The Prayer of the Ground, Path & Fruition

Dzogchen | Longchen Nyingtik | Tibetan MastersKhenpo Yönten Gyatso

English | བོད་ཡིག

From the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse

The Prayer of the Ground, Path & Fruition

Accompanied by the explanation of Yönten Gyatso

The Expression of Praise

Homage to glorious Samantabhadra!

To begin, homage is paid to glorious Samantabhadra. Samantabhadra is glorious in two ways: he is glorious in a personal sense through his realization of the dharmakāya, while through his compassion his glory extends to others. With this glory, all (Samanta) spheres of experience are sublime (bhadra), meaning that they are reflexive appearances that are pure within the mandala of wisdom. To this one pays homage, having met the suchness of reality itself face to face through the sign of the view of those with supreme faculties.

The Main Body of the Prayer

The aspiration to realize that which is to be understood:

The three aspects of the fundamental wisdom mind

The aspiration to realize the primordially pure wisdom mind, free of conceptual projections

The true nature of things is naturally free of conceptual projections.
It does not exist, since even the victorious ones do not see it.
Yet neither is it non-existent, as it is the ground of all samsara and nirvana.
There is no contradiction here, for it lies beyond the realm of expression.
May all realize this Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground!

The original and true nature of things is the ground of all samsara and nirvana. This is the way things truly are. In other words, this ground does not depend on having to cut through all the concepts that are newly created by the path-oriented mind, for it is naturally free of all conceptual projections, such as existence, non-existence, and so forth. The reasoning here is as follows: All conceptual limitations pertain to either existence or non-existence. The positive affirmations of the victorious ones, whose boundless minds directly perceive all that can be known, are made merely to point something out by eliminating all forms of conceptual limitation. Hence, it does not exist, since even the victorious ones do not see or show it. Yet neither is it utterly non-existent like a flower in the sky, because the radiance of this primordially pure ground manifests unobstructedly.

Deluded experiences arise for sentient beings who do not recognize this, while for those who do, the experiences and realms of the buddhas manifest. Hence, it is the ground of all samsara and nirvana. If it were an object of the conceptual mind it would have to either exist or not exist. Yet since it lies beyond the realm of thought and expression, it is neither, and thus there is no contradiction here. May all realize this Great Perfection just as it is, the true nature of the ground; may all realize the wisdom of the dharmakāya, free of projections and primordially pure !

The aspiration to realize the wisdom mind of the fruitional three kāyas

In essence it is empty, hence free from the limitations of permanence.
By nature it is clear and free from the limitations of nihilism.
Its compassion unobstructed, it is the ground of manifold emanations.
It is divided into three, yet in truth there are no such differentiations.
May all realize this Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground!

In essence, it, meaning this fundamental awareness, is empty and completely unestablished. Hence, unlike the non-Buddhists who believe in a real and permanent consciousness and the nature of the Mind-Only school, which is held to be a permanent continuum, it is free from the limitations of permanence.

The undefiled dharmakaya, as the form of reality itself, is the ground of everything. By its very own nature this emptiness is clear and lminous, and thus the sambhoghakāya is spontaneously present. In all circumstances, whether at the time of the ground, path, or fruition, it undergoes neither change nor fluctuation, and neither waxes nor wanes. It is, therefore, free from the limitations of nihilism.

As the radiance of this unified awareness-emptiness, its capacity is unobstructed. This is the ground of manifold emanations—the illusory empty forms that manifest, the pure as well as the impure.

It is divided into three distinct components, yet in truth, when it comes to the essence of this single awareness there are no such differentiations. May all realize this natural Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground, without losing sight of the wisdom of the sambhogakāya in which the three kayas are spontaneously present!

The aspiration to realize the wisdom mind of the unity that defies the intellect

Inconceivable and free of all superimposition, one-sided fixation
On things being either existent or non-existent completely dissolves.
The full import of this turns back even the tongue of the victors.
Without beginning, middle, or end, it is a great expanse of deep clarity.
May all realize this Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground!

To the conceptual mind, with its characteristic mind and mental states, the precise nature of this ground is inconceivable. The object, the sphere of reality, is free of all conceptual projections. Although the conventions "primordial purity" and "spontaneous presence" are used in order to communicate, if one latches onto the existence or non-existence of the sphere of reality, the mind will fall prey to superimposition and its basic nature will not be seen.

The same holds for the subject as well, meaning wisdom, since this causes all one-sided fixation on things being either existent or non-existent to completely dissolve into the expanse of reality. This realization, in which subject and object are of one taste, can be put into conventional terms, yet its full import defies such expressions; it turns back even the tongue of the victors, who reign supreme when it comes to using positive affirmations to describe the true nature of things.

