The Seventy Points of the Abhisamayālaṃkāra

Prajñāpāramitā | Tibetan MastersKhenpo Tsöndrü

English | Español | བོད་ཡིག

The Seventy Points

The Words of Jigme Chökyi Wangpo

A Commentary Presenting the Subject Matter of the Great Treatise, Abhisamayālaṃkāra

by Khenpo Tsöndrü

Oṃ Svasti!

The great Sage and Lord of Dharma, Maitreya and Mañjughoṣa,
The three founders Nāgārjuna, Asaṅga and Śāntarakṣita,
Rongzom, Longchenpa, Jigme Chökyi Wangpo and the rest—
Gracious root and lineage masters, grant me your protection!

I will now present an overview of the main body of the great treatise known as Abhisamayālaṃkāra, as it is taught in the fifteen verses,[1] following the explanation of Jigme Chökyi Wangpo (Patrul Rinpoche).

In this, there are two main sections:

I. Briefly presenting the main body of the text by means of its principal subject to be elucidated, i.e. the eight topics; and

II. Elaborately explaining the body of the text by means of the seventy points that elucidate [the eight topics].

I. EIGHT TOPICS

This is also divided into a brief presentation and more elaborate explanation.

1. Brief Presentation

As it is said:[2]

The transcendent perfection of wisdom (prajñāpāramitā)
Is perfectly explained by means of the eight topics. 

That is to say that the subject to be explained is the prajñāpāramitā, and the means of explanation, which will explain it perfectly, are the eight topics.

The prajñāpāramitā that is referred to here can be understood by means of the following five aspects: a) its literal meaning, b) its definition, c) illustrations, d) subdivisions, and e) the actual versus the nominal.

a) Literal Meaning

As it is said:

“It is the best (pra; rab) of all knowledge (jñā; shes pa), so it is wisdom (prajñā; shes rab). It is focused upon the absolute, and is the most sublime among all forms of wisdom, therefore it is transcendent (pāram; pha rol), and it has arrived at, or will lead one to (itā; phyin), non-abiding nirvāṇa.”[3]

b) Definition

Prajñāpāramitā is the wisdom of directly realizing the non-conceptual simplicity (spros bral) of all phenomena, which has arrived at, or will lead one to, non-abiding nirvāṇa.

c) Illustration

Any aspect of realization—gained through the three noble paths[4] of the mahāyāna—into the absence of true reality in all phenomena.

d) Subdivisions

The term [prajñāpāramitā] can refer to any of the following:

  1. natural prajñāpāramitā
  2. scriptural prajñāpāramitā
  3. path prajñāpāramitā
  4. resultant prajñāpāramitā

Their respective definitions and parameters are as follows:

1. Natural prajñāpāramitā is defined as the objective aspects of the wisdom that directly realizes the non-conceptual simplicity of all phenomena. It is synonymous with the ground prajñāpāramitā.

Parameters: It is present on the three noble paths of the mahāyāna.

2. Scriptural prajñāpāramitā is defined as any scripture—whether the Buddha’s own words or a treatise—whose primary topic of expression is the ground, path or resultant prajñāpāramitā. It is insight (rnam par rig pa) manifesting as the teachers’ words, expressions and letters. Illustrations include the seventeen ‘mother’ and ‘son’ prajñāpāramitā texts as well as Abhisamayālaṃkāra.

Parameters: It is present from before the path is entered until enlightenment.

3. Path prajñāpāramitā is defined as the wisdom that directly realizes the non-conceptual simplicity of all phenomena and leads to non-abiding nirvāṇa. Illustrations are the five mahāyāna paths, especially the paths of seeing, meditation and the final path (i.e. the path of no-more-learning).

Parameters: The actual path prajñāpāramitā is present in the equipoise of the noble followers of the mahāyāna, whilst a semblance of it is to be found in the mindstreams of those on the paths of accumulation and joining.

4. Resultant prajñāpāramitā is defined as the wisdom which has arrived at non-abiding nirvāṇa, the ultimate and most supreme direct realization of the non-conceptual simplicity of all phenomena. An illustration is the magical wisdom of non-duality at the level of buddhahood.

Parameters: It is present only in the continuum of a noble Buddha.

e) The Actual Versus the Nominal

Ācārya Dignāga says:

Prajñāpāramitā is non-dual wisdom,
The very state of a tathāgata.
Yet since they have this as their objective,
The term is also applied to the scriptures and the path.[5]

As he states, the ground prajñāpāramitā and resultant prajñāpāramitā are the actual (or definitive) prajñāpāramitā, whereas the scriptural prajñāpāramitā is merely given the name of prajñāpāramitā, and the path prajñāpāramitā has aspects of both the actual and the nominal.

2. Elaborate Explanation

Knowledge of all aspects, knowledge of the path,
Then the knowledge of all,
Completely perfect realization of all aspects,
Reaching the summit, the progressive,
Complete and perfect awakening in a single moment,
And the dharmakāya—these are the eight topics.[6]

As it says, the eight topics are as follows:

  1. Knowledge of all aspects, which is to be attained
  2. Knowledge of the path, which is the means of attainment
  3. Knowledge of the bases, which is to be abandoned

These are the three aspects of wisdom that are to be known.

4. Application of all aspects
5. Culminating application

These are the cause and effect of gaining proficiency (dbang du bya ba).

6. Progressive application
7. Instantaneous application

These two are the cause and effect of stability.

Taken together, these last four are the four applications of practice.

The result of practising in such a way is:

8. Dharmakāya

Thus eight are taught.

Each of these is explained according to its definition, illustrations, subdivisions, parameters, definite number, sequence and a denial of any repetition.

1. Knowledge of All Aspects (or Omniscience)

Definition

Knowledge of all aspects (or omniscience) is defined as knowing directly, and in a single instant, all aspects, without exception, of things in their real nature and in all their multiplicity.

Subdivisions

It can be subdivided into the omniscience which knows the nature of things and the omniscience which knows all things in their multiplicity. An illustration of the former is the true cessation present in the continuum of the noble Buddha. The latter includes both the omniscience which knows the features of all knowable phenomena without exception, and the omniscience which knows the seventy points, the chief amongst all causes and effects.

Parameters

It is present only in the continuum of a noble Buddha.

2. Path-Knowledge

Definition

Path-knowledge is defined as the path of training that will lead us to realize the authentic limit of reality, once we have realized that the three paths are without any true reality and have perfected, matured and purified.

Subdivisions

When divided, there is the path-knowledge that knows the path of the śrāvakas, the path-knowledge that knows the pratyekabuddha path, and the path-knowledge that knows the path of the bodhisattvas.

Parameters

It is present on the five paths of the mahāyāna. It is also taught that it is present from the mahāyāna path of seeing until the state of awakening.

3. Base-Knowledge

Definition

Base-knowledge is defined as the limited knowledge that realizes all bases to be empty of the self of the individual.

Subdivisions

When the actual [base-knowledge] is sub-divided, there is the base-knowledge of the śrāvakas and that of the pratyekabuddhas.

If divisions are made according to how the term is applied, there are five: the base-knowledge that abides in neither existence nor quiescence, the base-knowledge that is distant from the ‘resultant mother’,[7] the base-knowledge that is close to the ‘resultant mother’, the base-knowledge that is unfavourable and the base-knowledge that is a remedy.

