if we come to understand how, in general, nothing in the universe exists through any nature of its own—then we can come to understand how, more specifically, none of those things which are produced by causes and conditions can ever, at the beginning of the process, ever start through any nature of their own.

 

 

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[166]

RANG BZHIN GYIS MA SKYES PA’I TSUL SHES NA BAR DU RANG BZHIN GYIS MI GNAS PA DANG MTHAR RANG BZHIN GYIS MI ‘GAGS PA SOGS KYANG SHES NUS PAS BLANG DOR GYI RNAM GZHAG THAMS CAD THA SNYAD TZAM MA GTOGS, DON DAM PAR MED PA’I TSUL RNAMS SHES PAR NUS SO,,

 

Once we understand how things cannot start though any nature of their own, then we come to understand how—in the middle of the process—they cannot remain through any nature of their own; and how, at the end of it, they cannot stop through any nature of their own, and so on. And then we are able to comprehend how the entire structure of things we need to take up and things we need to give up all exists only nominally: that in an ultimate way there is nothing there.

 

 

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[167]

RANG BZHIN GYIS MI SKYE BA’I RGYU MTSAN GYI GTZO BO YANG RGYU RKYEN LA BRTEN NAS SKYE BA’I DBANG GIS YIN TE, MA DROS PAS ZHUS PA’I MDO LAS, GANG ZHIG RKYEN LAS SKYES PA DE MA SKYES, ,ZHES DANG,

 

And the main reason that we can say that things never start through any nature of their own comes down to the fact that they can only start through dependence upon their various causes and conditions. As the Sutra Requested by Anavatapta says it,

 

Anything that starts

From factors

Never started.”[57]

 

 

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[168]

KLU SGRUB KYIS KYANG RIGS PA DRUG CU PA LAS,

,BRTEN NAS SKYES PAR MA SKYES PAR,

,DE NYID MKHYEN PA MCHOG GIS GSUNGS,

,ZHES DANG,

 

Arya Nagarjuna has also stated, in his Sixty Verses on Reasoning,

 

Things that start

In dependence

Never start—

 

This is the very thing

That the One with Highest Knowledge

Has spoken.[58]

 

 

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[169]

DPAL LDAN ZLA BAS DBU MA ‘JUG PAR YANG, ,GANG PHYIR DNGOS PO BRTEN NAS RAB ‘BYUNG BA, ,ZHES SOGS DANG,

 

The glorious Chandrakirti, in his Entering the Middle Way, has also composed those lines which begin with,

 

Because things flow forth

In dependence on others…[59]

 

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[170]

RJE NYID KYIS KYANG,

,GANG GANG RKYEN LA RAG LAS PA,

,DE DE RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG ZHES,

,ZHES SOGS GSUNGS PA LTAR RO,,

 

The Lord himself has written as well—

 

You said that anything

In the entire world

That relies on other factors

Is empty

Of any nature of its own.[60]

 

 

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[f. 9a] DE YANG RGYU RKYEN DANG CHA SHAS LA BRTEN NAS ‘BYUNG NA GZHAN DBANG GIS SAM GZHAN LA RAG LAS PA’I DBANG GIS BYUNG BA YIN GYI, RANG DBANG GIS SAM GZHAN LA BLTOS MED DU BYUNG BA YIN PAS NA RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA YIN TE, BZHI BRGYA PA LAS,

 

And the list goes on and on. The point is that—if something occurs in dependence upon causes and conditions, or upon its parts—then it is something which has occurred under the control of other forces: it has occurred because of its reliance upon other things. It is not though something which has come about on its own power, or without relying on something else; and as such, it does not exist through some nature of its own. As the 400 Verses puts it,

 

 

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[172]

,’DI KUN RANG DBANG MED PA STE,

,DES NA BDAG GI {%NI} YOD MA YIN,

,ZHES GSUNGS PAS SO,,

 

None of these

Is under its own power;

Thus we can say

That nothing is itself.[61]

 

 

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[173]

‘ON KYANG DON PHRA BAS BLO CHUNG GIS RTOGS DKA’O,,

 

I have to say though that this point is extremely subtle, and difficult for someone like me, with my limited intelligence, to fully grasp.[62]

 

 

 

The path of habituation

 

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[174]

GSUM PA SGOM LAM LA SLOB TSUL LA GNYIS SGOM LAM LA JI LTAR SLOB TSUL DANG, DE LTAR BSLABS PAS JI LTAR ‘TSANG RGYA BA’I TSUL LO,,

 

Here is the third part from above: how we practice the perfection of wisdom on the path of habituation. There are two steps to the explanation: how it is that we practice the path of habituation; and how it is that we attain enlightenment, by practicing in this way.

 

 

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[C15]

Tasmāttarhi Śāriputra śūnyatāyām na rūpam na vedanā na sañjñā na saṃskārāḥ na vijñānam. Na cakṣurna śrotram na ghrāṇam na jihvā na kāyo na mano na rūpam na śabdo na gandho na raso na spraṣṭavyam na dharmāḥ.

 

是故空中无色。无受想行识。无眼耳鼻舌身意。无色声香味触法。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA STONG PA NYID LA GZUGS MED, TSOR BA MED, ‘DU SHES MED, ‘DU BYED RNAMS MED, RNAM PAR SHES PA MED, MIG MED, RNA BA MED, SNA MED, LCE MED, LUS MED, YID MED, GZUGS MED, SGRA MED, DRI MED, RO MED, REG BYA MED, CHOS MED DO,,

 

And thus can we say, Shariputra, that with emptiness there is no body. There are no feelings. There is no ability to discriminate. There are none of the other factors that make you up, and there is no awareness. There are no eyes; no ears; no nose; no tongue; no body; no mind; nothing to see; nothing to hear; nothing to smell; nothing to taste; nothing to touch; and nothing to think of.

 

 

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[176]

DANG PO NI, SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA STONG PA NYID LA GZUGS MED, ZHES PA NAS, CHOS MED DO, ,ZHES PA’I BAR GYIS

 

The first of these is expressed here in the sutra from the words “And thus we can say, Shariputra…” up to “…nothing to think of.”

 

 

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[177]

SKYE MCHED BCU GNYIS RANG BZHIN MED PA DANG,

 

These lines indicate first that none of the twelve doors of sense exist through any nature of their own.

 

 

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[C16]

Na cakṣurdhātur na cakṣuvijñānadhāturyāvan na manodhāturna manovijñāna dhātuḥ.

 

无眼界。乃至无意识界。

 

MIG GI KHAMS MED CING, MIG GI RNAM PAR SHES PA’I KHAMS MED PA NAS YID KYI KHAMS MED CING, YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA’I KHAMS KYI BAR DU YANG MED DO,,

 

There is no part of you that sees. There is no part of you that is aware of what you see; and this is true all the way up to the part of you that thinks, and the part of you that is aware that you are thinking.

 

 

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[179]

MIG GI KHAMS MED PA NAS YID KYI KHAMS MED CES PAS RTEN DBANG PO’I KHAMS DRUG DANG, YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA’I KHAMS KYI BAR DU YANG MED DO CES PAS BRTEN PA RNAM SHES KYI KHAMS DRUG GI RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG TSUL DNGOS SU BSTAN NAS,

 

The section then that goes from “there is no part of you that sees” up to “there is no part of you that thinks” is describing, directly, how the six categories that form the basis of perception—the sense powers—are empty of any nature of their own. When the sutra continues up to “this is true all the way up to the part of you that is aware that you are thinking,” the section is describing, also directly, how the six categories that rest upon this basis—the various types of consciousness—are also empty in this way.

 

 

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[180]

DE GNYIS KA BA SDOMS {%KA BSDOMS} PAS DMIGS PA YUL GYI KHAMS DRUG RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG TSUL ‘PHANG PAS, KHAMS BCO BRGYAD RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PAR BSTAN TE,

 

Given that these two groups are combined here, the way in which the six categories that act as the objects of their perception are also empty of any self-nature is implied. Thus we can say that this entire part is indicating how the 18 categories are empty of any nature of their own.

 

 

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[181]

DE YANG SH’A RI’I BU ZHES BOS NAS, GONG DU BSHAD PA’I RGYU MTSAN DE LTA BAS NA STONG PA NYID MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PA’I SLOB PA ‘PHAGS PA’I MNYAM GZHAG YE SHES KYIS {%KYI} GZIGS NGO LA STE GZIGS NGOR GZUGS MED,

 

Returning to the opening of this section, Shariputra is again addressed by name. “And thus we can say”—meaning, for the reasons we’ve just explained above—that with the perceptions of a realized being who is not yet enlightened, but who is in the direct perception of emptiness, there is no body, or physical form, which is making its appearance to these perceptions: to their wisdom, as they abide in this deep state of meditation.

 

 

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[182]

DE BZHIN DU SBYAR TE TSOR BA MED, ‘DU SHES MED, ‘DU BYED MED, RNAM PAR SHES PA MED PA STE PHUNG PO LNGA’I GNYIS SNANG MED PAR BSTAN LA,

 

Right here you can mentally add the words “and in the same way”; and then continue with there are no feelings; there is no ability to discriminate; there are none of the other factors that make you up, and there is no awareness.” This then is indicating that the discrepancy is at this point gone, with regard to the five parts of a person.[63]

 

 

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[183]

DE’I NGOR MIG GI SKYE MCHED MED CING, RNA BA MED, SNA MED, LCE MED, LUS MED, YID KYI SKYE MCHED RNAMS MED PA STE YUL CAN GYI SKYE MCHED DRUG GI GNYIS SNANG MED DO,,

 

To the perceptions of this same person in the direct perception of emptiness, neither is there any discrepancy with regard to the doors of sense which are subjects holding their objects; thus can we say that “there is no door of sense of the eyes; nor that of the ears; nor nose; nor tongue; nor body; nor mind.”

 

 

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[184]

DE BZHIN DU GZUGS MED, SGRA MED, DRI MED, RO MED, REG BYA MED, CHOS MED PA STE, YUL GYI SKYE MCHED DRUG GI GNYIS SNANG MED DO,,

 

In the same way, we can say that neither at this point is there any discrepancy with regard to the six doors of sense which provide the objects of these subject perceptions; that is, there is nothing to see; nothing to hear; nothing to smell; nothing to taste; nothing to touch; and nothing to think of.

 

 

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[185]

DE BZHIN DU MIG GI [f. 9b] KHAMS MED PA NAS, YID KYI KHAMS MED CES PA’I NAS ZHES PA NI SDUD TSIG YIN PAS RNA BA SNA LCE LUS BZHI’I KHAMS DANG BCAS PA’I DBANG PO’I KHAMS DRUG DANG,

 

Similarly, the section that goes from “there is no part of you that sees” up to “the part of you that thinks” is an abbreviation; what it’s saying is that the discrepancy is also stopped with regard to the six categories of the sense powers, which would include the four categories not directly named here: the powers of the ear, nose, tongue, and body.

 

 

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[186]

YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA’I KHAMS KYI BAR DU YANG MED DO ZHES PA’I BAR GYIS, GZUGS KYI KHAMS DANG, SGRA DRI RO REG BYA CHOS KYI KHAMS TE YUL GYI KHAMS DRUG DANG,

 

When the sutra then continues all the way up to “this is true all the way up to…the part of you that is aware that you are thinking,” it’s indicating that the discrepancy is stopped as well with regard to the category of visible things, and to the categories of sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, and things to think of; that is, the six categories which serve as the objects of perception.

 

 

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[187]

MIG GI RNAM PAR SHES PA DANG, RNA BA SNA LCE LUS YID KYI KHAMS TE RNAM SHES KYI KHAMS DRUG GI GNYIS SNANG LDOG GO

 

And then finally the sutra is saying that the discrepancy is stopped with the six categories which are the various types of consciousness: the categories of the awareness of what we see; of what we hear; of what we smell; taste; feel; and think.

 

 

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[188]

,’DIR PHUNG PO LNGA DANG SKYE MCHED BCU GNYIS DANG KHAMS BCO BRGYAD RNAMS STONG NYID LA CHU LA CHU BZHAG PA BZHIN DU GYUR BA’I {%PA’I} MNYAM GZHAG GI GZIGS NGOR MED PA DANG,

You can apply this section first to the fact that the five heaps, the twelve doors of sense, and the 18 categories are absent to the perceptions of a person who is in deep, direct meditation on emptiness—where it is as if water is being poured into water.

 

 

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[189]

DE RNAMS SPYIR RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA DANG, DON DAM DPYOD BYED KYI RIGS PA’I DPYAD BZOD DU MED PA DANG, DE RNAMS GYI THA SNYAD BTAGS DON BTZAL NA MI RNYED PA GANG LA SBYAR YANG GNAD GCIG TU ‘GRO’O,,

 

You can also apply it more generally to the fact that none of these has any nature of its own. Or even to the fact that these objects cannot stand up to analysis by reasoning which is exploring something’s ultimate nature. Or else to the fact that—when we seek the thing that was given the name—we find nothing. Which is to say, all these applications boil down to the same single essential point.

 

 

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[190]

SKABS ‘DI DAG TU DGAG BYA’I KHYAD PAR DNGOS SU MA SBYAR YANG, GONG DU PHUNG PO LNGA PO RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PAR GSUNGS PA’I TSE DGAG BYA LA RANG BZHIN GYIS ZHES DNGOS SU SBYAR ZIN PA LA DGONGS SHING, ‘DIR STONG PA NYID LA ZHES GSUNGS PAS KYANG GO NUS SO,,

 

The particular kind of existence which is denied is not directly indicated at this point in the sutra. In the sections above though, we have the specific statement about the five heaps being empty of any nature of their own—that is, the qualifier “of any nature of their own” has already been applied directly[64]—and so we know that is what the Buddha has in mind here as well. It is also understood from the mention here of “with emptiness…”[65]

 

 

 

The emptiness of the twelve links

 

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[C17]

Nāvidyā nāvidyā kṣayo yāvanna jarāmaraṇam na jarāmaraṇa kṣayaḥ.

 

无无明。亦无无明尽。乃至无老死。亦无老死尽。

 

MA RIG PA MED CING, MA RIG PA ZAD PA MED PA NAS RGA SHI MED CING, RGA SHI ZAD PA’I BAR DU YANG MED DO,,

 

There is no misunderstanding your world. There is no stopping this misunderstanding, and the same is true all the way up to your old age and your death, and to stopping your old age and your death.

 

 

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[192]

YANG MA RIG PA MED PA NAS RGA SHI MED, RGA SHI ZAD PA’I BAR DU YANG MED DO ZHES PAS GZIGS NGO DER RTEN ‘BREL LUGS ‘BYUNG DANG LUGS LDOG GI GNYIS SNANG MED PAR STON TE,

 

That the discrepancy is stopped to the perceptions of a person in this direct meditation on emptiness is further indicated with regard to the chain-reaction of dependence, in both the order of its occurrence, and the order of its shutdown. We find this in the wording from “There is no misunderstanding your world…” up to “…stopping your old age and your death.”

 

 

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[193]

DE YANG MA RIG PA MED PA NAS ZHES PA’I NAS NI SDUD PA’I TSIG YIN PAS, DE DANG RGA SHI MED PA’I BAR KYIS ‘DU BYED DANG RNAM PAR SHES PA DANG MING DANG GZUGS DANG SKYE MCHED DANG REG PA DANG TSOR BA DANG SRED PA DANG LEN PA DANG SRID PA DANG SKYE BA DANG BCAS PA’I NYON MONGS PHYOGS KYI YAN LAG BCU GNYIS DANG,

 

When the sutra talks about “(1) misunderstanding, all the way up to…” it is presenting an abbreviation. What is “all the way up to” (12) your old age and your death are the other links of dependence: (2) fresh karma; (3) consciousness; (4) name & form; (5) the doors of sense; (6) contact; (7) feelings; (8) initial desire; (9) advanced desire; (10) ripe karma; and (11) birth. In this way, all twelve links of the chain are covered, for the negative side of things.

 

 

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[194]

RGA SHI ZAD PA’I BAR DU YANG MED DO ZHES PAS THA MA BSTAN PA DANG BAR DU ZHES PAS DER MA ZAD MA RIG PA ZAD PA DANG, ‘DU BYED ZAD PA DANG, DE BZHIN DU, SKYE BA ZAD PA DANG, RGA SHI ZAD PA’I BAR GYIS RNAM BYANG PHYOGS KYI YAN LAG BCU GNYIS KYI MNGON ZHEN GZIGS NGO DER [f. 10a] LDOG PAR BSTAN TO,,

 

And then when the lines say “none…all the way up to…stopping your old age and your death,” they are indicating the final link; while the “up to” is a reference to stopping not only that but also misunderstanding; and stopping fresh karma; and thus all the way up to stopping birth, and then stopping our old age and death. What all this is really saying is that the belief in things as real, all throughout even the twelve links for the pure side of things, is stopped in the perceptions of a person in this direct meditation on emptiness.

 

 

 

The emptiness of the four truths

 

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[C18]

Na duḥkha samudaya nirodha mārgā. Na jñānam na prāptirnāpraptiḥ.

 

无苦集灭道。 无智亦无得。以无所得故。

 

SDUG BSNGAL BA DANG, KUN ‘BYUNG BA DANG, ‘GOG PA DANG, LAM MED, YE SHES MED, THOB PA MED, MA THOB PA YANG MED DO,,

 

There is no pain. There is no source of this pain. There is no stopping this pain. There is no path to stop this pain. There is no knowledge. There is nothing to reach. And there is nothing not to reach.

 

 

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[196]

YANG DE BZHIN DU SDUG BSNGAL BA DANG, KUN ‘BYUNG BA DANG, ‘GOG PA DANG, LAM MED CES PAS SDUG BSNGAL BDEN PA DANG, KUN ‘BYUNG BDEN PA DANG, ‘GOG PA’I BDEN PA DANG, LAM GYI BDEN PA STE ‘PHAGS PA’I BDEN PA BZHI’I MNGON ZHEN GZIGS NGO DER MED DO,,

 

And then the sutra continues in the same vein with “There is no pain; there is no source of this pain; there is no stopping this pain; and there is no path to stop this pain.” All this is referring to the belief that things are real as it relates to the four higher truths: the truth of pain; the truth of the source of pain; the truth of stopping this pain; and the truth of the path to stop this pain. And what it’s saying is that this belief is not there, in the perceptions of this person in meditation on emptiness, directly.

 

 

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[197]

YANG LAM MED, YE SHES MED, THOB PA MED, MA THOB PA YANG MED DO ZHES PAS MNYAM GZHAG DE’I GZIGS NGOR YUL CAN LAM DANG YE SHES RANG NYID KYI GNYIS SNANG MED LA,

 

When it says “there is no path…there is no knowledge; there is nothing to reach; and there is nothing not to reach” what the sutra is saying is that—to the perceptions of the person in direct emptiness meditation—there is no discrepancy present with the subject states of mind: with the path,[66] or with this knowledge itself.

 

 

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[198]

THOB PAR BYA BA’I CHOS YANG MED CING, THOB ‘GYUR DANG THOB BYA MA YIN PA’I MA THOB PA YANG MED DO ZHES GZIGS NGO DER BLANG DOR LA BDEN ZHEN LDOG PA’I TSUL BSTAN PA’O,,

 

The lines that follow say that there is nothing which is to be reached; but that neither is there anything “not reached”: referring to those things which are still to be reached later, and to those things which are not appropriate to reach. What this is referring to is how, to the perceptions of this particular meditator, the belief in things as real—as this relates to things which we should take up, and things we should give up—is, again, stopped.

 

 

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[199]

PHYI MA ‘DI DAG LA DON ‘CHAD TSUL MI ‘DRA BA ‘GA’ RE MTHONG STE DON DU MI ‘GAL YANG, ‘DI NYID ‘THAD PAR SEMS SO,,

 

We see a number of disparate methods of explaining the import of these last few parts. In the end they don’t really contradict each other; but in my opinion the way we have taken them here is the correct one.

 

 

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[200]

‘ON KYANG RONG tIK PAS MA THOB PA YANG MED DO ZHES PA NI, KUN RDZOB TU THOB PA YOD PA LA ‘CHAD PA NI SKABS SU BAB PAR MA MTHONG NGO,,

 

Rongtikpa though has glossed the phrase “there is nothing not to reach” as meaning that, deceptively speaking, there is something to reach. This interpretation doesn’t seem to me to fit the present context.[67]

 

 

 

A summary of what was never there

 

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[201]

MDOR NA DE DAG, SLOB PA ‘PHAGS PA’I MNYAM GZHAG YE SHES KYIS DON DAM GZIGS PA’I GZIGS NGOR GZUGS SOGS KUN RDZOB PA’I GNYIS SNANG GI SPROS PA THAMS CAD NYE BAR ZHI BA’I DON TE,

 

To sum then, these particular sections of the sutra are saying that all the false constructions of the discrepancy found with deceptive things—such as physical form—are put to a complete rest in the perceptions of the wisdom of a realized being who is not yet a Buddha and who is in deep meditation, seeing ultimate reality directly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[202]

DE YANG, SDUD PA LAS,

,GZUGS RNAMS MI MTHONG TSOR BA DAG KYANG MI MTHONG ZHING,

,’DU SHES MTHONG BA MED LA SEMS PA MI MTHONG ZHING,

,GANG LA RNAM PAR SHES DANG SEMS YID MTHONG MED PA,

,’DI NI CHOS MTHONG YIN ZHES DE BZHIN GSHEGS PAS BSTAN,

,ZHES DANG,

 

All this resembles points made in other major scriptures. Here is how the Brief Presentation on the Perfection of Wisdom puts it:

 

Anyone who no longer sees

Physical forms;

Who no longer sees

Feelings;

Sees no capacity

To discriminate;

Sees no movement

Of the mind;

Sees no awareness of the world;

Sees no mind, sees no thought;

This is a person

That the Ones Gone Thus

Say has seen the Dharma.[68]

 

 

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[203]

,GANG DAG DE NI ‘DUS MA BYAS YIN SPROS MED DE,

,’DI NI SHES RAB PHA ROL PHYIN MCHOG SPYOD PA YIN,

,ZHES DANG,

 

It also says:

 

Anyplace which was never

Created by any causes,

And is free of false constructions—

This is what it is to carry out

That highest perfection,

Wisdom.[69]

 

 

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[204]

MNGON RTOGS RGYAN LAS,

,GZUGS LA SOGS PA MI SHES PHYIR,

,DE NI BSAM MI KHYAB PAR ‘DOD,

,ZHES DANG,

 

The Jewel of Realizations also states—

 

We say it is beyond all thought,

For it cannot perceive

Form and all the rest.[70]

 

 

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[205]

KLU SGRUB KYIS RTZA SHE LAS,

,GANG GIS RTEN CING ‘BREL BAR ‘BYUNG,

,’GAG PA MED PA SKYE MED PA,

,ZHES SOGS DANG,

 

And Arya Nagarjuna, in his Root Text on Wisdom, says:

 

To those who have taught

That things occur

In dependence on one another—

Where there is no stopping,

And there is no starting…[71]

 

 

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[206]

ZHI BA LHAS SPYOD ‘JUG LAS,

,GANG TSE DNGOS DANG DNGOS MED DAG

,BLO YI MDUN [f. 10b] NA MI GNAS PA,

,DE TSE RNAM PA GZHAN MED PAS,

,DMIGS PA MED PAR RAB TU ZHI,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA RNAMS DANG DON ‘DRA’O,,

 

And finally, Master Shantideva, in his Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:

 

When neither things

Nor things that are not things

Can no longer stay

Before the mind,

We take our final rest

In seeing nothing at all:

There is nothing else

To think.[72]

 

 

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[207]

DE LA ‘PHAGS PA’I MNYAM GZHAG MI RTOG PA’I YE SHES KYIS STONG NYID MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PA’I GZIGS DON GZUGS SOGS KUN RDZOB KYI RNAM PA MI ‘CHAR BA’I RGYU MTSAN YOD DE,

 

Now there is a specific reason why the mental images of physical form and so on—deceptive things—cannot make their appearance to the wisdom of a realized being who is in deep meditation directly on emptiness; as something that this state of mind, which is free of all mistaken imaginings, can see.

 

 

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[208]

DES STONG NYID MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PA’I TSE GNYIS SNANG NUB PA’I SGO NAS GZIGS PA YIN LA, KUN RDZOB PA’I CHOS GANG BLO LA ‘CHAR BA NA GNYIS SNANG DANG BCAS PA’I TSUL GYIS ‘CHAR BA YIN PA’I PHYIR TE,

 

The point is that—when this state of mind is in the direct realization of emptiness—it sees what it sees in a way where the discrepancy has subsided. And if it were to bring to mind any object belonging to deceptive reality, then it would have to do so in a way where the discrepancy was still present.

 

 

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[209]

DON DAM PA’I CHOS RNAMS NI DGAG BYA BDEN GRUB SOGS GNYIS SNANG GI SPROS PA RNAM PAR BCAD PA’I TSUL GYIS SNANG TSUL DANG GNAS TSUL MTHUN PAR GNAS SHING, GNAS PA LTAR GZIGS PA YIN LA, KUN RDZOB PA’I CHOS RNAMS NI GNYIS SNANG GI SPROS PA DU MA DANG BCAS TE SNANG TSUL DANG GNAS TSUL MI MTHUN PAR GZIGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Things belonging to ultimate reality reside in a state where the way things appear and the way they actually exist are in accord with each other: they preclude any false constructions of the things that emptiness denies—things that could exist in truth—and all of their discrepancy between appearances and reality.

 

 

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[210]

SPYIR GNYIS SNANG GI SPROS PA LA SGRA RTOG DANG, YUL YUL CAN THA DAD PA’I SNANG BA DANG, BDEN GRUB DANG DER SNANG BA DANG, KUN RDZOB KYI GNYIS SNANG SOGS MANG YANG ‘DIR SHES NA DE RNAMS GANG DANG SBYAR KYANG MI ‘GAL LO,,

 

Generally speaking, there are many forms that these “false constructions of the discrepancy” can take: false concepts based on words; or when object and subject appear to be separate; the idea that things could exist in truth, and the appearance that they do; or discrepancy in the sense of deceptive appearances; and so on. If you know what you’re doing, these can all be applied to almost any context of the concept without any contradiction.

 

 

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[211]

DGAG BYA LA RTAGS KYI DGAG BYA DANG, RIGS PA’I DGAG BYA DANG, LAM GYI DGAG BYA SOGS MANG YANG,

 

As for this idea of “the thing we deny,” there are many variants: something denied by a particular logical reason; something denied by reasoning itself; something denied or stopped by the practice of the path—and so on.

