1. THE INTRODUCTORY NARRATIVE
1. THE INTRODUCTORY NARRATIVE
The purpose of the first chapter is to present the buddha body of actual reality (dharmakāya), manifesting naturally in the Akaniṣṭha Ghanavyūha realm in the form of Samantabhadra, since this is the setting of the introductory narrative, on the basis of which the entire tantra text is exposited. The buddha body of actual reality is endowed with five excellent circumstances that are symbolized by the initial stock phrase (v. 1) “Thus at the time of this explanation” (’di skad bshad pa’i dus na), and these are interpreted differently according to the outer tantras, the inner path of skillful means, and the secret inner radiance of the Great Perfection.
Chapter 1 demonstrates the excellence of Samantabhadra, the perfect resource of all the buddhas (v. 2), which is classified according to the excellent circumstance of its location, its expositors, and its audience or retinue of listeners. The excellent location in which this tantra is revealed is none other than the Akaniṣṭha or Ghanavyūha field associated with all three buddha bodies (v. 3) and within it the celestial palace (v. 4) adorned by an excellent array of teaching thrones (v. 5). The excellent expositors of this tantra are endowed with the distinctive marks of buddha body and diverse physical postures, hand emblems, and heads (v. 6); they include the male and female buddhas of the five enlightened families who embody diverse aspects of pristine cognition and are the natural purity of the psychophysical aggregates and elements (vv. 7–8). Vajrasattva or Vairocana may be found at the center of this maṇḍala, depending respectively upon the Mahāyoga and Atiyoga perspectives of our text. The excellent retinue, which is the natural retinue of Samantabhadra, comprises sixteen bodhisattvas who are classified as male and female and as inner and outer (vv. 9–12), along with the eight male and female gatekeepers who guard the four directions of the natural maṇḍala (vv. 13–14).
The chapter concludes with a synopsis of this naturally manifesting array of pristine cognition or buddha mind: its source is the indestructible reality of buddhahood (v. 15), its disposition of compassionate spirituality is the buddha body of perfect resource (v. 16), its pure manifestation occurs in the meditative stabilities of the buddhas (v. 17), and its nature is identified with the five inexhaustible adornments of buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities (v. 18).
THIS (126.96.36.199) COMPRISES (i) a brief presentation of the introductory narrative, which is endowed with the [five] excellences (188.8.131.52.1); (ii) an extensive exegesis of its nature (184.108.40.206.2); and (iii) a synopsis of pristine cognition’s self-manifesting array (220.127.116.11.3).
A BRIEF PRESENTATION OF THE INTRODUCTORY NARRATIVE [18.104.22.168.1]
Among them, the first [comments on the verse]:
The introductory narrative is endowed with the excellences
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:1)
Thus, at the time of this explanation . . .
This [opening] line of the tantra text has outer, inner, and secret explanations.175
ACCORDING TO THE OUTER TANTRAS
Among them, the first is the explanation that accords with the introductory narrative of the outer tantras. This should be understood in terms of the [original corresponding Sanskrit expression] Evaṃ mayā. Since the syllables Evaṃ are indicative of reality’s expanse from which the entire [cloud mass of syllables] arises, [the Tibetan equivalent] ’di skad [rendered as thus in English] heralds the imminent emergence [of this tantra. Mayā is a Sanskrit term meaning “intrinsic nature,” “magical display,” “by me” [personal pronoun, instrumental case], “emergence,” and so on.176 However, in this context, it suggests the sense of “emergence,” indicating the [imminent] time of this tantra’s explanation. So, the word thus refers to the excellence of the sacred doctrine—the extensive [words of] the tantra text that follows.
The term explanation implies the excellence of the teacher, that is, the compiler [of the tantra text]. The excellence of the retinue, or the attendants [of the teacher, is equally implicit in the words of this explanation. However, the words “I have heard” (bdag gis thos pa) [which commonly appear as a stock phrase of canonicity introducing the sacred scriptures are not uttered on this occasion because there is no subject-object dichotomy. The words “have heard” (thos pa) imply a distinction between the teacher and the retinue, whereas in the course of compiling this Tantra of the Secret Nucleus, the teacher [the primordial buddha himself appears as the Lord of Secrets Vajrapāṇi and says, “I must explain in this world at the present time the very teaching that I previously gave in Akaniṣṭha.” This circumstance is therefore deemed to surpass those of the ordinary compilers [of the sūtra texts] such as the elder Kāśyapa. On this theme of the compiler being identified with the teacher Samantabhadra, it says in the Tantra of the Nondual Victor:
The Verification of Secrets also says:
It is the teacher as well as compiler.178
Endowed with my own assembly, I am even the listener.179
The words at the time of refer to the excellence of time, the nature of which is the pristine cognition of sameness, unchanging throughout the four times, without duality between cyclic existence and nirvāṇa. Similarly, at the time when the teacher appears with his retinue and sacred doctrines, this undoubtedly occurs in a specific spatial location—implicitly Akaniṣṭha [in the case of the outer tantras.
Why, on the other hand, you may ask, are the words “on a certain occasion” (ekasmin eva samaya, dus gcig na) [which also commonly appear within the stock phrase introducing sacred scriptures not found as they are in [many] other texts? The point is that in this Akaniṣṭha field of the buddha body of perfect resource, the sacred doctrines are taught in a perpetual continuous cycle, transcending those [teachings] associated [with one specific point in time], which are identified by the words “[I] have heard on a certain occasion.” This surpasses the doctrines delivered by the buddha body of emanation which were taught at certain times only, in accordance with the rationale that [their occasional timing] “was due to the rare occurrence of the ordinary [teachings].”180
ACCORDING TO THE INNER TANTRAS
The second is the explanation [of this same introductory line] in accordance with the teaching on generative essences (byang chub sems) [within the subtle body, as expounded in the inner tantras: Concerning this, it says in the Tantra of Penetration [from the Net of Magical Emanation:181
[As for the expression ’di skad, meaning thus]:
’Di denotes the excellence of] location,
Endowed with the shapes of the four syllables,
Beginning with the syllable E;
The generative essence
Endowed with the shape of the syllable VAṂ,
Named after the consonantal syllable skad,
The term MADUMANU [extrapolated from the syllable MA]
Implies the “controlling mental faculty”
[And denotes the excellence of the retinue]—
Those of worthy consciousness by whom
This explanation (bshad) is maintained with clear understanding;
While the term YĀNA [extrapolated from the syllable YĀ]
Denotes this supreme vehicle.
And at (na) implies [the Sanskrit NĀMA, meaning name.182
[To explain these verses, the Tibetan ’di refers to the excellence of] the location, symbolized by the syllable E, where the secret teacher and retinue abide. This location includes the triangular vaginal entrance (bha ga sgo gru gsum) of the female consort, the rectangular vaginal courtyard (khyams gru bzhi), the semicircular womb (skye gnas zla gam), and the round channel end (dbyings phyug gi sne rtsa zlum po), which respectively assume the shapes appropriate for the four rites [of burnt offering, symbolized by [the four letters beginning with] the syllable E [i.e., e vaṃ ma yā].
