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Shenpen Ösel

The Clear Light of the Buddha’s Teachings Which Benefits All Beings

Volume 5, Numbers 2 and 3 December 2001

“...no ignorance, no end of ignorance up to no old age and death, no end of old age and death; no
suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and
no nonattainment. Therefore, Sariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no attainment, they abide by
means of prajnaparamita. Since there is no obscuration of mind, there is no fear.”
Shenpen Ösel
The Clear Light of the Buddha’s Teachings Which Benefits All Beings
Volume 5 Numbers 2 and 3
Content
Contentss
This issue of Shenpen Ösel is devoted to a series of teachings given by The Very Venerable Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso
Rinpoche in Seattle, Washington, October 26-31, 1999. The teachings were translated by Ari Goldfield. In addition to
the translated, transcribed, edited text of the teachings, we have included the songs that Rinpoche led. © 1999
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.
3 APrayer to A
Prayer ver
vertt Nuclear W
Aver ar
War
5 Introduction
11 Comment ary on Chandrakir
Commentary ti’s Entrance to the Middle W
Chandrakirti’s ay
Way
by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche
11 The First Mind Generation: Perfect Joy
28 The Second Mind Generation: The Stainless
37 The Third Mind Generation: The Luminous
51 The Fourth Mind Generation: The Radiant
57 The Fifth Mind Generation: The Difficult to Overcome
66 The Sixth Mind Generation: The Approach
79 Continuing the Explanation of the Sixth Mind Generation: The Approach
91 The Seventh Mind Generation: Gone Far Beyond
93 The Eighth Mind Generation: Unshakable
105 The Ninth Mind Generation: Excellent Mind
107 The Tenth Mind Generation: Cloud of Dharma

122 Selected Verse


ersess FFrom
Verse rom Chandrakir ti’s Entrance to the Middle W
Chandrakirti’s ay
Way
13
1300 Götss angpa’s Eight Case
On Göt Casess of Goodne ss Not to Be Shunned
Goodness
Songs
12 A Song of Meaningful Connections 116 Three Kinds of Confidence in Genuine Reality
43 The Anger Cooling Song 145 Seven Delights
59 Five Songs

St aff
Staff Editorial polic
policyy
Editor Shenpen Ösel is a tri-annual publication of Kagyu
Lama Tashi Namgyal Shenpen Ösel Chöling (KSOC), a center for the study
L ayout and De sign
Design and practice of Tibetan vajrayana Buddhism located in
Seattle, Washington. The magazine seeks to present the
Linda Lewis, Mark Voss
teachings of recognized and fully qualified lamas and
Copy editors, TTranscribers,
ranscribers, teachers, with an emphasis on the Karma Kagyu and
Recorders the Shangpa Kagyu lineages. The contents are derived
Glen Avantaggio, Alan Castle, Anita Castle, Kenn in large part from transcripts of teachings hosted by our
DeSure, Zach Ferdana, Marcia Glover, Denise center. Shenpen Ösel is produced and mailed exclusively
Glover, Donald Lashley, Linda Lewis, Chris through volunteer labor and does not make a profit.
(Your subscriptions and donations are greatly
Payne, Rose Peeps, Mark Suver, Elisabeth Talsky,
appreciated.) We publish with the aspiration to present
Mark Voss
the clear light of the Buddha’s teachings. May it bring
Dat abase manager
Database benefit and may all be auspicious. May all beings be
Marcia Glover inspired and assisted in uncovering their own true
nature.
Back issue
issuess coordinator
Dan Miller
creditss this issue: Ryszard K. Frackiewicz, pages
Photo credit
Mailing coordinators 11, 28, 37, 51, 57, 66, 79, 91, 93, 105, 107, 130, back cover.
Mark Suver, Daniel Talsky
Mailing crew On the cover: Prajnaparamita with an excerpt from The
Members of the Seattle sangha Sutra of the Heart of Transcendent Knowledge

S
2HENPEN ÖSEL
SHENPEN 2
ÖSEL
A Prayer To Avert Nuclear War
By Chatral Rinpoche

Namo Guru Ratnatraya! To the Teacher and the Three Jewels, I bow.

True leader of the golden age—Crown of the Sakyas!


Second Buddha, Prince of Oddiyana, Lake-Born Vajra,
Bodhisattvas—eight closest spiritual heirs
High Nobles, Avilokitesvara and Manjushri,
Vajrapani and the rest!
Twenty-one Taras, Host of Noble Elders,
Root and lineage lamas, deities,
Peaceful and wrathful gods!
Dakinis in your three homes!
(the earth, the heavens and the emanated worlds!)
You who through wisdom or karma have become Defenders of the Doctrine!
Guardians of the Directions!
Seventy-five Glorous Protectors!
You who are clairvoyant, powerful, magical and mighty!
Behold and ponder the beings of this age of turmoil!

We are beings born at the sorry end of time;


An ocean of ill-effects overflows from our universally bad actions.
The forces of light flicker,
The forces of darkness, a demon army, inflames great and powerful men.
And they rise in conflict, armed with nuclear weapons
That will disintegrate the earth.
The weapon of perverse and errant intentions
Has unleashed the hurricane.
Soon, in an instant, it will reduce the world
And all those in it to atoms of dust.
Through this ill-omened devils’ tool
It is easy to see, to hear and think about
Ignorant people, caught in a net of confusion and doubt, [who]
Are obstinate and still refuse to understand.
It terrifies us just to hear about or to remember
This unprecedented thing.

The world is filled with uncertainty,


But there is no means of stopping it, nor place of hope,
Other than you, undeceiving Three Jewels and Three Roots,
(Buddhas, Teaching and Spiritual Community, Lama, Deity and Dakini)

SHENPEN ÖSEL 3
If we cry to you like children calling their mother and father,
If we implore you with this prayer,
Do not falter in your ancient vows!
Stretch out the lightning hand of compassion!
Protect and shelter us defenseless beings, and free us from fear!
When the mighty barbarians sit in council of war—
Barbarians who rob the earth of pleasure and happiness,
Barbarians who have wrong, rough, poisonous thoughts—
Bend their chiefs and lieutenants
To the side of peace and happiness!
Pacify on the spot, the armed struggle that blocks us!
Turn away and defeat the atomic weapons
Of the demons’ messengers,
And by that power, make long the life of the righteous,
And spread the theory and practice of the doctrine
To the four corners of this great world!
Eliminate root, branch and leaf—even the names
Of those dark forces, human and non-human,
Who hate others and the teaching!
Spread vast happiness and goodness
Over this fragile planet!
Elevate it truly with the four kinds of glory!
And as in the golden age, with all strife gone,
Let us be busy only with the dance of pleasure, the dance of joy!
We pray with pure thoughts—
By the compassion of that ocean the three supreme refuges
And the power of the Realm of Truth;
The complete sublime truth,
Achieve the goal of this, our prayer
Magically, just as we have hoped and dreamed!

Translated from the Tibetan by Richard Kohn and Lama Tsedrup Tharchin

4 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Introduction

T
his double issue of Shenpen Ösel contains Khenpo Tsultrim
Gyamtso Rinpoche’s teachings on Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the
Middle Way, which is a commentary on Nagarjuna’s Fundamental
Wisdom of the Middle Way, which again is a commentary on the
Prajnaparamita Sutras of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s second turning of
the wheel of dharma. It contains teachings on both absolute truth (the
way things really are) and relative truth (the way things appear to be),
which can be better understood by placing Chandrakirti’s text in the
larger framework of the Buddha’s teachings.

◆◆◆

I n Buddhism, “Absolute Truth or Absolute Reality means the end


point of one’s analysis, in other words, the most basic or fundamental
element of existence or experience.
“For example, if one takes a clay pot, a potter might say that in abso-
lute terms it was clay, but a scientist might say it was a collection of
atoms. If he were being more precise he might say the atoms themselves
consisted of atomic particles moving in space, but even this would be a
rough approximation to reality. In absolute terms atomic particles can no
longer be defined precisely these days. They cannot be said to be this or
that or here or there; they have to be expressed in terms of probability.
No doubt scientists will express it differently again in a few years’ time.
“In the same way Absolute Truth presents itself differently to practi-
tioners at the various levels of their practice. Just as this emerges in the
experience of an individual practitioner, it occurs historically in the way
that the Buddhist Scriptures emerged as a progression of increasingly
subtle teachings.
“The key stages in the Buddhist experience of the Absolute Truth of
Emptiness . . . [are] five-fold:
l. the Shravaka stage,
2. the Cittamatra stage,
3. the Svatantrika-Madhyamaka stage,
4. the Prasangika-Madhyamaka stage,
5. the Shentong Madhyamaka stage.”

SHENPEN ÖSEL 5
Thus writes Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche as interpreted and
arranged by Shenpen Hookham in the introduction to Rinpoche’s Pro-
gressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness.
These increasingly subtle stages of meditative understanding and
experience are first described in our historical epoch by the Buddha
Shakyamuni in three major cycles of teachings that unfolded during his
forty-five years of post-enlightenment teachings. These three major
cycles of teachings are referred to in Buddhist literature as the three
turnings of the wheel of dharma or the three dharmachakras. The writ-
ings of the various philosophical schools of Buddhism and the views of
the nature of reality that they represent all emerge as commentaries on
one or more of these three turnings. The shravaka teachings on not-self
or one-and-a-half-fold egolessness (selflessness) represent the hinayana
view of the first dharmachakra. The madhyamaka rangtong teachings on
the emptiness of self-nature of all phenomena, including both the
svatantrika madhyamaka and prasangika madhyamaka, represent the
mahayana view of the second dharmachakra taught in the
Prajnaparamita Sutras and further developed in the commentaries of
Nagarjuna, Buddhapalita, Bhavaviveka, and Chandrakirti. And the
shentong teachings on the clear light nature of mind—that all things,
including what we now see as external and solid sources of pleasure and
pain, are mere appearances that are in reality the display or radiance or
light of the mind which experiences them—represent the mahayana
view of the third dharmachakra as developed by Maitreya in the
Mahayana Uttara Tantra Sastra, and further developed in the va-
jrayana.
This vast and profound complex of Buddhist teachings, sutras, com-
mentaries, philosophical schools, viewpoints, methods, and stages of
practice Khenpo Rinpoche often divides into four:
l. Teachings on the way things appear to be, including the teachings
on suffering, impermanence, rebirth, karmic cause and effect, atoms,
and moments of consciousness, corresponding to the hinayana;
2. Teachings on the way all things are fundamentally mind and that
there is no real distinction between mind and matter, corresponding to
the doctrine of the Cittamatra;
3. Teachings on the way things really are—empty of true existence or
self-nature, corresponding to the sutras of the second dharmachakra;
4. Teachings on the ultimate reality of the way things really are
merely the play, the display, the radiance, or the light of the clear light
nature of mind, corresponding to the sutras of the third dharmachakra,
the shentong, and the vajrayana, including the teachings of tantra,
mahamudra, and dzogchen.
It is important to realize that none of these teachings are worthy of
being discarded simply because more subtle and profound teachings

6 SHENPEN ÖSEL
were subsequently taught. Even in the Buddhist lineages that hold and
practice the most advanced vajrayana practices, the teachings of these
various other levels of understanding are also still presented, because
they are all useful according to the various levels of meditative under-
standing of students. Furthermore, while it is important during one’s
meditation to see the emptiness of all relative dharmas—including the
emptiness of the teachings of the Buddha on karmic cause and effect,
klesha, rebirth, suffering, impermanence, etc.—it is equally important to
live one’s life in accordance with these teachings on relative truth when
one is not meditating and therefore not free of grasping and fixation, and
not free of attachment, aggression, and ignorance.

◆◆◆

B ecause the teachings of the Buddha are presented at so many differ-


ent levels, it is important to have a set of guidelines that will enable
one to understand how to go about sorting them out. These guidelines
were presented by the Buddha in what have come to be known as the
four reliances.
As set forth by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyamtso,
the four reliances are: “Do not rely on the person but on the doctrine.
Then, with respect to the doctrine, rely not on the word [or words] but
on the meaning. Then, with respect to the meaning, rely not on the
interpretable meaning but on the definitive meaning. And with respect
to the definitive meaning, rely not on ordinary consciousness but on an
exalted wisdom consciousness.” If one understands consciousness always
to be dualistic and awareness to be non-dualistic, then this last reliance
should read “exalted wisdom awareness.”
The first reliance is not to rely on the person teaching, but on the
doctrine being taught. The Buddha enjoined his followers to apply this
standard even to himself when he said, “Oh monks and scholars, you
should not accept my word out of respect for me but rather upon analyz-
ing and investigating it in the way that a gold-smith analyses gold by
scorching, cutting, and rubbing it.” This means that regardless of the
greater experience or perceived level of realization of the teacher, one
should still rely on the teachings, ascertaining for oneself their truthful-
ness or lack thereof, rather than accept them simply because of the
profound impression the teacher may have made on one or because of his
or her reputation or hierarchical status.
The second reliance is, with respect to the doctrine or teaching, not
to rely on the words of the teaching, but on the meaning. One should not,
for instance, accept a teaching simply because the words are eloquent—
as we know even the devil can quote scriptures and charm the birds out
of the trees—but because the meaning is truthful and conducive to

SHENPEN ÖSEL 7
happiness, personal liberation, and the benefit and liberation of others.
This second injunction is very important when it comes to translating
the teachings from one language into another. Oftentimes, for example,
there does not seem to be any word in the recipient language exactly
equivalent to the word used in the language from which the teachings
are being translated. In determining whether the Tibetan word dampa
should be translated as genuine or as holy or even as venerable;
whether the Tibetan word se should be translated as sons and daugh-
ters, daughters and sons, children, offspring, progeny, heirs, spiritual
heirs, heirs apprentice, or whatever; or whether the term dharmakaya,
which is given eight different meanings in the Mahayana Uttara Tantra
Shastra, should be translated at all, translators and students alike must
rely on the meaning of the teaching rather than exclusively on the
words themselves. Similarly, when we pray that Karmapa remain for-
ever in the vajra nature, we have to understand that we are not praying
for him magically to transform himself into a five-pronged iron ritual
instrument, similar to what is used in advanced vajrayana practice, and
remain that way in perpetuity.
The third reliance is, with respect to the meaning, not to rely on the
interpretable meaning, but on the definitive meaning. This injunction is
very important when it comes to distinguishing the various levels of the
Buddhist teachings, understanding which teachings supersede which
other teachings when it comes to understanding absolute truth, and
understanding when certain teachings should be applied and when they
should not. For example, the Buddha’s teachings on karma—that good
and bad actions as causes invariably lead to the results of happiness and
suffering—must be interpreted in the light of his subsequent teachings
in the Heart Sutra that all dharmas (phenomena) are emptiness and his
teaching that there is “no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation
of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attain-
ment.” The teachings on karma are thus interpreted to mean that, given
the rather coarse, commonplace level of understanding of things that we
have at the beginning of our path, it is important to understand and live
in accordance with the law of cause and effect. It may be all well and
good to understand that suffering is empty of true nature or of inherent
existence, but if you have not realized that, the “you” that does not truly
exist will still experience the immense suffering which also does not
truly exist, and will take it all to be very real. Therefore, when one has
not realized emptiness, and even after one has developed the ability
skillfully to meditate on emptiness but not the ability to maintain that
realization when not meditating, it is still important to accept such an
interpretable meaning in one’s post-meditation or between-meditations
experience. But in meditation, because it is the realization of emptiness

8 SHENPEN ÖSEL
or the true nature that liberates one from suffering and its causes, one
should try to understand, meditate upon, and realize the definitive mean-
ing, which in this example is that all phenomena, including suffering and
its causes, are empty of true existence.
From the standpoint of the shentong madhyamaka teachings, the
definitive meaning is that all things are merely the radiance of the clear
light nature of mind, which can only be known non-dualistically by this
non-conceptual wisdom mind itself. From this point of view, the teachings
of the cittamatra that all things are fundamentally mind, that there is no
real distinction between mind and matter—which point of view reflects
the Buddha’s statement that “The three realms are merely mind”—must
be interpreted in light of his subsequent teachings that all dharmas,
including mind, are emptiness, a point of view developed by the
svatantrika madhyamaka. The teachings that all dharmas are emptiness,
however, from the standpoint of the prasangika madhyamaka (rangtong),
is still subtly conceptual, implying that emptiness in some way exists.
Their doctrine, i.e. the rangtong doctrine, which is taught in this commen-
tary by Chandrakirti, therefore, is concerned with destroying any sort of
conceptual formulation, fabrication, or elaboration of the nature of things.
But from the standpoint of the shentong madhyamaka, the rangtongpas
are thereby implying, though adamantly refusing to assert, that absolute
truth is simply the absence of conceptual fabrication or the absolute
freedom from concepts. This formulation, however, can not account for
the existence of things, which are accounted for in the shentong philoso-
phy as the radiance of the clear light nature of mind, which can only be
realized non-conceptually and non-dualistically by the clear light nature
of mind itself—which means that it is beyond the comprehension of the
conceptual mind dualistically involved in the effort to refute any and all
conceptual notions or understandings of reality.
All of these points of view were taught by the Buddha, and their
meanings are applicable under different circumstances and at different
levels of understanding and practice. But how can one truly know for
oneself which of these truths is the definitive truth?
This question brings us to the fourth reliance, which is, with respect
to the definitive meaning, not to rely upon ordinary consciousness, but on
an exalted wisdom awareness. This means that in order to understand
the definitive truth, in order to understand beyond the need to interpret
the true nature of things and which of the Buddha’s many teachings lead
directly to that understanding, one must rely ultimately on the wisdom
that arises in meditation and not on any of the workings of conceptual
mind. At the ultimate level, words and concepts are at best very useful
lies; they are the finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 9
◆◆◆

A lso included in this issue is Khenpo Rinpoche’s commentary on


Gyalwa Götsangpa’s song, The Eight Cases of Basic Goodness Not to
be Shunned, a wonderful song, direct from the heart of the practice
lineage, that gives extremely practical and efficacious advice to all
practitioners for whom the intensity of practice is met with the intensi-
fication of obstacles.

◆◆◆

A s always we would like to thank Khenpo Rinpoche for the great


generosity and clarity of his teachings. In addition, we would like to
thank his translator Ari Goldfield for his continual and prompt willing-
ness to clarify various aspects of the original transcripts of his transla-
tion. We would also like to thank Shenpen Hookham, a long-time stu-
dent of the dharma and of Khenpo Rinpoche, and one of the earliest, if
not the earliest, of his translators in the West, for her masterful presen-
tation of Khenpo Rinpoche’s teachings in Progressive Stages of Medita-
tion on Emptiness, from which much of the information in this introduc-
tion is drawn.
Finally, we would like to thank Michael Barraclough and Zhyisil
Chokyi Ghatsal Publications in New Zealand for their gracious permis-
sion to use their graphic for the cover of our last issue of Shenpen Ösel.

—Lama Tashi Namgyal

10 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The First Mind Generation:


Perfect Joy

The Very V
Very enerable Khenpo TTsultrim
Venerable sultrim G yamt
Gyamt so R
yamtso inpoche
Rinpoche

A
very warm tashi delek* to Lama Tashi and all of you gathered here this
evening. May your wisdom which arises from listening to, reflecting on,
and meditating upon the teachings of the genuine dharma increase and
increase, and as a result, may you perform great benefit for all the limitless
number of sentient beings. Last year there shone a dependently arisen appear-
ance of our meeting here, and again tonight, there shines another dependently
arisen appearance of our meeting all together here. This is like the appearance
of the moon in a pool of water.**
If we begin by singing A Song of Meaningful Connections (See page 12.) by
the lord of yogins, Milarepa, that will create a very good and auspicious connec-

*Editor’s note: Tashi delek is a Tibetan greeting that literally means, “May everything be auspicious,
blissful, and good.”

**Editor’s note: The Tibetan word shar, which literally means “to shine,” is the same word that is
used when the sun comes out or comes up and begins to shine. In English it is sometimes translated
as “to appear,” and is often used in conjunction with nangwa, which, as a verb, also literally means “to
emit light” or “to shine,” and as a noun means variously “light” or “brightness,” “an appearance or
thing seen,” “an apparition,” “a visual seeing,” or “a concept,” “an idea,” or “a thought.” The use of
these two words together gives the understanding that the world we experience is really nothing more
than a kind of ever-changing projection of mind, something like a light-show in space to which we
falsely impute objective reality, thereby taking it to be “real” and solidifying it.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 11
A Song of Meaningful Connections
At your feet oh Marpa from Lhodrak I bow down.
Grant your blessing that this beggar will stay in natural retreats.

That you stalwart benefactors are so fondly gathered here


Makes the right connection for fulfilling the two concerns.
When this body hard to get that so easily decays
Gets the nourishment it needs, it will flourish and be full of health.

When the pollen from the flowers growing in the solid ground
And the honeydew of raindrops falling from the deep blue sky
Come together, this connection is of benefit to beings.
But what gives this link its meaning is when dharma is included, too.

When a body that’s illusion by its parents nursed to life


And the guiding instructions from a lama who’s reliable
Come together, this connection brings the practice of dharma to life.
But what gives this link its meaning is when persevering heart bone beats.

When a cave in the rock in a valley with no human being


And someone really practicing without hypocrisy
Come together, this connection can fulfill your every need.
But what gives this link its meaning is what’s known as the emptiness.

When a Milarepa’s practice of endurance in meditation


And those from the three realms who have the quality of faith
Come together, this connection brings about the good of beings.
But what gives this link its meaning is compassion in a noble heart.

When a skillful meditator meditating in the wilderness


And a skillful benefactor providing the wherewithal
Come together, this connection leads to both gaining buddhahood.
But what gives this link its meaning is to dedicate the merit.

When an excellent lama endowed with compassionate heart


And an excellent student with endurance in meditation
Come together, this connection makes the teaching accessible.
But what gives this link its meaning is the samaya it brings about.

When the gift of abhisheka with its blessing that works so fast
And the fervent trusting prayer where you’re praying it will come to you
Come together, this connection gets your prayer well-answered soon.
But to give this link its meaning a little bit of luck might help.

Oh master Vajradhara, the essence of Akshobhya,


You know my joys and sorrows—and what this beggar’s going through.

12 SHENPEN ÖSEL
tion amongst us. [Students sing.] Buddhas are born from the bodhisattvas.
Before listening to the teachings, please give And compassionate mind, non-dual awareness,
rise to the precious attitude of bodhicitta, which And bodhicitta are the causes of these heirs of
means, for the benefit of all sentient beings who the Victors. (1)
are as limitless in number as the sky is vast in
extent, please aspire to attain the state of com- The commentary on this text that Rinpoche
plete and perfect enlightenment. In order to do will be explaining was composed by Mipam
that we must listen to, reflect upon, and medi- Rinpoche. It begins by describing those who are
tate upon the teachings of the genuine dharma known as shravakas, a Sanskrit term translated
with all of the enthusiasm we can muster in our literally into Tibetan as nyan.thös, meaning
hearts. This is the precious attitude of “those who listen and hear.” The commentary
bodhicitta, please give rise to it and listen. explains that, “Those who listen to the teachings
Tonight, from everything that comprises given by an authentic spiritual teacher and then
what is known as the genuine dharma the topic explain them to others are shravakas.” That is
to be explained is the text com- the first type of realized being
posed by the one who was able to that is being described. Then the
commentary continues, “Those
milk the painting of a cow and The topic to be
thereby effectively reverse who, because of their greater
everyone’s clinging to things as
explained is the merit and wisdom, are superior
being real. This was none other text composed by to the shravakas and realize
than the glorious Chandrakirti. His things more quickly, and, on the
the one who was other hand, are inferior to the
text is called Entrance to the
Middle Way. The name of this able to milk the buddhas, are called
pratyekabuddhas,” solitary
commentary in Sanskrit, the lan- painting of a cow realizers or solitary sages. Here
guage of India at the time, is the
Madhyamakavatara. In Tibetan it in the verse they are described as
is called dbU.ma ’jug.pa’ and in English, En- being intermediate. Why? Because they are
trance to the Middle Way. This text is an explana- between the shravakas and the buddhas. They
tion of an earlier text by the protector Nagarjuna are superior to the shravakas but inferior to the
known as The Fundamental Wisdom of the buddhas. So they are called intermediate
Middle Way, and so this text, Entrance to the buddhas. Shravakas and pratyekabuddhas are
Middle Way, is entering into the middle way in born from or arise from the speech of the Mighty
the sense that it is explaining this earlier text by Ones,* from listening to the teachings of the
Nagarjuna. buddhas.
Nagarjuna’s text called The Fundamental The buddhas themselves arise or are born
Wisdom of the Middle Way, from bodhisattvas, because at the time they are
Mulamadhyamakakarika in Sanskrit, is a com- practicing the path they have to be bodhisattvas.
mentary on the Buddha’s intention when teach- The stage of bodhisattva comes first. That is one
ing the sutras of the middle turning of the wheel reason, and the second reason is that they have
of dharma. These are known as the extensive, to rely on bodhisattvas as their teachers when
middle, and short versions of the great mother, they are practicing on the path. So for these two
the Prajnaparamita Sutras. reasons the cause of being a buddha is the bodhi-
The first verse explains the causes of the sattvas.
three different levels of awakening: Then one might ask, “What are the causes of
being a bodhisattva?” There are three given
Shravakas and intermediate buddhas arise from here. The first is the mind of compassion, which
the Mighty Ones. *Editor’s note: An epithet for buddhas

SHENPEN ÖSEL 13
means the mind that wishes to protect all sen- Why is loving kindness, great compassion, so
tient beings from suffering. The second is non- important? It is important in the beginning of
dual awareness, meaning the wisdom or the the practice because it is like the seed of the
intelligence that does not fall into either the Victors’ abundant harvest, of the abundant
extreme of existence or non-existence. And harvest of the fruition of the buddhas. Compas-
finally, bodhicitta. These three are the causes of sion is the seed. It is important in the middle
the Heirs of the Victors, which is another name because it is like the water and the fertilizer
for bodhisattvas.* So in this verse are pointed that causes that harvest to flourish. Along the
out the causes of being a shravaka, an intermedi- path one comes to realize that the sentient
ate buddha or solitary realizer, a buddha, and a beings that one has set out to help are limitless
bodhisattva. Therefore, compassion, wisdom, and in number, and that they do all kinds of bad
bodhicitta are very important. things to oneself, and are sometimes not very
Next comes a praise of compassion, a praise grateful for the good things one does for them. It
of compassion in general wherein the different is because one has compassion that these differ-
kinds of compassion are not differentiated: ent things do not cause us to regress on the
path.** Finally, it is important at the end of the
Since I assert that loving kindness itself is the path because compassion is like the ripening of
seed of the Victors’ abundant harvest, the harvest, which then can be enjoyed for a very
Is the water which causes it to flourish, long time. So, since compassion is important in
And is its ripening that allows it to be enjoyed for these ways in the beginning, the middle, and the
a long time,
end [of the path], the venerable Chandrakirti
I therefore praise compassion at the very outset.
(2)

*Editor’s note: The Victors or the Victorious Ones are the bodhisattva will have the status of a buddha. But an heir is
buddhas. The Tibetan word se, here translated as heir, basically someone waiting around for their parents to die so
literally means the offspring of nobility or of exalted individu- that they can inherit lands, money, and titles. No buddha
als, and is used to refer to enlightened bodhisattvas. For those must die for a bodhisattva to come into their “inheritance,”
who are familiar with languages that have parallel sets of and there is in fact no inheritance to come into. Nothing is
terminology employed for ordinary people and for people who transferred from a buddha to a bodhisattva at the time of the
are honored, it is an honorific term for son or daughter. It has death of a buddha that will make the bodhisattva a buddha.
been difficult over the years to arrive at a suitable translation And the term is inappropriate also because it focuses on an
of this term. At first it was unthinkingly translated as “son,” entirely passive relationship between two individuals, the
but since the term se is not gender specific and bodhisattvas meaning of which is that by virtue of no effort on their own
come in both female and male form, “son” is inaccurate. The part, the younger is going to come into a lot of wealth. Enlight-
use of sons and daughters is often employed, but it is a bit ened bodhisattvas are very hardworking, energetic individu-
long, does not convey the honorific sense of the word, and by its als, who are in effect apprenticed to the buddhas, but at the
word order conveys a cultural bias favoring males, not implied same time are doing the same work as a buddha, though on a
by the text, which cannot be avoided without adopting the lesser scale. There are of course some heirs of large fortunes
artificial alternation of word order. Sometimes the word who go into the family business before the progenitor of it dies
children or child is used, but this rendering of the term in order to learn the business and to lend a helping hand, but
implies dependence and the need for care and looking after. none of that is implied by the term “heir.” For all of these
Enlightened bodhisattvas do depend upon buddhas for reasons “heir” seems an unfortunate choice of words, though it
teachings and guidance, but their status is much more akin to is a popular one these days. Even the term “spiritual heir”
an adolescent apprentice than to a toddler or small child, conveys the unfortunate implication that if one could just get
which is the sense one gets from the word child or children. close enough to the guru, one might inherit some spiritual
Enlightened bodhisattvas are already engaged in bringing goodies at the time of his or her passing. Perhaps progeny
great benefit to sentient beings in a great many different would be a better choice of words, though it also does not
ways. Though their post-meditation experience is vastly convey the honorific sense. However, since the English lan-
inferior, their realization of the true nature of mind and guage does not have any recognizable honorific language, this
reality when they meditate is said to be the same as the is a deficiency that will be difficult to make up in any case.
buddha’s. If a buddha’s realization is like the whole expanse
of the sky, a first-bhumi bodhisattva’s realization is said to be
like looking at the same sky through a hole in a sesame seed. **Editor’s note: Without great compassion, the vast number
So “children” does not seem an adequate translation. The of sentient beings and their manifest confusion would easily
term heir recommends itself because of its non-specificity of cause a bodhisattva to become dispirited, to despair, and to
gender and because it implies that sometime in the future the give up on sentient beings.

14 SHENPEN ÖSEL
begins this text by praising compassion. thing. For this reason, Chandrakirti begins his
And then come praises of the different kinds text by prostrating to this incredibly important
of compassion. The first of these is compassion mind of compassion.
that has sentient beings as its focus: Next comes the praise of the second specific
kind of compassion, which in this case has the
First thinking “me”, they fixate on “self,” dharma—in the sense of the basic nature of
Then, thinking, “This is mine,” attachment to sentient beings—as its focus. The third specific
things develops. kind of compassion is non-referential compas-
Beings are powerless, like a rambling water
sion. These latter two go together in the first two
mill—
lines of the fourth verse which read:
I bow to compassion for these wanderers. (3)
Beings are like the moon on the surface of rip-
The commentary reads: “Before they cling to pling water—
the idea of possessiveness, of something being They move and are empty of any self nature.
mine, there comes the mode of perception that (4ab)
focuses on the self, the belief that the self ex-
ists.” So first thinking “me”, they fixate on self. What are beings like? They are like the moon
After that they think, “This is that appears on the surface of
mine.” For example, “These are water that is being blown about
my eyes.” So after you believe in Compassion is by the wind. They do not remain
self, then you start to believe in the same even from one instant to
things in relation to the self with
the mind that the next. Therefore, they are of
the idea of possessiveness, and holds all sentient the nature of impermanence. This
you develop attachment to these is the second type of compassion,
outer things as being real. “Be-
beings, including
seeing that beings are imperma-
ings are powerless like a ram- even our nent. And not only are they im-
bling water mill, like a bucket in enemies, and permanent, but they are empty of
a well that keeps going around any self nature. So the second
and around. This well [or mill feels love type of compassion sees the
pond] that beings go around in is towards them quality of their impermanence,
the cycle of existence, samsara, and the third type of compassion
that stretches from what is because they sees the quality of sentient beings’
called the very peak of existence suffer first from emptiness.
down to the worst hell. I bow to In short, beings are com-
compassion for these wandering
clinging to the pletely impermanent. There is
beings who wander in this cycle thought that nothing remaining from one
of samsara.” moment to the next in terms of
And so compassion is the
there is a ‘me’
the beings’ basic nature. However,
mind that beholds all sentient and second from because beings think that they
beings, including even our en- clinging to things are permanent and think that
emies, and feels love towards there is something there which
them because they suffer first as being ‘mine’ remains and continues, they
from clinging to the thought that suffer. They suffer because they
there is a “me” and second from clinging to cling to their belief in permanence.
things as being “mine.” This compassion is some- Moreover, not only are they impermanent,
thing that is incredibly important. It is also but also they are just like the moon’s reflection in
difficult to give rise to it, and if one is able to do a pool of water; there is nothing really there.
so, it is an incredibly important and wonderful
SHENPEN ÖSEL 15
They are completely empty of any self nature. third is an explanation of the last four grounds,
They are empty of any inherent existence, and starting with the seventh, called Gone Far
yet because they think that things are real, they Beyond.
suffer. So there are two kinds of compassion In the explanation of the first five
here. One focuses on their impermanence, and bodhisattva grounds there is a section for each
one sees their emptiness; and both of them see ground. These first five grounds are called in
that because beings do not realize these two order Perfect Joy, The Stainless, The Luminous,
things, they suffer.* The Radiant, and Difficult to Overcome.
Next we get to the main body of Mipam In the section on the ground called Perfect
Rinpoche’s commentary. First he gives an outline Joy, there is the explanation of the ground itself,
of how the text is divided. There are two main what it actually is, and an extensive explanation
sections. The first is an explanation of the tem- of the ground’s qualities. Finally, by way of an
porary state, which refers to the ten grounds or expression of the ground’s qualities, there is a
bhumis of the bodhisattvas. The second is an one-sentence summary. So there are three sec-
explanation of the ultimate state, meaning the tions.
state of enlightenment. The first section, the The description of the essence of the entity of
explanation of the temporary state, is again the ground itself is found in the last two lines of
divided into two sections—an explanation of the the fourth verse and the first two of the fifth:
ten bodhisattva grounds and then the qualities of
these grounds. The ten bodhisattva grounds is in The Victors’ heirs see this and in order to free
turn divided into three main sections. The first beings completely
is the explanation of the first five of these Their minds come under the power of compas-
sion, (4cd)
grounds, beginning with the ground of Perfect
Joy, and so on. The second is an explanation of And perfectly dedicating their virtue with
the sixth ground, called The Manifest. And the Samantrabhadra’s prayer,

*Editor’s note: These three types of compassion—compas- lingers here, however, because we are still caught by the
sion with reference to sentient beings, compassion with threefold idea of (1) ourselves experiencing the compassion, (2)
reference to phenomena (dharmas), and non-referential other beings as the objects of compassion, and (3) the actual
compassion—are described by Kalu Rinpoche in experiential act of feeling compassion through understanding or perceiving
terms in the context of the practice of tong len in the following the suffering of others. This framework prepares our path in
way: the mahayana. Once this kind of compassion has been
“One method for developing bodhicitta is called tong len established, we arrive at a second. The realization begins to
[gtong len], which literally means ‘sending [and] taking.’ The grow that the self which is feeling the compassion, the objects
attitude here is that each of us is only one being, while the of the compassion, and the compassion itself are all in a
number of beings in the universe is infinite. Would it not be a certain sense illusory. We see that these three aspects belong
worthy goal if this one being could take on all the pain of every to a conventional, not ultimate, reality. They are nothing in
other being in the universe and free each and every one of themselves, but simply illusions that create the appearance of
them from suffering? We therefore resolve to take on ourselves a dualistic framework. Perceiving these illusions and thereby
all this suffering, to take it away from all other beings, even understanding the true emptiness of all phenomena and
their incipient or potential suffering, and all of its causes. At experience is what we call ‘compassion with reference to all
the same time we develop the attitude of sending all our phenomena’ (chö la mik pay nying je [chos la dmigs pa’i snying
virtue, happiness, health, wealth and potential for long life to rje]). This is the main path of mahayana practice.
other beings. Anything that we enjoy, anything noble or worthy, “From this second kind of compassion a third develops,
positive or happy in our situation we send selflessly to every ‘non-referential compassion’ (mik me nying je [dmigs med
other being. Thus the meditation is one of willingly taking on snying rje]). Here we entirely transcend any concern with
all that is negative and willingly giving away all that is subject/object reference. It is the ultimate experience that
positive. We reverse our usual tendency to cling to what we results in buddhahood. All these three levels of compassion
want for ourselves and to ignore others. We develop a deep are connected, so if we begin with the basic level by developing
empathy with everything that lives. The method of sending loving kindness and compassion towards all beings, we lay a
and taking is a most effective way of developing the foundation which guarantees that our path will lead directly
bodhisattva’s motivation. to enlightenment.” THE DHARMA That Illuminates all Beings
“The kind of compassion we have described so far is called Impartially Like the Light of the Sun and the Moon, by Kyabje
‘compassion with reference to sentient beings” (sem chen la Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche, State University of New York
mik pay nying je [sems can la dmigs pa’i snying rje]). A dualism Press, copyright 1986, Kagyu Thubten Choling, pages 46-47.

16 SHENPEN ÖSEL
They perfectly abide in joy—this is called “the would just give the verses and give little intro-
first”. (5ab) ductions to each verse explaining what they
were about.
The extensive explanation of In the description of the
the qualities of the ground is At the time the qualities of bodhisattvas that
divided into three subsections: an cause them to outshine others,
explanation of the qualities that
bodhisattva there are five different parts, five
make the bodhisattva’s mind- reaches this first different ways in which they
stream beautiful, an explanation
of the qualities that cause the
ground, Perfect outshine others. First, they have
the quality of the family, in this
bodhisattva to outshine the mind- Joy, all paths to sense, the family of the buddhas.
streams of others, and an explana- the lower realms Additionally they have the quality
tion of the superior qualities of of abandoning three things, the
the first ground. In the descrip- are completely quality of what they realize, the
tion of the good qualities that cut off quality of their power, and the
beautify the bodhisattva’s mind- quality of constant improvement.
stream, there is an explanation of why they are These five qualities are referred to in the four
called bodhisattvas; an explanation of the quali- lines of verse number six and the first line of
ties they gain on this ground, such as being born verse number seven:
into the family of the tatagathas, the buddhas;
and an explanation of the qualities of this They are born into the family of the tatagathas.
ground from the perspective of what is aban- They abandon all three that entangle so
doned, meaning that they abandon ever being thoroughly.
born in the lower realms* and so forth. Why they These bodhisattvas possess extraordinary
happiness,
get the name bodhisattva is explained in the last
And can cause a hundred worlds to quake. (6)
two lines of the fifth verse, which read,
Advancing from ground to ground, they fully
Having attained this ground progress upwards— (7a)
They are called by the name “bodhisattva”. (5cd)
The commentary reads: “Since they have
The commentary to this reads: “After attain-
transcended or have gone beyond the levels of
ing this first ground, since they have attained
ordinary beings, of shravakas, and of solitary
ultimate bodhicitta, the actual genuine mind of
sages, they are born into the family of
enlightenment, they are called actual genuine
tatagathas, of buddhas, of thus-gone ones. They
bodhisattvas.” It is at this point that they get the
do not go on any other paths. It is certain that
name or are praised with the name “actual
this is their level. Their potential places them in
genuine bodhisattvas.” They are noble beings.
the family of the buddhas.”
The traditional Tibetan way of formulating
Since they directly realize selflessness, they
and presenting the major commentaries always
abandon the three which entangle so thoroughly.
includes an extensive outline of all the different
These three are the view of the transitory collec-
sections in the text. In India there was no tradi-
tion, meaning belief in the self;** the belief that
tion of these outlines in the commentaries. They
their own conduct is what makes them superior;
and doubt. These are all given up on the path of
*Editor’s note: Bodhisattvas, beginning with the first
ground, are no longer impelled by the ripening of karma to
take birth in the lower realms; for the benefit of beings, **Editor’s note: i.e. taking the five skandhas—the transitory
however, it is said that bodhisattvas often take birth volun- collection—to be a truly existent self rather than a mere
tarily in the lower realms. dependently arisen ever-changing appearance.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 17
seeing, the path on which one becomes a noble evaporate—
bodhisattva.* They are taught to be like the eighth ground of
Next it is stated that, since the realization of the noble ones. (7bcd)
the bodhisattva of the first ground is so extraor-
dinary—since they have given up so many faults At the time the bodhisattva reaches this first
and have so many good qualities—they have ground, the ground of Perfect Joy, all paths to the
extraordinary happiness, which is why this lower realms—meaning birth in the hells or as a
ground is called Perfect Joy, Utter Joy. hungry ghost or as an animal—are completely
Fourth is an explanation of their power, one cut off. Actually, at the time they attain what is
example of which is given in the line that says called the level of patience, which is on the
that through their miraculous abilities they can preceding path, the path of junction, the condi-
cause a hundred different world systems to tions for their being born in the lower realms can
quake. This is one of twelve qualities common to no longer gather or come together. But here
all the bodhisattva grounds, each of which quali- what happens is that as a result of the remedy of
ties the bodhisattvas on the first ground have reaching the first bodhisattva ground, even the
one-hundred fold.** tiniest cause or seed of being born in the lower
Finally, in terms of their progressing up- realms is wiped out. Furthermore, when bodhi-
wards, they move with incredible happiness sattvas gain this ground, then all of the grounds
from ground to ground. This happiness is what of ordinary beings, which they were on before,
propels them further and further upward just dissolve; they evaporate, because they are
through the bhumis. now noble beings and will no longer revert to
The text continues: being ordinary. They are described as being like
the eighth of the noble ones, which refers to the
At that time, all paths to the lower realms are path of the arhats. On the arhat’s path there are
sealed off. eight stages—four levels, each of which is di-
At that time, all grounds of ordinary beings vided into two. For instance, there are arhats
who are beginning arhats, and arhats who have
*Editor’s note: The stages of the path to enlightenment are
actually gained the result of an arhat. If you
traditionally enumerated as five: (1) the path of accumula- count the stages of the hinayana path backwards,
tion—the preliminary path of a beginner on which one is you get to the stream enterers and those who
gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom through
study, through eschewing the ten unvirtuous actions and have attained the result of the stream enterer,
adopting the ten virtuous ones while practicing the paramitas, which is the eighth down the line. Here
and through learning to practice and to meditate, all of which
Chandrakirti is comparing the bodhisattva path
leads to the heat of wisdom or the spiritual awareness that
comes with the experience of meditative heat; (2) the path of to the arhat’s path, saying that the first-bhumi
junction or application, an intensive, highly concentrated, bodhisattva is like the noble beings who have
and patient stage of practice, which leads to; (3) the path of
seeing or insight, corresponding to the first bodhisattva attained the result of the stream enterers on the
bhumi, on which one realizes beyond mere conceptuality the path of the arhats. (Please see the boxed note on
Four Noble Truths and for the first time has direct, non- page 19.)
conceptual insight into emptiness; (4) the path of medita-
tion or practice, corresponding to the second through the Then the first three lines of the eighth verse
tenth bhumis, and so called because during this stage one read:
meditates on or practices what has been seen on the path of
seeing; and finally (5) the path of perfection or fulfillment,
corresponding to the stage of buddhahood. Even those abiding on the first ground of perfect
bodhicitta,
**Editor’s note: In an instant they can enter one hundred
meditative absorptions, emanate one hundred emanations, Through the power of their merit, outshine
see all the karma of one hundred previous lives, make a Both those born of the Mighty One’s speech and
hundred worlds move, etc. For more on the twelve qualities or
the solitary sages.
powers of bodhisattvas of the ten grounds, see Shenpen Ösel,
Volume 3, Number 1, pages 30-31.