 

 

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[212]

RTAGS YANG DAG GI DGAG BYA MTHAR THUG NI, RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PA, RANG GI MTSAN NYID KYIS GRUB PA, RANG NGOS NAS GRUB PA, BDEN PAR GRUB PA, DON DAM PAR GRUB PA, YANG DAG PAR GRUB PA, RANG DBANG DU GRUB PA RNAMS TE, RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA ‘AM, RANG BZHIN GYIS MED CES SBYOR RUNG BA THAMS CAD LA NI DE THAMS CAD KYIS STONG BA DANG MED CES SBYOR RUNG STE, DE RNAMS DON GCIG MING GI RNAM GRANGS TZAM YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

But as for the ultimate form of what we deny with a correct reason, there are many ways to express it:

 

¨ a thing that exists through some nature of its own

¨ a thing that exists by definition

¨ a thing that exists from its own side

¨ a thing that exists in truth

¨ a thing that exists in some ultimate way

¨ a thing that exists in essence

¨ a thing that exists on its own power.

 

These are all different expressions that could properly be applied here in the sutra where you see phrases like “empty of any nature of its own” or “not something which exists through some nature of its own.” That is, they are all simply synonymous.

 

 

 

How practice brings enlightenment

 

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[213]

GNYIS PA DE LA BRTEN NAS JI LTAR ‘TSANG RGYA BA’I TSUL LA GNYIS GYI DANG PO NUS PA NI,

 

Here is our second point from above, about how it is that we reach enlightenment by utilizing these paths. We proceed in two steps, the first being a statement that it is surely possible.

 

 

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[C19]

TasmācChāriputra aprāptitvena bodhisattvānām prajñāpāramitām āśritya viharati.

 

若大菩萨。依般若波罗蜜多故。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS THOB PA MED PA’I PHYIR SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA BRTEN NAS GNAS TE

 

Thus it is, Shariputra, that warrior saints have nothing to reach; and because of this, they are able to practice the perfection of wisdom, and stay in this perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[215]

SH’A RI’I BU DE LTA BAS NA BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS THOB PA MED PA’I PHYIR, SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO [f. 11a] ‘DI LA BRTEN CING GNAS TE ZHES PAS STON TE,

 

This idea is expressed in the sutra where it says, “Thus it is, Shariputra, that warrior saints have nothing to reach; and because of this, they are able to practice the perfection of wisdom, and stay in this perfection of wisdom.”

 

 

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[216]

SH’A RI’I BU ZHES BOS NAS, TSOGS SBYOR GNYIS DANG MTHONG SGOM GYI LAM GNYIS TE BZHI LA SLOB TSUL GONG DU BSTAN PA’I TSUL DE LTA BAS NA, GANG ZAG BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO RNAMS KYI MNYAM GZHAG YE SHES KYI GZIGS NGO NA GZUGS MED PA NAS, THA MA’I THOB PA DANG MA THOB PA’I BAR GANG YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PA MED PA’I PHYIR

 

This begins with Lord Buddha addressing Shariputra, one more time. And what the sutra is saying here is—

 

There we have it; with the sections just finished, we have shown you how to practice these four paths: the pair of the paths of accumulation and preparation; and the pair of the paths of seeing and habituation. And we have been considering how thus it is that something like physical form cannot be present to the perceptions of these people—these great warrior saints—while they are experiencing the wisdom which is meditating deeply on emptiness. And we have continued in this vein from physical form up to the last part about “something to reach, and something not to reach”; we have been learning how it is that there is nothing in the universe that exists through any nature of its own.

 

 

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[217]

DE LTAR MED PAR MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PA’I TSUL DE NYID SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA SPYAD PAR ‘JOG LA, ZAB MO’I SPYOD TSUL DE LA BRTEN CING GNAS PAR BYAS PAS TE, DE’I MTHUS ‘BRAS BU ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR BA LTAR ‘THOB PAR NUS SO,,

 

And what we say is that this way of realizing, directly, that there is no such thing is in itself the practice of the deepest perfection of wisdom. And if we do practice and stay in this way of living in the profound, then we will surely be able to achieve the results that the sutra is going to be describing.

 

 

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[218]

‘DI NI ‘CHAD TSUL GCIG GI DBANG DU BYAS PA YIN LA, ‘ON KYANG SEMS LA SGRIB PA MED CING NAS SHIN TU ‘DAS ZHES PA YAN CHAD RGYUN MTHA’ DANG SBYAR NA’ANG MI ‘GAL ZHING, SKABS ‘DI GZHUNG SNGON MA’I DON BSDUR SBYAR RUNG BAR SEMS SO,,

 

All this follows one of the ways of explaining this passage. But there’s no contradiction either if you apply everything below that—where it starts with being freed of obstacles in the mind, and goes on to going beyond—to the meditation of the end of the flow.[73] In my opinion it would also be appropriate to consider this section a summary of the points that were made prior to it.

 

 

 

What it’s like, at the end

 

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[C20]

Cittāvaraṇanāstitvādatrasto viparyāsātikrānto niṣṭhanirvāṇaḥ.

 

 

心无挂碍。无挂碍故。无有恐怖。远离颠倒梦想。究竟涅槃。

 

SEMS LA SGRIB PA MED PAS ‘JIGS PA MED DE, PHYIN CI LOG LAS SHIN TU ‘DAS NAS [f. 260b] MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I MTHAR PHYIN TO,,

 

This frees them of every obstacle in their minds, and this frees them from all fear. They go beyond all wrong ways of thinking, and reach to the ultimate end of nirvana.

 

 

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[220]

GNYIS PA MTHAR ‘TSANG RGYA TSUL NI, SEMS LA SGRIB PA MED PAS SKRAG PA MED DE, PHYIN CI LOG LAS SHIN TU ‘DAS NAS MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PAR PHYIN TO ZHES BSTAN TE,

 

Our second step here is the actual description of how—in the end—we achieve enlightenment. This is conveyed in the lines of the sutra that say, This frees them of every obstacle in their minds, and this frees them from all fear. They go beyond all wrong ways of thinking, and reach to nirvana.”[74]

 

 

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[221]

‘DI LA CHOS RJE RONG tI KA {%tIK} PA DANG, GUNG RU RGYAL MTSAN BZANG PO GNYIS KYIS, STONG NYID KYI DON RTOGS SHING GOMS NA SEMS LA BDEN ‘DZIN SGRIB PA MED PAS, STONG PA NYID KYI DON LA SKRAG PA MED DE, PHYIN CI LOG BDEN ‘DZIN LAS SHIN TU ‘DAS NAS THEG CHEN GYI MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I MTHAR THOB PAR BYA BA SANGS RGYAS KYI SAR PHYIN TO ZHES ‘CHAD LA,

 

This part is explained by the Lord of the Teachings, Rongtikpa, and by Gung-ru Gyeltsen Sangpo in the following way:

 

If we come to a realization of this object, emptiness, and then get used to what we have realized, then we no longer possess in our minds the obstacle of believing that things are real. And then because of this, we no longer have any fear about this thing—this emptiness. We go beyond all wrong ways of thinking—beyond all belief in things as real—and then we reach the ultimate end of the process of nirvana: meaning that we attain the level of a Buddha.[75]

 

 

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[222]

‘JAM DBYANGS DGA’ BLOS DE NI, GANG DRAN DRAN GYI ‘BRU BSNON YIN PAR BSHAD NAS, SA BCU’I NGO SKAL GYI SPANG BYA’I SGRIB PA GNYIS GNYIS YOD PA RNAMS RIM GYIS SPANGS TE, PHYIN CI LOG BZHIS ‘JIGS SKRAGS [f. 11b] PA MED PAS, DE LAS ‘DAS PA’I MI GNAS PA’I MYANG ‘DAS THOB PAR ‘CHAD DO,,

 

Jamyang Gaway Lodru expresses the opinion that this particular section is a spontaneous attachment to the thoughts already expressed. He explains that there are pairs of obstacles that are eliminated specifically at the tenth bodhisattva level, and that these are eliminated in stages. And then with this, we are freed of the terror of the four backwards thoughts. And as we pass beyond that stage, we attain the nirvana where nothing remains.[76]

 

 

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[223]

PHYIN CI LOG BZHI NI GTZANG BDE RTAG BDAG TU ‘DZIN PA BZHI LA GZHAN NAS BSHAD PA LTAR RO,,

 

The “four backwards thoughts” here are as we generally see them explained elsewhere: the quartet of taking what is unclean as its complete opposite, as something clean; and then similarly taking what is suffering as pleasure; what is constantly changing as unchanging; and what cannot be itself as being itself.

 

 

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[224]

KHO BO LTAR NA NI DE GNYIS GANG BYAS KYANG MI ‘GAL ZHING, KHYAD PAR DU BSHAD PA DANG PO NYID BDE BAR SEMS SO,,

 

In my own opinion, there would be no problem with following either of these two positions. More specifically, I would be more comfortable with the first.

 

 

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[225]

BDAG MED PA LA BDAG TU ‘DZIN PA NI PHYIN CI LOG TU BSHAD PA’I PHYIR BDAG ‘DZIN NAM BDEN ‘DZIN YANG PHYIN CI LOG TU ‘JOG DGOS PAS, PHYIN CI LOG ZHES PA TZAM GYIS PHYIN CI LOG BZHI KA LA NGES PAR BSHAD DGOS PA NI MA YIN NO,,

 

Now it is explained that to take something which has no nature of its own to have some such nature is a “backwards thought”; as such, we’d have to say that the belief that things have a self-nature, which could also be called the belief that things are real, would have itself to be considered a backwards thought. But it’s not the case that just because something has been referred to as a “backwards thought,” then we’d have to say that all four backwards thoughts were involved.

 

 

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[226]

KHA CIG TU ‘DAS PAR PHYIN TO ZHES ‘BYUNG LA, LA LAR ‘DAS PAR MTHAR PHYIN TO ZHES ‘BYUNG BA’I SNGA MA LTAR BYAS NA BDE BAR SEMS PAS, DE LTAR NA SANGS RGYAS KYI SA’I MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS BAR PHYIN PA’AM, DE THOB PAR ‘GYUR BA’I DON NO,,

 

Now in some versions of the sutra, we see the wording here as “reach to nirvana”; and in others we see “reach to the ultimate end in nirvana.” The former reading seems to me more comfortable. If you do take it that way, then you could say that it means “reach nirvana at the level of an Enlightened Being”—which is to say, to reach yourself the state of such a being.

 

 

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[227]

SPYIR ‘CHI BA’I DUS BYAS PA ‘GA’ ZHIG LA MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA ZHES ZER YANG, ‘DIR THAR PA LA MYANG ‘DAS SAM MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I THA SNYAD MDZAD PA LTAR YIN GYI, SNGA MA MIN LA, MYA NGAN YANG SDUG KUN GNYIS LA BYAS NAS, DE LAS ‘DAS PA NI DE SPANGS PA’I DON NO,,

 

Now admittedly people in general use the expression “passed into nirvana” to express the fact that someone has come to die; but here in the sutra we are talking about the word “nirvana” not in this first way, but rather in its other sense as spiritual freedom, which in the Tibetan is literally rendered as “grief passage,” or in full: “passing beyond all grief.” The “grief” here refers to the two truths of pain and the source of pain; passing beyond this grief then refers to ridding oneself of these two.

 

 

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[228]

DE LTA NA’ANG MYANG ‘DAS THOB NA NI, NYON MONGS SPANGS PAS KHYAB KYANG, SDUG KUN GNYIS SPANGS PAS KHYAB PAR MI ‘DOD DO,,

 

Despite this fact, we should note that—although it is true that when one has attained nirvana they have necessarily eliminated all the negative emotions—we would not agree further that one had necessarily then eliminated these two: the truth of pain and the truth of the source of pain.

 

 

 

Enlightenment from the perfection

 

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[229]

BZHI PA NI,

 

This brings us to the fourth and final part of our entire discussion on the practice of the paths; again, this is an explanation of how each and every Enlightened Being—each of those people at the stage of no more learning—has attained their goals by relying upon this same perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[C21]

Tryadhvavyavasthitāḥ sarvaBuddhāḥ prajñāpāramitāmāśrityānuttarām samyaksambodhim abhisambuddhāḥ.

 

三世诸佛。依般若波罗蜜多故。得阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。

 

DUS GSUM DU RNAM PAR BZHUGS PA’I SANGS RGYAS THAMS CAD KYANG SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA BRTEN TE BLA NA MED PA YANG DAG PAR RDZOGS PA’I BYANG CHUB MNGON PAR RDZOGS PAR SANGS RGYAS SO,,

 

All the Enlightened Beings of the past, and present, and the future too follow this same perfection of wisdom, and thus bring themselves to perfect enlightenment: to the matchless state of a totally enlightened Buddha.

 

 

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[231]

DUS GSUM DU RNAM PAR BZHUGS PA’I SANGS RGYAS THAMS CAD KYANG NAS, SANGS RGYAS SO ZHES PA NI,

 

This section in the sutra begins with “All the Enlightened Beings of the past, and present, and future…” and goes up to “…totally enlightened Buddha.”

 

 

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[232]

‘DAS MA ‘ONGS DA LTA’I DUS GSUM DU RANG DUS DER SANGS RGYAS NAS RNAM PAR BZHUGS PA’I SANGS RGYAS THAMS CAD KYANG SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ‘DI NYID BSGOMS PA LA BRTEN NAS BLA NA MED PA YANG DAG PAR RDZOGS PA’I BYANG CHUB TU RDZOGS PAR SANGS RGYAS SO ZHES PA STE,

What this is talking about is people who have been, or are being, or will be enlightened in the past, the present, or the future relative to the time in which we ourselves are right now. And it is saying that all of the Buddhas living in those times too follow a practice of this same perfection of wisdom, and thus bring themselves to perfect enlightenment: to the matchless state of a totally enlightened Buddha.

 

 

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[233]

GYANG {%KYANG} GI SGRA NI SANGS RGYAS RE RE GNYIS GNYIS SU MA ZAD CES PA’O,,

 

The word “too” here is meant to say that we’re not talking about just one or two different Enlightened Beings.

 

 

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[234]

‘O NA ‘DAS PA DANG MA BYON PA GNYIS [f. 12a] LA BZHUGS CES GSUNG BA JI LTAR YIN SNYAM NA, SKYON MED DE, RANG DUS LA DGONGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

“But what about this expression,” you may ask: “how can they have been enlightened, or be going to be enlightened?” But there’s no such problem; we are just pinpointing their time relative to our own.

 

 

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[235]

SHER PHYIN NI ‘DIR GZHUNG SHER PHYIN LA BYED PA MA YIN GYI, LAM SHER PHYIN TU GYUR BA’I STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I YE SHES LA BYED PA YIN NO,,

 

When we say “perfection of wisdom” here, by the way, we are not talking about the perfection of wisdom as a body of physical teachings. Rather, at this point it refers to the perfection of wisdom in the form of knowledge in which we realize emptiness.

 

 

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[236]

TSUL DE NI RGYAL BA’I YUM RGYAS ‘BRING BSDUS PA GSUM NAS ‘BYUNG BA’I DON MDO SDUD PA LAS,

,RGYAL BA ‘DAS DANG MA BYON PHYOGS BCUR GANG BZHUGS PA,

,KUN LAM PHA ROL PHYIN PA ‘DI YIN GZHAN MA YIN,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR YIN NO,,

 

This way of presenting it is the way we see it in the more extensive, middle-length, and brief presentations of the Mother Sutras. As the Brief Presentation puts it,

 

The path followed

By every victorious Buddha,

Whether they live in the past,

Or the future, or now

In every corner of the universe,

Is this very perfection of wisdom,

And no other way at all.[77]

 

 

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[237]

SANGS RGYAS THOB PA LA STONG NYID RTOGS DGOS PAR MA ZAD, THEG PA GSUM PO GANG GI’ANG THAR PA THOB PA LA NI STONG NYID NGES PAR RTOGS DGOS TE, STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I LTA BA NI ZHI SGO GNYIS SU MED PAR BSHAD PA’I DGOS PA DE YIN ZHING, TING NGE ‘DZIN RGYAL PO’I LUNG SNGAR DRANGS PA LTAR DANG ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB KYIS KYANG,

 

If we hope to attain enlightenment, we must definitely see emptiness. Not only that, but to attain freedom using any of the three different tracks,[78] we must without question see emptiness. This is the whole purpose of why the view in which we realize emptiness has been described as “a door to peace which has no second.” We can refer back to the citation we gave above, from the King of Concentration—and the Realized One, Nagarjuna, has also said:

 

 

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[238]

,NYAN THOS RNAMS DANG RANG SANGS RGYAS,

,SANGS RGYAS RNAMS KYIS NGES BSTEN PA’I,

,THAR LAM KHYOD NI GCIG PU STE,

,GZHAN ZHES BGYI BA MA MCHIS NGES,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR YIN LA,

 

This is the one path to freedom

That must be followed

By the listeners and the self-made buddhas,

And by the Buddhas themselves.

It is the absolute truth

That there is no other.[79]

 

 

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[239]

SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA DNGOS NI THEG CHEN PA’I RGYUD KYI STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I YE SHES DANG DON GCIG TU ‘DOD PA DANG DE’I RGYUD NYID STONG NYID MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PA’I YE SHES DANG DON GCIG TU ‘DOD PA’I TSUL SOGS MANG DU YOD KYANG, STONG NYID RTOGS DGOS PA LA NI ‘DRA’O,,

 

Many different positions are taken in this regard. Some say that the actual perfection of wisdom is equivalent to the wisdom, in the mind of a person on the greater way, with which they realize emptiness. Others describe it as the wisdom, in this same person’s mind, with which they see emptiness directly—and there are other descriptions as well. At any rate, they are all the same in saying that emptiness must be seen.

 

 

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[240]

RDOR GCOD LAS, DUS GSUM GYI RGYUN DU RGYUN TU {%DUS GSUM RGYUN DU} ZHUGS PA NAS SANGS RGYAS KYI BAR THAMS CAD SHER PHYIN LA BRTEN NAS THOB PAR GSUNGS PA NI STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I YE SHES LA DGONGS PA YIN NO,,

 

The Diamond Cutter Sutra states that all practitioners, from those who have entered the stream[80] up to those who’ve achieved enlightenment, all achieve these goals by practicing the perfection of wisdom. When the Buddha makes these statements there, what he’s referring to is the wisdom which realizes emptiness.[81]

 

 

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[241]

STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I YE SHES DE THEG DMAN PA’I RGYUD LA YOD KYANG, SHER PHYIN TU MI [f. 12b] ‘GYUR BA NI THEG CHEN SEMS PA SKYED {%SEMS BSKYED} DANG RDZOGS BYANG DU BSNGO BA’I BSNGO BAS MA ZIN PA’I DBANG YIN LA, YE SHES DE NYID SEMS BSKYED DANG BSNGO BA DE GNYIS KYIS ZIN NA SHER PHYIN DU ‘GYUR BAR BZHED PA LTAR BYA’O,,

 

There can exist, in the mind of a person on the lower way, the wisdom which realizes emptiness. It does not though constitute the perfection of wisdom. This is because their mind is not imbued by the Wish for enlightenment as we find it on the greater way; nor by an intention which dedicates their efforts towards achieving the full and perfect form of enlightenment. If though this wisdom does come to be imbued by this pair—by this Wish and by this intention—then their realization of emptiness thereby becomes the perfection of wisdom. This is the position we should take.

 

 

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[242]

SBYIN SOGS PHAR PHYIN DANG PO LNGA STONG NYID RTOGS PA’I SHER PHYIN GYIS MA ZIN NA LONG BA DANG ‘DRA ZHING, DES ZIN NA LONG ‘KHRID DAM MIG LDAN DANG ‘DRA BAR GSUNGS TE,

 

It has been stated that if the first five perfections—giving and the others[82]—are not imbued by the perfection of wisdom in the form of the realization of emptiness, then they are like a person who is blind. And if they are so imbued, they are like a guide who leads the blind; that is, they are like a person with sight.

 

 

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[243]

SDUD PA LAS,

,DMUS LONG DMIGS PU MED PA BYE BA KHRAG KHRIG RNAMS,

,LAM YANG MI SHES GRONG KHYER ‘JUG PAR GA LA ‘GYUR,

,SHES RAB MED NA MIG MOD {%MED} PHA ROL PHYIN LNGA ‘DI,

,DMIGS PU MED PA BYANG CHUB REG PAR NUS MA YIN,

,GANG TSE SHES RAB KYIS NI RAB TU ZIN GYUR NA,

,DE TSE MIG RNYED GYUR CING ‘DI YI MING ‘THOB BO,,

ZHES DANG,

 

As the Brief Presentation of the Perfection of Wisdom puts it,

 

You can have a crowd of even billions or trillions of people;

But if they are blind, and have no guide to lead them,

They will not even be able to locate the road—

Much less make their way to the city gates.

If the five perfections have no eyes

Because they have no wisdom,

And further lack any guide to lead them,

Then you will never be able to touch enlightenment.

 

If though at some point your mind is imbued

With wisdom, then you have gained your eyes,

And they are worthy too of the name.[83]

 

 

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[244]

RDOR GCOD LAS,

‘DI LTA STE DPER NA MIG DANG LDAN PA’I MI ZHIG MUN PAR ZHUGS NAS CI YANG MI MTHONG BA DE BZHIN DU GANG DNGOS POR LHUNG PA’I SBYIN PA YONGS SU GTONG BA’I BYANG CHUB SEMS DPAR BLTA BAR BYA’O,,

 

The Diamond Cutter too says:

 

This, Subhuti, is how it is. Think of the example of a person who has eyes to see, but who is sitting in the dark. They see nothing at all. You should consider a bodhisattva who has fallen into things, and who then practices the act of giving, to be just like this person.

 

 

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[245]

RAB ‘BYOR ‘DI LTA STE, DPER NA, NAM LANGS TE NYI MA SHAR NAS MIG DANG LDAN PA’I MIS GZUGS RNAM PA SNA TSOGS DAG MTHONG BA DE BZHIN DU, GANG DNGOS POR MA LHUNG BA’I SBYIN PA YONGS SU GTONG BA’I BYANG CHUB SEMS DPAR BLTA BAR BYA’O,,

ZHES DANG,

 

And now, Subhuti, think of this person, a person who has eyes to see, as dawn breaks and the sun rises into the sky; think how then they see a whole variety of different forms. You should consider a bodhisattva who has not fallen into things, and who then practices the act of giving, to be just like this person.[84]

 

 

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[246]

ZLA BAS KYANG,

,JI LTAR LONG BA’I TSOGS KUN BDE BLAG TU,

,MIG LDAN SKYES BU GCIG GIS ‘DOD PA YI,

,YUL DU ‘KHRID PA DE BZHIN ‘DIR YANG BLOS,

,MIG NYAMS YON TAN BLANGS TE RGYAL NYID ‘GRO,,

ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR RO,,

 

Master Chandrakirti concurs:

 

Think of how a single person with sight

Can easily lead an entire group of blind people

To a place where they would like to go.

 

Just so, here our intelligence

Takes up the fine qualities we possess—

Those with imperfect eyes—

And together they travel

To that one state,

The state of becoming a Victor.[85]

 

 

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[247]

DNGOS POR LHUNG BA NI BDEN ‘DZIN GYIS BCINGS NAS STONG NYID MA RTOGS PA YIN LA, DNGOS POR MA LHUNG BA NI BDEN MED RTOGS PA STE, SBYIN PAS TSUL KHRIMS SOGS LHAG MA BZHI YANG MTSON NO,,

 

What does it mean here when they say “someone who has fallen into things”? This refers to someone who has failed to realize emptiness, because they are chained by the tendency to believe that things are real. “Not fallen into things” then refers to someone who has realized that things are not real. And when the sutra mentions “giving,” this is meant to represent the remaining four perfections—that of leading an ethical life, and so on—as well.

 

 

 

The magnificence of the mantra

 

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[248]

GNYIS PA SNGAGS TSIG GIS BSDUS TE BSTAN PA LA GNYIS, CHE BA BSTAN PA DANG, SNGAGS [f. 13a] TSIG DNGOS BSHAD PA’O,,

 

Here is our second major section in the answering of Shariputra’s question: a summary of the instructions for practicing these paths, in the form of the words of a mantra. This itself comes in two parts: describing the magnificence of the mantra, and then actually explaining its words.

 

 

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[C22]

Tasmājjñātavyaḥ prajñāpāramitā mahāmantro mahāvidyāmantro ‘nuttaramantro ‘samasamamantraḥ sarvaduḥkha praśamanaḥ mantraḥ satyam amithyatvāt…

 

故知般若波罗蜜多。是大神咒。是大明咒。是无上咒。是无等等咒。能除一切苦。真实不虚。

 

DE LTA BAS NA, SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS, RIG PA CHEN PO’I SNGAGS, BLA NA MED PA’I SNGAGS, MI MNYAM PA DANG MNYAM PA’I SNGAGS, SDUG BSNGAL THAMS CAD RAB TU ZHI BAR BYED PA’I SNGAGS, MI RDZUN PAS NA, BDEN PAR SHES PAR BYA STE,

 

Thus are they the sacred words of the perfection of wisdom; the sacred words of great knowledge; sacred words of the unsurpassable; sacred words that are equal to the One beyond all equal; sacred words that put a final end to every form of pain; sacred words you should know are true, for false they cannot be;

 

 

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[250]

DANG PO NI DE LTA BAS NA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS, ZHES NAS, MI BRDZUN PAS NA BDEN PAR SHES PAR BYA STE ZHES PA STE,

The first of these two comes in the words of the sutra from “Thus are they the sacred words of the perfection of wisdom…” up to “…false they cannot be.”

 

 

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[251]

SHER PHYIN NI DUS GSUM GYI RGYAL BA THAMS CAD KYIS KYANG BSLAB PAR BYA BA’I GZHI YIN PA DE LTA BAS NA, LAM DE NI SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS YIN TE, ‘KHOR BA’I RGYA MTSO’I PHA ROL TU PHYIN PAR BYED PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Now the perfection of wisdom is the very foundation that each every victorious Buddha of the past, present, and future has ever trained themselves in. As such, this path is the mantra of the perfection of wisdom: wisdom “gone to the other side.”[86] And that’s because it takes us to the other side of the ocean of the cycle of pain.

 

 

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[252]

RIG PA CHEN PO’I SNGAGS YIN TE, MA RIG PA SOGS NYON MONGS PA THAMS CAD ‘JOMS PAR BYED PA’I PHYIR, BLA NA MED PA’I SNGAGS YIN TE, ‘DI LAS LHAG PA’I THAR PA BGROD PA’I LAM MED PA’I PHYIR, MI MNYAM PA DANG MNYAM PA’I SNGAGS YIN TE, MNYAM PA MED PA’I SANGS RGYAS DANG MNYAM PA’I PHYIR,

 

These are also sacred words of great knowledge, for they act to destroy all the negative emotions of mis-knowledge—misunderstanding—and so on. They are sacred words of the unsurpassable because there is no higher path than this one, for travelling to freedom. They are sacred words that are equal to the One beyond all equal, for they are equal to the Enlightened One, who knows no equal.