This inherent pure awareness is without birth in the beginning, abiding in the middle, or cessation in the end; it is a great and spontaneously present expanse of deep, radiant clarity. May all realize the unified Great Perfection, the true nature of the ground—an inconceivable reality that defies the intellect!

The aspiration concerning that which enables one to come to this understanding:

To be free from deviations and mistakes concerning the three key points of the path

[The aspiration to ]bring the wisdom mind to a point of culmination through the ground by being directly introduced to one’s original state

Its essence is pristine, unoriginated, and primordially pure.
Whatever manifests is the expression of this unconditioned spontaneous presence.
Without perceiving them as other, realizing the great unity of awareness-emptiness,
One’s understanding of the ground will reach a point of culmination.
May there be no deviations and mistakes concerning this key point of the path!

Awareness defies the intellect. Its essence is untainted by superficial dualistic thought patterns and, hence, pristine. This inconceivable reality transcends conditioned characteristics; it is unoriginated and primordially pure. Whatever manifests, meaning the various positive and negative thoughts that occur, is the natural expression of this unconditioned and spontaneously present awareness. Hence, without perceiving them as other, such thoughts are liberated on their own. There is no need to accept and affirm some while rejecting and denying others. By being directly introduced to one’s original state and realizing the great unity of awareness and emptiness, one’s understanding will harmonize with the true nature of the ground and reach a point of culmination. May there be no deviations and mistakes concerning natural liberation, this key point of the natural path of the Great Perfection. May all realize the true nature as it is!

The aspiration to be freed from the restraints of the view, meditation, and conduct by directly realizing a single point

Pure from the beginning, even the term “view” does not exist.
Aware of the original state, the sheath of meditation falls away.
There are no reference points, hence no need to restrain one’s conduct.
In the spontaneously present nature, this state of naked simplicity,
May there be no deviations and mistakes concerning this key point of the path!

The objective sphere of reality has been pure from the beginning and is devoid of all conceptual projections, such as existence, non-existence, and so on. This sphere is inextricably linked with its corresponding subject, wisdom-awareness. Hence, even the term “view,” which encompasses both observer and observed, does not exist. By simply remaining undistracted from this awareness of the original state, the sheath of meditations that involve a conceptual reference point will fall away, leaving a state of bare awareness.

There are no reference points at all here, meaning that the mind no longer judges appearances as being either good, bad, or neutral. Hence, there is no need to restrain one’s conduct by fixating on the idea that there are some things to accept and others to reject.

All the various appearances that are clung to and labeled by the conceptual mind, therefore, are the spontaneously present[1] nature of primordial purity, the sphere of the primordial ground. Said differently, they are encapsulated by the dharmakaya. Without losing the ability to maintain this state of aware naked simplicity, may all come to directly realize this single point! May there be no deviations and mistakes concerning this key point of the path and may all become completely absorbed in the primordial sphere!

The aspiration to bring the realization of the inherent absence of needing to accept and reject to a point of culmination by being confident in the face of liberation

Not falling into partiality towards positive thoughts or negative ones,
And without giving free rein to a state of indifferent neutrality,
Manifestation and liberation—an expanse unrestricted, unbridled, and spontaneously free.
Understanding that the nature is inherently devoid of needing to accept and reject,
May there be no deviations and mistakes concerning this key point of the path!

Not falling into the partiality of affirming some things and suspiciously denying others, as is the case when we fixate on what are perceived to be positive thoughts, such as faith and devotion, or negative ones, like attachment and aggression; and without giving free rein to a state of indifferent neutrality and the subtle undercurrent of thoughts, failing to embrace them with innate mindfulness; the manifestation of the entire range of thoughts—good, bad, and neutral—is pure, and liberation occurs on its own, like a drawing on water. Since manifestation and liberation are simultaneous, the expanse of the wisdom mind is unrestricted, unbridled, and spontaneously free. Understanding that the nature of primordially pure awareness is inherently devoid of needing to accept and reject, and without deliberately clinging or taking up some things and dismissing others, may there be great confidence and no deviations and mistakes concerning natural liberation, this key point of the natural path of Ati, the extraordinary Great Perfection!

The aspiration to achieve the fruition of this understanding:

Seizing the throne of the threefold inner space

The aspiration to seize the throne of the dharmakaya, the inner space of primordially pure inner clarity

Like space, awareness is the universal ground and starting point.
Manifest ground spontaneously present, yet vanishing like clouds in the sky,
The mind radiates out, projecting outwards and then returning within
To the youthful vase body’s inner space, possessing six unique characteristics–
May all seize the throne of this majestic fruition!

