Unraveling the Intent
Degé Kangyur, vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca), folios 1.b–55.b
Translated by the Buddhavacana Translation Group (Vienna)
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
In Unraveling the Intent, the Buddha gives a systematic overview of his three great cycles of teachings, which he refers to in this text as the “three Dharma wheels” (tridharmacakra). In the process of delineating the meaning of these doctrines, the Buddha unravels several difficult points regarding the ultimate and relative truths, the nature of reality, and the contemplative methods conducive to the attainment of complete and perfect awakening, and he also explains what his intent was when he imparted teachings belonging to each of the three Dharma wheels. In unambiguous terms, the third wheel is proclaimed to be of definitive meaning. Through a series of dialogues with hearers and bodhisattvas, the Buddha thus offers a complete and systematic teaching on the Great Vehicle, which he refers to here as the Single Vehicle.
Translation by the Buddhavacana Translation Group.
The text was translated by Gregory Forgues and edited by Casey Kemp. With special thanks to Harunaga Isaacson, Matthew Kapstein, Klaus-Dieter Mathes, Jonathan Silk, Lambert Schmithausen, Tom Tillemans, and William Waldron for their helpful comments and advice.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of Qiang Li (李强) and Ya Wen (文雅), which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
Then, the bodhisattva Viśālamati asked the Blessed One, “Blessed One, when bodhisattvas who are skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition are called ‘skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition,’ what does it mean?101 When they are designated in this way, what does it refer to?”
The Blessed One answered, “Viśālamati, you are asking this for the benefit and happiness of many beings, out of compassion for the world, and for the welfare, benefit, and happiness of all beings, including gods and humans. Your intention is excellent when questioning the Tathāgata on this specific point. Therefore, listen, Viśālamati. I will explain to you in which way bodhisattvas are skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition.
“Viśālamati, when such and such beings are reborn and manifest102 in this saṃsāra comprised of six destinies, in any class of beings or state of birth, be it egg-born, womb-born, moisture-born, [F.12.b] or spontaneously generated,103 there is first a twofold appropriation: the appropriation of the physical sense faculties together with their supports, and the appropriation of mental imprints producing the elaboration of conventional expressions with regard to phenomenal appearances, names, and conceptualizations. In dependence upon this twofold appropriation, the mind containing all the seeds matures, merges [with the embryo], grows, increases, and expands.104 This twofold appropriation occurs in the realm of form but it does not appear in the realm of the formless.105
“Viśālamati, this cognition is also called ‘appropriating cognition’ because it grasps and appropriates the body. It is also called ‘subliminal cognition,’ because it dwells and lies hidden in this body, sharing a common destiny. It is also called ‘mind,’ because it is accumulated106 and developed by visual forms, sounds, smells, flavors, tangible objects, and phenomena.107
“Viśālamati, taking this appropriating cognition as support and basis, the six kinds of cognition,108 that is, visual, auditive, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and mental cognitions, arise. Among these, a visual cognition arises on the basis of the eye, which is connected with a visual cognition and a visual form. Simultaneously and in conformity with this visual cognition, a mental cognition that conceptualizes the object arises at the same time, having the same object. [Likewise,] Viśālamati, an auditive, olfactory, gustatory, or tactile cognition arises on the basis of a sense faculty connected to a cognition, such as the ear, nose, tongue, or body, and a sound, smell, flavor, or tangible object. Simultaneously and in conformity with this auditive, olfactory, gustatory, or tactile cognition, a mental cognition that conceptualizes the object arises at the same time, having the same object. If only one visual cognition arises at one time, [F.13.a] then only one mental cognition that conceptualizes the object arises simultaneously, having the same object. If two, three, four, or five cognitions arise simultaneously, then also in that case, having the same object as the group of five cognitions, only one mental cognition that conceptualizes this object arises simultaneously.109
“Viśālamati, it is like this: If the conditions for the arising of a single wave in a large stream of water are present, then only one wave arises.110 If the conditions for the arising of two or many waves are present, then two or many waves arise.111 However, the river [itself] neither stops as a stream of water nor becomes exhausted. If the conditions for the arising of a single reflection in a perfectly polished mirror are present, then only one reflection arises.112 If the conditions for the arising of two or many reflections are present, then two or many reflections arise.113 However, the mirror neither transforms itself into the object corresponding to the reflection nor manifests reflections by being in close contact [with the reflected objects].114 Viśālamati, similarly, taking this appropriating cognition as support and basis, as in the examples of the river and the mirror, if the conditions for the arising of one visual cognition are present, then only one visual cognition arises. If the conditions for the simultaneous arising of up to five cognitions are present, then up to five cognitions simultaneously arise.