 

 

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[253]

SDUG BSNGAL THAMS CAD RAB TU ZHI BAR BYED PA’I SNGAGS YIN TE, SDUG BSNGAL RGYU DANG BCAS PA THAMS CAD ZHI BAR BYED NUS PA’I PHYIR, BDEN PAR SHES PAR BYA BA’I SNGAGS YIN TE, SHER PHYIN DES CHOS NYID GZIGS PA LTAR BDEN CING MI SLU BA’I MI BRDZUN PAS NA TE DE’I PHYIR RO,,

 

These are as well sacred words that put a final end to every form of pain, for they have the power to put a stop to both all forms of pain, and all things that cause them. And they are sacred words you should know are true, for false they cannot be; and that’s because the way that the perfection of wisdom sees the true nature of things is itself completely true: it never misleads us, it never lies to us.

 

 

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[254]

DE YANG SDUD PA LAS, RGYAL BA’I SHES RAB PHA ROL PHYIN ‘DI RIG SNGAGS CHE, ZHES PA NAS, RIG SNGAGS ‘DI LA BSLABS NAS MKHAS PA BYANG CHUB REG ,CES GSUNGS PA LTAR TE, DE NI YUM RGYAS ‘BRING BSDUS PA GSUM LAS ‘BYUNG BA’I DON BSDUS PA’O,,

 

The Brief Presentation, in the same vein, has that statement that begins with “The perfection of wisdom of the Victorious Ones is a great mantra of knowledge…” and ends with “…those sages who train themselves in this knowledge mantra reach and touch their enlightenment.”[87]

 

 

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[255]

NGES DON GYI GSANG SNGAGS DANG RIG SNGAGS NI THABS SHES KHYAD PAR CAN ZHIG LA BYED PAS, SHER PHYIN DNGOS LANG {%YANG} DON DU SNGAGS SU MI ‘GAL MOD, MDO SNGAGS GNYIS SU PHYE BA’I SNGAGS NI MA YIN NO,,

 

The actual meaning of the term “secret mantra,” or “mantra of knowledge,” is simply “an extraordinary and unexpected spiritual method.” And so admittedly it would be no problem at all to say that the perfection of wisdom itself is, in actuality, a secret mantra. But it is not “secret mantra” when this is used as a synonym for the secret teachings, as in the division between the open and secret teachings of Buddhism.

 

 

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[256]

‘DI’I SNGAGS TSIG KYANG MDO PHYOGS KYI SNGAGS TSIG YIN GYI, RGYUD BZHIR GTOGS PA’I SNGAGS MA YIN PAS PHYED PAR BYA’O,,

 

The mantra here in the sutra by the way is what we would call a mantra of the open teachings; it is not a mantra which would find its place in one of the four great classes of the secret word[88]—so we should be careful to make this distinction.

 

 

 

The meaning of the mantra

 

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[C23]

…prajñāpāramitāyām ukto mantraḥ.

 

Tadyathā. Om gate gate pāragate pārasagate bodhi svāhā.

 

故说般若波罗蜜多咒。即说咒曰。

 

                                       嘎碟嘎碟巴啦嘎碟巴啦桑嘎碟布迪梭哈。

 

SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS SMRAS PA, TADYA THA {%TH’A}, GA TE GA TE, PA {%P’A} RA GA TE, PA {%P’A} RA SAm GA TE, BO DHI SV’AH’A,

Sacred words of the perfection of wisdom, which here I speak for you:

 

Tadyatha. Om ga-te, ga-te, paraga-te, parasanga-te, bodhi svaha.[89]

 

 

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[258]

GNYIS PA NI, SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS, SMRAS PA, [f. 13b] TAdYA {%TADYA} TH’A AOm GA TE GA TE NAS SV’A H’A’I BAR TE,

 

Here then is the second part from above: actually explaining the words of the mantra. This is indicated in the line, Sacred words of the perfection of wisdom, which here I speak for you: Tadyatha. Om ga-te, ga-te, paragate, parasanga-te, bodhi sva ha.”[90]

 

 

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[259]

‘DI LA MKHAS PA PHAL CHER LTAR NA, TAdYA {%TADYA} TH’A NI, ‘DI LTA STE ‘AM, DE GANG, AOm NI BKRA SHIS PA DANG BDE BA STER BA SOGS DON BDUN LA ‘JUG CES BYA LA,

 

According to the majority of sages, the phrase tadyatha means “It’s like this”; or “How is it?” The syllable om is traditionally said to have seven different senses—such as auspiciousness, and granting happiness.[91]

 

 

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[260]

GA TE GA TE NI SONG SHIG SONG SHIG CES PA STE, GANG DU SONG ZHE NA, SNGA MA TSOGS LAM DANG, PHYI MA SBYOR LAM DU SONG SHIG

 

The words ga-te, ga-te mean go, go! Where are we supposed to go? The first ga-te means Go to the path of accumulation! And the second means Go to the path of preparation!

 

 

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[261]

,P’A RA GA TE’I P’A RA NI PHA ROL TE, DE’I PHA ROL MTHONG LAM DU SONG SHIG ,P’A RA SANGGA TE NI, DE’I PHA ROL SGOM LAM DU YANG DAG PAR SONG SHIG CES PA STE, SAm NI ‘DIR YANG DAG PA’I DON DU BSGYUR BA’O,,

 

Now the para in paraga-te means other side—and so this word means, Go to the other side, beyond those two: go to the path of seeing! And then parasanga-te means Go even further: go, sweetly, to the path of habituation! That is, the san- prefix is to be translated here as sweetly.

 

 

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[262]

BHO {%BO} DHI SV’A H’A NI BYANG CHUB TU GZHI TSUGS ZHES PA YIN LA, DON NI BYANG CHUB CHEN PO SANGS RGYAS KYI SAR SONG SHIG CES PA’O, ,ZHES PA’I DON YIN LA,

 

The phrase bodhi sva ha signifies “to be confirmed in enlightenment.” What it means here though is: Go! Go to the great enlightenment, to the state of a Buddha!

 

 

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[263]

BOD SNA {%SNGA} MA KHA CIG ,GA TI {%TE} GNYIS NI NYAN THOS KYI BYANG CHUB TU SONG, P’A RA GA TE RANG RGYAL GYI BYANG CHUB TU SONG, P’A RA SAm GA TE NI SANGS RGYAS KYI BYANG CHUB TU SONG ZHES ‘DOD, GSUNGS SHING, RANG LUGS KYANG DE LTAR RO,,

 

Some Tibetans of the past have quoted a passage which says, “What we accept is that the first two mentions of ga-te mean Go to the enlightenment of the listeners! And then paraga-te means Go to the enlightenment of the self-made Buddhas! Finally, parasanga-te means Go to the enlightenment of a Buddha!”[92] And then they have made this their own position.

 

 

 

Practice!

 

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[264]

                        [C24]

Evam Śāriputra gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryāyām śikṣitavyam bodhisattvena.

 

如是舍利子。诸大菩萨于甚深般若波罗蜜多行。应如是学。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN POS SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO LA DE LTAR BSLAB PAR BYA’O,,

 

And thus it is, Shariputra, that great warrior saints must train themselves in the profound perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[265]

GSUM PA MDOR BSDUS TE BSLAB PAR GDAMS PA NI, SH’A RI’I BU BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO DE LTAR SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO LA BSLAB PAR BYA’O ZHES PA STE,

 

With this we have reached our third major section of the answering: summary advice that we should practice. This is found in the next part of the sutra, where it says: “And thus it is, Shariputra, that great warrior saints must train themselves in the profound perfection of wisdom.”

 

 

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[266]

SH’A RI’I BU ZHES POS {%BOS} NAS, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN POS GONG DU BSHAD PA DE LTAR SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA BSLAB PAR BYA’O, ,ZHES GAL CHE BAR GDAMS PA’O,,

 

Shariputra is again being addressed by name, and now advised that it is extremely important for him to put these things into practice: “You should go and practice this perfection of wisdom, in the same way that the great warrior saints we’ve talked about in the sutra up to here have done.”

 

 

 

The celebration

 

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[C25]

Atha khalu Bhagavān tasmāt samādhervyutthāyāryĀvalokiteśvarāya bodhisattvāya mahāsattvāya sādhukāram adāt. Sādhu sādhu kulaputra evam etat kulaputra.

 

尔时世尊。从三摩地安祥而起。赞观世音自在大菩萨言。善哉善哉。

 

DE NAS BCOM LDAN ‘DAS TING NGE ‘DZIN DE LAS BZHENGS TE BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG LA LEGS SO, ,ZHES BYA BA BYIN NAS LEGS SO, ,LEGS SO,,

 

With this, the Conqueror stirred himself from his deep state of meditation. He turned to the great warrior, to the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, and blessed his words, saying, “True.” “True,” he said, and “True” again.

 

 

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[268]

GSUM PA {%BZHI PA} RJES SU YI RANG MDZAD PA NI, DE NAS BCOM LDAN ‘DAS TING NGE ‘DZIN DE LAS BZHENGS TE ZHES PA MAN CHAD KYIS STON CING,

 

This brings us to the fourth and final section of the answering, which is the celebration.[93] This is presented in the section that beginning from, “With this, the Conqueror stirred himself from his deep state of meditation”—and continues on to the end of the sutra.

 

 

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[269]

DE YANG, [f. 14a] SPYAN RAS GZIGS KYIS DE LTAR BSTAN ZIN PA DE NAS BCOM LDAN ‘DAS ZAB MO SNANG BA ZHES BYA BA’I TING NGE ‘DZIN DE LAS BZHENGS PA’I TSUL BSTAN TE,

 

And so when Loving Eyes had completed the teaching we’ve described (“with this”), the Conqueror pretended to stir himself from his deep state of meditation—this “awareness of the profound.”

 

 

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[270]

BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG LA BKA’ STZAL PA, KHYOD KYIS DE LTAR BSTAN PA DE LEGS PAR BSTAN PAS LEGS SO ZHES BYA BA BYIN TE,

 

And he turned and spoke to the great warrior, the realized one Loving Eyes, lord of power, and blessed his words, saying:

 

What you have taught, you have taught well; and so I say, “True.”

 

 

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[271]

LEGS SO LEGS SO GNYIS GSUNGS PA NI SHIN TU LEGS PAR BSTAN PA LA THUGS DGYES SHING, GZHAN YID CHES SU GZHUG PA’I DON DU LHAG PAR BSNAN PA’O,,

 

When Lord Buddha then repeats “True” two more times, this addition is meant to indicate that his holy heart is pleased by this particularly excellent teaching; and further because he wants others to know they can put their faith in this instruction.

 

 

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[C26]

Evam etadgambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryam cartavyam yathā tvayā nirdiṣṭam anumodyaye sarvaTathāgatairarhadbhiḥ.

 

善男子。如是如是。如汝所说。甚深般若波罗蜜多行。应如是行。

如是行时。一切如来悉皆随喜。

 

RIGS KYI BU, DE DE BZHIN NO, ,DE DE BZHIN TE, JI LTAR KHYOD KYIS BSTAN PA DE BZHIN DU SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO LA SPYAD PAR BYA STE, DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA RNAMS KYANG RJES SU YI RANG NGO,,

 

Thus it is, o son of noble family; and thus is it. One should follow the profound perfection of wisdom just as you have taught it. Every one of Those Gone Thus rejoices in your words as I do.

 

 

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[273]

RIGS KYI BU DE DE BZHIN NO, ,DE DE BZHIN TE ZHES GNYIS GSUNGS PA NI, DON JI LTA BA BZHIN DU CHOS DANG MTHUN PAR BSTAN PA LA BDEN KHA STER BA STE, DE YANG ‘KHOR RNAMS YID CHES PA’I DON DU’O,,

 

And now Lord Buddha continues with “Thus it is, and thus is it. The reason he repeats himself here is that he wants to give his seal of approval to this teaching—to say that it expresses things as they truly are, and that it accords with his own instruction. This too is designed to inspire the trust of the assembled disciples in the words of Loving Eyes.

 

 

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[274]

JI LTAR KHYOD KYIS BSTAN PA DE BZHIN DU SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO LA BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS KYIS KYANG SPYAD PAR BYA STE,

And then Lord Buddha is saying, “One—meaning all you warrior saints—should follow the profound perfection of wisdom just as Loving Eyes has taught it here.”

 

 

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[275]

DE LTAR BSTAN PA ‘DI LA NGAS RJES SU YI RANG BA MDZAD PA TZAM DU MA ZAD, PHYOGS BCU’I DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA RNAMS KYANG THUGS DGYES PAS RJES SU YI RANG NGO,,

 

And then: “I do rejoice in what you’ve taught here; but you should know that it’s not only me who’s rejoicing. Every one of Those Gone Thus, in every corner of the universe, also rejoices in your words, as I do: you have truly pleased their hearts.”

 

 

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[C27]

Idam avocadBhagavān ānandamanā āyuṣmāñChāriputra Āryāvalokiteśvaraśca bodhisattvo mahāsattvaḥ sā ca sarvāvatī parṣat sadevamānuṣāsuragandharvaśca loko Bhagavato bhāṣitam abhyanandanniti.

 

尔时世尊如是说已。青年比丘舍利子。观世音自在大菩萨及彼众会一切世间天人非天天乐神等。闻佛所说。皆大欢喜。信受奉行。

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS DE SKAD CES BKA’ STZAL NAS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RI’I BU DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS KYI DBANG PHYUG DANG, [f. 261a] THAMS CAD DANG LDAN PA’I ‘KHOR DE DAG LHA DANG, MI DANG, LHA MA YIN DANG, DRI ZAR BCAS PA’I ‘JIG RTEN YI RANG STE BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS GSUNGS PA LA MNGON PAR BSTOD DO,,

 

And when the Conqueror had spoken thus, the junior monk Shariputra took joy; and the warrior, the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, took joy as well. And all the assembled disciples took joy, and so did the entire world—with its gods, and its men, and near-gods and spirits too—take joy. All sang their praises of what the Conqueror had spoken.

 

 

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[277]

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYI {%KYIS} DE SKAD CES BKA’ STZAL NAS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RI’I BU DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG DANG, GZHAN DER ‘DUS PA’I THAMS CAD DANG LDAN PA’I ‘KHOR BYANG SEMS NYAN THOS DE DAG DANG, LHA DANG MI DANG LHA MA YIN DANG DRI ZAR BCAS PA’I ‘JIG RTEN PA RNAMS YI RANG ZHING DGA’ STE, BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS JI SKAD GSUNGS PA LA MNGON PAR BSTOD DO ZHES PA STE,

And when the Conqueror had spoken thus, the junior monk Shariputra took joy; and the warrior, the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, took joy as well. And beyond that all the assembled disciples gathered in that place—the warrior saints and the listeners—took joy. And so did the entire world—with its gods, and its men, and near-gods and spirits too—take joy and pleasure. All sang their praises of these words that the Conqueror had spoken.

 

 

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[278]

YID CHES PA’I MJUG SDUD DANG BSNGAGS PA’O,,

 

This is a final wrap-up to show that the sutra is something in which we can believe, and to praise its content.

 

 

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[279]

KHA CIG TU SH’A RI DHVA TI’I {%SH’A RA DVA T’I’I} BU ZHES ‘BYUNG BA LTAR NA, STON LDAN MA’I BU STE SH’A RA DA {%SH’A RAD} NI STON PA {%STON KA} DANG, NYI {%BA TI} LDAN PA’I DON DU BSHAD PA LTAR RO,,

 

In some editions of the sutra, we see Sharadvatiputra rather than Shariputra. When the name comes this way, it has the meaning of “son of the woman who has autumn”: the sharad means autumn; and vati means having.[94]

 

 

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[280]

‘O NA ‘DI’I GZHUNG DNGOS NI SPYAN RAS GZIGS KYIS BSHAD PAS DE SANGS RGYAS [f. 14b] KYI BKA’ JI LTAR ‘GYUR ZHE NA,

 

One may ask the following question:

 

Now if the actual text here consists of the explanation by Loving Eyes, then how can we say that this teaching constitutes the word of the Buddha?

 

 

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[281]

SPYIR SANGS RGYAS KYI BKA’ LA ZHAL NAS GSUNGS PA DANG, BYIN GYIS RLABS PA DANG, RJES SU GNANG BA’I BKA’ GSUM YOD PA LTAR, GZHUNG ‘DI LA’ANG DE GSUM KA CHANG {%TSANG} STE,

 

Generally speaking, the word of the Buddha comes in three different types: that which is actually spoken from his holy lips; that which is spoken through his blessing; and that which is spoken with his permission. All three of these types are to be found in the present sutra.

 

 

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[282]

THOG MA’I GLENG GZHI DANG MJUG GI BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS DE SKAD CES BKA’ STZAL NAS SOGS RJES SU GNANG BA’I BKA’, SH’A RI’I BUS DRIS PA DANG SPYAN RAS GZIGS KYIS LAN MDZAD PA RNAMS BYIN GYIS RLABS PA’I BKA’, SANGS RGYAS NYID KYIS LEGS SO DANG YI RANG MDZAD PA NI ZHAL NAS GSUNGS PA’I BKA’ YIN NO,,

 

The opening part, where the scene is set, as well as the closing part—“when the Conqueror had spoken thus” and so on—constitute the word of the Buddha which is spoken with his permission. Shariputra’s question, and the answer granted by Loving Eyes, are the word of the Buddha spoken through his blessing. And finally the parts where the Buddha himself says “True,” and then expresses his joy, are his word actually come from his holy lips.

 

 

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[283]

SANGS RGYAS KYI BKA’ YIN NA ZHAL NAS GSUNGS DGOS PA’I NGES PA MED DE, GDUGS DKAR NI SANGS RGYAS KYI GTZUG TOR NAS BYUNG ZHING, DER MA ZAD, SANGS RGYAS KYI MDZOD SPU MGRIN PA SPYAN SNYAN SHANGS LA SOGS PA’I SKU’I CHA SHAS THAMS CAD DANG LJON PAR {%PA} DAG LAS KYANG CHOS STON NUS PA’I PHYIR TE,

 

Something can be the word of a Buddha, and not necessarily have to be spoken from his or her holy lips. The secret teachings of the White Parasol, for example, issued from the crest upon the Buddha’s head. And not only that—all the different parts of a Buddha’s body also have the ability to grant teachings: the instruction can come from the sacred hair on his or her forehead; from the front of their throat; from their ears; and even from their anus or other places. The teachings of the Buddha can even come from the sound of the trees of the forest, blowing in the wind.

 

 

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[284]

RJES BSTOD SPRIN RGYA MTSO LAS, SPYI GTZUG MDZOD SPU MGRIN PA LA SOGS KHYOD SKU’I CHA SHAS KUN NAS ‘BYUNG BAR RAB STON KYANG, ,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

It’s just as the Lord says it in his Ocean of Clouds of Praise:

 

Teachings flow

From every part of your holy body:

From the crown, the sacred hair,

Front of the throat,

And all the rest.[95]

 

 

 

The final words

 

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[C28]

Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtram samāptam.

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNYING PO ZHES BYA BA THEG PA CHEN PO’I MDO RDZOGS SO,,

 

This completes the sutra of the greater way known as the Lady of Conquest, the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.

 

 

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[286]

GSUM PA MJUG GI DON NI, BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNYING PO RDZOGS SO, ,ZHES PA STE,

 

Which brings us to the third and final section to our presentation of the body of the present commentary: the meaning of the conclusion of the sutra. This is contained in the final words here: This completes the Lady of Conquest, the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.”[96]

 

 

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[287]

SPYIR BCOM LDAN ‘DAS NI SANGS RGYAS LA BYED PA YIN YANG, ‘DIR SHER PHYIN LA DE’I SGRAS BRJOD PA YIN LA, MA ZHES PAS NI STONG PHYOGS SKYE MED MTSON ZHING, YUM ZHES PA’I DON KYANG YIN STE,

 

Generally speaking, the word “Conqueror” refers to the Buddha; but in this case we are using it to refer to the perfection of wisdom. The word Lady here represents the emptiness side of things: the fact that nothing starts by itself. There is also a connotation here of “mother.”

 

 

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[288]

DE YANG RGYAL BA’I YUM ZHES ‘BYUNG BA RNAMS NI, RGYAL {%BA} RNAMS SHER PHYIN NYAMS SU BLANGS PA LA BRTEN NAS ‘KHRUNGS PAS DE LTAR DU BRJOD KYI, BUD MED LA YUM DU BYAS PA LTA BU NI MA YIN NO,,

 

When we see references to the “Mother of the Victorious Buddhas,” the point is that the Victors are born from putting the perfection of wisdom into practice. It is not like when we call a woman a “wife.”[97]

 

 

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[289]

SHER PHYIN GYI DON GONG DU CUNG ZAD BSHAD ZIN CING, SNYING PO ZHES PA NI SHER PHYIN GYI MDO RGYAS ‘BRING BSDUS GSUM LA SOGS PA MANG DU BZHUGS PA RNAMS KYI DON GYI SNYING PO BSDUS TE STON PA LA BYA DGOS [f. 15a] PAR MNGON NO,,

 

As for “Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom” here, I have already described above, somewhat, the meaning of the phrase “perfection of wisdom.” As for the word “heart,” it would seem that we should take it as saying that this sutra is the heart, or essential abbreviation, of the meaning of all the many sutras on the perfection of wisdom which we see in the world: the more extensive presentations, the medium-length ones, and the abbreviated ones.

 

 

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[290]

‘DIR BKA’ GDAMS PA ‘GA’ ZHIG GIS YUM CHEN MO’I SKU BSGOM PA DANG, SNGAGS BZLA BAR BSHAD PA NI DPYAD GZHIR SNAR {%SNANG} LA, KHA CIG DBANG BSKUR BYED PA NI RANG BZOR BSHAD DO,,

 

It was the tradition of a number of the Keepers of the Word[98] to teach fashioning an image of the Great Mother and then meditating on it, as the mantra is recited. This practice needs some investigation as to its authenticity. The custom of granting an initiation into the practice is explained as being something that was just made up by its adherents.

 

 

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[291]

ZLOG PA’I CHED YIN NA, MTHAR BDEN STOBS BRJOD NAS BYED PA DAR ZHING, THAL MO BRDABS PA NI DE’I YAN LAG TZAM YIN NO, ,‘DI DAG LA DPYAD PA NI GONG DU BRJOD ZIN TO,,

 

The Heart Sutra is sometimes recited out loud for the purpose of repelling negative forces. The practice of proclaiming an act of truth at the end of this recitation has spread pretty widely. When you clap your hands at this point, it is simply a component of the act of truth. We have examined these points earlier.[99]

 

 

 

Ropes & snakes

 

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[292]

,,GSUM PA ZAB DON RIGS PAS GTAN LA ‘BEBS TSUL MDOR BSDUS ZHIG BSHAD PA LA,

 

The third step that we promised way back at the beginning of this commentary was a brief explanation on how to establish this same deepest idea—emptiness—through the use of reasoning; and now we have reached that final section.[100]

 

 

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[293]

‘DIR THAL ‘GYUR BA’I LUGS GZHIR BZHAG NAS ‘CHAD PA YIN ZHING, ‘DI LA RIGS PA’I RNAM GRANGS MANG YANG CHOS THAMS CAD RTOG PAS BTAGS TZAM DU ‘JOG LUGS SHES NA RANG BZHIN GYIS MA GRUB PA’I TSUL SHES SLA BAS,

 

I will give my presentation here based on the position of the highest school: the Consequence group.[101] Now there are many different, and equivalent, types of reasoning that you could use here; but if you understand how everything in the world is established through nothing more than a process of laying concepts on things, then it will be a simple matter for you to grasp then how it is that these things cannot exist through any nature of their own.

 

 

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[294]

RTOG PAS ‘JOG TSUL YANG DPER NA, THAG PA KHA DOG KHRA BO DANG ‘KHYIL LUGS DBYIBS SBRUL DANG ‘DRA ZHING YUL MI GSAL BA NA GNAS PA’I TSE ‘DI SBRUL LO SNYAM PA’I RNAM RTOG SKYE’O,,

 

How does the projection work? Think for example of a piece of rope that has a checkered pattern, and is coiled in such a way that its outline resembles that of a snake. If we come across the rope in an area which is not well-lit, then we can come up with the mistaken conception that “Oh! This is a snake!”

 

 

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[295]

DE’I TSE THAG PA’I KHA DOG DANG DBYIBS DANG CHA SHAS DANG TSOGS PA DANG RGYUN GANG YANG DON LA SBRUL GYI MTSAN GZHIR BZUNG RGYU CUNG ZAD KYANG MED PAS, THAG PA DE NYID SBRUL DU SNANG BA NI RTOG PAS BTAGS PA KHO NAR GSAL LO,,

 

At this particular moment, there is nothing at all about the color or the shape of this object—or about its parts or its whole or its flow over time—which could properly be considered what we call a “snake.” As such, it is absolutely clear that this rope’s appearing to be a snake is simply a concept laid on it.

 

 

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[296]

DPE DE BZHIN DU PHUNG PO ‘DI LA BRTEN NAS NGA’O SNYAM PA’I BLO SKYES PA’I TSE, RANG GI PHUNG PO’I KHA DOG DANG DBYIBS DANG SKAD CIG RE RE DANG YAN LAG DANG DE DAG GI CHA SHAS DANG SNGA PHYI’I TSOGS PA DANG RGYUN SOGS GANG YANG NGA’I MTSAN GZHIR ‘JOG TU MI RUNG STE, DE LA RIGS PAS GNOD PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

The same thing happens when we look at our body and mind—the heaps that make us up—and the thought comes up in our head, “That’s me!” There is nothing about the color of these heaps, or about their shape, or the successive moments of their flow, or the various components, or their various parts, or the combined construct of earlier and later versions, or their flow or anything else at all, which could properly be considered what we call “me.” And that’s because it would be illogical.

 

 

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[297]

DER MA ZAD GZUGS SOGS KYI PHUNG PO LAS NGO BO THA DAD PA’I CHOS GZHAN YANG NGA DE’I MTSAN GZHIR MI RUNG LA,

 

And that’s not all! We could also consider all the other things in the world that aren’t related to our body or mind. Neither could any of them be properly considered what we call “me.”

 

 

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[298]

‘ON KYANG MA BRTAGS MA DPYAD PAR NGA ZHES PA’I THA SNYAD BYED MOD, ‘DI LA NGANG {%NGA} [f. 15b] ZHES PA’I THA SNYAD ‘JUG PA’I GZHI DE GANG ZHIG YIN SNYAM DU RIGS PAS RNAM PAR DPYAD PA NA CUNG ZAD KYANG MI RNYED PAS, DE’I TSE NGA DE NI RTOG PAS BZHAG PA TZAM DU ZAD DO,,

 

But if we don’t dig too deep into it, we can admittedly say that we are calling these things “me.” However, if you really use your logic to try to locate what it is we are calling “me,” you won’t come up with the slightest bit of anything at all. This is when you can realize that the “me” is just a creation of concepts.

