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
First published 2020
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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 Avalokiteśvara addressed the Blessed One, “Blessed One, the ten stages of the bodhisattva are called (1) Utmost Joy, (2) Stainless, (3) Illuminating, (4) Radiant, (5) Hard to Conquer, (6) Manifest, (7) Far Reaching, (8) Immovable, (9) Excellent Intelligence, and (10) Cloud of Dharma. When taken together with the eleventh, [called] Buddha Stage, in how many kinds of purification and subdivisions are they included?”
The Blessed One answered, “Avalokiteśvara, you should know that they are included in four kinds of purification and eleven subdivisions.
“Avalokiteśvara, you should know that the first stage is included in the purification of intention; the second, in the purification of superior discipline; and the third, in the purification of superior mind; while stages four to eleven are included in the purification of superior wisdom, which gradually leads to perfection from stage to stage. These stages are thus included in four kinds of purification.
“What are the eleven levels—the subdivisions including the ten stages of the bodhisattva and the Buddha Stage?
1. “On the first level consisting of actions based on superior265 devotion, bodhisattvas cultivate superior devotion and patience266 by engaging in the ten practices related to Dharma.267 Once they have passed beyond this stage, they will enter the faultless state of truth of the bodhisattvas.268
2. “Although the first level is accomplished by these practices, [F.39.b] the second level is not, because the bodhisattvas are still unable to act while being aware of confusion resulting from subtle transgressions. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
3. “Although the second level is accomplished by this practice, the third level is not, because the bodhisattvas are still unable to settle into a perfect mundane concentration and recollect what they have heard. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
4. “However, the fourth level is not thereby accomplished, because the bodhisattvas, who frequently engage in practicing the awakening factors269 in the way they obtained them, are still unable to settle their minds due to attachment to states of absorption and the teaching.270 By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
5. “Although the fourth level is accomplished through this practice, the fifth level is not, because the bodhisattvas are still unable to fully examine the truths or settle in superior equanimity regarding saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, which they exclusively reject or focus upon, respectively. They are still unable to practice the awakening factors in conjunction with skillful means. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
6. “Although the fifth level is accomplished by this practice, the sixth level is not, because, even once they have recognized the activities of conditioned states for what they are, the bodhisattvas are still unable to maintain for long an aversion toward them. They are also still unable to remain for long directing their attention toward what lacks phenomenal appearances. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
7. “Although the sixth level is accomplished by this practice, the seventh level is not, because the bodhisattvas are still unable to remain without hindrance and interruption while directing their attention toward what lacks phenomenal appearance. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed. [F.40.a]
8. “Although the seventh level is accomplished by this practice, the eighth level is not, because the bodhisattvas are still unable to rest in equanimity while striving to abide in what lacks phenomenal appearance. They are also still unable to attain mastery over phenomenal appearance. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
9. “Although the eighth level is accomplished by this practice, the ninth level is not because the bodhisattvas are still unable to masterfully teach the Dharma in all its aspects by using synonyms, definitions, explanations, and categories. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
10. “Although the ninth level is accomplished by this practice, the tenth level is not because the bodhisattvas are still unable to obtain the analytical knowledge of the perfect truth body. By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
11. “Although the ninth level is accomplished by this practice, the tenth level is not because the bodhisattvas are still unable to obtain the gnosis and vision that are utterly free from attachment and hindrance regarding all cognitive objects.271 By striving to accomplish this level, they will succeed.
“Since this level is accomplished by this practice, all levels are accomplished. Avalokiteśvara, you should know that all the stages are included in these eleven levels.”
“Blessed One, why is the first stage called Utmost Joy? Why are the other stages up to the Buddha Stage called what they are?”
1. “The first stage is called Utmost Joy because there is a supreme and immense joy in attaining the immaculate and sublime purpose, the supramundane mind.
2. The second stage is called Stainless because it is free from all stains consisting in [even] subtle transgressions or faulty discipline.272
3. The third stage is called Illuminating because it is the very state of concentration and recollection imbued with the immeasurable light of gnosis.273 [F.40.b]
4. The fourth stage is called Radiant because the fire of gnosis produced by the practice of the awakening factors is set ablaze274 in order to burn the fuel of afflictions.