Parameters

The actual base-knowledge is present on the five paths of the hinayāna, but all the noble ones of the mahāyāna possess the nominal base-knowledge. It is also said that it is present in the mind-stream of all noble ones.

4. Complete Application of All Aspects

Definition

Complete application of all aspects is defined as the bodhisattvas’ yoga[8] of meditation in which one brings together the three types of non-arising in order to master the realization of the threefold knowledge.[9]

Subdivisions

When divided in terms of its essence and so on, there are twenty applications, and when divided in terms of its aspects, there are 173 subdivisions.

Parameters

It is present from the lesser path of accumulation until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

5. Culminating Application

Definition

Culminating application is defined as the bodhisattvas’ yoga that is based on the complete application of all aspects in which one has gained proficiency in the meditation combining the three types of non-arising.

Subdivisions

There are eight subdivisions: the four culminating applications of ordinary beings, the three culminating applications of the noble ones, and the mistaken practice to be eliminated.

Parameters

It is present from the stage of warmth until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

6. Progressive Application

Definition

Progressive application is defined as the bodhisattvas’ yoga in which one meditates on the aspects of the threefold knowledge sequentially in order to stabilize the realization in which the knowledge aspects of the threefold knowledge arise all at once.

Subdivisions

There are thirteen subdivisions: the progressive applications of the six transcendent perfections, the six recollections[10] and essential unreality.

Parameters

It is present mainly as an object of study and reflection from the path of accumulation onwards. The application produced through meditation is present from the stage of warmth [on the path of joining] until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

7. Instantaneous Application

Definition

Instantaneous application is defined as the bodhisattvas’ yoga in which one reaches the culmination of the progressive meditation on the threefold knowledge.

Subdivisions

Merely in terms of conceptual distinctions, it has four subdivisions.[11]

Parameters

It is present only at the end of the tenth bhūmi.

8. Resultant dharmakāya

Definitions

The resultant dharmakāya is defined as the ultimate fruition of practising the four applications, endowed with various undefiling qualities.

Subdivisions

It has four subdivisions: svābhāvikakāya, wisdom dharmakāya, sambhogakāya and nirmāṇakāya.

Parameters

It is present only at the level of buddhahood.

Definite Number

For an individual to awaken there must certainly be these three: the three aspects of knowledge to be known, the four applications of the path to be practised, and the result which is the dharmakāya.

The Summarizing Lamp says:

Three knowledges as objects to be understood,
Four applications at the time of meditation,
And the ultimate result that is dharmakāya.[12]

Moreover, the three aspects of knowledge are certainly three in number—the knowledge of all aspects which is to be attained, the path-knowledge which is the means of attainment, and the base-knowledge which is a potential pitfall.

Jowo Je, Glorious Atiśa said:

At the time of study and reflection,
There is complete ascertainment of the result,
The cause and any unfavourable factors.

The four applications too are fixed in number. There is the complete application of all aspects, the cause for gaining proficiency, which causes one to develop qualities that had not previously arisen in one’s mind, and its result, the culminating application. Then there is the progressive application, the cause for gaining stability, which enhances what has already arisen, and its result, the instantaneous application.

The Summarizing Lamp says:

At the time of meditation there is application,
Gaining temporary results, finding stability,
And perfection by reaching the limits of the causal.

The result of such practice is also fixed in number as the single dharmakāya.

Sequence

The sequence of the threefold knowledge is based on how they are explained, the sequence of the four applications is based on practice. The four applications and the dharmakāya are given in the sequence of cause and effect.

Denial of any Repetition

There is no repetition between the threefold knowledge and the complete application of all aspects, because the three knowledges each have their own particular aspects, whereas the complete application of all aspects is concerned with all aspects without exception. Moreover, since the first is taught as something to be known through various definitions and the second is taught as something to be applied in practice, they are not simply repetitions of the same thing. Yet again, there is no repetition since the first is presented as an object for understanding the nature of total peace and the second is given as a remedy by means of which one overcomes impurities.

The explanation of the various bhūmis and the paths of seeing and meditation in the context of the knowledge of all aspects and then their explanation in the context of the path-knowledge serve different purposes, and therefore there is no repetition. In the first case the explanation is given to illustrate the subject, the knowledge of all aspects, whereas in the second case it is given to illustrate the path-knowledge that knows the three paths by pointing out its objects.

The explanation of the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha paths given in the section on path-knowledge is intended to illustrate the subject, path-knowledge. When they are explained in the section on base-knowledge, it is to point out the base-knowledge that is a remedy by means of which one can be free from conceptual projections. In the first case, the paths of  the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas are taught indirectly by pointing out their opposites, and in the second case they are taught in their own right, so there is no repetition.

There is no repetition between the knowledge of all aspects and the dharmakāya, since they are taught by means of objects and result, or by means of illustration and essence respectively.

II. THE SEVENTY POINTS

Secondly, there is the elaborate explanation of the body of the text by means of the seventy points.

1. The Ten Factors that Illustrate Omniscience

It is said:

Generation of bodhicitta, spiritual instructions,
The four branches of definite separation,
The foundation of accomplishment—
The nature of the dharmadhātu,
The objects of focus, the objective,
The armour, the activities of engagement,
Accumulation, and definite emergence—
These are the Sage’s knowledge of all aspects.[13]

As it says, there are:

  1. The generation of bodhicitta, which is the nature of the mahāyāna path,
  2. The spiritual instructions, which are the method for attaining its objective,
  3. The four aspects of definite separation, which come about as a result of the instructions,
  4. The Buddha potential, the nature of the dharmadhātu, which is the basis for attaining accomplishment by practising the instructions unerringly,
  5. The objects of focus for the practice,
  6. The objective of the practice,
  7. Armour-like practice,
  8. Accomplishing the activities of engagement,
  9. The practice of accumulation, and
  10. The practice of definite emergence.

These ten factors point out the nature of omniscience, showing the result by means of its causes, or the subject by means of its objects, and mentioning the most important things to be understood.

The venerable Lord (Atiśa) said:

The result of perfecting the ten causes, omniscience itself.

The [Pramāṇa]vārttika says:

Knowing through this the total number of insects
Holds no purpose for us whatsoever.
It makes known the points to be adopted or avoided,
As well as the methods for doing so.

This is held to be entirely valid,
Although it does not make everything known.
Whether or not one perceives distant things,
One perceives exactly what is required. 

1. The Generation of bodhicitta

Definition

The generation of bodhicitta is defined as a special type of mental consciousness endowed with two aspects, inspired by the cause, longing to bring about the welfare of others, and accompanied by the support, longing to attain complete and perfect awakening.

Subdivisions

In terms of its essence, it has two subdivisions: aspiration and application. In terms of its scope, it has three subdivisions: the king-like generation of bodhicitta with the great wish; the boatman-like generation of bodhicitta with sacred wisdom; and the incomparable shepherd-like generation of bodhicitta.

In terms of the stages on the paths, there are four subdivisions: the bodhicitta generation of ‘aspirational practice’ on the paths of accumulation and joining, the bodhicitta generation of ‘pure and excellent intention’ on the seven impure bhūmis, the bodhicitta generation of ‘complete maturation’ on the three pure bhūmis, and the bodhicitta generation of ‘great compassion in which all defilements have been relinquished’ at the level of buddhahood.

