Like the Middle of Vajra Space
Literary Genres › Praise | Deities › Mañjuśrī | Tibetan Masters › Mipham Rinpoche
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Like the Middle of Vajra Space
In Praise of Mañjuvajra
by Mipham Rinpoche
Oṃ. Homage to Mañjuvajra!
1. You are the father of all victorious ones,
But manifest in a prince’s youthly form—
Enduring, stable, beyond ageing and decline,
Apparent everywhere in untold realms.
2. O Mañjuśrī, although the victors and their heirs
Throughout space and time have praised you,
Still it is impossible truly to convey
The extent of your enlightened qualities.
3. Ema! It is only through the middle way,
The dependent origination of all things,
Beyond eternalist and nihilist extremes,
That your true form may be perceived.
4. Otherwise, those with ordinary ideas
Will never behold your magnificent form.
Those who see you as corporeal
Do not perceive your genuine kāya.
5. You are neither white nor blue,
Not orange, green, or black.
None of the colours of this world
Could adequately represent you.
6. Yet that you still appear in forms
With an infinite array of colours,
White, black, green, blue, orange,
And the like, is wondrous indeed.
7. Although you truly possess no face,
No hands, no feet, no torso and no limbs,
Still you appear throughout every realm
In various guises, peaceful and ferocious.
8. Although you represent the ultimate equality
Of all the phenomena of existence and quiescence,
Still you skilfully reveal within existence
The excellent path to peace—how wondrous!
9. It’s impossible to identify a beginning or an end
To the various realms of conditioned existence,
Yet you are always present throughout them all,
And are therefore truly extensive.
10. Even with miraculous powers and perpetual motion,
It would be impossible to traverse the whole of space.
Yet you are found wherever space exists,
And are therefore truly expansive.
11. With just a single glance of your eyes,
You perceive the equality of all knowable things
Throughout the ten directions and three times,
And are therefore incomparable.
12. The realms of beings are inconceivable
And the tathāgatas just as numerous.
Since you pervade all these infinite
Knowable things, you’re multiple as well.
13. As each guide leads unnumbered beings
And establishes them in peace,
In the irreducible, unexpandable maṇḍala
You revel in sheer delight.
14. Not understanding that it is empty,
We roam through ordinary existence.
Even when we realize that it is empty,
It does not differ from how it was before.
15. Therefore, as you regard all this,
Who is bound to conditioned existence?
In the nature beyond bondage and liberation,
How do captivity and freedom so appear?
16. If an entity were ever to arise,
That same entity might then cease.
This in turn would make it possible
To conceive of bondage and liberation.
17. Yet, since what has never arisen
Is unreal and only appears to arise,
While lacking middle and extremes,
How could it diminish or expand?
18. Ideas of space and time,
No matter how expansive,
Are unreal—why, therefore,
Could a single instant not contain all?
19. Thus, within this state of equality,
There is no distinction between
Self and other, existence and peace,
And therein lies your ultimate form.
20. To fail to understand this equality
Is to be confounded by a hundred errors,
Concerning the origins and ends of realms,
Birth, extent, emptiness, the lack thereof, and more.
21. In this, as with beginnings and endings,
Space is similar to the palm of one’s hand;
Gold and ordinary soil are truly equal;
Buddhas and sentient beings are one.
22. Thus, since things are equal in this way,
It’s feasible for them to appear as they do.
To see this basic space that defies imagining
Shatters the illusion of existence and peace.
23. Basic space from which there is no turning back
And which is beyond expression—it’s through this
That everyone may gain the deepest confidence
In your enlightened qualities beyond imagining.
24. Neither real nor unreal entities
Can be found upon examination.
The very things that arise are empty;
There’s no emptiness aside from that.
25. As empty means that this is empty,
And this itself is that very emptiness,
There can never be any distinction
Between appearance and emptiness.
26. All knowable things, therefore,
Are equal in this regard:
Within the single tila of apparent emptiness
They manifest as inconceivable dharmas.
27. Throughout the whole of space and time,
Nothing diverges from this one mode of reality:
The basic space of self-arisen, enlightened mind,
Which is Mañjuśrī, jñānasattva, 'wisdom being'.
28. By means of my indelible faith,
Through which I am able to partake
Of even a morsel of boundless space,
The changeless bindu in the heart,
29. Wherein there is a melted a,
Source of inexhaustible expression,
Based on the letter ka and all the rest,
I offer the highest praise to Mañjuvajra.
That is to say, all expressions related to the infinite things to be expressed may be subsumed within a single a (ཨ). In addition, faith here accords with acceptance of the profound and adopts the perspective of a transcendental intellect; it has confidence in the meaning of supreme, unchanging equalness, in which everything 'melts' into a single inexpressible state—like condensing space into a single morsel.
30. May hearing or proclaiming this
Cause Mañjuśrī to revel within the heart,
Bringing inexhaustible mnemonic powers,
Courageous eloquence and indomitable intelligence.
31. Through the virtue of my praises
And the infallible truth of this,
The essence of the Dharma teachings,
May I swiftly discover the wisdom-kāya.
32. Utterly profound, a gateway to dhāraṇī,
And with certainty as to equalness,
This is the ultimate of all praises
To the supreme wisdom-kāya, Mañjuśrī.
Mipham, who takes aspiration towards the yoga of the ultimate Mañjuvajra as the path, wrote this at around the age of twenty. With the concluding verses, added at the time of copying, its ślokas are as numerous as the excellent major signs. Let it be virtuous! Maṅgalam.
| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2022.
Mi pham. "'Jam pa’i rdo rje la bstod pa rdo rje nam mkha’i dkyil lta bu" In bka' ma shin tu rgyas pa. 120 vols. Chengdu: KaH thog mkhan po 'jam dbyangs, 1999. Vol. 1: 53–60
The Tibetan term shin tu ring po, translated here as 'truly extensive', has a double meaning: from the context it appears to refer to temporal extent and indicate longlivedness, but it could also refer to stature, in which case Mipham is playfully suggesting that Mañjuśrī must be very tall. ↩
Literally, 'collapses the false cave of existence and peace'. ↩
ka (ཀ) is the first consonant of the Tibetan alphabet. ↩
The Buddha possesses thirty-two major signs and eighty minor marks. ↩