[The Tibetan skad refers to the excellence of] the teacher, symbolized by the syllable VAṂ. The generative essence of the pristine cognition (ye shes kyi thig le) of relative appearance, which concentrates the nutrients of thirteen million energy channels at the tip of the glans penis (rdo rje nor bu) of the male, assumes the shape of the syllable VAṂ and indicates the teacher because it is identified with the clear demonstration of bliss in the minds of both male and female.
This explanation denotes [the excellence of] the retinue, symbolized by the syllable MA. [The Sanskrit mada implies “controlling,” and manu indicates the mental faculty, so this term suggests the retinue because the secret consciousness, endowed with the skillful means that controls [the movement of vital energy, experientially cultivates pristine cognition.
Of [the possessive affix -pa], symbolized by the syllable YĀ, denotes [the excellence of the sacred doctrine of] the Great Vehicle (theg pa chen po), because it is extrapolated from the Sanskrit yāna (“vehicle”). Why so? you may ask. It is because [pa] stands for Sanskrit paramārtha—the ultimate reality, the natural coemergent pristine cognition of supreme bliss, which is endowed with the four modes of liberation (rnam thar bzhi) at the conclusion of the sixteen delights (dga’ ba bcu drug), in which the five aspects of the generative essences (byang sems lnga) that are to be experientially cultivated are perfected.183
As for the Tibetan expression] dus na (“at the time”), here the time (dus), which is [also] symbolized by the syllable YĀ, refers to [the excellence of] inconceivable time because this time at which that ultimate reality is experienced cannot be defined.
ACCORDING TO THE SECRET INNER RADIANCE
The third is the explanation [of this same introductory line] that accords with the [teachings on] the secret inner radiance (gsang ba ’od gsal): Here, the excellence of] location is the dark blue energy channel of life within the eight-faceted precious gem of the heart center [within the subtle body. Separating from it, in the manner of strands from] a yak-hair tent rope, are the white energy channel of water in the east, the yellow energy channel of earth in the south, the red energy channel of fire in the west, and the green energy channel of wind in the north. And within them, there abides a single discernible vital essence of relative appearance, the size of a mustard seed.
Thereupon, [the excellence of] the teacher appears as the naturally present five pristine cognitions in their distinct and respective colors, and as the five afflictive mental states that are the natural energy of buddha mind,185 endowed with the five pristine cognitions. The essential nature [of the teacher is emptiness, his natural expression is radiance, and the incandescence of his compassionate spirituality is unimpeded.
The excellence of retinue refers to the energy channels that permeate the upper and lower energy centers of the body, emanating from those [aforementioned] energy channels [of the heart center] and [its] vital essences. In the midst of the five [colored] lights, these naturally radiate as the buddha bodies and pristine cognitions of the enlightened families.
The excellence of] time indicates a time of sameness with respect to all the four times. This is because the provisional, dependently originated circumstances of the physical body and its sense faculties are interrupted186 and because the nature [of this reality does not change throughout the past, present, and future.
The excellence of] the sacred doctrine refers to pristine cognition free from conceptual elaboration, [the coalescence of] emptiness and radiance. The vital energy of supreme pristine cognition is retained within the upper energy centers of the subtle body and manifests in and of itself when all erratic movements of the vital energy of past actions have been impeded. At the moment of death this experience is actualized because the thought [naturally] arises that consciousness is riding on the vital energy. At that time the Akaniṣṭha realm, the maṇḍala of indestructible reality’s expanse, is supported from the heart center. Manifesting in and of itself, it is recognized to be Akaniṣṭha, and so one is liberated.187 As is said in the Tantra of the Ocean from the Net of Magical Emanation:
Where there are four [colored] lights
In the shapes of the syllables beginning with E.188
The imperishable point of vital essence
Of the syllable VAṂ,
“This explanation” [which denotes the retinue]
Refers to the fourfold consciousness,189
Inasmuch as it is free from extremes,
Abides as the essential nature of all the three times.190
AN EXTENSIVE EXEGESIS OF THE NATURE OF THE INTRODUCTORY NARRATIVE [22.214.171.124.2]
The second section [of the interlinear commentary on ch. 1] is the extensive exegesis of the introductory narrative. This comprises (i) a brief introduction to the essential nature of the teacher [of this tantra], who is intrinsically endowed with perfect resources (126.96.36.199.2.1) and (ii) an extensive exegesis of the classification of perfect resources (188.8.131.52.2.2).
The former [comments on the verse]:
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:2)
The Tathāgata, genuinely perfect buddha and transcendent lord, was endowed with great resources that are the embodiment of the indestructible body, speech, and mind of all the tathāgatas of the ten directions and four times. This is the intrinsic nature in which all [the excellences of buddha body are indivisible, indistinguishable, and undifferentiated—nothing has been excluded, nothing is excluded, and nothing will be excluded.
The Tathāgata (de bzhin gshegs pa) is so named because once power has been obtained with respect to the real nature (de bzhin nyid) of the buddha body of actual reality, which like space is without extremes of conceptual elaboration, the four other buddha bodies are always spontaneously present and emerge (gshegs pa) because the intrinsic nature of space is in conformity with the buddha body of actual reality.191 As is said in the Sūtra Revealing the Inconceivable Secrets of the Tathāgata, from the Pagoda of Precious Gems:
All that is pervaded by space
Is also pervaded by buddha body.
All that is pervaded by buddha body
Is also pervaded by light.
All that is pervaded by light
Is also pervaded by buddha speech.
All that is pervaded by buddha speech
Is also pervaded by buddha mind.192
Elsewhere [the word tathāgata, de bzhin gshegs pa is explained to mean “one who has departed (gshegs pa) in the wake of the conquerors of the past,” “one who has departed (gshegs pa) having relished the appearance of the desirable attributes [of the senses through skillful means, just as (de bzhin) they appear,” or “one who has emerged (gshegs pa) in accordance with (de bzhin) womb birth corresponding to the aspirations of sentient beings who partake of four different modes of birth,” and so forth. Although these definitions correspond to the gradual stages of the sūtra path that was promulgated by the buddha body of emanation, the term tathāgata is not, however, to be interpreted as such in this context.
As for the expression genuinely perfect buddha (sangs rgyas), one in whom all enlightened attributes, the ornamental wheels of buddha body, speech, and mind, are without exception genuinely perfect is [designated] a teacher or buddha, cleansed (sangs) of the sleep of fundamental ignorance and vast (rgyas) in the excellence of intelligence with respect to all deeds. As is said in the Seventy Verses on Going for Refuge:
The Buddha is indeed extensive, like the petals of a lotus.193
As for the term transcendent lord (bhagavān, bcom ldan ’das), the nature of this teacher is such that he primordially subdues (bcom) the four demonic forces, possesses (ldan) the six attributes of greatness (che ba’i yon tan drug),195 and transcends (’das) all sorrow, without abiding [in the extremes of existence and quiescence]. Now, the four demonic forces are subdued in the following manner: The demonic force of afflictive mental states (nyon mongs pa’i bdud) is subdued because the nature of the five afflictive mental states (nyon mongs pa lnga) is primordially present as the five pristine cognitions (ye shes lnga), so that they are neither to be accepted not rejected. Then the demonic force of the lord of death (’chi bdag gi bdud) is subdued because, devoid of afflictive mental states, [a buddha is not born in cyclic existence, and for one who is not born there is no [possibility of] death. The demonic force of the psychophysical aggregates (phung po’i bdud) is subdued because if there is no death, the physical body is not conceived at rebirth. The demonic force of the divine prince (lha’i bu lta bu’i bdud) is subdued because the phenomena that would cause obstruction do him no harm.