In terms of examples, counterparts and properties, there are twenty-two subdivisions.[14]

Parameters

It is present from the lesser path of accumulation until the level of buddhahood.

2. Spiritual Instructions

Definition

Spiritual instructions are defined as those expressions which instruct one unerringly in the methods for attaining the goal one seeks when generating bodhicitta in the mahāyāna.

Subdivisions

When divided in terms of purpose, there are the instructions given to prevent previously acquired qualities from dissipating, and teachings given for the sake of acquiring qualities not previously acquired.

When divided in terms of primary and secondary importance, there are firstly the texts of the Buddha’s own words and the treatises, which are special or primary instructions teaching the mahāyāna path and its result completely and unerringly, and there are also ordinary instructions which teach the mahāyāna path only partially.

When divided in terms of object, there are ten types of instruction, which instruct as to:

1) the essence of practice itself;
2-5) the objects of focus, which are the four truths;
6-8) the supports, which are the three jewels;
9) the aids, which are the three types of diligence,[15] and the results, which are the five eyes and six supercognitions; and
10) the grounds, which are the paths of seeing and meditation.[16]

Parameters

The authentic instructions are present from the greater path of accumulation of the mahāyāna onwards and an approximation of them is present from before the path has been entered until the level of buddhahood.

3. Aspects of Definite Separation

Definition

The mahāyāna aspects of definite separation are defined as realizations with five particular features, which develop following the stage conducive to liberation [i.e., the path of accumulation] in the mahāyāna, and are included within the level of aspirational practice.

Subdivisions

There are four or twelve subdivisions.[17]

Parameters

They are present only on the mahāyāna path of joining.

4. Potential

Definition

The potential is defined as mind’s actual condition, which is the nature of the dharmadhātu and the support for the thirteen types of practice mentioned here, and which, in its emptiness aspect, provides the cause[18] for the svābhavikakaya, and, in its appearance aspect, the cause for the rūpakāya.

Subdivisions

Divided in terms of its essence, there is the naturally present potential and the developing potential. When divided according to the various Dharmas it supports, there are thirteen.[19]

Parameters

As it is taught here, it is present from the lesser stage of warmth (on the path of joining), and, more generally, it is present from the path of accumulation until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

5. Focus

Definition

Focus is defined as the basis to be understood in order for a mahāyāna practitioner to eliminate conceptual projections.

Subdivisions

There are eleven subdivisions.[20]

Parameters

It can be directed towards all existent things.[21]

6. Objective

Definition

The objective is defined as the ultimate result for the sake of which we engage in the bodhisattva practices.

Subdivisions

There are three subdivisions.[22]

Parameters

It is present at the level of buddhahood.

Practice

Practice, in general, is defined as action which accomplishes the twofold purpose for the sake of unsurpassable enlightenment, which is based on the bodhicitta of the mahāyāna, and which is endowed with four special features.

The four special features are:

  1. the support of the practice,
  2. the focus of the practice,
  3. the objective of the practice, and
  4. the essence of the practice itself.

These four apply in the following cases.

7. Armour-like Practice

Definition

Armour-like practice is defined as such a practice [endowed with the four special features], in which each of the six pāramitās includes all six within it.

Subdivisions

There are thirty-six divisions.[23]

Parameters

From the path of accumulation until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

8. The Practice of Engagement

Definition

The practice of engagement is defined as such a practice [endowed with the four special features], in which one engages in the mahāyāna by means of the principal results of meditation.

Subdivisions

There are nine subdivisions.[24]

Parameters

It is present from the stage of warmth (on the path of joining) until the end of the tenth bhūmi. It is also taught that the straightforward practice of engagement is present from the path of accumulation, and a special form of the practice is present from the middling stage of supreme attribute on the path of joining onwards.

9. The Practice of Accumulation

Definition

The practice of accumulation is defined as such a practice [endowed with the four special features], in which one acts to bring about directly one’s own result of great enlightenment.

Subdivisions

There are seventeen subdivisions.[25]

Parameters

It is present from the greater stage of supreme attribute until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

Generally speaking, straightforward accumulation is present from the path of accumulation onwards, but here we are referring mainly to the [accumulation of] direct causes for realizing the emptiness of phenomena and gaining the result of enlightenment. Therefore, it is taught that the first fifteen practices of accumulation are present at the greater stage of supreme attribute on the path of joining, while the two accumulation practices of the bhūmis and the antidote are present on the ten bhūmis, which are included within the paths of seeing and meditation.

10. The Practice of Definite Emergence

Definition

The practice of definite emergence is defined as such a practice [endowed with the four special features], which leads indubitably to the ultimate destination.

Subdivisions

It has eight subdivisions.[26]

Parameters

It is present on the special path of the tenth bhūmi.

2. The Eleven Factors that Illustrate Path Knowledge

It is said:

The stages of eclipsing and so on,
The paths of disciples and rhino-like pratyekabuddhas,
The path of seeing that yields greater benefit,
Bringing qualities in this and other lives.
Functions and aspiration,
Eulogy, veneration and praise,
Dedication, and rejoicing,
The unsurpassable activities of mind,
Accomplishing and the ‘extremely pure’—
The practices of the path of meditation.
This is how the path-knowledge
Of the skilful bodhisattvas is explained.[27]

As the text says, there are:

  1. the branches of the path-knowledge which is generated, such as eclipsing [pride] and so on,
  2. the path of the śrāvaka disciples,
  3. the path of the rhinoceros-like pratyekabuddhas,
  4. the path of greater benefit, which brings qualities in this and future lives,
  5. the functions of the path of meditation,
  6. the aspiring path of meditation,
  7. eulogy, veneration and praise for the benefits of aspiration,
  8. the dedicating path of meditation,
  9. the path of meditation of rejoicing, the unsurpassed mental activity,
  10. the accomplishing path of meditation, and
  11. the complete purification of the pure path of meditation.

By means of these eleven illustrating factors that which is to be illustrated—the path knowledge of those who are skilled in bodhicitta and benefitting others—is illustrated just as before.

1. The Five Branches of Path-Knowledge

The five branches of path knowledge are as follows:

  1. the support for generating path-knowledge, which is to be free from the hindrance of manifest pride;
  2. the cooperative condition, generating bodhicitta, which makes the arising [of path-knowledge] certain,
  3. the perpetuating cause, awakening the Buddha potential, which makes its development all-encompassing;
  4. its nature, which is not abandoning samsara; and
  5. its function, which is included within the other [four] points.

2. The Path of the Śrāvaka Disciples

Definition

The path of the śrāvaka disciples is defined as the aspect of a bodhisattva’s knowledge that understands just the selflessness of the individual, by means of the three noble principles, for the sake of guiding disciples who have the śrāvaka potential, and in order to complete the abandonment and realization of the three vehicles within his or her own mindstream.

Subdivisions

If divided, there are the two of the śrāvakas’ noble path and path of joining.

3. The Path of the Rhinoceros-like Pratyekabuddhas

Definition

The path of the rhinoceros-like pratyekabuddhas is defined as the aspect of a bodhisattva’s knowledge that understands the ‘one-and-a-half selflessnesses,’ by means of the three noble principles, for the sake of guiding disciples who have the pratyekabuddha potential, and in order to complete the abandonment and realization of the three vehicles within his or her own mindstream.