18 SHENPEN ÖSEL
On the ground Gone Far Beyond, their minds also merit, but when they get to the seventh ground
become superior. (8) they are also superior because of their wisdom.
The next verse reads:
The commentary reads: “Even those abiding
on the first ground which leads eventually to At that time, the first cause of complete
perfect enlightenment—and this mind which is enlightenment,
Generosity, becomes preeminent.
going to lead to perfect enlightenment is
When one is enthusiastic even about giving away
bodhicitta—because of their relative bodhicitta one’s own flesh,
and because of their non-referential compassion, This is a sign of something that normally cannot
outshine even those who have attained the level be seen. (9)
of fruition in a different vehicle, which refers to
the shravakas, who are born of the buddha’s The commentary reads that on the first
speech, and the solitary sages, who are the ground, at that time, the cause of gaining the
intermediate enlightenment of
buddhas, the the buddha that
pratyekabuddhas or
solitary realizers. T he reference to “the eighth noble one” by
Chandrakirti in the Madhyamakavatara may
be explained as follows:
becomes preemi-
nent [in the life and
So even the bodhi- activity of] the
When he composed his commentary,
sattvas on the first Chandrakirti’s audience was primarily composed bodhisattva is the
ground are superior of hinayana practitioners plus many mahayana first of the ten
to them, because of students who were familiar with the hinayana transcendent per-
these two things, path. The term “eighth noble one” refers to the fections, the first of
their relative hinayana path of seeing and specifically refers to the ten paramitas,
bodhicitta and their the stage of “stream-enterer.”
the paramita of
There are four levels of attainment on the
non-referential generosity. It comes
hinayana path, each of which is subdivided into
compassion. The two. The first is called “stream-enterer,” the second to the fore in the
pure merit that “once-returner,” the third “non-returner,” and the sense that the other
comes from these fourth is termed the “foe-destroyer” or arhat. ones are not so
two causes them to (“Arhat” means “foe-destroyer,” and the terms are important here as
outshine realized synonyms.) By dividing each of these four levels this one. In this
beings of the into two, there are eight levels.
regard, when you
Chandrakirti’s reference to “the eighth noble
hinayana path. see somebody who
one” refers to this eight-fold division of the
Moreover, on the is giving away their
hinayana. The reference to the levels of the
ground Gone Far hinayana path is complicated by the fact that they own flesh without
Beyond their minds are numbered in a different way than are the the slightest mani-
also become supe- bodhisattva bhumis. In counting the bhumis, we festation of clinging
rior. When bodhi- count upward from the first up to the tenth level, to it—not only are
sattvas finally get to which is followed by buddhahood. The levels of the
they not unhappy to
the seventh ground, hinayana path, by contrast, are counted from the
give it away, not
top down. The arhat levels are counted as num-
Gone Far Beyond, only do they not
bers one and two, the non-returner as three and
their minds, realiz- four, the once-returner as five and six, and the have any misgivings
ing ultimate stream-enterer as seven and eight. about giving it
bodhicitta, also —The Venerable Dzogchen Pönlop Rinpoche away, but they give
become superior to it away enthusiasti-
the shravakas and cally—then, even
the solitary sages. So on the earlier bodhisattva though as ordinary beings we cannot really tell
grounds they are superior because of their that they are on the first bhumi, this is a sign
SHENPEN ÖSEL 19
that they are. We can make this inference, just as gets any of those things, it is because they have
we can infer that, when we see smoke some- been generous in the past. Therefore, generosity
where, there is fire, even if we can not see the is also the cause of samsaric happiness.
fire directly.
The next verse reads: Even they, through an occasion of giving,
Will meet a noble being, receive their counsel,
All beings strongly desire happiness And soon after, completely cutting the stream of
But human happiness does not occur without cyclic existence,
objects of enjoyment. They will progress to peace, the result of that.
Knowing that these objects arise from generosity, (12)
The Mighty One taught generosity first. (10)
So even the givers of things who have no
So why, given all the different transcendent compassion, even they at some time will give
perfections, did the Buddha first teach generos- something away, and when they do, they will
ity? Ordinary beings, above all, want to be happy. meet a noble being rather suddenly. Why? Be-
That is, in fact, all they want. If we take people cause the way things work in the world is that
as an example, what makes them happy is the when somebody is giving something away, it
reversing of states in which they feel that they attracts noble beings, who then show up. A noble
are lacking something. When you feel that you being will come and then will teach the giver the
are lacking something, you are unhappy. If you dharma. As a result, such givers will turn their
are hungry or thirsty, happiness is the ending of backs on samsara, meditate on the path, per-
those states. In order to end those states you fectly cut the stream of cyclic existence—the
need objects of enjoyment. In this case it is food round of continuous birth and death—and pro-
and drink, and generosity is the provision of ceed to the peace that is the result of this meet-
those objects to enjoy. Knowing this, the perfect ing with a genuine noble being.
Buddha, the Mighty One, out of all the different The first two lines of the thirteenth verse
practices of virtue, like discipline, and so forth, read:
first taught and praised generosity. Another
reason that he taught it first is that it is the Those whose minds vow to benefit beings
easiest virtue to practice. Quickly gain happiness from their acts of
generosity. (13ab)
The next verse reads:

Bodhisattvas, who have the mind that has


Even for those without much compassion
Who are extremely hot-tempered and self-con- vowed to benefit others in ways that give them
cerned, both short-term and long-term happiness—both
The objects of enjoyment they desire temporary happiness and a deeper ultimate
And that pacify their suffering come from gener- happiness—themselves gain happiness quickly
osity. (11) as a result of their generosity. This happiness
comes from seeing the satisfaction of the recipi-
This verse teaches that even the happiness ents of their generosity—for example, the satis-
you get in samsara comes from generosity. Some- faction of beggars as a result of giving to them.
one who is a giver, who does not have much faith This is what causes bodhisattvas to be happy;
or compassion, who is extremely hot-tempered they always delight in giving. They love to give,
and gets angry easily, and who is really only because they love to see the satisfaction of
concerned with their own benefit—even for others.
them, everything that they want in terms of And finally the next two lines of the verse summa-
objects of enjoyment that can pacify their suffer- rize all of this by way of a praise of generosity:
ing, all of it, comes from generosity. If anybody It is for those who are loving and those who are

20 SHENPEN ÖSEL
not— And awakens one’s vigor in striving to cut that
Therefore, generosity is foremost. (13cd) suffering off. (15)

The commentary to this reads: “It is for those The commentary reads: “When the mind
who are loving, meaning the noble bodhisattvas, arises that is incredibly happy to give, then even
and for those who are not, meaning everybody when one is still an ordinary individual, one will
else—all ordinary individuals, shravakas, and cut one’s own flesh and give it away, and because
solitary sages. For all of these beings, and there- one is still an ordinary individual, when one
fore for everyone, it is the source of all samsaric does that, one will experience pain. But the
happiness and of all completely excellent happi- consequence of this pain is to bring into one’s
ness, referring to the happiness of liberation— own experience the suffering of those in the hell
the realization of the arhats—and the happiness realms and other lower realms, and one realizes
of the omniscience of enlightenment of the that their suffering is thousands of times worse
buddhas. Therefore, the teachings on generosity than the suffering we feel just by cutting off part
are foremost, meaning that they are incredibly of our hand and giving it away.” So we do suffer
important.” as a result of cutting off our flesh, but the suffer-
The fourteenth verse reads: ing of beings in lower realms is thousands of
times worse than that. And realizing this, one
The happiness of an arhat attaining peace realizes that one’s own suffering is insignificant.
Cannot match the joy experienced by a It is really nothing in comparison. This realiza-
bodhisattva tion awakens one’s vigor in striving, to eliminate
Upon merely hearing the words, “Please give to the suffering of others, which one now realizes is
me.” so much greater than what we ourselves are
So what need to mention their joy when they give
going through.
away everything? (14)
The sixteenth verse describes the different
ways of giving:
A bodhisattva experiences great happiness
just by hearing a beggar ask to be given some-
Giving empty of gift, giver, and recipient
thing—just by that mere thought and the mere Is a transcendent perfection beyond the world.
thought, “Now I have the chance to help this When attachment to these three arises,
beggar who has come to me to ask for some- That is a mundane transcendent perfection. (16)
thing.” Even the happiness of an arhat at their
highest level of realization, when they enter into Generosity that is empty of generosity—in
the expanse of nirvana, cannot compare to the the sense that one realizes that there is no gift,
happiness of a bodhisattva under those condi- there is no one giving, and there is no one re-
tions. And if that is the case, then what need is ceiving—is called the wisdom that has no focus
there to mention the level of happiness the on any of the three spheres. The three spheres
bodhisattva experiences when they are actually are the gift, the giver, and the recipient. Such
able to give away everything inner and outer to giving is called, “undefiled generosity,” and it is
this supplicating beggar and see the beggar a transcendent perfection, a paramita, which
satisfied as a result. Is that not something quite transcends the world, which transcends the
good? mundane and the ordinary. On the other hand,
when there is attachment to these three spheres
The pain one feels from cutting one’s own flesh as being real, then that is still a paramita, a
to give it away transcendent perfection, but it is called a
Brings the suffering of others in the hell realms
worldly or mundane transcendent perfection, for
and so forth
Directly into one’s own experience, the very reason there is still a focus on these

SHENPEN ÖSEL 21
three spheres as being real. Question: The second to last verse makes refer-
The last verse, which is a concluding sum- ence to a “mundane transcendent perfection,”
mary, reads: and I’m wondering what is the distinction be-
tween a mundane transcendent perfection, for
Like that, the Victors’ heirs utterly abide in the instance of generosity, and just the mundane
mind of bodhicitta virtue of generosity. What is the distinction? The
And from their excellent support, joy’s light second part of the question is, is it in fact the
beautifully shines.
fact of seeing gift, giver, and recipient as being
This joy, like the jewel of the water crystal,
Completely dispels the thick darkness—it is empty that makes a virtue or perfection tran-
victorious! (17) scendent? And if one is not seeing them as
empty, then how can it be a transcendent perfec-
Here the bodhisattva is being compared to tion if it is in fact mundane?
the moon resting high in the sky. The
bodhisattva, the heir of the Victorious Ones, Translator: So, the question is about the six-
utterly abides in the mind of bodhicitta that has teenth verse. The first part of the question is,
developed on this first ground, because this what is the difference between a mundane
bodhicitta is now a part of their transcendent perfection, the
mind. That is why they can abide mundane transcendent perfection
in it perfectly. And from the genu- When beginners of generosity, and the mundane
ine and supreme support that is virtue of generosity or the
practice worldly virtue of generosity? And
this mind of bodhicitta of the first
ground shines the light of perfect generosity, it is secondly, if there is fixation on
gift, giver, and recipient as being
joy. This beautiful light is the the virtue of real, then what is it that causes it
radiance of their primordial
wisdom. It is like the light of the generosity, which to be a transcendent perfection?
jewel known as the water crystal, leads to samsaric Rinpoche: The difference be-
which is another name for the
moon. And so the bodhisattva and
happiness. tween the virtue of generosity
their wisdom and joy are like the Eventually, this and the worldly paramita of
beautiful light of the moon, and generosity is that the virtue of
everything that they abandon on
becomes the generosity’s result is samsaric
the path of seeing, which corre- practice of the happiness and the worldly
sponds to this first ground, is paramita’s result is eventually
paramita of the transcendence of samsara
compared to thick darkness. The
remedy that completely dispels generosity, which through the attainment of en-
lightenment. And that is what
this thick darkness is their pri- will eventually makes the distinction and that is
mordial awareness, by virtue of
which they emerge victorious, lead to the why this is called a paramita and
meaning completely free. attainment of not just an ordinary virtue or
The concluding line of the something else.
chapter states that this is the first
enlightenment
ultimate mind generation in the Question: What is the difference
text known as the Entrance to the Middle Way. in the manner of practicing generosity in these
Each succeeding chapter explains a different two cases?
level of the generation of the mind of bodhicitta.
Now let us recite the verses from this chapter. Rinpoche: The difference is that when begin-
[Students recite.] ners practice generosity, it is the virtue of gener-

22 SHENPEN ÖSEL
osity, which leads to samsaric happiness. Even- much compassion is involved, and on how much
tually this becomes the practice of the paramita wisdom is involved. So these things also help to
of generosity, which will eventually lead to the distinguish. Does that answer the question?
attainment of enlightenment. The way this
progression works is that first somebody prac- Question: Yes, though I’m still a little confused.
tices generosity; they do not have a lot of com- Is it because of their compassionate motivation,
passion, but they practice generosity, as a result even though they are not transcending the three
of which they get rich. Then they practice more spheres, that it is still called a transcendent
generosity, and in time a noble being appears to perfection?
receive their generosity. Then the noble being
gives the beginning giver teachings, and then the Rinpoche: That is a good explanation. Because
giver starts to practice the dharma, and then of the giver’s motivation, even though they do
they go on from there. That is one way it works. not transcend focus on the three spheres, their
We can also see a distinction between the ordi- action is still given the name transcendent
nary virtue of generosity and the worldly perfection. It is a transcendent perfection as
paramita of generosity based on whether there practiced by ordinary mundane beings.*
is a dedication of merit of the generosity to the
enlightenment of all sentient beings, on how

*Editor’s note: Any casual observation of generosity reveals we should dedicate the merit arising from that generosity to the
that it in time endows the giver with some sort of additional liberation and enlightenment of all sentient beings. By so doing,
energy and power due to the appreciation of the recipient of the we gradually increase our impulse to dharma practice, our
gift. If one looks at generosity from the standpoint of karma as concern and compassion for sentient beings, the strength of our
it might ripen over the course of lifetimes, one will see that intention to attain buddhahood for the benefit of beings, and
when generosity is practiced consistently over a significant the energy and power with which we are able to practice the
period of time, it will result in one’s being increasingly sur- path leading to buddhahood. This is what is called the worldly
rounded by beneficiaries of one’s generosity who harbor a great or mundane paramita of generosity, or in the language of the
deal of appreciation for one, even if they do not know why. As a translator, the worldly or mundane “transcendent perfection” of
result, surrounded by such good will, the giver will be increas- generosity, and it leads eventually to buddhahood.
ingly successful in their endeavors, and as a consequence will The worldly paramita of generosity leads to the transcen-
find it easier to amass wealth. They will be born as a rich dent paramita of generosity, or the transcendent “transcendent
human being, or in the god’s realms, etc. But the difficulty of perfection” of generosity, when we come to understand that
this type of generosity—practiced either without any specific sunyata, the wisdom realizing emptiness and the true nature,
motivation or motivated by the desire simply to make another is what ultimately liberates one from samsara altogether and
happy or to curry favor, to fulfill one’s duty as a parent, or for is the cause of buddhahood. When one comes to understand
some other samsaric motivation—is that when the merit that, one comes to understand that for generosity to lead to
accumulated by such generosity exhausts itself, if such generos- buddhahood, it must be practiced within the context of the view
ity has not been continued, the giver will fall in samsaric status of emptiness, which means without reference to, attachment to,
and will once again know poverty, etc. Furthermore, if in one’s or fixation on the three spheres—the giver, the gift or act or
relationship to wealth—whether one is gaining it or losing it— giving, and the recipient—which is often called three-fold purity.
one begins to be fearful of losing wealth or never gaining wealth, Three-fold purity can also be one-hundred fold purity, in the
and as a consequence begins to grasp at it, becomes miserly and sense that the term implies ultimately seeing the emptiness of
ungenerous, or even begins to practice financial fraud or theft in all things interdependent with any particular act of generosity:
order to gain wealth, then one will sooner or later be reborn in the giver, the gift, the giving, the recipient, the attitudes and
the lower realms. Thus, this type of generosity, which is being thoughts and remarks of others with respect to the act, the
referred to here as the ordinary virtue of generosity, while leading motivations of giver and recipient, the results of such giving, etc.
temporarily at some time in the future to the higher realms, in Such generosity—the transcendent paramita of generosity—
no way endows one with permanent happiness, nor does it and the practice of the other transcendent paramitas or
prevent one from constant and unending wandering in condi- perfections—discipline, patience, exertion, meditative concen-
tioned existence fraught with suffering. tration, and prajña—are the direct cause of buddhahood. One
The karmic consequence of one’s generosity, however, can be can begin to practice the transcendent paramitas effectively
conditioned by changing the motivation with which it is after one has had decisive insight into emptiness.
practiced and by dedicating the merit or virtue or energy and Thus we can see that the ordinary virtue of generosity with
power arising from it. Thus the bodhisattva path teaches that a little luck leads to the practice of the worldly or mundane
we should practice generosity out of compassion for sentient paramita of generosity, which in turn leads to the practice of the
beings with the motivation to establish all sentient beings in transcendent paramita of generosity, which in turn is one of the
liberation from suffering and in the enlightenment of causes of buddhahood.
buddhahood. It also teaches that following any act of generosity

SHENPEN ÖSEL 23
Question: What is non-referential compassion, water moon constantly moving around, changing,
the third type of compassion, and how is it and thus impermanent, but because it is just a
different from the second type, compassion with water moon, there is really nothing there. Sen-
reference to phenomena, which was translated tient beings, like the water moon, are empty of
as being the reality of the situation, referring to any real existence, they are just like a reflection.
impermanence? There is nothing really there, but they do not
realize that. And so, because they think that they
Rinpoche: If one looks at this second type of are real and that other things are real, they
compassion, chö la mikpay nyingje in Tibetan, suffer. The compassion that focuses on this
etymologically, one finds the word absence of real existence and
chö in Tibetan or dharma in makes the aspiration, “Would it
Sanskrit, which has a lot of differ-
Sentient beings not be wonderful if beings were
ent meanings, [including the completely free from the suffering which they
meaning “phenomena,”] but here experience because they think
it is better translated as “quality,”
change from that they themselves and every-
the quality of the situation. Here moment to thing around them are real!” This
the quality of the situation refers moment, but they suffering is just like the suffering
to the sentient being’s quality and one experiences in a dream when
the sentient being’s quality is of do not know one does not know one is dream-
the nature of impermanence. that, and so they ing. For example, you could dream
Sentient beings completely of being burned in a fire, and the
change from moment to moment,
think that things fact is that the fire and the body
but they do not know that, they do are permanent being burned in it are just mere
not realize that, and so they think dependently arisen appearances.
that things are permanent and as
and as a result of But if you do not know you are
a result of that they suffer. So, if that they suffer dreaming, then you will think that
we see sentient beings and wish the fire is real and that you are
that they be free of the suffering really being burned in it. Not only
of thinking that things are permanent when in that, you will think that this burning is some-
fact they are not, then that is compassion that thing that is going to go on until you die. This
focuses on the quality of the nature of sentient confusion creates great suffering, great fear, and
beings. In fact, beings suffer greatly because they great pain. Non-referential compassion is the
think things, particularly suffering, are perma- aspiration that beings be free of this type of
nent. But suffering is also of the nature of imper- suffering, which they experience only because
manence; it completely disappears in the next they think things, which are not real, are real.
instant. If we suffer and think that this suffering This type of compassion understands that the
is real, in the sense that it is permanent, and only reason that beings suffer is that their
that it is going to last and just get greater and thoughts are confused.
greater, then that causes even more suffering.
The alternative is just to realize that the suffer- Question: In the beginning, when Chandrakirti
ing is completely momentary and that it van- is describing the causes of being a bodhisattva,
ishes instant by instant. he says that the first one is the mind of compas-
Non-referential compassion describes the sion, the second is non-dual awareness, and the
compassion that knows and understands the third is bodhicitta. I couldn’t tell from your brief
analogy of the water moon.* Not only is the explanation what the difference was, if any,
between compassion and bodhicitta. And then,
*Editor’s note: The reflection of the moon in water. where the text describes bodhisattvas as supe-

24 SHENPEN ÖSEL
rior to shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, you Question: The text states that when one be-
explained that until they reach the seventh comes a bodhisattva, all the paths to the lower
bhumi, their superiority is based on their realms are sealed off. And Rinpoche further
greater merit, after which it is based on their explained that the commentary says that when
greater wisdom. How do you reconcile this with you reach the level of patience on the path of
the notion of the inseparability of compassion junction, which is the path that leads to the first
and emptiness as the essence of the bodhisattva ground of the bodhisattva, then the conditions for
path? being reborn in the lower realms do not as-
semble, and that subsequently, when you reach
Rinpoche: The compassion which wants to free this level of realization on the first bhumi, then
all beings from suffering is the cause of the seed of being reborn in the lower realms is
bodhicitta. Compassion is something that one also destroyed. But it is stated in the eighth
can experience even before one becomes a chapter of The Jewel Ornament of Liberation as
mahayana practitioner. What determines be- one of the eight benefits of going for refuge that
coming a mahayana practitioner is giving rise to merely going for refuge prevents rebirth in the
the mind of bodhicitta, which is lower realms again. What does this
the desire to attain enlighten- Merely taking the latter statement mean in light of
ment for the benefit of all sen- the explanation you have just
tient beings. That is the differ- refuge vow is not given?
ence. When we see the suffering enough. You also
of sentient beings, and the wish Rinpoche: If you take the refuge
for them to be free from all their
have to practice vow and practice properly in
suffering arises, that is compas- in accordance accordance with it, then you will
sion. When we actually aspire to not be reborn in the lower realms.
attain enlightenment for the
with the vow Merely taking the refuge vow is
benefit of all sentient beings, in not enough. You also have to prac-
order to be able to liberate them from their tice in accordance with the vow. When you go for
suffering, that is bodhicitta. With regard to the refuge in the dharma, then one of the things you
second question—if it is the case that compas- vow is to give up harming other beings, and if you
sion and wisdom are inseparable on the never harm another being then you will not be
bodhisattva path, then why is it that the first- reborn in the lower realms. Also when you go for
bhumi bodhisattvas because of their merit and refuge in the dharma, you vow to listen, reflect,
their compassion outshine the shravaka and and meditate on the dharma well, and if you do
arhats, but it is not until the seventh bhumi that that, you will not be born in the lower realms.
they are able to outshine them with their wis- We should know that, though bodhisattvas are
dom?—the way it is explained here is that this not constrained by their karma to be reborn in
is in essence a great praise of the arhat’s real- the lower realms, out of compassion they often
ization of selflessness. Since their realization of willingly take rebirth in the lower realms to be of
the selflessness of the individual is so great, it benefit to others. When the Buddha was not yet a
is comparable to the bodhisattva’s realization of buddha, but was a bodhisattva practicing the
emptiness on the seventh bhumi. The arhat’s bodhisattva path, he was born as a turtle, as a
realization of selflessness completely wipes out fish, as a rabbit, and as a special kind of deer
all of their mental afflictions,* which does not called a rooroo.** In order to benefit beings,
occur for the bodhisattva until the seventh
bhumi.
**Editor’s note: The Buddha is said to have related the
stories of some 500 of his previous lives as a bodhisattva,
*Editor’s note: but not all of their cognitive obscurations. which are said to be contained in the Jataka Tales.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 25
bodhisattvas take birth as many different kinds bodhisattvas’ practice of generosity has these
of animals. Bodhisattvas need to be willing to four characteristics.
take birth in the hells, as hungry ghosts, and as We can distinguish three kinds of generosity:
animals to benefit others, and there are many the generosity of bodhisattvas, the generosity of
stories of bodhisattvas doing so just to be of ordinary individuals on the path, and the gener-
benefit to a single sentient being. There are osity of ordinary individuals who are not on the
actually prayers to take birth in the lower path of dharma. So for example, the Buddha,
realms that go something like, “In order to when he was a bodhisattva, was once born as a
benefit other beings, may I be born as a fish, as a sea tortoise and was attacked by 80,000 bugs,
deer, as a beggar in a city.” So that is how we who sucked out his blood. At the time he made
have to pray. Any other questions? an aspiration prayer, and later, after he had
become enlightened as the Buddha, he taught
Question: Rinpoche, is it some- the dharma to these same 80,000
times more compassionate not to bugs, who had been reborn as
give if by giving we encourage the It is better to 80,000 worldly deities who had
recipient to be lazy or dependent give, actually. For come to listen to his teachings. In
on us? another of his lives as a
example, if we bodhisattva, he was born as a
Rinpoche: It is better to give, see poor people prince and gave his body to five
actually. For example, if we see tiger cubs to eat. Those tiger cubs
poor people who are hungry or who are hungry were reborn as the first five
thirsty, then our concern should or thirsty, then students of the Buddha because at
be for the alleviation of their the time of his generosity he made
hunger or thirst; we should not be
our concern aspiration prayers that his gener-
thinking about any sort of conse- should be for the osity would cause them to proceed
quence other than just alleviating on the path to enlightenment.
their hunger and thirst.
alleviation of Ordinary beings do not do that.
At the same time, we should their hunger or When ordinary people who are
make aspiration prayers that this thirst not on the path give they do not
act of generosity will be the cause make such noble aspiration
of their proceeding on the path to prayers. This is the distinguishing
enlightenment. In the text called The Ornament feature of generosity as it is practiced on the
of the Mahayana Sutras, the path.
Mahayanasutralankara, there are listed the What is not appropriate is to give things
characteristics of generosity as practiced by which are harmful to others, like poison or
bodhisattvas. First the generosity of bodhisatt- weapons. It is not appropriate to give those
vas causes the opposite of generosity to de- things because they are harmful to others. But if
crease, the opposite of generosity being avarice you can give in a way that pacifies people’s
and miserliness. Second, the generosity of bodhi- suffering, that alleviates their thirst and hunger,
sattvas is embraced by non-conceptual primor- and so forth, and that does not harm others, then
dial wisdom. Third, it fulfills the wishes of it is good to give. And at the same time, we
beings, both their temporary and their ultimate should make aspiration prayers in the following
ones and makes them happy. And finally, it way. We should think, “Now I’m giving materi-
causes beings to be ripened in one of the three ally. I pray that in the future I can give this
ways, either along the path of the arhats as person the dharma that allows them to be liber-
shravakas or solitary sages, or on the ated from the suffering of samsara.”
bodhisattva path leading to buddhahood. The So now we should meditate on compassion—

26 SHENPEN ÖSEL
on compassion that focuses on sentient beings, connections, those with whom we have bad
on compassion that focuses on the quality of connections, and those with whom the connec-
sentient beings, and on compassion that is with- tions are changing from one to the other so that
out reference. “First thinking ‘me,’ they fixate on we have both good and bad connections.
‘self.’ Then thinking, ‘This is mine,’ attachment to
things develops. Beings are powerless, like a All you sentient beings I have a good or bad
rambling water mill—I bow to compassion for connection with
As soon as you have left this confused dimension
these wanderers. Beings are like the moon on
May you be born in the west in Sukhavati
the surface of rippling water—they move and are And once you’re born there, complete the bhumis
empty of any self nature.” [Students meditate, and the paths
and Rinpoche and students recite dedication
prayers.] [Students sing.]
Now let’s sing the prayer for all sentient
beings with whom we have good and bad connec- Rinpoche: Goodnight. Sarva Mangalam!
tions. There are those with whom we have good

SHENPEN ÖSEL 27
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Second Mind Generation:


The Stainless

L
et us begin Since their move
with the Song ments of body,
of Meaningful speech and mind
are pure,
Connections. [Students
They gather the ten
sing. See page 12.] types of virtue on the
Before listening to path of the genuine
the teachings, please ones. (1)
give rise to the pre-
cious attitude of The commentary
bodhicitta, aspiring for reads: “For those who
the benefit of all sen- have reached the
tient beings, who are as second ground, the
limitless in number as second bodhisattva
the sky is vast in ex- bhumi, their disci-
tent, to attain the state pline is excellent and
of complete and perfect their qualities are
buddhahood. In order completely pure.
to do that, we must Therefore, not only
listen to, reflect upon, when they are awake,
and meditate upon the but even in their
teachings of the genu- dreams, they give up
ine dharma with all of all the stains of faulty
the enthusiasm we can discipline.” They do
muster in our hearts. This is the precious atti- not commit any transgression of their vows or
tude of bodhicitta. Please give rise to it and any transgression of their discipline, even in
listen. their dreams. “Since their conduct of body,
Tonight Rinpoche will explain the second speech, and mind—the movement of their body,
mind generation, meaning the second generation speech, and mind—is free of even the slightest
of the mind of bodhicitta, which is the second flaw or most subtle transgression, it is pure.
chapter in this text. It is connected with the Therefore, they gather the ten types of virtue,
second of the ten paramitas or transcendent including the seven of body and speech, which
perfections, the paramita of discipline, and is the are considered to be karma.” There are seven
principal practice of the bodhisattva on the types of conduct of body and speech that one
second bodhisattva bhumi. The first verse reads: must abandon. These are called karmic activi-
ties, and then there are three activities of mind,
Because the bodhisattvas’ discipline has such which are considered to be the motivations for
excellent qualities,
these activities. They are motivational in nature
They abandon the stains of faulty discipline even
because they are mental activities. And so,
in their dreams.
28 SHENPEN ÖSEL
adding these together, you get ten. Bodhisattvas compared to the way that the light of this moon
on the second ground gather those on the path of is said to cool the heat. The light of a pure au-
the genuine ones. tumn moon is very soothing and cooling, and like
The quality of discipline in the great vehicle that, the bodhisattvas on this ground have the
of the mahayana is that it is conduct motivated serenity of their sense doors’ being bound by
by loving kindness, love for others. With this their discipline and the radiance of a beautiful
motivation of love, one conducts oneself in a way white light. These two make the bodhisattvas
that is of benefit to others; that is one’s disci- quite beautiful.
pline. Bodhisattvas on this bhumi conduct them-
selves in this way even in their dreams, and But if they thought their pure discipline had an
there is no degeneration from that. inherent nature,
Next, in the second verse, comes a presenta- Their discipline would not be pure at all.
Therefore, they are at all times completely free
tion of how it is that the transcendent perfection
Of dualistic mind’s movement towards the three
or the paramita of discipline is the one that
spheres. (3)
comes to the fore on this particular bodhisattva
ground:
The commentary reads: “If it were the case
that the bodhisattvas had incredibly pure con-
These ten types of virtue have been practiced
duct of their pratimoksha vows, the vows of
before,
But here they are superior because they have individual liberation, and yet were arrogant in
become so pure. the sense that they conceptualized themselves
Like an autumn moon, the bodhisattvas are as having pure discipline—if they thought, ‘Wow,
always pure, I keep my discipline very well’—then they would
Beautified by their serenity and be taking their discipline to be
radiance. (2) truly existent, to have an inher-
ent nature. If that were the case,
And the commentary reads: With this then their discipline would not be
“This path of virtue, which is motivation of pure at all. Therefore, bodhisatt-
comprised first of the three posi- vas on this ground do not concep-
tive motivations of mind and then
love, one
tualize either the flawed conduct
the seven positive activities of conducts oneself which they are abandoning, the
body and speech, making ten, has
been practiced before. These ten
in a way that is antidote they use to give it up, or
the person who is giving it up.
virtues were present and prac- of benefit to They do not conceptualize any of
ticed by the bodhisattvas on the others. Bodhisat- these three to be real. They are
first ground, but here they are free of the movements of dualistic
superior. They outshine what the tvas on this mind, which perceives some
bodhisattvas had practiced before bhumi things to be existent and other
in an incredible way because they things to be non-existent. They
have become so pure, so excellent, conduct are completely free of the move-
and glorious.” The example that themselves in ments of dualistic mind towards
demonstrates this is the autumn
moon, a harvest moon in the sky
this way even in these three spheres.”
To put this in the form of a
that is completely free of clouds. their dreams logical reasoning, we would say,
Like that, the bodhisattva’s disci- “Given the individual who has
pline is always completely pure pure conduct of their
and is endowed with two qualities that are pratimoksha vows, the vows of individual libera-

SHENPEN ÖSEL 29
tion, but takes their conduct to be real, their you are born in the lower realms, you are natu-
discipline is not pure at all, because they believe rally quite stupid in that state, and so you do not
that their conduct has an inher- practice generosity again and as a
ently existent nature.” The disci- consequence, do not accumulate
pline of the bodhisattva on the Discipline is said the causes of having material
second ground is completely pure to be like enjoyments in the future. The
because they do not conceive any example given here is that of
of the three spheres to be real. In legs, because money. When you have money,
short, so long as a person believes discipline is what once you spend all the interest
that the three spheres related to and all the principal, there is
discipline are real, their discipline
allows you to nothing left to produce anything
will never be pure. But when the progress to the more. Therefore, material enjoy-
individual is free of attachment to ments do not come again, because
these three spheres as being real,
higher realms there is no cause for them to be
then their discipline is pure. reproduced. You have exhausted
When one has attachment to the three spheres of all of your profit from before and there is noth-
discipline as being real, then that is like disci- ing left to replace it. So this verse teaches the
pline conducted in a dream when we do not disadvantage of having generosity without the
know that we are dreaming. But when one is right conduct of discipline.
free from attachment to these three spheres as The fifth verse reads:
being real, that is like the conduct of discipline
in a dream when one knows that it is just a If when independent and enjoying favorable
dream. Thus, if one wants to have a pure prac- circumstances,
tice of the transcendent perfection of discipline, One does not protect oneself from falling into the
lower realms,
one must also realize emptiness.
Once one has fallen into the abyss and has no
power to escape,
Generosity can result in wealth gained in the What will be able to lift one up and out of that?
lower realms (5)
When an individual has lost their legs of
discipline.
The example here is that of a warrior who
Once the wealth’s principal and interest are
completely spent, has entered a friendly land where he is able to
Material enjoyments will not come again. (4) move about freely. If, when one is independent—
not needing to rely on anyone else and enjoying
The material enjoyment that is the result of favorable circumstances of being born as either a
the practice of generosity in previous lives can human being or a deity—and one does not pro-
come to fruition in the lower realms if the indi- tect oneself from the conduct that would cause
vidual had lost the legs of discipline at the same one to fall into the lower realms, then one be-
time the individual was practicing generosity. comes like a warrior in an unfriendly land who is
Discipline is said to be like legs, because disci- bound up and thrown off a mountain. When one
pline is what allows you to progress to the falls into the abyss of the lower realms, one loses
higher realms. If you do not have those legs, you one’s independence. One comes under the power
fall into the lower realms, where you can experi- of others and is powerless to do anything about
ence life as, for instance, a very wealthy naga, a it. What method will there be to lift one up and
very wealthy sea serpent, or as other kinds of out of that? Once you have fallen into the abyss,
beings in the lower realms who have material how can you possibly get out?
enjoyments. The problem with that is that, when Therefore, after giving his advice on generosity,

30 SHENPEN ÖSEL
The Victor taught about accompanying it with And auspiciousness with misfortune,
discipline. When great beings come under discipline’s
When good qualities thrive in discipline’s field, power,
The enjoyment of their fruits is unceasing. (6) They do not abide together with its decay. (8)

For the reasons given in the above verses, The ocean is said to be inhabited by nagas.
Nagas are sea serpents and are incredibly clean
the Victor, the completely perfect Buddha, after
creatures, which is why, if a corpse ever falls
first giving teachings and advice on the practice into the ocean, it always washes up on the shore.
of generosity, taught that the practice of gener- The nagas will not allow it to stay in the ocean.
osity should be accompanied by Similarly, when you have auspi-
the practice of discipline. The cious circumstances, you will not
reason for this is that when the The completely have the opposite of that at the
good qualities that come as a same time. Auspiciousness and
result of practicing generosity
perfect buddha misfortune do not coexist. Simi-
larly, when great beings—referring
thrive in the field of discipline, taught that the here to those who have reached
then the result or the fruits of practice of the second bodhisattva ground—
those practices of generosity, like come under the power of disci-
attaining a precious human body, generosity should pline, they do not abide together
material enjoyments, and so be accompanied with the decay of that discipline.
forth, can be enjoyed in an ever Here the commentary says that
increasing and uninterrupted by the practice of this means that those around
them, their retinue and friends,
way. discipline will also have pure discipline.
The seventh verse reads: They will not be together with
those who do not have pure discipline.
For ordinary individuals, those born of the The ninth verse teaches the different kinds
Buddha’s speech, of discipline:
Those set on solitary enlightenment,
And heirs of the Victor, If there be any focus on these three—
The cause of the higher realms and of true excel- The one who abandons, the abandoned act, and
lence is nothing other than discipline. (7) the one with regard to whom it is abandoned—
Such discipline is explained to be a worldly
For ordinary beings, those who do not see the transcendent perfection.
true nature of reality; for those born of the Discipline empty of attachment to these three has
Buddha’s speech, which refers to the shravakas, gone beyond the world. (9)
the hearers; for those set on solitary enlighten-
ment, which refers to the solitary sages, the Finally:
pratyekabuddhas; and for the heirs of the Vic-
Free from stains, The Stainless, the bodhisattvas
tors, which refers to the bodhisattvas, both the
arising from the moon
cause of the higher realms—being born as a god Are not of the world, yet are the world’s glory.
or a human—and of true excellence—which Like the light of the moon in autumn
refers to the various stages of realization on the They assuage the torment in the minds of beings.
path—is nothing other than discipline. When it (10)
says that it is nothing other than discipline, it
means that if there is no discipline, then these Bodhisattvas, the heirs of the victors, arising
results cannot be attained. This statement is not
from the moon of the second ground, even
excluding the importance of other causes. It is
just saying that if you do not have discipline, you though they are not included among those who
definitely will not attain these results. are still stuck in worldly existence, are the glory
Like the ocean with a corpse,

SHENPEN ÖSEL 31
of worldly existence.* Since they are free of the With respect to speech, first you give up lying
stains of faulty discipline, this second ground is and speak honestly, telling the truth. Second,
called The Stainless. Just like the soothing light you give up speech that is divisive, that causes
of the harvest moon, bodhisattvas on this ground people to become enemies with each other, and
assuage the torment of faulty speak in a way that brings people
discipline that exists in the together. Third, you give up harsh
minds of wandering sentient speech towards others and adopt a
beings. It is not taught that
Since they are pleasant way of speaking, a soft
these bodhisattvas have brought free of the way of speaking that makes people
the practice of discipline to its happy. Finally, you give up gossip-
highest degree; they have not
stains of faulty ing and engaging in meaningless
completely perfected it. But it discipline, this chatter—which distracts others
does become their foremost or from listening, reflecting, and
second ground is
most important practice on this meditating on the dharma—and
ground. called The adopt speech that encourages them
The summarizing line states Stainless to engage in dharma practices, such
that this completes the second as recitation of mantras, and so
mind generation from the text forth.
called Entrance to the Middle Way. So let us With respect to mind, first you give up covet-
recite this section together. [Students recite] ousness, reduce attachment, and develop con-
Now are there any questions? tentment. Second, you give up maliciousness and
adopt an attitude of loving kindness. Third, you
Question: Can Rinpoche tell us in some detail abandon wrong views concerning cause and
about the virtues? effect, the truth of cessation and the path, and
the three jewels and abide in the authentic or
Rinpoche: The ten virtues are the three posi- correct view.
tive activities of body, the four positive activities The seven types of conduct of body and
of speech, and the three positive activities of the speech are considered to be karma, and the
mind. Is that okay? three of mind are the motivation with which you
act.
Question: What are they? There are extensive explanations of the ten
unvirtuous actions and the ten virtuous actions
Rinpoche: There are three virtuous activities of in The Words of My Perfect Teacher and in The
body and four of speech, which consist of giving Jewel Ornament of Liberation, and a briefer
up the three unvirtuous activities of body and description in the Torch of Certainty.
the four unvirtuous activities of speech and
practicing their opposites. With respect to body, Question: In the third verse it mentions the
first you give up killing others and engage in the three spheres. What are they?
activity of protecting lives. Then you give up
stealing and engage in the activity of giving to Rinpoche: The three spheres, with regard to
sentient beings. Instead of taking things from the practice of discipline, are, first, the person,
them you give them things. And third you give the self who is practicing the discipline. The
up improper sexual activity and protect proper second sphere is the way in which you conduct
sexual conduct from degenerating. yourself, the discipline or conduct itself, and the
third is the one with regard to whom you are
*Editor’s note: Meaning that because they are in the world practicing such conduct or discipline. If there is
but not of the world, they are the glory of the world. attachment to these three as being real, then it

32 SHENPEN ÖSEL
is still a worldly practice. If there is no attach- realization of the nature of reality, which leads
ment to these as being real, then you have tran- to the attainment of the bodhisattva grounds.
scended the world. Connected with generosity, The loving kindness and compassion and the
the three spheres would be the one who is giv- desire to attain enlightenment for the benefit of
ing, the one to whom you give, all sentient beings that serve as
and the act of generosity itself. It is explained your motivation for doing that is
relative bodhicitta. If you do not
Question: I would appreciate a that it takes a have ultimate bodhicitta, the mind
further explanation of the ninth very long time to of awakening, you cannot realize
verse, particularly the part, “the the nature of genuine reality, nor
one who abandons, the act of
progress along can you cleanse your own mind of
abandoning, and the one with the mahayana its confusion. Therefore, we need
regard to whom it is abandoned.” to practice the stages of medita-
path, but the fact tion that allow us to gain realiza-
Rinpoche: If we look at the is time does not tion.
discipline of not killing, the one If you do not have relative
really exist. There
who abandons would be the one bodhicitta, then you will neither
who abandons the activity of is no such thing want to benefit anyone else nor
killing. The abandoned act is the as time will you benefit anyone else. Thus
killing, and the one with regard you need both ultimate and rela-
to whom it is abandoned is the tive bodhicitta to attain the state
one you do not kill. So, if there is realization that of enlightenment; both practices are necessary.
these three do not really exist, that they are just In order to progress along the entire mahayana
mere dependently arisen appearances, then that path from the beginning through all of the ten
is called a paramita, a transcendent perfection grounds to the level of enlightenment, it is
which has gone beyond the mundane. If, how- explained variously that it takes either 3 times
ever, there is still fixation on these three as 10 to the 59th eons, 7 times 10 to the 59th eons, or
being real, when the same activity is practiced, it 37 times 10 to the 59th eons. So it takes quite a
is a worldly transcendent perfection. Other long time.
questions?
Question: How long is an eon?
Question: Are there still beings who are pro-
gressing along these paths, following the Rinpoche: An eon is the period of time it takes
mahayana path exclusively, when we have the for a universe to come into being and then disin-
vajrayana now, and if there are, what does that tegrate again. But the point is that at the same
mean for us? Could you put that into context for time one is progressing on this path, one has
us? What causes a being to choose the vajrayana great loving kindness and compassion for others
over the mahayana, and what are the results of and is doing wonderful things to benefit others.
that choice? It is explained that it takes a very long time to
progress along the mahayana path [in a
Rinpoche: It is possible to attain these bhumis mahayana way without the benefit of vajrayana],
by practicing the mahayana path of cultivating but the fact is time does not really exist; it is not
loving kindness and compassion, and by meditat- real. There is no such thing as time. In the
ing on emptiness—doing these two practices explanation of the sixteen emptinesses,* this is
together. This approach is summed up in the two
*Editor’s note: See Shenpen Ösel, Volume 3, Number 1, pages
practices of relative and ultimate bodhicitta. By 55-62, for commentary on the twenty emptinesses, which
practicing ultimate bodhicitta, you gain the includes commentary on the sixteen emptinesses.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 33
called the emptiness of that which is completion stages are very profound methods
imperceivable, the emptiness of the three times. that can cause one to advance on this path
It was to assuage people’s discouragement at quickly. In fact, if one has practiced on the path
thinking that it would take such a long time as 3 in previous lifetimes and is of very sharp facul-
times 10 to the 59th eons to attain enlightenment ties, like Milarepa, then one can attain
that the emptiness of time was taught. buddhahood in a single life.
When people realize that there is really no In short, the tradition of the mahayana
such thing as time anyway, they do not get dis- explains that samsara is just a mistake. It is a
couraged. In fact, a short period of time and a mere error in perception, and if you ask what
long period of time are fundamentally the same. enlightenment is, it is just the elimination of
They are just like time in a dream. In a dream it that mistake. Nothing more; that is all. Does
does not matter if you think it is a long time or a that answer the second part of your question?
short time; there is really no
difference at all between them. Question: What happens when
None of these conceptual notions
Mahayana you clear away this mistaken
have any reality. The Buddha said explains that perception?
that an eon and an instant are of
the nature of equality. A particle
samsara is just a Rinpoche: When you clear away
and a planet are of the nature of mistake. It is a this mistake, what appears is the
equality. If you think of a dream, mere error in infinite expanse of purity.
you can understand how this is
true. The tiniest particle of dust perception, and if Question: Does the infinite
and the biggest mountain that you ask what expanse appear to be permanent
appear to you in a dream are in its essence?
fundamentally the same. Whether
enlightenment is,
it is your finger or the king of all it is just the Translator:: When people who
mountains, Mount Sumeru, does do not know how to speak Ti-
not matter; there is really no
elimination of betan [very well] ask questions,
difference in their size when they that mistake then they can confuse the Ti-
appear in dreams, because both are betan terms for purity and per-
just dependently arisen mere manence, which, coming from an
appearances. English speaking tongue, sound quite the same
Bodhisattva, which is the name given to a in Tibetan. So we got a little bit of unexpected
mahayana practitioner, whether man or woman, explanation because I did not pronounce the
is a heroic name. Part of the term in Tibetan is Tibetan for permanence properly. Instead of
pawo, which means a warrior or hero, someone asking Rinpoche about permanence, I asked him
who is brave. Their bravery consists of three about the purity aspect of this infinite expanse
types of fearlessness. Bodhisattvas are not dis- of purity.
couraged by the fact that the beings whom they
vow to liberate are limitless in number. They are Rinpoche: Here* to say that it is an expanse of
not discouraged by the fact that it will take them purity means that there is nothing impure. As
an incredibly long time to attain enlightenment. in a dream, you can dream of seeing different
And they are also not afraid to give away their kinds of things which look very dirty and repul-
head and their limbs, if that is what they need to sive, but none of these things exist, because it is
do to benefit others. They have these three types
*Editor’s note: In the context of the teachings of the second
of fearlessness.
turning of the wheel of dharma, to which the commentaries of
The vajrayana practices of the generation and Chandrakirti and Nagarjuna pertain.

34 SHENPEN ÖSEL
just a dream. From the perspective that there is tion of samsara. Of the two kinds of selflessness,
no impurity it is called the infinite expanse of they believe that there is no self in the indi-
purity. vidual, but they do not believe in the selflessness
As to the second aspect of the of phenomena. So they practice
question, whether or not what is according to the selflessness of the
left when one clears away all
Arhat means individual alone, and follow this
mistaken perception is perma- destroyer of the path exclusively. In places like
nent in essence, the answer is Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka,
enemy. Here the
that it transcends both perma- they practice only the shravaka
nence and impermanence. Some- enemy is your path without accepting or practic-
times it might be explained with mental afflictions, ing the mahayana or the vajrayana
the word permanent, but what teachings. They do not believe in
this means is not the permanence your kleshas the mahayana, and do not practice
that is the opposite of imperma- it.
nence; it is the permanence which transcends
both concepts of impermanence and permanence. Question: What is an arhat?
In the tradition of the mahayana it is explained
that clean and unclean, permanent and imper- Translator: An arhat is the highest level of
manent, and so forth exist only in dependence realization attained by both pratyekabuddhas
upon each other. You can only have one if you and shravakas.
have the other. Therefore, they are just mere
appearances that are dependently arisen; they Rinpoche: Arhat, as it was translated into
have no inherent existence. The nature of all of Tibetan, literally means “destroyer of the en-
them is undifferentiated appearance/emptiness. emy.” Here the enemy is your mental afflictions,
For example, you could have a dream of a big your kleshas. The way you destroy that enemy is
rock mountain and think, “Wow this is some- by realizing selflessness, because when you
thing very stable and permanent,” and in depen- realize that there is no self, then there is nobody
dence upon that you could have a notion of to have any mental afflictions. When you first
something else being impermanent. But we have attain that state, you are still alive, so you are
to understand also that our notion of perma- called an arhat with remainder, because you still
nence in the first place depends upon first have a body. When you die, you are called an
having a notion of something impermanent. You arhat without remainder. When that happens, it
cannot have one without the other. But since it is is described as being like a candle flame that just
just a dream, neither of them is real; they are goes out, or water that completely evaporates.
just mere appearance. There is no more rebirth in samsara. There is
just the expanse of peace. There is no more
Question: What is a shravaka, and is there a rebirth, because there is nothing left. That is
path to being a shravaka? And do they not have how they describe it.
some qualities of being of the mahayana in that The Tibetan tradition is to practice the paths
they listen to the dharma and explain it to of the shravakas, of the mahayana, and of the
others? vajrayana altogether. In Tibetan monasteries the
conduct is the conduct of the shravakayana, what
Rinpoche: There are shravakas, those who the monks and nuns study is the mahayana, and
listen and hear, and according to the description what they practice is the vajrayana. It is like
of them they have very little compassion, cer- that.
tainly less compassion than mahayana practitio-
ners. They have great disgust for and renuncia- Question: Is there an eternal soul, and if there

SHENPEN ÖSEL 35
is not, how do we explain rebirth and karma? waking up in the morning and knowing that there
is really no difference between knowing you are
Rinpoche: In Buddhism there is no such thing dreaming and not knowing you are dreaming.
as a self or a soul, whatever you want to call it. Where is this person who did not know they were
That which is pointed to by all of these terms dreaming? Where is the person in the dream who
that imply a truly existent, permanent self- knew they were dreaming? There is really no
entity does not really exist. What there is is a difference, and that describes the nature of
mere appearance of a self, an illusory being, just ultimate reality. So it is like that.
like the self that appears in a
dream. So when we talk about Question: Can Rinpoche talk a
going from past lives to future The first little bit or explain a little bit
lives, it is this dream-like self, about the idea of the second mind
this mere appearance of a self,
bodhisattva generation? What does that really
that is held to go from one life to ground is called mean? Is that just another name
the next. But really there is no the path of for the second bhumi?
self at all. Since actually there is
no self or soul, then there is no seeing. The Rinpoche: The second mind
permanent self or soul either. second through generation and the second bhumi
This recognition prevents one mean the same thing. Mind gen-
from falling into the extreme of
the tenth eration is a condensed way of
permanence or realism. But since grounds are saying generating the mind of
no one denies the mere appear- bodhicitta. Generally you could say
ance of a self, just as you cannot
called the path of that there are many different ways
deny the appearance of a self in a meditation to generate the mind of bodhicitta,
dream, then that prevents one which also includes relative
from falling into the extreme of bodhicitta. But here we are not
nihilism or annihilation. We dream, and in talking about relative bodhicitta, because we are
dreams we do all kinds of different things, but talking about beings who have reached the noble
really there is nothing happening. There are no grounds. On each successive ground, as bodhisatt-
actions being performed. When we dream and vas progress in development through the ten
we do not know that we are dreaming, then it bodhisattva grounds, they give rise to ultimate
appears that this activity is real. When we bodhicitta in a progressively more subtle and
know that we are dreaming, we see that the profound way.
dream is just a mere appearance, and we see These ten bodhisattva grounds or bhumis are
that the ultimate nature of the dream is that stages in the realization of the genuine nature of
there is no self and that there is no activity. The reality. The first bodhisattva ground is called the
nature of reality transcends the existence of path of seeing because you see something that you
self, phenomena, and activity in the same way. never saw before, namely emptiness. The second
This is a good way to think about it. through the tenth grounds are called the path of
Another way to understand these three meditation, on which you become accustomed to
levels of thinking about it is that if you dream what you have seen and your realization of it grows.
and you do not know you are dreaming, then Then at the end of the tenth bhumi you reach the
that is like the one that thinks things are real. ground of enlightenment. Now we will recite the
If you dream and you know you are dreaming, verses one more time and then meditate. [Students
then that is like understanding that this reality recite the verses and meditate. Rinpoche and the
is just a mere appearance; there is nothing more students dedicate the merit.]
to it than that. And then there is the stage of Good night.