The transcendence of sorrow without abiding [in extremes] (apratiṣṭhitanirvāṇa, mi gnas pa’i mya ngan las ’das) refers to the rank of Samantabhadra, who is spontaneously and naturally present for the sake of living beings because he does not abide in the extremes of existence and quiescence. It is incorrect [as some declare] that the term transcendent was suffixed by the Tibetans and is not implicitly understood in the [[[Wikipedia:equivalent|equivalent]]] Sanskrit [term bhagavān]. For it has been taught that one who has accomplished the sense of the word bhaga may take recourse to both cyclic existence and nirvāṇa but does not abide in their extremes.
The expression endowed with great resources indicates that, without regard for the extraneous circumstances of [[[Wikipedia:excellent|excellent]]] location, retinue, and so forth, the Teacher becomes spontaneously present, in a magical display of meditative stability, self-manifesting as pristine cognition. This surpasses the quite different excellent circumstances associated with the buddha body of emanation and so on, which are [deemed to be] ordinary and therefore not [classed as] “great” resources.196
This enlightened intention of the naturally manifesting buddha body of perfect resource is revealed to be all-pervasive and not different from the nature of all things. It is the supreme identity of the indestructible body, indestructible speech, and indestructible mind of all the tathāgatas, such as Akṣobhya and Dīpaṃkara who reside throughout the expanse of the ten directions of space, such as Abhirati in the east, and of the four times—past, present, future, and indefinite. It is undifferentiated and indistinguishable from the enlightened intentions associated with all the excellent circumstances of the buddha body of actual reality, from which nothing has been excluded; all the excellent circumstances of the buddha body of perfect resource, from which nothing is excluded; and all the excellent circumstances of the buddha body of emanation, from which nothing will be excluded.197 Undifferentiated in essence, this enlightened intention is the intrinsic nature, indivisible with respect to actual reality because it is spontaneously present, without conjunction or disjunction from the beginning.
(i) The indefinite time of the ground (gzhi ma nges pa’i dus) refers to the originally pure true nature of mind and the actual reality or real nature of all things. As is said in the Pagoda of Precious Gems:
(ii) The indefinite time of the path (lam ma nges pa’i dus) refers to the genuine intelligence of the yogin who realizes during meditative equipoise that all things subsumed by the three conventional times are uncreated. The Tantra of the Litany of the Names of Mañjuśrī alludes to this when it says:
You who realize that the three times are timeless . . .199
(iii) The indefinite time of the result (’bras bu ma nges pa’i dus) is present in a perpetual continuous cycle because the fruition is unchanging in the field of the spontaneous Bounteous Array. As is said in the Tantra of the Awakening of Vairocana:
AN EXTENSIVE EXEGESIS OF THE CLASSIFICATION OF PERFECT RESOURCES [184.108.40.206.2.2]
The latter [of the two parts on the extensive exegesis] is the [actual] extensive exegesis of the classification of perfect resources. This has three parts, comprising the detailed exegeses of (i) [the excellence of] the location (220.127.116.11.2.2.1); (ii) [the excellence of] the teacher (18.104.22.168.2.2.2); and (iii) [the excellence of] the retinue (22.214.171.124.2.2.3).
THE EXCELLENCE OF THE LOCATION [126.96.36.199.2.2.1]
Among these, the first [the excellence of the location] comprises (i) the field of the buddha body of perfect resource (188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206); (ii) the celestial palace (220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168); and (iii) the excellent array (22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199).
THE FIELD OF THE BUDDHA BODY OF PERFECT RESOURCE [188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206]
The first of these [comments on the verse]:
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:3a)
The abode of Akaniṣṭha where the buddha body of perfect resource resides is inconceivable as space, without being limited by extremes or center, because there is no other [field] higher than this buddha field of the Bounteous Array, supreme among all phenomenal appearances.202 It is beyond the ten directions, including zenith and nadir. In that limitless self-manifesting location, the ground below is not a spatial dimension to which one can objectively refer. Yet it is naturally radiant as a wheel, distinct with four spokes and axle, and fashioned of five [colored] lights, which symbolize that the five afflictive mental states are cut off by the unimpeded energy of [the five] pristine cognitions, beginning with the mirrorlike pristine cognition, naturally expressed as blue, white, yellow, red, and green, respectively. Thereupon . . .
THE CELESTIAL PALACE
The second, concerning the celestial palace [comments on the verse]:
The celestial palace is fashioned as a square,
With buttresses and a bulbous spire.
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:3b)
. . . there is the celestial palace, ablaze with jewels of pristine cognition, completely unlimited throughout the ten directions of space, fashioned as a square because it is vast in measureless enlightened attributes, [its walls] adorned with buttresses of precious gems which are the superior pristine cognition. Its spire is the pristine cognition central to all, in which all maṇḍalas of the buddhas of the ten directions and four times without exception are not distinct from one another and are of a single essential nature. This inconceivable pristine cognition is distinguished in its distinctive details of shape, color, and so forth, forming the precious gems of pristine cognition. The palace is unsurpassed and immeasurable in extent.
The celestial palace is great because its essential nature, attributes, dimensions, and so forth cannot be intellectually appraised, ablaze with the infinite light and sun-like brilliance of jewels, in which all that is desired is spontaneously present because it is materialized from the incandescence of the five pristine cognitions—natural manifestations of emptiness. The dimensions of this palace are conclusively unchanging throughout the ten directions of space, and so equal to space, completely unlimited because the buddha body, speech, and mind, its inexhaustible wheels of adornment, are inconceivable. In shape, it is fashioned as a square because it is utterly vast in measureless enlightened attributes such as the eighteen distinct attributes of the buddhas, the [ten] consummations of the material elements, and the [eight] masteries [of the material elements].