Subdivisions

If divided, there are the two of the pratyekabuddhas’ noble path and path of joining.

4. The Mahāyāna Path of Seeing

Definition

The mahāyāna path of seeing is defined as a newly gained insight into the supermundane truth, in which one realizes twofold selflessness.

Subdivisions

It can be divided into sixteen aspects.[28]

5. The Products of the Path of Meditation

Definition

The products of the path of meditation are defined as the benefits that are the results of the path of meditation.

Subdivisions

There are six subdivisions.[29]

6. The Aspiring Path of Meditation

Definition

The aspiring path of meditation is defined as the tainted path of meditation which is the source of the threefold benefit of the prajñāpāramitā (yum don gsum), and which is apprehended as such with certainty.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are twenty-seven.[30]

Parameters

The aspiring path of meditation for one’s own benefit is present during the post-meditation phase of the second to seventh bhūmis. The aspiring path of meditation for the benefit of both [self and other] is present during the post-meditation phase on the eighth and ninth bhūmis. The aspiring path of meditation for the benefit of others is present during the post-meditation phase on the tenth bhūmi.

7. The Triad of Eulogy, Veneration and Praise

Definition

The triad of eulogy, veneration and praise is defined as the delight of the buddhas and senior bodhisattvas for a bodhisattva who cultivates the three aspirations, as well as their pronouncement of his or her qualities.

Subdivisions

It can be divided into twenty-seven.[31]

8. The Dedicating Path of Meditation

Definition

The dedicating path of meditation is defined as the tainted path of meditation on which one dedicates virtuous actions towards complete awakening for the sake of others.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are twelve.[32]

9. The Rejoicing Path of Meditation

Definition

The rejoicing path of cultivation is defined as the tainted path of meditation on which one joyfully celebrates one’s own and others’ virtuous actions.

Subdivisions

It can be the rejoicing of a relative or an ultimate subject.

Parameters

These tainted paths of meditation are all present from the second to the tenth bhūmis.

10. The Accomplishing Path of Meditation

Definition

The accomplishing path of meditation is defined as the unimpeded path on the untainted path of meditation, which is the cause for the ultimate realization.

Subdivisions

It has five subdivisions.[33]

11. The Completely Pure Path of Meditation

Definition

The completely pure path of meditation is defined as the path of total release on the untainted path of meditation, which is the cause for the ultimate abandonment.

Subdivisions

It is divided into the nine antidotes to the nine factors to be abandoned on the path of meditation.[34]

Parameters

These latter two are present from the second to the tenth bhūmis.

3. The Nine Factors that Illustrate Base-Knowledge

It is said:

Due to knowledge, not remaining in saṃsāric existence,
And out of compassion, not remaining in quiescence,
Distant because of being unskilled in means,
And not distant because of being skilled in means,
Unfavourable factors and their antidotes,
Application and its equality,
And the path of seeing of the śrāvakas and so on—
This is how the all-knowledge is described.[35]

As it is said, there are:

  1. the base-knowledge of not remaining in saṃsāric existence due to wisdom,
  2. the base-knowledge of not remaining in quiescence due to compassion,
  3. the base-knowledge of being distant from the ‘resultant mother’ due to not being skilled in means,
  4. the base-knowledge of being close to the ‘resultant mother’ due to being skilled in means,
  5. the base-knowledge that is an unfavourable factor,
  6. the base-knowledge that is an antidote,
  7. the application of engagement,
  8. the equality of application, and
  9. the emerging result of the path of seeing.

That which is to be illustrated—all-knowledge—is asserted to be illustrated by these nine illustrating factors as above.

1. The Base-Knowledge of Not Remaining in Saṃsāric Existence due to Wisdom

Definition

The base-knowledge of not remaining in saṃsāric existence due to wisdom is defined as the wisdom that causes one to avoid the problems of saṃsāric existence with the knowledge that understands the absence of true reality.

2. The Base-Knowledge of Not Remaining in Quiescence due to Compassion

Definition

The base-knowledge of not remaining in quiescence due to compassion is defined as the wisdom that causes one to avoid the problems of quiescence through the force of generating the superior intention of bodhicitta.

3. The Distant Base-Knowledge Without Skilful Means

Definition

The distant base-knowledge without skilful means is defined as being bound by clinging to conceptual attributes in the three categories of (i) what is to be known, (ii) the path, and (iii) its result, and being unable to apply the antidote.

4. The Proximate Base-Knowledge With Skilful Means

Definition

The proximate base-knowledge with skilful means is defined as the wisdom that includes superior skilful means and wisdom.

5. Unfavourable Base-Knowledge

Definition

Unfavourable base-knowledge is defined as that which is to be abandoned by the bodhisattvas because it is restricted by a mistaken perception of the nature of the bases.

6. Antidotal Base-Knowledge

Definition

Antidotal base-knowledge is defined as the realization of the insubstantiality of the bases which acts as an antidote to clinging to their characteristics.

7. The Application of Base-Knowledge

Definition

The application of base-knowledge is defined as the path of meditation in which attachment to the bases such as form has been brought to an end, and which indicates, in an indirect way, the applications of the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are the four applications that put an end to the attachment to phenomenal entities (chos can), the five applications that put an end to the attachment to the nature of phenomena (chos nyid), and the application of knowing the seven aspects of appearance, making ten in all.[36]

Parameters

It is present from the path of accumulation to the tenth bhūmi.

8. The Equality of the Application

Definition

The equality of the application is defined as the aspect of meditating on the application of base-knowledge which puts an end to the false presumption of subject and object.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are forty.[37]

9. The Mahāyāna Path of Seeing

Definition

The mahāyāna path of seeing is defined as a newly gained insight into the truth that is free from the thirty-two conceptual projections, and which indicates, in an indirect way, the path of seeing of the hīnayāna.

4. The Eleven Factors that Illustrate the Application of All Aspects

It is said:

Aspects together with their application,
Qualities, faults, characteristics,
Factors conducive to liberation and definite separation,
The assembly of irreversible disciples,
The equality of saṃsāric existence and quiescence,
And unsurpassable pure fields,
These are the completely perfect realization of all aspects,
Together with the last one that is skill in means.[38]

As it is said, there are:

  1. the aspects to be meditated upon,
  2. the application of meditating on the aspects,
  3. the qualities of meditation,
  4. the faults that obstruct meditation,
  5. the characteristics of application,
  6. the path of accumulation, factors conducive to liberation,
  7. the path of joining, conducive to definite separation,
  8. the support, the assembly of irreversible disciples,
  9. the cause of the dharmakāya, the application of the equality of saṃsāric existence and quiescence,
  10. the cause of the rūpakāya, the application of purifying realms, and
  11. the cause of activity, skilful means.

That which is to be illustrated—the application of all aspects—is asserted to be illustrated by these eleven illustrating factors as before.

1. The Aspects

Definition

The aspects are defined as the objects or particular facets of knowledge that are to be meditated upon as application.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are 173.[39]

2. Application

Definition

Application is defined as the mental yoga[40] of meditation in which one combines the threefold knowledge in order to gain proficiency.