36 SHENPEN ÖSEL
S
arva Mangalam! Let us sing The Song
Chandrakirti’s of Meaningful Connections. [Students
sing. See page 12.]
Entrance to the Middle Way Before listening to the teachings, please
give rise to the precious attitude of
The Third Mind bodhicitta, which means that for the benefit

Generation: of all sentient beings who are as limitless in


number as the sky is vast in its extent,

The Luminous please aspire to attain the state of enlight-


enment, which abides neither in existence
nor in peace. In order to do that we must
listen to, reflect upon, and meditate on the
teachings of the genuine dharma with all of
the enthusiasm we can muster in our hearts.
This is the precious attitude of bodhicitta;
please give rise to it and listen.
Tonight we will look at the third
bodhisattva ground, The Luminous. There
are three sections to the explanation of this
ground. The first looks at the etymology of
the name for this particular ground, which
is based on the qualities of this ground.
Then there is an explanation of the qualities
themselves that distinguish this ground.
And finally, through a praise of these quali-
ties, there is the conclusion.
The first verse reads:

Here the kindling of all objects of knowl-


edge is consumed in a fire
Whose light is the reason this third ground is
called The Luminous.
At this time, an appearance like the copper
sun
Dawns for the heirs of the sugatas. (1)

Here all objects of knowledge are com-


pared to kindling, and primordial aware-
ness—the wisdom, the mind of the bodhisat-
tvas—is compared to a fire which consumes
these objects of knowledge. It is said to burn
them up because all objects of knowledge
are perceived dualistically, and all dualistic
fabrications of something to perceive and a
perceiver are completely pacified in the

SHENPEN ÖSEL 37
meditative equipoise of the bodhisattva on this bodhisattva’s flesh down deep to the bones in
bhumi. Because there is a light which comes their body, cutting off parts of their body, and, in
from this fire of the bodhisattva’s wisdom in order to make it really hurt, cutting them off
meditative equipoise, this third piece by piece and ounce by ounce
ground is called The Luminous. In post- in different sections, slowly over a
In post-meditation, the stage of long period of time, even if that
subsequent attainment of the meditation, the should happen, since the
bodhisattva on the third ground, state of bodhisattva has such great pa-
there is an appearance like the tience, their patience with the one
copper light of the sun before it
subsequent who is cutting them into little
rises. This is described in Tibetan attainment of the pieces will grow even greater.”
with an experiential word, Then there is a description of
marlamewa, which refers to the
bodhisattva on the way in which the bodhisattvas
light in the sky of a beautiful the third ground, cultivate and meditate on pa-
sunrise; everything is a beautiful tience. This has two parts. The
there is an
copper color. That is how the first is how they meditate from the
bodhisattvas on this ground appearance like perspective of the genuine nature
experience their post-meditation. the copper light of reality, and the second is how
The next section is an expla- they meditate on it from the
nation of the qualities of the of the sun before perspective of relative reality,
ground itself, and has two parts. it rises from the perspective of superficial
The first is an explanation of how appearances or conventional
the practice of the perfection of reality. From the perspective of
patience becomes superior here, how it comes to ultimate or genuine reality, the third verse
the fore. And then there is an explanation of the reads:
other good qualities that come on this ground.
First, in the description of patience, there is a For the bodhisattvas who see selflessness,
description of how patience itself becomes The flesh cut off of them, the one who is cutting,
superior. Then there is a description of how the length of time cut, and the manner in which
it is done—
patience is meditated upon, and finally, there is
All these phenomena they see are like reflec-
a description of the different types of patience. tions,
As to the description of how patience be- And for this reason as well they are patient. (3)
comes superior, the second verse reads:
The commentary reads: “And not only this,
Even if someone becomes enraged with a
which refers to what just came before, but the
bodhisattva, who is not an appropriate object of
anger, bodhisattvas who see selflessness see that the
And cuts the flesh and bone from their body flesh that is cut off them, the person who is
Ounce by ounce over a long period of time, cutting them, the length of time during which it
The bodhisattva’s patience with the one who is is being cut, and the way in which the person is
cutting grows even greater. (2) cutting them, their style, all of these phenomena,
the bodhisattvas see are just like reflections and
The commentary reads: “If it should happen nothing more than that. And it is for this reason
that even though there is no good reason why as well that the bodhisattvas are able to be so
anybody should get angry at this bodhisattva on incredibly patient.”
the third ground, this bodhisattva who is not an From the perspective of relative truth, there
appropriate object of anger, if some angry person are three main subdivisions. The first is that one
wants to fight with them and cuts the meditates on patience after having thought
38 SHENPEN ÖSEL
about the faults of anger, about what is wrong the future.”
with anger. The second is to meditate on pa- The second way to meditate on patience is to
tience after thinking about the good qualities or think about how anger is illogical because when
the benefits that patience brings. These are the you get angry, it turns something good into
two main points, and the third section, which is something bad. This is explained in the fifth
a concluding verse, brings these two ideas to- verse, which reads:
gether, the faults of anger and the good qualities
of patience. The harm one experiences is said to be the very
Concerning the faults of anger, there are four thing
different parts. The first is that anger is illogical That exhausts whatever wrong deeds one per-
formed in the past.
because it brings no benefit. The second is that
So why would the bodhisattva, through anger and
anger is illogical because it turns something harming another,
good into something bad. The third is that one Again plant the seeds for future suffering to be
thinks about what an incredibly powerful nega- endured? (5)
tive state of mind anger is. And finally, one
thinks of the great variety of faults that come And the commentary reads: “When somebody
about due to anger. For each of these reasons one harms us now, that is the result of some negative
meditates on patience. Anger brings no benefits, action that we did to them in the past. So we are
turns something good into some- just getting that harm in return.
thing bad, is an incredibly power- And when we experience that
ful state of negativity, and has Anger brings no harm in return, then that elimi-
many flaws. The fourth verse, nates the debt; it exhausts the
stating that anger brings no benefits, turns negative deeds we performed in
benefit, reads: something good the past. It is the harm we experi-
ence that causes this exhaustion
Once the harm is done, if one
into something
of negative deeds. So if that is the
becomes angry, bad, is an case, then why would bodhisatt-
Does that anger reverse what has
happened? incredibly vas get angry at the person who is
Therefore, anger certainly brings doing them harm? Why would
no benefit here,
powerful state of they bring suffering to themselves
And will be of detriment in future negativity, and through further anger? When you
lives as well. (4) get angry, you only plant again the
has many flaws seeds for future suffering. So why
The commentary reads: “If would you turn something good,
someone does one harm, and then which is the exhaustion of nega-
one gets angry at the person who has committed tive deeds, into something bad, which would be
this harm, then the question is, ‘Does that anger the seed of experiencing suffering in the future?
change anything? Does it reverse what has It makes no sense, which is why bodhisattvas do
already happened?’” This is a rhetorical ques- not get angry, but instead practice patience.”
tion, because the text goes on to say, “Therefore, The sixth verse explains how bodhisattvas
getting angry definitely brings no benefit; it does meditate on patience, contemplating what an
not accomplish anything and does cause one incredibly powerful negativity anger is:
suffering, because anger is not a very pleasant
state to be in. It does not bring any benefit here Since getting angry with bodhisattvas
in this life, and also after death, in future lives, Instantly destroys all the virtue
it will bring suffering, because the result of being That generosity and discipline have accumulated
angry is the experience of unpleasant karma in over a hundred eons,

SHENPEN ÖSEL 39
There is no greater negativity than impatience. that the bodhisattva’s vow is to attain enlighten-
(6) ment for the benefit of all sentient beings. Get-
ting angry with somebody is contradictory to
So the commentary here reads: “If one gets that vow, [and so it has grave consequences.]
angry at a bodhisattva—bodhisattvas who have The first three lines of the seventh verse
only great loving kindness and compassion— explains how bodhisattvas meditate on patience,
then in an instant this anger destroys all the contemplating the many flaws of impatience:
virtue, generosity, right conduct or discipline
that one has accumulated over the course of a It makes one ugly, brings one close to those not
hundred eons. Therefore, there is no more genuine,
powerful, no stronger or greater negativity than And robs one of the ability to discriminate right
impatience.” To explain this further it says, “If it from wrong.
is a bodhisattva who gets angry at a Impatience quickly hurls one into the lower
realms— (7abc)
bodhisattva—if they are equal bodhisattvas—
then one instant of anger destroys a hundred
The first fault of anger men-
eons [of accumulated merit and
tioned here is that it makes one
virtue,] but if it is an ordinary
person who gets angry at a If a bodhisattva look ugly. You may be a very beau-
tiful looking person, but anger
bodhisattva, then it destroys a gets angry at a instantly makes your face into
thousand eons’ worth.” And if a
bodhisattva gets angry at a
bodhisattva, then something repulsive. Anger also
leads you into the company of
bodhisattva in a way that does one instance of those who are not genuine beings.
not even manifest as actions of
body and speech, but just as a
anger destroys a This could also be read to mean
hundred eons of that it causes you to be reborn as
mental state, then for however
someone who is not a genuine
many instances of angry mind accumulated being.*** Anger also robs one of
they have, for that many kalpas
do they have to continue to wear merit and virtue the ability to discriminate right
from wrong. It agitates the mind,
their armor [of patience]. For that
makes us blind, covering over our
many kalpas do they have to
intelligence or prajna. Thus, we no longer make
continue to practice. For example, if the
good decisions. These flaws of anger affect us in
bodhisattva is on the great path of accumulation,
this life, but anger and impatience can also affect
on the highest level of the first of the five paths
us in our next life, because they can quickly hurl
leading to buddhahood, and they are ready to
us into the lower realms. So, thinking about all
progress to the path of junction, but they get
of these faults of anger, one meditates on pa-
angry at a bodhisattva who has already received
tience.
a prophecy of enlightenment,* then for as many
Having examined the faults of anger, the text
instances as they had that angry mind, for that
many eons will they not be able to progress to
**Editor’s note: In 1982, when teaching the paramita of
the next path, the path of junction. For that patience, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught that one
many eons they will have to continue training instance of anger destroys kalpas and kalpas of accumulated
merit, but added that one should also know that one instance
where they are.** The reason that this is so is of patience in the face of great anger accumulates many
kalpas of merit.
*Editor’s note: It is taught that when a bodhisattva attains
the eighth bodhisattva ground—after which they experience ***Editor’s note: The word genuine is very often now being
no further kleshas and therefore no longer create karma—they used to translate the Tibetan word dampa, which previously
receive a prophecy directly from the buddhas or from their had been translated as holy. Whether genuine is being used
yidam predicting precisely when they will attain buddhahood here in this sense, or in the ordinary sense of being sincere,
and bestowing on them a new name. straightforward, and non-deceptive is not clear.

40 SHENPEN ÖSEL
in the last line of the seventh verse and in the Even though dedicated to the enlightenment of
eighth verse examines the good qualities of perfect buddhahood,
patience: If it focuses on the three spheres, it is worldly.
When there is no focus, the Buddha taught,
Patience brings out the good qualities opposite to This is a transcendent perfection beyond the
these. (7d) world. (10)

Patience makes one beautiful and endears one to When one practices patience, meaning that
the genuine beings. one refrains from being angry at the person who
It brings one skill in knowing what is appropriate does one harm, even if one practices this pa-
and what is not. tience as a means to attain the enlightenment of
Later it brings birth as a human or a god perfect buddhahood and dedicates the merit
And exhaustion of negative deeds as well. (8)
arising out of one’s practice of patience to that
attainment, still, if while practicing patience one
The good qualities that patience brings out,
focuses on the three spheres as being real, then
which are the opposites of the faults of anger,
one’s practice is still worldly. However, if there is
are listed in the eighth verse. Patience gives one
no such focus on these three spheres as being
a beautiful appearance. The practice of patience
real, then the Buddha taught that one’s practice
endears one to the genuine beings. Furthermore,
of the paramita is a transcendent perfection
the practice of patience protects one’s intelli-
which goes beyond the world. Therefore, it
gence from degeneration; in face one’s intelli-
would be better if we did not take these three
gence will grow stronger, enabling one to know
spheres to be real.
even more clearly what is and is not appropriate
Next is a praise of the other qualities that
to do. A further good consequence of patience is
come on this third ground:
that its practice brings one birth as a god or as a
human being in the future, as well as the exhaus-
On this ground the Victor’s heirs gain the
tion of negative actions and negative mental samadhis and clairvoyances,
states such as anger. Desire and aversion are completely exhausted,
The concluding verse of this particular sub- And they are ever able to vanquish
section states both the faults of anger and the The desire experienced by worldly beings. (11)
good qualities of patience:
The commentary reads: “On this third
Ordinary beings and heirs of the Victor ground, The Luminous, the heirs of the Victor
Should realize the faults of anger and the good gain four formless samadhis or states of medita-
qualities of patience, tive concentration, the four immeasurables, as
Abandon impatience, and always quickly rely well as the five types of clairvoyance.” They gain
On the patience praised by the noble ones. (9) these special meditative and mental abilities, as
well as seeing, according to the root verse, that
The commentary reads that, “Ordinary desire and aversion are completely exhausted.*
individuals, meaning those who do not realize According to the commentary, desire, aversion,
the truth, and the spiritual heirs of the Victor, and ignorance—which are the three root mental
the bodhisattvas who do, should both know the afflictions—are completely exhausted, meaning
faults of ordinary beings’ anger and the good
qualities of the patience practiced by bodhisatt- *Editor’s note: As translator Ari Goldfield explained, the root
text explicitly mentions desire and aversion as completely
vas, and knowing that, should abandon impa- exhausted; the commentary also mentions ignorance as being
tience and always quickly and closely rely on the exhausted. This is definitely the case—on each bhumi, the
bodhisattvas eliminate more and more of the cognitive
patience praised by noble beings.”
obscurations as their realization of emptiness gets clearer
Next there is a discussion of the different and clearer. These cognitive obscurations come under the
types of patience. Verse ten reads: heading of ignorance.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 41
that everything which they give up on this The heirs of the Victor, abiding in the sun, these
particular ground they give up completely. The luminous ones,
reason that they are able to realize these quali- First perfectly dispel the darkness present in
themselves,
ties and to give up what they need to give up is
And then fervently yearn to vanquish the dark-
that they have the patience which is not afraid of ness in others.
profound emptiness. This particular type of On this ground, though incredibly sharp, they do
patience is able to bear patiently and without not become angry. (13)
being afraid the profundity of the true nature of
reality. Therefore, these bodhisatt- The commentary reads that,
vas are always able to vanquish the because of the brilliance of their
desire experienced by ordinary
Because of the luminosity, it is as though the
beings in the desire realm, and in brilliance of their heirs of the Victor who have
this way they become like Indra* in reached the third ground abide
luminosity, it is as
the sense that they are able to lead in the sun. Their brilliance first
beings out of the mud of their though the heirs perfectly dispels the darkness of
desire. Indra is just an example of the Victor who ignorance in their own mind-
here. It is not particularly clear stream; the darkness, which was
why he is used, but the main point have reached the the obstacle to their reaching
is that bodhisattvas on this ground third ground the third ground, is dispelled by
are able to lead beings out of the their brilliance the moment they
mud of desire and attachment in
abide in the sun take birth on it. Thereafter, they
which they are stuck. fervently yearn to remove the
The concluding two verses of this chapter are darkness in the mind-streams of other beings,
a common summary of the three paramitas which darkness prevents these other beings
discussed this far in the text and a further from reaching the same level of attainment, and
particular summary of this third ground. The through teaching the dharma the luminous
common summary, contained in verse twelve, bodhisattvas are able to cause them to do so.
reads: Since they have been able to eliminate the dark-
ness and the faults that had prevented them
Generosity and so forth—these three dharmas from reaching this ground, the faculties of these
The Sugata particularly praised to lay people. bodhisattvas are incredibly sharp, like the
They are also the accumulation of merit brilliance of the rays of the sun. Even so, they do
And the causes of the Buddha’s form body. (12)
not get frustrated with people who are not so
sharp. They do not get angry at beings who still
The commentary reads: “Generosity and so
have lots of faults, because the bodhisattvas’
forth—meaning generosity, discipline, and
mind-streams are oiled by the good qualities of
patience—the Buddha in his teachings particu-
their compassion. They are made soft by the
larly praised to lay bodhisattvas. Their practice
quality of their compassion and because they
also generates the accumulation of merit, and at
practice patience.
the time of the fruition of buddhahood, these
accumulations of merit become the cause of the
Buddha’s form kaya, form body.
The thirteenth verse is a particular summary
N ext comes the name of the chapter from the
text called Entrance to the Middle Way, The
Third Generation of the Mind of Ultimate
of the third ground:
Bodhicitta. Now let’s recite the root verses
together. [Students recite.]
*Editor’s note: Indra is one of the gods in the Hindu pan- Now let’s sing The Anger Cooling Song. (See
theon. page 43.) Milarepa sang this song to Rechungpa

42 SHENPEN ÖSEL
The Anger Cooling Song
(Sung to restrain Rechungpa from attacking the scholar insulting his guru)

Oh jewel that crowns my head, oh lord and The king of dharmic conduct is the snow
guardian of beings, mountain.
Kind Marpa, yours the feet at which I bow. Son, make your lion cub of awareness extra
Send your blessing that turns adverse condi- strong.
tions into path. Don’t let your lion cub’s extra strength go weak
Rechung, son, please listen just a moment, on you.
keep your head. If you let your lion cub’s extra strength go weak
on you,
Practitioners whose bellies and mouths are full, There’s a danger in the blizzard of eight
When things go against them act like every- dharmas it will get lost.
body else, Son, Rechungpa, please listen to your lama’s
Let their tempers run away, make their own warning words.
suffering.
To pick a fighting partner is to lose it all for The king of dharmic fruit is like a jewel-en-
sure. crusted isle.
Son, wait a minute, listen to your lama’s Let your merchant youngster of awareness set
words. up shop.
Don’t let your merchant youngster’s vigilance
The king of dharmic view is like the sky. go weak on you.
Son, train awareness’ garuda chick-like wings. If you let your merchant youngster’s vigilance
Don’t let your garuda youthful wings go weak go weak on you,
on you. There’s a danger that the jewel of pure being
If you let your garuda wings go weak on you, will get lost.
There’s a danger you’ll fall down in the ravine Son, Rechungpa, please listen to your lama’s
of narrow mind. warning words.
Son, Rechungpa, please listen to your lama’s
warning words. Don’t let your anger get out of hand, my son.
The first one to be burned will be your own
The king of dharmic meditation is the sea. mind-stream.
Son, make your little fish of awareness extra Don’t let your feelings get the upper hand, my
strong. son.
Don’t let your little fish’s extra strength go But use the remedy, apply the antidote.
weak on you.
If you let your little fish’s extra strength go Kamalashila, Schloss Wachendorf, Germany, August 23,
weak on you, 1994
There’s a danger it will slip into delusion’s net.
Son, Rechungpa, please listen to your lama’s
warning words.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 43
when he was about to beat Dharlo. After hearing Translator: The Tibetan for a genuine being, or
it, Rechungpa calmed down, so it is a very good as Rinpoche prefers, a holy person, used to be
song. It gives instructions on how to meditate on translated as saint.
patience by remembering the profound view,
how to meditate on patience by remembering the Rinpoche: Genuine beings are those one will
profound meditation, how to meditate on pa- become close to or by whom one will be well
tience by remembering the profound conduct, regarded. There is some quality of being good
and how to meditate on patience by remember- here, of having a quality of genuineness. Those
ing the profound fruition or result. Having heard who do not have this good quality will regard an
the song, Rechungpa thought about the profound angry person as being good. So, if you get angry,
view, meditation, conduct, and fruition, and this you will find yourself attracting the company of
helped him to practice patience. If you do not those who do not have this quality of goodness or
meditate on and practice patience, your view, genuineness.*
meditation, conduct, and fruition may all be very If you get angry at somebody, then** we can
profound, but they will still fall apart. But if you tell that you are not a genuine being. Whether or
do meditate on patience, they will get better and not someone is a genuine being is not something
better. [Students sing.] that we can know directly. We can only know it
Are there any questions? through inference, through watching what
happens. If somebody practices patience very
Question: In verses 7 and 8, there is a reference well, even though they are experiencing a lot of
to bringing one close to those not genuine. Does harm, that is a sign that they are such a genuine
that refer to those who have an understanding of being.
the genuine nature of reality? Even worldly good qualities diminish

*Editor’s note: Translators into the English language have is a ‘pags pa,’ meaning, someone who has realized ‘don dam
for some time struggled with how to translate the Tibetan bden pa.’ In English, this would be: A ‘genuine being’ is
term dampa. Originally it was generally translated as “holy,” someone who has realized ‘genuine reality,’ and therefore is
but because in our daily western experience there was very genuine and true, undeceiving and totally dedicated to helping
little objective frame of reference for the term holy, and others to realize the same thing.”
because the frame of reference that came from the interface However, if one returns to the Old English root of the word
with Tibetan Buddhism—the many extraordinary beings who “holy,” which is halig, we find that it is a cognate of the Old
were so direct, down to earth, humorous, unpretentious, and English hal, meaning whole. Here, one gets back to the notion
genuine, and yet were able to show one profound dimensions of of whole, to the notion of being undivided in any sense,
experience and awareness that one had never seen before and undivided against oneself in the sense of not engaging in
could never have imagined existed before meeting them— actions of body, speech, and mind that one does not thoroughly
because these interfaces had so little to do with the notions of believe in, and, more fundamentally, undivided in the sense of
holiness that we had imagined in the absence of genuine not still being subject to dualistic perception and the funda-
examples of it, an effort has been made to find an alternative mental samsaric split between a self, to whose falsely
translation to the term “holy” that would avoid all the theistic imagined self interest we cling, and others, on whom we fixate
overtones of perfect conventional goodness and righteousness as being desirable, threatening, and/or irrelevant, and whom
and any notions of elevated status that had accreted in our we strive to manipulate to fulfill our most current samsaric
ignorance to the term “holy.” One alternative to “holy” is the agenda for personal happiness. If we understand holy as that
term genuine. In this regard, Rinpoche’s translator Ari fundamental non-conceptual absence of dualistic clinging and
Goldfield writes: fixation, not only as it pertains to behavior, but more impor-
“The Tibetan for ‘genuine being’ is ‘skyes bu dam pa.’ ‘Holy tantly, as it pertains to the very root of perception, then holy
being’ is how it used to be translated, which is how Rinpoche might seem to be quite a good translation for dampa. It is,
picked up on “holy man.” But most translators these days after all, that very absence of dualistic clinging and fixation
avoid the word ‘holy,’ not only because of its theistic religious that makes great beings so totally present, so down to earth,
connotations, but also because ‘genuine’ seems more accurate. so alive, friendly, humorous, and affectionate, and at the same
‘sKyes bu’ means person. The adjective ‘dam pa’ is used in ‘don time makes them the embodiment of primordial, undeluded,
dam bden pa,’ frequently translated as ‘ultimate truth,’ but transcendent knowing and compassionate skillful means.
better translated, I think, as ‘genuine reality.’ ‘Dam pa’ is also
found in ‘yi dam’ where, Ponlop Rinpoche says, it means ‘close,’ **Editor’s note: Bodhisattvas sometimes manifest anger or
as in this case, close to your ‘yid’ or mind. So it seems there to wrath, as Rinpoche indicates in the question and answer
have the sense of ‘genuine’ and ‘true.’ According to the Great period, because it is either the only way or the most effective
Tibetan Dictionary (tshig mdzod chen mo) a ‘skyes bu dam pa’ way of benefiting a particular student.

44 SHENPEN ÖSEL
through anger. People in the world like to look Question: Can Rinpoche expand on what consti-
beautiful, but when they get angry, their beauti- tutes a god and when do humans, for instance,
ful faces turn ugly. Also, when people get angry, become gods?
their intelligence and common sense go away,
and they are no longer able to know what is right Rinpoche: The type of god or deity referred to
to do and what is not right to do. here is not a yidam deity. These are samsaric
gods living in samsaric realms. There are gods in
Question: Could you talk a little the desire realm, the form realm
more about patience when you are and the formless realm. Here in
listening to the dharma, patience It is possible to particular, Chandrakirti is talk-
with your own mind in practice, be afraid of the ing about gods in the desire realm
and patience and fearlessness who still like to enjoy material
with regard to emptiness? profundity of pleasures. One can be reborn in
emptiness, so we any one of six levels of god realms
Rinpoche: It is possible to be in the desire realm. But these are
afraid of the profundity of empti- need to develop samsaric beings, not yidam dei-
ness, so we need to develop the the patience that ties. Of these six types of gods,
patience that is not afraid of that two of them live on the earth and
profundity. If we do, then we will
is not afraid of four live in the clouds in the sky,
be able to realize the emptiness that profundity and they all have a great amount
that is the nature of reality, and of attachment to material things.
then meditating on and practicing They are attached to objects of
patience will be even easier. pleasure, so they are just like people in this
If you have this patience which is not afraid regard, and that is why they are in the desire
of emptiness, then you can also see that the realm. The bodies of these gods are very subtle,
person who is doing us harm is just a mere so normally we cannot see them. Our bodies are
dependently arisen appearance, that the harm coarse, so the gods can see us, but ordinarily we
they are doing is just a mere dependently arisen cannot see them. There are some human beings
appearance, and that we who are experiencing who can see them, but if we do not have the eyes
the harm are just a mere dependently arisen of wisdom that can see that sort of thing, we will
appearance, too. None of these three spheres is not be able to see them.
real, and realizing this enables us more easily to The bodies of deities are similar to our body
meditate on and practice patience. If we dream in a dream. Our body in a dream is something
but do not know we are dreaming, we will not be subtle that other people cannot see and bodies of
able to practice patience because we will think deities are just like that. If there are gods, there
that the one who is doing us harm, the harm we are also demons. If you exist in a system that
are experiencing, and we ourselves who are the believes in these things, you have gods on the
one experiencing harm are all real. On the other one hand and demons on the other. And if there
hand, if we dream and we know we are dream- can be gods that you cannot see and demons that
ing, then when somebody comes along and treats you cannot see, then there can also be yidam
us badly, we know it is just a dream and, there- deities on which we can meditate. So everything
fore, no big deal. The harm we are experiencing works out well. Most religious traditions, in fact,
and we ourselves are also just dream appear- assert the existence of beings you cannot see,
ances. It is very easy to meditate on and to assert that there exist beings, gods and demons,
practice patience when you know that it is all who have subtle bodies. We just cannot see them.
just a dream. That is the difference. Of course nowadays there are also a lot of people
who think that if you cannot see it, it does not

SHENPEN ÖSEL 45
exist. But once you think a bit about how sen- have sung a lot of songs about how wonderfully
tient beings appear in dreams with subtle bodies open and spacious and easy an experience it is.
that others cannot see, then slowly one will This verse by Shantideva has been put to song
begin to accept the possibility and it goes like this: [Translator
that there might be sentient sings, then students sing.]
beings who exist even though we If you realize the
cannot see their subtle bodies. In nature of mind, Question: When the text talks
the tradition of the mahayana, about a transcendent perfection’s
the great vehicle of Buddhism,
then everything being either worldly or beyond the
beings with coarse bodies and becomes open, world, what is the world being
beings with subtle ones are the talked about here, and what does
same in that neither of them are
spacious, and it mean to say that something is
real; neither of them really exist. relaxed beyond it?
They are all equally like dreams,
like illusions, like the reflection Rinpoche: Here, world and be-
of the moon in a pool of water. As the yond the world refers to the individuals or
bodhisattva Shantideva said in his wisdom beings, both human and non-human, in question.
chapter of The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Con- Worldly beings are beings whose minds are
duct, confused and therefore have no independence.
They are completely under the power of their
Then wanderers, these dream like beings, what karma and experience a vast array of different
are they? kinds of suffering as a result. Beings who have
If analyzed they’re like a banana tree. gone beyond the world are defined as those
One cannot make definitive distinctions
whose minds are not confused and are therefore
Between transcending misery and not.
completely open and spacious and relaxed, and
do not have the same kinds of difficulties. In
The comparison of beings to a banana tree
short, if a person is confused and mistaken with
has to do with their bodies. If you cut open a
regard to the way they perceive things, then
banana tree, there is nothing on the inside, and
they are a worldly person. On the other hand, if
it is similar with sentient beings. If you analyze
someone is not confused, is not mistaken, then
their bodies, you only find smaller and smaller
they realize the nature of reality and are on the
particles that in the final analysis, or under
path of greater and greater realization. These
more and more subtle investigation, do not
latter beings are said to be beyond the world.*
themselves exist. It turns out that there is
The unmistaken and unconfused path starts
nothing really there. This is an analysis of the
when someone gains the first bodhisattva
bodies of sentient beings, not an analysis of their
ground. At that point, one is called a noble or an
minds. If you analyze beings’ minds in contrast to
their bodies, what you find is that the nature of
*Editor’s note: In this regard it is important to understand
mind transcends all conceptual fabrication as to that ordinary beings can have glimpses, momentary experi-
what it might be, and that therefore it is of the ences (nyam in Tibetan) of the enlightened state, but that
these always dissolve, leaving one with memories but still
nature of great openness and spaciousness and living in a samsaric world replete with anxiety, frustration,
relaxedness. If it is luminosity, it is not like a and various types of suffering. Beginning with the first
banana tree. If you realize the nature of mind, bodhisattva ground, the bodhisattva’s awareness during
meditation is said to be essentially the same as a buddha’s,
then everything becomes open, spacious, and but different at other times. When not meditating, the
relaxed. Just let go and rest very naturally and bodhisattva sees the world like a dream, or like the reflection
of the moon in water, like an illusion, like a magical display,
loosely. If you do so, sooner or later you will see like a hallucination, like a rainbow, a flash of lightning, or an
why the mahasiddhas, the great men and women echo, etc. A buddha’s awareness is said to be totally
who realized and still realize the nature of mind unobscured, the same during meditation and post-meditation.

46 SHENPEN ÖSEL
exalted being, though there is still a lot of confu- people in that particular place are not really
sion left to be purified on the ten bodhisattva ready for a buddha, then buddhas take birth
grounds. When one reaches the level of enlight- there as persons skilled in crafts, or art, or
enment, then all confusion is completely erased literature, or something like that, and are able
or eliminated. At that point there is no confusion to make brilliant contributions and develop and
left at all, which is the definition of enlighten- invent things that no one was able to invent
ment. Ordinary or worldly beings are like those before. This does not refer to the people who
who do not know that they are dreaming. Noble made the atom bomb, because skilled emana-
bodhisattvas are like those who know they are tions do not make things that are harmful to
dreaming, and buddhas are like those who have people; they make only things that are helpful to
awakened completely. people. In India, for example,
there was a king named
Question: What is the form body What are Bishokarma. His name means
of a buddha, and what are its “great variety of activity,” signify-
causes? ordinary beings ing that this particular king
able to see? invented lots of things that no one
Rinpoche: This term body comes had ever heard of or seen before.
from the Sanskrit kaya, which is We see the That king was said to be an ema-
an honorific term for body. You nirmanakaya, the nation of the Buddha.
could also call it a dimension of
enlightenment. The ultimate or
emanation body Question: Sometimes getting
actual dimension or body of the angry seems to lead to a good
enlightenment of the buddha is the dharmakaya, result, maybe not directly because of the anger,
which refers to the enlightened mind itself. As but it seems that sometimes as an indirect result
sentient beings the enlightened mind is some- something good happens. An example might be
thing we cannot see. So how is a buddha going to when people are experiencing injustice. Can
relate to us? A buddha relates to us through the Rinpoche please comment on anger in the con-
form dimension of their enlightenment, through text of social movements and human rights
their form body, which is two-fold. There is the movements?
sambhogakaya, which is translated as the enjoy-
ment body, and the nirmanakaya, which is the Rinpoche: When you are talking about human
emanation body. The samboghakaya is like the rights [and movements to secure human rights],
five buddha families, which only bodhisattvas on then the root motivation to benefit others—
the ten bhumis can see. What are ordinary wanting people to have freedom and a decent
beings able to see? We see the nirmanakaya, the life—is very good. In such situations there may
emanation body, of which there are three differ- temporarily be a bit of anger, but that is some-
ent types. The first is called the supreme emana- thing different. It is not the same type of anger
tion body, which is like Shakyamuni Buddha, like as that which is being talked about here, which
the emanation body of a buddha as it appears to is necessary to avoid and in reference to which it
ordinary beings. Then there is also the born is necessary to practice patience, because the
emanation body. That is its literal translation. root motivation is to do good for others. So it can
This refers to a buddha’s body when the buddha be like that, too.
takes birth as a fish, a bird, or some other animal
or ordinary being to be of benefit to beings in Question: Thank you. Why were generosity,
that way. And then there is also what is called discipline, and patience praised to lay people in
the skilled emanation body. At a time when a particular?
world is in a particular state of darkness and

SHENPEN ÖSEL 47
Rinpoche: The reason is that householder is taught in all the other religions that I usually
bodhisattvas have something to give away. They do not associate with Buddhism. Is this the
have possessions with which they can practice profound requirement of patience you are refer-
generosity. That is why generosity was taught to ring to, to be able to endure, to be able to perse-
them. Along with generosity they need right vere through these experiences of inadequacy
conduct, discipline, and patience. On the and all of the other things that we feel?
bodhisattva path, out of loving kindness and
compassion, one acts in order to be of benefit to Rinpoche: There are stages in the presentation
others. Thus, it is taught that it is good to accu- of the teachings that we need to be aware of.
mulate wealth so that one can give it away to First, things are explained to us from the per-
benefit others. That is why there were bodhisatt- spective of our faults, the faults of being in
vas who were monarchs, ministers, business samsara, and what is wrong with our status as a
tycoons, and great land owners who accumulated samsaric being. And then we do get frustrated;
wealth and then gave it away for the benefit of we do feel inadequate and inferior and think, “I
others. That is the path of the householder am a lousy person and I have all sorts of faults.”
bodhisattva, and that is how it was taught. When Then when we are totally convinced of all the
bodhisattvas are in such positions of power and faults we have, it is explained to us that faults
wealth, they need to practice do not really exist: First it is
generosity, right conduct and explained that there is no one to
It is taught that
discipline, and patience. Similarly have any faults, because there is
bodhisattvas can assume the roles it is good to no self in the individual; and then
of doctors, nurses, and a wide accumulate it is explained that the faults
variety of other professions and themselves do not really exist,
occupations, and in all cases they wealth so that because phenomena do not really
need generosity, discipline, and one can give it exist. So we learn about the two
patience. So, for example, if you types of selflessness just when we
are a doctor or a nurse, then you
away to benefit are feeling really bad about
need generosity in the sense of others ourselves as a result of the origi-
wanting to give medicines and nal explanation of ourselves as
medical attention to people. You defective samsaric beings, and so
need good conduct, and you also need to be everything turns out very well.
patient with those who might do you harm. So Another way to explain things is that first we
those three are important for lay people. have great attachment to our own existence and
to what we perceive as the good things about it.
Question: I have a lot of difficulty with the Then it is explained to us that samsara is of the
mahayana in general. Before an ordinary being nature of suffering and that nirvana, the state of
has direct experience of emptiness of self and liberation, is something wonderful. Finally, when
phenomena then it seems that trying to follow we gain certainty in that, that it is really true,
the paramitas up to that point does not diminish then it is explained to us that samsara does not
suffering but in fact increases suffering. On the really exist and that nirvana does not really
one hand, you have the actual fact, “I am angry, I exist either. They are explained as being of the
am jealous, I have all of these faults that I am nature of equality.
not supposed to have,” and on the other hand, To explain how the stages of the path work
there is an ideal presented to us about the way from the perspective of the middle way, the
things should be, and there is a tremendous gap madhyamaka, first, in order to get people to give
between the two of them, which creates terrible up negative activity, the cause and result of
suffering. It seems like the same kind of gap that karma are explained. The causes and results of

48 SHENPEN ÖSEL
different karmic acts are explained in detail so and suffering? Where do they come from?” They
that you know that engaging in virtuous activity come from karma, they come from good deeds
leads to happiness and engaging in unvirtuous and bad deeds, which is the explanation that
activity leads to suffering. This is all explained reverses the tendency towards not having any
as if it were real. Then, when you have gained merit. Finally, you explain that the nature of
confidence in the law of karma and have given reality lies beyond all conceptual fabrications.
up negative activity, then it is It is possible that if you ex-
explained that none of it is real, plain the first stage first—that if
that there is no self, no action, [no First you you explain that engaging in
cause and affect,] no phenomena. learn about negative actions leads to suffering
And then finally, when you are not only in the human realm but
certain nothing is real, that in
selflessness, then also to birth in the hell realms and
fact there is no real or true exist- you learn about hungry ghost realms—people
ence in anything, including cause might get too frightened.*** So it
and affect, then it is explained
virtuous activity, is better to explain things that
that the nature of reality tran- and finally you reasoning can accept, things that
scends all conceptual fabrications have logical proofs. For example,
learn about the
about what it might or might not you can prove that there is no self.
be. All experience and all phe- freedom from all You can prove that things do not
nomena are of the nature of conceptual really exist. So you start there and
simplicity in the sense that they then go on from there. That is a
are free of any conceptual fabrica- fabrications good way proceed.
tion about their nature, that they
are of the nature of equality. This Question: I am having a hard
is how the noble Aryadeva, the student and heart time with the notion of a succession of lifetimes
son of the protector Nagarjuna, explained things. and reincarnation, which seems to be central to
First you reverse your tendency towards having
no merit, which is the explanation of karma. *Editor’s note: Traditionally it was held in the Buddhist
tradition to be very dangerous to teach emptiness to begin-
Having started accumulating merit, you then ners, because they might as a consequence conclude
reverse the belief in the self. Finally, you reverse nihilistically that since nothing exists, then nothing matters
and one may do whatever one wants. Such a conclusion could
all views altogether through training in freedom
lead them to engage in negative actions which would lead
from conceptual fabrications. Those who under- them into hellish states, which would certainly be empty of
stand and have accomplished all of these are inherent existence, but would be experienced by the equally
non-existent beings as being very real and immensely painful.
wise. This is how Arydeva explained it. Since a great many people in this day and age already hold a
This is an age when people are very smart; nihilistic point of view, it turns out to be very skillful to teach
they study a lot and have a lot of analytical emptiness first, but then to explain to them that emptiness is
simply the true nature of karmic interdependence and cause
ability. At such a time it is permissible to put the and effect, which all seem very real and potentially very
second stage first. First you learn about selfless- painful if one misbehaves, until one actually attains stable
“realization” of emptiness in a direct, non-conceptual, valid
ness, then you learn about virtuous activity, and way.
finally you learn about the freedom from all
**Editor’s note: See Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 2, No. 2, page 20
conceptual fabrications.* First you use reason— (footnote) and page 28.
for example the logic which proves that things
***Editor’s note: It is also possible that the student might
do not exist because they are neither one nor have the rather common modern-day notion that dimensions
many—to prove that there is no self and no of experience like the hells and the realms of disembodied
phenomena,** that they are not real. Then you spirits do not actually exist, but are simply the paranoid
fantasies of unsophisticated superstitious minds, in which
can ask, “Well then, what about all of these case they may cease to take any further explanation of
relative superficial appearances of happiness Buddhist thought seriously.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 49
the Buddhist way of thinking, as far as improv- the protector Nagarjuna said in his text The
ing your karma is concerned. Would Rinpoche Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way,
comment on this question?
Like a dream, like an illusion,
Rinpoche: From the perspective of the great Like a city of gandharvas,
vehicle, past and future lives are not real. If you That’s how birth and that’s how living,
That’s how dying are taught to be.
posit them as being real, then you cannot prove
that they happen with reasoning. But on the
[Students sing.]
other hand, if you posit them as just being like
That is how the protector Nagarjuna ex-
dream appearances, illusions like the movement
pressed it. If you then ask, “How did the Buddha
of the moon in a pool of water, then you can
teach it,” look at the teachings of the second
prove with reasoning that they exist. You can
turning of the wheel of dharma. In the Sutra of
prove that they have that quality. If you try to
the Noble Collection, the Buddha said,
prove that they are real, you run into a logical
contradiction. To be a sentient being you have to
Know the five skandhas are like an illusion.
have five aggregates, both in the last life and in Don’t separate the illusion from the skandhas.
this life. Well if the five aggregates of this life Free of thinking that anything is real—
are the same five aggregates as in the previous This is perfect wisdom’s conduct at its best!
life, then the five aggregates of the last life must
be permanent. But if, on the other hand, the [Students sing.]
aggregates of this life are different from those of When we recall again and again our certainty
the last life, then the five aggregates from the in this way, then this is called, in the mahayana,
last life must have been cut; they must have the practice of post-meditation samadhi of
ceased. If so, then where did these five aggre- illusion. In the state of meditative equipoise we
gates of this life come from? From space? Did remember again and again the nature of appear-
they come without any cause? You cannot posit ances, and then we meditate in emptiness. Now,
any relationship between the five aggregates of relax and let go within your own basic nature.
this life and those of the last that makes any [pause for meditation]
sense. Therefore, what else could it be, other [Dedication prayers]
than just a mere appearance, like the movement We should sing the aspiration prayer for all
of the moon in a pool of water? It is just a mere beings with whom we have a good or bad connec-
appearance of a succession of lives that is not tion.
really happening but appears to be happening.
On the other hand, if you posit past and All you sentient beings I have a good or bad
connection with,
future lives as being like a moon moving in a
As soon as you have left this confused dimension,
pool of water, then there is no logical flaw in May you be born in the west in Sukhavati,
that, and it can be proven to be like that with And once you’re born there, complete the bhumis
reasoning. The protector Nagarjuna said, “Know and the paths.
that everything is just like the moon’s appear-
ance in a pool of water; it is neither real nor Good night. Sarva Mangalam.
false. If you know that, your mind will not be
stolen by extreme views.” For example, our body
that appears in a dream is not the same as our
body during the day. And our body during the
day is not the same as the body that appears in a
dream. Nevertheless, they both appear. They are
just mere dependently arisen appearances. As

50 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Fourth Mind Generation:


The Radiant

L
et’s sing The Song of Meaningful Connections. [Students sing.
See page 12.] Before listening to the teachings please give rise
to the precious attitude of bodhicitta, which means that for the
benefit of all sentient beings who are as limitless in number as the sky
is vast in extent, please aspire to attain the state of complete and
perfect enlightenment. In order to do that, we must listen to, reflect
upon, and meditate on the teachings of the genuine dharma with great
diligence. This is the precious attitude of bodhicitta; please give rise to
it and listen.
From among all the topics which comprise the genuine dharma,
Rinpoche will explain to us the fourth chapter from the text by the
glorious Chandrakirti, called Entrance to The Middle Way. This chap-
ter discusses the fourth bodhisattva bhumi, called The Radiant. In this
explanation of the fourth bodhisattva ground, the fourth mind genera-
tion in the generation of the ultimate mind of bodhicitta, there are
three parts. The first explains how the practice of diligence becomes
especially prominent here. The second explains the reason behind this
specific name of this particular bodhisattva ground. And the third
explains the extraordinary abandonment that occurs on this bhumi.
The first verse reads:

SHENPEN ÖSEL 51
All good qualities follow after diligence— of the three paths. For it to be considered a
It is the cause of both the accumulations of merit transcendent perfection, a paramita, it has to
and wisdom. have these four characteristics.
The ground where diligence blazes
First, it is able to dispel its opposite. The
Is the fourth, The Radiant. (1)
opposite of diligence is laziness. The paramita,
the transcendent perfection, of diligence dispels
All good qualities basically fall into two
laziness. It can be so strong that there is no
categories. The first, called the category of the
opportunity for laziness to remain anywhere. It
higher states, consists of the good qualities of
can take such firm root in the mind that there is
the happy states in samsara, principally the good
no place in the mind for laziness; the mind
qualities of gods and of human beings. In order
becomes completely inoculated
to be born in one of those realms
with diligence. And so that is the
and acquire the good things that
first defining characteristic.
come with such a rebirth, one The ground on The definition of laziness is to
needs to practice virtuous activi-
ties that benefits others. The
which diligence be faint-hearted, to think, “I
second category, called the cat- blazes, meaning cannot really do it; I cannot attain
the state of liberation; I cannot
egory of true excellence, referring where laziness become enlightened; I am not good
to the three types of enlighten-
ment—the enlightenment of has been enough. I cannot begin by listen-
ing a little and reflecting a little
shravakas, of pratyekabuddhas, completely and meditating a little and moving
and of buddhas—consists of the
good qualities, whether they be eradicated, is on the path from there. It is just
not going to work.” If we have this
samsaric or transcend samsara, the fourth feeling of being inferior and being
that follow upon diligence, which
means that if you have diligence
bodhisattva discouraged, then we cannot
accomplish the goal of the path,
you can produce these qualities ground
and that is laziness. We need to
and if you do not, you cannot.
realize that all of the buddhas who
Without diligence it is impossible.
have come before us started in exactly the same
Any good qualities we experience arise because
place we are now. They all started as ordinary
of our diligence. Diligence is the cause of both
beings. They all had to listen, reflect, meditate,
the accumulations of merit, which has a focus,
and progress in stages on the path. They all had
and the accumulation of wisdom, which is with-
to go through the bodhisattvas’ stages before
out any focal reference. The ground on which
they became buddhas. So, if we think, “I can do
diligence blazes, meaning where laziness has
it; they did it, I can do it,” then that is the type of
been completely eradicated, is the fourth
mental fortitude, courage, and confidence we
bodhisattva ground or bhumi called The Radiant.
need.
The definition of diligence is to delight in
We can, in fact, accomplish the ultimate
virtuous activity. When someone enjoys and is
fruition of enlightenment because every single
enthusiastic about doing good things, then that
sentient being has buddha nature. The basic
is diligence. Four characteristics of diligence are
nature of every sentient being is fundamentally
enumerated in the text called the Mahayana
awake and enlightened. Therefore, all we need
Sutra Lankara or the Ornament of the
do is uncover this enlightened potential through
Mahayana Sutras: Diligence is defined by the
the process of listening, reflecting, and meditat-
disappearance of its opposite; it is embraced by
ing on the path, and then we will realize our
non-conceptual primordial wisdom; it fulfills all
basic nature, which has been there all along. It is
the needs of sentient beings; and it makes them
not the case that only good sentient beings have
happy and causes them to be ripened along one
52 SHENPEN ÖSEL
buddha nature and bad ones do not. Every sen- pearance of qualities to diminish, referring to
tient being, no matter who they are—whether an the second classification of buddha nature. But
animal or any other type of sentient being—has you cannot alter your basic buddha nature, the
buddha nature in exactly the same way. No basic buddha essence, no matter what you do.
sentient being has less of it or more of it; no Even if a person is in a state of intense degen-
sentient being is lacking it while others have it. eration, when the appropriate time comes, they
The enlightened potential per- will again give rise to faith in the
vades every sentient being equally. mahayana and follow the path.
Buddha nature is undifferenti- Buddha nature is There is no ultimate danger [of
ated. It is not differentiated completely and any being ever being eternally
among people according to cast, lost], no matter what they do.
blood line, gender, wealth, reli- fully present in What about beings in the
gious tradition, philosophy, pro- every sentient lower realms, who are experienc-
fundity of view, the absence or ing immense suffering? Is there
presence or degree of faith, or
being; the basic any hope for them? Do they have
intelligence. It pervades every nature of every any way out of their horrible
single sentient being equally and state? Definitely they do. Be-
in the exact same way. It is all
being’s mind is cause of his bad deeds, the Bud-
pervasive in the same way that enlightenment. dha, when he was still an ordi-
butter pervades milk, as sesame Is that not nary sentient being, once took
oil pervades sesame seeds, as pure rebirth in a hell realm. He found
gold and pure silver pervade gold wonderful? himself with a rope tied around
and silver ore. Buddha nature is his waist pulling a wagon. There
completely and fully present in every sentient was another hell being next to
being; the basic nature of every being’s mind is him who was pulling the same wagon, which was
enlightenment. Is that not wonderful? It does very difficult to pull because it was made out of
not matter what degree of faith in the dharma a fire and kept burning them . At that time the
person has. If you have faith, you have buddha Buddha thought, “Why do we both have to go
nature; if you do not have faith, you have buddha through this? It makes no sense; I could do it by
nature. You cannot get rid of it; no matter what myself.”
you do, you always have it. So he asked the next guard he saw, “Excuse
There are two classifications of buddha me, Sir, would it be all right if I pulled my
nature. One is the buddha nature which is the friend’s load so that he could have a rest?”
basic essence of sentient beings, and the other is The guard looked down at him and got really
the buddha nature that is developed on the path, angry. He raised his hammer and exclaimed,
during which the qualities seem to appear “You idiot! Do you not know that every sentient
greater and greater as one progresses on the being has to experience the result of their own
path. With regard to the first, which is the karma?”
buddha nature that is the basic essence of sen- So saying, he struck this sentient being who
tient beings, there is absolutely no difference was later to become the Buddha on the head and
among sentient beings, no matter who they are killed him. But because his last thought was a
or what they are doing. virtuous thought, he was reborn in the god
You can be somebody who hates the dharma, realms. When the Buddha was telling the story
who calls it all different kinds of names. You can of his life, he said, “This was the first altruistic
completely denigrate it. It does not matter; you thought I ever had.” So even beings in the hell
still have buddha nature. You cannot do anything realms will eventually give rise to altruism, be
to your buddha nature. You can cause the ap- reborn in a higher state, and begin to progress

SHENPEN ÖSEL 53
gradually on the path of dharma. our five aggregates, the five skandhas. Individu-
Since every sentient being has as their fun- ally these five aggregates are not the self. If you
damental nature this buddha essence, then isolate and examine each one at them, you can-
when the potential for them to practice dharma not find the self anywhere. If you consider the
awakens, they will begin to practice and can aggregates all together as a group, you cannot
then begin to progress on the way to attaining find the self anywhere.*
the state of complete enlightenment. Buddha So there is no self in the aggregates taken
nature contains the seeds of both compassion either individually or together. Furthermore, the
and wisdom, and therefore, there is no limit to mind which believes in a self is not a self. The
the potential growth of our compassion. It can thought which thinks there is an I, is not the I.
become completely immeasurable like the com- So if we can understand these two things, then
passion of the Buddha. In the same way our we can understand that there is no self in the
intelligence, our prajna or wisdom, can grow individual. This is an inferential beginning of an
until it too becomes completely limitless, the understanding of selflessness, an understanding
omniscience of a buddha. When we have taken inferred on the basis of valid reasoning with
our loving kindness and compassion to its com- logical conclusions.
plete perfection and our wisdom to its complete Then how do we understand the selflessness
perfection, then that is the definition of of phenomena? First we look at all of the forms
buddhahood. When these two qualities have or objects that appear to the eyes, at all of the
grown to their ultimate extent, one manifests
complete awakening. *Editor’s note: It is important to remember that the appear-
Then, because of one’s great compassion one ance of a self is not being referred to here. All sentient beings
experience the appearance of a self, which gives them the
is able to manifest limitless numbers of emana- mistaken impression that there is, in fact, a true self in
tions and perform the benefit of others in a reality. But for a self to be truly existent it must be unitary,
limitless number of ways, and because one’s independent of causes and conditions, and permanent. For
beginners, the aggregate of form appears as matter, material
wisdom is infinite and unlimited, one becomes things—our body and the external objects we encounter, which
unimaginably, even incredibly, skilled, knowing appear to be made up of matter. But all of these material
things are made up of smaller units, so they cannot be
precisely how to benefit all sentient beings in regarded as unitary. They all come into “existence” by virtue of
precise and complete detail. the coming together of causes and conditions, so they cannot
This explanation is of the first quality of be considered as independent of causes and conditions. And
they all are subject to decay, so they cannot be considered
diligence, which is that it defeats laziness. How permanent. Even the smallest particle of matter, since
do we defeat laziness? By thinking about this logically matter is infinitely divisible, cannot be considered
unitary, and so disappears under analysis. Modern science,
and allowing it to fill us with fortitude and after 2,500 years, is now just catching up with this fundamen-
courage and self-confidence that we can, in fact, tal teaching of the Buddha.
do it. Then, when there is no doubt that we can Each of the remaining four aggregates—the aggregates of
feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and
do it, there is no room for laziness, and we consciousnesses—consists of a continuum of mental experi-
become very diligent. ences experienced in time. As groups, the aggregates cannot be
considered unitary, and each moment of mental experience
The second quality of diligence is that, when
arises dependent upon causes and conditions, and so cannot
it is a transcendent perfection, it possesses non- be considered independent of causes and conditions. Since
conceptual primordial wisdom. How do we each aggregate is an ever-changing continuum of different
mental experiences, none of them can be considered perma-
develop non-conceptual primordial wisdom? By nent. And finally, even the smallest or shortest moment of
continuing to develop a deeper and deeper experience has a beginning, middle, and end, so none of them
understanding of the two types of selflessness, can be said to be either unitary of permanent. Therefore, while
sentient beings experience the mistaken impression of an
the selflessness of individuals and the selfless- individual self and of material objects and other selves, in
ness of phenomena. reality, there is no truly existent self anywhere.
For further discussions of selflessness and emptiness, see
How do we come to understand the selfless- Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 2, No. 2; Vol. 3, No. 1; Vol. 3, No. 2; and Vol. 4,
ness of individuals? First we look, one by one, at No. 2.