Now, the eighteen distinct attributes of the buddhas (aṣṭadaśādvenikadharma, chos ma ’dres pa bco brgyad) are that the buddha body, speech, and mind are without clumsiness, noise, false memories, unabsorbed mind, differentiating perceptions, and the indifference that lacks discernment—six; that they do not degenerate in their resolution, perseverance, recollection, meditative stability, discriminative awareness, or liberation—six; that the activities of their body, speech, and mind are preceded by pristine cognition and followed by pristine cognition—three; and that they engage in the perception of pristine cognition which is unobstructed and unimpeded with respect to past, present, and future—three; making eighteen in all.203
The ten consummations of the material elements (daśakṛtsna, zad par bcu) are those of the earth, water, fire, and wind elements, those of blueness, yellowness, redness, and whiteness, and those of space and consciousness. These ten attributes [of meditative stability], which are impervious to water and so forth, are consummate in their ability because independence is obtained with respect to the inner sensory elements and sense fields.204
The eight masteries of the material elements (aṣṭābhibhava, zil gyis gnon pa brgyad) comprise the two masteries of all external forms, sentient and insentient, which occur because inner forms are perceived; the two masteries of external forms, sentient and insentient, which occur because inner formlessness is perceived; and the [four] diffusions of light rays which are the masteries of all external colors—blue, yellow, red, and white—which occur because their inner beauty is appreciated; making eight in all. The perception of] inner form, formlessness, and the appreciation of beauty correspond respectively to the three approaches to liberation, beginning with emptiness.205
The celestial palace on its four sides is adorned with buttresses of precious gems,206 formed of crystal, gold, ruby, and emerald, which are to symbolize the real nature or superior pristine cognition, so called because the four conclusive pristine cognitions, beginning with the mirrorlike pristine cognition, are the doctrines of the buddhas alone and are not found elsewhere.207
Now the mirrorlike pristine cognition (ādarśajñāna, me long lta bu ye shes) pacifies the signs of the dynamic subject-object dichotomy and is the basis from which the other three pristine cognitions arise. The pristine cognition of] sameness (samatājñāna, mnyam nyid ye shes) is that which does not abide in the extremes of cyclic existence and nirvāṇa. The pristine cognition of] discernment (pratyavekṣaṇājñāna, so sor rtogs pa’i ye shes) is that which perceives all objects of knowledge distinctly. The pristine cognition of] accomplishment (kṛtyānuṣṭhānajñāna, bya ba grub pa’i ye shes) is that which engages in enlightened activity, corresponding to the fortune of those who require training. Such pristine cognitions are indeed displayed within the maṇḍala as a symbol of the single essential nature. In order to illustrate that there are five [secondary] pristine cognitions that derive from each of the five basic pristine cognitions, the phrase “buttresses on four sides” also [implicitly] denotes the five-layered walls [of the palace], which naturally express the five pristine cognitions and which, from the inside, are respectively colored blue, green, red, yellow, and white.
The spire of the celestial palace, bulbous as a vase, illustrates the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse (dharmadhātujñāna, chos dbyings kyi ye shes). It is a symbol of the great pristine cognition, central to all throughout the four times, in which, as previously explained, all maṇḍalas of the indestructible body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities of all the buddhas of the ten directions and four times without exception are not distinguished from one another in their natural expression and are of a single essential nature.208
This celestial palace is also revealed to be something that is not finite but immeasurable. It possesses this inconceivable pristine cognition because each [of the five] pristine cognitions is fivefold, and within these twenty-five a further fivefold subdivision is also distinguished. To symbolize this, the colors of the celestial palace also distinctly radiate the colors of all the countless celestial palaces in its four directions and central sector that derive from the basic celestial palace, conforming respectively in shape and color and forming the precious gems of pristine cognition. Exemplified by the shapes of these [palatial abodes (square in the center, semicircular in the east, and so forth) and their colors (white, yellow, and so forth),209 there are immeasurable distinctive details, which are distinguished in an inconceivable array.
The palace is unsurpassed, in particular, by those enlightened attributes that appear to pious attendants, hermit buddhas, and bodhisattvas, and it is immeasurable in the extent of its field, shapes, colors, and so forth.
THE EXCELLENT ARRAY
It has garlands, silken drapes, a balustrade, desirable attributes, And gates with pediments.
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:4)
Its garlands which are diverse gemstones of pristine cognition, its silken drapes, the ornaments of its balustrade, and diverse visual forms, diverse sounds, diverse fragrances, diverse savors, and diverse tactile sensations that intermingle throughout the ten directions are naturally present. Bedecked in inconceivable ornaments that radiate without obscuration, it has gateways entered through the fourfold approach to liberation, and it has pediments representing the eight aspects of liberation. These [adornments] are indeed contained within [the celestial palace], without outer and inner [[[Wikipedia:distinctions|distinctions]]] in all respects. Therein . . .
Above the five-layered walls, naturally expressed in the forms and colors of diverse gemstones materialized from the essential nature, pristine cognition, there is the cornice (pha gu), and above that are the beams of the roof parapet (kha bad) from which the eaves (mda’ yab) are supported. Suspended therefrom are garlands forming a latticework of gems, and at intervals between them are silken drapes including wreaths in the shape of sun and moon, silk swags, and tasseled chowries with bejeweled handles. The spire is also adorned with a [circular] corbeled baluster (pu shu), its ornamental balustrade inset with lattice windows (dra mig gseng ma) of precious gems. Endowed with ornaments that radiate translucently, it shines brightly and is pleasant.
Now, the cornices symbolize the unchanging pristine cognition. The lattices symbolize that the benefit of living beings emerges because the three buddha bodies are present without conjunction or disjunction. The eaves symbolize that living beings are protected by compassionate spirituality, and the spire with its corbeled baluster symbolizes that which is peerless because it is highest of all.
Moreover, upon offering plinths (’dod snam) [outside the palace walls], there emanate throughout the ten directions of the celestial palace clouds of the five groups of five goddesses endowed with the desirable attributes [of the senses. The offerings they make to the deities within it comprise diverse visual forms, diverse sounds, diverse fragrances, diverse savors, and diverse tactile sensations that are all pleasant and intermingle as a cloud mass throughout the ten directions. Spontaneously and naturally present, they symbolize that all desirable attributes of the senses arise as ornaments of this emanational display.
There are some who affirm that [the celestial palace] is neutral—neither pleasant nor unpleasant. However, that is incorrect because in this circumstance the buddhas’ own perception is without impurity.
The celestial palace and all its outer and inner ornaments, inasmuch as they are not coarse but clear, are luxuriantly bedecked and adorned with a beauteous array, inconceivable in detail. [The palace] is endowed with ornaments that radiate, penetrating outward and inward to the core, without obscuring one another. This illustrates that the nature of mind is primordial inner radiance and immeasurable in enlightened attributes.
It has gateways adorned with a triple entrance in each of its four directions in order to illustrate that this spontaneous celestial palace of Samantabhadra is entered through the fourfold approach to liberation from obscurations that apprehend entities and signs. These are, namely, emptiness, signlessness, aspirationlessness, and unconditionedness.
Emptiness (śūnyatā, stong pa nyid) is the primordial essenceless nature of all things. Signlessness (animitta, mtshan ma med pa) is the absence of independent existence in anything from the very moment at which it appears. Aspirationlessness (apraṇihita, smon pa med pa) is the absence of proof, refutation, acceptance, and rejection. Unconditionedness (abhyasa-Ṃskṛta, mngon par ’dus ma byas pa) is the effortless nature of mind that is present once the nature of these [three approaches] has been realized. This unconditionedness, when classified, is twofold. It comprises both the primordial inner radiance and the four immeasurable aspirations that are spontaneously present through the natural momentum of its disposition. The former is the nature of mind, primordially pure and inwardly radiant, on which it says in the Sūtra of the Transcendent Perfection of Discriminative Awareness in Eight Thousand Lines:
I have found a nectar-like doctrine—
If I teach it, no one will understand.