 

 

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[299]

DE BZHIN DU GZUGS PHUNG YANG MGO LA SOGS PA’I YAN LAG LNGA TSOGS PA’I STENG NAS BZHAG PA YIN GYI, YAN LAG LNGA RE RE NAS GZUGS PHUNG DE MA YIN ZHING YAN LAG LNGA LAS NGO BO THA DAD PA’I GZUGS PHUNG SPYI TZAM PA DE MED DO,,

 

Even just the physical part of us—our body—is also just something that we establish on the basis of the combination of the head and other four components that make it up.[102] It’s not as though each of these components alone were the entire body; nor is there some overall body which is somehow different from these parts, and unrelated to them.

 

 

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[300]

DE BZHIN DU TSOR PHUNG SOGS BZHI LA’ANG SBYOR ZHING DPUNG {%NGA PHUNG} LA BSHAD PA DE BZHIN DU BUM PA KA BA RI RA BA {%RE RE BA LA YANG} KHANG KHYIM YO BYAD SOGS THAMS CAD LA SBYAR BAR BYA STE,

 

We can apply the same logic to the other four parts of a person—their feelings, and so on. And this explanation of “me” and my parts is to be applied in the same way to everything else around us: to things like water pitchers on our tables; pillars that hold up the house; the house itself; and all the other articles inside the house.[103]

 

 

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[301]

KA BUM LTA BU’I CHA SHAS TSOGS PA SOGS KANG YANG KA BUM SOGS KYI MTSAN GZHIR MI RUNG ZHING, DE LAS DON GZHAN PA ZHIG KYANG DE DAG GI MTSAN GZHIR MI RUNG BAR KUN NAS MTSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

That is, neither the parts of the pitchers or pillars, nor their wholes or so on, can properly be considered what we call these objects. Nor is there something different from and unrelated to them which can be considered what we call these things—the case with all of these is exactly the same.

 

 

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[302]

‘ON KYANG THAG PA LA SBRUL DU ‘DOGS PA’I RTOG PA NI LOG SHES YIN LA, GANG ZAG DANG PHUNG PO DANG KA BUM SOGS SU ‘DOGS PA’I RTOG PA NI MA BRTAGS MA DPYAD PA’I THA SNYAD PA’I RTOG PA DON MTHUN YIN TE, DE’I KHYAD PAR CUNG ZAD CIG ‘OG TU ‘CHAD PAR ‘GYUR RO,,

 

We should note though that when we conceive of a piece of rope as a snake, this is a mistaken perception; whereas when we conceive of these things as a person or their parts, or a pillar or a pitcher or whatever, the nominal perception here is an accurate one—if we don’t dig too deep. We will go into this difference a little bit more later on.

 

 

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[303]

RIGS PA DES CHOS THAMS CAD RTOG PAS BTAGS TZAM DU GRUB PAS, RTOG PAS BTAGS TZAM MIN PAR RANG DBANG GIS GRUB PAR ‘DZIN PA NI BDEN ‘DZIN DANG, DES BZUNG BA LTAR GRUB NA RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PA DANG BDEN PAR GRUB PA SOGS SU ‘GYUR RO,,

 

The logic we have outlined here establishes that everything in the universe is nothing but a product of our conceptualization. Thus, when we take something to be otherwise—when we take it as not being a product of our concepts, but rather something that can exist through its own power—that’s what we call “believing that something is real, or true.” If things actually existed in the way this state of mind thinks they do, then they would have to be things that existed through some nature of their own; or in truth; or in the other wording we’ve used above.

 

 

 

Not parts, not wholes

 

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[304]

DGAG BYA DE ‘GOG PA’I REGS {%RIGS} PA NI MGON PO KLU SGRUB KYI RTZA BA SHES RAB LAS RGYAS PAR GSUNGS SHING, RIN CHEN ‘PHRENG BA LAS,

 

The logic we use to disprove the thing that emptiness denies here is described at great length by our protector, Nagarjuna, in his Root Verses on Wisdom. He also states the following, in his String of Precious Jewels:

 

 

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[305]

,SKYES BU SA MIN CHU MA YIN,

,ME MIN RLUNG MIN NAM MKHA’ MIN,

,RNAM SHES MA YIN KUN MIN NA,

,DE LAS GZHAN PA’I SKYES BU GANG,

,SKYES BU KHAMS DRUG ‘DUS PA’I PHYIR,

,YANG DAG MA YIN JI LTA BAR,

,DE BZHIN KHAMS NI RE RE YANG [f. 16a],

,’DUS PHYIR YANG DAG NYID DU MIN,

 

The person is not earth;

Nor are they water, or fire,

Or wind, or space,

Or consciousness.

 

And since the person

Is none of these,

How could they be

Something else?

 

The person is a composite

Of six different elements;

And thus cannot exist

In essence.

 

And each of these elements,

In turn, is a composite;

So could never exist

In essence either.[104]

 

 

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[306]

,ZHES PHUNG PO’I STENG DU NGA RTOG PAS BTAGS PA TZAM MA GTOGS, NGA RANG NGOS NAS MA GRUB PAR BSTAN TO, ,DE YANG SKYES BU NI NGA’AM GANG ZAG GO

 

The point here is that “me” is just a concept applied to the parts of the person; there is no “me” which exists from their own side. When it says “the person” here, what that means is “me,” or the individual.

 

 

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[307]

,SA MIN NAS RNAM SHES MIN ZHES PA’I BAR GYIS GANG ZAG GI SA LA SOGS PA’I KHAMS DRUG GI CHA SO SO NAS GANG ZAG TU ‘JOG PA BKAG CING, KUN MIN ZHES PAS KHAMS DRUG GI TSOGS PA GANG ZAG TU ‘JOG PA BKAG LA,

 

The wording here from “not earth” up to “not consciousness” is meant to deny the idea that the elements of earth and so forth inside the person—the six elements that are the person’s parts[105]—could be, each on its own, what we consider the person. And then when it says “the person is none of these,” this is meant to deny that the whole composite of the six elements together could be what we consider the person, either.

 

 

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[308]

DE LAS GZHAN NAS SKYES BU GANG, ,ZHES PAS PHUNG KHAMS LAS NGO BO THA DAD PA’I GANG ZAG ‘JOG PA BKAG GO

 

The part about “How could they be something else?” is meant to deny that the person could be something else, unrelated to these elements.

 

 

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[309]

,SKYES BU KHAMS DRUG ‘DUS PA’I PHYIR, ,ZHES PAS, NGA DE KHAMS DRUG ‘DUS PA’I STENG NAS BZHAG PAR BSTAN CING, RGYU MTSAN DE NYID KYIS SKYE BU’AM NGA RANG BZHIN GYIS MA GRUB PA NI, YANG DAG MIN ZHES PAS BSTAN TO,,

 

And then “The person is a composite of six different elements” is meant to indicate that “me” is an idea laid upon the six elements considered altogether. For this very reason then, the person—or “me”—cannot be something which exists through any nature of its own; and this is the point of the phrase, “cannot exist in essence.”

 

 

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[310]

DPE DE BZHIN DU KHAMS RE RE YANG RANG RANG GI CHA SHAS TSOGS PA LA BRTEN NAS BZHAG PAS YANG DAG PAR RAM BDEN PAR GRUB PA MED CES STON PA NI, JI LTA BAR,

,DE BZHIN KHAMS NI RE RE YANG,

,’DUS PHYIR YANG DAG NYID DU MIN,

,ZHES GSUNGS SO,,

 

As we’ve seen with this example, the same applies to each of the elements taken individually: each one is established on the basis of the composite of its own parts. As such, they cannot themselves exist “in essence,” or “in truth.” And that is the message of the lines,

 

And each of these elements,

In turn, is a composite;

So could never exist

In essence either.

 

 

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[311]

RTZA SHES LAS,

,GAL TE PHUNG PO BDAG YIN NA,

,SKYE DANG ‘JIG PA CAN DU ‘GYUR,

,GAL TE PHUNG PO RNAMS LAS GZHAN,

,PHUNG PO’I MTSAN YID {%NYID} MED PAR ‘GYUR,

 

Wisdom puts it this way:

 

If the parts of a person

Made up some self-nature,

Then that nature

Would have to come and go.

 

And if the person

Were something other

Than the parts of a person,

It could not be characterized

By its parts.[106]

 

 

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[312]

,ZHES DPUNG {%ZHES NGA PHUNG} GCIG DANG NGO BO THA DAD PA’I PHYOGS GNYIS KA YIN PA BKAG CING, SPYOD ‘JUG LAS KYANG DE LTAR GSUNGS SO,,

 

These lines are meant to deny that the “me” and the parts of the person could be either one and the same; or separate, unrelated things. The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life makes the same point.[107]

 

 

 

Learning to apply emptiness

 

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[313]

KA BUM SOGS CHOS GZHAN LA’ANG DE BZHIN DU SBYOR DGOS PA YIN TE, TING NGE ‘DZIN RGYAL PO LAS, JI LTAR KHYOD KYIS BDAG GI ‘DU SHES NI, ,SHES PA DE BZHIN KUN LA BLOS SBYAR BYA, ZHES DANG,

 

We need to apply the same logic to other things, like pillars and pitchers. As the King of Concentration puts it,

 

Take this idea of yourself

And apply that same thinking

To everything else there is.[108]

 

 

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[314]

SDUD PA LAS,

,BDAG CI ‘DRA BA DE ‘DRAR SEMS CAN THAMS CAD SHES [f. 16b],

,SEMS CAN THAMS CAD CI ‘DRA DE ‘DRAR CHOS KUN SHES,

,SKYE BA MED DANG SKYE BA GNYIS KAR MI RTOG PA,

,’DI NI SHES RAB PHA ROL PHYIN MCHOG SPYOD PA YIN,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTAR RO,,

 

The Brief Presentation too says:

 

Understand every living being

In the same way you understand yourself.

Understand every existing thing

In the same way you understand beings.

 

When you no longer imagine

That things can’t start, or that they can,

Then you are living the life

Of this highest perfection of wisdom. [109]

 

 

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[315]

DE YANG BUM PA LTA BU LA SBYOR TSUL GSAL BAR BSHAD NA, BUM PA ZHES ‘JOG PA NI THA SNYAD DAM RTOG PA’I DBANG GIS BZHAG PA YIN TE,

Let’s go through the process of applying all this to a water pitcher, for example, just to get it clear. When we decide that something is a water pitcher, it’s all just established by means of terms, or we can say concepts.

 

 

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[316]

BUM PA YOD PAR NI ‘DOD DGOS LA, DE YANG BUM PA’O ZHES BRJOD PA NA MING DE TZAM GYI RJES SU ‘BRANG NAS LTO LDIR BA LA BUM PA’O SNYAM DU ‘DZIN PA’I BLO ‘BYUNG BA LTAR BUM PA MTHONG DANG

 

Now first of all we have to admit that the water pitcher really does exist. When someone says this term, “water pitcher,” then our thoughts follow this thing—which is nothing but a name. A thought comes up in our mind which holds, “Oh, this thing with the rounded body is a water pitcher”—and then we see a pitcher.

 

 

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[317]

BLANG DOR GYI BYA BA LA BZHUGS PAS KUN RDZOB MI BSLU BA DANG BYA BYED KYI RNAM GZHAG ‘THAD PA YIN GYI,

 

And then we do everything we need to do with the pitcher—and so we can say that objects in deceptive reality still work in an unerring way; that is, the whole structure of how things do things is entirely correct and valid.

 

 

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[318]

DE MCHOG {%MA CHOG} PAR BUM PA DE RANG GI MCHU DANG LTO BA DANG ZHABS DANG MGRIN PA SOGS GANG YIN SNYAM DU BRTAGS PA NA BUM PA RNYED RGYU MED PAS, BLANG DOR GYI RNAM GZHAG BYED MI NUS SO,,

 

But suppose you’re not satisfied with this, and you go checking the mouth of the pitcher, or its rounded body, or its base or its neck or so forth, and asking yourself which one of these is the pitcher itself. If you go at it this way, you’ll never find the pitcher! And then you’ll never be able to relate to the pitcher in any way at all.

 

 

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[319]

DE BZHIN DU SKYES BU GANG DANG ‘PHRAD CING MTHONG BAR ‘DOD PA’I TSE SKYES BU DE ‘DI’O ZHES BSTAN PA NA MING DE TZAM GYIS RJES SU ‘BRANG NAS BLTAS PAS SKYES BU DE’I GZUGS KYI CHA MTHONG BA’I TSE SKYES BU DE MTHONG BAR ‘JOG NUS KYI,

 

The same applies to a case where we want to meet up with some friend of ours. We say “I’m looking for so-and-so,” and then with our mind just following that name, we look for them. And we say we have “met” that person as soon as we catch sight of a sizable chunk of their physical body.

 

 

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[320]

DE TZAM GYIS MA TSIM PAR DA DUNG SKYES BU DE KHO RANG GI MGO LA SOGS PA’I YAN LAG DANG DE’I CHA SHAS DANG DE LAS NGO BO THA DAD PA’I DON GANG YIN ZHES DPYAD PA NA SKYES BU ZHES BYA BA CI YANG MI RNYED PAS,

But suppose we weren’t satisfied with this, and we dug deeper and started asking whether this person was their head, or some other part; or even if they were some other, unrelated thing. In that case, we would never be able to find what we were calling this person.

 

 

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[321]

DE’I PHYIR CHOS THAMS CAD KYANG MING BRDAS BZHAG TZAM DANG RTOG PAS BTAGS TZAM DU GRUB BO,,

 

Thus it is that we determine that everything in the world too is just established through names and terms—it’s all just a creation of our concepts.

 

 

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[322]

DE LTAR YANG YUM GYI MDO LAS, ‘DI LTA STE GZUGS ZHES BYA BA ‘DI NI MING TZAM MO, ,ZHES SOGS DANG,

 

The Mother Sutras put it the same way:

 

Here is how it is.

What you call physical form is nothing more than name.[110]

 

 

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[323]

SDUD PA LAS, ,CHOS DE RNAMS NI MING TZAM DU NI YONGS SU BSGRAGS, ,ZHES DANG,

 

And the Brief Presentation says,

 

All the things there are

Were declared

To be nothing but names.[111]

 

 

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[324]

RIN CHEN ‘PHRENG BA LAS KYANG,

,GZUGS KYI DNGOS PO MING TZAM PHYIR,

,NAM MKHA’ YANG NI MING TZAM MO,,

ZHES SOGS GSUNGS SO,,

 

The String of Precious Jewels says too,

 

That ever-changing thing,

Physical form,

Is nothing but names;

And so changeless space

Is but a name as well.[112]

 

 

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[325]

MING TZAM ZHES [f. 17a] PAS THA SNYAD KYI DON YOD PA MI ‘GOG GI ,DON DAM PAR YOD PA ‘GOG PA YIN NO,,

 

When it says “nothing but names” here, it’s not meant to deny that nominal objects do exist; what’s being denied is that things could exist in an ultimate way.

 

 

 

Learning to investigate

 

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[326]

THA SNYAD KYI DON LA THA SNYAD KYI DPYAD PA MI ‘JUG PA MIN KYANG, DON DAM GYI DPYAD PA MI ‘JUG STE, DON DAM DPYOD BYED KYI RIGS PAS RNAM PAR DPYAD NA BSHAD PA LTAR CHOS GANG YANG DPYAD MTHAR MI RNYED PA’I PHYIR TE,

It’s not the case that a nominal sort of investigation cannot engage in nominally existing objects; rather, it’s an investigation into ultimates which cannot be applied to them. If we do check with a logical state of mind which investigates on the level of ultimates, then—as we explained above—by the time we come to the end of our investigation we haven’t found a single thing at all.

 

 

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[327]

DE LA DGONGS NAS DPAL LDAN ZLA BAS, THA SNYAD BDEN LA RNAM PAR DPYAD MI BYA, ,ZHES GSUNGS PA YIN NO,,

 

It’s with this fact in mind that the glorious Chandrakirti has said, “Don’t even try to examine the truth of nominal things.”[113]

 

 

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[328]

DON DAM DPYOD BYED KYI RIGS PAS BUM SOGS BTZAL BA’I TSE MA RNYED PA DE BUM SOGS DON DAM PAR RAM RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PA’I DON DU SONGS {%SONG} BA YIN GYI, SPYIR BUM SOGS MED PA’I DON DU SONG BA MIN TA {%TE}, DE’I TSE BUM SOGS RANG BZHIN MED PAR RNYED PA YIN GYI, BUM SOGS MED PAR RNYED PA MIN NO,,

 

When we say that we have used a logical state of mind investigating ultimates and then found nothing when we went looking for a water pitcher or something of the like, what that ends up meaning is that things like pitchers cannot exist ultimately: through any nature of their own. What it doesn’t end up meaning though is that—generally speaking—things like pitchers can’t exist. That is, what we have discovered at this point is that pitchers and such have no nature of their own; it’s not that we’ve discovered that there are no pitchers or the like.

 

 

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[329]

‘O NA BUM SOGS KYI CHOS RANG BZHIN GYIS MED NA, MED PA’I GO MI CHOD DAM ZHE NA,

 

One may ask the following question:

 

When we say that things like water pitchers do not exist through any nature of their own, is that enough to say that they don’t exist at all?

 

 

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[330]

THA SNYAD DU YOD PAS YOD GO CHOD KYANG, RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PAS MED GO MI CHOD PA YIN TE, YOD MED NI THA SNYAD KYI DBANG GIS ‘JOG PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

It is the case that if something exists in a nominal way, then that’s enough to say that it does exist; but not existing in a natural way is not enough to say that a thing doesn’t exist. This is because both existence and non-existence are themselves established by force of terms.

 

 

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[331]

GSUNG RAB LAS CHOS RNAMS YOD PA DANG MED PA DANG GNYIS KA DANG GNYIS KA MIN PA BZHI PO GANG YANG MIN PA LTA BU ZHIG GSUNGS PA’I SGRAS ZIN GYI RJES SU ‘BRANG NAS, SNGON GYI MKHAS PA ‘GA’ ZHIG CHOS RNAMS YOD PA YANG MIN, MED PA’ANG MIN ZHES ZER DGOS PA BYUNG NGO,,

 

Now there are declarations in the scriptures where they say that nothing in the universe exists; nothing doesn’t exist; nothing both exists and doesn’t exist; and nothing neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Some scholars of the past have taken such statements literally, which has forced them into claiming that there is no existence of things, and neither any non-existence of things.

 

 

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[332]

RJES RTEN ‘BREL BSTOD PA LAS,

,DE YANG KUN TU MED PA DANG,

,RANG BZHIN GYIS NI YOD PAS MIN,

,BSTOD {%LTOS} MED NAM MKHA’I ME TOG BZHIN,

,DES NA MA BRTEN YOD MA YIN,

 

The Praise for Dependence puts it this way:

 

It’s not that things

Don’t exist at all;

Nor do they exist

Through a nature

Of their own.

 

Something that could exist

Without relying

On something else

Is as real as a flower

Blooming in thin air.

 

Thus can we say

That nothing exists

Which relies on nothing else.[114]

 

 

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[333]

,ZHES PA’I RKANG PA DANG POS CHOS THAMS CAD NI, RNAM PA KUN TU STE GTAN NAS MED PA MIN PA DANG, RANG BZHIN GYIS NI YOD PAS MIN, ,ZHES PAS RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PA MIN PAR [f. 17b] BSTAN TE,

 

What the first section of these lines is saying is that it’s not the case that things don’t exist “at all”; which is to say, in no way at all. Then when it continues with “nor do they exist through a nature of their own,” what it’s saying is that nothing ever came to be through a self-nature.

 

 

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[334]

GTAN NAS MED PA MIN ZHES PAS THA SNYAD DU YOD PA DANG, RANG BZHIN GYIS YOD PA MIN ZHES PAS BDEN PAR GRUB PA MIN ZHES STON PAS

 

When we say that it’s not the case that things don’t exist at all, what we’re saying is that things do exist in a nominal way; and when we say it’s not the case that things exist through some nature of their own, what we’re saying is that things don’t exist in truth.

 

 

 

Learning to avoid the two extremes

 

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[335]

SNGA MAS CHAD MTHA’ SEL ZHING, PHYI MAS RTAG MTHA’ SEL BA’I PHYIR RTAG CHAD KYI MTHA’ GNYIS BKAG GO

 

And when we do say these things, the previous statement serves to prevent the extreme idea that everything must come to a stop; while the latter statement serves to prevent the extreme idea that things must exist without ever changing. As such, both of the standard extreme ideas[115]—that things could exist without changing, or that they have all come to a stop—are blocked here.

 

 

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[336]

,RTAG CHAD KYI MTHA’ GNYIS DANG BRAL BA’I RGYU MTSAN GYI GTZO BO NI RTEN ‘BREL YIN PA’I RGYU MTSAN GYIS YIN TE,

What is the main reason that we can say that these two extremes—that things could go on forever without changing, or that they have stopped altogether—cannot apply to any existing thing? This reason is the fact that these things exist in dependence.

 

 

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[337]

RTEN ‘BREL YIN PA’I DON YANG RANG GI CHA SHAS SOGS LA BLTOS PA’I DON YIN PAS, CHOS THAMS CAD KYANG RANG RANG GI CHA SHAS SOGS LA BLTOS PA YIN LA CHA SHAS LA MA BLTOS PA NI MED DE, NAM MKHA’I ME TOG BZHIN NO ZHES BYA BAR DGONGS SO,,

 

And what does it mean when we say that “things exist in dependence”? It means that all of them rely upon their parts, and so on.[116] That is, everything in the universe depends upon its own particular parts and so on: there is nothing that doesn’t rely on its parts. And that’s why Je Tsongkapa’s verse here says that such a thing would be “like a flower blossoming in thin air.”

 

 

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[338]

MTHA’ GNYIS ‘GOG BYED KYI RIGS PA’I RNAM GRANGS MANG YANG GTZO BO RTEN ‘BREL GYI RIGS PA NYID YIN TE, DPAL LDAN ZLA BAS,

 

Now there are many different traditional proofs for blocking these two extreme ideas. The main one though is what we call the “reasoning of dependence.” Again, the shining Chandrakirti has said,

 

 

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[339]

,DE PHYIR RTEN ‘BYUNG RIGS PA ‘DI YIS NI,

,LTA NGAN DRA BA MTHA’ DAG GCOD PAR BYED,

,CES DANG,

 

This then is why

The logic of dependence

Slashes away every net

Of views which are mistaken.[117]

 

 

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[340]

RJE NYID KYIS,

,BRTEN NAS ‘BYUNG BA’I RGYU MTSAN GYIS,

,MTHAR LTA BA LA MI BRTEN ZHES,

,LEGS GSUNGS ‘DI NI MGON KHYOD KYIS,

,SMRA BA BLA NA MED PA’I RGYU,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

The Lord himself has also stated,

 

You told us that

We didn’t need to rely

On views that were extreme;

 

And as a reason

You told us that things

Come about in dependence.

 

This single statement of yours,

O protector of ours,

Is sufficient for us to say

That you are the Teacher

Who has no match.[118]

 

 

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[341]

RTEN ‘BREL GYI RTAGS KYIS MTHA’ GNYIS CIG CAR DU SEL NUS PA YIN TE, DE YANG RTEN ‘BREL NI BRTEN NAS BYUNG BA’AM BRTEN NAS BZHAG PA DANG BLTOS PA’I DON YIN PAS, BRTEN NAS BYUNG ZHES PAS DNGOS SU CHAD PA’I MTHA’ ‘GOG PA YIN LA,

 

Now it is the case that the proof based on dependence does have the power to prevent both of the extreme ideas at once. That’s because, first of all, the meaning of the word “dependence” is that things comes about in dependence upon other things: that they are established as what they are because of this kind of dependence; that they always rely on something else. Therefore just saying that things occur in dependence functions to block, directly, the extreme idea that things could have come to a stop.

 

 

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[342]

BRTEN NAS BYUNG BA’AM BZHAG PA’I YOD PAR GO BA’I TSE, GTAN NAS MED PA’I CHAD MTHA’ DNGOS SU ‘GOG NUS PA’I TSUL GYIS RTAG MTHA’ YANG ‘GOG PA YIN TE, BRTEN NAS BYUNG BA’AM BZHAG GI ,RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PA MIN ZHES GO BA NA RTAG MTHA’ LEGS PAR ‘GOG NUS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

And when we realize that things do exist through a process of occurring in dependence—through being established because of their dependence—then in the same way that this idea has the power to block, directly, the extreme that things could have stopped, it also serves to block as well the idea that things could go on without ever changing. And that’s because once we understand how things occur in dependence—how they are established because of their dependence—then we also understand that they cannot have come about through some nature of their own. This concept has the perfect capacity to block the extreme idea that things could go on without ever changing.

 

 

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[343]

CHOS GCIG GI STENG DU MTHA’ GNYIS BKAG PA’I LTA BA BSKYED NUS NA, CHOS GZHAN GYI STENG DU [f. 18a] DE LTA BU’I LTA BA BSKYED NUS PA YIN TE, ‘PHAGS PA LHAS,

 

Suppose we are able to focus on a single object and reach this viewpoint that serves to block both the extreme ideas, with regard to it alone. By so doing, we are able to reach as well the very same viewpoint with regard to every other thing there is. As Master Aryadeva puts it,

 

 

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[344]

,GCIG GI LTA BO {%PO} GANG YIN PA,

,DE NI KUN GYI LTA BOR {%POR} BRJOD,

,GCIG GI STONG NYID GANG YIN PA,

,DE NI KUN GYI STONG PA NYID,

,ZHES DANG,

 

It’s been stated that

The way we look at a single thing

Is the way we look at everything:

The emptiness of one thing

Is the emptiness of everything.[119]

 

 

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[345]

,GANG GIS DNGOS GCIG DE BZHIN NYID MTHONG BA,

,DE YIS DNGOS KUN DE BZHIN NYID DU MTHONG,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR,

 

We also see—

 

Anyone who can see

How things really are

With just one single thing

Sees the way things are

With every single thing.[120]

 

 

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[346]

CHOS THAMS CAD RTOG PAS BTAGS TZAM DU GO BAS KYANG MTHA’ GNYIS SEL NUS PA YIN TE, RTOG PAS BRTAGS {%BTAGS} TZAM DU YOD NA, THA SNYAD DU YOD PAR GO BAS CHAD MTHA’ SEL, THA SNYAD DU YOD NA RANG BZHIN GYIS MED PAR SHES PAS RTAG MTHA’ SEL LO,,

 

The understanding that everything in the world is nothing more than a creation of concepts also has the power to prevent the two extreme ideas. That is, if something exists simply as a creation of concepts, we can understand that it exists only nominally—so that prevents the extreme idea of thinking that things must have stopped. And since if we understand that things do exist nominally, we understand that they cannot exist through any nature of their own, this then prevents us from the extreme idea that they could go on without ever changing.