54 SHENPEN ÖSEL
great variety of sounds that appear to our ears, makes beings happy because it fulfills their
at all of the odors that appear to our noses, at all wishes. The basis of mahayana practice is to help
of the tastes that appear to our tongues, at all of others, to do things that benefit others. That
the physical sensations which appear to our requires diligence. If we practice diligence, we
bodies, and at all of the things we think about. will be of benefit to others and they will be
Looking at every single thing we experience— pleased and made happy by our practice. One
forms, sounds, smells, tastes, things to touch, just follows naturally from the other. The com-
and the phenomena we think about—we can see mentary further instructs that in being diligent,
that they are all just mere appearances. They we should not at the same time be very harsh
are mere dependently arisen and critical towards others.
appearances, dependent upon While striving to accomplish
causes and conditions just like If we practice their benefit, we should not cut
things in dreams, just like illu- them down or speak harshly to
sions. Understanding this, we
diligence, we will them. Instead we should treat
understand that they are all of the be of benefit to them gently and be nice to them.
nature of emptiness, which is the If we do treat them gently and
understanding of the selflessness
others and they nicely at the same time we are
of phenomena. will be pleased working hard to benefit them,
Understanding conceptually and made happy they will actually be made happy
that there is no self in the indi- by what we do.*
vidual and no self entity or inher- by our practice So for example, if we are a
ent existence in phenomena is the teacher, a doctor, a nurse, or
beginning approach to gaining anyone else involved in a profes-
non-conceptual primordial awareness, which is sion beneficial to others, and at the time we are
the second quality of the transcendent perfec- working with people, we are harsh with them
tion of diligence. But how can we begin to bring and display a displeasing demeanor unpleasant
this wisdom into our practice of diligence? We to be around, then our work will be self-contra-
begin by thinking at the time that we are being dictory. On the one hand, we are trying to help
diligent that it is just like being diligent in a people, while on the other, when we come into
dream. The person who appears to be diligent is contact with them, we only make them miser-
not real; the activity in which we are diligent is able. So, we need to conduct ourselves in a
not real; and the object upon which this activity manner opposite to that. We need to act and
is focused is not real. In this way, developmen- appear in ways pleasing to others and make
tally we cut through clinging to the belief in the
reality of the three spheres. When we are dili- *Editor’s note: In this regard, when commenting on the
practice of the bodhisattva path through the various bhumis,
gent in a dream and do not know we are dream- the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught that on
ing, then we believe in the reality of the three the first seven grounds of the bodhisattva path, the
bodhisattva’s conduct was characterized by great gentleness,
spheres and focus on the three spheres. But if but that beginning with the eighth ground of actual
we know we are dreaming and are diligent in bodhisattva attainment, the bodhisattva discovers that it is
our dream, then there is no focus on things as not necessary always to be so polite to samsara. Beginning
with this ground, the bodhisattva no longer gives rise to
being real. Because we know that everything is kleshas, to any form of emotional affliction or conflict.
just a dream appearance, it is impossible to have Therefore, in all circumstances, the bodhisattva’s motivation
will be totally pure and not self-interested, and as a conse-
any type of focus on things as being real, as being quence, their conduct can afford to be much more direct. Under
truly existent. That is the model of the practice certain particular circumstances then, such a bodhisattva
of diligence. might display anger, or speak and act harshly, if it would be of
benefit in that particular situation. This being said, however,
The third quality of the transcendent perfec- it should be noted that in general the bodhisattva continues
tion of diligence is that it makes people happy. It to behave gently and nicely.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 55
them happy. cultivated to an even greater degree what are
The fourth and final characteristic of the known as the thirty-seven branches of perfect
transcendent perfection of diligence discussed in enlightenment, the appearance of their wisdom
this commentary is that it ripens beings in one of is even better than the copper light that was the
the three different ways. If somebody displays metaphor that described its appearance on the
the [comparatively limited] potential to follow third ground. On the third ground the appear-
the shravaka path [— the path of the “listener- ance of wisdom experienced by the bodhisattva
hearers” leading to individual liberation—] then is like the copper light that appears before the
the bodhisattva’s diligence is able sun comes up. On the fourth
to lead them to that fruition. If ground it is superior to that, and
someone is more suited to follow- On this ground, so this ground is called The Radi-
ing the pratyekabuddha path, the the view of self ant. The third ground is called The
path of the solitary sages, [lead- Luminous, but this ground is
ing also to individual liberation],
is thoroughly called The Radiant, like shooting-
then the bodhisattva’s diligence exhausted out light.
leads them in that direction. And And finally, in the third sec-
if somebody is more suited to tion, contained in the last line of
follow the mahayana [path, leading to the libera- the chapter, is a description of the extraordinary
tion of all sentient beings], then the way in which the bodhisattva here is able to
bodhisattva’s diligence leads them in that direc- abandon self and self-entity:
tion. The bodhisattva’s diligence is able to ripen
beings appropriately according to their particu- Everything connected with the views of self and
lar potential and interest. self-entity is completely exhausted. (2d)
Whatever virtue one is practicing, if it has
these four characteristics, then it is the practice In describing what it means to say that
of a transcendent perfection or paramita in the everything connected with the views of self and
practice of the mahayana. In particular, we have self-entity is exhausted, the commentary liter-
been looking at the fourth bodhisattva ground, ally states, “On this ground, ‘the view of self is
on which, among the ten paramitas, the practice thoroughly exhausted.’ This means that the
of diligence becomes predominant, and so we coarse views of the self of the individual and the
have explained these four characteristics, which self of phenomena—that are related to the more
pertain to all the paramitas, from the perspec- subtle views of these two, including the beliefs
tive of diligence. that the self is independent and so forth—are
The second section (contained in the first abandoned. In short, what is to be abandoned on
three lines of the second verse) discusses the this ground, the seeds of believing in the two
etymology behind or the reason that the fourth kinds of self, is vanquished.”
ground is given the name The Radiant: So let us recite these verses together three
times. [Students recite verses.]
Here for the heirs of the Sugatas there dawns an
appearance
Even better than the copper light —
It arises from an even greater cultivation of the
branches of perfect enlightenment. (2abc)

The commentary reads, “On this ground, for


the heirs of the sugatas—the heart sons and
daughters of the buddhas—because they have

56 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Fifth Mind Generation:


The Difficult to Overcome
Even if all of the

N
ext we move maras gang up on
on to the them at once, they are
fifth not strong enough at
bodhisattva ground that point [to over-
and the fifth mind come the
generation, called bodhisattva’s wis-
The Difficult To dom]; the bodhisattva
Overcome: is stronger.
Commenting on
The great beings on the last two lines of
the ground that is the verse describing
Difficult to the qualities of this
Overcome
ground, the commen-
Cannot be defeated
even by all the tary reads, “On this
maras. ground the transcen-
Their meditative dent perfection of
stability becomes meditative stability,
superior and their the fifth paramita,
excellent minds becomes superior and
Become incredibly
wonderfully great,
skilled in subtle
realization of the and, as a result, with
nature of the truths. the excellent prajna
of their excellent
This ground gets minds, these noble
its name because and exalted beings
“The great beings on become incredibly
the ground that is Difficult to Overcome”— skilled in subtle realization of the nature of the
referring to bodhisattvas on the fifth ground— truths. The truths here refers either to the four
“cannot be defeated even by all the maras.”* noble truths—the truth of suffering, the truth of

*Editor’s note: According to the story of the Buddha mrtyumara, death or the fear of death, which interrupts one’s
Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, Mara was a great demon that practice unless the practitioner knows how to make death part
appeared to the Buddha just before he attained enlightenment, of his or her path; and devaputramara, literally the “child of the
and in various seductive and fearsome manifestations tried gods,” which refers to the tendency to be seduced by, absorbed
first to seduce and then to frighten the Buddha out of his dualistically in, and attached to the pleasures and bliss of the
attainment. In less anthropomorphic terms, the maras are seen gods’ realms, specifically the subtle pleasures or bliss of
as any negative influences that obstruct spiritual development. meditation.
Traditionally they are enumerated as skandhamara, the In the chöd tradition, the four maras are enumerated in a way
misperception of that which is not a self, the aggregates, to be a very useful for meditation as the substantial mara, the insubstan-
self; kleshamara, being overpowered by, putting up with, or tial mara, the mara of elation, and the mara of fixation.
“buying into” the emotional afflictions, rather than seeing them See Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 3, No. 1, pages 36-38; Vol. 3, No. 1,
and relating to them as vehicles for attaining enlightenment; page 26.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 57
the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation being like banana trees. The minds of beings are
of suffering and the truth of the path leading to not like banana trees. According to the second
the cessation of suffering—or, as explained in turning of the wheel of dharma, the mind’s
the mahayana tradition, to the two truths, the nature transcends all conceptual fabrications; it
relative superficial truth and the truth of the is not an object of conceptual mind. According to
nature of genuine reality. Bodhisattvas on this the third turning of the wheel of dharma the
ground become incredibly skilled in the subtle basic nature of mind is luminosity, clear light. So
realization of these truths. it is like that. Are there a few
Let’s recite this verse three questions?
times. [Students recite.]
Bodhisattvas on
When we realize the emptiness this ground Question: Rinpoche stated that
that is the nature of genuine there is no distinction in buddha
reality, all relative superficial
become nature between male and female,
appearances are realized as ap- incredibly skilled that they equally have buddha
pearance-emptiness, like things in in the subtle nature. If that is the case, then
dreams, like illusions. So it would why is there a hierarchy between
be good to sing a verse about this realization of the nuns and monks, which is sexist?
from the Sutra of the Noble Collec- four noble truths
tion. [Students sing three times. Translator: So the question is, “If
See page 59.] it is true that buddha nature
And we should sing from the King of pervades everyone equally, why is there a sexist
Samadhi Sutra. [Students sing three times. See discrimination in the hierarchy between monks
page 59.] and nuns in Buddhism?”
These two verses contain the speech of the
Buddha Shakyamuni. Since we also need to Rinpoche: That hierarchy exists only in the
know what the commentaries on the Buddha’s shravaka tradition; it is not a mahayana tradi-
teachings said, we should first look at the verse tion, and it is certainly not a vajrayana tradition.
by the protector Nagarjuna from the Fundamen- In both of the latter two, men and women are
tal Wisdom of the Middle Way. [Students sing regarded as equal. There is no difference. This is
three times. See page 59.] particularly so in the vajrayana, where in several
And next, the verses by the glorious tantras women are praised as being of the nature
Chandrakirti from the Entrance to the Middle of wisdom. They are not denigrated; on the
Way. [Students sing three times. See page 59.] contrary, they are praised for being of the nature
And now a verse by the bodhisattva of wisdom. In the shravaka tradition, in which
Shantideva from the wisdom chapter of the the tradition of the Buddhist monastic sangha
Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Conduct. [Students originates, there is no talk about buddha nature.
sing three times. See page 59.] If you ask, “What defines a noble being,” the
To understand what it means to say that shravaka traditions answer is that they have less
beings are like banana trees, we need to think of attachment, less passion, less desire, more
the bodies of sentient beings. When we analyze contentment. In the mahayana it is explained
the body, it breaks down into parts. Those parts differently, that the nature of every single sen-
break down into their component parts and tient being is buddha nature.
finally into particles. And if we look at the par-
ticles, we cannot find anything substantial there Question: I am confused about how to answer
at all. So, there is really nothing there—no pith, people who look to you for knowledge or leader-
no substance. That is what is intended here. ship, and you can give them answers from the
Shantideva is talking about the bodies of beings’ point of view of relative truth, but at the same

58 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Five Songs

From the Sutra of the Noble Collection: From Candrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way:

Know the five skandhas are like an illusion. There are two ways of seeing every thing,
Don’t separate the illusion from the skandhas. The perfect way and the false way.
Free of thinking that anything is real— So each and every thing that can ever be
This is perfect wisdom’s conduct at its best! found
Holds two natures within.
Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso
Rinpoche, translated by Ari Goldfield, August 15, 1999. And what does perfect seeing see?
It sees the suchness of all things.
And false seeing sees the relative truth—
This is what the perfect Buddha said

From the King of Samadhi Sutra: Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso
Rinpoche, translated by Jim Scott and Ari Goldfield,
All the images conjured up by a magician, August, 1999.
The horses, elephants, and chariots in his
illusions,
Whatever may appear there, know that none
of it is real,
And it is just like that with everything there is. From Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s
Conduct:
Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso
Rinpoche, translated by Ari Goldfield, August 15, 1999. Then wanderers, these dream-like beings,
what are they?
If analyzed, they are like a banana tree.
One cannot make definitive distinctions
Between transcending misery and not.
From Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Wisdom of the
Middle Way: Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso
Rinpoche, translated by Jim Scott and Ari Goldfield,
August, 1999.
Like a dream, like an illusion,
Like a city of gandharvas,
That’s how birth, and that’s how living,
That’s how dying are taught to be.

Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso


Rinpoche, translated by Jim Scott and Ari Goldfield,
August, 1999.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 59
time, while recognizing that people learn in about karma at the beginning, people will not be
stages, you know that ultimately they will need interested. So it is better to start with the most
to understand these same things from the point profound teachings, and gradually work back to
of view of ultimate truth. So I am wondering how the more basic ones. This is how I think about
to bridge the gap between these two levels of things, my opinion. Buddha nature is the nature
truth in such practical situations. An example of all beings, the nature of genuine reality. The
would be in the provision of health care. nature of everything is that it is all fundamen-
tally the same, which is a teaching about the
Translator: So, can I ask the question in this nature of genuine reality, a teaching about equal-
way: “When we are in a position ity. If people can come to under-
where people come to us for help stand that, if they hear such very
in our work and we are not in a
If you talk about profound teachings and like them,
position where we can explain to karma at the then they will develop confidence
them the nature of genuine real- in the dharma. Then they can be
ity and we have to stay in the
beginning, given teachings on the cause and
relative, then how do we benefit people will not result of karmic acts, on past and
people given that those are the be interested. So future lives, etc, all following the
parameters of the situation?” profounder teachings on the
it is better to nature of genuine reality. In my
Question: Yes, how do you go start with the opinion, that is a better way to
over that bridge knowing that it present the teachings these days.
might cross your values, because I
most profound If first people are able to
suspect that if I speak the truth, teachings, and develop confidence in the pro-
they are not going to understand found teachings, then they will
it, but not to talk about it seems
gradually work also want to hear more about the
wrong, because they are asking. back to the more way that relative truth is ex-
basic ones plained, Otherwise, if the teach-
Rinpoche: If somebody comes to ings are presented in the more
you for advice and they have the traditional way, first explaining
ability to understand the teachings on the na- that if you do this and that you will be reborn in
ture of genuine reality, then you can explain the hell realms and if you engage in such and
those teachings to them. If they have the prajna such activities you can avoid birth in the lower
to be able to understand the teachings about realms, then people will think, “Oh, this is just
ultimate truth, then explain it to them, and if another one of those religions that try to scare
they do not, then do not worry about it. It would you into doing things, as was the case with
not benefit them to hear about the nature of certain brands of Christianity in the old days.”
ultimate reality if they would not be able to In that case, then, people will just think of Bud-
understand it. So that is okay. dhism as another tradition of blind faith that tries
These days at the end of the twentieth cen- to accomplish its ends with scare tactics, and so it
tury, most people have very advanced educations is better not to proceed that way. That is why it is
and have used their reasoning abilities their perfectly permissible to tell people about the
whole lives. Therefore, it is actually better to nature of genuine reality, but we all have to make
reverse the order in which the teachings are the judgment to do so based on the person’s intelli-
given. It is good first to explain the nature of gence and their ability and capacity to understand
genuine reality, then to explain the nature of those types of things. So it is okay to begin with
relative reality, and finally to talk about cause teachings on the nature of ultimate truth and then
and effect and karma at the end. If you talk teach about relative truth.

60 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Question: Regarding the two types of cannot be a self.
egolessness or selflessness—the egolessness of From these different realizations [or ways of
the individual self and the egolessness or empti- realizing] come different results that we can
ness of phenomena—is one realized before the understand more clearly by looking at the ex-
other? Or are both realized at the same time, or ample of a dream. If we dream that we are being
does it depend and vary from individual to burned by fire and know that we are dreaming,
individual? then one way to look at it is to say, “Well, I am
not really here. This is just a dream; there is no
Rinpoche: The different vehicles give different real body here, so there is no reason to suffer.”
answers to that question. The mahayana says That reasoning reflects the realization of the
that in order to gain the most subtle understand- emptiness of the self. Another way to look at it is
ing of the selflessness of the individual you have to say, “This fire is not real; it is just a dream
to have a coarse understanding of fire.” That is a metaphor of the
the emptiness of phenomena. You emptiness of phenomena. And
have to have that first, actually, The way to know sometimes you can think about
to have the most subtle under- whether the both at the same time: “This is just
standing of the emptiness of the a dream. There is no one here to
individual. But the shravaka
expression of burn. There is nothing here to
tradition does not say that; they anger is burn anyone. And there is no
say you can realize the selfless- burning.” This reasoning reflects
ness of the individual 100 percent
appropriate is to both the realization of the empti-
[without realizing the complete check our initial ness of the self and the realization
emptiness of phenomena]. In the motivation of the emptiness of phenomena at
shravakayana, you realize that the same time. So it is like that.
there is no self; you give up your
kleshas, and you attain nirvana. That is it. You Question: My question is about the earlier
do not ever have to deal with phenomena. The question about anger that is motivated by some
way that selflessness is presented in this text, kind of pure motivation that is beneficial. This
Entrance to the Middle Way, is that first the prompted me to consider how, with my limited
emptiness of phenomena is explained and then wisdom, to judge when anger is appropriate and
the emptiness of the individual. In other texts, when it is not, and how to judge whether my
though, it is different; the emptiness of the self motivation is appropriate or not. I would like
is explained first and then the emptiness of Rinpoche to speak a little bit about how to tell
phenomena. In short, in order to gain a subtle when anger is appropriate. For instance, is there
understanding or realization of the emptiness of a difference in the way anger is experienced in
individuals, we need to have a coarse under- the two different cases?
standing of the emptiness of phenomena, be-
cause, in order to understand why it is that the Rinpoche: The way to know whether the ex-
aggregates are not the self, you have to examine pression of anger is appropriate is to check our
the aggregates and see that they do not really initial motivation. For example, if a mother who
exist, that when you examine them their exist- really loves her child gets angry in order to
ence breaks down, and that is the emptiness of teach the child something, then that is okay,
phenomena. You see that the aggregates have because the anger is motivated by this love. But
many internal subdivisions and that they can be on the other hand, if we feel malicious and angry
broken down into their component parts, and so towards somebody and do not like them and are
you can conclude that there is really nothing motivated to harm them, then that is a different
there. Since there is nothing real there, there story. It all depends upon our motivation. In fact,

SHENPEN ÖSEL 61
in the mahayana it is even permissible to kill lifetime, then that is a demon. And the fourth is
somebody out of compassion. For example, if a the demon that is the lord of death. When we
person is going to kill lots of other people, and have a concept that death exists, then that is a
one realizes that if they do, it will not be good for demon. This last one is a very subtle demon, but
them, then if you have to kill that person to if we are able to dispel from ourselves the
prevent them from killing others, thought that death is something
it actually benefits. In such a case real, then we have defeated the
you would kill them, not out of In the mahayana demon of death and there will no
hatred for them, but out of com- it is even longer be any fear of death. These
passion for them, and also to appearances of demons or maras,
protect the intended victims who permissible to kill according to the words that are
would thus be saved from being somebody out of used to describe them, seem as
killed. Killing would be the though they are something outside
appropriate conduct in that
compassion of ourselves, but this is why the
situation. lord of yogins, Milarepa, sang:
It is written in the sutras that our teacher,
the perfect Buddha Shakyamuni, in one of his What appears as, is perceived as, and is thought
previous lives as a bodhisattva, was a ship cap- of as a ghost,
tain, piloting a ship carrying five hundred Whenever these appear, from the yogi they
appear,
bodhisattva business tycoons. They were beset
And when they dissolve, into the yogi they
by a pirate who was going to kill all of them, so dissolve.
the Buddha, out of great compassion for the
bodhisattvas and great compassion for the pi- Milarepa, in fact, sang this to a demoness, but
rate, killed the pirate to prevent that from even while he was singing to her, he was singing,
happening. Normally five hundred people would “You are just a confused appearance of my own
not have a problem if there were only one person mind.” Sing a song. [Students sing verse three
attacking them, but these were five hundred times.]
bodhisattvas and they were not going to defend
themselves. Question: In our tradition we have a lot of
concern for the benefit of sentient beings. Does
Question: What are the maras that are referred that imply that there are non-sentient beings? If
to here in the fifth chapter. so, what would be an example of such a being,
and who is looking out for the non-sentient
Rinpoche: There are four different kinds of beings?
maras or you could say demons. The first one is
the demon of the aggregates, the five skandhas. Translator: I don’t know if I have any way to ask
This is a demon, in the sense that they create that questions, because there is no separation in
obstacles, when we think that these five aggre- Tibetan between sentient and being. It is all one
gates are real. So when we take the five word. Translated into English it sounds as
skandhas to be real, that is the first demon. The though there were two words, sentient and
second is the demon of our kleshas, which are being, but in Tibetan the word being translated
obstacles when we do not apply the antidote. just means “having mind.” That is the whole
The kleshas themselves become demons if we do term. Does that make it clear? There is no such
not deal with them appropriately. The third is thing as a non-sentient being.
called the demon of the child of the gods. When
we have attachment to the happiness of this life, Question: I have a question from last night as
when we want something good to happen in this

62 SHENPEN ÖSEL
well. If the bodhisattva has no focus or fixation all adverse circumstances] to smack ego-clinging
on the three spheres, but instead understands on the head. You smack it, and just keep smack-
their emptiness, how can it be said that they ing it. If you do that, it is very beneficial.
experience harm as something good because it
eliminates their bad karma? Does that not imply Question: Would Rinpoche explain the tradition
some fixation on the karmic act? of long life prayers in Tibet. They don’t seem to
exist in any of the other traditions. Who writes a
Rinpoche: Actually, the ones who have no focus prayer for whom? How does it come about that
on the three spheres are noble bodhisattvas,* they get written? And how did this tradition get
not ordinary beings. The meditation or contem- started?
plation of something harmful being seen as
something good, is intended to be done by ordi- Rinpoche: Long life prayers come about as an
nary beings. For example, in the teachings on the outgrowth of the students’ devotion, because the
Seven Points of Mind Training, we are taught to students want to have them. From the lama’s
think that when we experience perspective, it is summed up by
harm, we should think of it as Patrul Rinpoche, “If I die now,
something good and pray that all If we want to live who cares? It is just samsaric
other sentient beings be freed phenomena disintegrating. If I
from the harm they experience
long, we also live to be a hundred, what’s the
and that it instead come down on have to be big deal? I will be an old man.
us individually. May all the harm What’s so good about that? So let
and all the suffering that every-
unafraid of whatever is going to happen,
one else experiences come down being old happen. If I die now, it is no prob-
on us and be all contained within lem, I do not really feel like living
this one harm we are now experiencing. Think- to be an old man anyway. I do not want to be an
ing and meditating in this way, we use adverse old man. There is nothing great in old age.” That
situations as a chance to develop compassion. is how lamas think about it. Lamas’ students
In the Seven Points of Mind Training, there might think differently.
are also instructions on how to use suffering as a If we want to live long, we also have to be
chance to fight ego-clinging. When you experi- unafraid of being old. If you wish to live a long
ence suffering of any kind, you address your ego, time, but do not want to be old, you have an
saying, “You, ego-clinging! This is what you internal contradiction in your thinking that will
deserve. You need this suffering, because we cause you suffering. On the other hand, if you do
have been meditating on the dharma and on not want to be old, then you have to give up
selflessness for a long time and it hasn’t done attachment to living a long life. The great Ti-
you any good at all. You are still there and you betan scholar Sakya Pandita said, “When people
are still spoiled, so you need this suffering. It is are afraid to be old and yet want to live long,
the best thing that could ever have happened to they have a foolish inconsistency in their think-
you. Look at you, you miserable ego-clinging! If ing.”
things go well for you, you just get bigger and
bigger; you do not go away, you just get prouder Question: I have a question about the idea of
and more arrogant. You need suffering. This is expressing anger with a good motivation and I
the best thing that can ever happen to you, so I am having a hard time reconciling that idea with
am glad this is happening to you. You deserve it.” what Rinpoche said earlier. If one of the charac-
This is a teaching on how to use all dharma [and teristics of the paramitas is that you make
people happy, then how could it be beneficial to
*Editor’s note: i.e. enlightened bodhisattvas. demonstrate anger in a way that makes people

SHENPEN ÖSEL 63
unhappy? I can understand the example of a doing so. It is like that on the bodhisattva path.
mother in a situation dangerous to her children, In the vajrayana, mahamudra yogins or
when they might not pay attention otherwise. yoginis sometimes try to make anger come up by
But under what other circumstances would speaking harshly. They cause the anger to mani-
anger be beneficial? fest and then meditate on its essential nature.
So that is something different. In the province of
Rinpoche: Some beings are not benefited by Kham in Tibet, there once lived a very famous
being treated nicely. If you are nice to them it couple, a yogini and a yogin, who lived together
does not help. They are more but always fought. Whenever
benefited by manifesting a wrath- people went to see them, they
ful appearance, and knowing
Then there is the would be fighting bitterly with
when that is the case is what story of the each other. Sometimes the woman
skillful means is all about. Skillful would go up to the top of a nearby
means, or the perfection of skill in
mahasiddha cliff and shout back to her man, “I
means, is actually the seventh Lavapa. He hate you so much I am going to
transcendent perfection—know- jump off this cliff.” And the man
attained
ing when something is appropri- would sit below and shout back,
ate and something else might not realization by “Jump, jump, I can’t wait.” They
be. Bodhisattvas do not have any sleeping on the would fight in this way all the
selfishness, so whatever they do, time, and in the end they both
it is not out of their own concern; side of the road attained the rainbow body, be-
it is out of the concern for others. for twelve years cause all along they had been
If that is the case, then what is meditating on the essential
normally the non-virtue of speak-
while meditating nature of their anger. That was
ing harshly is permissible under on clear light their practice. Nobody knew they
certain circumstances. A were practicing in that way, but
bodhisattva may encounter some- that is what they were doing, and
one under certain circumstances in which speak- they attained great accomplishment as a result.
ing kindly to them would not help them, That is how it happened.
whereas speaking in a harsher, more critical Then there is the story of the mahasiddha
manner would. In such a case, speaking harshly Lavapa. He attained realization by sleeping on
and critically would be acceptable conduct. What the side of the road for twelve years while medi-
actually happens in such cases is that the person tating on clear light. When people saw him, they
hears a great deal of criticism of their bad quali- would say, “Look at this lazy bum. He is just
ties, and then they become pacified, and then sitting here sleeping.” But in fact, he was being
they become happy. So in those circumstances it incredibly diligent. It is not easy to sleep for
is permissible to speak harshly to others. Having twelve years continuously, but he did it, and in
pure motivation, bodhisattvas will sometimes the process he attained great realization because
manifest the conduct of the seven non-virtuous he was meditating on the essential nature of
actions,* and there are good reasons for their sleep, which is luminosity. There is no one else
in history who has been able to sleep for twelve
*Editor’s note: Here Rinpoche is referring to the three
misdeeds of body—killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct— years; it is incredibly difficult to do and requires
and the three misdeeds of speech—lying, speaking slander- great diligence to sleep that long. So it is like
ously or divisively, speaking harshly, and speaking idly and
meaninglessly. Rinpoche does not mention the remaining
that. Now we will meditate.
three unvirtuous deeds because they are negative motiva- If you look nakedly at the essential nature of
tional factors of mind—maliciousness, covetousness, and the thought that thinks, “I am going to meditate
erroneous views—and it has already been established that
the bodhisattva’s motivation is pure. now,” and you let go and relax within that, then

64 SHENPEN ÖSEL
that is mahamudra. If you practice with a focus sentient beings with whom we have a good or
in mind, then that is shamatha meditation as bad connection. [Students sing. See page 50.]
practiced in all the vehicles. If you just rest This prayer is something that is in harmony
relaxed within your own basic nature, that is with most of the religious traditions of the
called essential shamatha, and that is the su- world, because most religious traditions pray
preme form of calm-abiding meditation. In the that people will go to a pure realm after death.
vajrayana, the best way to practice shamatha But there is a difference in the Buddhist concep-
meditation is to visualize your tion of this aspiration. According
yidam. You can do this in two to the Buddhist tradition, after
different ways. You can visualize If you look you are born in a pure realm and
the different aspects of the yidam nakedly at the have rested, you come back to an
and its ornaments individually impure realm when it is time
and focus on one at a time, or you
essential nature again to practice the difficult
can focus on the entire body of the of the thought practices of developing patience,
deity all at once. This is the best giving generously to people who
form of shamatha in the vajrayana.
that thinks I are in need, and so forth. When
You can also focus on your breath, am going to the time is right to help people in
on feelings that you are experienc- meditate now, the impure realms, then you
ing, on bodily sensations, on differ- come back. In Sukhavati, in the
ent parts of the body, on the body’s and you let go pure realm of Dewachen or Great
being of the nature of clear light. and relax within Bliss, no one hurts you, and so
You can meditate in any one of you have no opportunity to prac-
these ways. that, then that is tice patience. There are no poor
[Rinpoche and students recite mahamudra people in Sukhavati, so there is
dedication prayers and long life no opportunity to practice gener-
prayers.] osity. So in order to perfect these
Tomorrow we will explain the sixth mind two practices of patience and generosity, you
generation. This is a teaching on emptiness, and have to come back to the impure realms. After
we will explain a few reasons why the nature of you are born in Dewachen, then it is okay to
reality is emptiness. come back here. Is that not good?
Let’s sing the song that is a prayer for all Goodnight. Sarva Mangalam.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 65
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Sixth Mind Generation:


The Approach
[Students sing songs beginning Know the five skandas are like an illu-
sion; All the images conjured up by a magician; Like a dream, like an
illusion; There are two ways of seeing everything . . . See page 59.]

T
o Lama Tashi and to everyone, a very warm tashi delek this morn
ing. May you all manifest the great radiance of the true nature of
mind, which is buddha nature, clear light.
The true nature of mind, buddha nature, contains within it the seeds
of both compassion and wisdom. By first receiving the instructions on
how to cultivate compassion, we can cultivate it and cause it to grow and
grow, and by receiving teachings of wisdom to which we listen and on
which we reflect, we can cause our wisdom also to increase and increase.
Therefore, it is Rinpoche’s aspiration that we do so, so that we will be
able to perform the benefit of others and at the same time cause the
confusion of dualistic appearances that exists in our minds to disappear,
thereby accomplishing the two forms of benefit, benefit for self and
others, in a spontaneous and natural way. This is Rinpoche’s aspiration
for us.

66 SHENPEN ÖSEL
The twentieth century has been a century of and a different bodhisattva ground. On each
great material prosperity and of great scientific ground a different transcendent perfection is
advancement. Therefore, it is very important for predominant in the activity of the bodhisattva.
all of us who are dharma practitioners to accu- We have now reached the sixth.
mulate the wealth of the wisdom of listening to, The outline for this sixth chapter has three
reflecting on, and meditating on the teachings of main parts. The first is a brief explanation of the
the genuine dharma. one who is realizing emptiness, also called an
The dharma jewels of the wisdom of listen- explanation of the essential nature of this par-
ing, reflecting, and meditating cannot be stolen ticular bodhisattva ground. The second is an
by any thief, and therefore they are the greatest extensive explanation of emptiness as perceived
wealth of all. Since they benefit both self and by the bodhisattva on this ground. And the third
other, they are the greatest wealth of all. Since is a conclusion and summary by means of ex-
they are able to wipe away confusion, they are pressing the qualities of this ground.
the greatest wealth of all. Since they help us to The first verse reads:
realize that suffering is not real, they are the
greatest wealth of all. Since they enable us to The perfect bodhisattvas whose minds rest in the
gain inner peace, they are the greatest wealth of equipoise of the approach
all. Since they help us to realize the equality of Approach the qualities of buddhahood.
They see the suchness of dependent arising
friends and enemies, they are the best friends
And from abiding in wisdom, they will attain
we have. Therefore, amass the wealth of the cessation. (1)
wisdom of listening, reflecting, and meditating.
Today’s topic of explanation is a chapter from There are two names given this ground. The
a text composed by the glorious Chandrakirti. one first given in this commentary is “The Ap-
This author Chandrakirti had an incredible life proach,” which indicates that at this point the
and performed many miracles, such as the one bodhisattva is getting very close to attaining the
described in the following verse: qualities of enlightenment. In other texts it is
called “The Manifest,” because in the bodhisattva’s
The glorious Chandrakirti milked the painting of meditative equipoise, they are able to manifest
a cow,
incredible realization of the nature of reality,
Thereby sustaining the sangha,
And reversing everyone’s clinging transcending all conceptual fabrications. The root
To things as being real. How miraculous! verse here follows the name, “The Approach,” and
the commentary states that the bodhisattvas at
And another of Chandrakirti’s miracles is this point in their development rest their minds in
described in this way: the incredibly wonderful equipoise of the ap-
proach of the sixth ground. At this time their
The glorious Chandrakirti minds have completely and directly understood,
Exhorted two mighty stone lions to roar, have completely become expert in the direct
Causing Duruka’s army to flee meditative realization of the truth—the truth of
Without killing or wounding a single person— the way things appear, which is relative or superfi-
how miraculous!
cial reality, and the truth of how things actually
are, which is genuine or ultimate reality. Through
We are examining Entrance to the Middle
the power of having realized these two truths so
Way, a text written by this being who lived such
well, they understand fully, in their hearts or in
an incredible, miraculous, and wonderful life.
their mind-streams, the dharmata, the true reality
Chandrakirti taught this text in the form of ten
of the world, which is that whatever appears is a
different chapters, each corresponding to a
merely dependent arising, just as whatever reflec-
different one of the ten transcendent perfections
tions arise in a mirror or in water, arise in depen-
SHENPEN ÖSEL 67
dence on other factors. And since everything [that together of causes and conditions. The suchness of
appears in our minds, in the world, and in our these dependent arisings is that they are empty of
experience of the world] is just dependently any inherent existence. Having realized that,
arisen, then everything is of the nature of empti- seeing that, they abide in the supreme transcen-
ness. This is what sixth-bhumi bodhisattvas per- dent perfection, the supreme paramita of prajna,
fectly see. the paramita of wisdom. And because of that
The first five bodhisattva grounds are focused abiding in prajnaparamita, they will attain cessa-
on the truth of the path.* Here on the sixth tion. This is the cause of their attaining the truth
ground, bodhisattvas approach the attainment or of cessation. Now what is this cessation? The
the manifestation of the Buddha’s qualities. So commentary explains. It is not the cessation that
here in the commentary we get these two names the arhats of the shravakayana and the solitary
back to back. In the root text it says “approach,” sages, the pratyekabuddhas, realize. That type of
and then in the commentary it also says alterna- cessation is a mere stopping of the activity of the
tively you can say “manifestation.” Why? Because seven consciounesses, the seven excluding the
they approach the attainment of the manifestation alaya consciousness. It is not that type of cessa-
of the Buddha’s qualities and they see the tion. Rather it is the realization of perfect freedom
suchness of everything that appears in this life. from all conceptual fabrications, the realization of
They see the suchness of all the phenomena that the simplicity which is free of any extremes, be
are comprised of form, sound, smell, taste, touch, they the extremes of existence and non-existence,
and phenomena that appear to the mind. They see appearance and emptiness, truth and falsity, and
the suchness of these phenomena, that they are so forth. That is what cessation refers to here.**
mere appearances that arise due to the coming To explain how important it is to realize

*Editor’s note: Here Rinpoche is referring to the fourth of the marks the beginning of the first bodhisattva ground as de-
Four Noble Truths, the truth of the path leading to the cessa- scribed in this text. At this point the bodhisattva can enter into
tion of suffering. The first three of the Four Noble Truths are the the meditation on emptiness at will; in fact, according to
truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, and the Khenpo Rinpoche, the bodhisattva’s realization of emptiness
truth of the cessation of suffering. during meditation is the same as the buddhas’, though not as
vast or extensive. Apart from the inconceivable vastness and
**Editor’s note: From the standpoint of wisdom, the extensiveness of a buddha’s realization, the principal difference
bodhisattva path to buddhahood is entirely concerned with between a buddha and a bodhisattva lies in the fact that the
realizing the wisdom of emptiness, suchness, dharmata, the buddha’s realization or awareness remains the same during
true nature—all of which are synonyms, more or less, of the post-meditation as it is during samadhi, while the bodhisattva
same experience, discussed from different perspectives of experiences the world like a dream or like an illusion or like one
relative truth. As beginners, we start out practicing ordinary of the other analogies of emptiness.
virtues, abandoning the ten unvirtuous actions and adopting The bodhisattva then continues to practice the same path
the ten virtuous actions, while practicing meditation and of abandoning unvirtuous actions and adopting virtuous ones as
mindfulness, and listening to and studying the Buddha’s described in the noble eight-fold path, the ten unvirtuous
teachings. This is all very path-oriented, consisting of practices actions, the ten virtuous actions, and the six or ten paramitas,
understandable and practicable by beginners whose minds are that we as ordinary practitioners practice, except with increas-
still locked in dualistic perception. However, if the student ing freedom from fixation on the three spheres of the one
practices sincerely, diligently, and energetically, then gradually, performing the virtue or act, the virtue or act itself, and the one
based on the blessings of the lama, they will begin to have in reference to whom the virtue or act is being performed. By the
momentary experiences of suchness or emptiness or dharmata, time the bodhisattva reaches the sixth ground, based on
what the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called following the path of the first five grounds, the maintenance of
“glimpses.” At this point, these experiences come unexpectedly, this awareness of emptiness in all activities, this awareness of
are momentary, and cannot be reproduced at will by the suchness or dharmata, has become the bodhisattva’s main
student. If the student becomes attached to such experiences, practice. Although the wisdom mind realizing emptiness is the
grows proud of them, afraid of them, or becomes fixated on them profoundest understanding of the path leading to the cessation
in any way whatsoever, then these experiences can even become of suffering and to buddhahood, it can be seen to be much more
an obstacle to the student’s further development. But if the cessation-oriented than the path as it has been practiced at
practitioner continues to practice sincerely with one-pointed earlier stages of development. It is also out of this wisdom
diligence and exertion, sooner or later, whether in this lifetime mind realizing emptiness or the true nature that all the
or in a future lifetime, they will definitely experience a decisive qualities of the subsequent four bodhisattva grounds—skillful
understanding of emptiness, which is called the “Path of means, aspiration, power, and jnana—and all the qualities of
Seeing,” and is the experience that establishes one in and buddhahood grow. Thus prajna paramita is called the mother of
all the buddhas.
68 SHENPEN ÖSEL
emptiness if one wishes to attain the state of dha as expressed in the sutras of the second
buddhahood, the next verse is taught: turning of the wheel of dharma and proving
their validity with reasoning. And just as the ten
Just as a person with eyes bhumis or the ten bodhisattvas grounds are
Can easily lead a whole group of blind people joined with the ten transcendent perfections in
wherever they wish to go, the Dasabhumikasutra, the Sutra of the Tenth
So here, the mind endowed with wisdom
Bhumi, so that will be the mode of explanation
Guides the blind qualities to the Victor’s ground.
(2) here.
In the precious sutras of the second turning
Given the individual who wishes to attain of the wheel of dharma, the Buddha taught that
the state of enlightenment so that they can lead the basic nature of everything is that everything
all other beings to the same state, training in the transcends all of our conceptual fabrications
wisdom realizing emptiness is about what it might be. In this way he taught the
very important, because it is this simplicity or the freedom from all
conceptual fabrications that is
wisdom realizing emptiness that is It is this wisdom the essential nature of reality.
able to lead the other transcen-
dent perfections like generosity to
realizing And furthermore, he taught that
the ground of enlightenment, to emptiness that is the nature of appearances is that
the ground of the Buddha’s real- all appearances are equally like
ization, just as someone with eyes
able to lead dreams and illusions. They are
is able quite easily and without the other just mere appearances. The
difficulty to lead an entire group protector Nagarjuna then took
transcendent these teachings and established
of blind people to the place where
they really want to go. So if we put perfections like them as flawless and valid
through logical reasoning,
this in the form of this kind of generosity to the through proofs. Chandrakirti in
reasoning, then the meaning
becomes clear and easy to under- ground of his turn follows the protector
Nagarjuna’s example in this
stand. enlightenment regard. And he also explains the
Next comes in three sections
the actual explanation of this ten transcendent perfections as
emptiness that is so very important to realize. being successively connected to each of the ten
First is a description of the way emptiness is bodhisattva grounds.
explained, then a description of the vessel to Next, in the explanation of the vessel or the
whom emptiness is explained, and finally the student to whom these teachings are explained,
dharma itself that is explained. The description there is a section on identifying a student ca-
of the way emptiness is explained is in the third pable of receiving these teachings and a section
verse: on the way in which good qualities arise in such
a student upon hearing these teachings.
The way the bodhisattvas realize the incredibly Verse four and the first three lines of verse
profound dharma five describe students capable of receiving these
Was explained [by Nagarjuna] with scripture and teachings:
reasoning.
Therefore, just as the noble Nagarjuna did in his Those who even as ordinary beings, upon hearing
texts, of emptiness
So will I explain things here. (3) Again and again experience great happiness
within,
So emptiness will be explained here by Have their eyes fill with the tears of joy,
taking the very profound intention of the Bud- And the hairs on their body stand on end, (4)
SHENPEN ÖSEL 69
Those are people with the seed of the perfect because we have such strong attachment to
Buddha’s mind. things as existing as they appear to exist. We
They are vessels for the teachings on suchness. want to believe that they exist. And even if we
They should be taught the truth of genuine
should know that we are dreaming, still we do
reality. . .(5abc)
not want to think that things are not real. We
When there is a person who, even though an still want to think that they exist as they appear
ordinary individual, upon hearing the teachings to exist. So the teachings on emptiness, which
about emptiness feels so happy inside that their teach that things are not real, that they are
eyes well up with tears of joy, that their hair empty of any reality or any validity, are not
stands on end, that they get goose bumps, then popular. People generally do not want to hear
this is a person to whom the teachings on them.
suchness should be given, because this is a As we live our lives, we want things to be
person in whom the habitual tendencies of the good. We like to be happy. We like to be sur-
seed of the perfect Buddha’s mind are waking rounded by friends and good circumstances. So
up. Is that not wonderful! we are happy to think that those things exist. We
At first one is an ordinary individual who has do not like to suffer. We do not like to come into
never before heard about empti- contact with people that we do
ness, but then we are introduced to not like. Therefore, it is an
it by means of the analogies that
In fact, we expression of skillful means to
teach that everything is just like an are incredibly present the teachings on empti-
illusion or a dream and is just ness first by teaching that suffer-
empty form and nothing more.
fortunate if we ing does not really exist, that our
After hearing about emptiness in are interested in enemies are not truly real. In
that way, we can teach emptiness
this way, we hear more teachings these teachings, in a way that accords with our
and we think about these teachings
with our intelligence and we begin because it is not likes and dislikes. Our enemies
and our suffering do not really
to appreciate them. So we want to so easy to be exist because they are neither
learn more. And as we learn more,
our confidence in emptiness grows
interested one nor many, because they are
and our certainty in and our appre- mere imputed fabrications of
ciation of these teachings gets greater and conceptual mind, because they are mere depen-
greater, and we find that we are increasingly dently arisen appearances. The best way to begin
happy to hear them. is by proving that the appearances of this life
In fact, we are incredibly fortunate if we are that we do not like, and would rather did not
interested in these teachings, because it is so exist, do not in fact exist.
easy not to be interested. It is so easy to believe This is a concise explanation of emptiness.
that this world exists as it appears to exist, just Later Rinpoche will give a more extensive expla-
as it is very easy not to recognize a dream when nation.
we dream. It is very easy to think that the happi- Next comes an explanation in two parts of
ness and the suffering that we experience in this the way in which good qualities arise as a result
lifetime are in fact real, as they appear to be. of hearing teachings on emptiness. First is the
And so if somebody is interested in hearing way in which the good qualities of the relative—
about how these things do not really exist, then the means, the method—arise. Second is the way
they are incredibly fortunate. in which the good quality of the genuine, primor-
When we dream and do not recognize that we dial awareness, arises. The good qualities of the
are dreaming, then we do not want to hear that relative are presented in the last line of the fifth
things are not real. We do not like that idea, verse through the first line of the seventh verse:

70 SHENPEN ÖSEL
And all the good qualities coming from that will no food, because one is poor. Such poverty can
arise within them. (5) create obstacles to receiving teachings on empti-
ness. A way to make sure that that does not
Their discipline is always perfect,
happen is to give to others in this life. By prac-
They give generously, rely on compassion,
Cultivate patience, and the resulting virtue ticing generosity, we ensure that in the future
They thoroughly dedicate to enlightenment in we will have the material means to listen to the
order to liberate beings. (6) teachings on emptiness. So when we give in this
life we should make aspiration prayers that the
They respect the perfect bodhisattvas. (7a) result of this will be that in the future we have
sufficient means to be able to listen to teachings
Their discipline is always perfect. Why is on emptiness and to be able to practice these
that the case? First such people hear teachings teachings in future lifetimes. We can also aspire
on emptiness and really like them. As a result or make aspiration prayers that in the future we
they want to hear these teachings will find a very peaceful, se-
again and again, not only in this cluded place in which to medi-
life, but also in future lives. How By practicing tate, a place abundantly en-
are we going to be able to listen to dowed with everything we need
these teachings in future lives? If
generosity, we to be able to practice shamatha
we want to hear the teachings on ensure that in in a very good way that will
emptiness in future lives, we have
to get a human body or a god’s body.
the future we will further our realization of empti-
ness. We should make these
And in order to get those bodies, have the material aspiration prayers too.
we need good conduct; we need
means to listen They rely on compassion.
discipline. Without good conduct, Why? Because merely meditat-
we will be born in the hell realms to the teachings ing on emptiness alone is not
or as hungry ghosts or as animals, on emptiness enough to reach the ground of
and then we will not be able to hear buddhahood. One needs compas-
the teachings on emptiness. And so sion as well. If we just meditate
their discipline is always good, because they on emptiness, we will end up as intermediate
want to get that good support for listening to the buddhas, solitary sages, pratyekabuddhas, and
teachings on emptiness again. that is not our intention. Our intention is to
There are two main aspects to this discipline, attain highest buddhahood, and in order to do
to this right conduct that is being described that, we need both emptiness and compassion.
here. One conducts oneself in a way that is not And they cultivate patience. Why? Because
harmful to others, and one conducts oneself in a they think, “If I get angry, my mind will become
way that is beneficial to others. We abandon agitated and I will forget about emptiness, which
harming others and take up conduct beneficial to is what I really value. I do not want that to
others. And while doing that we make aspiration happen, so it is better for me to be patient and
prayers that the result of discipline and good not get angry.” And so they practice patience.
conduct will be a good support for listening to If we get angry, then this fierce anger causes
the teachings on emptiness again in future us to forget the view of emptiness. If after that
lifetimes. When these three come together, then we hold a grudge against somebody, then holding
the result is very good. that grudge harms the view of emptiness. It
They give generously. Why? Because it is causes it to decay. And so we practice patience,
possible to attain a human birth or birth as a which frees us from anger and resentment.
deity but not have the ability to listen to teach- And then they dedicate all their virtue to the
ings on emptiness, because one has no clothes or attainment of enlightenment so that all beings

SHENPEN ÖSEL 71
can be liberated from samsara. In order to lead exalted mother, who was noble and exalted
all beings to this same state of enlightenment of because she had realized emptiness.
the buddhas, they dedicate all of their activity to At one of those gates he sang a verse in which
that end. he praised Machig Labdrön in the following way:
They respect the perfect bodhisattvas. Since “Mother, you are the woman who is the
they themselves love so much to mediate on prajnaparamita siddha. You are extremely kind
emptiness, they develop great respect and to all of the disciples of your lineage. Please
devotion towards those who have realized it bless me and all of your other students, so that
directly and are able to teach we may realize what you have.”
them to do the same. Machig Labdrön And so he praises Machig
If one does not really like Labdrön as the prajnaparamita
meditating on emptiness, there is realized siddha. Most all other realized
no reason to have respect for the emptiness by siddhas, men and women alike,
noble beings who have realized it. attain their realization through
But if one likes to meditate on reading the vajrayana practices, but Machig
emptiness and likes to get teach- twelve volumes Lapdrön was different. She real-
ings on how to do so, then one ized emptiness by reading the
naturally feels great respect and
of the one twelve volumes of the one hun-
devotion towards those who have hundred dred thousand-verse
mastered this kind of meditation Prajnaparamita Sutra every day
and are able to teach one how to
thousand-verse for a month. She read all twelve
do the same. Prajnaparamita volumes every day for a month,
An example of this praise and Sutra every day and through doing that she real-
respect is found in the story of the ized emptiness. And so Gyalwa
son of Machig Labdrön, whose for a month Döndrup praises her as the prajna
name was Gyalwa Döndrup. He paramita siddha. It was because
sang many songs in praise of his mother, one of he also wanted to realize empti-
which was called “The Song in Praise of Machig ness that he praised her in this way. If he had
Because She Has Perfected the Six Paramitas.” not, then he would not have cared what his
In one verse of this song he sang, “I praise you, mother had done. It would not have made any
my mother; you have realized emptiness. In difference to him. And so we see that it was
emptiness there is no anger. You have perfected because she had realized emptiness and because
the practice of patience.” Because she had real- Gyalwa Döndrup had such respect for her having
ized emptiness, she could never get angry, and done so, that he made these praises.
this is the perfection of the practice of patience. How did she realize emptiness? Over and
And because her son also really liked to mediate over again, she read verses from the sutra which
on emptiness and wanted to achieve the same say things like, “Form is not white; it is not
state that she had, he offered her this praise. If green; it is not red; it is not rectangular; it is not
he had not wanted to do that, he would have had triangular. There is no form.” Why is there no
no reason to praise her for these qualities. form? Because, what is form? Can you say it is
Similarly, when Machig Labdrön passed into white? No, because that would exclude every-
nirvana, Gyalwa Döndrup sang a different song thing that is red. Can you say it is red? No, for
in praise of her at each of the four doors of her the same reason. You cannot define form as
cremation shrine—first at the western door, anything.* And therefore there is no such thing
then at the southern door, then at the eastern as form. It is just a mere appearance.
door, and then at northern door. At each door, he
*Editor’s note: Because every attempt to do so will exclude
sang a different song in praise of his noble and something else we think of as having form.