5. The fifth stage is called Hard to Conquer because it is difficult indeed to master the practice of these very awakening factors in conjunction with skillful means.275
6. The sixth stage is called Manifest because the activity of conditioning mental factors becomes manifest, as does the bodhisattvas’ attention that is repeatedly directed toward what lacks phenomenal appearance.
7. The seventh stage is called Far Reaching because once the bodhisattvas engage for a long time without hindrance and interruption while directing their attention toward what lacks phenomenal appearance, this stage is connected with the subsequent stages of purification.
8. The eighth stage is called Immovable because what lacks phenomenal appearance is spontaneously accomplished and the bodhisattvas are unshaken by the manifestation of defilements resulting from phenomenal appearance.
9. The ninth stage is called Excellent Intelligence because the bodhisattvas obtain a vast intelligence that flawlessly masters all aspects related to teaching the Dharma.
10. The tenth stage is called Cloud of Dharma because the body afflicted by corruption, which is as empty as the sky, is pervaded and covered by the accumulation of Dharma276 that is like a [great] cloud.277
11. The eleventh stage is called Buddha Stage because once one has abandoned the most subtle defiling and cognitive obstructions, one completely and perfectly awakens and knows all aspects to be known,278 without attachment and hindrance.”
“Blessed One, how many kinds of delusion and adverse factors of corruption are there on these stages?”
“Avalokiteśvara, there are twenty-two kinds of delusion and eleven adverse factors of corruption:
1. “On the first stage, there is the delusion of wrongly conceiving the person and phenomena, the delusion of bad destinies, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these.
2. “On the second stage, there is the delusion of confusion resulting from subtle transgressions, [F.41.a] the delusion related to the various aspects of the maturation of karma, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these two.
3. “On the third stage, there is the delusion of desire, the delusion of perfectly remembering what was heard, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these.
4. “On the fourth stage, there is the delusion of attachment to the states of absorption, the delusion of attachment to Dharma, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these.
5. “On the fifth stage, there is the delusion of attending to saṃsāra as exclusively negative or positive, the delusion of attending to nirvāṇa as exclusively negative or positive, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these.
6. “On the sixth stage, there is the delusion of making manifest the activity of conditioning mental factors, the delusion of the many manifesting phenomenal appearances, and the adverse factor of corruption resulting from these.279
7. “On the seventh stage, there is the delusion of the manifestation of subtle phenomenal appearances, the delusion toward skillful means since one’s attention is exclusively directed toward what lacks phenomenal appearance, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these.
8. “On the eighth stage, there is the delusion of exerting oneself toward what lacks phenomenal appearance, the delusion of not having mastery over phenomenal appearances, and the adverse factor of the corruption resulting from these.
9. “On the ninth stage, there is the delusion of having mastery in the boundless teaching and expression of Dharma, the delusion of having mastery in continuously keeping it in mind in terms of wisdom and eloquence,280 the delusion of having command of eloquent speech, and the adverse factor consisting in the corruption resulting from these two types of delusion.
10. “On the tenth stage, there is the delusion with regard to the sublime superior knowledge, the delusion of engaging in what is secret and subtle, and the adverse factor consisting of the corruption resulting from these two.
11. “On the Buddha Stage, there is the delusion of the extremely subtle attachment to cognitive objects, the delusion of the extremely subtle hindrance related to defilements, and the adverse factor consisting of the corruption resulting from these two. [F.41.b]
“Avalokiteśvara, this is a presentation of the stages according to twenty-two kinds of delusion and eleven types of corruption. The unsurpassable, complete and perfect awakening does not have any of them.”
“In which case,281 Blessed One, the unsurpassable, complete and perfect awakening, the most sublime blessing and result, is truly wondrous! Once bodhisattvas have torn the great net of delusion in this fashion and gone beyond the vast jungle of corruption, they will awaken to the complete and perfect enlightenment.”282
“Blessed One, through how many kinds of purifications are these stages presented?”
“Avalokiteśvara, they are presented through eight purifications: (1) the purification of intention, (2) the purification of the mind, (3) the purification of compassion, (4) the purification of the perfections, (5) the purification of the vision of buddhas and of their veneration, (6) the purification of bringing beings to maturity, (7) the purification of birth, and (8) the purification of power.