 

 

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[347]

DE NI YUL GYI MTHA’ GNYIS ‘GOG PA’I DBANG DU BYAS LA, YUL CAN RTAG CHAD KYI LTA BA GNYIS KYANG SEL BA YIN NO,,

 

What’s going on here is that we have been able to disprove two specific objects of our thinking: things going on forever without changing; or things simply discontinuing. Once we do disprove these objects, then we also automatically prevent the two subject states of mind which focus upon them.

 

 

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[348]

SPYIR RTAG CHAD GNYIS KYI MTHA’ MED KYANG, MTHAR LHUNG BAR ‘JOG TSUL NI,

Generally speaking, the two extremes here—that things could go on forever without changing, or that they could simply stop altogether—don’t even exist. Nonetheless, there is a way that we can describe how a person “falls into” these extremes.

 

 

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[349]

DPER NA ‘JIG RTEN NA BRAG G-YANG GI MTHA’ LA LHUNG NA PHUNG BAR ‘GYUR BA LTAR, MTHA’ DE GNYIS SU BZUNG NA ‘DZIN PA PO PHUNG BAR ‘GYUR BAS MTHAR LHUNG BAR ‘JOG LA,

In the everyday world, for example, someone can walk up to the edge of a cliff and then fall off it into an abyss below, and lose everything. It’s the same way here: if a person believes in these two extremes, then they lose everything—and that’s what we describe as “falling into” the extremes.[121]

 

 

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[350]

DE YANG RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PAR BZUNG BA’I BLO YOD PA TZAM GYIS RTAG MTHAR LHUNG BAR MI ‘JOG STE, RANG BZHIN GYIS GRUB PAR ‘DZIN PA’I BLO NI THEG CHEN ‘PHAGS PA LA YANG YOD PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Now we don’t say that just because someone is entertaining a state of mind where they hold that things exist through some nature of their own they can be said to have fallen into the extreme view that things must go on without changing. And that’s because the state of mind where we believe that things are existing through their own nature can even be found in a realized being who is on the bodhisattva track, of the higher way.

 

 

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[351]

‘O NA JI LTAR ‘JOG CE NA, BDEN ‘DZIN GYIS BCINGS NA RTAG MTHAR LHUNG BA YIN LA,

“Well then,” you may ask, “what does it take for us to say that someone has fallen into this view?” The answer is that if a person is chained by the tendency to believe that things are real, then they have fallen into the view that things can never change.

 

 

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[352]

BCINGS PA’I DON NI BDEN ‘DZIN YOD PA TZAM MIN GYI, CHOS GANG LA YANG BDEN PAR GRUB BAM MA GRUB SNYAM DU SEMS PA NA, DE NYID BDEN PAR GRUB PAR ‘DZIN PA’I BDEN ZHEN LAS MI ‘DA’ ZHING ‘DA’ MI NUS NA NI, DES BCINGS PAR ‘JOG GO

 

And what does it mean when we say that someone is “chained” like this? It doesn’t just refer to the fact that they possess the tendency to believe that things are real. Rather, it means that—when the person who is chained considers the question of whether things exist in a real way or not—they can never go beyond an attachment to thinking that they are real: they can never go beyond believing that things are, in fact, real. When they cannot go beyond this, then that’s what we call being “chained.”

 

 

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[353]

,DE {%DES} NA BDEN MED RTOGS MYONG NA BDEN ‘DZIN GYIS BCINGS BA MIN MO {%NO},,

 

Therefore if a person has ever in the past realized the fact that things are not real, they are not someone whom we can describe as being “chained by the tendency to believe that things are real.”[122]

 

 

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[354]

CHAD MTHAR LHUNG BA YANG MOD {%YOD} PA ZHIG MED PAR BZUNG BA TZAM GYIS MI ‘JOG STE , [f. 18b] SANGS RGYAS MA GTOGS SO SKYE LTA CI SLOB PA ‘PHAGS PA THAMS CAD KYANG JI SNYED PA’I CHOS RNAMS KYI RNAM PAR {%RNAM PA’I} RAB DBYE PHRA ZHING PHRA BA MTHA’ DAG LA THE TSOM CHOS PA MA YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Turning to the extreme view of holding that things must have stopped altogether, we can also say that simply believing that something which does exist does not exist is not enough to say that someone has “fallen” in this way. For ordinary people—those who have not yet seen emptiness directly—and even realized beings who have seen, but who are not yet Buddhas, still have not resolved every single one of their doubts about each and every one of the infinite and extremely subtle divisions to all the things that exist in this universe.

 

 

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[355]

DES NA SPYIR LAS ‘BRAS DANG DKON MCHOG GSUM MED PAR LTA BA SOGS CHAD MTHAR LHUNG BA YIN ZHING, JI LTA JI SNYED PA’I CHOS RAGS PA DANG BDEN BZHI RAGS PA SOGS MED PAR LTA BA’ANG DE DANG MTSUNGS PAR SEMS LA,

And as such, people can still—generally speaking, in my thinking—have fallen into the extreme view of thinking things don’t exist, in the sense of denying details of something like the laws of karma and its consequences; or of the Three Jewels.[123] And they can still hold the view that things like certain gross objects taken in either by how all things are or by how many things are,[124] or gross details of the four truths, don’t even exist.

 

 

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[356]

LAS ‘BRAS DANG JI LTA JI SNYED PA’I CHOS PHRA MO ‘GA’ ZHIG YOD PAR MA SHES PAS DE DAG MED PAR BZUNG BA NI SKYON YIN YANG, DE RGYUD LDAN GYI GANG ZAG THAMS CAD CHAD MTHAR LHUNG BA YIN ZHES BYAS NA MI BDE BAS DPYAD PAR BYA’O,,

 

They can also have problems like not realizing that certain subtle details of the laws of karma and its consequences, or certain subtle examples of the way all things are, or all the things there are, actually exist; and so they might believe that they don’t. Nonetheless, it feels to me uncomfortable to say that everyone who has any of the beliefs we’ve mentioned here in their mind must have fallen into the extreme idea that things have stopped existing. At any rate, this question bears further investigation.

 

 

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[357]

KHA CIG SPYIR YOD PAR BZUNG NA RTAG MTHAR LHUNG BA DANG, MED PAR BZUNG NA CHAD MTHAR LHUNG BAR ‘DOD PA NI MA GO BA CHEN PO YIN TE, SANGS RGYAS LA YON TAN YOD PAR BZUNG BA DANG, SKYON MED PAR BZUNG BAS RTAG CHAD DU GA LA LHUNG,

 

There are some people who believe that anytime you hold that something exists, you have fallen into the extreme view of thinking that things cannot ever change; and that whenever you hold that something doesn’t exist, you have fallen into the extreme of thinking that things have stopped existing altogether. This though is a major misunderstanding. How could a person who believed that fine qualities of the Buddha exist, and that negative qualities of the Buddha don’t exist, have fallen into the extremes of things never changing, or stopping?

 

 

 

The appearing is real

 

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[358]

RANG ‘DZIN RTOG PA ‘GA’ ZHIG GI NGO BOR YOD NA SPYIR YOD MI DGOS TE, BUM PA BDEN GRUB DE DE ‘DZIN PA’I RTOG PA’I NGO BO {%BOR} YOD KYANG SPYIR MED LA,

Just because something exists to the perceptions of certain persons who hold that something is there doesn’t necessarily mean that, in general, it has to actually be there. The “fact” that a water pitcher exists in truth exists to the perception of a person who believes this to be the case; and yet in general this “fact” doesn’t exist at all.

 

 

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[359]

DE BZHIN DU THAG KHRA SBRUL YIN PA DE DE SBRUL ‘DZIN GYI RTOG PA’I NGO BOR YOD KYANG SPYIR MED DO,,

 

Similarly, the “fact” that a piece of rope is a snake does exist to the perceptions of a person who believes the rope is a snake; and yet in general it does not exist.

 

 

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[360]

‘O NA THAG KHRA’I STENG DU SBRUL MED PA LTAR, CHOS THAMS CAD KYANG DE LTAR DU ‘GYUR TE, GONG DU DPE DON SBYOR TSUL DE ‘THAD PA’I PHYIR RO SNYAM NA,

 

This may in turn lead someone to think to themselves:

 

Well then; according to you, we can say that there exists no snake in the rope. And then that should apply as well to everything else there is! After all, the metaphor you’ve given and the interpretation of it you’ve proposed must certainly be correct!

 

 

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[361]

‘DI NI DKA’ BA’I GNAS YIN ZHING, SHES DGOS PA YIN YANG, ‘DIR MANG DU DOGS PAS RGYAS PAR MI ‘CHAD LA, CUNG ZAD BRJOD NA SKYON MED DE,

 

Now this is a difficult point, and it’s something that our readers should understand. If I weren’t worried that it might make this work go on too long, I would explain it in quite some detail. And yet there’s no problem if I give you just a brief clarification—so here we go!

 

 

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[362]

THAG KHRA’I STENG DU SBRUL MED KYANG DE YOD PAR SNANG BA LTAR, NGA SOGS RANG GI GDAGS GZHI’I STENG DU RANG NGOS NAS MED KYANG YOD PAR SNANG BA GNYIS DPE DON MTSUNGS PA’I SGO NAS YIN GYI,

 

The fact is that there is no snake in a piece of rope; nonetheless, it does appear as though the snake were there. Just so, things like “me” do appear as though they were there in the thing we call “me,” from their own side—even though in fact they are not there. The metaphor of the snake and the rope, and our interpretation of it, do in this case hold true.

 

 

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[363]

THAG KHRA’I STENG DU SBRUL DANG GDAGS [f. 19a] GZHI PHUNG SOGS KYI STENG DU NGA SOGS THA SNYAD DU YOD MED MTSUNGS ZHES SBYOR BA MIN PA’I PHYIR TE,

 

There is another sense though in which we are not saying that the metaphor holds true. A snake that exists in a piece of rope is something that doesn’t exist, even in a nominal way. “Me” though does exist, in a nominal way, within what we call “me”: within the parts that make up the person, and so on.

 

 

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[364]

DE GNYIS LA THA SNYAD PA’I TSAD MAS GNOD MI GNOD KYI KHYAD PAR YOD PA’I PHYIR TE, THAG KHRA’I STENG DU SBRUL YOD PA LA THA SNYAD PA’I TSAD MAS GNOD, GDAGS GZHI PHUNG SOGS KYI STENG DU NGA SOGS KYI CHOS YOD PA LA THA SNYAD PA’I TSAD MAS MI GNOD PA’I PHYIR TE,

 

There is then a difference between these two, in that one is contradicted by an accurate, nominal perception; whereas the other is not. The idea that there could be a snake in a piece of rope is contradicted by such a perception; whereas the idea that a “me” or whatever it may be does exist in what we give the name “me”—in the parts to the person—is not something which is contradicted by an accurate, nominal perception.

 

 

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[365]

DANG PO DE LTAR YOD PA NI ‘JIG RTEN PA’I THA SNYAD DAM GRAGS PA DON MTHUN LA MED, PHYI MA DE LTAR YOD PA NI ‘JIG RTEN PA’I THA SNYAD DON MTHUN LA GRAGS PA’I PHYIR,

There is no referent of the first idea which corresponds to it, in the verbiage or convention of the world. But there is a referent of the second idea which does correspond to it, in this same verbiage, and convention.

 

 

 

What the world says

 

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[366]

‘JIG RTEN PAS YOD PAR KHAS LEN NA YOD PA DANG, MED PAR KHAS LEN NA MED PAS MA KHYAB KYANG, YOD MED NI ‘JIGS RTEN GYI THA SNYAD DANG GRAGS PA DON MTHUN LA BLTOS NAS ‘JOG PA YIN TE, MGON PO KLU SGRUB KYIS,

 

Now it is not the case that everything that the world agrees exists exists, nor that everything that the world agrees does not exist does not exist; nonetheless, deciding whether something exists or not is something that we do depending on the verbiage and convention accepted in the world. As our protector, Nagarjuna, has said it—

 

 

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[367]

,SANGS RGYAS ‘JIG RTEN BSNYAD DBANG GIS,

,GSUNGS KYIS {GSUNG GI} YANG DAG DBANG GIS MIN,

,ZHES DANG,

 

Buddhas say what they say

In terms of the terms of the world;

And not in some essential nature.[125]

 

 

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[368]

ZLA BAS KYANG, ,’JIG RTEN RAB TU GRAGS PAR YOD JI {%CI} BZHIN, ,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Master Chandrakirti too proclaims:

 

Whether things exist

Or not

Follows exactly

The opinion of the world.[126]

 

 

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[369]

SANGS RGYAS KYIS THA SNYAD KYI RNAM GZHAG ‘JIG RTEN PA DANG MTHUN PAR MDZAD KYANG ‘JIG RTEN PAS DE DAG RANG BZHIN GYIS YOD PAR ‘DOD PAS, SANGS RGYAS KYIS NI DE DAG RANG BZHIN MED PAR BSTAN PA LA RTZOD PA YIN TE, SDUD PA LAS,

 

The way in which the Buddhas themselves use words follows the customs of the world; but people of the world believe that all the things that the words refer to exist through some nature that they themselves possess. Thus they dispute against the teaching of the Buddha which states that none of these things has any such nature. As the Brief Presentation puts it,

 

 

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[370]

,SEMS CAN RNAMS NI GNAS LA DGA’ ZHING YUL RNAMS ‘DOD,

,’DZIN LA GNAS SHING MI MKHAS BLUN RMONGS MUN PA BZHIN,

,THOB PAR BYA BA’I CHOS NI GNAS MED ‘DZIN MED DE,

,DES NA ‘JIG RTEN DAG DANG RTZOD PA ‘BYUNG BA YIN,

,ZHES DANG,

 

The beings in this world

Crave for a place to stay,

And make nations for themselves.

 

They live in grasping;

They know not what they do—

Fools, confused in the dark.

 

But the place we want to go

Is one nowhere,

Where nothing can be grasped.

 

Thus it is that disagreement

Has arisen between

Those of the world, and ourselves.[127]

 

 

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[371]

DKON MCHOG BRTZEGS PA LAS KYANG, ‘OD SRUNG ‘JIG RTEN NGA DANG RTZOD KYI, NGA NI ‘JIG RTEN DANG MI RTZOD DO, ,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

And in the Pile of Jewels too we see the Buddha say: “O Kashyapa, the world argues with me; but not I with the world.”[128]

 

 

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[372]

‘JIG RTEN PA’I THA SNYAD DON MTHUN NI, ‘JIG RTEN RANG GA BA’I THA SNYAD TZAM LA MI [f. 19b] BYED KYI, SKYE ‘PHAGS RNAMS LA YOD PA’I THA SNYAD PA’I TSAD MA LA BYED PA YIN NO,,

 

By the way, when we say “corresponds to the verbiage” or terms “of the world,” we’re not just referring to the normal way that everyday people use words; rather, we’re referring to the accurate, nominal perceptions of both ordinary people and those who have seen emptiness directly.

 

 

 

Summary with the wagon

 

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[373]

MDOR NA, MDO LAS,

,JI LTAR YAN LAG TSOGS RNAMS LA,

,BRTEN NAS SHING LTAR {%RTAR} BJOD {%BRJOD} PA LTAR,

,DE BZHIN PHUNG PO RNAMS BRTEN NAS,

,KUN RDZOB SEMS CAN ZHES BYA’O,,

 

The following words of sutra provide a summary here:

 

We call something

A “wagon”

Based on the sum

Of its various parts;

 

Just so,

We call something

An apparent “person”

Based on their various parts.[129]

 

 

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[374]

ZHES SHING RTA’I YAN LAG RE RE BA DANG TSOGS PA SHING RTA MA YIN KYANG, DE DAG LA BRTEN NAS SHING RTA THA SNYAD KUN RDZOB TU ‘THAD PA LTAR,

 

What this is saying is that the individual parts of a wagon are not the wagon; and neither is the sum of these parts the wagon. Nevertheless, we can properly call something a “wagon”—one which exists in an apparent way—based on these parts and whole.

 

 

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[375]

PHUNG PO RE BA DANG TSOGS PA SOGS NGA MIN KYANG, DE DAG LA BRTEN NAS NGA KUN RDZOB TU ‘THAD PA’ANG RIGS PAS ‘GRUB CING,

Just so, none of the parts of the person, nor the sum of these parts or the like, is “me.” But based on these things it is still correct—that is, logically defensible—to say “me,” albeit only in an apparent way.

 

 

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[376]

TSUL DE CHOS THAMS CAD LA SBYAR NAS, RANG BZHIN GYIS STONG PA LA BYA BYED KYI RNAM GZHAG THAMS CAD SHIN TU ‘THAD PA’I TSUL LA NGES BRTAN PO BTZAL BAR BYA STE,

 

This same way of things can be applied to everything else in the universe; and then you must go on to seek an absolute certainty in how things can be empty of any nature of their own, while at the same time all the way in which things work in the world is still absolutely alright.

 

 

 

A sense of wonder

 

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[377]

TSUL DE NI NGO MTSAR RMAD DU BYUNG BA’I GNAS YIN PAR MDO LAS GSUNGS SHING, SNGAGS NAS KYANG GSUNGS TE, ‘DUS PA’I RTZA RGYUD LE’U BCO LNGA PA LAS,

 

The sutras themselves remark on how absolutely amazing this structure of things is; and even the secret teachings too echo this sentiment. Here is what the fifteenth chapter of the Foundation Book of Secrets for the Secret Collection has to say:

 

 

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[378]

,BCOM LDAN ‘DAS ‘DI CI ZHIG LAGS,

,CHOS RNAMS NGO BO MED PA LA,

,CHOS KYI DE NYID KUN BSHAD PA,

,AE MA’I {%MA’O} NGO MTSAR LAS BYUNG BA,

,NAM MKHA’ LA NI NAM MKHA’ BSGOM,

,ZHES DANG,

 

O Conqueror,

How can it be?

 

You explain to us

The true nature of things

For all these things

That have no essence.

 

More wondrous

Than wondrous is it

To sit in empty space

And contemplate it too.[130]

 

 

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[379]

LE’U GNYIS PA’I BYANG CHUB SEMS ‘GREL LAS MGON PO KLU SGRUB KYIS,

,CHOS RNAM {%RNAMS} STONG PA ‘DI SHES NAS,

,LAS DANG ‘BRAS BU BSTEN PA GANG,

,NGO MTSAR BAS KYANG ‘DI NGO MTSAR,

,RMAD BYUNG BAS KYANG ‘DI RMAD BYUNG,

,ZHES DANG,

 

Our protector, Nagarjuna, said too in his Commentary on the Wish for Enlightenment for the second chapter:

 

Someone who grasps

That all these things

Are empty,

 

And then goes on

To devote themselves

To karma and its consequences

 

Is more amazing than amazing;

More wondrous than the wondrous.[131]

 

 

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[380]

RTEN ‘BREL BSTOD PAR YANG,

,’DI KUN NGO BOS STONG PA DANG,

,’DI LAS ‘DI ‘BRAS ‘BYUNG BA YI,

,NGES PA GNYIS PO PHAN TSUN DU,

,GEGS MED PAR NI GROGS BYED PA,

,’DI LAS NGO MTSAR GYUR PA GANG,

,’DI LAS RMAD DU BYUNG BA GANG,

,ZHES GSUNGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

And finally, one last time, the Praise of Dependence concurs:

 

Everything around us

Is empty of any essence

Of its own;

And at the same time

Things come from other things.

 

Understanding the one

Helps us grasp the other;

They support each other,

And never block the other.

 

What could be more wondrous,

And what more amazing?[132]

 

 

 

How this book happened

 

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[381]

SMRAS PA,

,RGYAL YUM PHA ROL PHYIN RNAMS KYI,

,BRJOD BYA’I GNAD DON KUN BSDUS PA,

,SHER PHYIN SNYING POR RAB GRAGS PA’I,

,DGONGS DON GSAL BYED NYI MA SHAR,

 

And so it ends.

 

Now the sun has risen

To clarify what the Buddha

Really had in mind

When he granted the famous

Heart of Perfect Wisdom,

 

A teaching which includes

All the crucial points

Taught in all the classics

On the perfection of wisdom,

The Mother of the Victors.

 

 

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[382]

,’DI NI RNAM DPYOD DAD LDAN PA’I,

,MTHAR [f. 20a] ‘DZIN LTA BA’I MUN SEL DANG,

,ZAB MO’I DE NYID STON BYED PA’I,

,LEGS BSHAD NYI MA GNYIS PA’ANG YIN,

 

This is a second sun,

To match the one in the sky;

Excellent words

Which teach the true nature

Of that deepest of things,

 

And which banish the darkness

Of believing the extreme ideas

In the hearts of disciples

Who have faith,

And can think things out.

 

 

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[383]

,DE YANG ‘PHAGS PA KLU SGRUB KYI,

,LUGS BZANG JI BZHIN ‘DZIN MDZAD PA,

,BLO BZANG RGYAL BA GNYIS PA YI,

,DGONGS PA’I DON GYI GNAD BSDUS BSHAD,

 

My explanation begins

By upholding the grand tradition

Of Nagarjuna, who saw emptiness;

 

And then it summarizes

The crucial points

In the true thinking of Lobsang—

The Buddha returned to earth.[133]

 

 

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[384]

,TSUL ‘DIR ‘BAD LAS BDAG GIS NI,

,RNAM DKAR DGE BA GANG BSAGS DES,

,KUN GYI ZAB MO’I DON RTOGS NAS,

,RGYAL BA’I GO ‘PHANG THOB GYUR CIG

 

By my efforts in this labor,

I have gathered some amount

Of pure white karma.

 

I dedicate it all

To every living being,

That they may realize

This deepest thing—

And thus become a Buddha.

 

 

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[385]

,CES PA ‘DI NI, DAD DANG RNAM DPYOD LDAN PA’I GNAS BRTAN GRAGS PA DPAL ‘BYOR GYIS NAN CHER BSKUL BA LA BRTEN NAS, CO NE’I MDO SNGAGS ZUNG ‘BREL GYI BLA MA’I GO SAR GNAS PA’I SH’AKYA’I DGE SLONG RIGS PA SMRA BA DON GYI DBU MA BAR RLOM PA GRAGS PA BSHAD SGRUB KYI BSKUL BA PO’I NGO DANG PHAN YON LA BSAMS TE LCAGS PHAG GI LOR GZIMS KHANG NYID NAS SBYAR BA’O,,

 

Here is how this commentary happened. I was approached by the elder Drakpa Peljor, a monk of great faith and intelligence, who insisted vehemently that I should write such a work—and so I did. My name is Drakpa Shedrup, and I am a monk of the order of Shakyamuni who fancies himself a true philosopher of the Middle Way; and who holds the position of the senior teacher at both the college for the study of the open teachings and at that for the study of the secret, here in Choney Monastery. Thinking to honor the one who urged me to write the text, and of the benefit it might bring to others, I have composed it quietly in my personal quarters, in the Iron Pig year.[134]

 

 

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[386]

YI GE PA NI DAD LDAN STOBS {%DAD STOBS} LDAN PA’I GNAS BRTEN KUN DGA’ RIN CHEN NO,,

 

The scribe who transcribed the work was the elder Kunga Rinchen, a monk of powerful faith.

 

 

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[387]

BKRA SHIS, ,DGE’O,, ,,

 

May all be well,

May goodness prevail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Root Text

of the Heart Sutra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart Sutra

心经

 

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[C1]

Atha Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtram.

 

般若波罗蜜多心经 。

 

梵文为Arya Bhagavati Prajna Paramita Hirdaya

藏文为Pakpa Chomden-dema Sherab kyi Parul tu Chinpay Nyingpo

英文为The Exalted One, the Lady of Conquest,

the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom

 

,,RGYA GAR SKAD DU, A’ARYA BHA GA BA TI PRA DZNY’A P’A RA MI T’A HRi DA YA, BOD SKAD DU, ‘PHAGS PA BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNYING PO,,

 

In the language of India,

this sutra is called Arya Bhagavati Prajna Paramita Hirdaya.

 

In Tibetan,

this is Pakpa Chomden-dema Sherab kyi Parul tu Chinpay Nyingpo.

 

In English,

it is The Exalted One, the Lady of Conquest, the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.

 

 

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[C2]

BAM PO GCIG GO ,

 

This work is complete in a single sheaf.

 

 

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[C3]

Om namo Bhagavatyai ārya prajñāpāramitāyai.

 

礼敬诸佛菩萨。

 

SANGS RGYAS DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ THAMS CAD LA PHYAG ‘TSAL LO,,

 

I bow down to every Buddha, and every warrior saint.

 

 

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[C4]

Evam mayā śrutam.

 

如是我闻。一时。

 

‘DI SKAD BDAG GIS THOS PA’I DUS GCIG NA,

 

Once did I hear these words.

 

 

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[C5]

Ekasmin samaye Bhagavān Rājagṛhe viharati sma Gṛdhrakūṭa parvate mahatā bhikṣusaṅghena sārdham mahatā ca bodhisattvasaṅghena.

 

世尊在王舍城鹫峰山中。与大比丘众。千二百五十人俱。并诸大菩萨众而共围绕。

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS RGYAL [f. 259b] BO’I KHAB NA BYA RGOD PHUNG PO’I RI LA DGE SLONG GI DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’I DGE ‘DUN CHEN PO DANG THABS CIG TU BZHUGS TE,

 

The Conqueror was staying on Vulture’s Peak, in the Keep of the King. With him was a great gathering of monks, and a great gathering of warrior saints.

 

 

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[C6]

Tena khalu samayena Bhagavān gambhīrāvabhāsam nāma dharmaparyāyam samādhim samāpannaḥ.

 

尔时世尊入定。名广大甚深照见三摩地。

 

DE’I TSE BCOM LDAN ‘DAS ZAB MO SNANG BA ZHES BYA BA’I CHOS KYI RNAM GRANGS KYI TING NGE ‘DZIN LA SNYOMS PAR ZHUGS SO,,

 

At a certain moment the Conqueror went into deep meditation on the part of the teaching known as the “awareness of the profound.”

 

 

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[C7]

Tena ca samayena Āryāvalokiteśvaro bodhisattvo mahāsattvo gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryām caramāṇa evam vyavalokayati sma. Pañca skandhās tāṃśca svabhāvaśūnyān vyavalokayati.