72 SHENPEN ÖSEL
And so this has been an explanation of how emptiness. If they do not reflect on those teach-
the relative qualities of method or skillful means ings, they will never eliminate their doubts.
arise as a result of the practitioner’s liking to They will never come to certainty. And if they do
hear about emptiness, having great faith in the not come to certainty through reflection, then
teachings on emptiness. they will not be able to meditate [properly or
Next, in the last three lines of verse seven, skillfully] on anything. Therefore the individual
comes the description of how the ultimate quali- should listen to, reflect on, and meditate on
ties of wisdom arise from liking to hear about teachings about emptiness.
emptiness: The only thing that most people in the world
know about emptiness is an empty house, an
The individual who is skilled in the profound empty cup, or something like that. They would
and vast natures never dream that these superficial appearances
Will gradually progress to the ground of Perfect have no inherent nature. Most people have
Joy.
never heard about that, and they will not think
Therefore, those who wish to do the same should
listen [to the teachings about] this path. (7bcd) of it on their own either. That is why these
teachings are so rare, precious, and important.
Here “profound” refers to wisdom and “vast” It is the same in dreams. As ordinary beings,
refers to method. The individual who is skilled when we dream, we only think that the forms
in the profound and vast natures and sounds and smells and things
which have been described in this we taste and touch that appear in
way does not separate them out The only thing our dreams are real. We never
and consider them to be different stop to think that they might not
that most people be real. The idea never crosses
from each other, existing as inde-
pendent things, because they are in the world our minds. The only things we
think are empty are cups and
not independent things. The one know about houses and space and cars and
who is skilled in that will
progress along the paths—the emptiness is an things like that.
Even though it is the case that
first being the path of accumula- empty house, an all the sights and sounds and
tion, the second the path of junc-
ture, and the third the path of
empty cup . . . smells and things we taste and
seeing, which is the first They would never touch in dreams have no inherent
bodhisattva ground, the ground of existence, we have no power to
perfect joy. Bodhisattvas and
dream that these give rise to the thought that
other beings who are appropriate superficial realizes that. The realization has
vessels for the teachings on emp- no strength within us, and so the
appearances thought that these things might
tiness progress along the paths in
that way, and those who want to have no inherent not be real does not enter our
minds. This explains how the
do the same should listen to the nature thoughts which think things are
profound teachings, which are
about to be described. real obscure our realization of the
The individual who wishes to reach the first nature of genuine reality. If you want to know
noble bodhisattva ground, the ground of Perfect how this works, we need only think of the ex-
Joy, should listen to, reflect upon, and meditate ample of the dream.
upon teachings about emptiness, because if they In the Sutra of the Tenth Bhumi the Buddha
do not listen to teachings about emptiness, they says that bodhisattvas move from the fifth
will not even know that emptiness exists. They ground to the sixth through the ten types of
will not even know there is such a thing as equality, the ten ways in which everything is

SHENPEN ÖSEL 73
basically the same. What are these ten types of kinds of thoughts in relation to outer signs,
equality? which identify these things as being one or the
The first is that everything is basically the other for us. Things seem to have on the outside
same because nothing has any certain qualities of being one way
identifiable signs. The second is or the other. But none of these
that everything is basically the We cannot really really exists, and bodhisattvas in
same because nothing has any meditative equipoise do not per-
conceive of what
distinguishing characteristics. ceive any such distinctions like
The third is that everything in the meditative those between things. How can we
the future is the same because equipoise of understand that? Well, it is help-
none of it will ever happen. The ful to think of the example of the
fourth is that everything in the noble beings is dream. We can dream of some
past is the same because none of like. But we can things being very beautiful and
it ever happened. The fifth is that clean and of other things being
everything is the same because it
have some ugly and displeasing. We can
is all completely free of happen- understanding of dream of friends and enemies, and
ing in the present. The sixth is all of these things appear to have
that everything is fundamentally
dreams and of different characteristics, different
the same because everything is, how it is that the signs which identify them. But in
from the beginning, completely signs of things fact, none of these characteristics
pure. The seventh is that every- or signs really exist. This example
thing is basically the same be- that appear to us is helpful for us, because we
cause everything is free from all in dreams, in cannot really conceive of what the
of our ideas about what they are. meditative equipoise of noble
They are all of the nature of fact, do not beings is like. But we can have
simplicity, of the nature of the really exist some understanding of dreams
freedom from conceptual fabrica- and of how it is that the signs of
tions. The eighth is that every- things, the marks of things that
thing is basically the same because none of it appear to us in dreams, in fact, do not really
need be adopted and none of it need be rejected. exist.
There is nothing to adopt and nothing to reject. In a dream we have many different kinds of
The ninth is that everything is basically the thoughts, which cling to the existence of signs
same because everything is equally just like an and marks that seem to identify things, but, in
illusion, a dream, an echo, a water moon, a fact, none of the marks in dreams, none of the
reflection, and an emanation. There is nothing identifying signs, exists. And it is the same in
that is not like that, and everything is like that waking life. In the waking state we have a great
in an equal way. And finally, everything is equal variety of different kinds of thoughts which
or the same because there is absolutely no express a belief in the existence of identifiable
difference between something’s existing and signs which these thoughts think they perceive,
something’s not existing. There is no difference but in fact none of these signs which identify
between things that exist and things that do not. things to us exists.
The first of these ten types of equality is the Next is the equality of things because there
equality of everything because there are no are no distinguishing or defining characteristics.
identifiable signs of anything. This refers to What is this talking about? This refers to a way
when we think, “Oh, this is something clean, of analysis that understands that there are two
this is something dirty, this is my friend, this is things happening: there is an object that has its
my enemy.” We have a vast variety of different own individual characteristics, and then there is

74 SHENPEN ÖSEL
the name that we give to that object. For ex- the instants of time the length of a finger snap
ample, in the case of fire, there is the thing that that have occurred in the past, and then line up
is actually hot and burning, and then there is the all the instants of time the length of a finger
name fire, which we give to that thing. Here we snap that will occur in the future, we will find
are talking about the thing itself, that which is that there is no gap between the last past in-
called the basis for imputing the stant of time and the first future
name. In the case of fire, it is that instant of time. That there is
which is actually hot and burning. Everything is the nothing there. And so there is no
Many different kinds of these present process of birth or arising
distinguishing characteristics can same, of the or happening.**
appear to us in dreams, but none nature of We can look at suffering in the
of them really exists. Therefore, same way. If we look at all of the
all phenomena are equal because
equality, because suffering we have had in the past
there are no distinguishing or everything is up until this moment, and from
defining characteristics. Things this moment, at all of the suffering
do not have their own individual
completely free. we are going to experience in the
characteristics. Free of what? future, then in between these two
The third is that everything in Free of there is nothing. There is nothing
the future is the same in that it in between these periods of time.
never will arise. Nothing will ever happening in And so there is no such thing as
happen. Arising in the future does the present present suffering.
not happen. None of it will ever It is the same with death.
come into existence. Why? Be- There is all the time before you
cause arising itself is just a mere appearance. die and then there is all the time after you die.
There is really no such thing as arising. It is just But in between those two there is nothing.
the mere appearance of the coming together of There is no process of death. If death really
causes and conditions. happens, when does death happen? It does not
The fourth is that everything is the same, of happen when you are alive, and it does not
the nature of equality, in that nothing in the past happen after you are already dead, and there is
ever happens. Everything is just like appear- nothing in between those two states, because
ances in a dream. We could have had a dream you are either alive or dead—there is no third
last night, and lots of different things could have possibility! There is no point of death. This is
seemed to have happened. But none of it really why people who die never know at what time
did happen. And everything that we experience they die. There is no such point. When you try to
in the past in our waking state is the same way. find the “process” of any activity, you can’t find
None of it has ever really come into being. the instant in which it happens, because be-
The fifth is that everything is the same, of tween all the past instants and all the future
the nature of equality, because everything is ones there isn’t anything there. Thus the lord of
completely free. Free of what? Free of happening yogis, Milarepa, sang, “I’ve gained confidence
in the present. So the third is that nothing in the that there is no arising. This swept away my
future is going to happen. The fourth is that taking past and future lives as two, exposed all
nothing in the past has happened, and the fifth
is that, if there should be any arising in between *Editor’s note: By some Buddhist calculations of time, there
are 60 moments of time in the duration of one finger snap.
those two, any process of present happening,
that is not really happening or arising either. **Editor’s note: When you try to find the “process” of any
Even though a finger snap is something very activity, you can’t find the instant in which it happens,
because between all the past instants and all the future ones
coarse,* still we can see that, if we line up all there isn’t anything there.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 75
six realms’ appearances as false, and cut right thing there is equally nothing to adopt and noth-
through believing all too much in birth and ing to reject or get rid of. Here this means that
death.” there is nothing we need to bring in from the
It is the same with getting angry. In between outside. There is nothing outside that we some-
all of the anger of the past and all of the anger how need to get. And similarly, there is nothing
there will be in the future, there is nothing. inside that we need to get rid of.
There is no time there for any present anger to In a dream, if we do not know we are dream-
exist in. And so anger is not real. ing, it can appear as though there is something
The sixth is that everything is the same, of we need to get from the outside, and it can
the nature of equality, because everything is appear as though there is something inside that
completely pure, primordially pure. The purity of we need to get rid of. But in fact, since it is just a
phenomena was not created by any one. Nobody dream, these do not really exist. There is noth-
takes—even buddhas do not take—impure ing that we need to get and there is nothing we
things and make them pure, because it is the need to get rid of. And so this is how it is in the
very nature of things to be pure. That is how waking state as well. Thinking about the dream
they naturally are, and that is how they have example helps us to understand how this is the
always been. The way in which they are com- case.
pletely pure is described in the The ninth way that everything
heart sutra where it says, “There is basically the same is that
are no stains. There is no freedom We need to everything is like an illusion, a
from stains.” This is the way dream, an optical illusion, an
realize that
things have been from echo, a water moon, a reflection,
beginningless time. They have everything is or an emanation. These seven
always been free of any flaw. With appearance- examples illustrate through
regard to sentient beings, we have analogies how it is that things are
a vast variety of different kinds of emptiness the undifferentiability of appear-
thoughts. Some of them are very undifferentiable ance and emptiness. These analo-
good, and some of them are vile gies are taught because we need
and base. But whatever type of to realize that everything is
thought there might be, its essence has always appearance-emptiness undifferentiable, and
been completely pure. what helps us do that are the examples of these
The seventh type of equality is that all things empty forms. So we should sing the verse by
transcend all conceptual fabrications about what Nagarjuna on illusion, because in that verse
they might be. This means that you cannot say there are three examples given, and the point in
that things exist; you cannot say that they do not each is the same.
exist; you cannot say that there are things; and
you cannot say there are no things. The nature of Like a dream, like an illusion,
reality is beyond all of these conceptual fabrica- Like a city of gandharvas,
That’s how birth, and that’s how living,
tions.
That’s how dying are taught to be.
In dreams there appear to be different types
of characteristics and qualities of things, and we
When we think about our feelings of happi-
think that these characteristics and qualities
ness or sadness, our feelings of joy or of pain,
exist. But, in fact, none of them do. And so the
then the dream example is very helpful, because
nature of the many different things we perceive
we experience these feelings in dreams, but then
in dreams also transcends all conceptual fabrica-
we wake up and know that none of it was real.
tions about what they might be.
So, when we experience those types of feelings
The eighth type of equality is that in every-
in the waking state, it is very helpful to think of
76 SHENPEN ÖSEL
the dream example. When we are going around Chandrakirti focuses in the sixth chapter of this
in the big city, then the example of a city of text on proving that nothing really arises. The
gandharvas is very helpful. To think of it as just basis of that discussion and that proof is entirely
being a city of these [disembodied, ghost-like, contained in the first and second lines of the
smell-eating] spirits. eighth verse, which therefore underlies the
And now in these times advanced machines whole sixth chapter:
can produce all kinds of different images. The
example that is helpful here is the example of an It does not arise from itself; how could it arise
illusion, because if the causes and conditions from something else?
come together for these things to appear, then It does not arise from self and other together;
how could it arise without a cause? (8ab)
they do; and if the causes and conditions do not
come together, then they simply do not appear.
We should recite this statement, which is the
The appearance of an illusion requires a
key thesis of this chapter, three times. [Students
great number of causes and conditions to come
recite.]
together. If even one of these is not present, then
Now we should sing together a verse from
the illusion will not be able to be seen very
Milarepa’s song called the Three Kinds of Confi-
clearly at all, if at all. One of these very impor-
dence in Genuine Reality:
tant causes is the observer of the illusion. If
there is no observer then there is no illusion. I’ve gained confidence that there is no arising.
You have to have eyes to see it. This swept away my taking past and future lives
With movies and email, if all of the causes as two,
and conditions come together, then they can be Exposed all six realms’ appearances as false,
seen. This includes as a necessary cause some- And cut right through believing all too much in
body to look at them. If there is nobody to look at birth and death.
Hey hey! Hey hey!
them, then there is nothing really there. There
is nothing really happening.
[Students sing.]
The tenth and last type of equality is the
equality of entity and non-entity,
This is a warrior song, because,
or of something and nothing. In
if we do not know that we are
all of this we are doing a lot of Chandrakirti dreaming, then every little thing
refuting of existence, of there
being something. Therefore, it
focuses in the will make us afraid. But if, when
we dream, we know that we are
might seem as though there sixth chapter of dreaming, then nothing will make
were nothing. But, in fact, there
this text on us afraid. We know that nothing is
is neither something nor noth-
ing. It is just like in a dream. proving that really happening, so there is noth-
ing of which to be scared. So it is
There appears to be something, nothing really like that.
on the one hand, and nothing, on
the other hand, but in fact, arises So we can see that no arising is
the intention of the teachings of
neither the something nor the
both Milarepa and Chandrakirti.
nothing really exists.
Let’s recite the eight verses that Rinpoche has
If, from among all of these ten types of equal-
taught this morning.
ity, we can understand how it is that nothing
[Students recite.]
really happens, that nothing really arises, then
It is good to recite these root verses again
the rest is easy to understand. Gaining under-
and again, many many times, because this plants
standing of this key point allows all the other
within us the seeds of the habitual tendencies to
points to be understood very easily. Therefore,
understanding.
SHENPEN ÖSEL 77
This text, Entrance to the Middle Way, is [Students recite long life prayers of His
studied by all four traditions of Tibetan Bud- Holiness Örgyen Trinley Dorje, The Seventeenth
dhism—Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya, and Gelug. Karmapa, and of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso
They all study it, and so it would be good if Rinpoche:]
people from all four traditions could get together
to recite it together. The way that they meditate Unborn, eternal, self existing dharmakaya,
upon it may be different, according to the teach- Arising as the miraculous rupakaya,
ings that they respectively receive. But every- May these three secrets of the Karmapa remain in
the vajra nature,
body can recite this text together.
And may his limitless spontaneous buddha
When you meditate, you can meditate accord- activity splendidly blaze!
ing to the rangtong view, the shentong view, the
mahamudra view, or the dzogchen view, what- By the power of the blessings of
ever you like. It is up to you as an individual, All the buddhas and bodhisattvas without excep-
and there is no need for any disharmony about tion,
these things, because it is every individual’s And of all lamas, yidams, and protectors abiding
choice. in all the pure realms of the ten directions,
May the lotus feet of the genuine spiritual friend
You can also meditate on the deity arising
remain firm,
instantly out of emptiness, dissolving instantly And may his awakened activity pervade all
into emptiness. directions!
[Rinpoche dedicates the merit with the
following verse:] [Rinpoche recites a prayer in Tibetan.]

By this virtue may all beings Should we not say a prayer for all the beings
Perfect the accumulations of merit and wisdom,
with whom we have a good or bad connection?
And may they attain the two genuine dimensions
That arise from merit and wisdom.* When you drive away today, you will kill lots of
little bugs underneath the wheels of your car. In
[Students dedicate the merit with the follow- that way you make a bad connection with those
ing verses:] bugs. But that bad connection can turn into a
very positive one by making aspiration prayers
By this merit may all obtain omniscience. for them. [Students sing the following verse:]
May it defeat the enemy, wrongdoing.
From the stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness, All you sentient beings I have a good or bad
and death, connection with,
From the ocean of samsara may I free all beings. As soon as you have left this confused dimension,
May you be born in the west in Sukhavati,
May all beings have happiness and the root of And once you’re born there, complete the bhumis
happiness, and the paths.
Be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they never be separate from the great happi- Good. Sarva Mangalam.
ness devoid of suffering.
May they live in the great equanimity free from
passion, aggression, and partiality.

*Editor’s note: The two genuine dimensions of enlighten-


ment, alternatively translated as the two sacred bodies, are
the dharmakaya, which is uncovered through the accumula-
tion of wisdom, and the rupakaya—the sambhogakaya and
the nirmanakaya taken together—which arise from the
dharmakaya through the accumulation of merit.

78 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

Continuing the Explanation of


The Sixth Mind Generation:
The Approach

[Students begin exist before it arose


by reciting the that would be in
verses that Rinpoche contradiction with
taught in the previ- sound reasoning.
ous session.] But if, on the
other hand, it were

T
he statement the case that even
found in the though it existed, it
first two lines would need to arise
of the eighth verse, again, as is postu-
that things do not lated by this thesis,
arise from any of the then arising would
four extremes, is the know no end, be-
thesis of this chapter cause it would exist
and so we will begin but still have to
by explaining this arise. Then it would
briefly.* [still] exist and so
Given entities, [still] have to arise.
they do not arise So arising would be
from themselves, endless.
because if they did, If it needed to
arising would be arise, even after
both meaningless existing, then what
and endless. would bring an end
Arising would be to arising? Nothing.
meaningless because Normally, when
if things arose from things exist, that is
themselves they when we know they
would have to be have stopped aris-
both the producer ing, but here it
and the produced, which means they would have would be the case that something that existed
to exist before they arose. If they existed before would need to arise, so the arising would go on
they arose then their subsequent arising would forever. Therefore, things do not arise from
be meaningless, because if something were to themselves.
Since things do not exist as the producer
*Editor’s note: See verse 8ab from the previous session. before they themselves exist as the produced,

SHENPEN ÖSEL 79
then things do not arise from themselves. How other than themselves. If they did, then anything
then could things arise from something other could arise from anything else. And the reason is
than themselves? If they do not arise from that they are all equally different from each
themselves, how could they arise from some- other, and so you could have anything coming
thing other than themselves? Entities do not from anything.
arise from something different from themselves, So causes and results are not other to each
because at the time the cause is present, the other. They do not exist in a relationship in
result is not. which one is different from the
When the cause exists, the other. Things which are different
result does not exist. When the Entities do not from each other have to exist
result exists, the cause does not simultaneously, as do your left
exist. So these have the relation-
arise from and right hand, or two fingers on
ship of thing and nothing. When something the same hand. So if things were
one exists, the other does not, and to arise from things different from
therefore a thing does not arise
different from themselves in this way, then
from something other then itself themselves, anything would be able to come
because there is nothing other from anything else. Any two
because at the
than itself there from which it simultaneously existent phenom-
could arise. There is only one at a time the cause is ena could be said to be the cause
time. For something to arise from present, the and the result. And that does not
something other than itself, there make sense.
has to be something else for it to result is not These two refutations of
be other to, something else for it arising from self and arising from
to be different from. But since only one exists at other refute that kind of belief. Any belief that
a time you cannot posit that things arise from asserts that things arise from themselves is
something different from or other than them- refuted by that. Both the Buddhist tenets (in the
selves. less advanced philosophical systems) and the
For example, if you take a finger snap, then non-Budddhist tenets that assert that things
first, all the fingers are getting ready and the arise from something other than themselves are
thought to snap the fingers is getting ready. So equally refuted by this reasoning.
all the causes are assembling. But the result There are slight variations in the reasonings
does not exist. But when you snap your fingers, presented in this text, depending upon what the
then you have the result present, but all the other person is falsely ascertaining, but this one
causes are gone at the time the result occurs. basic reasoning covers them all. And so it is the
And so, regarding causes and results, you only most important one, which is why we select it
have one present at a time. And since you only among many to present.
have one present at a time, there is nothing What would happen in these debates,* is that
other there for something to arise from, or to those who asserted that things arise from some-
cause something else to arise. There is only one. thing other [from themselves] would come back
For there to be an “other,” there have to be two with their own counter-reasonings, and then
present at the same time, and so things do not these too would be refuted. The whole process of
arise from something other than themselves. debate would go on in this way. And then, of
So things that are products are not different course, those who assert that things arise from
from the things that are their causes. The result themselves could and can also come up with
cannot be something different from that which is some clever reasonings of their own, but these
its cause, because only one is present at a time.
*Editor’s note: And presumably in the sections of this
And so things do not arise from things which are chapter that Rinpoche did not teach.

80 SHENPEN ÖSEL
also are refuted. would then either always be there or never come
Then we need to look at the first two lines of into existence. Also, if things arose without
verse 98: cause, then no one would do anything. No one
would work, because what would be the point.
Arising from both self and other is also You would not be accumulating or creating the
untenable cause of anything, so what would be the point of
Because the faults already explained apply here
planting a seed and going to all the trouble [of
as well. (98ab)
planting, cultivating, harvesting, and so forth], if
there were no relationship between cause and
So somebody might think, “Well, okay, so
result.
things do not arise from themselves and they do
Then somebody might say, “Well, of course, to
not arise from something different from them-
produce a flower you have to plant a seed. Flow-
selves; maybe then they arise from some combi-
ers rely on causes, but other things do not. Other
nation of these two?” But that proposition is
things just happen for no reason.” This reasoning
doubly wrong, because all the faults that apply
is refuted by stating, “Then it is up to you to
to saying that things arise from themselves, and
distinguish between why some things need
all the faults that apply to saying that things
causes and other things do not. What is the
arise from something other than themselves
difference?”
apply to this third reasoning. So this third
Then it might be asked, “Well, what about
reasoning has twice as many faults as the first
rainbows in the sky and moons on pools of wa-
two.
ter? Those do not need any causes, do they?” And
Then somebody might say, ”Well, okay, then it
the answer is, “Yes, they do. They appear due to
must be that things happen without any cause
the coming together of causes and conditions.
whatsoever. They must just come from out of
They are empty forms that are mere appear-
nowhere. That possibility is refuted in verse 99:
ances appearing due to the coming together of
If things arose without any cause at all, causes and conditions.” This was how the protec-
Then everything would always exist and tor Nagarjuna taught about these things.
anything could arise from anything else. And this is why the protector Nagarjuna said
Furthermore, no one would perform all the hun- in his text, The Fundamental Wisdom of the
dreds of tasks, like planting seeds and so forth, Middle Way, “There is not a single
That people ordinarily do to get thing which is not dependently
results to arise. (99)
Nargarjuna said, arisen; therefore, there is not a
single thing that is not empty.” It
The absurd consequence of ‘There is not a is easy to understand how it is
the belief that things arise with-
out cause can be stated in the
single thing that rainbows in the sky and
reflections of the moon on pools of
following way: Given entities, which is not water are mere dependently
they would therefore either
always exist or never exist,
dependently arisen appearances. Understand-
ing that, we can apply the same
because it would not matter if arisen; therefore, reasoning and understanding to
their causes were present or not. there is not a everything else and understand
The presence or the absence of
single thing that that everything is just a mere
the cause would have no affect on
dependently arisen and, therefore,
whether a thing existed or not. is not empty’ empty appearance.
So, since things as results
Since it is the case that things
would have absolutely no rela-
do not arise from any one of these four possible
tionship, no dependence upon, their causes, they
extremes, [which are the only four possible ways

SHENPEN ÖSEL 81
that things could arise,] then things really do not sentient beings are born, are they born as you or
happen. They really never come into being. We me?” Well, we all think we are me, but everybody
can say that things really do not arise. We can else thinks that we are you. So you cannot say
say that in actual reality, they do not arise. We whether a person is you or me. So what are they?
can say that there is no arising from their own If they are born, they have to be one or the other,
side. We can say that entities in fact do not arise. but they are not. And therefore, what are beings?
We can say it in lots of different They are just body and mind
ways. undifferentiable—the great trans-
Therefore, in this great ex- In this great parency, and since they are just
panse of space without center or expanse of space mere dependently arisen appear-
end, on this planet where there is ances of that nature, then they
neither top nor bottom, for all the without center or really never arise, they are never
beings there may be, self and end, on this born at all.
other are equality—body and Therefore, the appearance of
mind undifferentiable—the great
planet where beings is just the
transparency. Since it is all just a there is neither undifferentiability of body and
mere dependently arisen appear- mind. And this is the great trans-
ance, it never truly happens.
top nor bottom, parency, the nature of which is
In accordance with the way we for all the beings open and spacious. So there is no
normally think about things, this there may be, need to worry about the fact that
planet arose in the middle of beings are not real, that they are
space, and thereafter all these self and other simply this great transparency,
beings have been and are being are equality— because the nature of that unreal-
born one after another on this ity is openness and spaciousness.
planet. But if this planet really body and mind So this openness and spacious-
came into existence in this space, undifferentiable ness and relaxedness is the basic
where did it come into existence? nature of reality. It is
In the middle of space? At the end
—the great dharmadhatu, the expanse of
of space? Where? The fact is that transparency reality. And within this
space is directionless. It has no dharmadhatu there are interde-
center and it has no end. So, if you pendent appearances of arising
are going to say this planet came into existence which are not real appearances of arising. They
and you cannot find out where it came into are all just of the nature of the great openness
existence, then that is a logical contradiction. and spaciousness and relaxedness.
What about the beings being born on this Shenpen Ösel has printed a book of
planet? [Can you not say where they are being Rinpoche’s teachings, In Praise of the
born in reference to the planet?] Well, no. If Dharmadhatu,* which we all should read again
beings are being born on this planet, are they and again, and see that in these teachings the
being born on the top of the planet or on the convention emptiness is not used. Rather the
bottom? Wherever you go on this planet, you convention dharmadhatu is used, which conveys
think you are on the top of it. Nobody thinks a sense of the expanse, the openness and spa-
they are on the bottom, so there is no bottom. ciousness and relaxedness that is the essence of
But if there is no bottom, there cannot be any top reality.
either. So if you say someone was born and you From our own expanse there shine a great
cannot say where they were born, again you have variety of dependently arisen appearances. From
a logical problem.
Another thing you might ask is, “All right, if *Editor’s note: See Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 3, No. 2.

82 SHENPEN ÖSEL
one’s own expanse come one’s own projections, a different perspective. If, for example, you take
one’s own dependently arisen appearances. In somebody who is very famous, like the presi-
this text, Entrance to the Middle Way, dent, then the president’s father sees the presi-
Chandrakirti is concerned first with refuting dent as his son; the president’s son sees the
[the notion of an objectively existent] reality, and president as his father; enemies see the presi-
that is why the convention emptiness is used, dent as enemy; friends see the president as
the emptiness of reality, [instead of the term friend; some bugs see the president as some-
dharmadhatu], and it is this emptiness that is thing nice to eat; other bugs see the president as
taught to be the nature of ultimate truth, the their home. So what is the president? You cannot
nature of actual reality. say. There is no one being whose view is the
There are, in fact, two modes of being. One is exclusively correct view. No one can say, “This is
the way things appear to be, and one is the way how it is, and every other view must be ex-
things really are. These are differentiated in the cluded,” because every being has their own
twenty-third verse: different view.
Furthermore, our own views of ourselves are
There are two ways of seeing everything: the constantly changing. When everything is going
perfect way and the false way. well, when we have no mental or bodily suffer-
Therefore, every thing found holds two natures ing, when we are surrounded by friends, then we
within.
get pretty pleased with and have a very high
The Buddha taught that perfect seeing sees
suchness opinion of ourselves. But when things are going
And false seeing sees the relative badly, when we have bodily and
truth. (23) mental suffering and are encoun-
Since all of these tering difficulties with others,
For every single thing, there then we have a low opinion of
are both the way that it actually is
different ways of ourselves.
and the way that it appears to be. seeing things are And since all of these differ-
That which sees the way it actu- just confused ent ways of seeing things are
ally is is prajna, and that which therefore just confused appear-
sees the way it appears to be is appearances, do ances, do not think that any of it
confused mind. Perfect seeing sees not think that is real. So what is it that we need
equality, which is the abiding to realize? We need to realize the
nature of things. It also sees that
any of it is real true nature of reality, which is
which transcends all conceptual equality, the freedom from all
notions about what it might be. It sees the sim- conceptual fabrications. So let’s sing a song,
plicity that is at the heart of reality. verse 23:
In terms of the way things appear to be,
there is no limit to, no end of, the variety of There are two ways of seeing every thing,
different ways things can appear to different The perfect way and the false way.
beings. For example, we look at these flowers So each and every thing that can ever be found
Holds two natures within.
and see something very beautiful. Animals, when
they perceive these flowers, may be more fo- And what does perfect seeing see?
cused on their smell. Insects may see them as a It sees the suchness of all things.
potential home. There is no end to the different And false seeing sees the relative truth —
perspectives in relative reality. This is what the perfect Buddha said.
The point is that no one can ever say, “This,
and no other way, is the way things are. That is Verse 28 reads:
it.” They cannot say that, because everybody has

SHENPEN ÖSEL 83
Because bewilderment obscures their true nature, from seeing their actual nature, and, second,
they are relative. because there is a limitless number of ways that
Whatever worldly beings fabricate appears to one could fabricate the nature of these appear-
them to be true.
ances and cling to those fabrications as being
This the Mighty One called the “relative truth.”
The noble ones know these fabricated entities to real. Given all these different fabrications, there
be relative. (28) is a reason for saying they are real; there is a
reason for saying they are true; and the reason is
This verse gives us the etymology behind the that that is what people think. People think the
term relative truth, in Tibetan, kunzog denpa. fabrications are real and true, just as when they
Literally, kunzog could be translated as com- dream and do not know that they are dreaming.
pletely obscured or completely blocked or cov- When bewilderment comes between us and our
ered. Why? Because bewilderment obscures the dream and causes us not to realize that the
nature of these appearances. Our minds are dream is just a dream, prevents our realizing
obscured by ignorance, and this ignorance is like that we are dreaming, then we fabricate all of
a big screen that comes in front of us and pre- these different kinds of things and we think they
vents our seeing the nature of these things as are all real. So let’s recite this verse together.
they really are. These appearances really are [Students recite verse 28.]
just fabricated; they are just projections, contriv- The fact is though, that all of these fabrica-
ances of beings who are under the influence of tions are anything but stable; we constantly
this bewilderment. But the unfortunate fact is change our projections.
that beings think that their own projections are
true. This is where denpa, the truth, comes in. It If worldly beings perceptions were valid,
is not because these things are validly existent Since worldly beings would see suchness, what
need for the noble ones?
that the word denpa is used; it is
What would the noble ones’ path
because people think they are accomplish?
true. This is where the word truth First, ignorance The perception of fools is not
comes from in this term. So you valid cognition. (30)
have relative, coming from the
blocks us from
fact that they are just appear- seeing their If ordinary beings’ perceptions
ances, one’s own projections were valid, there would be no
relative to one’s own self that
actual nature, meaning to the path, because
have no validity for somebody and, second, beings would already see things
else; they are just one’s own there is a the way they really are. So there
projections. And because we think would be no point in having a
our own projections are true, then limitless number path, there would be no noble
the Mighty One called them of ways that one beings actually, because there
relative truth [or relative truths]. would be nothing to distinguish
And in fact, with regard to any could fabricate anybody from anybody else. But
one thing, there is a limitless the nature since it is the fact that our fabri-
number of ways of fabricating it, cations and projections gradually
of relating to it, of thinking that it
of these dissolve, we need the path of the
exists in one way or another. appearances and noble ones. The fact is that the
Given the appearances of this perception of fools, of ordinary
life, they are merely relative
cling to these beings, is not valid at all, because
appearances, because, first, igno- fabrications as it is a perception that is clouded
rance, bewilderment, blocks us being real by ignorance—just like dreaming
and not knowing that we are
84 SHENPEN ÖSEL
dreaming. If somebody says that this is wrong, if relative or the kunzop exists only in dependence
they say that the way that ordinary beings upon there being genuine reality, and you can
perceive things is valid, and that the reason why only posit genuine reality, or some notion of
it is valid is that it seems to be valid, that we genuine reality, because you have something else
experience it as valid, then these reasons are not which is not genuine. Right? So these exist only
enough, because we have these exact same in dependence upon each other, relative to one
experiences in dreams. Just because we experi- another. So neither one really exists. So there
ence the dream to be real does not mean that it are only dependently arisen appearances; there-
is real; it does not prove it. fore they are empty; therefore both truths are
Look at how our own way of perceiving appearance-emptiness undifferentiable.
things has changed from the time This is the tradition of the
we were small children up until middle way consequence school
the present. We are continuously The way that (prasangika madhyamaka), which
replacing one way of viewing the explains that, whatever it is, it is
world with another. This just
things appear to just a mere dependently arisen
shows that none of these modes ordinary beings is appearance, and therefore, it is
of perception has any validity. empty of any inherent reality.
Viewed over time, we do not even
not trustworthy Everything in samsara and
have a belief in our own way of nirvarna is just dependently
viewing things. We do not even arisen, mere appearance. There-
trust that. [The truth of this is readily apparent,] fore it is all empty. It is of the nature of empti-
because when things are going well, we have all ness. And because it is all of the nature of empti-
the confidence in the world; we can do every- ness, there can be all of these different appear-
thing. But then, when things go badly, we no ances. So everything is emptiness and appear-
longer trust that feeling at all. It is completely ance undifferentiable.
replaced by a feeling of impatience and incompe- As the protector Nagarjuna taught, “There is
tence. So we do not even trust our own way of not a single entity that is not dependently
perceiving things, which just shows that it has arisen, and, therefore, there is not a single thing
no validity. that is not empty.”
The way that things appear to ordinary
beings, the way that they see them and the way Question: How does genuine truth arise from
that they think about then—none of this is method?
reliable. It is not trustworthy. It is just like the
way that we perceive things in dreams. Rinpoche: In conventional existence there are
many methods that we use, many practices, and
Question: What does this aspect of relative it is through these practices that we realize the
truth, focusing on the word relative here, really nature of genuine reality. First, we think about
mean? the horrible suffering in the lower realms, and
we get scared of that suffering, which causes us
Rinpoche: The word kunzop, that we are trans- to want to gain liberation from it. As a conse-
lating here as relative truth, in Tibetan has two quence, we begin to practice the path, and
meanings. One is existence only in relation to gradually we start to progress towards an un-
something else or in dependence on something derstanding of the nature of genuine reality.
else. And the other is this notion of obscuring, We learn about past and future lives, that we
that we had in the verse. So here we focus on the have been born again and again and have existed
first definition, which is what you are asking since beginingless time, an infinite number of
about. The reason why it has that nature is that times, and will continue to do so unless we do

SHENPEN ÖSEL 85
something about it. We can get very tired and selves do not really exist, and that recognition is
exhausted from these thoughts. But then we can the recognition of the emptiness of phenomena.
realize that, in fact, there is no self being born in We can go for refuge to the three precious
all of these different lifetimes. We realize self- jewels. We can prostrate to them, make offerings
lessness. to them, confess our negativities to them. Those
We think about how all samsaric appearances are all methods by which we can realize the
are confused appearances. Thinking it is all nature of genuine reality. For example, in doing
confusion is a method that makes us weary of prostrations, which is one of these methods,
samsara. But then we can ask ourselves who is after having done a lot of prostrations and gotten
the one that is confused, anyway? And then we tired, we can sit down and relax and ask our-
find out that there is no one who is confused, and selves, “Who is the one that is prostrating,
that confused appearances themselves do not anyway?” There is no one prostrating. That
inherently exist. That confused appearances recognition is the recognition of the emptiness of
themselves do not inherently exist is the ulti- the self of the individual. Thinking about the
mate truth with regard to the emptiness of objects to whom we are prostrating, we recog-
phenomena. nize that these do not really exist, and that is the
Then we think about the recognition of the emptiness of
suffering of sickness and the phenomena.
suffering of death, and that again We can offer Or we can do a lot of
makes us frightened and weary of Varjrasattva practice, confess our
samsara. But then we can look at mandalas and negativity, imagine the amrita
that and ask ourselves, “Who is it then we can flowing through our body and
that is really sick? And who is it purifying us, and then after that
that is really going to die?” And realize in fact we can think, “Was there really
we cannot find anyone who is that there is no any one who committed any nega-
either sick or going to die. tivity anyway?” The recognition
When we think about the fact
one making any that there was no one committing
that birth and death do not really offerings, there is any negativity in the first place is
exist, that is the emptiness of the recognition of the emptiness of
phenomena. When we think about
nothing to offer, the self. That there was no nega-
samsara and the suffering of and there is no tivity is the emptiness of phenom-
samsara, that is a method that one to whom to ena.
gets us scared. But then we think And we can offer mandalas and
of how it is that really there is no offer anything then we can realize in fact there is
one going around in samsara, and no one making any offerings, there
that is [a method for realizing] the emptiness of is nothing to offer, and there is no one to whom
self. And when we think about how it is that to offer anything. This recognition is the recogni-
samsara does not really exist, that is [a method tion of the emptiness of the three spheres, and
for realizing] the emptiness of phenomena, and again a way of realizing the nature of genuine
that is how we arrive at the ultimate truth. reality.
When we think about our confused thoughts, Again we can do guru yoga practice, and then
about how all of our thoughts are just confused, we can get tired of that and take a rest and see
and that makes us tired and weary, then we can that in fact there is no one who is giving bless-
think about how it is that really there is no one ing, there is no one receiving blessing, and there
thinking. That recognition is the recognition of is no blessing to give or receive. Again, this is the
the emptiness of the self of the individual. And realization of the nature of genuine reality.
we can also think about how the thoughts them- Or we can do yidam practice, and when we

86 SHENPEN ÖSEL
get tired of focusing on the yidam, then we any of these four possible ways of arising. It is
think, “Who really is practicing this [and what is just a mere appearance of arising. This is what
his or her nature]? What is the nature of the dependent arising means.
yidam we are practicing? What is the nature of So let’s sing this verse. [Students sing.]
the practice? And again we arrive at an under-
standing of the actual nature of reality. So it is Question: I could use advice on how to keep
like that. from falling into the extreme of nihilism, think-
ing that nothing exists. Personally, when I feel
Question: If things really do not arise because compassion, it is when I see someone really
they do not arise from any of the four extremes, there and hurting and feel that. When compas-
then what is dependent arising? What does that sion comes from seeing somebody and thinking
mean? How can anything arise, how can any- that they are there and that they are suffering,
thing even appear to arise, if it does not really how is it that the understanding of emptiness
arise? So how can it say in Verse 37 that “Empty and that things do not really exist does not cause
entities, like reflections and so forth, are known our compassion to decrease? And how do we
to arise due to the coming together of causes and avoid falling into the view of nihilism in general?
conditions”? How, when one states that a nihilistic view is
also just like a dream appearance, [is that differ-
Rinpoche: It is just like a dream and a water ent from the Buddhist view that everything is
moon. Dream appearances and just like a dream appearance?]
the reflection of the moon in a
pool of water do not arise from Sentient beings Rinpoche: By the very fact that
any of the four possibilities. They there are relative, mere depen-
are just mere appearances—mere do not really dently arisen appearances, then
appearances of the coming to- exist, but there is no extreme of nihilism.
gether of causes and conditions And because these mere appear-
producing the mere appearance of because of their ances do not exist as what they
arising. confused appear to be, there is no extreme
Milarepa sang, of realism. It is for these two
appearances reasons that we do not fall into
When you’re sure that conduct’s they suffer, and either of the two extremes.
work is luminous light, Specifically with regard to
And you’re sure that interdepen- so we have compassion, sentient beings do
dence is emptiness,
A doer and deed refined until
compassion not really exist, but because of
they’re gone: for them their confused appearances they
This way of working with conduct, suffer, and so we have compassion
it works quite well. for them. In this way, combining
these two,* we are free from both the extreme of
In this verse, Milarepa is singing of his realism and the extreme of nihilism. And so it is
complete confidence that things which are explained that sentient beings really do not
dependently arisen are empty, and that things exist, but at the same time it is asserted that
which are empty are only dependently arisen, there are these appearances of confused sentient
and that these two pervade each other com-
pletely. *Editor’s note: The recognition of the emptiness of the
Think about dreaming: When you know you confused appearances of suffering and of suffering sentient
beings, on the one hand; and compassion for the merely
are dreaming, you know that whatever appears
apparent sentient beings who, because of their confusion, are
to you did not really arise; it did not come from suffering, on the other hand.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 87
beings for whom we have compassion. of these are just confused notions.
The nihilist would say that there is no such And that is why the existence of the diamond
thing as a sentient being, nor is there even an and later its non-existence are of the nature of
appearance of a sentient being that is suffering. equality. So it is like that.
If you make both of these assertions, then you
have a nihilistic view. Question: So if it is the case that there is not a
Milarepa described the proper single thing which is not depen-
view by saying, “I see this life to dently arisen, does that include
be like an illusion and a dream, Happiness suchness and enlightenment and
and I have compassion for those the inconceivable nature of real-
who do not.” That was his practice
exists only in ity, clear light? Would Rinpoche
of emptiness and compassion dependence on like to add that?
together. Since he sees this life to
be like an illusion and a dream, he
unhappiness. Rinpoche: Yes, all of these [for-
does not fall into the extreme of Unhappiness mulations of] ultimate truth—
realism. Since he has compassion exists only in clear light, suchness, etc.—from
for sentient beings who do not the perspective of the second
realize that life is like an illusion dependence turning of the wheel of dharma,
and a dream, he does not fall into upon happiness. are merely dependently arisen.
the extreme of nihilism. Because if you say clear light,
In fact, both realism and So neither one then that exists only in depen-
nihilism are just projections of really exists; they dence upon a notion of darkness.
thoughts. We can say that every- If you say truth, that exists only
thing is real, or we can take a
are of the nature in dependence upon a notion of
nihilistic view that there is noth- of equality falsity. If you say genuine or
ing, but both views are just ultimate reality, then that can
thoughts, projections of confused mind. Neither exist only because you have some notion of what
of them exists in genuine reality. This is what is not real, which is relative. For example, long
Nagarjuna taught in his chapter called The can exist only in dependence upon short. Short
Examination of Mistakes. There is really no can exist only in dependence upon long. Big can
mistake; because there is no one to make a exist only in dependence upon small. Small can
mistake, there cannot be a mistake. To have a exist only in dependence upon big. So, since
view either of nihilism or of realism without there is not a single thing which does not exist in
having a self to have such a view is a contradic- dependence upon something else for its exist-
tion. ence, then everything is empty. First, truth is
If in a dream you have a jewel box, and you refuted; reality is refuted. Then emptiness is
open it and find a diamond, and then you think, proven. But in fact emptiness and reality exist
“Wow, I have a diamond, a real diamond,” then only in dependence upon each other. Therefore,
that is the view of realism. But then you go neither one of these really exists; they are of the
somewhere else in your dream and you open the nature of equality. This is what the teaching on
box again and there is no diamond, then you the ten types of equality is talking about.
have a very strong view of non-existence. There Self exists only in dependence on other.
is nothing. But both the view of something and Other exists only in dependence of upon self.
the view of nothing are just part of the confused And so self and other are of the nature of equal-
dream. Since it is the case that there was never ity. Happiness exists only in dependence upon
any diamond in the first place, there cannot be unhappiness. Unhappiness exists only in depen-
any non-existence of the diamond either. So both dence upon happiness. So neither one of these

88 SHENPEN ÖSEL
really exists; they are of the nature of equality. dha teach about suchness which is not depen-
The nature of everything is fundamentally dently arisen?
the same ultimately, because everything is
ultimately of the nature of simplicity—beyond Rinpoche: In the third turning the Buddha did,
all conceptual fabrications—and it is all funda- in fact, give a slightly different explanation,
mentally the same relatively because every teaching about a suchness which transcends
single appearance is only just like a dream, an dependent arising, but that is not what we are
illusion, a water moon. talking about here.
Appearance and emptiness are also of the
nature of equality. In his song Question: Rinpoche said that you
called The Eight Kinds of Mas- have to listen to teachings on
tery, Milarepa sang When you say emptiness in order to know about
it, and that then you have to reflect
Not separating appearance and emptiness to on those teachings in order to gain
emptiness—
This is view as mastered as it
ordinary people, certainty, because, if you have not
gained certainty, then you cannot
can be. they get the meditate. But what is the purpose
Not seeing dreams and day as
differing— thought that of meditation, if the purpose of
listening is to find out about empti-
This is as meditation as it can be. there is ness and the purpose of reflecting
In a dream, the appearance of nothing, sheer is to gain certainty? And my second
question is, what is the difference
a car and the inner emptiness of nothingness. But
the car* are the same; there is between the equality of things
no difference between them. it is not that. having no identifiable signs and
This is why realizing the equal- Because the equality of their not having
ity of appearance and emptiness their own individual characteris-
is very important. When you say
nothingness tics?
emptiness to ordinary people does not exist
they get the thought that there Rinpoche: The function of medita-
is nothing, sheer nothingness.
either tion is to lead us to an experience
But it is not that. Because noth- or a manifestation of emptiness.
ingness does not exist either. The way we meditate is to rest within the cer-
So, in fact, everything is not empty, because if tainty we have gained through reflecting on the
everything were empty, there would be no non- teachings on emptiness. In the Aspiration
emptiness, and there would be no place or thing Prayer of Mahamudra the Third Karmapa
in dependence upon which things could be said summarized it like this: Through listening you
to be emptiness. So we can only have a notion of free yourself from the obscuration of not know-
emptiness because we have some notion of non- ing. Through reflecting you defeat the darkness
emptiness. If everything were empty, then there of doubt. And through meditation you reveal the
would be no non-emptiness; and since there is no nature of reality just as it is.
non-emptiness, there cannot be any emptiness With respect to the second question, when
either. It is like that. we refer to identifiable signs, we are not split-
ting out the name from the basis to which the
Question: So in the third turning, did the Bud- name is given. For example, we think this object
is clean, this object is dirty. But we are still
mixing the two—the object and its dirtiness—
*Editor’s note: Referring presumably to the space inside the
car. together. When we refer to characteristics [of

SHENPEN ÖSEL 89
objects], we are not. We are just talking about sion and aggression that arise when you know
the basis to which we give a name, devoid of any that you are dreaming. So it is that difference.
names or descriptions. In the mahayana we have to give up anger,
The first deals with the way we as worldly because anger is a motivation to harm others.
beings perceive things. When we say this is But we do not give up desire; we do not give up
clean, this is dirty, we do not think the name is passion, because included in passion is compas-
something different from the object. We mix it all sion, and we do not want to give that up, because
together. The second is more from the perspec- compassion is what causes us to be of benefit to
tive of analyzing and seeing that in fact there is others. What we do want to give up is the pas-
an object to which we give a name and that these sion and the attachment that is like passion and
two, the name and the object, are not the same attachment that we experience when we do not
thing. know that we are dreaming. What we do not
The individual characteristics of a thing we need to give up is the passion and attachment
can see. For example, we can see the fire burn- that arise when we know that it is just a dream.
ing. We do not see the name. When That is different.
we look at a person, we only see So for example, when we feel
the person; we do not see the In mahamudra, compassion for everybody then
name [of the person]. If we saw the we do not try to everybody appears to be very
name, we would know each other’s pleasant and makes us happy to
names just by looking at each give up anger. be around them. We like them.
other. When we refer to the indi- Instead, we That liking of them is included in
vidual characteristics of an object, attachment. It is part of passion,
we are not referring to any name
meditate on the but we do not need to give that
associated with that object. essential nature up.
On the other hand, anger
Question: So, is the experience of
of anger, and makes people appear unpleasant
meditating the same as the experi- then it dissolves to us, and causes us to speak to
ence of gaining certainty, only in and of itself them harshly, want to do them
longer in duration? harm, and maybe even want to
kill them. That is what we need
Rinpoche: At first they are the same, but rest- to abandon.
ing in the certainty leads to a direct realization But in mahamudra, we do not even try to give
of the nature of reality, which transcends up anger. Instead, we meditate on the essential
conceptuality, and at that time all confused nature of anger, and then it dissolves in and of
thoughts are self-liberated. So it is like that. itself, like ice dissolving into water.
To sum up the teachings of the sixth chapter,
Question: The eleventh verse of the Third Mind the last verse reads:
Generation states that desire and aggression are
completely exhausted on the third ground. But With his broad white wings of the relative and
does it not say elsewhere in the teachings that suchness,
the kleshas are not completely exhausted until The king of swans soars ahead to lead the flock.
By the power of virtue’s wind
the seventh or eighth ground?
He crosses to the far shore of the ocean of the
Victor’s supreme qualities. (226)
Rinpoche: On the third ground what is ex-
hausted are the passion and aggression that So the two truths in union are like the two
come from not recognizing, for example, that you great white wings of the swan that allow the
are dreaming. But it does not refer to the pas- swan to fly to enlightenment. If you only have
90 SHENPEN ÖSEL one of the two truths, then you cannot go very
far. Just as when a swan has two wings that
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Seventh Mind Generation:


Gone Far Beyond

W
e will begin by reciting the verses from the Sixth Mind Genera-
tion from yesterday’s teaching. [Students recite.] As before,
please give rise to the precious attitude of bodhicitta as is
instructed in the mahayana, and listen.
The third main section in the commentary looks at the last four
bodhisattva grounds, the seventh through the tenth, called Gone Far
Beyond, Unshakable, Excellent Mind, and Cloud of Dharma.
The three lines of verse that comprise the seventh chapter are:
SHENPEN ÖSEL 91
Here on the ground Gone Far Beyond, great variety of sentient beings with a great
Instant by instant, they can enter cessation, variety of mental dispositions and interests, one
And the transcendent perfection of method needs to be incredibly skillful in means or meth-
excellently blazes.
ods if one wishes to be of benefit to them.
When following a path, some beings will be
The bodhisattva on the seventh ground,
interested in Buddhism, and following the
called Gone Far Beyond, can, instant by instant,
Buddhist path; there will also be people with
enter into and arise out of the meditative equi-
differing interests. Some will feel very strong
poise of cessation. This cessation
renunciation of samsara and want
is not a mere cessation, because
to follow either the shravaka path
here also the transcendent per- Here what the or the path of the solitary sages.
fection of method excellently
blazes.
bodhisattva Some will want to follow the
bodhisattva path, the mahayana,
From among the ten transcen- masters is the and some will want to follow the
dent perfections, here what the
transcendent vajrayana. People will have differ-
bodhisattva masters, or what
perfection of ing interests and want to do
comes to the fore in terms of the
different things.
bodhisattva’s main practice, is the method For some people, compassion
transcendent perfection of
will be their strongest quality.
method, of skillful means.
They will be very interested in helping others
It is important to understand that the last
and not so interested in what happens to them-
four transcendent perfections—method, aspira-
selves. For others, intelligence, prajna, will be
tion prayers, power, and primordial awareness—
the strongest quality, and they will like to study.
are all divisions or aspects of the sixth, the
Still others will be very diligent and will prefer
transcendent perfection of wisdom. There is
to meditate. Because there are so many different
nothing separate from that. After
kinds of beings who have so many different kinds
prajnaparamita has been mastered, there is
of interests and abilities, bodhisattvas need to
nothing you could say that exists apart from
develop great skillfulness in a great variety of
that. Everything then is just a manifestation or a
methods or means to lead sentient beings in
different aspect of wisdom’s display.
accordance with their abilities and interests. On
Bodhisattvas on the seventh ground master
the seventh ground they do just that.
the great variety of methods through which they
Because some people will prefer non-Bud-
can be of benefit to others. They become incred-
dhist traditions and will want to follow other
ibly skillful in the different means and ways of
religious paths, bodhisattvas will emanate not
benefiting others.
only as teachers in the buddhadharma, but also
At the time of the ground, [at the onset of
as teachers in other religious traditions that
their interest in and practice of a spiritual path,]
appear to be contradictory to Buddhism. They
sentient beings have a wide variety of personali-
will appear as teachers, as masters, as people
ties. Some of them are very passionate; some of
with great learning in those traditions, in order
them are more angry; some of them are princi-
to lead beings whose interests draw them to
pally stuck in bewilderment and ignorance.
those traditions. Sometimes it is possible to
Their kleshas differ. At the time of engaging in
perform great benefit as a teacher in another
the path, they have a wide variety of interests in
tradition. When that is the case, bodhisattvas
different religious and philosophical traditions
will send an emanation or emanations to teach in
and paths that they can follow. And at the time
that tradition. They will perform that benefit.
of the result, therefore, they achieve many
There is only one verse in this chapter, The
different levels of fruition. Since there is this
Seventh Mind Generation: Gone Far Beyond.