Subdivisions

There are twenty subdivisions.[41]

Parameters

It is present from the lesser path of accumulation until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

3. Qualities

Definition

Qualities are defined as those factors which are obtained temporarily and ultimately through the practice of application.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are fourteen types.[42]

Parameters

They are present from the mahāyāna path of accumulation to the state of buddhahood.

4. Faults

Definition

Faults, are defined as the activity of Māra, obstructing the development of application and further progress.

Subdivisions

When divided there are forty-six types.[43]

Parameters

They are present up to the seventh bhūmi.

5. Characteristics

Definition

Characteristics are defined as the knowledge that illustrates the essence or potential of application.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are ninety-one types.[44]

Parameters

They are present from the mahāyāna path of accumulation until the end of the tenth bhūmi.

6. Factors Conducive to Liberation

Definition

Factors conducive to liberation are defined as those factors which help one to gain a particular form of release, but have not yet become the faculties of complete purification.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are five types.[45]

7. Conducive to Definite Separation

Definition

That which is conducive to definite separation is defined as the wisdom of the stage of aspiring conduct, which is mainly the outcome of meditation and has the particular aspect of focusing on sentient beings.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are twelve types.[46]

8. Irreversible Disciples

Definition

Irreversible disciples are defined as those who show signs that they will certainly avoid falling into either [extreme of] existence or peace.

Subdivisions

They are of three kinds: those on the paths of joining, seeing and meditation.[47]

Parameters

From the stage of warmth onwards.

9. The Equality of saṃsāric Existence and Quiescence

Definition

The equality of saṃsāric existence and quiescence is defined as the application in which one cultivates the realization that samsara and nirvāṇa have no intrinsic reality.

Parameters

An approximation is present from the mahāyāna path of accumulation, and it is fully evident from the eighth bhūmi onwards.

10. The Application of Purifying Realms

Definition

The application of purifying realms is defined as removing imperfections in both the environment and inhabitants of the realm in which one will become awakened.

Subdivisions

It has two aspects.[48]

Parameters

An approximation is present from the path of accumulation, and it is present in its distinct form from the eighth bhūmi onwards.

11. The Application of Skill in Means

Definition

The application of skill in means is defined as the application of knowing when it is timely or untimely to manifest the ten aspects of skill in means.

Subdivisions

When divided there are ten types.[49]

Parameters

An approximation is present from the path of accumulation onwards, and the main application is present from the eighth bhūmi.

5. The Eight Points Illustrating the Culminating Application

It is said:

Its signs, progress,
Stability, complete abiding of the mind,
The paths called “seeing” and “meditation”
Which are for the respective
Fourfold conceptions
The fourfold remedies,
Uninterrupted meditative concentration,
And wrong accomplishment
Are the culminating clear realization.[50]

As it is said, there are:

The four culminating applications of ordinary beings:

  1. warmth, indicated by signs
  2. summit, indicated by progress
  3. acceptance, which is indicated by stability in which the twofold welfare is not forsaken
  4. supreme attribute, indicated by the complete abiding of the mind

The three culminating applications of noble beings:

5. the culminating application of the path of seeing
6. the culminating application of the path of cultivation
7. the culminating application of the unimpeded

And:

8. the mistaken practice to be avoided.

That which is to be illustrated—the culminating application—is illustrated by these eight illustrating factors as before.

1. Signs

Definition

Signs are defined as those factors which indicate that the combined meditation has reached its peak, and which are included within the stage of warmth.

Subdivisions

There are twelve subdivisions.[51]

2. Development

Definition

Development is defined as the aspect of increase which indicates that the combined meditation has reached its peak, and which is included within the stage of summit on the path of joining.

Subdivisions

There are sixteen subdivisions.[52]

3. Definite Stability

Definition

Definite stability is defined as the culmination of the process of stabilizing one’s particular realization of the threefold knowledge and the attitude of not forsaking the welfare of sentient beings, at the stage of acceptance.

Subdivisions

When divided, stability is of two types.[53]

4. Complete Abiding of the Mind

Definition

Complete abiding of the mind is defined as the culmination of one-pointed focus on joyfully celebrating the bodhicitta generated by the four types of bodhisattva,[54] at the stage of supreme attribute.

5. The Culminating Application of the Path of Seeing

Definition

The culminating application of the path of seeing is defined as a combined meditation which has reached its peak and which serves as an antidote to the concepts to be abandoned through [the path of] seeing.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are the four antidotes to the four types of conceptual thought.[55]

6. The Culminating Application of the Path of Meditation

Definition

The culminating application of the path of meditation is defined as a combined meditation which has reached its peak and which serves as an antidote to the concepts to be abandoned through [the path of] meditation.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are the four antidotes to the four types of conceptual thought.[56]

7. The Culminating Application of the Unimpeded

Definition

The culminating application of the unimpeded is defined as a combined meditation which has reached its peak and which is the direct cause of omniscience.

8. Mistaken Practice

Definition

Mistaken practice is defined as a mind which holds the two truths to be in conflict.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are sixteen types.[57]

6. The Thirteen Points Illustrating the Progressive Application

It is said:

…the progressive
[Has] thirteen aspects.[58]

As it is said, there are:

1-6. the excellent application, the six pāramitās,
7-12. the excellent contemplation, the six recollections, and
13. the purifier of these, the application of their essential unreality.

That which is to be illustrated—the progressive application—is illustrated by these thirteen illustrating factors as before.

Definitions

Here, the general definition[59] applies in all cases. Then the progressive application of generosity is defined as a gradual cultivation of generosity, and it is similar for the other five pāramitās and the six recollections.[60]

The progressive application of essential unreality is defined as a gradual meditation which follows the realization that all phenomena ultimately lack inherent existence.

Parameters

The parameters have already given above.[61]

7. The Four Points Illustrating the Instantaneous Application

It is said:

One single moment
Brings full and complete awakening:
In terms of its characteristics, it has four aspects.[62]

As it is said, there are:

  1. the instantaneous [application] of maturation,
  2. the instantaneous [application] of non-maturation,
  3. the instantaneous [application] of absence of characteristics,
  4. the instantaneous [application] of the non-duality of all phenomena.

These four illustrating factors illustrate what is to be illustrated—the instantaneous application—as before.

The definition and parameters have been given already above.

8. The Four Points Illustrating the Dharmakāya

It is said:

The essential nature, involving perfect enjoyment,
And likewise the other body of emanation,
And the dharmakāya together with activity,
These are perfectly explained as the four aspects.[63]

As it is said, there are:

  1. the svābhāvikakāya, the body of the essential nature,
  2. the sambhogakāya, the body of perfect enjoyment,
  3. the nirmāṇakāya, the other body of emanation, and
  4. the dharmakāya, together with activity.

These four illustrating factors illustrate what is to be illustrated—the resultant dharmakāya—as before.

1. Svābhāvikakāya

Definition

The svābhāvikakāya is defined as the ultimate true cessation, in which the naturally pure space of the absolute has been purified of even the adventitious stains.

2. Sambhogakāya

Definition

The sambhogakāya is defined as a form body (rūpakāya) which appears only to the bodhisattvas among the students to be tamed, and which is the ruling condition for the nirmāṇakāya.