 

时观世音自在大菩萨。行深般若波罗蜜多时。照见五蕴皆空。度一切苦厄。

 

YANG DE’I TSE BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO SPYOD PAR RNAM PAR BLTA ZHING, PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG LA YANG NGO BO NYID KYIS STONG PAR RNAM PAR BLTA’O,,

 

At that moment too did the realized being, the great warrior, the lord of power, Loving Eyes, see into this one deep practice, the practice of the perfection of wisdom. And he saw perfectly that the five heaps—the five parts of a person—were empty of any nature of their own.

 

 

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[C8]

AthāyuṣmāñCāriputro buddhānubhāvena Āryāvalokiteśvaram bodhisattvam mahāsattvam etadavocat.

 

即时青年比丘舍利子。承佛威神。合掌恭敬。白观世音自在大菩萨言。

 

DE NAS SANGS RGYAS KYI MTHUS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RA DVA TI’I BUS BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG LA ‘DI SKAD CES SMRAS SO,,

 

And then, by the power of the Enlightened One, the junior monk named Shariputra turned and asked this question of the great warrior, Loving Eyes, the realized one, the lord of power:

 

 

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[C9]

Yaḥ kaścit kulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryām cartu kāmas tena katham śikṣitavyam.

 

若有善男子善女人。欲学甚深般若波罗蜜多行。云何修行。

 

RIGS KYI BU’AM, RIGS KYI BU MO GANG LA LA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA SPYAD PAR ‘DOD PA DES JI LTAR BSLAB PAR BYA,

 

If any son or daughter of noble family hoped to follow the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom, what would they have to do?

 

 

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[C10]

Evam ukta Āryāvalokiteśvaro bodhisattvo mahāsattvo āyuṣmantam Śāriputram etadavocat.

 

Yaḥ kaścicChāriputra kulaputro vā kuladuhitā vā gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryām cartu kāmas tenaivam vyavalokitavyam.

 

尔时观世音自在大菩萨告青年比丘舍利子言。

 

若善男子及善女人。欲修行甚深般若波罗蜜多者。彼应如是观察。

 

DE SKAD CES SMRAS PA DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG GIS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RI’I BU LA ‘DI SKAD CES SMRAS SO,,

 

SH’A RI’I BU, RIGS KYI BU’AM, RIGS KYI BU MO GANG LA LA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO’I SPYOD PA SPYAD PAR ‘DOD PA DES ‘DI LTAR RNAM PAR BLTA BAR BYA STE,

 

This then is the answer that the lord of power, the realized one, the great warrior Loving Eyes gave to the junior monk named Shariputra:

 

Here, Shariputra, is what any son or daughter of noble family should see who hopes to follow the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[C11]

Pañca skandhās tāṃśca svabhāvaśūnyān samanupaśyati sma.

 

舍利子。应观五蕴性空。

 

PHUNG PO LNGA PO DE DAG KYANG NGO BO NYID KYIS STONG PAR RNAM PAR RJES SU BLTA’O,,

 

See first all five heaps—all five parts to a person—as being empty of any essence of their own.

 

 

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[C12]

Rūpam śūnyatā śūnyataiva rūpam. Rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā śūnyatāyā na pṛthagrūpam. Yadrūpam sā śūnyatā yā śūnyatā tadrūpam.

 

色不异空。空不异色。色即是空。空即是色。

 

GZUGS STONG PA’O, ,STONG PA NYID GZUGS SO, ,GZUGS LAS STONG PA [f. 260a] NYID GZHAN MA YIN, STONG PA NYID LAS GZUGS GZHAN MA YIN NO,,

 

Your body is empty; emptiness is your body. Emptiness is nothing but your body, and your body is nothing but emptiness.

 

 

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[C13]

Evam vedanā sañjñā saṃskāra vijñānāni ca śūnyatā.

受想行识。亦复如是。

 

DE BZHIN DU TSOR BA DANG, ‘DU SHES DANG, ‘DU BYED RNAMS DANG, RNAM PAR SHES PA RNAMS STONG PA’O,,

 

The same is true of your feelings, and your ability to discriminate between things, and the other factors that make you up, and all the different kinds of awareness that you possess: all of them are empty.

 

 

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[C14]

Evam Śāriputra sarvadharmāḥ śūnyatālakṣaṇā anutpannā aniruddhā amalā avimalā anūnā asampūrṇāḥ.

 

舍利子。诸法即空。无有自性。不生不灭。不垢不净。不增不减。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA, CHOS THAMS CAD STONG PA NYID DE, MTSAN NYID MED PA, MA SKYES PA, MA ‘GAG PA, DRI MA MED PA, DRI MA DANG BRAL BA MED PA, BRI BA MED PA ,GANG BA MED PA’O,,

 

And thus we can say, Shariputra, that every existing thing is emptiness. Nothing has any characteristic of its own. Nothing ever begins. Nothing ever ends. Nothing is ever impure. Nothing ever becomes pure. Nothing ever gets less, and nothing ever becomes more.

 

 

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[C15]

Tasmāttarhi Śāriputra śūnyatāyām na rūpam na vedanā na sañjñā na saṃskārāḥ na vijñānam. Na cakṣurna śrotram na ghrāṇam na jihvā na kāyo na mano na rūpam na śabdo na gandho na raso na spraṣṭavyam na dharmāḥ.

 

是故空中无色。无受想行识。无眼耳鼻舌身意。无色声香味触法。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA STONG PA NYID LA GZUGS MED, TSOR BA MED, ‘DU SHES MED, ‘DU BYED RNAMS MED, RNAM PAR SHES PA MED, MIG MED, RNA BA MED, SNA MED, LCE MED, LUS MED, YID MED, GZUGS MED, SGRA MED, DRI MED, RO MED, REG BYA MED, CHOS MED DO,,

 

And thus can we say, Shariputra, that with emptiness there is no body. There are no feelings. There is no ability to discriminate. There are none of the other factors that make you up, and there is no awareness. There are no eyes; no ears; no nose; no tongue; no body; no mind; nothing to see; nothing to hear; nothing to smell; nothing to taste; nothing to touch; and nothing to think of.

 

 

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[C16]

Na cakṣurdhātur na cakṣuvijñānadhāturyāvan na manodhāturna manovijñāna dhātuḥ.

 

无眼界。乃至无意识界。

 

MIG GI KHAMS MED CING, MIG GI RNAM PAR SHES PA’I KHAMS MED PA NAS YID KYI KHAMS MED CING, YID KYI RNAM PAR SHES PA’I KHAMS KYI BAR DU YANG MED DO,,

 

There is no part of you that sees. There is no part of you that is aware of what you see; and this is true all the way up to the part of you that thinks, and the part of you that is aware that you are thinking.

 

 

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[C17]

Nāvidyā nāvidyā kṣayo yāvanna jarāmaraṇam na jarāmaraṇa kṣayaḥ.

 

无无明。亦无无明尽。乃至无老死。亦无老死尽。

 

MA RIG PA MED CING, MA RIG PA ZAD PA MED PA NAS RGA SHI MED CING, RGA SHI ZAD PA’I BAR DU YANG MED DO,,

 

There is no misunderstanding your world. There is no stopping this misunderstanding, and the same is true all the way up to your old age and your death, and to stopping your old age and your death.

 

 

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[C18]

Na duḥkha samudaya nirodha mārgā. Na jñānam na prāptirnāpraptiḥ.

 

无苦集灭道。 无智亦无得。以无所得故。

 

SDUG BSNGAL BA DANG, KUN ‘BYUNG BA DANG, ‘GOG PA DANG, LAM MED, YE SHES MED, THOB PA MED, MA THOB PA YANG MED DO,,

 

There is no pain. There is no source of this pain. There is no stopping this pain. There is no path to stop this pain. There is no knowledge. There is nothing to reach. And there is nothing not to reach.

 

 

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[C19]

TasmācChāriputra aprāptitvena bodhisattvānām prajñāpāramitām āśritya viharati.

 

若大菩萨。依般若波罗蜜多故。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, DE LTA BAS NA, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS THOB PA MED PA’I PHYIR SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA BRTEN NAS GNAS TE

 

Thus it is, Shariputra, that warrior saints have nothing to reach; and because of this, they are able to practice the perfection of wisdom, and stay in this perfection of wisdom.

 

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[C20]

Cittāvaraṇanāstitvād atrasto viparyāsātikrānto niṣṭhanirvāṇaḥ.

 

心无挂碍。无挂碍故。无有恐怖。远离颠倒梦想。究竟涅槃。

 

SEMS LA SGRIB PA MED PAS ‘JIGS PA MED DE, PHYIN CI LOG LAS SHIN TU ‘DAS NAS [f. 260b] MYA NGAN LAS ‘DAS PA’I MTHAR PHYIN TO,,

 

This frees them of every obstacle in their minds, and this frees them from all fear. They go beyond all wrong ways of thinking, and reach to the ultimate end of nirvana.

 

 

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[C21]

Tryadhvavyavasthitāḥ sarvaBuddhāḥ prajñāpāramitāmāśrityānuttarām samyaksambodhim abhisambuddhāḥ.

 

三世诸佛。依般若波罗蜜多故。得阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。

 

DUS GSUM DU RNAM PAR BZHUGS PA’I SANGS RGYAS THAMS CAD KYANG SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA LA BRTEN TE BLA NA MED PA YANG DAG PAR RDZOGS PA’I BYANG CHUB MNGON PAR RDZOGS PAR SANGS RGYAS SO,,

 

All the Enlightened Beings of the past, and present, and the future too follow this same perfection of wisdom, and thus bring themselves to perfect enlightenment: to the matchless state of a totally enlightened Buddha.

 

 

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[C22]

Tasmājjñātavyaḥ prajñāpāramitā mahāmantro mahāvidyāmantro ‘nuttaramantro ‘samasamamantraḥ sarvaduḥkha praśamanaḥ mantraḥ satyam amithyatvāt…

 

故知般若波罗蜜多。是大神咒。是大明咒。是无上咒。是无等等咒。能除一切苦。真实不虚。

 

DE LTA BAS NA, SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS, RIG PA CHEN PO’I SNGAGS, BLA NA MED PA’I SNGAGS, MI MNYAM PA DANG MNYAM PA’I SNGAGS, SDUG BSNGAL THAMS CAD RAB TU ZHI BAR BYED PA’I SNGAGS, MI RDZUN PAS NA, BDEN PAR SHES PAR BYA STE,

 

Thus are they the sacred words of the perfection of wisdom; the sacred words of great knowledge; sacred words of the unsurpassable; sacred words that are equal to the One beyond all equal; sacred words that put a final end to every form of pain; sacred words you should know are true, for false they cannot be;

 

 

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[C23]

…prajñāpāramitāyām ukto mantraḥ.

 

Tadyathā. Om gate gate pāragate pārasagate bodhi svāhā.

 

故说般若波罗蜜多咒。即说咒曰。

 

嘎碟嘎碟巴啦嘎碟巴啦桑嘎碟布迪梭哈。

 

SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNGAGS SMRAS PA, TADYA THA, GA TE GA TE, PA RA GA TE, PA RA SAm GA TE, BO DHI SV’AH’A,

Sacred words of the perfection of wisdom, which here I speak for you:

 

Tadyatha. Om ga-te, ga-te, paraga-te, parasanga-te, bodhi svaha.

 

 

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[C24]

Evam Śāriputra gambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryāyām śikṣitavyam bodhisattvena.

 

如是舍利子。诸大菩萨于甚深般若波罗蜜多行。应如是学。

 

SH’A RI’I BU, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN POS SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO LA DE LTAR BSLAB PAR BYA’O,,

 

And thus it is, Shariputra, that great warrior saints must train themselves in the profound perfection of wisdom.

 

 

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[C25]

Atha khalu Bhagavān tasmāt samādhervyutthāyāryĀvalokiteśvarāya bodhisattvāya mahāsattvāya sādhukāram adāt. Sādhu sādhu kulaputra evam etat kulaputra.

 

 

尔时世尊。从三摩地安祥而起。赞观世音自在大菩萨言。善哉善哉。

 

DE NAS BCOM LDAN ‘DAS TING NGE ‘DZIN DE LAS BZHENGS TE BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SEMS DPA’ CHEN PO ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS DBANG PHYUG LA LEGS SO, ,ZHES BYA BA BYIN NAS LEGS SO, ,LEGS SO,,

 

With this, the Conqueror stirred himself from his deep state of meditation. He turned to the great warrior, to the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, and blessed his words, saying, “True.” “True,” he said, and “True” again.

 

 

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[C26]

Evam etadgambhīrāyām prajñāpāramitāyām caryam cartavyam yathā tvayā nirdiṣṭam anumodyaye sarvaTathāgatairarhadbhiḥ.

 

善男子。如是如是。如汝所说。甚深般若波罗蜜多行。应如是行。

如是行时。一切如来悉皆随喜。

 

RIGS KYI BU, DE DE BZHIN NO, ,DE DE BZHIN TE, JI LTAR KHYOD KYIS BSTAN PA DE BZHIN DU SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA ZAB MO LA SPYAD PAR BYA STE, DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA RNAMS KYANG RJES SU YI RANG NGO,,

 

Thus it is, o son of noble family; and thus is it. One should follow the profound perfection of wisdom just as you have taught it. Every one of Those Gone Thus rejoices in your words as I do.

 

 

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[C27]

Idam avocadBhagavān ānandamanā āyuṣmāñChāriputra Āryāvalokiteśvaraśca bodhisattvo mahāsattvaḥ sā ca sarvāvatī parṣat sadevamānuṣāsuragandharvaśca loko Bhagavato bhāṣitam abhyanandanniti.

 

尔时世尊如是说已。青年比丘舍利子。观世音自在大菩萨及彼众会一切世间天人非天天乐神等。闻佛所说。皆大欢喜。信受奉行。

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS DE SKAD CES BKA’ STZAL NAS TSE DANG LDAN PA SH’A RI’I BU DANG, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ ‘PHAGS PA SPYAN RAS GZIGS KYI DBANG PHYUG DANG, [f. 261a] THAMS CAD DANG LDAN PA’I ‘KHOR DE DAG LHA DANG, MI DANG, LHA MA YIN DANG, DRI ZAR BCAS PA’I ‘JIG RTEN YI RANG STE BCOM LDAN ‘DAS KYIS GSUNGS PA LA MNGON PAR BSTOD DO,,

 

And when the Conqueror had spoken thus, the junior monk Shariputra took joy; and the warrior, the realized one, Loving Eyes, the lord of power, took joy as well. And all the assembled disciples took joy, and so did the entire world—with its gods, and its men, and near-gods and spirits too—take joy. All sang their praises of what the Conqueror had spoken.

 

 

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[C28]

Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtram samāptam.

 

BCOM LDAN ‘DAS MA SHES RAB KYI PHA ROL TU PHYIN PA’I SNYING PO ZHES BYA BA THEG PA CHEN PO’I MDO RDZOGS SO,,

 

This completes the sutra of the greater way known as the Lady of Conquest, the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.

 

 

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[C29]

RGYA GAR GYI MKHAN PO BI MA LA MI TRA DANG, LO TZ’A BA DGE SLONG RIN CHEN SDES BSGYUR CING, ZHU CHEN GYI LO TZ’A BA DGE BLO DANG, NAM MKHA’ LA SOGS PAS ZHUS TE GTAN LA PHAB PA’O,,

 

It was first translated from Sanskrit by the Indian abbot Vimala Mitra, together with a master Tibetan translator, the venerable Rinchen De. It was later checked and standardized by the master translators and editors Gelo and Namka, among others.

 

此经首次梵译藏由印度大师无垢友(Vimala Mitra)与藏地译师仁钦·德(Rinchen De)尊者共同完成,后由翻译编辑大师格楼(Gelo)、南卡(Namka)等做了核对及校准。

 

 

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[The translation into English was completed by the American geshe Lobsang Chunzin, Michael Roach, with the assistance of Elizabeth van der Pas, the Buddhist nun Jigme Palmo. The Chinese version was compiled by Stanley Chen and Alison Zhou.]

 

英文译者为美国格西,法名洛桑·储心,俗名麦克·罗奇,由佛教比丘尼协助,其法名为晋美·飘墨,俗名为伊丽莎白·万德·帕斯。

 

中文以唐三藏法师玄奘译本为准,陈唐Stanley Chen与周晓萍Alison Zhou依师(格西麦克)英译本, 参考唐国大德三藏法师沙门法成、唐上都大兴善寺三藏沙门智慧轮、宋显教大师施护等诸师译本,稍作编辑。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendices

 

 

 

 

 

Names of divine beings & places

 

 

English               Sanskrit              Chinese               Tibetan

 

Conqueror                Bhagavan                  世尊                            bCom-ldan-’das

 

Gentle Voice             Mañjuśrī,                   文殊师利                    ‘Jam-dpal dbyangs,

Mañjughoṣa              妙音/妙吉祥               ‘Jam-pa’i dbyangs

 

Lord of the                Munendra                 能仁                            Thub-pa’i dbang-po

Able Ones

 

Loving Eyes              Avalokiteśvara        观世音/观自在           sPyan-ras gzigs

 

Secret Collection     Guhya Samāja          密集                            gSang-ba ‘dus-pa

 

Victor                         Jina                             胜者/征服者               rGyal-ba

 

White Parasol           Sitātapatrā                 白伞盖                        gDugs-dkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Sanskrit

 

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are unconfirmed reconstructions of a Sanskrit original from the Tibetan translation. An “at sign” (@) indicates that the dates of an individual have not yet been established.

 

 

S1

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “The Various Manifestations of the Single Nature of Things, the King of Concentration” (Ārya Sarva Dharma Svabhāva Samatā Vipañcita Samādhi Rāja Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa Chos thams-cad kyi rang-bzhin mnyam-pa nyid rnam-par spros-pa Ting-nge-’dzin gyi rgyal-po zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo), Tibetan translation at KL00127, ff. 1b-269b of Vol. 9 (Ta) of the Collection of Sutras Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S2

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad. A Commentary on the Wish for Enlightenment (Bodhicitta Vivaraa Nāma) (Tib: Byang-chub sems kyi ‘grel-pa, Tibetan translation at ACIP TD01800, ff. 38a-42b of Vol. 34 [Ngi] in the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bsTan-’gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S3

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Exalted Brief Presentation of the Perfection of Wisdom set in Verse (Ārya Prajñā Pāramitā Sañcayagāthā) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa sdud-pa tsigs-su bcad-pa, Tibetan translation at ACIP KL00013, ff. 189a-215a of Vol. 1 (Ka) of the Other Teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom Section [Citra Prajñā Pāramitā*, Sher-phyin sna-tsogs] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S4

Śāntideva (Tib: Zhi-ba lha), c. 750ad. A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra) (Byang-chub sems-dpa’i spyod-pa la ‘jug-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03871, ff. 1b-40a of Vol. 10 [La] of the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-’gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S5

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad. A Compendium of All the Sutras (Sūtra Samuccaya) (Tib: mDo kun las btus-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03934, ff. 148b-215a of Vol. 15 [Ki] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-’gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S6

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “A Description of the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” (Ārya Bodhisattva Carya Nirdeśa Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa Byang-chub sems-dpa’i spyod-pa bstan-pa zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00184, ff. 153a-167a of Vol. 15 (Ba) of the Collection of Sutras Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S7

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “Proclaiming Deathless Nectar” (Ārya Amta Vyāharaa Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa bDud-rtzi brjod-pa zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00197, ff. 428b-433b of Vol. 15 (Ba) of the Collection of Sutras Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S8

Āryadeva (Tib: ‘Phags-pa lha), c. 230ad. Stanzas entitled “A Classical Commentary in 400 Verses” (Catuśataka Śāstra Kārikā Nāma) (Tib: bsTan-bcos bzhi-brgya-pa zhes-bya-ba’i tsig-le’ur byas-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03846, ff. 1b-18a of Vol. 2 [Tsa] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-’gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S9

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Exalted One, the Lady of Conquest, the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom (Ārya Bhagavatī Prajñā Pāramitā Hdaya) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa bCom-ldan-‘das-ma shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa’i snying-po, Tibetan translation at KL00021, ff. 259a-261a of Vol. 1 [Ka] in the Other Teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom Section [Vicitra Prajñā Pāramitā*, Sher-phyin sna-tsogs] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]). For the Sanskrit we have primarily relied upon the edition of Edward Conze, making changes based on other editions where these seem more likely to be the source of our Tibetan version, and making a few of our own corrections as well, to the best of our ability! See Conze, Edward (1904-1979). “Text, Sources, and Bibliography of the Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya,” pp. 33-51, Vol. 80, Issue 1-2, April 1948, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1948).

 

S10

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Lady of Conquest, the Sutra on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom (Bhagavatī Prajñā Pāramitā Hdaya) (Tib: bCom-ldan-‘das-ma shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa’i snying-po, Tibetan translation at KL00531, ff. 45a-47a of Vol. 10 [Tha] of the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S11

Haribhadra (Tib: Seng-ge bzang-po), c. 775ad. An Illumination of the “Jewel of Realizations”: An Explanation of the Exalted Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines ([in situ:] Ārya Prajñāpāramitā Aṣṭasahasrikā Vyākhyā Abhisamayālaṃkāra Āloka) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa brGyad-stong-pa’i bshad-pa, mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan gyi snang-ba, Tibetan translation at TD03791, ff. 1b-341a of Vol. 6 [Cha] of the Perfection of Wisdom Section [Prajñāpāramitā, Shes-phyin] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S12

Mañjuśrīkīrti (Tib: ‘Jam-dpal grags-pa), @. Beads of the Renowned: A Commentary to the Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “The Various Manifestations of the Single Nature of Things, the King of Concentration” (Ārya Sarva Dharma Svabhāva Samatā Vipañcita Samādhi Rāja Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra īkā Kīrti Mālā Nāma) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa Chos thams-cad kyi rang-bzhin mnyam-pa nyid rnam-par spros-pa Ting-nge-’dzin gyi rgyal-po zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo’i ‘grel-pa Grags-pa’i phreng-ba, Tibetan translation at TD04010, ff. 1b-163b of Vol. 5 [Nyi] of the Collection of Sutras Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S13

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Great Book of Secrets entitled “The Perfect Kiss” (Sampuṭi Nāma Mahātantra) (Tib: Yang-dag-par sbyor-ba zhes-bya-ba’i rgyud chen-po, Tibetan translation at KL00381, ff. 354b-482a of Vol. 3 [Ga] of the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bKa’-’gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S14

Kāyastha Vṛddha* (Tib: K’a-ya-stha bgres-po), @. An Extensive Commentary upon the Kiss Illumined (Suviśada Sampua īkā) (Tib: Rab tu gsal-ba’i kha-sbyor gyi rgya-cher ‘grelpa, Tibetan translation at TD01190, ff. 1b-236a of Vol. 4 [Nga] of the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bsTan-’gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S15

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]).

 

S16

Vasubandhu (Tib: dByig-gnyen), c. 350ad. The Treasure House of Higher Knowledge, Set in Verse (Abhidharmakoakārikā) (Tib: Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod kyi tsig-le’ur byas-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04089, ff. 1b-25a of Vol. 2 [Ku] in the Higher Knowledge Section [Abhidharma, mNgon-pa] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S17

Candrakīrti (Tib: Zla-ba grags-pa), 625ad. A Detailed Commentary entitled “The Illuminating Lamp” (Pradīpodyotana Nāma īkā) (Tib: sGron-ma gsal-bar byed-pa zhes-bya-ba’i rGya-cher bshad-pa, Tibetan translation at TD01785, ff. 1b-201b of Vol. 29 [Ha] in the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bsTan-’gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S18

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “Unraveling the True Thought” (Ārya Sadhi Nirmocana Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa dGongs-pa nges-par ‘grel-pa zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00106, ff. 1b-87b of Vol. 5 (Ca) in the the Sutra Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]). We have also translated this title as What I Really Meant.

 

S19

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Lines (Śatasahasrika Prajñā Pāramitā) (Tib: Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa sTong-phrag brgya-pa, Tibetan translation at KL00008, in 12 parts: Vols 1-12 [Ka-Na] in the “Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Lines” Section [Śatasahasrika, ‘Bum] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S20

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way Requested by the Elder Woman (Ārya Mahallikā Paripcchā Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa bGres-mos zhus-pa zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00171, ff. 495a-502a of Vol. 13 (Pa) in the the Sutra Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S21

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way Requested by Anavatapta, King of the Dragons (Ārya Anavatapta Nāga Rāja Paripcchā Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa Klu’i rgyal-po Ma-dros-pas zhus-pa zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00156, ff. 314a-383a of Vol. 12 (Na) in the Sutra Section [Sūtra, mDo-mang] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S22

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad. Sixty Verses on Reasoning (in situ: Yuktiaṣṭhakā Kārikā) (Tib: Rigs-pa drug-cu-pa’i tsig-le’ur byas pa, Tibetan translation at TD03825, ff. 20b-22b of Vol. 1 [Tza] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S23

Candrakīrti (Tib: Zla-ba grags-pa), c. 625ad. Entering the Middle Way (Madhyāmaka Avatāra) (Tib: dBu-ma la ‘jug-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03861, ff. 201b-219a of Vol. 23 [‘A] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S24

Maitreya (Tib: Byams-pa), as dictated to Asaṅga (Tib: Thogs-med), c. 350ad. The Jewel of Realizations, a Book of Advices upon the Perfection of Wisdom (Abhisamayālakāra Nāma Prajñāpāramitopadeśa Śāstra) (Tib: Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa’i man-ngag gi bstan-bcos mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan, Tibetan translation at TD03786, ff. 1b-13a of Vol. 1 [Ka] in the Perfection of Wisdom Section [Prajñāpāramitā, Shes-phyin] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S25

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub) c. 200ad. The Foundational Verses on the Middle Way entitled “Wisdom” (Prajñā Nāma Mūla Madhyāmaka Kārikā) (Tib: dBu-ma rtza-ba’i tsig-le’ur byas-pa Shes-rab ces-bya-ba, Tibetan translation at TD03824, ff. 1b-19a of Vol. 1 [Tza] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S26

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub) c. 200ad. In Praise of the Lady of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā Stotra) (Tib: Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-ma’i bstod-pa, Tibetan translation at TD01127, ff. 76a-76b of Vol. 1 [Ka] in the Songs of Praise Section [Stotra, bsTod-tsogs] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S27

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Diamond Cutter, an Exalted Presentation on the Perfection of Wisdom (Ārya Vajracchedikā Nāma Prajñā Pāramitā Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa rDo-rje gcod-pa zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00016, ff. 215a-235b of Vol. 1 [Ka] in the “Other Teachings on the Perfection of Wisdom” Section [Sher-phyin sna-tsogs] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S28

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Latter Secret Teaching [of the Secret Collection] (Guhyasamāja Uttaratantra*) (Tib: [gSang-ba ‘dus-pa] rGyud phyi-ma, Tibetan translation at KL00443, ff. 521b-536a of Vol. 4 [Nga] in the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]).