Primordially pure like space, awareness is the universal ground and starting point of all samsara and nirvana. Within this state, the manifest ground is unobstructed and spontaneously present, yet its displays and manifestations vanish like clouds in the sky. Dualistic states of mind radiate outwards, and then the aspects of experience that were projected outwards, tainted as they are by the karmic energies, return to the clarity within along with their attendant habitual patterns, resolving back into a state of subtle wisdom. This subtle wisdom is present within the inner space of the youthful vase body and possesses six unique characteristics: 1) it appears to itself, 2) emerges from the ground, 3) individuates, 4) is liberated through individuation, 5) does not occur from something other, and 6) abides in and of itself. This is the perfect fruition of all the provisional vehicles and the essence of them all, above which there is nothing higher. May all seize the throne of the perfect and primordially pure dharmakāya, remaining steadfast within this majestic fruition!

The aspiration to seize the throne of the nirmāṇakāya, the inner space in which awareness and the sphere of reality are indivisible

From the very beginning, awareness itself is Samantabhadra.
Within it, all hoping for attainments dissolves into the sphere of reality,
The true character of the Great Perfection, beyond intentional effort;
The sphere of reality and awareness, the inner space of Samantabhadrī–
May all seize the throne of this majestic fruition!

From the very beginning, this nature itself is undeluded and one need not rely upon the teachings of others. For this reason, awareness is completely (Samanta) transparent inside and out, and sublime (bhadra) in being utterly pure. By nature awareness is liberated from the start, so within it, all hoping for attainments dissolves into the sphere of reality. Such attainments are the results of abandonment and realization that the conceptual mind posits as needing to be attained anew in the lower vehicles. This is the true character of the natural Great Perfection, the true nature of things that lies beyond the conceptual mind’s intentional efforts to engage some things and reject others. The sphere of reality and awareness are completely (Samanta) indivisible; they are the ground from which the pure play of appearances unfolds. Thus, from the inner space that completely pervades the sublime (bhadri) expanse of space, may all seize the nirmāṇakāya throne of this majestic fruition–the indivisibility of wisdom-awareness!

The aspiration to seize the throne of the sambhogakaya, the inner space of the spontaneous presence of fundamental perfection

Utterly non-abiding–the nature of the Great Middle Way;
All-embracing and spontaneously vast–the state of Mahāmudrā;
Freed from limitations and wide open–the key point of the Great Perfection.
The virtues of the levels and paths fundamentally complete–spontaneously present inner space.
May all seize the throne of this majestic fruition!

Utterly non-abiding, even the most subtle forms of conceptuality cannot grasp it as being limited in some imaginary way; it cannot even be called a “middle.” Through the true character of things, one arrives directly at the nature of the Great Middle Way. As the original mind, beyond being affirmed or denied, this wisdom mind is all-embracing and spontaneously vast in and of itself. By seizing the stronghold of this unbroken state of Mahāmudrā, one is freed from the limitations of the subtle habitual tendency to concentrate the mind. Samsara and nirvana are freed from the start, within the wide open expanse of this wisdom mind the key point of the path of the Great Perfection's pith instructions will reach a point of culmination. All the virtues of the levels and paths are fundamentally complete within this great, all-embracing Ati. This includes all the virtues of the nine vehicles: the progression of the three common vehicles of the sutra path: the Listener Vehicle, Solitary Buddha Vehicle, and Bodhisattva Vehicle; the three classes of tantra of the unique mantra tradition: Kriya, Upa, and Yoga; and the three inner tantras in Anuttarayoga Tantra: the tantras of Mahāyoga, the transmissions of Anuyoga, and the pith instructions of Atiyoga. The fruition is present in this spontaneously present inner space, the state of the samboghakāya. May all seize the throne of this majestic fruition, wisdom-awareness, within the great expanse of the wisdom mind of the naturally-present dharmakaya!

The manner in which the prayer was spoken

The rationale for the profundity of its contents

This profound prayer, a summation of the seal
Of the quintessential vast expanse,

The manner in which its profound meaning was requested by a protector

Was set down at the behest of the protector of the teachings,
The Rishi Rahula, who took the form of a monk.

The purpose behind codifying the prayer as requested

To make meaningful the spread of the profound reality
And bring to perfection this prayer of interdependence,

The entrustment to ensure the fulfillment of its intent

I let loose this profound seal to the mad yogi of Kong.
Entrusting it to this hidden master of awareness
Who himself has been blessed by Akashagarbha.
May its benefit for beings equal the reaches of space!

As requested by Lushul Tulku, this was written by Yönten Gyatso. May it bring virtue!

| Translated by Cortland Dahl, 2006.


  1.  The term translated here as “spontaneously present” (lhun grub) is not found in the root verses of the Adzom or Khyentse versions of the prayer. In its place is the significantly different “having entered the womb” (lhums zhugs). I have gone with version found in Yönga’s explanation, however, since to replace it would render his commentary meaningless.  ↩

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