92 SHENPEN ÖSEL
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Eighth Mind Generation:


Unshakable

T
he eighth chapter teaches the eighth mind generation. This bodhisattva
ground is named Unshakable. The first three lines of the first verse
describe the way in which bodhisattvas gain this ground:

In order again and again to attain virtue even greater than before
Here the bodhisattvas become irreversible.
The great beings enter the Unshakable ground . . .(1abc)

The commentary reads, “In order again and again to attain virtue even
greater than before, even greater than that which has been achieved up to and
including the seventh bhumi or ground, by virtue of having patience with the
unborn nature of reality, meaning emptiness, bodhisattvas become irreversible

SHENPEN ÖSEL 93
in that they are definitely on the path to enlight- to the fore here:
enment. There is no turning back.* This is also
known as the unshakable. The great beings, the And their aspiration prayers become incredibly
bodhisattvas, engage here in the unshakable pure. (1d)
ground.
Unshakable here means that not only are the The commentary reads that on this ground
bodhisattvas on this ground not moved or shaken everything that was somehow contrary to the
by clinging to the characteristics of things, they aspiration prayers that these bodhisattvas have
are also not shaken or moved by thoughts which been making from the first ground on up has now
cling to an absence of characteristics. They do been completely purified, so there is nothing left
not believe there is any need for characteristics, that could contradict these aspiration prayers or
but they also do not believe there is any need for stand in their way. Everything that could ob-
an absence of characteristics. And is that not struct these prayers has been purified. The
something really great?** aspiration prayers that they make on this
Next, in the last line of the first verse, comes ground, which number 100,000 times 10 to the
the description of how the practice of the tran- 60th power, are all completely pure. Therefore
scendent perfection of aspiration prayers comes their practice of aspiration prayers is incredible.

*Editor’s note: According to Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of buddhahood. When buddhahood is finally reached, bodhicitta
Liberation, the bodhicitta of the aspiring bodhisattva on the is characterized by the total elimination of all veils that
first two paths, the paths of preparation and juncture, is obscure the mind, obstruct the full realization of the true
characterized by devoted interest. The aspirant has taken the nature of everything, and block omniscience. Buddhahood is
bodhisattva vow and has great interest in and devotion to the known as the path of complete perfection, of fulfillment, or of
path leading to buddhahood but has not yet reached the first complete accomplishment.
bhumi, the beginning of the path of seeing. The beginning of
the path of seeing commences with a definitive experience of **Editor’s note: Clinging to any notion or experience of the
emptiness, after which the bodhisattva—now called “exalted,” characteristics of any perceptual situation is fixation, and
“enlightened,” or “noble”—can enter the samadhi of emptiness disrupts the “clear light river flow” of the meditative state.
at will. Some commentaries suggest that that first moment of The moment there is “that person,” for example, as distinct
seeing is the path of seeing and the remainder of the ten from “this person,” or that as distinct from this, the veil of
bhumis of the bodhisattva path are included in the path of dualistic clinging—the habitual tendency to perceive dualisti-
cultivation, so called because the bodhisattva is principally cally—is present, and the moment there is any fixation on the
concerned with cultivating what has been seen. The intelligent nature, the beauty, the humorousness or obnoxious-
Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche states that the path ness of “that” person or “this” person, even in a non-discursive
of seeing roughly includes the first five bhumis and the path of way that does not apply a name or label, then there is clinging
cultivation the second five, while Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen to characteristics. When meditators experience emptiness or,
Rinpoche states that the path of seeing includes the first in this language, experience the absence of characteristics,
seven bhumis while the path of cultivation includes the last there is also a tendency to cling to these experiences or the
three bhumis. In any event, reaching the path of seeing or the memory of these experiences, which also disrupts the “clear
first bodhisattva bhumi is a kind of watershed event, inas- light river flow” of the meditative state and solidifies and
much as the bodhisattva now will never have to be reborn blocks one’s experience. Once one has truly experienced the
unwillingly in the lower realms. At this point, the bodhisattva emptiness of self and phenomena and the absence of charac-
begins to understand all the various approaches to traveling teristics, one recognizes that there is no need to remind
the path presented in the buddha’s teachings, and develops oneself of emptiness or even to cling in the subtlest way to the
great confidence that he or she will be able to complete the experience of emptiness. Things are just as empty whether or
path successfully. Trungpa Rinpoche taught that this is not not one is thinking that they are empty, or whether or not one
birth, but similar to the onset of labor pains; one knows that is fixated on or fascinated by any particular experience of
one is going to have a baby, and fueled by this new confidence emptiness. What the text and Rinpoche are teaching here is
and inspiration, the bodhisattva becomes very hard-working that both the inveterate tendency to fixate on characteristics
and his or her bodhicitta can be said to be characterized by and the tendency to fixate on the absence of characteristics,
strong intention. This stage continues until the bodhisattva both during meditation and during post-meditation, have
reaches the eighth bhumi, which is another major watershed been completely removed by the eighth bhumi, and thus an
on the bodhisattva path. eighth-bhumi bodhisattva’s awareness becomes unshakable.
From this point until buddhahood, the bodhisattva’s It is this unshakable awareness that intercepts the arising of
bodhicitta is characterized by maturation. Just as one does kleshas, thereby causing them to arise as wisdom and putting
not have to make any effort to grow, from the eighth bhumi an end once and for all to the creation of new karma, and it is
until buddhahood, the bodhisattva does not have to make any out of this unshakable awareness that all the miraculous
effort to develop bodhicitta or progress along the path to powers of the eighth bodhisattva bhumi arise.

94 SHENPEN ÖSEL
They make aspiration prayers to go to the called the Youth or the Youthful one. On the
buddha realms, the pure realms, to make offer- ninth, they are called the Victor’s Regent, and on
ings to the buddhas, but mostly they make aspi- the tenth they are called the Chakravartin, the
ration prayers to be of benefit to others. They Universal Monarch.
aspire to be able to benefit others both in a Next the commentary teaches the extraordi-
temporary way, meaning to make people happy nary qualities of this ground. It has two main
in whatever way they can in terms of samsaric parts. The first good quality is the cessation of
existence, and also to lead them to the ultimate cyclic existence for bodhisattvas on this ground
fruition of buddhahood. Since beings need help on which all stains have been completely aban-
in so many different ways, the doned. And the second is the
number of ways in which bodhi- ability of these bodhisattvas to
sattvas aspire to help them is Since beings display emanations in cyclic
inconceivable. They aspire to be need help in so existence for the benefit of others,
able to send out emanations in all even though cyclic existence has
different forms—as animals like
many different stopped for themselves. Because
rabbits, turtles, deer, wild asses, ways, the the necessity to remain in cyclic
and as all the different kinds of existence has ended for eighth-
animals that live in the moun-
number of ways bhumi bodhisattvas, the
tains, as all the different kinds of in which bodhi- tathagatas, the buddhas, urge
animals too many to name; as sattvas them here not to remain simply in
teachers and as students in other the cessation or complete aban-
traditions; as people with lots of aspire to help donment of cyclic existence, but
wealth who can provide others them is to rise up and display their cre-
with food, clothing, and things to ative power for the benefit of
drink if they are thirsty, and so inconceivable others. With respect to the first
forth. They make an inconceivable good quality, the first line of the
number of aspiration prayers to be able to ema- second verse reads,
nate and be of benefit to others in an inconceiv-
able number of ways. The victors cause them to rise from cessation.
There are a number of very good aspiration (2a)
prayers, extensive ones, that have been trans-
lated into English, like Samantabhadra’s Aspira- The commentary reads that bodhisattvas on
tion Prayer for Excellent Conduct, the this ground abide in cessation, but since they
bodhisattva’s aspiration prayer from the tenth have previously made aspiration prayers, and
chapter of Shantideva’s Guide to the since they are abiding in the continuum of the
Bodhisattva’s Conduct,* and also the aspiration gateway to the dharma, all the victors cause
prayer of Maitreya. We should recite these them to arise from their cessation. How do they
aspiration prayers because the best and most do that? Well, these buddhas say something like
efficacious way to prepare for the future is to this: “Noble child, you have done well. Excellent.
make aspiration prayers. If we make good aspi- You are approaching the attainment of the
ration prayers, then in all future lifetimes we qualities of the perfect buddha, and you have
will be born in situations with the appropriate achieved patience with the nature of genuine
capabilities that will enable us to benefit others, reality. You have achieved the actual genuine
and we will in fact perform the benefit of others. patience. But, noble child, what you do not have
The bodhisattva on the eighth ground is are my ten powers, my four types of fearless-
ness, everything that makes me different from
*Editor’s note: Published under the titles The Way of the you, everything that comprises the glorious and
Bodhisattva and A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 95
unique qualities of a buddha. You do not have mind of original wisdom or primordial aware-
these qualities. So, in order to strive to gain ness, which is free of attachment. And, since this
these most glorious qualities of the buddha, primordial awareness can not coexist with the
apply yourself. Put some diligence into it. Do not faults of the kleshas, then, when on the eighth
abandon the door or the gateway of your pa- ground the sun of non-conceptual primordial
tience with suchness. Noble child, you have awareness shines, all of the stains of the afflicted
gained this complete liberation of peace and you conduct of the three realms are uprooted and
are resting there, but think of all of the beings completely pacified. This means that all the
who are still afflicted, who are still under the kleshas are exhausted. Since thereby the bodhi-
power of their kleshas. Remember all the aspira- sattvas have transcended the three realms of
tion prayers you have made in the existence, they are superior to
past to benefit them; remember anyone who is still bound in those
how important it is to accomplish What the bodhi- three realms. They are superior in
their benefit. Remember the the three realms, but still, with
inconceivable nature of the gate-
sattvas regard to the qualities of the
way of primordial awareness. And attain on this buddhas, which are as limitless as
know that what you have realized the sky, they have not yet gained
so far, the dharmata, the nature of
ground is them all. This is very good, be-
reality, the arhats and arhatis primordial cause it shows how unbelievable
have also. You are still there.” the qualities of enlightenment
awareness,
The dharmata, or the nature really are.
of reality that the Buddha is which they get The last two lines of the chap-
urging the bodhisattvas to strive without any ter and the next section of the
for here, is consonant with their commentary describe how even
aspiration prayers. What the effort, and which though bodhisattvas on this
bodhisattvas are going to attain is inherently ground have put an end to exist-
on this ground is primordial ence for themselves, they still
awareness, which they can get
effortless demonstrate many emanations for
without any effort, and which is the benefit of those stuck in
inherently effortless. It is of the same taste as existence:
[the] cessation [which arhats and arhatis experi-
ence], but it is not simply the mere cessation of Although samsara has stopped, they gain the ten
the appearances of outer and inner entities. powers,
The text continues, And demonstrate many emanations to the beings
in cyclic existence. (3bc)
The various flaws do not remain in the mind free
of attachment; The commentary reads, “Well, if they have
Therefore, on the eighth ground, those stains stopped taking birth in samsara, then how do
together with their roots are completely paci- they continue to perfect their realization of the
fied. qualities of the enlightenment of a buddha?” The
Their kleshas are exhausted and in the three answer to that is that even though for them
realms they become superior, and yet (2bcd) samsara has stopped, they gain the ten powers.
As is explained in the Sutra of the Glorious
They cannot attain all the buddhas’ endowments,
which are limitless as the sky. (3a) Garland, the bodhisattva on this ground has a
body that is of the nature of mind, and they can
From the very fact that they have risen from send this [“mental body”] out in a great variety of
this cessation, [we can know that] they have the displays of different kinds of bodies to benefit

96 SHENPEN ÖSEL
beings still bound in samsaric existence. and ripen whenever they want it to.*(3)
The first of these ten powers is power over They have the power of birth, meaning that
life, which means that, from gaining the blessing they can take birth at any time anywhere in any
of their realization, they can live for an incon- realm they want without any hindrance for the
ceivable number of kalpas. They have gained the purpose of benefiting others.*(4)
blessing which allows them never to die if they The sixth is the power over aspiration, which
do not want to. They can live for as long as they means they are able to demonstrate enlighten-
like. ment in whatever buddha realm they may desire
The next is the power of mind, which means at whatever time.*(5)
that they can engage in the primordial wisdom The seventh is the power over aspiration
of an inconceivable number of states of medita- prayers, which means that they are able to
tive absorption. They do not find some medita- display, should they desire, the entire universe
tions easy and other ones difficult. They can filled with buddhas.*(6)
engage in a great variety of meditations with The eighth is power over miracles, which
ease.*(1) means that they can display creatively their
The third is power over material possessions, miraculous powers throughout all the realms of
which means that they are able to give to all the the universe.*(7)
realms of existence [whatever is needed in these The ninth is power over primordial wisdom,
realms]. They are able, for instance, to cover which means they are able to completely display
them with precious gems. They have limitless the perfect enlightenment of the buddhas, which
power over material objects.*(2) are the ten powers and the fearlessnesses, the
The fourth is power over karma, which unshared or unique qualities of the buddhas,
means that they can cause karma to transform along with the signs and marks.*(8)

*Editor’s note: These ten powers of an eighth-bhumi change whatever one wishes into earth, water, fire, and so
bodhisattva are described in the third chapter of Gampopa’s forth.” HG describes the power “over creative imagination” as
Jewel Ornament of Liberation. “to be able to turn water into earth and to accomplish similar
[1] Khenpo Konchok Gyalten Rinpoche’s translation of this phenomena.”
text (KKGR) describes the power of mind as “the ability to [6] KKH: “Power of prayer is the ability to pray and make
maintain meditative concentration as long as one wishes.” prayers in a way that will most properly accomplish the well-
Ken and Katia Holmes’ translation, based on the commentar- being of oneself and others; also the power to make prayers
ies of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu come true.” KKGR: “ ‘Power over aspiration prayers’ means
Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche that if one aspires to perfectly benefit oneself and others, it
(KKH) describes the power of mind as “the ability to enter will be accomplished.” HG: “ ‘Power over resolution’ means to
stably into profound absorption, just as is wished.” Herbert be able to determine to fulfill one’s own and others’ interests
Guenther’s translation (HG) describes it as the ability “to perfectly and also to accomplish this resolution.”
enter a state of meditative absorption at will.” [7] KKH: “Power over miracles is the ability to demonstrate
[2] KKGR: “ ‘Power over provision of necessities’ means one countless miracles and supernormal feats in order to kindle
can shower down a rain of limitless necessities on sentient aspiration in beings.” KKGR: “ ‘Power over miracles’ means
beings.” one can exhibit innumerable manifestations in order to cause
[3] KKGR: “ ‘Power over birth’ means one can shift the effects sentient beings to be interested in the spiritual path.”[
of karma from one particular life to another sphere, world, [8] KKGR: “ ‘Power over wisdom awareness’ means one has
realm, or birth.” KKH: “The power over action is the ability to perfected the understanding of phenomena, their meaning, the
re-program (results of) of action (karma)—in terms of dimen- definition of words, and confidence.” KKH: “Power of primor-
sion, state, type of existence and mode of birth—so that they dial awareness is knowledge that encompasses the ultimate
are experienced in other more useful ways.” meaning, in the very best possible way, of dharma, of mean-
[4] KKH: “Power over birth is the ability to take birth in the ings, of terminology, of the true sense of words and of
sense dimension yet always to maintain profound meditative bodhisattva prowess.” To this latter, the authors add the
absorption and not experience any form of degeneration, following note: “A few pages would be needed to explain this
remaining completely unsullied by the evils of that state.” sentence. Through primordial wisdom, one understands the
The sense dimension is the same as the desire realm. very nature of things (dharma), the significance of each thing
(meanings), how the significance is expressed through lan-
[5] KKH: “Power to fulfill aspiration is the ability to trans- guage (terminology), how that language is best expressed to
form the elements—earth, water, etc.—into one another as individuals (words) and how to persist skillfully until it is
wished.” KKGR: “ ‘Power over intentions’ means that one can understood (prowess).”

SHENPEN ÖSEL 97
And finally, the tenth is power over dharma, down to the earth and demonstrated the twelve
which means that they are able to fully display deeds of the Buddha for everybody’s benefit. But
all of the different portals into the dharma, he had already become enlightened in the
which has no center and no end.* buddha realm. In whatever realm you like, you
To speak of them as having a body that is of can attain enlightenment.
the nature of mind means that, wherever they
desire in their minds to go, then they just show Question: [Unintelligible.]
up there. And they can pass through things
without any obstruction. It is like that. Translator: There are different fruitions, like
This has been a brief explanation of the the fruition of the shravakas, the fruition of the
seventh and eighth mind generations. pratekyabuddhas, the fruition of the bodhisatt-
Let’s recite these together. [Sudents recite vas.
verses.]
Are there any questions? Question: The question is about cessation, and
about how it is that the arhat’s cessation is
Question: Portals to the dharma, is that ways of described as kind of a nothingness—like a lamp’s
getting into the dharma? going out, or water’s drying up—and then the
bodhisattvas’ cessation is described as being
Translator: Literally, door. different from that, and yet, they still have to
arise from this cessation. How does that all come
Question: Please explain the sixth power a little together?
bit more?
Translator: Throughout the whole presentation
Translator: So Rinpoche asked me to explain it. of these bhumis or grounds, there is language
Well, with all of these there is not an extensive saying something to the effect that at this point
description given. And they are not easy to everything is completely finished. But then you
understand because they are talking about get to the next stage, and there is still something
describing abilities which are completely incon- left to accomplish, right? So we have to under-
ceivable to us. But what it literally says in the stand these statements in that way, that they are
commentary is that the power of aspiration always made from a certain perspective. Com-
prayer means that you are able to demonstrate pared to what came before, it seems that the
enlightenment in whatever buddha realm you bodhisattva is completely finished, but then you
want to. So, for instance, the Buddha arrive at the next stage and you find out that you
Shakyamuni, according to one explanation, still have more to accomplish. All of this is
became enlightened first in the pure realm of incredibly subtle. When bodhisattvas get to the
Akanishtha, Ogmin in Tibetan, and then he came eighth ground, it is said that there are no longer

*Editor’s note: KKGR: “ ‘Power over dharma’ means that, in beings by a single discourse on the dharma in their respective
an instant, bodhisattvas can fully satisfy all the sentient languages, expounding it as in the sutras and other works in
beings according to their dispositions and in their different various words, inflections and grouping of letters, just giving
languages through words and groupings of letters based on them what and how much is necessary.”
many different types of sutras and so forth.” KKH: “Power The citations in the above footnotes are from The Jewel
over dharma is the ability to teach beings that which is suited Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble
to them, in just the right amount. This is achieved by present- Teachings by Gampopa, translated by Khenpo Konchog
ing all the different nouns, terms and characters of dharma, in Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York,
the various sutra and other teachings, in such a way that their 1998; Gems of Dharma, Jewels of Freedom by Jé Gampopa,
sole speech is understood by each individual in his or her own translated by Ken and Katia Holmes, Altea Publishing,
language and in a totally satisfying way that makes sense to Forres, Scotland, 1995; and The Jewel Ornament of Liberation
his or her own mentality.” HG: “ ‘Power over presentation’ by sGam.po.pa, Translated and Annotated by Herbert V.
means to be able fully to satisfy the minds of all sentient Guenther, Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston,
Massachussetts, 1986.
98 SHENPEN ÖSEL
any appearances of signs, of characteristics of skandhas as like carrying a pot of boiling oil,
things. But they still have dualistic appearances. because the skandhas are so dangerous. But
To understand that is very difficult for us. How then once they die, arhats and arhatis are
you could have one without the other is some- thought by practitioners of the hinayana path to
thing we are probably not going to know until we go into a state of nothingness, and for them,
get there. Again, based on the cessation reached existence is finished. The way they describe this
on the eighth ground, bodhisattvas are said no state, which is the state of an arhat without
longer to need to make effort. Their path to remainder is that there is nothing left. But there
buddhahood is said to be automatic and irrevers- is something left, actually, because, as is said in
ible; they are definitely going to attain enlight- this commentary, the seven consciousnesses
enment. But then, when they enter this samadhi, stop, but the eighth consciousness, the alaya, is
the buddhas tell them to put more effort into it. still there. [Then, when they have been suffi-
So it is all depends upon perspective. The ciently rested in their state of “partial” cessa-
eighth-bhumi bodhisattva’s cessation is different tion,] the buddhas come along and say, “wake up,
from the arhat’s or arhati’s, because the wake up,” so there is still some subtle mind-
bodhisattva’s cessation is combined with the stream left. According to their vehicle there is
powers of bodhisattvic aspiration and is based no mind-stream left, but from the mahayana
upon the full realization of the nature of mind. perspective there is. They still have to arise
Their cessation is not just like a light’s going out; from their samadhi and keep practicing.*
it is a very radiant type of samadhi, from one
perspective. But from the Buddha’s perspective, Question: How do you meet the dharma if you
there is still a danger that they could stay in have never met it before? And, when all sentient
that state and not completely perfect their beings become enlightened, what happens after
compassion, because it is said that, however that?
great the bodhisattva’s qualities are, even on the Rinpoche: In my opinion, since samsara has no
tenth bhumi, they are like a puddle compared to beginning, since it has been going on for an
the ocean of the Buddha’s qualities. So when a infinite period of time, and therefore, since we
text is describing the eighth-bhumi bodhisattva’s have had an infinite number of lives, then it is
having to arise from their cessation or any fault impossible not to have had some previous con-
in their cessation, you can know that the text is tact with the dharma and impossible not to have
viewing the situation from the Buddha’s per- some habitual tendencies towards the dharma.
spective. But from our perspective, their realiza- You will meet something that will connect with
tion is inconceivable cessation that is endowed these habitual tendencies.
with fantastic qualities. So the different descrip- In the Buddhist tradition it is said that it is
tions just depend on whether you are looking up enough just to see an image of a temple or a
at this particular cessation or down at it. Does teacher to plant the seeds of an interest in
that make sense?
*Editor’s note: The realization of arhats or arhatis, which is
the highest level of fruition in the shravakayana and the
Question: Do we ever mean to describe the pratyekabuddhayana (together known as the hinayana), is
limited by their limited aspiration and commensurate lack of
cessation of the arhats as being something that
merit. Since their goal is individual liberation, their realiza-
is like, you know, if you kick an arhat they won’t tion consists principally of the emptiness of self and of only a
feel it? partial understanding of the emptiness of phenomena. Since
the bodhisattva’s aspiration is the liberation of all suffering
sentient beings, and since their vow includes not rejecting,
Translator: There are two types of arhats—the even mentally, even one sentient being from that aspiration,
arhats with remainder and arhats without and since they work tirelessly for the liberation of others, their
meditation develops great force, which enables them to realize
remainder, right? The ones with remainder still completely the emptiness of phenomena and the emptiness of
have their body. As described, they regard their consciousness.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 99
dharma. So that is going to happen to everyone. water into the oceans every instant, but the
In Tibet, the tradition was to build stupas oceans do not overflow. And, similarly, even
and to put mani stones, stones with mantras though so much water has passed and continues
written on them, close to the side of the road so to pass through these rivers, they do not dry up.
that people could see them. People who had faith This is an example of mere dependently arisen
already would circumambulate them and make appearance.
aspiration prayers, and those who The water in these great
did not would at least see them rivers flowing into the ocean did
with their eyes, and thus the
Since we have not just appear from out of no-
seeds of virtue would be planted. had an infinite where. It does not need to come
We plant the seeds in that way, from anywhere else. This just
and then, when an extraordinary
number of lives, shows us that in fact there is
set of conditions come together, then it is really no increase and no de-
then these positive tendencies or impossible not to crease.
habits wake up, and one begins to Think about the sentient
practice. have had some beings in a dream. They do not
With regard to the second previous contact come from anywhere to the
question about what happens after dream, and when the dream is
all sentient beings attain enlight-
with the dharma over they do not go anywhere.
enment, we need to know that They never get any greater in
there is no increase and there is no decrease; number, and they never get any fewer in number.
there is no getting any better, and there is no It is all just a mere appearance. The dream
getting any worse. As it says in the Heart Sutra, example helps us to understand that.
things do not get bigger and they do not get In the opening praise of Nagarjuna’s text the
smaller; there is no increase and there is no Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, he
decrease; there are no stains and no freedom teaches how reality is free from eight types of
from stains. There is no difference between extremes. He says that whatever is dependently
buddhas and sentient beings. There are just arisen does not arise, does not cease, is not
mere dependently arisen appearances. permanent, nor is it completely nonexistent. It
If everything were truly existent, then sen- does not come, and it does not go. And it is not
tient beings would become enlightened and one thing, nor a lot of different things.
become buddhas, and the buddhas would go to So think about the appearances in a dream.
the buddha realms, and the buddha realms They never really arise, and they never really
would be filled up. There would be no vacancy. cease. They are not real, and they are not com-
But it is not like that, because they are not real. pletely nothing. They do not come from any-
And then, if all the sentient beings became where, and they do not go anywhere. And they
enlightened, everybody would be a buddha and are not one thing, nor are they lots of different
there would be no way for the buddhas to per- things.
form the benefit of others. But it does not hap- So we should sing from time to time. Let’s
pen like that. So what we have to know is that sing this verse by Nagarjuna. [Students sing.]
the nature of reality is the fundamental Ultimately, samsara and nirvana are funda-
sameness of everything, fundamental equality. mentally the same. As the protector Nagarjuna
There is no increasing and no decreasing, no said in his text, “Samsara is not the slightest bit
gain, no loss. different from nirvana. Nirvana is not the slight-
We can see this absence of increase or de- est bit different from samsara.”*
crease if we look at our own planet. There are If it were the case that sentient beings could
mighty rivers which dump millions of gallons of all become enlightened and leave samsara empty,

100 SHENPEN ÖSEL


and that then all the buddha realms would be Question: They are all connected with the
filled, then samsara and nirvana would be differ- eighth bhumi?
ent things. They would not be of the nature of
equality. But this is not the case, because sam- Translator: That’s right.
sara is just a concept. It does not really exist.
Thus, the Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras, Rinpoche: It is certainly not the case that you
the Mahayana Sutralankara says, “Liberation is perfect all ten one by one. As a group they are
just the elimination of this mistake.” described as being important in relation to the
Samsara and nirvana are just like a dream. eighth ground, but they are still present as
The only difference between them is the differ- qualities on the previous grounds, just to a
ence between not knowing you are dreaming and lesser extent. And they grow more extensive on
knowing you are dreaming. Samsara is like a the subsequent grounds.
dream, and a buddha’s attaining enlightenment
is like when one wakes up from a dream. Question: What if you looked from the top
down? Would you have all those qualities?
Question: Are the ten powers linked with the Translator: Yes.
ten transcendent perfections? And my second
question is about the seventh in particular, the Question: When you do it that way, would you
power of interest, and how that fits in with the link the powers with the ten bhumis?
description of what it is.
Rinpoche: The answer to the first question is Translator: As Rinpoche is saying, they are a
that they are not taught to be so linked. The ten group of ten that go together. They are espe-
grounds are linked with the ten transcendent cially connected with the eighth bhumi, but they
perfections, but it is not the case that the ten grow stronger and more extensive on the ninth
transcendent perfections or paramitas are and the tenth bhumis and also upon enlighten-
linked with the ten powers one by one. ment. And they are present all the way along the
bodhisattva bhumis, but not as extensively as on
Question: But they are both linked to the ten the eighth.
bhumis, right?
Rinpoche: With respect to your second question
Translator: You perfect the ten powers on the concerning the seventh power, which has been
eighth bhumi. translated here as the power of aspiration
prayers, the Tibetan word, möpa, being trans-
*Editor’s note: From time to time one might wonder what
the point of all these Buddhist metaphysics is. The answer lated here as aspiration prayers, is somewhat
lies in Buddhism’s very practical intent. If one can truly difficult to translate into English, because it
experience that samsara and nirvana are not different, then
means different things in different cases. Here it
one will no longer be totally upset by the misperception that
the world’s samsara or one’s own personal samsara falls short means something like “wish,” in the sense that if
of nirvana. If nothing is real and permanent, if everything is you want to see the whole universe filled with
merely dependently arisen appearances, “such stuff as
dreams are made on,” then there is no reason to get so totally buddhas, you can. For example, through perfect-
worked up and exercised by every little thing that seems to go ing generation stage practice, you can see all of
wrong, or even over the big things. On the other hand, since the deities and buddha realms directly just by
everything is not unreal and non-existent, and since sentient
beings are deeply involved in the misperception of things as wanting to. You do not really even have to want
real and therefore suffer, there still exists the basis for to; they just naturally appear in your perception
generating compassion for them and trying to alleviate their
condition. But this compassion then is based in the correct
or vision. And so here it reads that if you want to
apprehension of the nature of reality, and is inseparable from see the whole universe filled with buddhas, you
the equanimity that arises from that correct apprehension. can.
Therefore the actions that arise out of such compassion are
accurate and unmistaken. In the next sentence the word, möpa, has a

SHENPEN ÖSEL 101


slightly different meaning. It is not that these certainty. On the other hand, if you are sure that
buddhas’ forms actually exist. They do not. They everything is empty—“this is really empty; it is
are just projections of the interest or the wish, of just like a dream; I know that for sure”—then
the möpa, of the person who wants to see them. you have certainty.
Bodhisattvas on the eighth ground have very None of us has any doubt that we are human
pure vision connected with their wish or their beings. We all know that for sure. That is cer-
longing or their interest, and so they can see all tainty. On the other hand, if we said we were
these different buddhas, just as, if you want to deities, then we would have doubts about that,
see somebody, all you have to do is turn on the because we seem to be human beings. That is
TV, and it looks as if their form were really how it is.
there. Millions of people can see
their form at the same time— Question: If bodhisattvas have the
just by wanting to. But it does The four kayas ability to transform karma and to
not mean that these forms are are just things cause it to change and ripen differ-
something real; they are just a ently, and they have the wish to
reflection, a projection of that that appear due help others, then why have they
person’s interest. That is the to the projections allowed things to happen as they
analogy. On millions of televi- have, in this century, for example?
sion sets the image of the Presi-
of the disciples’ And do the second turning and the
dent of the United States can pure vision and third turning of the wheel of
appear, and everybody thinks dharma answer this question
that the image is the President.
their interest differently?
But it is just an image.
So here möpa or interest means that it is just Rinpoche: The answer is that it is possible that
the projection of the bodhisattva’s interest that the beings who died in all the atrocities in this
they see this form of the buddha. The buddha century were reborn in the pure realms. We have
does not exist from its own perspective. And this no idea what the final consequence of these
is because the real buddha is the dharmakaya, events was. And there is not really much differ-
which nobody can see. And the form kayas are ence between the ways in which the second and
just things which appear due to the projections the third turning would answer this question.
of the disciples’ pure vision and their interest. The changes that can be brought about in
The same thing can be said of sentient beings. karma are not so great. For example, it is said
Sentient here means “having mind;” the mind is that when the buddhas rest in samadhi, then all
what sentient beings are really all about. But of the hell realms and the hungry ghost realms
ordinary beings cannot see their minds. What are free of suffering. But just temporarily. So, for
they see is the body and how the body appears. instance, when Chandrakirti milked the painting
So it is like that. of the cow to stave off famine, then he only did
that once. It did not happen over and over again.
Question: When you listen to the teachings on If it had, that would have been great, but it did
emptiness and you contemplate emptiness, what not and does not.
are the signs that you have gained certainty in It all depends upon interdependence. It is
the view? said, for example, that through the power of the
blessing of the buddha, when a buddha teaches,
Rinpoche: The sign of certainty is that you do it causes all six realms to rumble, and the hell
not have its opposite, which is doubt. So if you realms and the hungry ghost realms are free of
still have any doubt about whether or not things suffering temporarily, and they gain temporary
are empty, then you have not yet developed happiness, but then for them confused appear-

102 SHENPEN ÖSEL


ances appear again. to say that something is just a dependently
It is similar to when people in the world have arisen appearance, what its quality is, then we
a party. It is fun if it does not last too long. But if should think about reflections shining in very
it lasts too long, if the party just drags on and on, clear water, or in a mirror. All things are just
then it is not very much fun anymore. When it is like that. And, even though these appearances
just a dependently arisen appearance, it is have no substantial nature, we can still use them
better if it lasts just for a short period of time. to eliminate faults and bring about good quali-
It is also similar to when the lama gives you ties, just as we can use the face that appears in a
an empowerment. When they put the vase on top mirror to clean off all the dirt from our face, to
of your head, you get some feeling; but if they comb our hair, and to make ourselves look nice,
left it there for a long time, it would hurt. So for even though that face has no essence. So it is
some people it is better for them just to get a like that.
taste of something for a short period of time. If you want to meditate on selflessness, you
But in the true nature of reality, the three can do that by seeing how it is that none of the
times are equality. There is no difference be- five aggregates is the self; that their coming
tween long time and short time. This we have to together, the whole accumulation of them, is not
know; it is very important. Some- the self; that ego-clinging mind is
times we need to think of the not the self. Since there is no self,
three times, and other times we When the we can just rest in selflessness.
need to know that they do not If you like meditating accord-
really exist. We need to know that buddhas rest in ing to the mind only school—that
they are equality. There are a lot samadhi, then all reality is empty of the duality of
of different ways of thinking perceiver and perceived—then
about it. of the hell realms you first look at outer appear-
In the middle turning of the and hungry ances and know that they are just
wheel, everything is explained to confused appearances that are
be mere appearance that is de-
ghost realms are projections of habitual tendencies,
pendently arisen, and therefore it free of suffering. just like appearances in dreams.
is all just illusory. There is not a Since there is nothing real on the
single phenomenon that is not
But just outside, there can be no inner
dependently arisen, and therefore temporarily mind to perceive anything either.
there is not a single phenomenon And so there is no duality of
that is not empty. That needs to be said again perceiver and perceived. What is left is the
and again. ground of mind itself, which is mere conscious-
The great siddha Götsangpa, in his song The ness, mere luminous clarity. Rest in that, which
Eight Flashing Lances, says, is empty of duality.
If you like to meditate according to the
The murkiness of clinging clarified, middle way autonomy school, the svatantrika
Causes and conditions, like reflections, madhyamika, then you analyze everything in
Knowing what to do and not, that subtle art—
samsara and nirvana and see that nothing is just
These are three which make relations fully free,
Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky. one indivisible thing, because whatever it is, it is
divisible into its constituent parts. It is divisible
So we should sing this and know that all into hundreds of thousands of millions of parts.
appearances are just like reflections in a mirror, So nothing is just one thing. Nor are there many
like reflections in the water. They have no more things; because each one of those parts is divis-
reality than that. [Students sing.] ible into its parts, you cannot find anything to
When we want to understand what it means begin counting in order to find many. This ap-

SHENPEN ÖSEL 103


plies as well to the self-aware, luminous mind fabrications. So however many layers you want
which was posited by the mind only school as to put into it, or however many aspects of it you
being the nature of genuine reality. We can see wish to describe, it does not matter. They are all
that that does not exist either. And having cut undifferentable within the freedom from concep-
through everything that needs to be refuted, we tual fabrications.
rest in the emptiness that is like the sky, that is As the bodhisattva Shantideva says in the
like space. That is the way to meditate according wisdom chapter of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s
to the middle way autonomy school. Conduct, “At the time when there is neither
The way to meditate according to the middle thing nor non-thing to occupy a place before the
way consequence school, the prasangika mind, at that point there is no projected image.
madhyamika, is to realize that the nature of This lack of reference point is perfect peace.”
reality cannot be described by any conceptual What the mind looks at in meditation is the
fabrication. It cannot be said to be existent or dharmadhatu. The dharmadhatu is neither
nonexistent, real or something that ceases, something existent nor non-existent. Neither a
something or nothing. None of these apply. This thing, nor nothing. It cannot be described by any
is the nature of reality—freedom from all con- conceptual fabrication. Therefore the mind
ceptual fabrications. Since that is its nature, meditating upon it has no reference point. And
then the mind that meditates upon it has noth- these two—the meditating mind and the
ing to focus upon. So reality transcends concep- dharmadhatu—are undifferentiable.
tual fabrications, and the mind meditating on it The lord of yogins, Milarepa, sang in his song
is free from any focus or reference point. Resting called The Profound Definitive Meaning Sung on
in that is the way to meditate according to the the Snowy Range:
middle way consequence school.
In the Entrance to the Middle Way, there is a For the mind that masters view, the emptiness
verse which says, “There is no arising, remain- dawns.
In the content seen, not even an atom exists.
ing, or ceasing, and the mind meditating on that
A seer and seen, refined until they’re gone,
does not arise either.” So the object meditated This way of realizing view, it works quite well.
upon is free from conceptual fabrications, and
the mind meditating on it transcends all concep- This description of view is in harmony with
tual fabrications too. The freedom from fabrica- that of the middle way consequence school. Let’s
tions rests within the freedom from fabrications. sing this together. [Students sing. Dedication of
The result is also free from any conceptual merit.] Sarva Mangalam!

104 SHENPEN ÖSEL


Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Ninth Mind Generation:


Excellent Mind

[Students begin by singing the Song of Meaningful Connec-


tions and by reciting the verses from the Seventh and Eighth
Mind Generations.]

A
s before, please give rise to the precious attitude of
bodhicitta, as is instructed in the great vehicle, and
listen. We have come to the Ninth Mind Generation,
describing the ninth bhumi or ground:

SHENPEN ÖSEL 105


What need to mention the strengths they gain on afflictions.
the ninth ground. They all become perfectly The second is the strength of perfect re-
pure. source or resourcefulness, which means that one
Similarly, their own qualities, the dharmas of
is skilled in all the limitless numbers of different
perfect awareness, become completely pure.
types of conduct which worldly beings present or
display.
The commentary reads, “On the ninth
The third is the strength of power, literally,
ground, what need to mention the strengths of
because it means that all of the bodhisattvas’
the bodhisattvas. Here the practice of the
wishes are perfectly fulfilled.
paramita or transcendent perfec-
The fourth is the strength of
tion of strength comes to the fore
and becomes completely perfect. Here the practice learning because one is skilled
and expert in all of the different
All the strengths of the bodhisatt- of the paramita divisions of the dharma taught by
vas are completely pure, and
furthermore, they develop the or transcendent the Buddha. In order to know so
much, you have to study and learn
qualities of the four dharmas of perfection of a lot.
perfect awareness.” These four
dharmas are described as follows:
strength comes The fifth is the strength of
aspiration prayers. Bodhisattvas
The first is called the awareness to the fore on the ninth ground must apply
of phenomena, which means that
they know the individual, specific
and becomes themselves to practicing the
characteristics of every single completely conduct of all the buddhas, and
they do not give up any aspect of
phenomenon. The next is called perfect that conduct.
the awareness of meaning, which
The sixth is the strength of the
means that they have perfect
paramitas, or literally, of having crossed to the
knowledge of all of the distinctions between
far shore, which means that the qualities of the
different types of phenomena, and different
buddhas become perfectly ripened in the mind
types of dharma teachings. The third, literally
stream of the bodhisattva.
called the awareness of etymology, means that
The seventh is the strength of love, which
they are perfectly able to teach everything in the
means that they do not abandon in the slightest
dharma distinctly and clearly without confusing
way the conduct of protecting all sentient beings.
any dharma teaching with another. And finally
The eighth is the strength of compassion,
there is the awareness that is the quality of
which means they clear away the suffering of all
courage. They are courageous in teaching be-
sentient being.
cause they never forget anything that they have
The ninth is the power or the strength of
learned. They have no fear of forgetting some-
pure being, the dharmata, which means they
thing because they remember everything. These
manifest the nature of reality, which is like an
are the four qualities of perfect awareness that
illusion.
are perfected on the ninth bhumi.
Finally, the tenth is the strength of having
Of the ten strengths, the first one is the
received the blessing of all of the tathagatas,
strength of will, which is the absence of any
which means that they are approaching or on the
conduct influenced by the kleshas, the mental
verge of the omniscient, primordial wisdom.

106 SHENPEN ÖSEL


Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way

The Tenth Mind Generation:


Cloud of Dharma

W
e have arrived causes them to be
at the tenth undifferentiable from
ground, and the omniscient primor-
there are three sections dial wisdom of the
to the commentary out- buddhas.”
lined here. The first This empowerment is
describes the extraordi- described in the Sutra of
nary quality particular to the Tenth Bhumi, which
the tenth ground. The says that there are one
second describes the way hundred-thousand
in which the transcen- billion precious lo-
dent perfection of primor- tuses—a gazillion lo-
dial wisdom becomes tuses. The sutra further
pure. And the third explains that surround-
describes the qualities ing each of these ten
that are the reason for gazillion main lotuses*
giving this ground its there are additional
particular name, which is lotuses circling the main
Cloud of Dharma. The lotuses equal in number
first is about the particu- to the combined number
lar quality of this ground, of atoms in all of original
which is described in the ten gazillion main lo-
first part of the verse: tuses. There are ten
gazillion main lotuses,
On the tenth ground they each of which is sur-
receive the genuine
rounded by an even
empowerment from all
vaster retinue of [subsid-
the buddhas. (1a)
iary] lotuses, and on each of the main lotuses sits
The commentary reads: “The bodhisattvas a tenth-bhumi bodhisattva. So the tenth-bhumi
abiding on the tenth ground, the Cloud of bodhisattva does not get this empowerment
Dharma, receive the genuine empowerment alone, but in the company of a vast assembly of
from all the buddhas of the ten directions. It is tenth-bhumi bodhisattvas who receive empower-
an empowerment of great rays of light, which ment at the same time. On the subsidiary,
they receive at the end of having resided in
100,000 times 10 to the 59th samadhis, which *Editor’s note: The translator seems to have become
confused here between one gazillion and ten gazillion.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 107


smaller lotuses sit bodhisattvas from the sev- tenth transcendent perfection?”* The commen-
enth, eighth, and ninth bhumis. Each lotus is as tary explains that in some places it is explained
big as the body of the bodhisattva that wisdom (prajna) faces out-
seated upon it, so you do not have ward and primordial wisdom
a little bodhisattva on a big lotus,
Primordial (jnana) faces inward, that for
or a big bodhisattva on a little wisdom is the wisdom there is still dualistic
lotus. They all fit just right. At the appearance and for primordial
wisdom that
end of this particular samadhi, wisdom there is not. But this
what has just been described knows all commentary does not really like
appears. Since all of these bodhi- phenomena just that explanation. It quotes the
sattvas and lotuses are merely Sutra of the Bodhisattva Bhumis
empty forms, there is no reason as they are in saying that primordial wisdom
why this cannot happen. So all is the wisdom that knows all
these bodhisattvas are seated in the way de- phenomena just as they are. So what does that
scribed, and then from all of the buddha mean? Well, prajna or wisdom, sherab, only
realms—from the white curled hair in the perceives the nature of genuine reality, whereas
middle of each buddha’s forehead—come rays of primordial wisdom perceives genuine reality
light. And all of this light enters into the mind- and relative reality both together. So the ulti-
streams of these bodhisattvas, and in that way mate cognition, which is this primordial wisdom,
they receive the empowerment. does not merely perceive the nature of genuine
In Praise of the Dharmadatu it is explained reality, but perceives genuine reality as being of
in a similar way, with the main bodhisattvas the same taste as relative reality. And further-
sitting on the anthers of the lotuses and an more, where there is primordial wisdom, dualis-
inconceivable number of bodhisattvas sitting on tic appearances have dissolved, and there is no
the outer petals. longer any distinction at all between the two
These flowers, we have to understand, are
not ordinary flowers that grow from a seed in *Editor’s note: Here the translator is translating the
the ground. They are flowers made out of light Sanskrit prajna, which is sherab in Tibetan, as “wisdom.”
Trungpa Rinpoche and the Nalanda Translation Committee
and they are empty forms. The bodhisattvas do (NTC) have translated this term as “knowledge.” The San-
not need to do anything to set up this particular skrit jnana, which is yeshe in Tibetan, the translator is
translating as “primordial wisdom.” This term Trungpa
arrangement. They do not make any prepara- Rinpoche and the NTC have translated as “wisdom” or
tions; the whole thing just appears, and they “primordial awareness.” Again, according to the NTC, “Prajna
take part in it and receive this empowerment. is the natural sharpness of awareness that sees, discrimi-
nates, and also sees through conceptual discrimination.”
All these bodhisattvas have the power of clair- Sherab, the Tibetan for prajna, literally means the best
voyance and other extraordinary mental abili- knowledge or the best knowing, and it is traditionally divided
into lower or worldly knowledge—which would include
ties. everything from cookery or how to sweep a street properly to
The next section in the commentary de- brain surgery, nuclear physics, etc.—and higher or spiritual
scribes the transcendent perfection of primor- knowledge, which includes two levels: one that, in accordance
with the hinayana teachings of the Buddha, sees the self and
dial wisdom, which is described in the second external physical phenomena as impermanent, without a self,
line of the root verse: and of the nature of suffering; and at a higher level, one that,
in accordance with the mahayana teachings, sees or experi-
ences emptiness, the direct knowledge of the true nature of
And their primordial wisdom becomes supreme. things. Yeshe, the Tibetan for jnana, literally means primor-
(1b) dial knowing, and is the “wisdom-activity of enlightenment,
transcending all dualistic conceptualization.”(NTC) Trungpa
Rinpoche has also said that the difference between what is
One might ask, “What is the difference be- being translated here as wisdom and primordial wisdom is
tween wisdom, which is the sixth transcendent the difference between “being wise and being wisdom.”
perfection, and primordial wisdom, which is the
**Editor’s note: relative truth and absolute truth.

108 SHENPEN ÖSEL


truths.** They are of the same taste. This pri- bhumi. On the first bhumi the bodhisattva has
mordial wisdom is the result of the practice of these twelve qualities a hundred fold, or twelve
wisdom, the result of the practice of prajna. hundred altogether. There is a tune that goes
And finally, in the last two lines of the verse, along with these verses, which would be good for
there is the description of the qualities that give us to sing and to memorize. When we sing all
this ground its name: together, it makes a very good connection. Then
when you reach the first bodhisattva ground, you
Just as rain falls from clouds, from the bodhisatt- will know all the things you can do, because you
vas falls a spontaneous rain of dharma will have recited this verse and you will say, “Oh
So that the harvest of beings’ virtue may flourish. yes, I remember I can do this and this and this.”
(1cd)
And you will not have
to ask people, “What
The commentary
does it mean that I
reads: “For example, They can meet a hundred buddhas and receive
can meet a hundred
just as in the world their blessings.
They can stay for a hundred eons, know the buddhas?” You will
gentle rain falls from
past hundred, future hundred too! know exactly what
clouds, so it is that, in
They can enter a hundred samadhis and move that means. [Students
order to produce
a hundred worlds. sing verses.]
within the mind- They can fill those hundred worlds with light Now are there any
streams of beings the and ripen a hundred beings. questions?
excellent harvest of They can travel to a hundred pure lands, open
virtue—the fruit a hundred doors of dharma.
Translator: Maybe I
which yields tempo- They can emanate a hundred bodies with a
hundred in each beautiful retinue! can just say a few
rary and ultimate
things about what we
benefit and happi-
—Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche just heard. They can
ness—from the great Under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso meet a hundred
beings, the bodhisatt- Rinpoche, translated by Ari Goldfield, October 31, 1999.
buddhas and receive
vas on the tenth
their blessings. They
ground, there sponta-
stay for a hundred
neously—which means here without any effort
eons, meaning that if they want to stay for that
or contrivance—falls the rain of the genuine
long on this bhumi they can. They can stay for
dharma. Thus, this ground is called the Cloud of
that long. They can know everything that hap-
Dharma.”
pened in the past hundred eons and everything
Next the text describes the twelve qualities
that will happen in the future hundred eons. In
shared by all bodhisattvas that increase expo-
the last line, “They can emanate a hundred
nentially as they progress from ground to
bodies,” means that they can send out a hundred
ground.
emanations of themselves, each surrounded by a
hundred of whomever they like.
Translator: Rinpoche has composed some
verses, called summarizing verses, to make this
Question: And open a hundred doors? What is a
easier for us to understand.
door of dharma?