“Avalokiteśvara, you should know that the purifications on the first stage, from the purification of superior intention up to the purification of power, as well as the purifications on the higher stages including the Buddha Stage, from the purification of superior intention up to the purification of power, become more and more intense.283 Thus, if one excepts the purification of birth on the Buddha Stage, the qualities on the first stage seem similar to those of the higher stages. However, you should know that the qualities of each higher stage are superior to those on the former stage. You should also understand that the qualities on the ten stages of a bodhisattva can be surpassed, whereas the qualities on the Buddha Stage are unsurpassable.”
“Blessed One, why did you declare that, among all kinds of birth, the birth of a bodhisattva is supreme?” [F.42.a]
“Avalokiteśvara, it is supreme for four reasons: (1) it accomplishes the great purification of one’s roots of virtue, (2) it is appropriated as a result of mental inspection, (3) it is imbued with the compassion that protects all beings, and (4) it is not itself afflicted, but it repels the afflictions of others.”
“Blessed One, why did you declare that bodhisattvas practice with a vast aspiration, are sublime, have a sublime aspiration, and possess the force of aspiration?”
“Avalokiteśvara, [I declared this] for four reasons: (1) bodhisattvas are skilled with respect to the blissful state of nirvāṇa, (2) they are able to attain it swiftly, (3) they have both given up this swift attainment and this blissful state, and (4) without wavering or being compelled,284 they mentally produce the aspiration to go for a long time through many kinds of suffering for the sake of beings. Therefore, I said that bodhisattvas possess a vast aspiration, a sublime aspiration, and the force of aspiration.”
“Blessed One, how many foundations of training do the bodhisattvas have?”
“Avalokiteśvara, they have six: generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, meditative absorption, and wisdom.”
“Blessed One, among those six, how many constitute the training in superior discipline, how many constitute the training in superior mind, and how many constitute the training in superior wisdom?”
“Avalokiteśvara, you should know that the first three constitute the training in superior discipline, meditative absorption constitutes the training in superior mind, wisdom constitutes the training in superior wisdom, and diligence is present in each of these trainings.” [F.42.b]
“Blessed One, how many of these foundations of training constitute the accumulation of merit? How many constitute the accumulation of gnosis?”
“Avalokiteśvara, the training in superior discipline constitutes the accumulation of merit. The training in superior wisdom constitutes the accumulation of gnosis. Diligence and meditative absorption are present in both.”
“Blessed One, how do bodhisattvas train in these six foundations of training?”
“Avalokiteśvara, they train in these six foundations of training according to five points: (1) by having devotion from the beginning for the teaching of the pure Dharma, for the teaching of the six perfections, and for the collection of teachings on the bodhisattva [path]; (2) by accomplishing next the wisdom arising from hearing, contemplating, and practicing [the truth] through the ten activities related to Dharma; (3) by preserving the awakening mind; (4) by relying upon a virtuous friend; and (5) by continuously practicing virtue.”
“Blessed One, why are the foundations of training known in terms of a sixfold classification?”
“Avalokiteśvara, there are two reasons: (1) they benefit beings and (2) they are antidotes to defilements. You should know that, among them, three benefit beings while three are antidotes to defilements.
1. “Through their generosity, bodhisattvas benefit beings by providing them with what is necessary to life; through their discipline, they benefit beings by not impoverishing them, harming them, or ridiculing them; and through their patience, they benefit beings by enduring impoverishment, harm, and ridicule. Thus, they benefit beings through these three foundations of training.
2. “Through their diligence they apply themselves to the virtue that completely overcomes defilements and eliminates them, since defilements are unable to deflect them from this practice; through their meditative absorption [F.43.a] they destroy defilements; and through their wisdom they put an end to their latent dispositions. Thus, these three foundations of training are antidotes to defilements.”
“Blessed One, why are the other perfections known in terms of a fourfold classification?”
“Avalokiteśvara, it is because they assist these six perfections:
1. “With the first three perfections, bodhisattvas benefit beings. Then, they establish beings in virtue through the skillful means consisting of the four methods of conversion. Therefore, I taught that the perfection of skillful means assists the first three perfections.