3. Nirmāṇakāya

Definition

The nirmāṇakāya is defined as a form body (rūpakāya) which arises from the ruling condition of the sambhogakāya and which appears as one who tames various pure and impure beings.

Subdivisions

When it is divided, there are the following four:

  1. Birth nirmāṇakāyas, such as our teacher when he took birth in the heaven of Tuṣita as Prince Śvetaketu.
  2. Supreme nirmāṇakāyas, such as the buddha who displayed the twelve deeds here in Jambudvīpa.
  3. Diverse nirmāṇakāyas that manifest [in various ways] in order to tame all kinds of different beings, from gods like Indra down to young girls.
  4. Craft nirmāṇakāyas, such as the manifestation as a lute player for the sake of taming the gandharva Rabga, as well as the appearance of beautiful houses, bridges, pleasure gardens and islands, and sculpted forms, paintings, woven images and cast metal statues.

4. The Dharmakāya together with Activity

i. Wisdom Dharmakāya

Definitions

The wisdom dharmakāya is defined as the ultimate transformation at the level of buddhahood.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are twenty-one sets of undefiled qualities.[64]

ii. Activity

Definition

Activity is defined as the utterly pure enlightened qualities, which arise from the ruling condition of the dharmakāya.

Subdivisions

When divided, there are twenty-seven varieties.[65]

Parameters

The aspects belonging to the subject are possessed only by a buddha, but the aspects that exist for the objects of their activity are present even before one enters the path.

This presentation of the subject matter of the great treatise,
Is based on pure scriptural authority and some logical investigation.
Through the slight merit gained by means of this composition
May we be swiftly accepted as followers of the Invincible Lord![66]
In all our lives may our discipline be as pure as the inside of a lotus,
May we be rich with the wealth of study, reflection and meditation and the three trainings,
And through our unparalleled activity in explanation, debate and composition,
May we be of service to the teachings of the Buddha!

The buddhist monk Thubten Tsöndrü Phuntsok compiled this material from the works of various scholars in order to become more familiar with it in his own mind.

| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2005. Some of the endnotes were translated from footnotes in the Varanasi edition of the text.


  1. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, vv. 4-19.  ↩

  2. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, v. 4 ab.  ↩

  3.  This is a quotation from Patrul Rinpoche’s Overview of the Abhisamayālaṃkāra (spyi don).  ↩

  4.  The paths of seeing, meditation and no-more-learning.  ↩

  5.  From Summary of the Eight Thousand Verses.  ↩

  6. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, v. 4cd-5.  ↩

  7.  nirvāṇa.  ↩

  8.  The Namdroling edition of Khenpo Tsöndrü’s text has sems pa’i (attentional), whereas the Varanasi edition and Patrul Rinpoche’s spyi don both have sems dpa'i (bodhisattva’s).  ↩

  9.  I.e. the first three topics: knowledge of all aspects, path-knowledge and base-knowledge.  ↩

  10.  Recollecting Buddha, Dharma, Saṅgha, discipline, giving and the gods.  ↩

  11.  They are given later in the text.  ↩

  12. ཤེས་བྱའི་ཡུལ་དུ་མཁྱེན་པ་གསུམ༎སྒོམ་པའི་དུས་སུ་སྦྱོར་བ་བཞི༎་འབྲས་བུ་མཐར་ཐུག་ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྐུ༎  ↩

  13. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, vv. 6-7.  ↩

  14.  The examples or similes are as follows: 1) the earth, 2) fine gold, 3) the waxing moon, 4) fire, 5) a great treasure, 6) jewel-mine, 7) the great ocean, 8) a vajra, 9) the king of mountains, 10) medicine, 11)  a spiritual guide, 12) a wish-fulfilling jewel, 13) the sun, 14) a sweet-sounding song of Dharma, 15) a great king, 16) a treasury, 17) a great highway, 18) an excellent horse, 19) a spring of water, 20) sweet-sounding music, 21) the flow of a river and 22) a cloud.  ↩

  15.  1) The diligence of non-attachment (ma zhen pa'i brrtson 'grus), 2) completely indefatigable diligence (yongs su mi ngal ba'i brtson 'grus), and 3) diligence of taking to the path completely (lam yongs su 'dzin pa'i brtson 'grus). The first overcomes the laziness of attachment to negative behaviour, the second overcomes the laziness of inactivity, and the third overcomes the laziness of despondency.  ↩

  16.  This way of counting the ten is based on oral commentary from Dzogchen Rinpoche. Khenpo Pema Vajra, in his spyi don, counts them slightly differently: 1) the essence of practice itself; 2) the objects of focus, which are the four truths; 3) the supports, which are the three jewels;  4-6) the aids, which are the three types of diligence, and 7) the results, which are the five eyes and 8) six supercognitions; and 9-10) the grounds, which are the paths of seeing and meditation.  ↩

  17.  The four subdivisions correspond to the four stages of the Path of Joining, i.e., warmth, summit, acceptance and supreme attribute. There are twelve subdivisions when each stage is further divided into greater, middling and lesser stages.  ↩

  18.  The word cause here is qualified as a ‘cause of removal’ (བྲལ་རྒྱུ།) meaning that its presence provides a ‘cause’ for the removal of the defilements.   ↩

  19.  1-4) The four stages of the path of joining, 5) the path of seeing, 6) the path of meditation, 7) the antidote, the unimpeded path, 8) the abandonment, the path of total release, 9) the wisdom of emptiness, 10) the skilful means of great compassion, 11) the uncommon dharmas not shared by the śrāvakas, 12) the stages of accomplishing others’ welfare, 13) the effortless arising of primordial wisdom.  ↩

  20. 1-3) The virtuous, non-virtuous and neutral actions of the body and so on, 4) the five aggregates connected with all spiritually immature beings, 5) the four dhyāna meditations possessed by noble beings, 6) the five perpetuating aggregates which are not a remedy for the view of self, 7) the four applications of mindfulness which are an antidote to this view, 8) the Desire Realm and so on, which depend on causes and conditions, 9) reality itself, which does not depend on causes, 10) the four dhyāna meditations which arise in the minds of noble beings, and 11) the ten powers of the Buddha.  ↩

  21. Literally: “It is present upon all established bases.”  ↩

  22. Great mind, great abandonment and great realization.  ↩

  23. The six pāramitās are each divided into six.  ↩

  24. 1) Engaging in the dhyāna meditations and formless absorptions, 2) engaging in the six pāramitās, 3) engaging in the noble path, 4) engaging in the four immeasurables, 5) engaging in what is beyond conceptual focus, 6) engaging in the complete purification of the three conceptual spheres of subject, object and action, 7) engaging in the objective, 8) engaging in the six supercognitions, 9) engaging in omniscience.  ↩

  25. 1) Great loving compassion, 2) generosity, 3) ethical discipline, 4) patience, 5) diligence, 6) meditation, 7) wisdom, 8) śamatha, 9) vipaśyanā, 10) union (of śamatha and vipaśyanā), 11) skilful means, 12) primordial wisdom, 13) merit, 14) the noble path, 15) dhāraṇī, 16) the ten bhūmis, 17) the antidote.  ↩