 

S29

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Tip of Diamond: A Secret Teaching of the Great Practice of What is Secret (Vajra Śekhara Mahāguhya Yoga Tantra) (Tib: gSangba rnal‘byor chenpo’i rgyud rDorje rtzemo, Tibetan translation at KL00480, ff. 320a-520a of Vol. 6 [Cha] in the “Secret Teachings” Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bKa’-‘gyur [Lha-sa edition]).

 

S30

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]).

 

S31

Haribhadra (Tib: Seng-ge bzang-po), c. 775ad. A Commentary to “The Jewel of Realizations, a Book of Advices upon the Perfection of Wisdom” (Abhisamayālakāra Nāma Prajñāpāramitā Updeśa Śāstra Vtti) (Tib: Shes-rab kyi pha-rol tu phyin-pa’i man-ngag gi bstan-bcos mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan zhes-bya-ba’i ‘grel-pa; Tibetan brief title, ‘Grel-pa don-gsal, Tibetan translation at TD03793, ff. 78b-140a of Vol. 7 [Ja] in the Perfection of Wisdom Section [Prajñāpāramitā, Shes-phyin] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S32

Nāgārjuna (Tib: Klu-sgrub), c. 200ad. Seventy Verses on Emptiness (ūnyatāsaptatikārikā) (Tib: sTong-pa-nyid bdun-cu-pa’i tsig-le’ur byas-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03827, ff. 24a-27a of Vol. 96 [Tza] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S33

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “A Presentation of the Three Vows,” a Section within the Hundred Thousand Iterations of the Dharma known as “The Great Pile of Rare and Precious Jewels” (Ārya Mahāratnakūa Dharmaparyāya Śatasāhasrika Granthe Trisavara Nirdeśa Parivartana Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra) (Tib: ‘Phags-pa dKon-mchog brtzegs-pa chen-po’i chos kyi rnam-grangs stong-phrag brgya-pa las, sDom-pa gsum bstan-pa’i le’u zhes-bya-ba theg-pa chen-po’i mdo, Tibetan translation at KL00045, ff. 1b-68b of Vol. 1 [Ka] in the “Pile of Jewels” Section [Ratnakūa, Dkon-brtzegs] of the bKa’-‘gyur [Lha-sa edition]).

 

S34

Candrakīrti (Tib: Zla-ba grags-pa), c. 625ad. The Autocommentary to “Entering the Middle Way” (Madhyāmaka Avatāra Bhāya) (Tib: dBu-ma la ‘jug-pa’i bshad-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03862, ff. 220b-348a of Vol. 7 [‘A] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S35

Sthiramati (Tib: Blo-gros brtan-pa), c. 500ad?. A Detailed Commentary on the Autocommentary to the “Treasure House of Higher Knowledge” (Abhidharma Koa Bhāya īkā Tattvārtha Nāma) (Tib: Chos mngon-pa mdzod kyi bshad-pa’i rgya-cher ‘grel-pa, Tibetan translation at TD04421, ff. 1b-426a of Vol. 6 [Tho] of the Miscellany Section [Citra, sNa-tsogs] of bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S36

Bhāvaviveka (Tib: Legs-ldan ‘byed), c. 550ad. The Blaze of Reasoning: A Commentary to “The Heart of the Middle Way” (Madhyāmaka Hdaya Vtti Tarka Jvālā) (Tib: dBu-ma’i snying-po’i ‘grel-pa rTog-ge ‘bar-ba, Tibetan translation at TD03856, ff. 40b-329a of Vol. 3 (Dza) of the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S37

Śāntarakṣita (Tib: Zhi-ba ‘tso), c. 750ad. A Commentary to the “Jewel of the Middle Way” (Madhyāmakālaṃkāra Vṛtti) (Tib: dBu-ma rgyan gyi ‘grel-pa, Tibetan translation at TD03885, ff. 56b-84a of Vol. 12 [Sa] in the Middle-Way Section [Madhyāmaka, dBu-ma] of the bsTan-‘gyur [sDe-dge edition]).

 

S38

Śākyamuni Buddha (Tib: Sh’akya thub-pa), 500bc. The Glorious Secret Collection, King of All the Teachings of the Secret (Śrī Guhya Samāja Mahātantra Rāja Nāma) (Tib: dPal gSang-ba ‘dus-pa zhes-bya-ba rgyud kyi rgyal-po chen-po, Tibetan translation at KL00442, ff. 431b-521b of Vol. 4 [Nga] in the Secret Teachings Section [Tantra, rGyud] of the bKa’-‘gyur [lHa-sa edition]). Note that this work does not correspond exactly to the version found in the Derge edition, under the same catalog number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works in Chinese

 

 

C1

释迦牟尼佛,约公元前500年。《般若波罗蜜多心经》(唐三藏法师玄奘译本,大正新脩大正藏经 Vol. 08, No. 251 [Nos. 250, 252-255, 257],由中华电子佛典协会 (CBETA)发行)。

 

C2

释迦牟尼佛,约公元前500年。《般若波罗蜜多心经(炖煌石室本)》(国大德三藏法师沙门法成译本,大正新脩大正藏经 Vol. 08, No. 255 [Nos. 250-254, 257],由中华电子佛典协会 (CBETA)发行)。

 

C3

释迦牟尼佛,约公元前500年。《般若波罗蜜多心经》(唐上都大兴善寺三藏沙门智慧轮奉诏译本,大正新脩大正藏经 Vol. 08, No. 254 [Nos. 250-253, 255, 257],由中华电子佛典协会 (CBETA)发行)。

 

C4

释迦牟尼佛,约公元前500年。《佛说圣佛母般若波罗蜜多经》(西天译经三藏朝奉大夫试光禄卿传法大师赐紫臣施护奉诏译本,大正新脩大正藏经 Vol. 08, No. 257 [Nos. 250-255],由中华电子佛典协会 (CBETA)发行)。

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in Tibetan

 

B1

(Co-ne bla-ma) Grags-pa bshad-sgrub (1675-1748). An Explanation of the Heart of Wisdom called “The Sun which Illuminates the Suchness of the Profound” (Shes-rab snying-po’i rnam-bshad Zab-mo’i de-kho-na-nyid gsal-bar byed-pa’i nyi-ma, ACIP digital text S00220), 20ff. As our base edition we have used the sometimes difficult-to-read but preferable woodblock carving scan available from the Buddhist Digital Research Center (BDRC, formerly known as TBRC or Tibetan Buddhist Research Center), with file name “W8LS16868-I8LS16890-1-582-any.” As a backup we have used the BDRC modern computer-set publication with file name “W1PD90129-I1PD106870-236-276-any.”

 

B2

rJe Tzong-kha-pa (Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419). The Essence of Well-Spoken Words: A Praise of the Unsurpassed Teacher for His Having Spoken the Profound Teachings on Creation in Dependence (sTon-pa bla-na-med-pa la zab-mo rten cing ‘brel-par ‘byung-ba gsung-ba’i sgo nas bstod-pa Legs-par bshad-pa’i snying-po, ACIP S05275-15), 3ff.

 

 

B3

rJe Tzong-kha-pa bLo-bzang grags-pa (1357-1419). The “Commentary of the Commentary, in Annotations”: A Revelation of the Meaning of the Words in “The Lamp of Illumination,” an Extensive Commentary upon the King of All Secret Teachings, the Glorious Secret Collection (Guhyasamaja) (rGyud thams-cad kyi rgyal-po dpal gSang-ba ‘dus-pa’i rgya-cher bshad-pa sGron-ma gsal-ba’i tsig-don ji-bzhin ‘byed-pa’i mtsan gyi yang-’grel, ACIP S05282), 476 ff.

 

B4

(‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa sku-phreng dang-po) ‘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.

 

B5

rJe Tzong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa (1357-1419). The Illumination of the True Thought, an Explanation of the Magnificent Classical Commentary entitled “Entering the Middle Way” (bsTan-bcos chen-po dBu-ma la ‘jug-pa’i rnam-bshad dGongs-pa rab-gsal, ACIP S05408), 288ff.

 

B6

(Gung-thang) Blo-gros rgya-mtso (1851-1930). Entry Point for the Fortunate: A Clarification of the True Thought of Two Works: “The Precious Lamp” (an Analysis of the Perfection of Wisdom by the supreme Jamyang Lama); and the Annotated Commentary of the Lord, Dipam Tsenchen (Jam-dbyangs bla-ma mchog gi phar-phyin mtha’-dpyod Rin-chen sgron-me dang rJe Di-pam mtsan-can gyi mchan-‘grel gnyis kyi dgongs-don gsal-bar byed-ba sKal-bzang ‘jug-ngogs, ACIP S00967), 231ff.

 

B7

Ke’u-tsang Blo-bzang ‘jam-dbyangs smon-lam (b. 1689). The String of Pure White Lights for Illuminating the Meaning of the Teachings of the Able Buddhas: An Explanation of a Versed Summary on the Rules for Fully Ordained Monks (dGe-slong gi bslab-bya’i sdom-tsig gi rnam-bshad Thub-bstan gsal-byed ‘od-dkar phreng-ba, ACIP S06519), 117ff.

 

B8

Se-ra rje-btzun Chos kyi rgyal-mtsan (1469-1546). Sera Jetsun’s Overview of Je Tsongkapa’s “Art of Interpretation” (rJe-btzun-pa’i Drang-nges rnam-‘byed kyi spyi-don, ACIP S06820), 54ff.

 

B9

(mKhas-grub) bsTan-pa dar-rgyas (1493-1568). An Illumination of the “Jewel of the Essence of Good Explanationan Overview of the Root Text and Commentary to the Classical Commentary Known as “The Jewel of Realizations” (bsTan-bcos mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan rtza-‘grel gyi spyi-don rNam-bshad snying-po rgyan gyi snang-ba phar-phyin spyi-don, ACIP S00009), in 6 volumes: Vol. 1 (commentary to the first chapter), 141ff; Vol. 2 (second chapter), 37ff; Vol. 3 (third chapter), 15ff; Vol. 4 (fourth chapter), 65ff; Vol. 5 (fifth through seventh chapters), 21ff; and Vol. 6 (eighth chapter), 24ff.

 

B10

sNa-tsogs (various authors). A Compendium of Liturgical Texts Utilized at the Various Major Monasteries, along with Liturgical Works which are Unique to Sera Mey Monastery and Needed for Use by Its Members (Chos-sde chen-po rnams su gsungs-pa’i chos-spyod kyi rim-pa dang Ser-smad thos-bsam nor-gling grva-tsang gi thun-mong-ma-yin-pa’i nye-mkho chos-spyod bcas, ACIP S00207), 34ff.

 

B11

(rJe-drung) Shes-rab dbang-po (1500-1586). The True Intent Made Even More Clear: A Treatment of Difficult Points in the Explanation of “Entering the Middle Way” entitled “Illumination of the True Thought” (dBu-ma la ‘jug-pa’i rnam-bshad dGongs-pa rab-gsal gyi dka’-gnad gtan la ‘bebs-pa dGongs-pa yang-gsal, ACIP S00273), 188ff.

 

B12

(Chos-rje) Ngag-dbang dpal-ldan (b. 1806). A Lamp that Illuminates, Totally, the Meaning of the Great Mother, consisting of Interlinear Annotations to the [First Chapter of the] Overview of the Perfection of Wisdom (Phar-phyin spyi-don gyi zur-mchan Yum-don rab-gsal sgron-me, ACIP S00982), in 4 volumes of 112ff; 29ff; 74ff, and 43ff respectively.

 

B13

rJe Tzong-kha-pa (Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419). An Elucidation of the “Fifty Verses on Lamas (Bla-ma lnga-bcu-pa’i rnam-bshad, ACIP S05269), 29ff.

 

B14

rJe Tzong-kha-pa (Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419). Ocean of Clouds of Praise, composed to Please Gentle Voice: A Eulogy to the Holy Manjushri, ACIP S05275-33), 5ff.

 

B15

(‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa sku-phreng dang-po) ‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa’i rdo-rje Ngag-dbang brtzon-‘grus (1648-1721). A Total Clarification of the Positions Taken by the Victors of the Three Times, a Classical Commentary which is a Treasure Trove of Jewels from the Teachings of the Able Ones: A Commentary on the True Thought of that Highest Teaching, the “Treasure House of Higher Knowledge” (Dam-pa’i Chos mngon-pa mdzod kyi dgongs-‘grel gyi bstan-bcos Thub-bstan nor-bu’i gter-mdzod dus gsum rGyal-ba’i bzhad-don kun-gsal, ACIP S19100), in 8 volumes.

 

B16

(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 S25009), 158ff.

 

B17

(Chos-rje) Ngag-dbang dpal-ldan (b. 1806). “Following a Tradition of Eloquence”: A Word-by-Word Commentary to “Entering the Middle Way” (dBu-ma la ‘jug-pa’i tsig-‘grel Legs-bshad rjes-‘brang), ACIP S00981, 189 ff.

 

B18

(mKhas-grub) bsTan-pa dar-rgyas (1493-1568). The Garland of White Lotuses: A Fine Explanation of Dialectical Analysis for the Classical Commentary entitled “The Ornament of Realizations,” along with its Own Commentary (bsTan-bcos mNgon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan ‘grel-pa dang bcas-pa’i mtha’-dpyod legs-par bshad-pa Pad-ma dkar-po’i ‘phreng-ba, ACIP S00001), in 8 volumes: Vol. 1, 77ff; Vol. 2, 54ff; Vol. 3, 56ff; Vol. 4, 55ff; Vol. 5, 20ff; Vol. 6, 68ff; Vol. 7, 25ff; Vol. 8, 27ff.

 

B19

(Paṇ-chen bla-ma sku-phreng gnyis-pa) Blo-bzang ye-shes (1663-1737). The Quick Path for Travelling to the State of All-Knowing: A Dissection Teaching on the Steps of the Path to Enlightenment (Byang-chub lam gyi rim-pa’i dmar-khrid Thams-cad mkhyen-par ‘grod-pa’i myur-lam, ACIP S06980), 81ff.

 

B20

(Gung-thang) dKon-mchog bstan-pa’i sgron-me (1762-1823). An Amazing Machine of Words of Eloquence: Writings on the Circle of Excellence [a Kind of Poetical Chart] in a Number of Various Forms, such as the Wheel of Excellence connected with the Life Stories of Holy Beings of the Early Keepers of the Word (the Kadampas) (bKa’-gdams gong-ma’i rnam-thar dang ‘brel-ba’i kun-bzang ‘khor-lo sogs kun-‘khor sna-tsogs kyi skor Ngo-mtsar ‘phrul gyi legs-bshad, ACIP S00960, 11ff.

 

B21

mKhas-grub rje (dGe-legs dpal bzang-po) (1385–1438). Opening the Eyes of the Fortunate: A Classical Commentary which Illuminates the Real Nature of Profound Emptiness (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).

 

B22

Pha-bong kha-pa bDe-chen snying-po (1878-1941). The Key that Opens the Door to the Excellent Path: Notes of an Explanation Granted when the Holder of the Diamond, the Good and Glorious Pabongka, Granted Profound Teachings upon “The Three Principal Paths” (rDo-rje ‘chang Pha-bong kha-pa dpal bzang-pos Lam-gtzo’i zab-khrid stzal skabs kyi gsung-bshad zin-bris Lam-bzang sgo-‘byed, ACIP S00034), 41ff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography of works

originally written in English

 

E1

Whitney, William Dwight (1827-1894). The Roots, Verb-Forms, and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1945) (ACIP R00013), 250pp.

 

[1] Suchness of the profound: For the translation, we will be using the edition listed in the bibliography found in the appendices (see bibliography entry %B1, ACIP digital text S00220). Please note that items found within curly braces including an initial percentage sign {%…} indicate our correction of an error in either the woodblock or input version of the original Tibetan. The “Heart of Wisdom” is what we commonly call the “Heart Sutra.”

[2] Gentle Voice: Known in Sanskrit as Manjushri, and in Tibetan as Jampel Yang; the angelic embodiment of the wisdom of all Enlightened Beings.

[3] Lord of the Able Ones: That is, Lord Buddha.

[4] Loving Eyes: Known in Sanskrit as Avalokiteshvara, and in Tibetan as Chenresik; the angel embodiment of the love of all Enlightened Beings. Despite being a bodhisattva who is already a Buddha as well, he sometimes plays the role of one who is not yet enlightened. The “three worlds” are the three sectors of the universe recognized in Buddhist cosmology: the desire realm; the form realm; and the formless realm. “Victor” is a common appellation of the Buddhas.

[5] The Heart of the Perfection: The Indian master Nagarjuna lived around 200ad; his understanding of the difficult concept of emptiness—the primary theme of the Heart Sutra—was so complete that he is sometimes called the “Second Buddha.” His spiritual “son” is normally considered to be his disciple Master Aryadeva; but here Choney Lama is directing this honor to Master Chandrakirti (c. 625ad), one of the greatest commentators upon Nagarjuna’s thought in all of history.

[6] Teachings in the form of realizations: The teachings of Lord Buddha are traditionally divided into instruction in its physical form—such as books or lectures; and in the form of realizations within the hearts of practitioners. See for example the very final sections of the Treasure House of Higher Knowledge (Abhidharma Kosha), by Master Vasubandhu (c. 350ad) (%S16, TD04089).

[7] Emptiness is the heart: See f. 13b of Je Tsongkapa’s classic thanks to the Buddha for teaching dependence (%B2, S05275-15).

[8] How very perfect: See ff. 14b-15a (%B2, S05275-15).

[9] No other cause: See f. 44b of the sutra (%S1, KL00127).

[10] The prison of six different births: See f. 41a of his Commentary on the Wish for Enlightenment (S2, TD01800). The “six births” here are those of the six realms of hell beings; craving spirits; animals; humans; near pleasure beings; and full pleasure beings.

[11] Cleaned forever: See ff. 206a-206b of the sutra (%S3, KL00013).

[12] In order to bring us wisdom: See f. 30b of Master Shantideva’s classic (%S4, TD03871).

[13] This one essential dependence: Again from his Praise of Dependence; see f. 15a (%B2, S05275-15).

[14] Beyond all calculation: See ff. 222a-222b of the sutra (%S27, KL00016).

[15] Greater good karma: Choney Lama is quoting a citation of this sutra found in Arya Nagarjuna’s Compendium of the Sutras; see f. 205a (%S5, TD03934). We don’t see a sutra by this name in the current Kangyur, although there is a sutra featuring a youth named Ratnadata; it is fittingly called A Description of the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (%S6, KL00184). Almost the exact wording here is also found in another sutra—Proclaiming Deathless Nectar; where the person Lord Buddha is addressing is rather Maitreya (see f. 431b, %S7, KL00197). The ‘chad-pa (“to explain”) in the carving of Choney Lama here makes sense, but both of the originals mentioned here have ‘chang-ba (“to take up”) instead, which in explanations of The Diamond Cutter is typically read in similar contexts as “to commit to memory.”

[16] Enough to rip the fabric: See f. 9a of his 400 Verses (%S8, TD03846).

[17] Conqueror: Referring to Lord Buddha.

[18] Lady of Conquest: We will be inserting the root text of the sutra from the Lhasa Kangyur edition (see %S9, KL00021), at the relevant lines in Choney Lama’s commentary. Where he “weaves” the root text into his explanation, we will use italics within the commentary. For notes on the Sanskrit edition, please see the bibliography at (%S9, KL00021).

[19] Four language groups of ancient India: Je Tsongkapa describes these four, in a commentary to the secret teaching called the Secret Collection, as follows (bibliography entry %B3, S05282, f. 1b):

“In India there were four great language groups: Prakirta, the natural or native language of each different locality; Apabhransha, or corrupted dialects; Pishacha, or the language of the spirits [called flesh-eaters, or pishacha]; and Sanskrit, the ‘well-formed’ language—the Tongue of the Gods.”

Note that the Tibetan translation for the word sanskirta is typically literal: sam for well and kirta (the correct pronunciation of the vocalic r) for formed. The name of the third language listed, apabhransha, literally means “languages that have wandered away.” Please note that throughout this translation we will be presenting the prenasal sound in its correct pronunciation, dependent upon the quality of the following consonant, rather than confusing the pronunciation with the transcription (for example m with a dot under it), as is unfortunately often the case among many modern Sanskritists.

[20]Hirdaya” is “the heart”: Note that, unless otherwise necessitated, we will be using the closest English pronunciation for foreign words in the text and in the footnotes; and in the bibliographies, the technical transcription. Please also note that we will be distinguishing between the two! Which means, for example, the vocalic is transcribed with ir, and not ri—as is sometimes seen when transcription and pronunciation are confused or intermixed.

The reader may enjoy some cognates, or English words which have derived from the Sanskrit here. As we will see, Bhagavan—which originally means “having a share”—relates to the Sanskrit root /bhaj, which itself means to share, or divide. English cognates are fracture or vagina, which reflect a split or divide. The prefix pra- connotes to a high degree, or up front, and thus the English cognates prow of a boat or proud—the desire to be in front. The root /jna, meaning to know, is responsible for that unexpected kn- spelling in English. To go to the edge or limits all around—param—relates to the peri- in perimeter or periscope. And ita is the past participle of the root /i, meaning to go; it is found in our English word exit, meaning place to go out. Hirdaya or heart is of course related to that word, and to cardiac.

[21] Realized being who is also a bodhisattva: A “realized being” (arya in Sanskrit) is anyone who has seen emptiness directly. A “bodhisattva” is anyone who seeks to become enlightened so that they can serve countless other beings. Not all bodhisattvas are realized beings, nor are all realized beings bodhisattvas.

[22] To the Lady of Conquest: In the Kangyur edition of the Heart Sutra available to us, this obeisance reads: “I bow down to every Buddha, and every bodhisattva” (f. 259a, %S9, KL00021). There is however an additional version of the Heart Sutra to be found in the section of the Kangyur devoted to the secret teachings; and in this one, the translator’s obeisance is as we see it from Choney Lama here (see f. 45a, %S10, KL00531). The Sanskrit edition available to us reads at this point, “I bow down to the knowledge of all things.”

The reason that the numbering of the root text sections here skips from C1 to C3 is that Choney Lama has not treated a line at C2 in the Kangyur version of the sutra which states that the work was completed “in a single sheaf” or bam-po in the Tibetan. This is a standard quantity of written material, and the practice of giving the number of sheaves was meant to prevent elisions or additions to the original version. Refer to section C2 in the entire combined version of the sutra at the end of this volume.

[23] The master translator: Knowing the centuries of work that went into translating the scriptures from Sanskrit in Tibetan, let’s acknowledge these translators here. They are listed in the colophons of both the open and secret Kangyur editions as “the Indian abbot Vimala Mitra, together with a master Tibetan translator, the venerable Rinchen De [also known as Dro Lotsawa, 8th century]. The translation was later checked and standardized by the master translators and editors Gelo [probably Geway Lodru, n.d.] and Namka, among others.”

[24] Intended to indicate an individual: Choney Lama is referring to the final syllable ma here in the Tibetan word for “Lady of Conquest.” This is an ending which is feminine and normally related to a female; the corresponding Sanskrit here is the long i vowel found at the end of Bhagavati (“Lady of Conquest” in Sanskrit). Because of this we have taken the Tibetan word dgag-sgra here (which means negative particle) as having been bdag-sgra (a particle indicating an individual person). It is dimly possible that dgag-sgra is correct and that Choney Lama is merely indicating the syllable ma by referring to another of its senses, as a negative particle. See also the Lama’s explanation of this same term below at section %287.

[25] We call a person “The Conqueror”: The verse occurs in two works in the Tengyur; once in one of the famous commentaries by Master Haribhadra upon Maitreya and Asanga’s Jewel of Realizations; and again in a commentary to the famed King of Concentration. See f. 6b of %S11, TD03791; and f. 2b of %S12, TD04010, respectively.

[26] Excellent effort: The original, prose version of the list is found on f. 368 of the original tantra (%S13, KL00381). The versed form found here is quite common by the time of the Tengyur; see for example f. 52b of the commentary at %S14, TD01190. The spelling sabhua etc for sampua is common in the Tibetan literature.

[27] Extremes of the world and a lower peace: Two dead-ends which we are meant to avoid. The first is to continue living within a world of pain without trying to get out. The second is to reach nirvana—defined as the permanent ending of all our negative emotions—but without the desire to bring all living beings to their own final enlightenment. See a nice explanation of these two by Jamyang Shepa (1648-1721) at ff. 231a-231b of his analysis of Lord Maitreya’s Jewel of Realizations (%B4, ACIP digital text S19088).

[28] Keep of the King: In the Sanskrit, Rajagirha.

[29] Disciples who were listeners: The word “listener” in the present context means a disciple who had not yet reached the motivation of a “warrior saint” or bodhisattva—that is, the desire to become a full Buddha in order to be of help to countless living beings. The word is classically explained as referring to students of the Buddha who did listen to the teachings on this motivation, but were unable at that point to put it into practice—even though they could even describe what they had heard to others. See for example f. 4b of Je Tsongkapa’s masterpiece on emptiness, Illumination of the True Thought (%B5, S05408); which also forms a volume of the present Diamond Cutter Classics Series.

[30] Finished getting close: That is, bsnyen-par rdzogs-pa.

[31] In the original Sanskrit: Which is, of course, sangha.

[32] Seven different connotations: See f. 35a of the work, which is one of the Five Books of Maitreya (%S15, TD04020). Here the word “great” is being described with reference to the “greater way”—the path as practiced by those who wish to become a fully enlightened Buddha in order to help all living creatures in the universe. Gungtang Lodru Gyatso explains these seven by saying that the “great focus” refers to embracing the entire corpus of the greater way, and that the “two great accomplishments” are achieving all of ones own needs, and all those of others. “Great wisdom” is the realization of both the lack of a self-nature to things, and to people. “Great effort” is the willingness to make spiritual efforts for three “countless” eons; and the great form of skillful means refers to love which will never give up on beings in the cycle of pain. “Great practice” means the development of enlightened qualities such as the ten powers; while “great deeds” means to display, over and over again, the holy deeds of attaining nirvana and enlightenment. See f. 217a of the work (%B6, S00967).

[33] Travelled far away: Referring to the fact that the original Sanskrit word here, arya, can also connote being far above or beyond something.

[34] Six watches & five classes: The “six watches” here refers to three periods during daylight, and three periods during the darkness of night. The same Tibetan words (dus drug) can also refer to six seasons of the year: spring, early summer, late summer, autumn, early winter, and late winter. When listed as five, the classes of beings are hellbeings; craving spirits; animals; humans; and pleasure beings.

[35] The five heaps: These are the five basic components to a person, basically corresponding to the expression “body & mind” in English. These will be listed following. They are called “heaps” because each of them is itself a “pile” of many sub-components. See the famous explanation of the name by Master Vasubandhu in his Treasure House of Higher Knowledge; f. 2b (%S16, TD04089).