2. “Avalokiteśvara, suppose the bodhisattvas are unable to practice at all times in this life as a result of their many defilements. Suppose they are unable to focus their minds within due to the weakness of their superior intention as a result of their limited experience285 and aspiration. Suppose they are unable to accomplish the supramundane wisdom because they did not practice the meditative absorption based on the referential objects corresponding to the teachings on the bodhisattva path they have heard. However, since they have accumulated merit, even to a limited extent, they produce with their minds the aspiration that their defilements will decrease in the future. This is the perfection of aspiration. Because defilements decrease and bodhisattvas are able to exert their diligence through this perfection, the perfection of aspiration therefore assists the perfection of diligence.
3. “Then, relying on a noble being and on hearing the Dharma, they attain the state in which they direct their attention on discipline. Once they have turned away from having a superior intention whose power is limited, they obtain the power of intention of the heavenly realms.286 This is the perfection of power. Because bodhisattvas are able to focus on their minds within through this perfection, the perfection of power therefore assists the perfection of meditative absorption. [F.43.b]
4. “The bodhisattvas settle in meditative absorption as they practice the referential objects corresponding to the teachings on the bodhisattva path they have heard. This is the perfection of wisdom. Because bodhisattvas are able to accomplish supramundane wisdom through this perfection, the perfection of gnosis therefore assists the perfection of wisdom.”
“Blessed One, why should one know that the six perfections are taught in this order?”
“Avalokiteśvara, it is because the former is the support on which the latter is established, and so on and so forth. By not fixating on their bodies and possessions, bodhisattvas acquire discipline. By maintaining their discipline, they take possession of patience. Through patience, they engage in diligence. By having engaged in diligence, they establish meditative absorption. Once meditative absorption is established, they will obtain the supramundane wisdom.”
“Blessed One, of how many kinds are these perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, each of these perfections is of three kinds:
1. “The three kinds of generosity are the gift of Dharma, the gift of material objects, and the gift of fearlessness.
2. “The three kinds of discipline are the discipline that turns away from what is not virtuous, the discipline that engages in virtue, and the discipline that engages in benefiting beings.
3. “The three kinds of patience are the patience of enduring harm, the patience of not considering [one’s own] suffering, and the patient acceptance of Dharma by means of reflection.287
4. “The three kinds of diligence are the diligence that is like armor, the diligence to practice virtue, and the diligence to benefit beings.
5. “The three kinds of meditative absorption are the meditative absorption of blissful abiding that, nonconceptual and peaceful, is an antidote to defilements and suffering, the meditative absorption that brings about good qualities, and the meditative absorption that accomplishes the welfare of beings. [F.44.a]
6. “The three kinds of wisdom are the wisdom that takes the conventional truth as its referential object, the wisdom that takes the ultimate truth as its referential object, and the wisdom that takes the welfare of beings as its referential object.”
“Blessed One, why are the perfections called ‘perfections’?”
“Avalokiteśvara, this is for five reasons. The perfections are without attachment, disinterested, free from faults, nonconceptual, and dedication of merit:
1. “Being without attachment, they are completely devoid of attachment to factors adverse to themselves.
2. “Being disinterested, they are free from thoughts fixating on results or on some reward obtained from their accomplishment.
3. “Being free from faults, they are not involved with afflicted phenomena and lack unskillful means.
4. “Being nonconceptual, they are free from any literal assumption of having a defining characteristic specific to them.
5. “Being dedication of merit, they are the aspiration for the result of the bodhisattva path by having produced and accumulated288 these perfections.”
“Blessed One, what are the factors adverse to the perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, you should know that there are six factors: (1) considering as beneficial the joy produced by desirous objects, (2) indulging into pleasurable activities through one’s body, speech, or mind, (3) not enduring contempt with patience, (4) invoking merit to justify one’s lack of diligence, (5) being distracted by occupations, entertainment, and people, and (6) considering as beneficial the conventional mental elaborations arising from what one sees, hears, thinks, or is conscious of.”
“Blessed One, what is the result of the maturation of these perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, [F.44.b] you should know that there are six: (1) great wealth, (2) rebirth in pleasant destinies, (3) happiness and satisfaction from peace and concord, (4) sovereignty over beings, (5) the absence of physical harm, and (6) the renown of having great powers.”
“Blessed One, how are these perfections involved with afflicted phenomena?”
“Avalokiteśvara, they are involved through four practices: (1) the practice of the perfections without compassion, (2) the improper practice of the perfections, (3) the irregular practice of the perfections, and (4) the negligent practice of the perfections.