  26. The practices of definite emergence: 1) of the three great objectives, 2) of equalness, 3) for the sake of the goal of sentient beings, 4) of effortless and spontaneous accomplishment, 5) beyond the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, 6) of attaining all the objectives of the three vehicles, 7) of omniscience, and 8) of its special path.  ↩

  27. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, vv. 8-10.  ↩

  28. For each of the four noble truths there are the four aspects of acceptance, understanding, subsequent acceptance and subsequent understanding.  ↩

  29. 1) The virtue of a calm and controlled mind, the direct cause for progress on the path, 2) the virtue of respectfully honouring one’s spiritual guide, the cooperating condition for progress, 3) the virtue of being rid of mental afflictions, which are the internal obstacles, 4) the virtue of not being affected by outer obstacles, such as poisons and weapons, 5) the virtue of gaining unsurpassed awakening, 6) the virtue of turning wherever one stays into a sacred place to be venerated.  ↩

  30. The benefit of self, benefit of others and benefit of both self and others are each divided into lesser, middling and greater, and then each of these nine is further subdivided into the three of lesser, middling and greater, giving a total of twenty-seven.  ↩

  31. As above, eulogy, veneration and praise are each divided into the three aspects of lesser, middling and greater, and then each of these nine is further divided into lesser, middling and greater degrees.  ↩

  32. 1) Superior dedication, 2) dedication without conceptual focus, 3) dedication with an unmistaken mind, 4) dedication with the realization of emptiness, 5) dedication while mindful of the nature of the buddhas’ accumulation of merit, 6) dedication with skilful means, 7) dedication without conceptual attributes, 8) dedication with rejoicing at the buddhas, 9) dedication not included within the three realms, 10) lesser dedication, 11) middling dedication, and 12) greater dedication.  ↩

  33. 1) The intrinsic path of meditation, 2) the path of meditation producing the supreme result, 3) the path of meditation on which one does not fabricate anything conceptually, 4) the temporary path of meditation which involves focusing without conceptual reference, and 5) the path of meditation that brings about the ultimate result of buddhahood.  ↩

  34. The nine antidotes are the lesser lesser, middling lesser, greater lesser and so on, corresponding to the nine factors to be abandoned, which are the greater greater, middling greater, lesser greater and so on.  ↩

  35. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, vv. 11-12.  ↩

  36. 1) The application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of form and so on, which are the bases of particular characteristics, 2) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of characteristics such as impermanence, 3) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of the completion and incompletion of qualities, 4) the application of the inherent non-attachment of the subject, 5) the application of the empty nature of phenomena, which does not change into anything else, 6) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of the absence of an agent on the absolute level, 7) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of the three difficult actions, 8) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of the result that is attained according to one’s karmic fortune, 9) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of the absence of dependence, 10) the application that puts an end to attachment to the reality of the seven metaphors for appearances.  ↩

  37. There are four kinds of absence of presumption for each of the ten applications just mentioned. The four kinds of absence of presumption are: 1) the absence of any presumption of reality concerning the nature of forms and so on, 2) the absence of any presumption of reality concerning their characteristics and illustrations, 3) the absence of any presumption of reality concerning their divisions, 4) the absence of any presumption of reality concerning subject or object.  ↩

  38. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, vv. 13-14.  ↩

  39. There are 27 aspects of the base-knowledge, 36 aspects of the path knowledge, and 110 aspects of the knowledge of all aspects.  ↩

  40. Both editions have ‘mental’ (sems pa'i) rather than bodhisattva’s (sems dpa'i).  ↩

  41. 1) The application of non-abiding, 2) the application of non-application, 3) the application of the profound base-knowledge, 4) the application of the path-knowledge which is difficult to fathom, 5) the application of the boundless knowledge of all aspects, 6) the application of great hardship and long duration, 7) the application of gaining prophecies, 8) the irreversible application, 9) the application of definite emergence, 10) the unimpeded application, 11) the application of proximity to awakening, 12) the swift application, 13) the application of benefitting others, 14) the unfluctuating application, 15) the application of seeing neither dharma nor anti-dharma, 16) the inconceivable application, 17) the application of essential non-conceptuality, 18) the application granting the precious fruition, 19) the completely pure application, and 20) the application with established limits.  ↩

  42. 1) Overcoming the power of Māra, 2) being known by the enlightened mind, 3) being seen with enlightened vision, 4) approaching awakening, 5) gaining four kinds of greatness: the greatness of never being separate from the buddhas, the great advantage of being born in higher realms, the great fruition of enlightenment and the great result of benefitting others even after nirvāṇa, 6) studying the prajñāpāramitā in a land where it is present, such as Partani, 7) perfecting the undefiled qualities of the six pāramitās and so on, 8) becoming a teacher of the Dharma, 9) being undeterred by māra, 10) gaining uncommon sources of virtue, 11) accomplishing what one is committed to accomplishing, 12) taking hold of the great fruition of awakening, 13) accomplishing the welfare of sentient beings, and 14) discovering the complete words and meaning of the prajñāpāramitā.  ↩

  43. There are twenty faults that one possesses oneself, twenty-three that can come from oneself or others and three that come from others.  ↩

  44. There are four main divisions: knowledge characteristics, special characteristics, functional characteristics and essential characteristics. Within the first category there are sixteen knowledge characteristics of the base-knowledge, sixteen of the path-knowledge and sixteen of the knowledge of all aspects, making forty-eight in total. Then there are sixteen special characteristics, eleven functional characteristics, and sixteen essential characteristics.  ↩

  45. 1) Faith in the buddhas and so on, 2) diligence in the practices of the six pāramitās, 3) mindfulness of the aspects of the prajñāpāramitā, 4) non-conceptual meditative concentration, 5) wisdom which knows that all phenomena are beyond conceptual attributes.  ↩

  46. The stages of warmth, summit, acceptance and supreme attribute, each of which is further divided into greater, middling and lesser stages.  ↩

  47. There are twenty signs of an irreversible disciple on the path of joining, sixteen signs of an irreversible disciple on the path of seeing and eight signs of an irreversible disciple on the path of meditation.  ↩

  48. The application of purifying the outer environment and the application of purifying the inhabitants.  ↩

  49. 1) Transcending the four māras, 2) avoiding all extremes, 3) acting according to former aspiration prayers, 4) being unlike the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, 5) being free from attachment, 6) avoiding conceptual focus because of meditating on the liberation door of emptiness, 7) not apprehending conceptual attributes because of meditating on the liberation door of transcending signs, 8) having no expectations because of meditating on the liberation door of transcending aspirations, 9) being skilled in explaining the signs of irreversibility, and 10) having a limitless knowledge of how to apply all the skilful methods of the bodhisattvas.  ↩

  50. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, vv. 15-16.  ↩

  51. There are six signs which occur in dreams, two which occur both in dreams and during the waking state and four which occur only while one is awake. During dreams: 1) Recognizing the dream-like nature of phenomena, 2) not feeling enthusiasm for the states of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, 3) seeing the buddhas teach, 4) seeing the buddhas display miracles, 5) recognizing one is dreaming whenever experiencing fear and so on, 6) remembering to purify realms. During dreams and waking: 7) Pacifying harm to the environment by uttering words of truth, and 8) pacifying harm to sentient beings by words of truth. During the waking state: 9) following an outer and inner spiritual guide, 10) training in the pāramitās, 11) not being attached to phenomena, and 12) approaching enlightenment.  ↩

