The Words of Chandra
Buddhist Philosophy › Middle Way | Tibetan Masters › Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
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The Words of Chandra
The Definitive Secret of the Great Middle Way of Consequence Beyond Extremes, the Fundamental Intent of All the Tathāgatas
by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Homage to the guru and protector Mañjughoṣa!
Profound and beyond limiting extremes,
The secret of all the buddhas’ wisdom mind,
Deep, definitive, concealed in the Perfection of Wisdom—
The meaning of the Middle Way, I shall here describe.
Not complicated by elaborate constructs,
Such as self, aggregates or ideation,
And without concepts or distinctions—
The Middle Way path is beyond extremes.
Ourselves and others, seemingly real appearances
Are the great Middle Way of eightfold profundity:
They are unborn and do not cease,
They do not abide, are not observed, do not come or go,
And transcend permanence and nihility.
Immature folk who fail to realize this
Cling to and fixate upon the innate sense
Of an “I” or self and thereby wander in saṃsāra,
Since this causes their afflictions to increase.
The heterodox with their mistaken opinions
Fabricate a singular, permanent self.
Some proponents of realism
Assert a self that is identical in substance to the aggregates.
This is a baseless fabrication,
So it is not a cause for wandering in existence,
But is a mistaken notion to be overcome through reasoning.
Even if atoms or consciousness are said to be real,
In reality they lack any identity as singular
Or as plural, and therefore lack true nature,
Just like a reflection.
Although phenomena are taught to be only mind,
Mind itself has no true reality,
And since it has momentary parts
Is devoid of any observable nature.
Thus, mind and what appears to it
Are not established in reality.
It might be claimed that
The dependent collections of consciousness
Are conditioned but that their nature
Is self-illuminating and truly established.
But how is this existence known?
It is experienced in apperception, you say.
Then there must be both experienced and experiencer.
Otherwise, how could an experience unfold?
What is established is therefore dependence.
True reality is a mental fabrication.
Some proponents of the Middle Way
Speak of existence on the relative level
And non-existence on the ultimate level.
But this would put the two truths in conflict,
So it is not how things actually are in truth.
Although we might conventionally refer
To things arising from causes as ‘other-born’,
Production from other is unknown in the world
And is undermined by reasoning.
Some claim that to speak of the perfect dharmatā
As truly existent is borne out
By the actual nature of how things are.
But as meditative equipoise on the natural state
Is asserted to be beyond thought and expression,
Why would you claim that subsequent cognition is real?
Were it real it would have to be a real entity,
And the dharmadhātu a thing with attributes.
Why cling to true establishment,
When it necessarily involves such apprehension of signs.
There are some who apply reasoning
And cling to nothing whatsoever.
But if you were to claim that non-existence is the ultimate,
It would follow that the horns of a rabbit must be so.
Some say the conventional is established by valid cognition.
To which we ask: what is it that valid cognition establishes?
If you say that it establishes merely that which appears,
Then that may be posited even without analysis.
If you insist that it is posited based on analysis,
Then if the specifically characterized must be established through valid cognition,
This is a contradiction in terms,
And since it is impure, relative, deluded conception,
It could not possibly be established through valid cognition.
Once these forms of contradictory and confused
Mental analysis have been renounced,
The unwholesome notions in which there is clinging
To phenomena and individuals as having real identity
Are known as the innate conception of identity.
Their apprehended objects, phenomena,
And apprehending minds are unborn,
Primordially peaceful, equanimous,
Sky-like, profound and unelaborate.
This is the reality of all things,
The approach of the Middle Way beyond extremes.
It is this authentic and unchanging great equality
In which the relative and ultimate have never
Been separable from the very beginning
That is called the Middle Way.
Saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are by nature illusory,
Emptiness and dependent origination inseparable—
Indescribable, inconceivable, inexpressible,
Beyond the extremes of existence, non-existence, both and neither.
All designations and that which designates
Are equally lacking in even a speck of true reality.
Even the Middle Way is not an observable thing.
It entirely transcends thought, mind,
And consciousness, and is without attributes.
Perfectly seeing such perfection
Is called seeing the natural state.
But this is merely an expression;
In reality there is nothing to see—
Non-seeing is itself great seeing.
The realization that all things
Are utter peace, unborn,
And that the mind too is unarisen,
Is termed seeing the dharmadhātu.
All phenomena of ground, path and fruit
Are established to be by nature unborn.
By settling within that, just as it is,
One attains the level of the four kāyas.
Through the force of the virtue gained by uttering this,
May we escape the limitations of eternalism and nihilism
And realize the meaning of the profound Middle Way
That is the great secret of all the buddhas!
Jamyang Chökyi Lodrö, who makes a path of his aspiration towards the great Middle Way, expressed this according to the intent of Nāgārjuna and his heirs, who reached the level of Ārya, on the first day of the kārttika month during the Water Sheep year (1943). May virtue and excellence abound! Sarvadā maṅgalam.
| Translated by Adam Pearcey 2021, with the generous support of the Khyentse Foundation and Terton Sogyal Trust.
'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. "mtha' bral dbu ma chen po thal 'gyur ba'i nges gsang zla ba'i zhal lung/" in 'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung 'bum. 12 vols. Bir: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. W1KG12986 Vol. 8: 593–597
Chandra (Skt. candra; Tib. zla ba) here is a reference to the Mādhyamika master Chandrakirti (Skt. Candrakīrti; Tib. zla ba grags pa), whose name literally means 'famous as the moon'. ↩