Rinpoche: The verses in the text of the En-


Translator: It means they can teach in a hun-
trance to the Middle Way are more difficult to
dred different ways.
understand and to memorize. These are much
easier. [See box on this page.] These verses
Question: Are you translating dampa when you
describe what happens on the first bodhisattva
say genuine?

SHENPEN ÖSEL 109


of them effortlessly. It can do so because it is all
Translator: Yes, dampa. just appearance-emptiness. Similarly, bodhisatt-
Question: If they know the next hundred lives vas can aid as many disciples. When all the
and they know the past hundred eons, but they causes and conditions come together, a mere
neither happen or will happen, what is the point appearance of emanations for the benefit of
in knowing the next hundred eons if nothing is students appears.
going to happen anyway? If you ask why they emanate a retinue
around them, the reason is that
Translator: Rinpoche says it often times they want to go to
would be better if I answered the Bodhisattvas places where the dharma has not
question. It is very helpful to need somebody been taught before. But if they
remember the examples of a were just to go to such a place
dream or a water moon, because
initially to listen alone, there would be nobody to
they “teach” the nature of appear- to the teachings listen to them; so they emanate a
ance. The image of the moon hundred students to listen to
appears in the water and events
to get the whole them. Then people say, “Oh, yes, I
appear in a dream, but there is thing rolling. want to go too.” In that way more
nothing real there in either case. people come and listen. Bodhisat-
They eliminate
So to say that something has no tvas need somebody initially to
inherent existence or to say that the problem of listen to the teachings to get the
nothing ever happens means that getting the whole whole thing rolling. They elimi-
just as events in a dream do not nate the problem of getting the
really happen, nothing in any thing off the whole thing off the ground by
other dimension of existence ground by emanating their own students to
really happens. They appear to come and start showing other
happen, but they do not really
emanating their people how to be a student, how
happen. Both the past and the own students to to listen, and how to practice on
future are like that. They are just the path. And then everybody else
mere appearances. That is what
come and start who is not an emanation can see
bodhisattvas know. To say that showing other how it is done and do the same
nothing happens does not mean people how to be thing. Since the original hundred
that they are nothingness; it students are all emanations, they
means that they are just mere a student give a very good example of how
appearances. to be good students. Everybody
else watches them and thinks,
Rinpoche: The many qualities ascribed to the “Oh, that is how we should do it.” And so every-
various bodhisattva bhumis are not real either. body else can enter into the dharma in the same
They too are just appearance-emptiness, like a way. That is a very good reason to send out
water moon. If they were real, if things were emanations of students.
solid, inherently existent, it would be impossible
for such things as described in these verses to Question: What are the four fearlessnesses?
happen. But it is precisely because they are
empty of inherent existence, because they are Rinpoche: The commentary just mentions the
appearance-emptiness, that they can happen. four fearlessnesses without explaining what they
For example, you can have as many reflec- are. But, for example, there is no fear of whether
tions of the moon as you have different contain- or not one has gained realization as a buddha.
ers filled with water. The moon will shine in all There is no fear of being able or not able to lead

110 SHENPEN ÖSEL


disciples, and so forth. There are four such being a good student, etc.]. They would look at
divisions.* their teacher and think, “We are both emana-
tions of the same bodhisattva. Why should I
Question: I was curious about these emanations listen to him? Why should I listen to her?” If
of the students. Are they real? they did know, it would just be
Are they sentient beings? Or are like a movie; everybody would just
they just simply empty emana- Some know be playing a role. And so it is
tions? And do they know that that they are probably not like that; they prob-
they are emanations or do they ably do not know, and they prob-
think they are sentient beings? emanations and ably have the thoughts of ordinary
some do not, but beings.
Rinpoche: These emanations are There is a story about the
not ordinary sentient beings,
it is better if they siddha Götsangpa. He had among
because they are emanations of do not know his many students an attendant
the bodhisattva. Some know that called the siddha Örgenpa. He
they are emanations and some do was in charge of making various
not, but it is better if they do not know. If they arrangements, such as determining who could
knew that they were emanations from the begin- come to the teachings, how many people would
ning, then they would not want to go through all fit, and things like that. Among the students
of [what is entailed in following the path and there were many emanations, not necessarily
emanations of Götsangpa, but just emanations in
*Editor’s note: Amongst the various qualities of general. But the story recounts that the students
buddhahood, the Mahayana Uttara Tantra Sastra enumerates did not necessarily know that they were emana-
“four kinds of fearlessness: 1. knowledge of their perfect
enlightenment with respect to every phenomenal domain. 2. in tions. That is probably how it is, and there is
teaching the obstacles and how to stop them. 3. in teaching probably a good reason for that.
the path and 4. in stating their achievement of cessation.”
The translators, Ken and Katia Holmes further comment on
And Milarepa sang in a song called The Eight
the first fearlesness that “When enlightenment is reached, Wonderful Forms of Happiness, “To gather
everything to be purified has been purified and everything to emanations as a retinue is E Ma Ho!” He was
be realised is realised.”
The shastra further comments on “the function of these singing about his own experience, but he did not
fearlessnesses. 1. Because they themselves know and help go around saying to his students, “Oh, you are
others know every aspect of the knowable. 2. because they
themselves have relinquished and help others relinquish
this emanation, and you are that emanation.” He
those things which must be relinquished. 3. because they did not tell them that.
teach and make taught what ought to be taught and 4.
because they have attained and help others attain the utterly
stainless highest attainment.” Question: If I may follow up on his questions,
The translators further comment on these four last were these emanations which are not now ordi-
points: “These four points refer to the four sublime truths,
nary sentient beings ever at one time ordinary
taught by the Buddha in the first turning of the wheel of
dharma. The truth of suffering is ‘what is to be known’. The sentient beings? Or were they like a movie that
truth of the origination of suffering, ‘what is to be given up’— is projected? I think a lot of Westerners have the
karma and the defilements. The truth of the path—‘what is to
be relied upon’, and the truth of cessation—‘the goal to be notion that emanations are sort of holograms
achieved’. The terms [sublime truths] literally mean ‘the that are produced in space.
truths’ (bDen.Pa) ‘of the realised’ (’Phags. Pa’i). ‘Sublime’
means ‘aloof from and raised far above the ordinary’ (Oxford
Dict.) since these truths are only perceived by realised beings. Rinpoche: It is in fact like television, or like the
Sometimes called “Four Noble Truths.’ ” From The Changeless reflections in water of the moon in the sky, in
Nature: Mahayana Uttara Tantra Sastra by Arya Maitreya
and Acarya Asanga, translated from the Tibetan under the
that these emanations are not their own sepa-
guidance of Khenchen the IX Thrangu Rinpoche and Khenpo rate beings. They are just emanations. They are
Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche by Ken and Katia Holmes, literally emanations of the basis or ground for
Karma Drubgyud Darjay Ling, Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire,
Scotland, 1985. the emanation, which is a particular bodhisattva

SHENPEN ÖSEL 111


abiding in the pure realms. If somebody puts a mere dependently arisen beings is a little con-
television camera in front of somebody else, then fusing. If we look at it from the standpoint of
that somebody else’s image can show up on their birth, they get the white tigli (bindhu) from
countless television sets. That is how emana- their father, they get their red tigli from their
tions are. When a person is talking on television mother, what is there in place of a namshe,
and showing up on millions of which is also present when we
television sets, the images of this are born?*
person on all these television sets We need to use
are not the same as the actual Rinpoche: To answer the first
person talking; but they are not these ten types question, from the perspective
different either. They are just mere of equality in our of genuine reality, there is no
dependently arisen appearances. difference between us and
When we turn on our television
practice and in emanations. There is no differ-
and see a person’s image there, this our post- ence between samsara and
image is not the same as the per- nirvana. There is no difference
son; it is not different from the
meditation between buddhas and sentient
person; it’s just a mere dependently experience beings. There is no difference
arisen appearance. But the way we between friends and enemies,
think about it is that the image is and therefore it is explained
the person; we think it is the same. So we look at that all appearances are the display of the three
the image of the person and say, “Oh, there he is; kayas.
there she is.” Since samsara and nirvana are fundamentally
Emanations are just mere dependently arisen the same, then sentient beings and buddhas are
appearances, they do not have any inherent fundamentally the same. Ordinary beings and
existence. noble bodhisattvas are fundamentally the same.
So given the bodhisattva on the first bhumi Friends and enemies, clean and dirty, are funda-
and their hundred emanations, they are all mentally the same. So this is an expression or an
emanations which lack inherent existence, example of the ten types of equality, which we
because they are just mere dependently arisen discussed earlier in the course, and we need to
appearances like images on television screens, use these ten types of equality in our practice
like the reflections of the moon in many pools of and in our post-meditation experience.
water. As Gyalwa Götsangpa sang in his Melody of
In order to tame beings, in order to benefit the Eight Types of Non-Duality,
them, bodhisattvas take birth as rabbits, fish,
turtles, deer, antelope, and all different kinds of Wonderful visions of yidam deities and
animals. Whatever is necessary. The Buddha told Fearsome apparitions of obstructing demons,
very specific stories of such bodhisattvic incarna- These distinctions do not exist in the pure ex-
panse—
tions. He said that at such and such a time I took
So how joyful! How happy! Sudden Victory!
birth as that animal and had my head cut off by
that person, or I gave my flesh to that animal. He
Sing a song! [Students sing verse.]
told these stories in great detail, exactly what
happened in a great many lives. *Editor’s note: According to the Buddha’s teachings, three
constituents must be come together in the womb for the
conception of an ordinary being to occur: the white element or
Question: Incidently, this seems a little strange, bindu from the father, the red element or bindu from the
because we are all mere dependently arisen mother, and the namshe or consciousness of the individual
being in the intermediate state between death and rebirth
illusory beings, so somehow to try to distinguish
who is being impelled by karma towards conception and
us from emanations by saying emanations are rebirth.

112 SHENPEN ÖSEL


If we can understand that deities, yidam like dream appearances, like water moons and
deities, and demons are fundamentally the same, illusions. The example that helps us to under-
it is easy to understand how sentient beings and stand this form of equality is the example of
buddhas are fundamentally the same, too. things and occurrences in dreams.
The way that demons and deities are the As to your second question—What is the
same is that ultimately the nature of both of substitute for the consciousness in an emanated
them transcends all conceptual fabrications being?—whereas ordinarily we are born with the
about what they might be. And white bindu from the father, the
relatively the appearance of the red bindu from the mother, and
two is just like a dream, they are If we can the consciousness from the previ-
both equally like dream appear- understand that ous life, for an emanation, the
ances, like illusions, and like substitute for the consciousness is
water moons. deities, yidam the samadhi, the aspiration
Singing about the ways in deities, and prayers, and the compassion of the
which ordinary beings and bodhi- emanating bodhisattva. It is
sattvas and buddhas are the
demons are mainly the samadhi of the
same, Götsangpa sang: fundamentally bodhisattva. Accompanying the
samadhi is the power of the com-
Obtaining high rebirth or libera-
the same, passion and aspiration prayers of
tion and it is easy to the bodhisattva. From those you
Falling into the three unhappy get something like consciousness,
destinations, understand how
something that serves as a substi-
These distinctions don’t exist in sentient beings
the pure expanse— tute for what we have as con-
So how joyful! How happy! and buddhas are sciousness. It is like that.
Sudden Victory! *
fundamentally Question: I would appreciate
So let’s sing that verse. [Stu- the same, too hearing again the reasoning that
dents sing. See opposite page for refutes the notion that things can
full song.] arise from other than themselves.
You might dream of meeting the noble Tara;
you might dream of meeting Manjushri; or you Translator: So could Rinpoche please go over
might dream of meeting some horrible demon, again the reasoning that refutes arising from
but all of these are just mere appearances. The other?
appearances of the deities are not real; the
appearances of the demons are not real. Funda- Rinpoche: The root of it, which is the best way
mentally their nature is equality. So it is like to understand it, is that, given an entity, it does
that. not arise from something other than itself,
So we need to know the way in which, from because at the time of the result, the cause does
the perspective of their genuine nature, things not exist as something different from the re-
are fundamentally the same, which is that the sult.** Why? Because that cause has gone out of
nature of everything transcends all conceptual existence. It is just not there. And at the time of
fabrications. It is beyond conceptuality. And we the cause, the result does not exist as something
also need to know the way in which, from the
perspective of their relative appearances, things **Editor’s note: The structure of this sentence, beginning
are also the same, which is that they are equally with “… given an entity,” since it appears frequently in the
translator’s syntax, must reflect a structure of logical reason-
ing in Tibetan philosophy or debate. For that reason, though it
*Editor’s note: See Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 2, No. 2, page 10. seems a bit awkward in English, we have left it in this form.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 113


different from the cause, because the result has no process of going; he refuted process.
not arisen yet. So since you only have one at a You might then say, “Well, yes, there is going,
time, cause and then result—since cause and because somebody’s legs are moving on this path,
result do not exist at the same time—then you and that is the going.” But somebody’s leg can
cannot say that something arises from something only be in one place at one time, not two, so
other than itself, because the other is not there. there is no movement. In between the time that
There is nothing to be other from. all past movement has finished, and all future
For example, when you have a seed, there is movement has yet to happen, there is nothing
no flower. By the time the flower has arisen, there. There is actually no movement happening.
there is no seed. The seed and the flower do not Another way to look at it is to look at the
exist at the same time. So since you only have individual and see that when they are moving
one at a time, you cannot say that the flower one leg, the other leg is staying still. And then
arises from the seed, which is other to it, be- when that leg is staying still, the first leg is
cause they do not coexist. If they do not coexist, moving. Therefore, if you ask whether that
how could they be different from each other? You person is moving or staying still, you find your-
have to have two things existing self in a contradiction: one person
at the same time for them to be is both moving and staying still.
different from each other.
You are either So then you must ask, “Is this
alive, or you are person a mover or a stayer?” And
Question: But then where does dead. There is no you cannot answer that question,
process come into . . . How do you because part of them is moving
account for process then? in between. and part is not. So the whole
There is no point notion of moving breaks down.
Rinpoche: Actually there is no It is the same with death. You
such thing as process. This is of death are either alive, or you are dead.
something very important for us There is no in between. There is
to understand, that there is no such thing as the no point of death. There is all the time when you
process of birth [or arising]. If you examine, you are alive, and then after that you are dead. So
will see that in between the time when birth has there is no point where death happens, which is
not yet happened and the time after birth has why Milarepa sang,
happened, there is nothing. Something is either
born or it is not. In between, there is nothing; in I’ve gained confidence that there is no arising.
between, there is no process of birth; there is no This swept away my taking past and future lives
half way. You cannot posit something as being as two,
Exposed all six realms’ appearances as false,
born because it is either born or it is not. When
And cut right through believing all too much in
you examine subtly, this is what you find out. birth and death.
Since there is no process of birth, there is no
arising. It just does not happen. Since Milarepa examined and saw that there
In the chapter called the Examination of is nothing in between the time before you die
Coming and Going, the protector Nagarjuna and the time after you die, the time before you
looked at process. He looked at “ing,”—going and are born and the time after you are born, and
coming—and he proved that this “ing” state does thereby saw that there is no point of birth or
not exist. The way he looked at it in this chapter death, Milarepa knew that there was no such
was that, if you are walking on a path, then in thing as birth and death. He had confidence that
between the part of the path that you have there was no birth and no death.
already walked on and the part you have not We can see that the songs of Milarepa and
walked on yet, there is nothing. And so there is the reasonings of Nagarjuna are completely in
114 SHENPEN ÖSEL
harmony with each other in this regard. When Buddhism to an infant?
we join these two together, they makes our
understanding very profound. So we should sing Translator: You mean a small child at least
the song we sang yesterday. [Students sing Three capable of understanding your speech?
Kinds of Confidence in Genuine Reality, imitat-
ing the translator’s periodic yelping during the Question: Like a young child.
song. See page 116.]
Since this is the way that heroes sing, we Rinpoche: If it is a small child with exceptional
need to yelp a little bit as heroes do, with a intelligence, you should explain to them the true
hero’s confidence. If we did not have that type of nature of reality. Explain that things neither
confidence there would be no reason to yelp like come nor go. If it is a child with great faith,
that. Sentient beings normally are not very teach them how to meditate on Chenrezig or
heroic. Why? Because we are Manjushri.
afraid of death. That is the main These days, in the last part of
reason why we are not heroic. Sentient beings the twentieth century, children
The logic is the same with normally are not study a lot, and they are taught in
sickness. In between the moment school that small particles do not
when all the pain you have expe-
very heroic. Why? really exist. So if they know that
rienced in the past has elapsed, Because we are small particles do not really exist,
and the moment when all the then understanding the rest about
pain you are going to experience
afraid of death emptiness will not be so difficult.
in the future begins, there is It is also pretty easy to under-
nothing, and there is no time stand how it is that space has no
there for you to experience any pain, so there is center or end, how this planet has no top or
no experience of pain happening. bottom, and how beings are the equality of self
“No, you are wrong; I really am sick,” you and other. Those are easy reasonings to under-
might say. “I feel it myself. I really am sick.” But stand.
that does not prove that your sickness is real; Children can also come to understand easily
you could be sick in a dream. Just to have the how it is that difficulty is just a creation of our
experience does not prove anything. own mind, when we find things difficult we can
This is why Gyalwa Götsangpa sang, understand that it is just our own thoughts that
are creating this difficulty, nothing else. They
The illness and its painfulness have neither base can understand this easily, because when they
nor root. play and are happy, then time goes by very fast,
Relax into it, fresh and uncontrived, but when they are having a tough time, then
Revealing dharmakaya way beyond all speech
time seems to go very slowly, and the whole
and thought.
Don’t shun them; pain and illness are basically perspective of the world changes. And so, they
good.* can see from that that it is just an imputation of
thoughts creating one situation or another.
So let’s sing that together. [Students sing.] Children can look at their minds and see how
You should sing that song a lot. Other ques- that sometimes feelings of hunger or bodily
tions. discomfort cause them to lose their patience
with, and to get angry with their teacher or with
Question: Speaking to an infant, how would you their father and mother, and in that way they
describe Buddhism? How would you define can see that it all just comes from thoughts.
And other times when they are feeling happy,
*Editor’s note: See Eight Cases of Basic Goodness Not to be
Shunned, page 128.) then everything seems to go very easily. They

SHENPEN ÖSEL 115


Three Kinds of Confidence
in Genuine Reality
At the feet of Marpa the translator I bow.
From meditating here and there in natural retreats

I’ve gained confidence that there is no arising.


This swept away my taking past and future lives as two,
Exposed all six realms’ appearances as false,
And cut right through believing all too much in birth and death.

I’ve gained confidence in everything as equal.


This swept away my taking happiness and grief as two,
Exposed the ups and downs of feelings as false,
And cut believing there are some to have and some to shun.

In inseparability I’ve gained confidence.


This swept away samsara and nirvana seen as two,
Exposed the exercise of paths and levels as false,
And cut right through believing all too much in hope and fear.

can study well. They have a lot of diligence. They husband and son. She developed great renun-
have a lot of friends, and so they can see that ciation for samsara. She met her teacher, prac-
everything just depends upon their own frame of ticed, attained siddhi, and transformed herself
mind. into a sixteen-year-old girl. She is still sixteen,
Among the eighty-four mahasiddhas of India, even today. Some siddhas are able to see her
there were two children. They heard only a directly, and she is still sixteen-years-old.
couple of verses of dharma and gained liberation. So the fact is that being old or young just
And then they just took off and went up into the depends on thoughts. If there are no thoughts
trees and played in the trees. Their names were of being old or young, then there is no differ-
Tonglopa and Singlopa. They could attain siddhi ence between old and young; it is just like being
as young children because they were incredibly old or young in a dream.
smart. These days children are also very smart. There was a student of the translator
But do not be discouraged because you think Barotsana, whose name was Mipham Gompo.
you are too old; it does not matter if you are old He was an eighty-year-old beggar when
either. Sukha Siddhi, the wisdom dakini of the Barotsana met him on the side of the road. He
Shangpa Kagyu lineage, was sixty years old could barely see, he had no teeth, and his hair
when she was kicked out of her house by her was all white, but he requested Barotsana for
116 SHENPEN ÖSEL
instructions. Barotsana taught him to meditate meditate on the essential nature of the experi-
on guru yoga, which he did. He recognized the ence of passion.
nature of mind and attained the rainbow body. In the mahamudra meditation of the va-
In the old days there were no false teeth, so jrayana, you meditate on the essential nature of
when you lost all your teeth your passion, the essential nature of
mouth looked like a big cave. And aggression, and the essential
when you chewed you had to chew You do not try to nature of stupidity.
like this. [Rinpoche imitates get rid of passion So if you look at anger specifi-
chewing without teeth.] Nowadays cally, then anger has a very bril-
people get false teeth and go
as a mahayana liant and clear aspect to it. It is
around smiling to show everybody. practitioner, very sharp. So if you arouse
So it is like that. yourself in anger [Rinpoche
The point is that the more
because passion demonstrates the appearance of
hardship we have when practicing is very close to anger], and then look at the
dharma, the more feeling we have loving kindness nature of that angry mind, then
that samsara really is not worth it you will have a beautifully lumi-
after all, the more renunciation we nous experience.
develop for samsara. So that is good; the more
hardship the better. All the great siddhas first Question: Could Rinpoche explain the logic that
experienced great suffering, which then im- proves past and future lives?
pelled them to practice the dharma. So it is like
that. Rinpoche: Given past and future lives, they are
not real, because they are like water moons.
Question: Rinpoche talked a little bit about the They are mere appearances, and so we need to
dharma path and the presence of the human know that past and future lives are not real.
experience of sexual energy, and that seems Given past and future lives, they exist as mere
pretty strong. We spend a lot of time either dependently arisen appearances because they
being caught up in it or trying not to be caught are just like dreams and water moons.
up in it. Could Rinpoche speak a little bit about Milarepa sings:
the right effort or use of sex and sexual energy
as it pertains to meditative equipoise? I’ve gained confidence that there is no arising.
This swept away my taking past and future lives
Translator: The question is about sex and as two.*
sexual energy in the human experience and how
to take it to the path. What is the connection Milarepa here no longer believes that past
between sex or sexual energy and right conduct? and future lives really exist. To believe that they
are real is confusion. To believe that they do not
Rinpoche: Actually, passion is something very exist is also confusion. So it is like that.
good. On the path of the shravakas, you try to The protector Nagarjuna said that when you
get rid of passion. And when you do that, you can know that existence is just like a mirage and a
attain the state of arhatship. But you do not try water moon, you will not fall into the views of
to get rid of passion as a mahayana practitioner, realism or nihilism. So knowing that things are
because passion is very close to loving kindness. the inseparable union of appearance and empti-
So these two are related to each other. In the ness, and that past and future lives are the same,
vajrayana there are a number of different means is to free ourselves both from thinking that
to use passion and sexual energy on the path and
*Editor’s note: From Three Kinds of Confidence in Genuine
one is the method of mahamudra, where you Reality.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 117


things are real and from believing in non-exist- everything else. So the fact is that you cannot
ence. find anything that is “this life.”
There are reasonings that prove that there So this life is just like an illusion and a
are past and future lives, but they cannot prove dream. There is nothing substantial or real here.
that they are real, because in the view of those There is nothing separate or distinct about
reasonings there are lots of contradictions. You which you can say, “This is the truly existent
can prove that past and future lives are like life.” If you understand this view of things, then
dreams and water moons. there is no reason why there could not be past
Nowadays most scientists do not believe in dream-like illusory lives, and future dream-like
past and future lives, because they are looking at illusory lives.
past and future lives from the perspective of Whatever it is—whether it is a past life, this
thinking that things are truly existent. But were life, or a future life—it is not real, because it is
they to understand that things are just like neither one thing nor many.
water moons and illusions, then they would have
no problem believing in past and future lives. Question: Why in the world is the reality of
They should also know the consequence of appearances so vivid?
their view. The consequence of understanding
that even the smallest particles of matter do not Rinpoche: This vivid clarity of appearance is
exist is that it would be impossible for a being called the meeting of appearance and conscious-
made up of coarse flesh and blood—which are in ness. In dependence upon there being conscious-
turn thought to be made up of subtle particles of ness, there can be an appearance. In dependence
matter which they now have determined do not upon appearance, there can be a consciousness.
truly exist—to truly exist as substantial matter And these are not successive. They are simulta-
or ever really to be born. neous. Think about how conscious-
You cannot even say that ness perceives things in dreams.
there is this one life that we are The vivid clarity If it were the case that when
experiencing, because when you there were appearances, there
are dreaming, the daytime life is of appearance was no consciousness, and when
gone, and during the daytime the is called the there was consciousness, there
dream life is gone. When you are was no appearance, nothing would
happy the sad life is gone. When
meeting of be clear. But what we constantly
you are sad the happy life is gone. appearance and have is the instantaneous meeting
So what is this life? It is just a of appearance and consciousness.
conceptual imputation and a
consciousness And that is why we have vivid
superimposition that has no appearances. You have the appear-
inherent existence. Where is it? ance and the consciousness of one moment, and
If this life really existed, then you would then that ceases and there is the next moment,
have to be able to say, “Oh, it is this,” or “It is and then that ceases, and then the next, and the
that.” You would have to have some thing you next. And they are all alike. And that is why
could point to and say this is what actually there is constant fresh clarity of appearance.
exists. But you cannot. It is like the snapping of the finger with the
When you are in thick or deep sleep, you do ear consciousness. Very clear. That is called the
not have any appearances at all. There are no meeting of appearance and consciousness. It is
dream appearances. There are no daytime ap- like that.
pearances. There is just nothing. So which one is
it? Is thick sleep a dream appearance or a day- Question: When I have been dreaming and have
time experience? If you say one, you exclude realized that I was dreaming, “I have said to

118 SHENPEN ÖSEL


myself, “Okay, that means I can fly now.” And in deep sleep there is no sickness. Why? Because
when that occurs, I leap in the air and punch a there is no thought of sickness. You go to the
hole in the ceiling, and I can do hospital and have an operation so
whatever I want. But with re- that you can be cured of sickness,
gard to my waking life, though There are but when you are under anesthe-
your reasonings make sense to four states of sia, there is no sickness, because
me on a very deep level and I you are not thinking about it. So
believe that my waking life is existence: sickness exists only in dependence
mere appearance, I do not have deep sleep, upon thoughts.
that same experience of freedom So if we examine sickness and
over things and events that I have
dream, sexual suffering with our intelligence, we
in dreams. Why is it that if we are intercourse, and can find that these things do not
sure that we are dreaming we can really exist.
fly in our dreams, but when we
the ordinary But just understanding concep-
are sure that these waking ap- state, which is tually that sickness does not exist
pearances are appearance-empti- is not enough. We also need to
everything else
ness, we still cannot fly? What is meditate. There are lot of differ-
the difference? ent ways to meditate, so now we
will meditate a bit. [Students meditate.]
Rinpoche: The difference is that in your waking Now Ari is going to sing the song by
state you have certainty that these appearances Götsangpa called the Seven Delights. Please
are appearance-emptiness, but you do not have listen and meditate. [Translator sings.]*
realization. In a dream you have both certainty Now let’s sing the five verses on illusory body.
and something like realization that allows you to [Students sing. See page 59.]
do that.
Rinpoche: There are four states of existence:
Question: Rinpoche made the statement that deep sleep, dream, sexual intercourse, and the
pain and illness are basically good. Could ordinary state, which is everything else. The last
Rinpoche expand on that? one is the longest. So when we are working in
the city, when we are doing whatever it is that
Rinpoche: The basic goodness of sickness is its we are ordinarily doing, then that is the time to
nature. Because sickness is not real, in essence meditate on illusory body. That is the time to
there is nothing wrong with it. This is called sing these verses. If we can gain certainty in
natural purity, or primordial purity. The only appearance-emptiness undifferientable, that
reason that we think there is something wrong would be quite good. When we gain certainty
with sickness is that we project that it exists. We that this life is appearance-emptiness
think, “I am sick. I am suffering because of my undifferentiable then everything becomes very
sickness. I am experiencing suffering. I want to easy, very open, spacious, and relaxed.
get better. I want to get rid of this sickness.” But [Dedication of merit]
once all those types of thoughts which think the
sickness is real cease, then there is nothing Rinpoche: From this text, Entrance to the
there except purity, because there is no mental Middle Way, which was composed by the glorious
stain or defilement. Chandrakirti, we have explained all of the
When we get sick in a dream our sickness verses from nine of the ten mind generations.
exists only because we think we are sick. When The sixth mind generation is very long, so we
we get sick during the day our sickness exists
only because we think we are sick. When we are *Editor’s note: See Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 3, No. 2, pages 80-81.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 119


selected the most important verses to explain. It When the madhyamika, the middle way, is
would be very good for us to recite all of these explained, the two phrases heard most often are,
verses again and again. “It does not exist,” and “It is not real.” We hear
The sixth chapter is quite long. There is a lot these again and again because we have such
to it. If I come here again, it will be easy for me great attachment to the things in this life as
to explain more of it. The sixth chapter contains being real, and as existing, so we need to hear
many logical reasonings which are difficult to that they aren’t real again and again to reverse
study all the way through in one sitting, so it is our attachment to them.
better to study them piece by piece by piece. Then there are other dharma explanations
In a previous visit, we explained the sixteen that presume the existence of things, such as the
emptinesses, which have now been published in explanation that wherever there is space there
Shenpen Ösel, and so it would be are more sentient beings, and
very good to recite those verses wherever there are sentient
again and again.* It should be our beings there is suffering. These
The sixteen emptinesses are explanations, which teach from
practice to train
explained from the perspective of the perspective of existence and
the sixteen things to which we are in the realization things existing, are made in order
most attached. Each one of those that all the to inspire us to accumulate merit.
is explained to be empty, and that The king of swans has two
helps us really to understand appearances of wings: one—the wing of knowing
emptiness. Emptiness is difficult this life are that things are not real, that they
to understand if we just lump do not exist—is the wing of
everything together and say
just like the suchness; the other—the wing
everything is empty. It is easier to appearances in that posits the existence of things
understand if we break it down existing in a certain way—is the
into these sixteen things to which
a dream and wing of the relative. Flying on
we have a lot of attachment. to develop these two wings he can soar to
We sang two verses about the compassion for the far side of the ocean of the
twelve qualities of the bodhisatt- Victors’ qualities.** With his
vas to heighten our interest. If we those who suffer broad white wings of the relative
know about the bodhisattvas’ good because they do and suchness, the king of swans
qualities, then we will be more soars ahead to lead the flock. By
enthusiastic about attaining those not realize that the power of virtue’s wind, he
states ourselves. The protector crosses to the far shore of the
Nagarjuna attained the first bhumi, Perfect Joy, ocean of the Victor’s perfect qualities.
so he had these 1,200 qualities. In short, as Milarepa sang, “I see this life to
Similarly, the eight mahayana heart disciples be like a dream and an illusion, and I have
of the Buddha Shakyamuni are all bodhisattvas compassion for those who do not realize that.”
on the tenth ground, so the number of emana- He was singing from his own experience, and it
tions they have is inconceivable. should be our practice as well to train in the
Knowing about the qualities of buddhas and realization that all the appearances of this life
bodhisattvas is a means of heightening our are just like appearances in a dream, just like
interest in dharma and also of causing us to have appearances in an illusion, and to develop com-
even greater respect for and be in greater awe of passion for those who suffer because they do not
the bodhisattvas on these grounds.
**Editor’s note: i.e., he can attain the enlightenment of
*Editor’s note: See Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 3, No. 1, pages 55-62. buddhahood.

120 SHENPEN ÖSEL


realize that. great joy is. And when we try to think or con-
This life is not real; it is not false. Reality ceive of what the greatest joy possible could be,
and falsity are fundamentally the same. It is not or what the greatest suffering possible could be,
long, it is not short. Long and short are funda- we have no idea. And this shows that suffering
mentally the same. Thinking this, understanding and happiness are of the nature of equality.
this, we can see how important it is to practice We have explained the ten equalities from
the dharma. the Sutra of the Tenth Bhumi. Of these equali-
Long exists only in dependence upon short. ties, the most important are the way that every-
Short exists only in dependence upon long. thing is the same from the perspective of its
Where is the thing that is only long, and not genuine nature—freedom from all conceptual
short? Where is the thing that is only short and fabrications—and the way everything is the
not long? When we realize we cannot find any same from the perspective of its relative na-
such thing, then we see the equality of long and ture—that everything is equally just like a
short. dream, an illusion, and a water moon. These are
Suffering and happiness exist only in depen- what we have to think about again and again and
dence upon each other. We can only know happi- again.
ness in dependence upon suffering. We can only To sum it all up, practice emptiness and
know suffering in dependence upon happiness. compassion in union. Everything is complete
When we have a great feeling of joy, that exists within that. [Rinpoche, translator, and students
only in dependence upon an idea of what great dedicate merit.]
suffering is. When we have great suffering, that Sarva Mangalam!
can exist only because we have a notion of what

SHENPEN ÖSEL 121


Selected Verses From
Chandrakirti’s Entrance to the Middle Way
The First Mind Generation:
Perfect Joy They are born into the family of the
tatagathas.
Shravakas and intermediate buddhas arise They abandon all three that entangle so
from the Mighty Ones. thoroughly.
Buddhas are born from the bodhisattvas. These bodhisattvas possess extraordinary
And compassionate mind, non-dual aware- happiness,
ness, And can cause a hundred worlds to quake. (6)
And bodhicitta are the causes of these heirs of
the Victors. (1) Advancing from ground to ground, they fully
progress upwards—
Since I assert that loving kindness itself is the At that time, all paths to the lower realms are
seed of the Victors’ abundant harvest, sealed off.
Is the water which causes it to flourish, At that time, all grounds of ordinary beings
And is its ripening that allows it to be enjoyed evaporate—
for a long time, They are taught to be like the eighth ground of
I therefore praise compassion at the very the noble ones. (7)
outset. (2)
Even those abiding on the first ground of
First thinking “me,” they fixate on “self,” perfect bodhicitta,
Then, thinking, “This is mine,” attachment to Through the power of their merit, outshine
things develops. Both those born of the Mighty One’s speech
Beings are powerless, like a rambling water and the solitary sages.
mill— On the ground Gone Far Beyond, their minds
I bow to compassion for these wanderers. (3) also become superior. (8)

Beings are like the moon on the surface of At that time, the first cause of complete en-
rippling water — lightenment,
They move and are empty of any self nature. Generosity, becomes preeminent.
The Victors’ heirs see this and in order to free When one is enthusiastic even about giving
beings completely away one’s own flesh,
Their minds come under the power of com- This is a sign of something that normally
passion, (4) cannot be seen. (9)

And perfectly dedicating their virtue with All beings strongly desire happiness
Samantrabhadra’s prayer, But human happiness does not occur without
They perfectly abide in joy—this is called “the objects of enjoyment.
first”. Knowing that these objects arise from gener-
Having attained this ground osity,
They are called by the name “bodhisattva.” The Mighty One taught generosity first. (10)
(5)

122 SHENPEN ÖSEL


Even for those without much compassion And from their excellent support, joy’s light
Who are extremely hot-tempered and self- beautifully shines.
concerned, This joy, like the jewel of the water crystal,
The objects of enjoyment they desire Completely dispels the thick darkness—it is
And that pacify their suffering come from victorious! (17)
generosity. (11)
Adapted by Ari Goldfield in October 1999 from a transla-
Even they, through an occasion of giving, tion by Mark Seibold and Scott Wellenbach, ©1997.
Will meet a noble being, receive their counsel,
And soon after, completely cutting the stream
of cyclic existence,
They will progress to peace, the result of that.
(12) The Second Mind Generation:
The Stainless
Those whose minds vow to benefit beings
Quickly gain happiness from their acts of Because the bodhisattvas’ discipline has such
generosity. excellent qualities,
It is for those who are loving and those who They abandon the stains of faulty discipline
are not— even in their dreams.
Therefore, generosity is foremost. (13) Since their movements of body, speech and
mind are pure,
The happiness of an arhat attaining peace They gather the ten types of virtue on the path
Cannot match the joy experienced by a of the genuine ones. (1)
bodhisattva
Upon merely hearing the words, “Please give These ten types of virtue have been practiced
to me.” before
So what need to mention their joy when they But here they are superior because they have
give away everything? (14) become so pure.
Like an autumn moon, the bodhisattvas are
The pain one feels from cutting one’s own always pure,
flesh to give it away Beautified by their serenity and radiance. (2)
Brings the suffering of others in the hell
realms and so forth But if they thought their pure discipline had an
Directly into one’s own experience, inherent nature,
And awakens one’s vigor in striving to cut Their discipline would not be pure at all.
that suffering off. (15) Therefore, they are at all times completely free
Of dualistic mind’s movement towards the
Giving empty of gift, giver, and recipient three spheres. (3)
Is a transcendent perfection beyond the
world. Generosity can result in wealth gained in the
When attachment to these three arises, lower realms
That is a mundane transcendent perfection. When an individual has lost their legs of disci-
(16) pline.
Once the wealth’s principal and interest are
Like that, the Victors’ heirs utterly abide in the completely spent,
mind of bodhicitta Material enjoyments will not come again. (4)

SHENPEN ÖSEL 123


If when independent and enjoying favorable The Third Mind Generation:
circumstances,
The Luminous
One does not protect oneself from falling into
the lower realms,
Here the kindling of all objects of knowledge
Once one has fallen into the abyss and has no
is consumed in a fire
power to escape,
Whose light is the reason this third ground is
What will be able to lift one up and out of
called The Luminous.
that? (5)
At this time, an appearance like the copper
sun
Therefore, after giving his advice on generos-
Dawns for the heirs of the sugatas. (1)
ity,
The Victor taught about accompanying it with
Even if someone becomes enraged with a
discipline.
bodhisattva, who is not an appropriate
When good qualities thrive in discipline’s
object of anger,
field,
And cuts the flesh and bone from their body
The enjoyment of their fruits is unceasing. (6)
Ounce by ounce over a long period of time,
The bodhisattva’s patience with the one who
For ordinary individuals, those born of the
is cutting grows even greater. (2)
Buddha’s speech,
Those set on solitary enlightenment,
For the bodhisattvas who see selflessness,
And heirs of the Victor,
The flesh cut off of them, the one who is
The cause of the higher realms and of true
cutting, the length of time cut, and the
excellence is nothing other than discipline.
manner in which it is done—
(7)
All these phenomena they see are like reflec-
tions,
Like the ocean with a corpse,
And for this reason as well they are patient.
And auspiciousness with misfortune,
(3)
When great beings come under discipline’s
power,
Once the harm is done, if one becomes angry,
They do not abide together with its decay. (8)
Does that anger reverse what has happened?
Therefore, anger certainly brings no benefit
If there be any focus on these three—
here,
The one who abandons, the abandoned act,
And will be of detriment in future lives as
and the one with regard to whom it is
well. (4)
abandoned—
Such discipline is explained to be a worldly
The harm one experiences is said to be the
transcendent perfection.
very thing
Discipline empty of attachment to these three
That exhausts whatever wrong deeds one
has gone beyond the world. (9)
performed in the past.
So why would the bodhisattva, through
Free from stains, The Stainless, the bodhisatt-
anger and harming another,
vas arising from the moon
Again plant the seeds for future suffering to
Are not of the world, yet are the world’s glory.
be endured? (5)
Like the light of the moon in autumn
They assuage the torment in the minds of
Since getting angry with bodhisattvas
beings. (10)
Instantly destroys all the virtue
Adapted by Ari Goldfield in October 1999 from a transla-
That generosity and discipline have accumu-
tion by Scott Wellenbach, ©1997. lated over a hundred eons,

124 SHENPEN ÖSEL


There is no greater negativity than impa- And then fervently yearn to vanquish the
tience. (6) darkness in others.
On this ground, though incredibly sharp, they
It makes one ugly, brings one close to those do not become angry. (13)
not genuine,
And robs one of the ability to discriminate Adapted by Ari Goldfield in October 1999 from a transla-
right from wrong. tion by Mark Seibold and Scott Wellenbach, ©1997.
Impatience quickly hurls one into the lower
realms—
Patience brings out the good qualities opposite
to these. (7)
The Fourth Mind Generation:
Patience makes one beautiful and endears one
The Radiant
to the genuine beings.
It brings one skill in knowing what is appro-
All good qualities follow after diligence—
priate and what is not.
It is the cause of both the accumulations of
Later it brings birth as a human or a god
merit and wisdom.
And exhaustion of negative deeds as well. (8)
The ground where diligence blazes
Is the fourth, The Radiant. (1)
Ordinary beings and heirs of the Victor
Should realize the faults of anger and the
Here for the heirs of the Sugatas there dawns
good qualities of patience,
an appearance
Abandon impatience, and always quickly rely
Even better than the copper light —
On the patience praised by the noble ones. (9)
It arises from an even greater cultivation of
the branches of perfect enlightenment.
Even though dedicated to the enlightenment
Everything connected with the views of self
of perfect buddhahood,
and self-entity is completely exhausted. (2)
If it focuses on the three spheres, it is worldly.
When there is no focus, the Buddha taught,
Adapted by Ari Goldfield in October 1999 from a transla-
This is a transcendent perfection beyond the tion by Mark Seibold and Scott Wellenbach, ©1997.
world. (10)

On this ground the Victor’s heirs gain the


samadhis and clairvoyances,
Desire and aversion are completely ex-
hausted, The Fifth Mind Generation:
And they are ever able to vanquish The Difficult to Overcome
The desire experienced by worldly beings. (11)
The great beings on the ground that is Diffi-
Generosity and so forth—these three dharmas cult to Overcome
The Sugata particularly praised to lay people. Cannot be defeated even by all the maras.
They are also the accumulation of merit Their meditative stability becomes superior
And the causes of the Buddha’s form body. and their excellent minds
(12) Become incredibly skilled in subtle realization
of the nature of the truths.
The heirs of the Victor, abiding in the sun,
these luminous ones, Adapted by Ari Goldfield in October 1999 from a transla-
First perfectly dispel the darkness present in tion by Mark Seibold and Scott Wellenbach, ©1997.
themselves,

SHENPEN ÖSEL 125


The Sixth Mind Generation: They respect the perfect bodhisattvas.
The individual who is skilled in the profound
The Approach
and vast natures
Will gradually progress to the ground of
The perfect bodhisattvas whose minds rest in
Perfect Joy.
the equipoise of the approach
Therefore, those who wish to do the same
Approach the qualities of buddhahood.
should listen [to the teachings about] this
They see the suchness of dependent arising
path. (7)
And, from abiding in wisdom, they will attain
cessation. (1)
It does not arise from itself; how could it arise
from something else?
Just as a person with eyes
It does not arise from self and other together;
Can easily lead a whole group of blind people
how could it arise without a cause? (8ab)
wherever they wish to go,
So here, the mind endowed with wisdom
There are two ways of seeing everything: the
Guides the blind qualities to the Victor’s
perfect way and the false way.
ground. (2)
Therefore, every thing found holds two na-
tures within.
The way the bodhisattvas realize the incred-
The Buddha taught that perfect seeing sees
ibly profound dharma
suchness
Was explained [by Nagarjuna] with scripture
And false seeing sees the relative truth. (23)
and reasoning.
Therefore, just as the noble Nagarjuna did in
Because bewilderment obscures their true
his texts,
nature, they are relative.
So will I explain things here. (3)
Whatever worldly beings fabricate appears to
them to be true.
Those who even as ordinary beings, upon
This the Mighty One called the “relative
hearing of emptiness
truth.”
Again and again experience great happiness
The noble ones know these fabricated entities
within,
to be relative. (28)
Have their eyes fill with the tears of joy,
And the hairs on their body stand on end. (4)
If worldly beings perceptions were valid,
Since worldly beings would see suchness,
Those are people with the seed of the perfect
what need for the noble ones?
Buddha’s mind.
What would the noble ones’ path accomplish?
They are vessels for the teachings on
The perception of fools is not valid cognition.
suchness.
(30)
They should be taught the truth of genuine
reality.
Arising from both self and other is also unten-
And all the good qualities coming from that
able
will arise within them. (5)
Because the faults already explained apply
here as well. (98ab)
Their discipline is always perfect.
They give generously, rely on compassion,
If things arose without any cause at all,
Cultivate patience, and the resulting virtue
Then everything would always exist and
They thoroughly dedicate to enlightenment in
anything could arise from anything else.
order to liberate beings. (6)

126 SHENPEN ÖSEL


Furthermore, no one would perform all the Therefore, on the eighth ground, those stains
hundreds of tasks, like planting seeds and so together with their roots are completely
forth, pacified.
That people ordinarily do to get results to Their kleshas are exhausted and in the three
arise. (99) realms they become superior, and yet (2)

With his broad white wings of the relative and They cannot attain all the buddhas’ endow-
suchness, ments, which are limitless as the sky.
The king of swans soars ahead to lead the Although samsara has stopped, they gain the
flock. ten powers,
By the power of virtue’s wind And demonstrate many emanations to the
He crosses to the far shore of the ocean of the
Victor’s supreme qualities. (226)

Under the guidance of Acharya Sherab Gyaltsen Negi,


translated by Ari Goldfield October 29, 1999.

The Ninth Mind Generation:


Excellent Mind

The Seventh Mind Generation: What need to mention the strengths they gain
on the ninth ground. They all become per-
Gone Far Beyond
fectly pure.
Similarly, their own qualities, the dharmas of
Here on the ground Gone Far Beyond,
perfect awareness, become completely pure.
Instant by instant, they can enter cessation,
And the transcendent perfection of method
excellently blazes.

The Tenth Mind Generation:


Cloud of Dharma
The Eighth Mind Generation: On the tenth ground they receive the genuine
Unshakable empowerment from all the buddhas.
And their primordial wisdom becomes su-
In order again and again to attain virtue even preme.
greater than before Just as rain falls from clouds, from the bodhi-
Here the bodhisattvas become irreversible. sattvas falls a spontaneous rain of dharma
The great beings enter the Unshakable ground So that the harvest of beings’ virtue may
And their aspiration prayers become incred- flourish.
ibly pure. (1)

The Victors cause them to rise from cessation.


The various flaws do not remain in the mind
free of attachment;

SHENPEN ÖSEL 127


Gyalwa Götsangpa’s
Eight Cases of Basic Goodness
Not to Be Shunned
Namo Ratna Guru

I bow to the lord who grants the bliss that is utterly supreme,
Which takes away the suffering of illness
For every being that is everywhere throughout the reaches of space
By administering the medicine of the three kayas.

In the pure space of the sky that’s the sky of essential mind itself
The clouds of negative actions thickly gather.
But the mighty force of the powerful wind of the wisdom prana
Does not blow them away, but clears them up like this:

The illness and its painfulness have neither base nor root.
Relax into it, fresh and uncontrived,
Revealing dharmakaya way beyond all speech and thought.
Don’t shun them, pain and illness are basically good.

What confusion takes to be taking place is negative forces’ work.


But it is all your own mind, simple, unborn, unceasing.
Without anxiety or even worrying at all,
Don’t shun them; demons and gods are basically good.

When the agony of illness strikes your four-fold elements,


Don’t grasp at its stopping; don’t get angry when it won’t improve.
Such adversities have the flavor of bliss that’s free of contagion’s blight.
The kleshas are not to be shunned; they’re basically good.

All of the joy and the pain we go through, all our highs and lows,
When realized, have no ground; they are our friends.
Don’t try to stop pain; don’t try to be happy; be free of all hope and
fear.
Samsara is not to be shunned; it is basically good.

128 SHENPEN ÖSEL


And though this whole life is plagued by the torments of falling ill,
Don’t think that’s bad; don’t plan to get around it.
Then it will be your badge, your proof of conduct of equal taste.
Your suffering’s not to be shunned; it’s basically good.

The mind that’s sunk in dullness and torpor, when realized for what it is,
Is pure being, pure of every imperfection.
So, free of thinking you should be wishing to clear this all away,
Don’t shun your dense state of mind; it’s basically good.

Habitual patterns’ imprints, printed throughout beginningless time,


Are the myriad doors illusion comes marching through.
If you do not take them as true, don’t meditate on them as empty.
Don’t shun your thoughts; they’re basically good in themselves.

The state of coemergence has no birth and knows no death,


Knows nothing of arising or ceasing or staying somewhere.
It’s infinity; it’s the vast expanse of the unconditioned state.
Don’t shun your death; it’s basically good in itself.

All eight of these things that are not to be shunned, since they’re basically
good in themselves,
Need a meditation which turns them into equal taste.
They are the thought that comes from the heart of the uncle and nephew
lord.
They are the hammer that hammers down the host of maras.

They are the practice that’s put into practice by beggars like you and me.
These are the tools that keep us in natural retreat.
They are the bliss supreme that performs the two forms of benefit.
You’ve mastered this from the beginning, old friend, but you better put it
into practice.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 129


Commentary on Götsangpa’s

Eight Cases of Basic Goodness


Not to Be Shunned

On May 25, 2001, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche gave a teaching that was
co-sponsored by Nalandabodhi and Kagyu Shenpen Ösel Chöling and given at
the Nalandabodhi Center in Seattle. It was orally translated by Ari Goldfield.
The following is an edited transcript.