  52. The development of eight mainly internal merits and eight mainly external merits. 1) Reflecting on the meaning of the prajñāpāramitā and teaching it to others, 2) continually reflecting on the meaning of the prajñāpāramitā, 3) gaining fearless acceptance of the nature of phenomena, 4) not focusing conceptually on enlightenment and its causes, 5) gaining greater merit than the merit earned by ordinary beings through the practice of the ten virtues and meditative absorption, 6) protecting the welfare of the gods, 7) vanquishing māras, 8) revering other bodhisattvas as if they were equal to the buddhas, 9) skilfully avoiding rebirth in the form and formless realms, even though practising these meditative absorptions, 10) securing the special buddha potential by eliminating the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha potentials, 11) increasing the potency of bodhicitta and so on, the causes of buddhahood, 12) not developing attitudes that are opposed to the pāramitās, 13) not feeling attachment to anything from visible form up to omniscience, 14) understanding how to include all the pāramitās within the mother prajñāpāramitā, 15) gaining all excellence through training in the prajñāpāramitā, and 16) coming close to buddhahood by relinquishing all views.  ↩

  53. Stability of realization for one’s own sake and stability of compassionate skill-in-means for the sake of others.  ↩

  54. These four are explained in various ways. According to one version they are: 1) the bodhisattva who has first entered the vehicle, 2) the bodhisattva engaging in activity, 3) the irreversible bodhisattva, and 4) the bodhisattva who is a single rebirth away [from buddhahood].  ↩

  55. The four antidotes to the imputational aspects of the four types of conceptual thought, which are: 1) percept-thoughts of engaging, 2) percept-thoughts of avoiding, 3) perceiver-thoughts of the substantial, and 4) perceiver-thoughts of the imputed.  ↩

  56. The co-emergent aspects of the four types of thought mentioned above.  ↩

  57. 1) Believing that the mental focus produced by the teaching on how all conditioned and unconditioned phenomena are devoid of reality is untenable because if it were tenable, it would be an object of dualistic perception. 2) Believing the method of realizing that all phenomena lack true reality is untenable because if there is a mode of realization there must be something that is realized. 3) Believing omniscient wisdom to be untenable because it is said that it does not focus on real or unreal entities, yet if it is omniscient it must have these two objects. 4) Believing the relative and absolute truths to be untenable because it is taught that in the essence of reality itself they are indivisible, and yet if there are two they must be separable. 5) Believing the trainings in generosity and so on to be untenable because it is taught that one should not conceive of a giver, gift or recipient, and yet if there is an object there must be all three. 6) Believing that the Jewel of the realized Buddha is untenable because it is taught that there is nothing to be realized. 7) Believing that the Jewel of the Dharma is untenable because it is taught that cessation and the path are merely imputations. 8) Believing that the Jewel of the Sangha is untenable because it is taught that all phenomena are beyond development and reduction. 9) Believing that a subject having skilful methods such as generosity is untenable because it is taught that there should be no conceptual focus on subject, object or action. 10) Believing that the Buddha’s realization is untenable because realization of real things, unreal things, both and neither is refuted. 11) Believing it is untenable to label the perception of the aggregates and so on as permanent and so on, because it is taught that notions such as permanent and impermanent are similar in being mere conceptual elaboration. 12) Believing the teaching that the bodhisattvas meditate on all three paths is untenable because it is taught that they do not manifest the fruition, the nirvāṇa of the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas. 13) Believing that the antidote is untenable because it is taught that there is nothing to adopt. 14) Believing that adverse factors are untenable because it is taught that there is nothing to abandon. 15) Believing that general and uncommon characteristics are untenable because it is taught that all phenomena are beyond characteristics and illustration. 16) Believing that practising a path with the attainment of omniscience as its objective is untenable because that which is to be cultivated lacks general and specific characteristics.  ↩

  58. From Abhisamayālaṃkāra, v. 17.  ↩

  59. Progressive application is defined as the bodhisattvas’ yoga in which one meditates on the aspects of the threefold knowledge sequentially in order to stabilize the realization in which the knowledge aspects of the threefold knowledge arise all at once.  ↩

  60. Patrul Rinpoche (sPyi don) gives the definition for the recollection of the Buddha as: On the absolute level not focusing conceptually on the qualities of the tathāgatas, but relatively recollecting them properly in the proper sequence. For the next five, i.e., Dharma, Sangha, discipline, giving and the gods, replace ‘the qualities of the tathāgatas’ with the following: ‘virtuous, non-virtuous and neutral Dharma’, ‘the assembly of irreversible disciples’, ‘the three sets of vows’, ‘giving the Dharma and material giving’, and ‘the noble ones born among the gods’.  ↩

  61. i.e., It is present mainly as an object of study and reflection from the path of accumulation onwards. The application produced through meditation is present from the stage of warmth [on the path of joining] until the end of the tenth bhūmi.  ↩

  62. From Abhisamayālaṃkāra, v. 17.  ↩

  63. Abhisamayālaṃkāra, v. 18.  ↩

  64. 1) The thirty-seven factors of enlightenment, 2) four immeasurables, 3) eight complete freedoms, 4) nine successive states of meditative absorption, 5) ten totalities, 6) eight spheres of dominant perception, 7) absence of mental affliction, 8) intending wisdom, 9) six supercognitions, 10) four precise and perfect knowledges, 11) four complete purities, 12) ten masteries, 13) ten powers, 14) four fearlessnesses, 15) three types of non-concealment, 16) three applications of mindfulness, 17) non-postponement, 18) complete subjugation of habitual tendencies, 19) great compassion, 20) eighteen unshared qualities, and 21) complete omniscience.  ↩

  65. 1) The activity of pacifying beings’ suffering, 2) establishing beings in the four means of attraction, 3) establishing them in the realization of the four truths, 4) establishing them in accomplishing the welfare of sentient beings, 5) establishing them in the six pāramitās, 6) establishing them on the path to enlightenment, 7) establishing them in the realization that all phenomena are simply designations, 8) establishing them in the realization beyond conceptual focus, 9) establishing them in the complete maturation of sentient beings, 10) establishing them on the uncommon path of the bodhisattvas, 11) establishing them in dispelling attachment, 12) establishing them in the ways to gain awakening, 13) establishing them in the purification of realms, 14) establishing them in the certainty separated by a single birth, 15) establishing them in accomplishing the infinite welfare of sentient beings, 16) establishing them in gaining mastery over immeasurable virtuous qualities, such as serving the buddhas, 17) establishing them in perfecting the factors of enlightenment, 18) establishing them in the inexhaustible nature, 19) establishing them in the wisdom of seeing the truth, 20) establishing them in the nature of abandonment, 21) establishing them in the wisdom that realizes the absence of a basis for conceptual attributes, 22) establishing them in the way to purify the factors to be abandoned, 23) establishing them in the ultimate gathering of antidotes, 24) establishing them in the realization of the inseparability of appearances and emptiness, 25) establishing them in nirvāṇa, 26) establishing them in meditation on natural emptiness, 27) establishing them in the realization of the omnipresence of the dharmadhātu.  ↩

  66. Maitreya.  ↩

• Download this text: EPUB MOBI PDF