“The improper practice of the perfections occurs when the practice of one of these perfections impairs the practice of the other perfections.”
“Blessed One, what are unskillful means?”
“Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattvas assist beings by means of these perfections. If they do not establish beings in virtue once they have pulled them from nonvirtuous states and instead are satisfied to merely provide material objects to them, this is unskillful means. Why? Avalokiteśvara, one does not assist beings by merely doing this. It is like this: excrements, whether in large or small quantity, cannot be made to smell good by any method289 whatsoever. Likewise, no method that merely supports beings with material objects can make happy those who are suffering because their nature is to experience the suffering arising from being conditioned.290 In contrast, establishing them in virtue is the best and only way to benefit them.”
“Blessed One, how many kinds of purification are [included] in these perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, I did not state that there were other purifications apart from the five kinds [I have already mentioned].291 However, in relation to what I have already explained, [F.45.a] I will clarify for you the (1) general and (2) specific purifications included in the perfections.
1. “You should know that the general purifications that are common to all perfections include seven points: (1) bodhisattvas do not seek to make a profit from others through the teachings on the bodhisattva path; (2) they do not produce wrong conceptions with regard to these teachings; (3) with respect to these teachings, they do not give rise to indecision or doubts as to whether they will attain awakening or not; (4) they do not praise themselves, nor do they blame others or despise them; (5) they do not generate arrogance or carelessness; (6) they are not satisfied with only limited or inferior attainments; and (7) they are not stingy or envious of others because of these teachings.
2. “You should know that the purifications specific to each perfection also includes seven points:
“The seven points of the purification included in the perfection of generosity are as follows: (1) bodhisattvas practice generosity that is the purification of generosity through the purification292 of the object that is the gift, and (2–7) they practice generosity that is the purification of generosity through the purification of discipline, view, mind, speech, knowledge, and stains. Thus, as I have just explained, the purifications included in the perfection of generosity that bodhisattvas obtain and practice constitute the seven aspects of the purification of generosity.
“The seven points of the purification included in the perfection of discipline are as follows: (1) bodhisattvas are skilled in all aspects of the foundation of training related to vows, (2) they are skilled in removing transgressions, (3) their discipline is free from doubts, (4) they have a firm discipline, (5) they maintain discipline in all circumstances, (6) they engage in discipline at all times, and (7) they engage in the training by correctly practicing the foundations of training. These are the seven aspects of the purification of discipline.
“The seven points of the purification included in the perfection of patience are as follows: (1) when confronted with any kind of adversity, bodhisattvas do not waver because they are confident in the maturation of their karma; [F.45.b] (2) they do not engage in harming others by abusing, insulting, striking, intimidating, or criticizing them in order to retaliate; (3) they do not hold grudges; (4) when accused,293 they do not give rise to defilements; (5) they themselves do not indulge in accusations; (6) they do not practice patience with a mind that is fearful of consequences or interested; and (7) they do not fail to accomplish others’ benefit. These are the seven purifications of patience.
“The seven points of the purification included in the perfection of diligence are as follows: (1) bodhisattvas understand the equanimity of diligence; (2) with reference to diligence, they neither praise themselves nor deprecate others; (3–6) they are powerful, diligent, enthusiastic, and resolute; and (7) they never cease to be diligent with respect to virtuous qualities. These are the seven purifications of diligence.
“The seven points of the purification included in the perfection of meditative absorption are (1) the meditative absorption in the concentration that understands phenomenal appearance, (2) the perfect meditative absorption in concentration, (3) the meditative absorption in the concentration that has these two aspects, (4) the meditative absorption in the spontaneously arising concentration, (5) the meditative absorption in the concentration without support, (6) the meditative absorption in the concentration that produces flexibility, and (7) the meditative absorption in the concentration in the boundless practice of the referential objects corresponding to the teachings on the bodhisattva path. These are the seven purifications of meditative absorption.