[36] All six perfections: That is, the primary practices included into the bodhisattva’s way of life: giving; leading an ethical life; avoiding anger; the enthusiastic pursuit of goodness; meditation, and wisdom. “Children of the Victors” is a technical term referring to male and female bodhisattvas.

[37] View & practice: A reference to the fact that the six perfections are often divided into those which are viewpoints and those which are practices. Wisdom and the practice of meditation on which it is founded are traditionally considered elements of view; while giving, the ethical life, and patience are considered practices. Joy in goodness is said to support both. See for example the eminent Mongol scholar Ngawang Pelden at f. 22b of his word commentary to Entering the Middle Way (%B17, S00981).

[38] Junior monk: The original phrase here—āyumān in the Sanskrit and tse dang ldan-pa in the Tibetan—has been misconstrued as meaning “one with much time in,” and thus “elder monk.” But the actual meaning of the expression is “one with much time to go,” or “junior monk.” See for example f. 233a of the commentary on monk’s vows by Keutsang Rinpoche Lobsang Jamyang Munlam (b. 1689) (%B7, S06519).

[39] Son of Sharika: The Tibetan translation available to us, from the Lhasa edition of the Kangyur, lists the Sanskrit as Sharadvati-putra (Śāradvatī-putra), which would make the mother’s full name Sharadvati. Sharad is a reference to autumn, and vati means “having” or “similar to.” Sometimes these two words combined can refer to someone “with many autumns,” or advanced in years. But more likely they are a reference to the monk’s mother having a face as bright and soft as a harvest moon (as in śarac-candra). Choney Lama covers this point below, in his explanation of the final words of the sutra.

[40] Emanation of Obstacle Destroyer: See f. 33b of Je Tsongkapa’s classic explanation of the secret teachings (%B3, S05282); as well as Master Chandrakirti’s original commentary (f. 9b, %S17, TD01785). “Obstacle Destroyer” (Sanskrit, Sarva Nivarana Vishkambhin) is the name of one of the Eight Close Sons, bodhisattvas who were especially close to Lord Buddha. And so Choney Lama is saying that Shariputra was not, as is generally reported, a disciple on the “listener” track of the lower way, but rather on the bodhisattva or higher-way track.

[41] In the Chinese: The words are indeed found at least once, in seven editions of the Chinese translation that we have checked. The relevant characters there are: 善女人. Conze’s Sanskrit edition concurs (%S9, KL00021).

[42] How should they practice the paths? The evolution of every person’s spiritual life is said to progress through five stages of realization, or “paths.” We begin at the “path of accumulation,” which is typically triggered by a personal tragedy, and where we are accumulating sufficient good karma to understand emptiness, which will forever free us of all pain. Next is the “path of preparation,” where we gain intellectual understandings of emptiness in preparation for seeing it directly. This is followed by the “path of seeing,” where we see emptiness directly. Processing, or habituating ourselves to, this direct perception and using it to permanently remove our negative emotions is called the “path of habituation.” When we do succeed in this goal, we reach the fifth path: nirvana, or “no more learning.” If we do so with the motivation of helping all beings, we attain enlightenment. The classic presentations of the five paths are to be found in Master Vasubandhu’s Treasure House of Higher Knowledge, and in the Jewel of Realizations recorded by his half-brother, Master Asanga.

[43] See first purely: The “purely” here (yang-dag-par in the Tibetan) is found in Choney Lama’s version of the sutra, but not in the Kangyur version located in the section devoted to the perfection of wisdom—which we are using as our standard. The version in the section of the Kangyur on the secret teachings though does include this word, and it is popularly recited this way in modern Tibetan monasteries of the Gelukpa tradition.

[44] Created with a projection: It’s very important, here early on in the sutra, that we understand clearly what it means to be “just created with a projection”; in Tibetan, rtog-pas btags tzam. How, for example, do we see a pen when we see a pen?

A simple, accurate way of thinking of the process is to imagine a karmic seed within our mind. When the seed cracks open, a tiny, luminous image of a pen emerges. This image flies to the parts of the pen that we’re looking at, and “settles down” over these parts. And then it seems to us that there is a pen “out there.” (And a dog, for example, who has different seeds in their mind, might see the same parts as a chewtoy, since that’s the mental image that their mind projects out to the parts.)

But the pen also normally seems as though it is coming at us, and we need to get to a point in our spiritual practice (which happens to be at the end of the path of preparation described below) where we can actually observe how it comes from us: as a karmic seed opens; produces the “image” or “projection” of a pen; and then this image goes out and glues itself to the combined, other parts of the pen—which now makes a complete pen. As we’ll hear many times here, the combined other parts without this image or projection (“what we call the pen”) are not enough by themselves to be a complete pen—and if we go looking for a pen among them individually or together (without the image or projection) we will never find a pen.

All that remains then is to examine how the karmic seed for a pen got into our mind in the first place. This is where kindness and morality come in: the pen seed was planted in the past when we shared a pen, or any means of better communication, with others in need.

[45] Later on in the text: See section %189 below.

[46] Lord father and sons: That is, Je (“Lord”) Tsongkapa and his two spiritual sons, Gyaltsab Je and Kedrup Je.

[47] The middle way: There are four great Buddhist schools of thought from ancient India, and the highest of these is called the “Middle-Way School.” Here though, Choney Lama is using the expression as a way of looking at things. As we will see later, it is a middle path between the two extremes of thinking that things are coming from their own side, and thus incapable of change; or thinking that—if they do not come from their own side—then they cannot exist at all. Kind of like driving a car straight down the middle of a country road and avoiding the ditches on either side.

[48] If you cancel one of the two: See ff. 40b-41a of the work (%S2, TD01800).

[49] Four problems from “What I Really Meant”: This is the famous sutra (%S18, KL00106) which forms the basis of Je Tsongkapa’s brilliant study of how to interpret the Buddha, and is translated in the present Diamond Cutter Classics Series. The four problems mentioned are summarized nicely by Sera Jetsun Chukyi Gyeltsen (1469-1546) in his overview of Tsongkapa’s work (%B8, S06820).

[50] Nothing except empty things: See f. 13b of the work (%B2, S05275-15).

[51] Doors of sense, & categories: Further ways—beyond the five heaps—of dividing up the person and the things of the world. The twelve doors of sense are divided into the six objects of the senses—visible form, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, and thoughts; and the six subjects which hold these objects—the senses and sense consciousnesses of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and awareness of the thoughts. The eighteen categories are these same twelve, with the subjects divided out into separate senses and sense consciousnesses. These two divisions—along with the division into five heaps already presented—are the primary topic of the first chapter of the famed Treasure House of Higher Knowledge (%S16, TD04089).

[52] Door to freedom of emptiness itself: Traditionally, three “doors to freedom” are presented: the door to freedom called “emptiness itself”; the door to freedom “where nothing has any quality”; and the door to freedom “where there are no wishes for the future”. These refer, respectively, to the wisdom which perceives that nothing has any present essence of its own; that nothing has any cause which is real; and that nothing has any result which is real. See the clear presentation of this difficult topic by the great master of the great Sera Mey Tibetan Monastery, Kedrup Tenpa Dargye (1493-1568), at f. 2b of Volume 4 of his overview of the Jewel of Realizations (%B9, S00009-4).

[53] Something we can point to as being physical form: This is in fact that classical definition of physical form; since otherwise something like “red” or “long” is so difficult to define in words. See for example f. 3b of the seminal presentation by Ngawang Tashi of the clan of Sey (1678-1738), which is also included as a volume in the present Diamond Cutter Classics Series (%B16, S25009).

[54] Nothing becomes pure: Students of the Heart Sutra should be aware that this particular line in the Tibetan is often mis-chanted in the current monastic tradition. That is, dri-ma dang bral-ba med-pa has been mistakenly shortened to dri-ma med-pa. See for example f. 159a of the liturgy for major monasteries at %B10, S00207.

[55] Never stay anywhere: See for example f. 408a of the third part of the Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Lines (%S19, KL00008-3). The original sutras which are primarily devoted to the wisdom which perceives emptiness are called the “Mother Sutras,” because they produce as their children realized beings: aryas, who have seen emptiness directly. See the explanation of the great Mongol savant Chujey Ngawang Pelden at f. 6a in the first volume of his overview of Lord Maitreya’s Jewel of Realizations (%B12, S00982-1).

[56] Nothing starts from anywhere: See f. 496a of the sutra (%S20, KL00171).

[57] Never started: See the prose source at f. 340b of the sutra (%S21, KL00156).

[58] This is the very thing: See f. 22a of the work (%S22, TD03825), which along with its insightful commentary by Gyaltsab Je is translated in the present Diamond Cutter Classics Series.

[59] Because things flow forth: The full verse reads:

 

Because things flow forth

In dependence on others,

They cannot be considered

By these kinds of thoughts.

 

This then is why

The logic of dependence

Slashes away every net

Of views which are mistaken.

 

See ff. 209b-210a of the work (%S23, TD03861).

[60] Empty of any nature: Again, from his praise of Lord Buddha for enunciating dependent origination; see f. 13b (%B2, S05275-15).

[61] None of these is under its own power: See f. 16a (%S8, TD03846). We have corrected the reading from bdag-gi to bdag ni, as found in the Derge Tengyur edition.

[62] My limited intelligence: There is an ancient tradition for genius thinkers to make disclaimers like this simply out of humility; Choney Lama obviously grasps all these points perfectly.

[63] The discrepancy is gone: The point of the Tibetan phrase here, gnyis-snang, is that there is normally a discrepancy (gnyis su snang-ba) between what we think we see and what is actually there. As we see emptiness directly, we for the first time in countless lifetimes no longer engage in this discrepancy. Translating this phrase more literally as “dualism” misses the point.

[64] Of any nature of their own: That is, in the Tibetan translation we are using, “of any essence of their own,” found in section C11.

[65] With emptiness: That is, here in section C15.

[66] With the path: Choney Lama has tied the previous section on the four truths to this section, which begins with knowledge, because in Buddhist technical terminology, the word for the final truth (“path”) connotates a state of knowledge—and specifically that related to emptiness. See for example f. 22b in the first volume of Kedrup Tenpa Dargye’s dialectic analysis of the Jewel of Realizations (%B18, S00001).

[67] Rongtikpa has glossed: “Rongtikpa” literally means “commentator from the Rong area of Tibet” and is a reference to Rongton (“Teacher from Rong”) Sheja Kunrik (1367-1449), a writer of the Sakya lineage of Tibet who produced many commentaries on the Buddhist classics, including one on the Heart Sutra entitled A Complete Clarification of the Meaning of the Mother (Yum don rab-gsal)—referring to the Mother Sutras on the perfection of wisdom.

[68] Who no longer sees: See ff. 198b-199a of the sutra (%S3, KL00013).

[69] That highest perfection: See f. 191a of the same sutra (%S3, KL00013).

[70] It is beyond all thought: See f. 6a of the work (%S24, TD03786).

[71] There is no starting: See f. 1b (%S25, TD03824).

[72] There is nothing else to think: See f. 32a (%S4, TD03871).

[73] Meditation of the end of the flow: Often also called “the uninterrupted path at the end of the flow” (rgyun-mtha’i bar-chad med lam), this is a technical term for our final meditation as we go into enlightenment itself. See for example f. 83b of the masterful explanation of Je Tsongakapa’s Illumination of the True Thought by Gelong Sherab Wangpo (1500-1586) (%B11, S00273).

[74] Reach to nirvana: Choney Lama’s version of these lines does not include the “ultimate end” part found in our edition of the original sutra; but it does appear in his paraphrase immediately below, and he explains his selection subsequent to that.

[75] Attain the level of a Buddha: We’ve looked at Rongtikpa’s work above; Gung-ru Gyeltsen Sangpo lived 1383-1450 and served as the third abbot of Sera Monastery. We have not yet located a separate commentary by him upon the Heart Sutra; his comments may have been made in other works, and their searchable input is in process.

[76] Nirvana where nothing remains: Explained in different ways, but basically meaning “final” nirvana where there is no normal body or mind left behind. Jamyang Gaway Lodru (1429-1503) studied with teachers from Gung-ru and served as an abbot of Drepung Monastery. Neither have we located yet a separate Heart Sutra commentary by him, but are inputting his known works to search for this particular comment.

[77] No other way at all: See f. 206a of the sutra (%S3, KL00013).

[78] Three different tracks: Our spiritual evolution proceeds along the five different paths described in the pages above. There are three sets of these five paths (15 paths total) along which we can progress.

The first two sets belong to the lower way, meaning that we lack the motivation of a bodhisattva: the desire to save all living creatures from all pain. The first of the two lower sets is called the “listener track”; we have explained this track earlier (see footnote %27). The next one up is the track of the “self-made buddhas,” which is a reference not to full Buddhas but to practitioners who reach the goal of a lower nirvana after learning from countless teachers in their past lives—but without requiring a direct teacher in this life.

And then the highest track is of course that of the higher way: of the bodhisattvas. People on the first two tracks can see emptiness directly, and do use it to achieve the nirvana of their track; to achieve Buddhahood itself, they must eventually enter the bodhisattva track, and again must see emptiness, directly. The subject of the three tracks is one of the principal topics of the traditional extensive study of Lord Maitreya’s Jewel of Realizations.

[79] There is no other: See f. 76b of his Praise of the Lady of the Perfection of Wisdom (%S26, TD01127).

[80] Who have entered the stream: That is, a person who has seen emptiness directly, and thus become an arya or “realized being”

[81] Referring to the wisdom which realizes emptiness: Referring primarily to ff. 220a-220b of the sutra (%S27, KL00016).

[82] First five perfections: A reminder—these are giving; leading an ethical life; overcoming anger; taking joy in doing good; and meditating. Wisdom of course is the sixth.

[83] Billions of blind: See f. 195b (%S3, KL00013).

[84] Who has eyes to see: See f. 225b (%S27, KL00016).

[85] A single person with sight: See f. 204a of his Entering the Middle Way (%S23, TD03861).

[86] Gone to the other side: Choney Lama is playing with the Sanskrit verbal roots that go into the word mantra, or the “sacred words” here. As Je Tsongkapa notes in his commentary to the famed Fifty Verses on Lamas, drawing from the literature of the Secret Collection (Guhya Samaja), the word mantra breaks down into two parts: man meaning mind and tra meaning to protect. The latter comes from a Sanskrit verbal root /trā, meaning to rescue or protect. This in itself is a secondary root whose primary form is /t (pronounced tir), meaning to pass or cross over. This sense of tra is the point of Choney Lama’s wordplay here, since the perfection of wisdom (or more properly perhaps, the perfectionizer of wisdom) is literally something that helps us “cross over” and thus escape the ocean of pain. The very word “perfection,” or paramita in the original Sanskrit, of course literally means gone (ita) to (-m) the other side (para).

For Je Tsongkapa’s etymology see A Commentary to the Fifty Verses on Lamas, ff. 26a-26b (%B13, S05269). His reference from the Secret Collection may be found at ff. 526a-526b of the Latter Secret Teaching (%S28, KL00443). As always, the roots are presented masterfully by Dwight Whitney in his Roots, Verb Forms, and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language (%E1, R00013); see pp. 64 and 67.

[87] Touch their enlightenment: See f. 257b (%S3, KL00013). Here is the entire passage:

The perfection of wisdom

Of the Victorious Ones

Is a great mantra of knowledge;

 

It takes even beings

Who have no aptitude,

And puts to rest in them

All grief, all pain.

 

All those who have gone beyond—

The protectors of the worlds

In every corner of the universe—

Became Kings of Benefit

By learning these sacred words.

 

Those sages who live a life

Hoping to help others,

Acting in compassion

Towards others,

 

And who train themselves

In this knowledge mantra,

Reach and touch

Their enlightenment.

[88] Four classes of the secret word: These are four traditional divisions of the secret teachings which range from secret practice involving much outer ritual up to that which is nearly entirely internal.

[89] Bodhi svaha: Note that the two syllables svaha are sometimes traditionally smushed together, as we see here; and sometimes separated, as we see in the commentary. The traditional pronunciation of this combination, even among Hindu sages in modern India, is oftentimes so-ha.

[90] Which here I speak for you: The sacred syllable om here in the version of the mantra in Choney Lama’s commentary is not found in the Sanskrit available to us; nor in either of the editions of the sutra in the edition of the Kangyur that we are using (the Lhasa edition). It may be added as the traditional “lead-off syllable,” to indicate that the mantra has now become more standardized.

[91] Seven different sense of “om”: The classic source for these seven is a verse from a secret book of the teachings known as “Tip of Diamond” (see f. 341b of %S29, KL00480). Here is how it reads; the “source of wealth” by the way means “the world,” and so this sacred sound is being called the most precious thing in the world:

And now I will explain to you

The meaning of Om,

The heart of the source of wealth.

 

It has meanings of “supreme”;

And “granting wealth”; and “glory”;

And “fortune”; “one who possesses

Their share of goodness”;

“Making a commitment”;

And “auspiciousness.”

[92] Go to the enlightenment of a Buddha! The “enlightenment of a listener” or of a self-made buddha is not full enlightenment; it is only a reference to lower nirvana: the permanent ending of negative emotions, not combined yet with omniscience. The third enlightenment mentioned here is full enlightenment, of the greater way.

[93] The celebration: The Tibetan manuscript has gsum-pa (“third”) mistakenly here for bzhi-pa (“fourth”).

[94] Son of the woman: See also our footnote %39 above.

[95] Teachings flow: See f. 30b of Je Tsongkapa’s ode (%B14, S05275-33).

[96] Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom: Choney Lama’s final line does not include the words “sutra of the greater way.”

[97] Call a woman a “wife”: The Tibetan word here for “mother” is yum, which can also be the honorific for “wife.”

[98] Keepers of the Word: In Tibetan, Kadampa, referring here to the school of early Tibetan Buddhists which developed in Tibet after the arrival of the great Indian sage, Lord Atisha (b. 982ad). Their name is traditionally explained in Tibetan as bka’ gdams-par zhar-ba: “those for whom everything the Buddha ever uttered (ka) struck them as personal advice (dampa) for their own life.” See for example f. 2a of the history of the school by the great Gungtang Konchok Tenpay Drunme (1762-1823) (%B20, S00960).

[99] Examined earlier: At section %28 above.

[100] That final section: Scholars please note that the page numbering of our backup scan of the text from BDRC (see bibliography entry %B1) is in this area out of order—not to be confused!

[101] Consequence group: The higher of two divisions of the Middle-Way School, one of the four great Buddhist schools of ancient India. This is the highest interpretation of emptiness, followed by Lord Buddha himself in both his open and secret teachings. The word “consequence” here refers to the belief held by members of the school that a logical statement that points up an absurd consequence of an opponent’s position on the nature of reality is sufficient to lead them to an understanding of the correct meaning of emptiness. See for example the great explanation of the name by Je Tsongkapa’s brilliant disciple, Kedrup Je (1385–1438), at ff. 32b-33a of his extraordinary Interlude on Emptiness (%B21, S05459).

[102] The head and other four components: A traditional listing of the parts of the physical body including the quarters of the torso and the two arms connected to them; same with the two legs; and the head. See Jamyang Shepay Dorje’s commentary to the Treasure House of Higher Knowledge, Part 3, f. 22b (%B15, S19100-3).

[103] All the other articles: The paragraph here is correct, but there are some small details of the Tibetan spelling which are unclear in all editions available to us. Some minor adjustments may be necessary when a better woodblock print is located.

[104] In essence either: See ff. 109b-110a of his famous epistle (%S30, TD04158).

[105] The six elements: In ancient times, the person was seen as made up of six different elements, which were actually cogent descriptions of the elemental energies that compose the physical universe. “Earth” for example referred not to particles of dirt but rather to solidity itself; while “wind” referred not to what moves the branches of trees but instead to the force of motility itself. All in all, a more sophisticated system than we often give it credit for. See the classical description of the elements found on f. 5b of the Collected Topics on Logic of Ngawang Tashi (%B16, S25009).

[106] Come and go: See f. 10b of the work (%S25, %TD03824).

[107] Makes the same point: See for example f. 33a of the work (%S4, TD03871).

[108] Apply that same thinking: See f. 71a of the sutra (%S1, KL00127). The version available to us in the Lhasa edition of the Kangyur is a different translation of the original, but with the same import: ,ji-ltar bdag gi ‘du-shes rig ,de-bzhin kun tu blo yang gtong,.

[109] Understand every existing thing: See f. 191a of the sutra (%S3, KL00013).

[110] Nothing more than name: See for example f. 102a of Part 1 of the Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Lines (%S19, KL00008).

[111] Nothing but names: See f. 267a; the declaration is “by the victorious Buddhas” (%S3, KL00013).

[112] But a name as well: See f. 110b (%S30, TD04158)

[113] Don’t even try: See f. 205b of his Entering the Middle Way (%S23, TD03861).

[114] A flower blooming in thin air: See f. 13b (%B2, S05275-15).

[115] Standard extreme ideas: The extreme ideas that things never change, or that they must have stopped entirely, are the logical consequences of thinking (1) that things must have some nature of their own; or (2) that if they don’t have some nature of their own, then they can’t exist at all. It’s important to keep this description in mind as we continue here.

[116] They depend on their parts, and so on: The “so on” here is extremely important, and is easily understood if we examine a brilliant explanation of dependence—often referred to in English as “dependent origination”—by the great Pabongka Rinoche (1878-1941). In his commentary to Je Tsongkapa’s famous Three Principal Paths, he describes three types of dependence taught in Buddhism.

The most basic is where things depend on their causes. Given though that all things are supposed to exist in dependence, we need a broader description: one which will also cover those things—like empty space, or emptiness itself—which exist but do not come from causes. Then we say that “dependence” refers to how things depend upon their component parts: such as the directions of empty space; or the emptiness of individual objects, within the entire concept of emptiness.

The deepest interpretation then of dependence is where the existence of something like a pen depends on its parts coming together, and then an image (or “projection” or “name”) emerging from our mind to unify them. This image emerges from a karmic seed; and that seed has been planted (in the case of something we like) by an act of sharing what we have with others in need.

Thus, the “so on” here is meant to include seeds; and the projection of a karmic image onto a collection of parts. See ff. 31a-31b of Pabongka Rinpoche’s brief but famous work (%B22, S00034).

[117] Slashes away every net: See ff. 209b-210a of Entering the Middle Way (%S23, TD03861). See also footnote %59 above.

[118] The Teacher who has no match: See f. 14a of the work (%B2, S05275-15).

[119] The emptiness of everything: See f. 9b of his 400 Verses (%S8, TD03846).

[120] The way things are: Choney Lama hasn’t attributed these lines, but given their position directly following the quotation from Master Aryadeva’s 400 Verses, it’s normally possible that they should come from it. A number of authoritative Tibetan masters have in fact stated that they are from the 400; but we have not found them there in this form. The lines as they are found here do occur a number of times in the Tengyur, most prominently in the two famous commentaries by Master Haribhadra to Lord Maitreya’s Jewel of Realizations. See f. 314b of the longer commentary (%S11, TD03791), and f. 130a of the briefer (%S31, TD03793).

[121] Falling into the extremes: Choney Lama has a lot of puns flying around here that cannot all come through in the English. The Tibetan word for “extreme” throughout here is mtha’ (equivalent to anta in the Sanskrit). This can also refer to the extreme edge of something like a cliff; or to the impossible object of an extreme view; or by extension even to the view itself—as well as to the abyss below a cliff.

[122] Chained by the tendency: The point being made here is that—when a person undergoes for example their first direct perception of emptiness—they cannot within this meditation continue imagining that things have some nature of their own. But in the aftermath of this experience, the seeds for seeing things as coming from their own side reassert themselves, and until the practitioner progresses to a sufficient point, they will continue—outside of deep meditation on emptiness—to see things this way. They are aware though that what they see is mistaken, and so we cannot—says Choney Lama here—describe them as “chained” to this view. See for example ff. 70b-71a of the explanation by Chujey Ngawang Pelden, again in his word commentary to Entering the Middle Way (%B17, S00981).

[123] The Three Jewels: The traditional trinity of the Buddhist faith: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. On a deep level, they are defined, respectively, as (1) a person who has attained the physical and mental forms of an Enlightened Being, which have “room” to exist only because of their attendant emptiness; (2) the direct perception of emptiness; and (3) any person who has ever expereinced this perception. See for example the brilliant presentation of Kedrup Tenpa Dargye (1493-1568), the author of many brilliant textbooks for Sera Mey Tibetan Monastery, in the final quarter of the second volume of his dialectic analysis of the Jewel of Realizations (%B18, S00001-2).

[124] How all things are or how many things are: A traditional division of all things into their real nature and their infinite, nominal expressions. Only an omniscient being can perceive all of both at the same time. See for example f. 41b of the dissection teaching on the steps of the path to enlightenment by His Holiness the second Panchen Lama, Lobsang Yeshe (1663-1737), f. 41b (%B19, S06980).

[125] Buddhas say what they say: See f. 24a of his Seventy Verses on Emptiness (%S32, TD03827).

[126] Follows the opinion of the world: See f. 209b of Entering the Middle Way (%S23, TD03861).

[127] Thus disagreement has arisen: See f. 200b of the sutra (%S3, KL00013).

[128] Not I with the world: The full name of the source is An Exalted Sutra of the Greater Way entitled “A Presentation of the Three Vows,” a Section within the Hundred Thousand Iterations of the Dharma known as “The Great Pile of Rare and Precious Jewels”; see f. 14a (%S33, KL00045).

[129]Based on their various parts: The verse is no doubt drawn from Master Chandrakirti’s autocommentary to Entering the Middle Way, where it occurs twice; see f. 296b and f. 299b (%S34, TD03862). There it is attributed only to “sutra.” Nearly the same lines occur at least another three times in the Tengyur, again without attribution (see f. 71b of TD04421, %S35; f. 80b of TD03856, %S36; and f. 71a of TD03885, %S37); except that in the last case it is said to have been spoken by “the Protector.” We haven’t located a corresponding passage in the current Kangyur.

[130] To sit in space and contemplate space: See ff. 494a-494b of the tantra (%S38, KL00442).

[131] More wondrous than wondrous: See f. 41b of the work (%S2, TD01800). The “second chapter” here refers to that of the just-mentioned root tantra of the Secret Collection, which is named “On the Wish for Enlightenment”; see ff. 438a-440a (%S38, KL00442).

[132] What more amazing? See f. 14a of the work (%B2, S05275-15).

[133] The Buddha returned to earth: A reference of course to Je Tsongkapa, Lobsang Drakpa.

[134] Iron Pig year: Corresponding to 1730; Choney Lama would have been 55 at the time, and at the height of his philosophical powers. We know from his biographies that he enjoyed spending extensive quiet time in his room for study, meditation, and writing.

Source: http://texts.10000booksofwisdom.com/sunlight-on-suchness/