I will remain right here in the forest, in silence.212
And in the Ornament of Emergent Realization:
In it there is nothing to be clarified,
Nor is there anything at all to be established.
Correctly regard the genuine reality.
If one perceives correctly, one will be liberated.213
The latter [aspect of unconditionedness refers to the four immeasurable aspirations, namely, loving-kindness (maitrī, byams pa) that desires that sentient beings without happiness might encounter happiness, compassion (karuṇā, snying rje) that desires that those who are tormented by suffering might be separated therefrom, empathetic joy (mudita, dga’ ba) that desires that those in possession of happiness might not be separated therefrom, and equanimity (upekṣā, btang snyoms) that desires that those who have attachment and hatred might be separated from all attachments and hatred for those far and near, and then abide in even-mindedness.
With regard to these four immeasurable aspirations, which have emerged from the disposition of nonreferential and signless compassionate spirituality, it says in the Ornament of the Sūtras of the Great Vehicle:
Intending them to encounter happiness
And be separated [from suffering,
Intending them not to be separated [from happiness,
It is explained that the four gates [of the celestial palace] symbolize the four immeasurable aspirations, and that each gate comprises a passageway, adorned with three parallel entrances, in order to symbolize the [first] three approaches to liberation.
(i) The liberation that ensues when corporeal beings observe physical forms, disenchanted with the true existence of appearances, because their internal perception of the form realms is unimpeded, and they accordingly observe external forms as a magical display of appearance and emptiness;
(ii) The liberation that ensues when noncorporeal beings observe physical forms, released from attachment to the true existence of outer and inner phenomena because they observe external forms without referring objectively to internal forms;
(viii) The liberation associated with cessation, which ensues when there is a perpetual absence of objectification, attachment, and apprehension with respect to all things of cyclic existence, and nirvāṇa, and so forth.215
To represent the perfect enlightened attributes of these [eight aspects of liberation, outside each of the four gates there are four pillars, two on each side, which support the gate, and above them four indestructible beams, on which there is a pediment with four terraced steps (bang rim) forming eight bands (snam phran). Beneath a parasol of precious gems, [the pediment] is adorned with the motif of a doctrinal wheel and two deer who turn it through their movement, along with embroidered hangings, a victory banner, divine robes, silk swags, and sounds that emerge from the flap-ping of twenty-four pennants (ba dan) attached to each of the four corner terraces (kha khyer), as well as from golden bells forming chains of tinkling chimes.216 Furthermore it says in the Parkhab Commentary:
The [pediment] is equipped in [ascending] order
Tassel band (zar tshags), ornamental band (snam ’phyang),
The Sanskrit term] toraṇa conveys the meanings of an aerial victory banner, a doorstep, a platform on which a rider dismounts from a horse, and a staircase. However, in this context, it is held above all to refer to the pediment that adorns the sky [above each of the gates of the celestial palace], each with its four terraced steps and four bands, making eight sections in all.218 There are some who hold this [pediment] to symbolize the entrance into Atiyoga from the eight lower vehicles, and there are some who claim it symbolizes the entrance secured by means of the meditations associated with the [aforementioned] eight aspects of liberation. These interpretations, however, are irrelevant here because [the symbolism] must be applicable to the enlightened attributes of the buddha level alone.219
In order to illustrate that the pristine cognition of the buddha body of actual reality free from conceptual elaborations is without outer and inner distinctions and that all these enlightened attributes of the buddha level are not excluded but indeed contained within it in all respects, this celestial palace, in whose nature the five lights of pristine cognition are brilliantly candescent, appears from the disposition of the Tathāgata’s compassionate spirituality. All that appears as the outer buddha field and all that appears as the inner principal deity and retinue are therefore gathered at all times and in all respects in the essential abiding nature. Thus they are indeed present, without straying from the disposition of Samantabhadra, the buddha body of actual reality, and without existing as distinctly separate phenomena, extraneous to his own nature. Therefore it is said that these [adornments] are contained within [the celestial palace] primordially, in a state free from conceptual elaborations. Therein
THE EXCELLENT ARRAY OF THRONES
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:5)
. . . on a lion throne of assurance, an elephant throne of spiritual power, a horse throne of miraculous abilities, a peacock throne of absolute control, and a [cīvaṃcīvaka] bird throne of unimpeded nature, on seats of precious gems stacked with sun and moon cushions of natural inner radiance, and untainted lotuses . . .
In order to illustrate that Samantabhadra is not awed by the lower vehicles and possesses the four assurances, [the celestial palace] has a precious lion throne in the center. The four assurances (caturvaiśāradya, mi ’jigs pa bzhi) [possessed by the buddhas are (i) their claim to realization attested in the words “I, the Buddha”; (ii) their claim to renunciation attested in the words “have renounced all obscurations”; (iii) their claim to cessation attested in the words “have voluntarily cut off the three poisons until obtaining liberation”; and (iv) their claim to the path attested in the words “have been emancipated from cyclic existence by meditating on the profound path.” These are known as the four assurances because it cannot be contested that [the buddhas abide in these truths.220 Accordingly, the Ornament of the Sūtras of the Great Vehicle says:
Homage to you who demonstrate pristine cognition,
Unbowed by others, extremist [opponents]!221
To symbolize that meanings are contained here that are excluded in the lower vehicles, and that Samantabhadra possesses ten kinds of spiritual power with respect to the vehicle, the palace has an elephant throne in the east. The ten spiritual powers [of a tathāgata (daśatathāgatabala, de bzhin gshegs pa’i stobs bcu) are identified with ten kinds of knowledge, namely, (i) knowledge that things that are possible are indeed possible and that things that are impossible are indeed impossible; (ii) knowledge of the maturation of the deeds of living beings; (iii) knowledge of meditative concentration combined with meditative stability and liberation; (iv) knowledge of the diverse inclinations of those to be trained; (v) knowledge of their diverse dispositions; (vi) knowledge of those who have supreme acumen and those who do not; (vii) knowledge of the path on which the five classes of living beings progress to the three degrees of liberation; (viii) knowledge of the recollection of the past abodes where oneself and others have been born; (ix) knowledge of the transference of consciousness at the death of sentient beings and their consequent rebirth; and (x) knowledge of the cessation of contamination. They are so called because the obscurations covering these ten kinds of knowledge, that is, their ten respective incompatible conditions, are subdued.222 Accordingly, the same text says:
Homage to you, subduer of those demons
Who would thoroughly deceive sentient beings
And the emancipation that accords with the Great Vehicle.223
To symbolize that all who require training are swiftly liberated and that Samantabhadra possesses the four supports for miraculous abilities, the palace has a thoroughbred horse throne in the south. The four supports [for miraculous abilities (caturṛddhipāda, rdzu ’phrul rkang bzhi) are those of (i) resolution; (ii) perseverance; (iii) mentation;224 and (iv) scrutiny,225 which are emanated according to the minds of living beings and through which acts of benefit are then performed.226 On this subject the Short Commentary says:
Through the four supports [for miraculous abilities,
Namely, those that combine the meditative stabilities
With the formative force of exertion . . .227
To symbolize that Samantabhadra holds sway over all appearances and possesses the ten kinds of absolute control, the palace has a peacock throne of precious gems in the west. The ten kinds of absolute control are (i) control over the life span because there is no death; (ii) control over knowledge of the minds of living beings; (iii) control over necessities because the celestial treasury is possessed; (iv) control over deeds because the negative deeds of others are transformed into positive ones; (v) control over birth because emanations spontaneously emerge in accordance with the training; (vi) control over aspirations because enlightened intentions are fulfilled during oceans of past and future aeons; (vii) control over volitions because acts of benefit are performed in accordance with the volitions of those to be trained; (viii) control over miraculous abilities because all world systems may be compressed at will in a mustard seed, demonstrating, for example, that it is unclear whether the world systems are reduced or the mustard seed enlarged; (ix) control over pristine cognition because acts of benefit are performed by those who have mastered the five great pristine cognitions, including the mirrorlike pristine cognition; and (x) control over doctrines because all things are actually known, definitively and quantitatively, without exception.228 The same text says:
Miraculous ability, aspiration, and volition,229
The mighty lord of all three realms is victorious.230
To symbolize that living beings are trained by diverse enlightened activities and that acts of benefit are performed through three pristine cognitions of unimpeded nature and four kinds of genuine analytic knowledge, the palace has a cīvaṃcīvaka or bird throne231 in the north. The three pristine cognitions of unimpeded nature are the three entrances to the vision of pristine cognition (ye shes kyi gzigs pa la ’jug pa gsum) which are unattached and unimpeded with reference to past, future, and present time. The four kinds of knowledge denote the four kinds of genuine analytic knowledge (catuḥpratisaṂvid, so so yang dag rig pa bzhi), namely, (i) knowledge of the doctrine (chos), which occurs when the essential nature of all things with all their causes and results is known; (ii) knowledge of meaning (don), which occurs when the meaning of that essential nature is revealed through many modes of expression; (iii) knowledge of etymology (skad), which occurs when knowledge is revealed of the languages of sentient beings including those of the gods; and (iv) knowledge of inspiration, which occurs when there is no fear on explaining the doctrine to the retinue.232 The Ornament of the Sūtras of the Great Vehicle says:
Homage to you who excellently reveal
An intelligence that is never impeded,
Explaining the supporting doctrine,
Imbued with the meaning it supports,
With buddha speech and [inspired] knowledge.233
Buddha body has [four] assurances,
Thoroughly subduing the four demons.
Through which progress is made, without attachment.
Through which one is liberated from the four birthplaces.
To symbolize that the nature of mind, the buddha body of actual reality, is primordially of natural inner radiance, and that skillful means and discriminative awareness are without duality, these [thrones] are stacked with sun and moon cushions; and to symbolize that they are untainted by all defective flaws, they are endowed with multicolored lotuses. Thus, [the buddhas sit on seats formed of precious gems, in which all these desirable attributes are found.
Upon these five thrones are the seats of the principal deities [i.e., the five conquerors], adorned with lotus, sun, and moon cushions, while their retinues each have their own seats in their respective [peripheral] locations, endowed with lotus, sun, and moon cushions.
THE EXCELLENCE OF THE TEACHER [220.127.116.11.2.2.2]
The second part [of the detailed exegesis of the excellence of the location, teacher and retinue] concerns the excellence of the teacher. This comprises (i) a common presentation of the posture of the principal deities and their hand-held emblems (18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124) and (ii) an exegesis of the male and female buddhas individually (126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52). The former [comments on the verse]:
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:6)
. . . the buddha body appears without front or rear. In all directions his visage radiates transparently, and he is endowed with the major and minor marks. In every inconceivable world system] he appears universally as the diverse buddha body, speech, and mind. His two legs of skillful means and discriminative awareness assume the posture of the ascetic discipline of equanimity. His [six] arms, which are the six pristine cognitions, are endowed with blazing hand emblems of precious pristine cognition, and he has three heads, which are the inconceivable buddha body, speech, and mind.
To illustrate the characteristic nature of the buddhas, whereby they perceive all living beings continuously and are not indifferent, the buddha body appears, outwardly and inwardly radiating its nature of clarity and light. Yet this is not a coarse appearance. From whichever direction its nature of great compassionate spirituality is beheld, zenith or nadir, the visage [of the buddhas is revealed. It is without description in [delimited] terms such as “This is its front or this is its rear,” which are discernibly true in the case of ordinary living beings. Frontally perceived among all retinues of the maṇḍala clusters, the maṇḍala of his visage radiates transparently in all directions.235
Now the major and minor marks have both uncommon and common explanations: In the former case, the thirty-two major marks refer to the sixteen male bodhisattvas who represent the energy of the sixteen pristine cognitions, along with the sixteen female bodhisattvas who represent sixteen aspects of reality’s expanse—the objective range of those pristine cognitions. The eighty minor marks derive from the sixteen male bodhisattvas, each of whom has five kinds of head ornaments corresponding to the five respective enlightened families and symbolizing the five pristine cognitions. The sixteen female bodhisattvas have no head ornaments because they illustrate the expanse of actual reality. These bodhisattvas are established as the major and minor marks in the sense that the nature of the principal deity is beauteously arrayed and finely endowed with the excellence of the retinue, just as the array of a flower is adorned by its anthers and petals.
Moreover, in the expanse of actual reality, in space, and in every inconceivable world system which requires to be trained, he appears universally as the diverse buddha body, speech, and mind, which are spontaneously present inexhaustible wheels of adornment.
When he appears as such in the buddha field of reality’s expanse free from conceptual elaboration, the inexhaustible wheel of adornment of buddha body is [the unified form of the] male and female Samantabhadra, that is, the buddha body of actual reality transcending conceptual elaboration; the inexhaustible buddha speech is inexpressible, inaudible,237 and essenceless; and the inexhaustible buddha mind constantly pacifies all conceptual elaborations and is without partiality or bias.
In the buddha field of the spontaneous Bounteous Array which manifests in and of itself as the infinity of space, the inexhaustible buddha body is equal to space and is adorned with the major and minor marks of perfect resource; the inexhaustible buddha speech comprehends its expressed meaning by diffusing light from the maṇḍala of his visage; and the inexhaustible buddha mind is present as the defining characteristic of the five pristine cognitions.