“The seven points of the purification included in the perfection of wisdom are as follows: (1) Once they have abandoned the extremes of superimposition and negation by means of wisdom, bodhisattvas emerge [from cyclic existence] through the middle path. (2) On account of this wisdom, they realize the very meaning of the gate to liberation exactly as it is, namely, the threefold gate to liberation: emptiness, wishlessness, and appearancelessness. (3) They realize exactly as it is the very meaning of essence, namely, the threefold essence: the imaginary, the other-dependent, and the actual. (4) They realize exactly as it is the very meaning of essencelessness, namely, the threefold essencelessness regarding defining characteristics, arising, and the ultimate. [F.46.a] (5) They realize exactly as it is the very meaning of the conventional truth in relation to the five sciences.294 (6) They realize exactly as it is the very meaning of the ultimate truth with respect to the seven aspects of true reality. (7) They frequently abide in the unique approach of the nonconceptual state free of mental elaborations. By means of the insight that takes countless universal teachings as its referential object, they correctly accomplish the attainment resulting from the practice of the teachings that are in harmony with Dharma. You should know that these are the seven purifications of meditative absorption.”
“Blessed One, what is the function of each of these five purifications?”
“Avalokiteśvara, you should know that the five functions are as follows: (1) Having no attachment, the bodhisattvas continuously practice the perfections in this life. Because they practice them with enthusiasm, they are conscientious. (2) Being disinterested, they obtain the cause for the careful practice of these perfections in their future lives. (3) Free of any wrongdoing, they practice the perfect, pure, and stainless perfections. (4) Unburdened by conceptions, they swiftly perfect the perfections through their skillful means. (5) Because they transfer their merit, they will attain in all their future lives the inexhaustible perfections together with the desirable results produced by the maturation of their karma, until they obtain the unsurpassable, complete and perfect awakening.”
“Blessed One, what is the vastness of the bodhisattvas’ practice of these perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, bodhisattvas are without attachment and disinterested, and they transfer their merit.”
“In what way are they without afflictions?”
“They are free of any wrongdoing and conceptions.”
“In what way are they stainless?”
“They act as they mentally inspect.”
“In what way are they immovable?”
“They are said to be immovable because this is the nature of those who have entered the stages of a bodhisattva.” [F.46.b]
“In what way are the perfections utterly pure?”
“Avalokiteśvara, they are included within the tenth stage and the Buddha Stage.”
“Blessed One, why is the desirable result of the maturation resulting from the practice of the perfections always inexhaustible295 in the case of the bodhisattvas? Why do they obtain this inexhaustibility through the perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, it is because they practice each perfection296 in dependence upon the others.”
“Blessed One, why is it that bodhisattvas do not have faith in the desirable result of the maturation resulting from the practice of the perfections in the way they have faith in the perfections?”
“Avalokiteśvara, this is due to five reasons: (1) The perfections are the cause for the highest bliss and happiness, (2) they are the cause for the benefit of oneself and others, (3) they are the cause for the desirable result of their maturation in future lives, (4) they are the foundation of the freedom from afflictions, and (5) they have the nature of immutability.”
“Blessed One, what are their specific powers?”
“Avalokiteśvara, you should know that their specific powers have the following four qualities: (1) When the bodhisattvas practice the perfections, they eliminate adverse factors, such as greed, faulty discipline, mental agitation, laziness, distraction, and wrong views; (2) they will attain the unsurpassable, complete and perfect awakening; (3) in this life, they will benefit themselves as well as beings; and (4) in future lives they will attain the desirable result of their maturation, which is vast and inexhaustible.”
“Blessed One, from what cause do these perfections arise? What are their result and benefit?”
“Avalokiteśvara, the perfections have compassion as their cause. As result, they have the desirable result of their maturation and [F.47.a] the result accomplishing the benefit of beings. As benefit, they have the great benefit of accomplishing the great awakening.”
“Blessed One, if the bodhisattvas have inexhaustible resources as well as compassion for beings, why are there poor people in the world?”
“Avalokiteśvara, this is nothing but the fault resulting from beings’ own karma. If it were not so, if no obstruction were brought about by beings’ own faults, bodhisattvas could at all times engage in compassionate activities toward them. As bodhisattvas have inexhaustible resources, how could the vision of suffering manifest? Avalokiteśvara, it is like this: hungry ghosts whose bodies are tormented by thirst perceive the waters of the ocean as a dry and barren place. This is not the fault of the ocean but the fault resulting from the maturation of nothing but these hungry ghosts’ own karma. Likewise, the absence of result is not the fault of the bodhisattvas’ generosity, which is like the ocean, but the fault of beings themselves, the fault resulting from the karma of those who are like hungry ghosts.”