“Viśālamati, taking in this way the knowledge115 of this doctrine as a support and basis, bodhisattvas are skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition. Yet, when the Tathāgata designates [F.13.b] the bodhisattvas as skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition, they are not designated as completely skilled merely on account of this. Viśālamati, I call bodhisattvas ‘skilled in the ultimate’ as soon as116 they, by themselves and in their own experience,117 neither perceive the appropriation nor the appropriating cognition but [instead perceive] in accordance with the truth; as soon as they neither perceive the subliminal nor the subliminal cognition; neither the accumulated nor the mind;118 neither the eye, nor the form, nor the visual cognition; neither the ear, nor the sound, nor the auditive cognition; neither the nose, nor the smell, nor the olfactory cognition; neither the tongue, nor the flavor, nor the gustatory cognition; and neither the body, nor the tangible object, nor the tactile cognition. Viśālamati, I call bodhisattvas ‘skilled in the ultimate’ as soon as they, by themselves and in their own experience, neither perceive thought, nor phenomena, nor mental cognition but instead perceive in accordance with the truth. Viśālamati, the Tathāgata designates as skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition the bodhisattvas who are skilled in the ultimate. Viśālamati, for this reason, bodhisattvas are skilled in the secrets of mind, thought, and cognition. Also, when the Tathāgata designates them as such, it is for this reason.”
|Bd||Bardan (Zanskar) canonical collection|
|C||Choné xylograph Kangyur|
|Cbeta||Chinese Electronic Buddhist Association, (www.cbeta.org)|
|D||Degé xylograph Kangyur|
|Do||Dolpo canonical collection|
|F||Phukdrak manuscript Kangyur|
|Go||Gondhla (Lahaul) canonical collection|
|H||Lhasa xylograph Kangyur|
|He||Hemis I Kangyur|
|J||’jang sa tham/Lithang xylograph Kangyur|
|Kʙ||Berlin manuscript Kangyur|
|Kǫ774||Peking 1737 xylograph Kangyur|
|L||London (Shelkar) manuscript Kangyur|
|Lg||Lang mdo Kangyur|
|N||Narthang xylograph Kangyur|
|Pj||Phajoding I Kangyur|
|Pz||Phajoding II Kangyur|
|S||Stok manuscript Kangyur|
|Saṃdhdh||Dunhuang manuscript: Stein Tib. n°194 (49 folios) and Stein Tib. n°683 (1 folio) (Hakamaya 1984–1987)|
|T||Tokyo manuscript Kangyur|
|Taishō 676||解深密經, translated by Xuanzang (596–664 ᴄᴇ)|
|U||Urga xylograph Kangyur|
|V||Ulaanbaatar manuscript Kangyur|
|VD||Degé; xylograph of the Viniścayasaṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi from the Tengyur|
|VG||Golden; xylograph of the Viniścayasaṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi from the Tengyur|
|VP||Peking; xylograph of the Viniścayasaṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi from the Tengyur|
|VinSg||Viniścayasaṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi|
|X||Basgo manuscript Kangyur|
|YBht P ’i||Tibetan translation of Acarya Asanga’s Yogācārabhūmi from the Peking Tengyur (n°. 5540, sems-tsam, ’i 143aI-382a5 (vol. I l l : 121-217)|
|Z||Shey Palace manuscript Kangyur|
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C747 vol. 29 (mdo sde, ca), folios 1.b–71.a
Dd031-001 (mdo ca), folios 1.b–69.b
Dk034-001 (mdo na), folios 1.b–87.b
Do (mdo sde, da), folios 196.a–246.b
F156 vol. 68 (mdo sde, tsha), folios 1.b–72.a
Go19,01 vol. 19 (ka), folios 1.b–36.a
Gt028-001 (mdo na), folios 1.b–72.b
H109 vol. 51 (mdo sde, ca), folios 1.b–87.b
He64.6 (mdo, wa), folios 62.b–125.b
J51 vol. 44 (mdo sde, ca), folios 1.b–59.b
Kǫ774 vol. 29 (mdo sna tshogs, ngu), folios 1.b–60.b
L82 vol. 42 (mdo sde, na), folios 1.b–80.b
N94 vol. 51 (mdo sde, ca) folios 1.a–81.a.
Np012-001 (mdo na), folios 1.b–87.a
Pj043-001 (mdo ca), folios 1.b–62.b
Pz045-001 (mdo ca), folios 1.b–61.a
R106 vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca), folios 1.b–55.b
S106 vol. 63 (mdo sde, na), folios 1.b–80.b
U106 vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca), folios 1.b–55.b
X (mdo sde, wa), folios 66.a–132.a
Z137 vol. 59 (mdo, na), folios 1.b–93.a
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