Then in the world systems of the ten directions, the fields where living beings of the six classes are trained and which are equal to the confines of space, the inexhaustible buddha body trains each in accord with his or her needs, appearing as buddhas, bodhisattvas, pious attendants, hermit buddhas, ordinary persons, the aged, the sick, the dead, gods, nāgas, animals, and so forth, in similar forms and similar classes. It also comprises the immeasurable inanimate forms that they assume for the sake of sentient beings, such as lotus flowers, wish-granting trees, boats, villages, and meadows. The inexhaustible buddha speech resonates in the various modes of doctrinal speech because sound may emerge from the languages of different living beings, from lotus flowers, wish-granting trees, and so forth. The inexhaustible buddha mind acts on behalf of living beings because it knows things definitively and quantitatively. It is impossible [for mundane beings to discriminate these acts of benefit intellectually because they are performed by inconceivable emanations of the buddhas.
You may ask, on the other hand, why the inexpressible speech of the buddha body of actual reality and the buddha body of perfect resource is in fact designated as speech. At the limit of sound and verbal expression there is indeed nothing but the inexpressible to be understood, and through that very buddha speech the inexpressible is actually comprehended. Similarly, all words are an amalgam of syllables, and these are subsumed in the uncreated syllable A. Thus the nucleus of buddha speech denotes the syllable A, the most supreme buddha speech of the teacher himself. It says in the Sūtra [of All-Gathering Awareness:
The heirs of the conquerors say nothing at all.
They speak extensively that which is unspoken.238
The sages endowed with the buddha body of emanation, who appear to those requiring training, do speak, as it were, through intonations that have sixty modulations.239 Their words also appear as buddha speech on account of the convergence of the perceptions of trainees and the compassionate spirituality of the buddhas. However, in the manner of an echo (pratiśrutkā, sgra brnyan), nothing is actually spoken. The Supreme Continuum of the Great Vehicle says:
Emerges in accordance with the apperception of others
But is nonconceptual and uncontrived,
Emerges in accordance with the apperception of others
But abides neither externally nor internally.240
From the birth of the Tathāgata until he attained nirvāṇa in a full night, he did not utter a single syllable of doctrine that manifested as words and letters, but that is what was understood in the perception of those to be trained.241
There are some who disagree that this text [of the Guhyagarbha Tantra is associated at all with the buddha body of emanation. However, they contradict the explanation [given in this very text] that buddha body, speech, and mind appear in every inconceivable world system]. The term “buddha body of emanation” in this context refers to the six sages (thub pa drug) who are mentioned incidentally in the introductory narrative [ch. 1]. The statement that it is incorrect for a single teaching to have two teachers is an argument taken out of context. Here, there are not two teachers because the buddha body of perfect resource is the ground and the six sages are revealed within its retinue.
His two legs are to symbolize that he possesses the pristine cognition of skillful means or great compassion and discriminative awareness or emptiness. Folded together, they are endowed with the nature of equanimity to symbolize that he does not abide in the extremes of existence or quiescence. They assume the posture of indestructible reality (vajraparyaṅka) to symbolize the nature of his ascetic discipline (brtul zhugs), that is, that all afflictive mental states are disciplined (brtul) and that he is present (shugs) in the essential nature of great pristine cognition.
Then there are his six arms, which are to illustrate the six pristine cognitions, namely, the five pristine cognitions along with the pristine cognition of the pure expanse (dbyings rnam par dag pa’i ye shes). They are endowed with limitless blazing rays of light that emerge from their hand emblems, including the vajra, as a symbol of their precious nature. This is because various desirable necessities emerge from that pristine cognition in which buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities abide without duality. These [hand emblems] respectively symbolize that the six [defects of] miserliness, degenerate morality, agitation, indolence, distraction, and confusion are subdued. It is not the case, as some opine, that only the principal deity has six arms while the others have two arms, because they are said [to have these attributes in common.244
Now, [the hand emblems in question] are the vajra, gemstone, wheel, lotus, crossed vajra, and bell. [The buddhas of] the different enlightened families all hold their distinguishing hand emblem in the right hand of their basic pair of hands, and in the corresponding left hand they all wield the bell, crossed at the heart, while the other [two pairs of hands], grasping [their respective emblems, are extended in different ways. Buddhaguhya further asserts that the six hands hold six gemstones that are blazing and eight-faceted.245
He has three heads, which are to illustrate that he possesses the inconceivable, inexhaustible adornments of buddha body, speech, and mind. In this regard, the main visage [of Vairocana, the principal deity, is dark blue, the right one is white, and the left one is red. The main visage of Akṣobhya is white, the right one is dark blue, and the left one is red. The main visage of Ratnasambhava is yellow, the right one is white, and the left one is red. The main visage of Amitābha is red, the right one is white, and the left one is dark blue; and the main visage of Amoghasiddhi is green, the right one is white, and the left one is red.
THE EXEGESIS OF THE MALE AND FEMALE BUDDHAS INDIVIDUALLY [184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11]
The latter [the exegesis of the male and female buddhas individually] comprises (i) the principal deities who are of the essential nature of the expanse [of reality and (ii) their retinue of undifferentiated natural expression
THE PRINCIPAL DEITIES
Are in union with the five female buddhas,
[Who represent] the five material elements.
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:7)
The Transcendent Lord assumes [the form of] the tathāgata who is king of consciousness, the tathāgata who is king of physical forms, the tathāgata who is king of feelings, the tathāgata who is king of perceptions, and the tathāgata who is king of formative predispositions. All these too are resplendent in their [respective] colors—blue, white, yellow, scarlet, and green. [Their consorts comprise] the genuine queen who is the expanse of apparition, the one who is the expanse of solidity, the one who is the expanse of liquidity, the one who is the expanse of warmth, and the one who is the expanse of motility. Indivisible with the assembled host of queens, including these . . .
The Transcendent Lord assumes five distinct forms, namely, the tathāgata Vairocana who is king of consciousness, the tathāgata Akṣobhya who is king of physical forms, the tathāgata Ratnasambhava who is king of feelings, the tathāgata Amitābha who is king of perceptions, and the tathāgata Amoghasiddhi who is king of formative predispositions.246 All these buddhas of the five enlightened families too have their distinct body colors: Vairocana is blue because his mirrorlike pristine cognition is unchanging.247 Akṣobhya is white because the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse is free from all stains. Ratnasambhava is yellow because his pristine cognition of sameness is endowed with many enlightened attributes of greatness. Amitābha is scarlet, that is, red, because his pristine cognition of discernment hankers for the benefit of living beings, and Amoghasiddhi is green because his pristine cognition of accomplishment performs diverse acts of benefit for sentient beings. Radiant and resplendent in their [respective] colors, the natural expression of the buddhas of the five enlightened families is clear, dazzling, and majestic. [See plates 1a–1e.]