“Blessed One, through which perfection do bodhisattvas apprehend essencelessness?”297
“Avalokiteśvara, they apprehend it through the perfection of wisdom.”
“Blessed One, when they apprehend essencelessness through the perfection of wisdom, why then do they not apprehend that essencelessness has an essence?”298
“Avalokiteśvara, I did not declare that essencelessness is apprehended by means of an essence.299 However, if one does not use expressions to teach, it is impossible to explain that this essencelessness is inexpressible and cognized intuitively. On this basis, I said that they perceive essencelessness.”
“Blessed One, what is called perfection, immediate perfection,300 and great perfection?” [F.47.b]
1. “Avalokiteśvara, bodhisattvas possess virtuous qualities, generosity and so on, that they have practiced over immeasurable periods of time. But when defilements arise in them, they are unable to overcome them and, instead, are overcome by them. Thus, this inferior and intermediate aspiration on the stage where one proceeds by means of aspiration is called perfection.
2. “Then, bodhisattvas possess virtuous qualities that they have practiced during further immeasurable periods of time. When defilements arise in them, these bodhisattvas overcome them and cannot be overcome by them. Thus, taking hold of these qualities beginning with the first stage is called immediate perfection.
3. “Next, bodhisattvas possess virtuous qualities that they have practiced during even longer immeasurable periods of time. In the bearer of such qualities, no defilement arises at all. Thus, taking hold of these qualities beginning with the eighth stage is called great perfection.”301
“Blessed One, how many kinds of latent dispositions toward defilements are there on the stages?”
“Avalokiteśvara, there are three:302
1. “The latent dispositions that destroy the factors conducive to the manifestation of defilements are as follows: on the first five stages, the factors conducive to the manifestation of innate defilements are non-innate defilements. At that point, these factors do not manifest. As a consequence, these latent dispositions are called latent dispositions that destroy the factors conducive [to the manifestation of defilements].
2. “The latent dispositions of limited power are as follows: on the sixth and seventh stages, subtle aspects of the latent dispositions manifest and through practice are suppressed. Therefore, as a consequence of this subtle manifestation, these latent dispositions are called latent dispositions of limited power.
3. “The subtle latent dispositions are as follows: on the eighth stage and above, defilements do not manifest at all because there only remain cognitive obstructions to be cleared. Therefore, these latent dispositions are called subtle latent dispositions.”
“Blessed One, how many kinds of elimination of corruption characterize these latent dispositions?”303
“Avalokiteśvara, there are three kinds:304 (1) the elimination of superficial corruption characterizes the first and the second type of latent dispositions]305 (2) the elimination of deeper corruption characterizes [F.48.a] the third type of latent dispositions, and (3) since the elimination of the innermost corruption is the state in which there are no latent dispositions at all, I have taught that it is the Buddha Stage.”
“Blessed One, after how many eons are these types of corruption eliminated?”
“Avalokiteśvara, they are abandoned within three incalculable periods of time—within immeasurable eons, seasons, moons, half-moons, days and nights, days, half days, hours, minutes, seconds, or split seconds.”
“Blessed One, how should the defining characteristic, the fault, and the positive quality of defilements arising in bodhisattvas be known?”
1. “Avalokiteśvara, defilements arising in bodhisattvas have the defining characteristic of nondefilement. Why? Because they fully realize the domain of truth, which is only determined on the first stage. On account of this, the defilements of bodhisattvas arise only with full awareness, not unconsciously. Therefore, [defilements arising in bodhisattvas have] the defining characteristic of nondefilements.
2. “Because they do not have the capacity to produce suffering in [bodhisattvas’] own [mental] continuums, they are faultless.
3. “Because they are the cause dispelling the suffering from the world of beings, they have boundless positive qualities.”
“Blessed One, if even the defilements arising in this way in bodhisattvas outshine the roots of virtue produced by all beings, hearers, and solitary realizers to such an extent, what need is there to mention their other positive qualities?306 The supreme value of the bodhisattvas’ awakening is truly amazing!