B
efore listen-ing to the teachings, please please give rise to it and listen.
give rise to the supreme motivation of Tonight we will offer a brief explanation of
bodhichitta, which means that for the the song sung by Götsangpa Gönpo Dorje called
benefit of all sentient beings, who are as limit- The Eight Cases of Basic Goodness Not to be
less in number as the sky is vast in extent, we Shunned.
aspire to attain the state of complete and perfect Gyalwa Götsangpa was born in southern
buddhahood. We know that in order to do this Tibet, went to central Tibet to meet his root
we must listen to, reflect upon, and meditate on teacher, Drogon Tsanpa Gyare, and then went to
the teachings of the genuine dharma with all of practice. At first he practiced in northern Tibet,
the enthusiasm we can muster in our hearts. specifically on a rock island in the middle of a
This is the supreme motivation of bodhichitta; lake called Jang Namtso. From there he went

130 SHENPEN ÖSEL


and practiced in western Tibet, around Mount The first verse reads:
Kailash, and then went to India, where he prac-
ticed in many sacred places. He went to Nepal, Namo Ratna Guru*
where he practiced mainly in the Lapchi snow
I bow to the lord who grants the bliss that is
range, and then went back to southern Tibet to a
utterly supreme,
forest called Tsari, which is one of the main Which takes away the suffering of illness
sacred places of Chakrasamvara. There are For every being that is everywhere throughout
twenty-four sacred places of Chakrasamvara, the reaches of space
and this forest there where he practiced is one By administering the medicine of the three
of them. Then finally he went back to central kayas.
Tibet, where he practiced and passed away into
nirvana. The three kayas are spontane-
Götsangpa made many ex- ously present as the basic nature
traordinary promises or commit- Götsangpa of mind, and, therefore, they are
ments during his life. One of them the best medicine of all. They are
made many the supreme remedy for any
was that he would never visit the
same place twice. Once he had extraordinary difficulty. Therefore, Götsangpa
offers his prostration to his
practiced somewhere and had left, promises during teacher, the lord who grants
he vowed he would never return.
And he never did. So he never his life. One of supreme bliss, who takes away
went to the same place more than them was that he the suffering of the illness of all
once. He probably made this vow sentient beings by administering
with the motivation to abandon
would never visit this medicine of the three kayas,
attachment to any one place. the same place which are spontaneously present.
Another vow he made was always The next verse gives the
to keep his dharma brothers and
twice. He reason why the things that
sisters on the crown of his head as probably made Götsangpa is going to sing about
a way of showing them the highest in this song do not need to be
this vow with the shunned or abandoned. In later
respect he could pay. Out of all of
his extraordinary promises these motivation verses he repeatedly states in
refrain that they are basically
two are probably the most impor- to abandon good. Why are they basically
tant.
During his many years of attachment to good? Because the true nature of
practice, Götsangpa became any one place mind, the essential nature of
severely ill on several occasions. mind, completely beyond all
He did not leave his retreat to try conceptual fabrications of what it
to find a doctor. He did not go to the hospital. He might be, is pure, just as space is pure. So the
did not seek out medicine. Rather he used his example given here for the true or basic nature
illness as the basis for his practice of tonglen, of mind is the sky, the completely pure sky:
sending and taking, and he also employed the
practices that dispel the obstacle of illness, In the pure space of the sky that’s the sky of
essential mind itself
[primarily reverse meditation and embracing
The clouds of negative actions thickly gather.
illness as part of the practice of equal taste.] As a But the mighty force of the powerful wind of the
result, he became completely free from illness wisdom prana
and attained realization at the exact same time. Does not blow them away, but clears them up
like this:
*Editor’s note: I bow to the precious lama or precious guru.

SHENPEN ÖSEL 131


Negative actions are compared here to dense exist. It has no base, it has no roots in true
clouds that obscure our vision of the true nature existence, it is not real. So then what should we
of mind. So what should we do when that hap- do? Well, just relax into it fresh and uncontrived.
pens, when the clouds of negative actions gather Uncontrived means do not try to do anything. Do
in the pure space of the mind not try to alter anything or create
itself? We need something to any situation other than just the
clear away these clouds, which is The key is to natural one, the nature of the
the mighty force of the powerful illness as it is. Fresh means that
wind of the wisdom prana. So
realize that the the nature of this illness is noth-
wisdom, which is the essential illness itself is of ing other than the fresh, the new
nature of mind, is compared to experience of mind. Every mo-
wind which, [it might be thought],
the nature of this ment it is completely fresh and
is going to blow away these dharmakaya of new; that is its quality. Since that
clouds. But how does it blow natural purity is the case, then all we need to do
them away? How does it get rid of is to relax. Do not be tight; do not
them? Well, it does not blow them try to struggle with it, but just
away; it clears them up like this.* The point relax into its fresh nature without any fabrica-
being made here is that these clouds of negative tion. When we do that, then the essence of the
actions do not need to be abandoned, because illness shines as the dharmakaya, whose nature
they do not essentially exist in the first place. is inexpressible and inconceivable, way beyond
There is nothing truly there. Their nature is, as all speech and thoughts.
is the true nature of mind, complete purity, and There are two aspects of the dharmakaya.
it is the realization of that purity that is the The first is the dharmakaya of natural purity,
remedy for these clouds, not any attempt to which is the true nature of mind. The second
abandon them, or to establish or obtain any aspect of the dharmakaya is the purity of being
qualities that are not already intrinsically free from all of the fleeting stains. When one
present. attains enlightenment, all of the fleeting, tempo-
The first thing that we do not need to try to rary stains that obscure our realization of this
get rid of or to shun, because it is basically good, first dharmakaya of natural purity are com-
is illness. Götsangpa sings: pletely cleared away. At that point one has the
two types of dharmakaya, or you could say, [one
The illness and its painfulness have neither base has become] the buddha that is the dharmakaya
nor root. endowed with the two types of purity—both the
Relax into it, fresh and uncontrived, natural purity of the nature of mind and the
Revealing dharmakaya way beyond all speech
purity of being free from all of the fleeting
and thought.
Don’t shun them, pain and illness are basically stains.
good. The key is to realize that the illness itself is
of the nature of this dharmakaya of natural
Illness appears to bring with it suffering that purity. That is really what it is. And since that is
can be intense, very sharp, and painful, but when the case, and since also the suffering and pain do
we examine it, we find that we cannot see any not really exist, it is just like suffering illness in
illness that is really one thing, nor can we find a dream. When you dream and do not know you
any illness that is many things. The nature of are dreaming, the illness seems to be real; but if
illness is beyond one and many, and since it is you recognize that you are dreaming, then you
not one and it is not many, it does not really know that the illness has no substance at all. For
these two reasons illness is not to be shunned:
*Editor’s note: Referring to a manner yet to be explained. [From the perspective of absolute truth] its

132 SHENPEN ÖSEL


nature is purity, and [from the perspective of appearance of gods and demons; its nature is
relative truth,] as an appearance, it is just a purity and cannot be affected by such appear-
confused appearance that has no inherent exist- ances. Therefore, demons and gods are not to be
ence. So therefore, illness is not to be shunned; shunned; they are basically good.
it is basically good. We apply the same under- Someone might still object, saying, “I still do
standing to illness in our daily lives as we would not believe that illness has no root or basis,
if we were sick in a dream and knew that we because the kleshas, the mental afflictions,
were dreaming while it was happening. produce illness.” Götsangpa sings about that in
One might think that it is wrong to say that the next verse:
illness has no base or root, no origin, because
illness is (can be) an affliction caused by ob- When the agony of illness strikes your four-fold
structing spirits or negative forces like demons elements,
and ghosts. Götsangpa addresses that concern in Don’t grasp at its stopping; don’t get angry when
it won’t improve.
the next verse:
Such adversities have the flavor of bliss that’s
free of contagion’s blight.
What confusion takes to be taking place is nega- The kleshas are not to be shunned; they’re basi-
tive forces’ work. cally good.
But it is all your own mind, simple, unborn,
unceasing.
When the agony of illness strikes your
Without anxiety or even worrying at all,
Don’t shun them; demons and gods are basically body—which is comprised of the four elements
good. of earth, water, fire and wind—do not grasp at
its stopping; do not get angry
What confusion takes to be when it will not improve. Nor-
taking place is negative forces’ Demons and mally, when we get sick, we try to
work. In fact, the appearance of a gods are not to do two things: we try to make the
harmful spirit is just a confused illness stop and we try to bring
projection of the mind; it has no be shunned; they back our health. We have great
existence of its own. Whatever are basically attachment to the thought of being
supernatural powers the demon healthy again, and we have great
may appear to have, they are just
good aversion to the thought of continu-
a confused projection of mind. If ing to be ill. So the mental afflic-
we examine the mind producing these confused tions of attachment and aversion are associated
appearances, we will find that it is unborn in the with being sick and associated with the things
beginning, does not abide anywhere in the we try to do to remove the illness and get
middle, and does not cease in the end. Its nature healthy again. But Götsangpa advises, “Do not
is free from these conceptual notions of arising, do that; be free of the mental afflictions of at-
remaining, and ceasing. Knowing that, we can be tachment and aversion with regard to illness
free from all anxiety, from all nervousness, from and health. Why? Because the sickness itself has
all depression, from being disheartened or no essence; it is not real. There is nothing to
discouraged. There is no reason to worry at all, which to be attached and nothing to which to be
because demons and gods do not need to be averse with regard to sickness and health. The
abandoned; they are basically good. They do not true nature of mind is bliss that is free of
need to be gotten rid of or shunned, because they contagion’s blight. To be free of contagion’s blight
do not really exist in the first place. There is means to have bliss that is pure in the sense that
nothing really there; they are just confused there are no mental afflictions corrupting it. It is
projections. The true nature of mind is not just pure bliss that is not poisoned by attach-
altered or corrupted in the slightest by the ment or aversion. That is the basic nature of

SHENPEN ÖSEL 133


mind, and it is also the basic nature of illness enhancements to our realization. Therefore,
and the pain that goes along with it. Recognizing there is no need to try to stop pain or to try to be
that, we can then recognize that happy or to bring about or create
the kleshas, the mental afflic- Conduct of equal happiness. We can be free of all
tions, that go along with illness, hope and fear, because in the true
in fact, are not to be shunned,
taste means to nature of reality there is nothing
because they are basically good. practice seeing the to stop. There is nothing to create.
First of all, they do not really There is nothing to hope for or be
experiences of
exist, so there is nothing to get afraid of. So samsara is not to be
rid of; and second, their nature happiness and shunned; it is basically good for
and the true nature of mind is suffering, illness two reasons: First, it has no es-
completely pure. So with regard sence, so there is nothing to get
to the mental afflictions that and health, as rid of, and its nature is purity; and
arise when we get sick, do not being basically the secondly, because the true nature
shun them; they are basically of mind is originally pure, the true
good.
same nature can never be adversely
Again someone might object, affected in the slightest way by
saying, “I still do not accept that any karmic act or anything that
illness is without any roots or any ground, be- appears in samsara. So for these two reasons,
cause illness is caused by the negative karmic samsara is not to be shunned; it is basically good.
actions that we perform, that we accumulate, as Still, someone might ask, “If illness and
we go around and around in samsara.” So the sickness have no ground, no roots, then why is it
next thing that Götsangpa sings is that samsara that some people are afflicted by chronic illness
itself does not need to be abandoned, because its their whole lives.” Götsangpa sings about this in
essence is also purity: the next verse:

All of the joy and the pain we go through, all our And though this whole life is plagued by the
highs and lows, torments of falling ill,
When realized, have no ground; they are our Don’t think that’s bad; don’t plan to get around it.
friends. Then it will be your badge, your proof of conduct
Don’t try to stop pain; don’t try to be happy; be of equal taste.
free of all hope and fear. Your suffering’s not to be shunned; it’s basically
Samsara is not to be shunned; it is basically good. good.

Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we When someone is ill, even if the illness lasts
suffer, sometimes everything is going great, and their whole life, it is still just like an appearance
sometimes we are down in the dumps. Our in a dream. That is its quality. It is a confused
samsaric experiences are greatly varied, but appearance, appearing due to the coming to-
when we realize their true nature—that none of gether of causes and conditions but having no
these experiences has any essence—we realize reality. So even if you are afflicted by chronic
that they are without any ground. When we illness, do not think that is bad; do not plan to
realize the true nature of samsara, we realize get around it. Do not view it as something that
that samsara itself has no ground, no basis in we have to get rid of. Recognizing its true na-
true existence. And when that happens, then all ture, we can do that; and if we can do that, then
samsaric experiences become our friends. When Götsangpa sings, your illness will be your badge,
we recognize their nature, then all samsaric your proof of conduct of equal taste. Conduct of
experiences become friends of our dharma equal taste means to practice seeing the experi-
practice, nothing to be worried about, but rather ences of happiness and suffering, illness and
134 SHENPEN ÖSEL
health, as being basically the same or of the Dullness is the state in which the mind lacks
nature of equality. If we can do that, even if the its quality of brilliance. Torpor, in this context,
illness afflicts us our whole life, then the illness includes both the middle stage of a mind that
itself becomes our badge, like a beautiful piece of cannot focus clearly, and finally the state in
jewelry that adorns our practice, that enhances which the mind is falling asleep. So there are
our practice of learning to see suffering and three levels. When you experience any of these
happiness to be equal. For that reason, suffering three states, if you have the ability to recognize
is not to be shunned, because it is basically good. it as it is happening, then that recognition is
It has no essence of its own, so there is nothing pure being, dharmata, that is free of every im-
to get rid of; its nature is purity, so it is basically perfection. Free of anything wrong with it, it is
good.* of the nature of mind, which is luminous clarity.
There might still be those who cannot see So even if you do not have complete realization
that sickness and pain have no base or root, of the nature of the dull mind right away, just
because they think that sickness comes from the the recognition of it is enough to clear it away,
mind that is dull or ignorant. In answer because the nature of this recognizing mind is
Götsangpa sings: the dharmata, free of any stain. Therefore, free
of thinking that you should be wishing to clear
The mind that’s sunk in dullness and torpor, this all away, the true nature of mind, which is
when realized for what it is, luminous clarity, transcends all ordinary mun-
Is pure being, pure of every imperfection. dane mental activity in the basic nature of what
So, free of thinking you should be wishing to
it is. It is beyond the intellect; it is beyond all
clear this all away,
Don’t shun your dense state of mind; it’s basi- mundane mental operations. Therefore, do not
cally good. shun your dense state of mind; it is basically

*Editor’s note: It is important to point out that Tibetan Tyan. Sya Tyan includes all medicines, herbal and otherwise,
Buddhism has a medical tradition, and that even very high and surgery. Shang Tyan includes all medical treatment that
Tibetan lamas sometimes resort to medical treatment, relies on manipulating the energies (prana, chi, lung) of the
including medicines and sometimes even surgery. There is no body in their channels, and would include acupuncture,
rigid rejection of medicine in favor of some sort of “purer” shiatsu, etc. And Li Tyan is profound meditation. These
spiritual approach to illness. Medicine is simply regarded as treatments are regarded hierarchically in terms of efficacious-
another kind of skillful means, based on other sets of causes ness and speed. The slowest and least efficacious is Sya Tyan,
and conditions, also empty of inherent existence, that enters the use of medicines, etc. Faster and more efficacious is Shang
the equation of health care. Kalu Rinpoche, for one, has Tyan, the use of acupuncture and other systems that manipu-
suggested that medicine, including Western medicine, is late energies. And the fastest and most efficacious is Li Tyan,
another aspect of buddha activity. the use of profound meditation or prajna. It is also possible to
Great practitioners in Tibet, engaged in the exclusive combine these various levels of medical treatment, as
practice of meditation in isolated retreats, generally, however, witnessed by the fact that Tibetan medicines often, if not
chose not to leave their retreats to seek out medical solutions, always, include herbs and other substances that have been
relying instead on their realization of the emptiness of their blessed through tantric rituals and profound meditation. Of
pain and sickness, thereby deepening the training of their course, the efficacy of any of these systems of medicine is
minds in recognizing the equality of the true nature of all dependent upon the level of skill of the practitioner.
experience. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the But the important point that Götsangpa is making here, is
simile for bodhicitta on the sixth bodhisattva bhumi, where applicable regardless of whether or not one employs medical
the bodhisattva’s principal practice is prajna paramita, is treatment. When practicing meditation, and to the extent
medicine. This is due to the fact that the recognition of the possible in one’s post-meditation practice, one should be
emptiness or true nature of illness and pain will, at the very seeing the emptiness of all tendencies of the samsaric mind to
least, dissolve the panic, fear, anxiety, struggle, and resistance label pain and illness as bad, and during meditation, at least,
that we generally add to our illness and pain, thereby en- one should abandon any effort or plan, whether medical or
abling the practitioner to experience the equality of sickness meditational, to cause pain and illness to go away or to
and health, and will oftentimes cause the illness and pain to change, in favor of simply seeing their true nature. The first
dissolve altogether, enabling the practitioner to recover his or step in doing that is to reverse the way one thinks about one’s
her health without medical assistance, or rather by applying illness. Instead of being bad because it causes one suffering,
the medical assistance of prajna. one regards it as good because it gives one the opportunity to
In this regard it is further interesting to note that at train the mind in seeing the equality of suffering and happi-
least one school of Chinese medical thought divides medical ness and the emptiness of all phenomena.
treatment into three categories: Sya Tyan, Shang Tyan, and Li

SHENPEN ÖSEL 135


good. The dense state of mind, in fact, does not The state of coemergence has no birth and knows
really exist in the first place, so there is nothing no death,
to get rid of; its nature is purity. The pure nature Knows nothing of arising or ceasing or staying
somewhere.
of mind beyond the intellect, beyond all of these
It’s infinity; it’s the vast expanse of the uncondi-
ordinary mental operations and activities, is not tioned state.
affected in the slightest by a dense state of mind. Don’t shun your death; it’s basically good in
So there is nothing to abandon; its nature is itself.
purity.
What if somebody thinks that the root or base The state of coemergence refers to the basic
of sickness is concepts, thoughts, that our think- nature of reality, which never arises and never
ing all the time makes us sick. Addressing this ceases. It is not born. It does not die. It does not
notion, Götsangpa sings: arise in the beginning, abide anywhere in the
middle, or cease at the end. Beyond all of these
Habitual patterns’ imprints, printed throughout concepts, in its nature it is the unconditioned
beginningless time, state, meaning it is not something created due to
Are the myriad doors illusion comes marching the coming together of causes and conditions.
through.
That is the basic nature of reality. It is not a
If you do not take them as true, don’t meditate on
them as empty. composite entity; it is uncreated. It is the vast
Don’t shun your thoughts; they’re basically good expanse. The expanse here means infinity be-
in themselves. yond all conceptual fabrications. Therefore, we
do not need to shun death, because death is
From beginningless time we have been accu- basically good. Death does not really exist ei-
mulating habitual tendencies of confused percep- ther; its nature is purity. There is nothing to get
tion. These tendencies are stored in the form of rid of; it is basically good.
imprints in the mind, as a result of which, illu- In the next verse, Göstangpa sings:
sion comes marching through in the form of
illusory projections. These projections are ap- All eight of these things that are not to be
pearance-emptiness manifest in a variety of shunned, since they’re basically good in them-
ways as a result of these habitual tendencies of selves,
Need a meditation which turns them into equal
confused perception in our mind-stream. But
taste.
since they are just appearance-emptiness like an They are the thought that comes from the heart of
illusion, then we do not need to meditate on the uncle and nephew lord.
them as being empty; we do not They are the hammer that ham-
need to impose emptiness on to mers down the host of maras.
them. All we have to do is free Reverse
ourselves from thinking that they meditation This is the song that describes
are real, let the clinging to them— these eight different things that
these appearing yet empty ap-
means to reverse we experience that in fact do not
pearances—as being real just our normal way need to be shunned because they
dissolve. When we can do that, are basically good. What we need
then there is no need to get rid of
of seeing things to be able to apply in this practice
thoughts; they are self-liberated. is, first, what is called reverse
Their nature is good. meditation. Reverse meditation means to re-
Again one might ask, “If sickness has no base verse our normal way of seeing things. Ordi-
and no roots, then why do we have to die? Why narily, we want happiness and we want to avoid
does death happen?” Götsangpa answers that suffering, and it is out of these two motivations
concern in the next verse: that every single ordinary sentient being in the

136 SHENPEN ÖSEL


universe acts. In order to reverse our confusion Question: Rinpoche seems to make a connection
we need to take all the suffering of all sentient between the practice of tonglen and the practice
beings onto ourselves and give them our happi- of one taste. I was wondering if he could please
ness. That is reverse meditation. Secondly, we elaborate on that connection. Does tonglen
need to practice equal taste, which means to see develop naturally into equal taste? Or is there
the basic equality of happiness and suffering, already a connection between them?
and not to favor one over the other. This way of
practicing was taught to Götsangpa by his two Rinpoche: Equal taste means to practice view-
main teachers, who were related to each other ing happiness and suffering as one would view
as uncle and nephew. His main teacher was them if one were dreaming and knew that one
Drogon Tsangpa Gyaray and Tsangpa Gyaray’s were dreaming. We have to recognize that the
nephew was Sangye Ön. Both of them had as nature of happiness and the nature of suffering
their intention this type of practice, which he are equally beyond all conceptual fabrication. In
calls the hammer that defeats the maras, that both cases they are pure, and equally so, from
defeats the [psychological] demons. the outset, from the very beginning. That is the
Götsangpa continues: practice of equal taste.
With regard to reverse meditation, there is a
They are the practice that’s put into practice by teaching by Patrul Rinpoche in which he states,
beggars like you and me. “I do not like to be happy and healthy; I like to
These are the tools that keep us in natural re- be sick. When I am happy and healthy, I get
treat.
distracted and arrogant; when I am sick, my
They are the bliss supreme that performs the two
forms of benefit. weariness with samsara increases and I long to
You’ve mastered this from the beginning, old practice the dharma.” If you get happy and
friend, but you better put it into practice. healthy, then you can just get distracted and
arrogant, but if you get sick, then you really
These two meditations—reverse meditation yearn to practice the dharma, and you renounce
and the practice of equal taste—are put into samsara much more easily. That is why, though
practice, he sings, by beggars like you and me. ordinarily all sentient beings would prefer to be
Here Götsangpa is mainly singing about himself, happy and healthy to being sick, Patrul
calling himself a beggar. He says, “This is my Rinpoche thinks about it the other way around.
practice, this is what keeps me in natural re- When you are practicing tonglen, then if you are
treat.” In order to be able to stay in the moun- sick, you take all sentient beings’ sickness on top
tains or in an isolated place and practice, one of your own sickness. You visualize that happen-
needs to be able to practice like this. This prac- ing.* And when you are well and when you are
tice is what enables a practitioner to meditate in happy, then you send out your well-being and
isolated places. They are the bliss supreme that
performs the two forms of benefit. To practice *Editor’s note: One visualizes one’s sickness in the form of
black light and visualizes the sickness of all other sentient
with this motivation is of direct benefit to others beings also as black light, and then, thinking that one’s own
and, as a result, will also naturally benefit one- sickness embodies the sickness of all beings, one draws the
sickness of others into one’s own sickness, and then the two
self. When we are of benefit to others, then
together into oneself and down to the very root of one’s being,
automatically we benefit ourselves. “You’ve where it dissolves in emptiness. At that time one thinks that
mastered this from the beginning, old friend, but sentient beings are entirely liberated from suffering and from
the lower realms. Then one sends out all of one’s well-being,
you better put it into practice.” This last line happiness, virtue, merit, and all of one’s potential for all good
needs no commentary. qualities, in the form of white light or moonlight, which
[Students sing the song together.] strikes sentient beings and establishes them in states of
happiness and liberation. And then one meditates on joy at
Does anyone have any questions? being able to make this exchange. For more on the practice of
tonglen, see Shenpen Ösel, Vol. 5, No. 1, pages. 62-70.)

SHENPEN ÖSEL 137


happiness to all sentient beings [in the form of that, cultivating the certainty of that, is virtue
moonlight]. In order to practice tonglen, you with regard to the generation and improvement
need to practice reverse meditation and equal of our practice of ultimate bodhicitta.
taste. We can also use these three objects and three
poisons to practice relative bodhicitta by gener-
Question: Rinpoche, it seems that one can ating within ourselves love and compassion for
gradually in small ways learn to be open to the others. When we identify these three poisons
aggression of others. But what is frightening is arising within us, we imagine that the kleshas of
to be open to one’s own aggression. all sentient beings are arising within us as well,
thereby freeing sentient beings from them. For
Rinpoche: When we recognize that we are example, when we feel attached to something,
getting angry, we need to imag- we can imagine that all the attach-
ine taking all sentient beings’ ments of all sentient beings are
anger into ourselves, and giving
When we identify ripening within us, and that sen-
all of our virtue that is free of these three tient beings are thereby being
anger to everyone else. We need completely freed from attachment.
to take the anger and use it as a
poisons arising We think, “Let it not happen to
basis for taking and sending within us, we them; let it happen to me instead.”
practice. In the Seven Points of imagine that the We do the same visualization with
Mind Training there is a line respect to anger and with respect
which reads, “Three objects, kleshas of all to stupidity.* In that way, the aris-
three poisons, three roots of sentient beings ing of these three poisons becomes
virtue.” The three objects are the roots of virtue with regard to
objects that we find pleasing,
are arising within the cultivation of both ultimate and
displeasing, and neutral. The us as well, relative bodhicitta.
three poisons are to have attach- Moreover, if we actually say, for
ment to the objects we find
thereby freeing example, “I feel one of the three
pleasing, to have aversion sentient beings poisons arising towards one of
towards the ones we do not like, these three kinds of objects; may all
from them
and to have a feeling of dull of the poisons that all sentient
indifference or stupidity to- beings experience ripen on me. May
wards the ones towards which we are neutral or they be endowed with virtue that is completely
apathetic, about which we do not care. That is free of these three poisons, and may they be
what happens normally, but through our prac- completely free of the poisons themselves and
tice, our interaction with these three objects, only act in positive ways free of these three
and the three poisons that arise as a result of poisons.” If we actually say that at the time that
that interaction, can become three roots of a klesha arises, then we also accumulate virtue
virtue. How? First we apply the practice of and merit with our speech.
ultimate bodhicitta by examining the nature of Moreover, even if we have done something
these three objects, thereby ascertaining that negative or wrong, if we take that action as an
they have no inherent existence, that they are object and think, “May all sentient beings’ nega-
empty. Then, in the same way, we examine the tivity dissolve into this negative action that I
three mental afflictions that arise as a result of have performed, and may all sentient beings be
these three objects. If the objects themselves do
not exist in the first place, then any feelings that *Editor’s note: These three poisons or kleshas are regarded
arise within us with regard to them cannot be as the root of the 84,000 different emotional afflictions that
the Buddha described, so the visualization is to be applied
real either. Determining that, meditating on with respect to all of them.

138 SHENPEN ÖSEL


free from negative actions once and for all,” then it be practiced in conjunction with dharma? Is it
we have transformed our negative action into an counter-productive to dharma? Is it sometimes
accumulation of merit, into something positive, applicable and other times not, depending on
just by those thoughts. one’s life conditions, etc.?
The root of being able to practice sending and
taking is compassion. Therefore, we have to Rinpoche: Even if you die, if you believe in past
concentrate on cultivating it. The [combined] and future lives, then you have lots of future
practice of emptiness and compassion is ex- lifetimes in which to practice dharma and to
tremely important in the mahayana. In fact, you take your dharma practice to perfection.
could say that all mahayana practices are in- Whether or not we do so depends upon whether
cluded within it. or not we make aspiration prayers to do that.
And so there are supplications that we can
Question: Can you tell me the exact distinction recite that are called supplications that free us
between reverse meditation and tonglen? Is from hope and fear. In these supplications we
reverse meditation simply reversing the way you pray, “If it is better that I be sick, then may I be
think about something? That is to say, if illness sick. If it is better for me to be healthy, then may
is usually thought to be bad, then thinking I be healthy. If it is better for me to live, then
therefore that illness is good, and so forth. may I live. If it is better for me to die, then may I
die.”
Rinpoche: Yes, that is right. To practice tonglen For some people it is better to be sick and to
means that part of the practice that involves go through that purification. For other people it
placing others ahead of our- is better to be healthy and do
selves, considering others to be things that you can do when you
more important than ourselves.
There are are healthy. So we can say, “Which-
The practice of reverse medita- supplications that ever one is better for me, let it
tion is reversing the way we happen.” The same is true with
free us from
think about things: Whereas in living or dying. For some people it
the past we thought, “If I am hope and fear. is better to live, because, if they
healthy and happy, I like that; if I In these remain alive, they will practice the
am going to be sick and suffer, I dharma. For other people it is
do not like that.” We have to supplications we better to die, because, if they
reverse that by saying, “I like to pray, ‘If it is continued to live, they would do
be sick, because when I am sick, I some negative action that would
really focus on dharma practice,
better that I be just result in more suffering. So we
whereas, when I am healthy, it is sick, then may I can say, “Whichever category I fall
very easy for me to get dis- into, may the better thing happen.”
tracted. Because I do not want to
be sick’ In that way we will be free from
be distracted from dharma prac- hope and fear.
tice, I would prefer to be sick.” So that is the way Along these lines Patrul Rinpoche wrote, “If
we have to think. I die right now, I will not have any regrets,
because this body is just a samsaric entity; its
Question: I have two questions. If we are to nature is to decay. So, what is the point of re-
take that logic all the way, one could end up gretting that? That is just the way that it is.
saying, “I like to be dead,” and then we could not Even if I live to be a hundred, I would not be
practice dharma at all. The second question is, happy; my youth would be long gone. I might live
what is Rinpoche’s attitude towards conven- to be one hundred years old, but what is so good
tional medicine, either Eastern or Western? Can about that? I would just be completely old and

SHENPEN ÖSEL 139


decrepit at that point. My youth would be over.” mutual dependence upon each other.
That way of thinking is a way that abandons Just like birth and death in a dream, birth
hope and fear with regard to life and death. and death that appear to us [in “real” life] have
We also have to make sure never really existed; that is their
that our way of thinking is consis- basic nature. In order to purify
tent in this regard. If we want to In order to purify ourselves of the thought that birth
live a long life, then we have to be and death are real, we have to
free of the fear or the distaste of
ourselves of the remember again and again that
aging. If you live a long life but thought that they do not really exist. Death in
are afraid of getting old, then that “real” life is just like dying in a
is a contradictory way of thinking.
birth and death dream; in fact, there really is no
Sakya Pandita composed a verse are real, we have death at all. The only thing that
about this, saying, “To be afraid of creates our suffering is the
to remember
getting old but to be very attached thought that death is real.
to living a long life is the way again and again So if we are going to under-
dummies think. This is the wrong that they do not stand this with logical reasoning,
view of dummies.” We have to be then we must examine in order to
free of the fear of getting old, free really exist try to determine which one comes
of the fear of dying. first, birth or death. But since
Birth and death themselves, in the true neither one of them can exist without the other,
nature of reality, transcend all conceptual fabri- neither of them truly exists. This is why the
cations about what they might be, and in their protector Nagarjuna said,
appearances in relative reality they are just like
appearances in a dream. In The Heart of Wisdom Like a dream, like an illusion,
Sutra,* it says, “There is no aging or death nor Like a city of gandharvas,
That’s how birth, and that’s how living,
any ending of aging or death.” Since aging and
That’s how dying are taught to be.
death do not really exist in the first place, since
they are just like a dream, then there is really no It is like that.
getting rid of them either. There is no real
ending of aging or death, because they do not Question: May I be sure that I have this exactly
really exist in the first place. right, because I am not talking just for myself? If
The way that we can become fearless with a group of students has a very precious teacher,
regards to birth and death is to examine their considering all the teachings that you have given
true nature. When we do that, we find that they us just now, Rinpoche, how far should the stu-
cannot really exist, because one cannot exist
before the other. There is no way in which one
**Editor’s note: By conventional logic, for the birth of a
can inherently exist before the other. If birth human to occur, there must first be an act of sexual inter-
existed before death, then you would have the course leading to conception, which then gives rise to an
embryo that gestates within a pregnant woman, who then
fault of there being arising before there was any must experience labor. All of these causes and conditions
ceasing of anything, and that is impossible.** must, in fact, cease before there can be said to be any birth. If
And if death really occurred before birth, then one accepts the logic of cyclical existence, consisting of an
endless succession of lifetimes, and the Buddhist notion of
you would have the ceasing of something with conception, then for birth to occur there must also be the
out any prior arising. Since neither way is pos- existence of a bardo consciousness in between death and
rebirth to be conceived, which bardo consciousness must cease
sible, then neither birth nor death can really before there can be said to be any conception. And for that
[truly or inherently] exist; they can exist only in bardo consciousness to have existed in the first place, by
conventional Buddhist logic, there would have had to occur the
*Editor’s note: Also known as The Sutra of the Heart of death of a human being. Therefore, birth cannot be said to
Transcendent Knowledge. exist before death, nor arising before ceasing.

140 SHENPEN ÖSEL


dents push this teacher in order to guard this understand selflessness and you have to be able
teacher’s health? For instance, maybe some to meditate on the progressive stages of empti-
doctors want to treat this precious teacher in a ness. In order to give rise to greater compassion,
certain way and the teacher does not really we need to work on developing [this view of
believe in Western medicine, unless it is a total emptiness and the ability to maintain it]; we
emergency. Given that the students want to do need to consciously cultivate it. For example,
their very best to prolong the life and teachings there is a line from Karma Chagmay’s Aspiration
of this person, how far should they push? Prayer for the Pure Land of Dewachen, in which
he says, “Friends and relatives, wealth and
Rinpoche: You can insist a animals are all illusory, so may I
little bit but not too much. Look, have the compassion for those
for example, at Milarepa’s life
The practice of beings to whom I feel close that is
story. When he was sick, his emptiness and free from attachment to them as
students wanted him to take compassion in being real.” If we have this view of
medicine and to do long life the practice of emptiness and com-
rituals. They insisted a little union is so passion in union, then we will be of
bit, but they let it go after important great benefit to our friends and
awhile. They did not push it. It loved ones. We will not take them to
is possible that someone can get be real, so we will not regard them
well naturally, and if that is the case, then there in a confused way, and at the same time we will
is no need to insist. It is also the case that you have [unconfused] compassion for them, which
might take the medicine and die anyway. If that will benefit them. That is why the practice of
were to happen, then insisting would have been emptiness and compassion in union is so impor-
of no benefit. It is much better for the lama to tant.
pass slowly away in his or her own residence or
in his or her own shrine room. It would be good Question: Rinpoche, thank you for your teach-
for you to read about Milarepa’s passing into ings. This is a much more basic question. If the
nirvana in his life story. confused appearance and the confused percep-
tion of self and others as truly existent [are in
Question: Going back a moment to hope and error, and self and other do not truly exist but
fear about dying and the fears of death, I find, exist only as mere appearances in dependence
both in myself and with the people that I work upon one another], then it would seem that
with, that there is a lowering of the fear of death confused perception and confused appearances
itself, but that what comes up for dying people is do not truly exist either. If that is the case, is
an enormous sadness or grief or difficulty over awareness a mere conceptualization that is not
the fact that death will separate them from their truly existent, and if so, or if not, or if neither,
loved ones. And similarly, the grief and the would Rinpoche please comment?
sadness and the pain of the loved ones are that
they will be separated from the dying person. Translator: By awareness do you mean the
Would Rinpoche please give us some way to help awareness that transcends mundane mental
with that particular fear and affliction? activity—primordial wisdom—or just awareness
in everyday life?
Rinpoche: Relatives need to have love for the
one who is going to pass away, but love that is Question: The awareness that transcends.
free of taking the whole situation to be real, love
that knows that it is just like a dream. In order Rinpoche: It is correct to understand that
to understand that it is not real, you have to appearances of perceived objects and perceiving

SHENPEN ÖSEL 141


subjects are confused appearances, but it is also relative; even though the true nature of reality
correct to understand that confusion itself does transcends all fabrications, the thought of the
not really exist either. Therefore, our under- freedom from fabrications is a relative phenom-
standing of appearances has to transcend both ena. The true nature of reality is inexpressible,
the notion that they are real and the notion that but as soon as we say that, what we are thinking
they are confused. Their true nature goes beyond of becomes a relative phenomenon. Right? Simi-
confusion or the lack of it. larly, the true nature of reality transcends the
With regard to awareness transcending this intellect and concepts, but as soon as we con-
ordinary way in which we perceive things, there ceive of it, that concept is relative. And that is
is an imputed or imagined aspect of it, a concep- why the consequence school teaches that the
tually fabricated aspect of it—which is when we true nature of reality is inexpressible; it is
think awareness that transcends ordinary men- without any reference point; it is beyond all
tal activity—that is relative, that is a phenom- ideas of what it might be, and so the way to
enon of relative or apparent meditate on it is just to let go and
reality. But the actual nature of relax within that inexpressibility,
the awareness itself—which is not Our within that freedom from fixa-
the subject of our thought—is tions and reference points. Just
inexpressible and beyond all
understanding of let go and relax.
notion of what it might be. When appearances has Similarly, if we think “aware-
we think, “awareness transcend- to transcend ness transcending ordinary men-
ing ordinary mental activity,” that tal activity,” then that becomes
is a name; the basis to which we both the notion the imaginary aspect. If we ex-
give this name is the genuine that they are real press it in speech it becomes
nature of reality, wisdom beyond imaginary. So, we do not conceive
conceptual fabrication. When we and the notion of it in meditation; we just let go
think that the name and the object that they are and relax within it. Therefore,
to which we give the name are the within awareness transcending
same thing, then that is the imagi-
confused ordinary mental fabrications,
nary aspect of our experience. The ordinary mental activity, just rest
thought that conceives of this awareness tran- naturally; just rest in its own essence naturally
scending ordinary mental activity is the depen- without any notion of there being something to
dent nature (or aspect of our experience). And rest in or someone resting. Transcend that.
the essence of that thought is the perfectly As Milarepa describes it, “When you know
existent aspect of our experience. The perfectly the true nature of everything to be known, then
existent nature is the wisdom beyond conceptual wisdom that is aware of the true nature is like a
fabrication itself. In order to understand the cloud-free sky.” That likening of wisdom to a
shentong presentation properly, we have to see cloud-free sky is teaching from the perspective
how these three aspects of experience, these of emptiness or the aspect of emptiness. In the
three natures, apply to every single phenomena. next verse he sings, “When the mud settles down
It is the same with the middle way consequence and mind’s river is crystal clear, self-arisen
school’s presentation. The prasangika awareness is like a polished mirror’s shine.” In
madhyamika, the consequence school, explains this verse, he teaches about the clarity, the
that the true nature of reality is beyond all luminosity aspect of wisdom. In fact, the true
conceptual fabrications. There is not a single nature of this wisdom is clarity and emptiness
fabrication or notion that exists in the true undifferentiable from each other, inseparable
nature of reality, but when we think this thought from each other. That is how it is; yet as soon as
of freedom from fabrication, then it becomes we express that, it becomes relative. It is not the

142 SHENPEN ÖSEL


genuine nature anymore; it is a relative concept. that to take place, such as dharma protectors?
The true nature of mind is awareness and Or do our aspirations themselves cause such
emptiness undifferentiable, but if that is ex- things to happen? Or is it just completely a way
plained to us at the beginning, then we have to of looking at your mind?
question what is awareness and what is empti-
ness. Therefore, first the rangtong [school of Rinpoche: With regard to tonglen practice, in
prasangika madhyamika] explains what empti- fact, there are individuals who are able actually
ness is, and then the shentong [school of to have it work, [who are actually able to ex-
prasangika madhyamika] explains what aware- change their happiness for others’ suffering.]
ness is. Then we can understand When they become realized beings,
that, inseparable from each they can actually do it, and even
other, they are the nature of If we spent a some ordinary beings can actually
reality. To say that they are do it just through the power of
undifferentiable means that they
great deal of their aspiration prayers.
are not two things; there is not time making this With regard to this prayer, “If it
awareness on the one hand, and is better for me to be sick, may I be
emptiness on the other. There is
aspiration prayer sick; if it is better for me to die,
no separating them out. When to free ourselves may I die,” and so forth, you are
we do separate them, when we praying to the three rare and
from hope and
engage in thinking about aware- supreme ones (buddha, dharma,
ness or emptiness separately, fear of death, and sangha). When we ask the
then we are just focusing on a and then, finally, question, “Are they going to make
conceptual isolate; we are just it happen,” we have to remember
isolating one quality conceptu- at the point that there are no real three rare
ally. But that is not the nature of when we are and supreme ones to make any-
reality. thing happen. Right? Everything is
about to die, we just the coming together of causes
Question: When we practice get frightened, and conditions, like in a dream. If
reverse meditation in conjunc- also you say, “Well it is not the
tion with tonglen, we take all the
then that is the three jewels that makes it happen;
suffering from all these sentient way of dummies it is my aspiration prayer that
beings and are overjoyed that makes it happen,” again, we have
they are relieved of their suffer- to remember that the aspiration
ings, but at the same time we also take joy in prayer is not real and we are not real; they are
that. We think “Oh, I have all this sickness and all just the coming together of causes and condi-
pain, which will be good for my meditation tions. There is no assertion here of any truly
practice; it will inspire me to practice dharma.” existent result.
Is that joy in the sickness and pain then sent
back out? Question: So is that coming together of causes
and conditions actually affected in that direction
Rinpoche: Yes, that is good. You can send the by doing that?
happiness out twice.
Rinpoche: Yes. And if you get the result of your
Question: When we make aspirations that prayer—if you pray, “If it is better for me to die,
embody freedom from hope and fear—such as, if may I die,” and you get that result, then be
it is better for me to be sick, may I be sick—is happy to get it. If we spent a great deal of time
there actually a force or some forces that cause making this aspiration prayer to free ourselves

SHENPEN ÖSEL 143


from hope and fear of death, saying, “If it is the view that one would have if one dreamed and
better for me to die, may I die,” and then, finally knew that one was dreaming. It would be good
at the point when we are about to die, we get for all of us to sing this song, The Eight Cases of
frightened by that, then that is the way of dum- Basic Goodness, many times. Especially when
mies. Since all phenomena are of the nature of we get sick, it is very important to sing it again
emptiness and are therefore just mere depen- and again. By singing it again and again, by
dently arisen appearances, there is no need to be thinking about it again and again, by cultivating
afraid of a single one of them. Nevertheless, we the view and meditation again and again, it will
should aspire to continue to become more and more powerful
cultivate compassion and to for us.
benefit others. If we are going to If we are going As a parting aspiration, by
be afraid of anything, it should be to be afraid of cultivating and practicing what is
that we will be free of compas- taught in The Seven Delights (See
sion. So it is like that. anything, it page 145.) and The Eight Cases of
So if we sing the song, Three should be that Basic Goodness Not to Be
Kinds of Confidence in Genuine Shunned, may you perfect this
Reality, we will understand it. In
we will be free of practice, and through it, be of
the genuine nature of reality compassion great benefit to all the limitless
there is no birth; there is no number of beings who are sick.
death; happiness and suffering Now let’s make an aspiration
are undifferentiable; samsara and nirvana are prayer for all sentient beings with whom we
undifferentiable. [Students sing the song, while have either a good or a bad connection.
shouting at the end of each verse, with a shout
different from but having the same kind of All you sentient beings I have a good or bad
exuberance as a cowboy yell during roundup or a connection with
mariachi yell. See page 116.] As soon as you have left this confused dimension
May you be born in the West in Sukavati
Shouting like that is a method to enable us to
And once you’re born there, complete the bhumis
rest free from concepts. and the paths.
The view of the three kinds of confidence is
Sarva Mangalam!

144 SHENPEN ÖSEL


When my body has succumbed to attacks of
Seven Delights painful illness,
I do not count on medical relief
Namo Ratna Guru But take that very illness as a path and by its
power
When thoughts that there is something per- Remove the obscurations blocking me,
ceived and a perceiver And use it to encourage the qualities worth-
Lure my mind away and distract, while;
I don’t close my senses’ gateways to meditate When illness rears its head, sheer delight!
without them
But plunge straight into their essential point. When it’s time to leave this body, this illusion-
They’re like clouds in the sky, there’s this ary tangle,
shimmer where they fly; Don’t cause yourself anxiety and grief;
Thoughts that rise, for me sheer delight! The thing that you should train in and clear
up for yourself is—
When kleshas get me going and their heat has There’s no such thing as dying to be done.
got me burning, It’s just clear light, the mother, and child clear
I try no antidote to set them right; light uniting;
Like an alchemistic potion turning metal into When mind forsakes the body, sheer delight!
gold,
What lies in kleshas’ power to bestow When the whole thing’s just not working,
Is bliss without contagion, completely unde- everything’s lined up against you,
filed; Don’t try to find some way to change it all;
Kleshas coming up, sheer delight! Here the point to make your practice is re-
verse the way you see it,
When I’m plagued by god-like forces or Don’t try to make it stop or to improve.
demonic interference, Adverse conditions happen, when they do it’s
I do not drive them out with rites and spells; so delightful—
The thing to chase away is the egoistic think- They make a little song of sheer delight!
ing
Built up on the idea of a self. Composed by the Lord Götsangpa, translated by Jim
This will turn those ranks of maras into your Scott/Anne Buchardi, August 2, 1996, Karme Chöling,
Barnet, Vermont
own special forces;
When obstacles arise, sheer delight!

When samsara with its anguish has me


writhing in its torments,
Instead of wallowing in misery,
I take the greater burden down the greater
path to travel
And let compassion set me up
To take upon myself the sufferings of others;
When karmic consequences bloom, delight!

SHENPEN ÖSEL 145


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❏ VOLUME 1, NUMBER 1 MAY 1997 Gyamtso Rinpoche; songs of realization by Jetsun Milarepa,
Teachings on meditation and compassion by Khenchen Thrangu Gyalwa Götsangpa, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and
Rinpoche; on the six aspects of the bardo, the intermediate state, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and commentary on these
by Tai Situ Rinpoche; and on sitting meditation by Lama Tashi songs by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.
Namgyal.
❏ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 3 JANUARY 2000
❏ VOLUME 1, NUMBER 2 OCTOBER 1997 Tilopa’s mahamudra instructions to Naropa, Mahamudra
Teachings on tranquillity and insight meditation by Khenchen Upadesha; teachings on Mahamudra Upadesha by Khenchen
Thrangu Rinpoche; on the four levels of refuge by Kabje Kalu Thrangu Rinpoche; teachings on achieving exertion on the path by
Rinpoche; on Tilopa’s six essential points of meditation by Lama Lama Tashi Namgyal; information on Thrangu Rinpoche’s Vajra
Tashi Namgyal; and on how to abandon desire by Khenpo Tsultrim Vidya Institute.
Gyamtso Rinpoche.
❏ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1 JUNE 2000
❏ VOLUME 2, NUMBER 1 MARCH 1998 The Medicine Buddha Sadhana (practice) in Tibetan, translitera-
Commentary on the Third Gyalwa Karmapa’s The Aspiration tion, word-for-word translation, and full literary translation;
Prayer of Mahamudra by Tai Situ Rinpoche, including the original teachings on the Medicine Buddha Sadhana by Khenchen Thrangu
Tibetan text with translation. Rinpoche; The Very Essence of Mind, Mahamudra, the One
Sufficient Path by Gampopa; commentary on The Very Essence of
❏ VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2 JUNE 1998 Mind, Mahamudra, the One Sufficient Path by Tenga Rinpoche;
Commentary on Nagarjuna’s madhyamaka teachings taken from report on Kala Rongo monastery for women and Korche Monas-
Sixty Stanzas of Reasonings. Seventy Stanzas on Emptiness, and tery for men in eastern Tibet, as well as the building of a monastic
The refutation of Criticism by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche college, elementary schools, and stupas, and the provision of
and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche; teachings on the tantric path medical care in eastern Tibet.
and mahamudra by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.
❏ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 2 SEPTEMBER 2000
❏ VOLUME 2, NUMBER 3 DECEMBER 1998 A Joyful Aspiration: Sweet Melody for Fortunate Ones by the
Extensive teachings on the natural bardo (interval or in-between Seventeenth Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje; A Song by the
state) between birth and death; the bardo of suffering and misery Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje; commentary on the
at the time of death; powa and the clear light bardo of dharmata; Medicine Buddha Sutra by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche; The
and the bardo of becoming, the intermediate state, by Khenchen Twelve Great Aspirations of the Medicine Buddha; The Sky-
Thrangu Rinpoche. Dragon’s Profound Roar by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche;
on the importance of concentration by Lama Tashi Namgyal.
❏ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 1 APRIL 1999
Teachings on Mind, Karma, Ego-formation and Liberation and on ❏ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 3 DECEMBER 2000
Mahamudra: The Essence of All the Buddha’s Teachings by Kyabje Commentary on the Ninth Gyalwang Karmapa’s Pointing Out the
Kalu Rinpoche; teaching on chöd, cutting through the four maras, Dharmakaya by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.
and techniques of tranquillity and insight meditation by Tenga
Rinpoche; and a commentary on the twenty emptinesses by ❏ VOLUME 5, NUMBER 1 MAY 2001
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Commentary on Jamgon Kontrul’s text, Creation and Completion:
Essential Points of Tantric Meditation, given by the Very Venerable
❏ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 2 OCTOBER 1999 Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. The Cultivation of Bodhicitta and
In Praise of the Dharmadhatu by Arya Nagarjuna; commentarial Taking and Sending by Lama Tashi Namgyal.
teachings on In Praise of the Dharmadhatu by Khenpo Tsultrim

SHENPEN ÖSEL 147


SHENPEN ÖSEL 147
If in a dream you have a jewel box, and you open it and find a diamond, and then you think,
“Wow, I have a diamond, a real diamond,” then that is the view of realism. But then you go
somewhere else in your dream and open the box again and there is no diamond; then you have
a very strong view of non-existence. There is nothing. But both the view of something and the
view of nothing are just part of the confused dream. Since it is the case that there was never any
diamond in the first place, there cannot be any non-existence of the diamond either. So both of
these are just confused notions.
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

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148 SHENPEN ÖSEL