“Blessed One, what was your underlying intention when you declared that the vehicle of the hearers and the Great Vehicle constitute the Single Vehicle?” [F.48.b]
“In the vehicle of the hearers, I taught the essence of various phenomena, such as the five aggregates, the six internal sense domains, the six external sense domains, and so forth. In the Great Vehicle, I presented exactly these same phenomena by teaching them in terms of a single principle, the domain of truth. Therefore, I did not declare that [these two] vehicles are distinct from one another. Those who conceptualize these teachings exclusively according to their literal meaning also conceptualize these [two] vehicles as being distinct—some by superimposing, others by negating. As a consequence, they think that the two vehicles are contradictory307 and thus refute one another. This is what I had in mind when I taught the Single Vehicle.”
Then, at that moment, the Blessed One spoke these verses:
Then, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara asked the Blessed One, “Blessed One, what is the name of the teaching imparted in this Dharma discourse that unravels the Tathāgata’s intent? How should I keep it in mind?”
The Blessed One answered, “Avalokiteśvara, this is a teaching of definitive meaning on the stages and the perfections. Keep it in mind as The Teaching of Definitive Meaning on the Stages and the Perfections. As the Blessed One expounded this teaching, seventy-five thousand bodhisattvas obtained the bodhisattva’s concentration, the light of the Great Vehicle. [F.49.a]
This was the chapter of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara—the ninth chapter.
|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|
’phags pa dgongs pa nges par ’grel pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo (Āryasaṃdhinirmocananāmamahāyānasūtra). Toh 106, Degé Kangyur vol. 49 (mdo sde, ca) folios 1.b–55.b.
’phags pa dgongs pa nges par ’grel pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–9, vol. 49, pp. 3–131.
Asaṅga. rnal ’byor spyod pa’i sa (Yogācārabhūmi). Toh 4035, Degé Tengyur vol. 127 (sems tsam, tshi) folios 1.b–283.a
Asaṅga. rnal ’byor spyod pa’i sa rnam par gtan la dbab pa bsdu ba (Yogācārabhūmiviniścayasaṃgraha). Toh 4038, Degé Tengyur vol. 130 (sems tsam, zhi), folios 1.b–289.a; vol. 131 (sems tsam, zi), folios 1.b–127.a.
Buddhabhūmisūtra (sangs rgyas kyi sa’i mdo). Toh 275, Degé Kangyur vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 36.a–44.b.
Kamalaśila. bsgom pa’i rim pa (Bhāvanākrama). Toh 3915, Degé Tengyur vol. 110 (dbu ma, ki), folios 22.a–41.b; Toh 3916, Degé Tengyur vol. 110 (dbu ma, ki), folios 42.a–55.b; and Toh 3917, Degé Tengyur vol. 110 (dbu ma, ki), folios 55.b–68.b.
Mahāvyutpatti (bye brag tu rtogs par byed pa chen po). Toh 4346, Degé Tengyur vol. 204 (sna tshogs, co), folios 1.b–131.a.
Māyājāla (mdo chen sgyu ma’i dra ba). Toh 288, Degé Kangyur vol. 71 (mdo sde, sha), folios 230.a–244.a.
Tathāgataguṇajñānācintyaviṣayāvatāranirdeśasūtra (de bzhin gshegs pa’i yon tan dang ye shes bsam gyis mi khyab pa’i yul la ’jug pa bstan pa’i mdo). Toh 185, Degé Kangyur vol. 61 (mdo sde, tsa), folios 106.a–143.b.
Trisong Detsen (khri srong lde brtsan). bka’ yang dag pa’i tshad ma las mdo btus pa (Samyagvākpramāṇoddhṛtasūtra). Toh 4352, Degé Tengyur vol. 204 (sna tshogs, co), folios 173.b–203.a.
Vasubandhu. dbus dang mtha’ rnam par ’byed pa’i ’grel pa (Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya). Toh 4027, Degé Tengyur vol. 124 (sems tsam, bi), folios 1.b–27.a.
Wonch’uk. dgongs pa zab mo nges par ’grel pa’i mdo rgya cher ’grel pa (*Āryagambhīrasaṃdhinirmocanasūtraṭīkā) Toh 4016, Degé Tengyur vol. 118 (mdo ’grel, ti), folios 1.b–291.a; vol. 119 (mdo ’grel, thi), folios 1.b–175.a.
IOL Tib J 194. British Library, London. Accessed through The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online.
Other Canonical Sources for Samdh.
Bd3.7 vol. 3 (ta) pha, folios 1.b–84.a
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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