The aggregate of consciousness (rnam par shes pa’i phung po), when classified, has eight aspects: (i) The substratum consciousness (kun gzhi’i rnam par shes pa) functions as the basis on which consciousness arises without focusing on its object, as if on the pure surface of a mirror. (ii) The mental consciousness (yid kyi rnam shes) is that which refers to generic conceptual objects and experiences them through a subsequent intellectual appreciation. (iii) The afflictive mental consciousness (nyon mongs can gyi yid) includes those cognitions that engage in proof and refutation. (iv–viii) The consciousnesses of the five senses (sgo lnga’i rnam shes) are the five types of nonconceptual cognition such as the perception of visual forms. The sensation-functions of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touch are nonconceptual, and the consciousness that differentiates them is the mental consciousness. The afflictive mental consciousness is that which engages in refutation and proof in relation to them. The consciousnesses of the five senses and mental consciousness alone do not accumulate deeds, but it is the afflictive mental consciousness that accumulates deeds on the basis of the substratum.248
The substratum (kun gzhi) that supports all these [aspects of consciousness is nonconceptual and indeterminate. It is present, for example, in familiar circumstances when consciousness is without ideation or scrutiny and without radiance or clarity in respect of any object. As such it is universal. On the other hand, the substratum consciousness (kun gzhi’i rnam shes) is also present in circumstances when consciousness is radiant and clear but does not focus on its object. The five senses clearly perceive their objects; mental consciousness is simply the apprehension by which they may be integrated; and afflictive mental consciousness generates [subsequent notions of] proof and refutation. In this context, the substratum consciousness is recognized as the sublime reality—the mirrorlike pristine cognition.
The aggregate of physical forms (gzugs kyi phung po), when classified, has fifteen aspects, namely, the four primary elements of matter (earth, water, fire, and wind); the five sense objects (visual forms, sounds, odors, tastes, and tangible objects); the five sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body); and the imperceptible form [which is continuously present]. Among these fifteen, imperceptible form (rnam par rig byed ma yin pa’i gzugs) is recognized as the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse, the particularly sublime reality subsumed in Akṣobhya, while the other fourteen kinds of physical form are subsumed in Buddhalocanā.249
The aggregate of feelings (tshor ba’i phung po) is threefold: Happy feelings may arise in relation to pleasant objects, sorrowful feelings in relation to unpleasant objects, and feelings of equanimity in relation to neutral objects. The aggregate of perceptions (’du shes kyi phung po) is also threefold, comprising scopes of objectification that are extensive, limited, and average.250
The aggregate of formative predispositions (’du byed kyi phung po) comprises the fifty-one mental states (sems byung lnga bcu rtsa gcig), which are [classed as] formative predispositions associated with the mind (cittaprayuktasaṃskāra, sems dang mtshungs ldan pa’i ’du byed). These comprise (1–5) the five ever-present mental states, namely, contact, attention, feeling, perception, and volition; (6–10) the five object-determining mental states, namely, will, resolution, mindfulness, meditative stability, and discriminative awareness; (11–21) the eleven wholesome mental states, which are the basis of virtuous conduct, namely, faith, conscience, shame, vigilance, equanimity, nonviolence, perseverance, refinement, nonattachment, non-hatred, and nondelusion; (22–27) the six primary afflictive mental states, namely, desire, hostility, pride, fundamental ignorance, mundane views, and doubt; (28–47) the twenty subsidiary afflictive mental states, namely, jealousy, miserliness, pretentiousness, deceit, self-satisfaction, dullness, mental agitation, faithlessness, indolence, distraction, carelessness, forgetfulness, inattentiveness, violence, lack of conscience, shamelessness, anger, enmity, hypocrisy, and annoyance; and (48–51) the four variable mental states, namely, regret, drowsiness, ideation, and scrutiny.
Apart from feelings and perceptions, the other forty-nine of these mental states, along with all the formative predispositions disassociated with the mind (cittaviprayuktasaṃskāra, mtshungs par mi ldan pa’i ’du byed), including names and their symbolic representations, which actively create the dichotomy of cyclic existence and nirvāṇa, are all recognized to be the essential nature of the pristine cognition of accomplishment, the sublime reality of Amoghasiddhi.251
With regard to their consorts, the female buddhas of these five enlightened families, these are given the title queen because they are the foundation of resources, because they are the female consorts of the principal deities, and because they are revered for their royal heritage, endowed with enlightened attributes; they are described as genuine because they surpass others. [Among them,] the nature of the celestial expanse refers to Ākāśadhātvīśvarī, who is mistress of the expanse of space and the essential nature of apparition because she clarifies without obscuration the vastness of actual reality and the vista of enlightened attributes. Buddhalocanā is the one who is the expanse of solidity because, in the manner of earth, which is supported and supportive, she supports the unchanging essential nature and its enlightened attributes. Māmakī is the one who is the expanse of liquidity because, in the manner of water, which sustains human beings with its moisture, she mollifies the minds of living beings. Pāṇḍaravāsinī is the one who is the expanse of warmth because, in the manner of fire, which burns and manifests, she incinerates afflictive mental states and clarifies all that is knowable; and Samayatārā is the one who is the expanse of motility because, in the manner of wind, which performs acts of movement and lifting, she is unobstructed for the sake of living beings and is the basis of their sustenance. [See plates 1a–1e.]
[The male buddhas are present in union with the entire assembled host of queens of the enlightened families, including these. None have been excluded, none are excluded, and none will be excluded, such that they are indivisible with respect to skillful means and discriminative awareness.
THE RETINUE OF UNDIFFERENTIATED NATURAL EXPRESSION
On account of such natural expression, they are endlessly pervasive.
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:8)
The nature, presence, number, or enumeration of these deities, which has been revealed, atemporally permeates all phenomenal existence without conjunction or disjunction. In particular, the appearances of the buddha body of perfect resource entirely and infinitely pervade their object, the expanse of actual reality, throughout the infinitude of space, with the great luminance of buddha body, speech, and mind, the inexhaustible wheels of adornment. Filling it endlessly with the maṇḍala of buddha body and pristine cognition, just like a full-grown pod of sesame seeds, for example (dper na), they are pervasively present everywhere.
Although in general all phenomenal existence is atemporally pervaded [by buddha body, speech, and mind], the present context refers specifically to the luminance of the sugatas. One should know that this elucidation pertains to all maṇḍalas, including those of the aforementioned male and female buddhas of the five enlightened families and those of the male and female bodhisattvas, who are mentioned below, but these [[[maṇḍalas]]] should not be explained out of order.253 Why so? you may ask. It is because for a beginner that would be hard to understand and of little advantage.
THE EXCELLENCE OF THE RETINUE
The third part [of the extensive exegesis of the classification of perfect resources, see above, p. 58] concerns the excellence of the retinue who embody compassionate spirituality. This comprises (i) the inner male and female bodhisattvas (18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124); (ii) the outer male and female bodhisattvas (126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52); and (iii) the male and female gatekeepers (184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11).
THE INNER MALE AND FEMALE BODHISATTVAS
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:9–10)
Then [surrounding them] there are the great bodhisattva of indestructible vision, the great bodhisattva of indestructible hearing, the great bodhisattva of indestructible fragrance, the great bodhisattva of indestructible savor, and the assembled host of the queen of visual forms, [the queen of] sounds, the queen of] fragrances, and [the queen of] savors.
Then, with regard to the four [inner] male bodhisattvas, the [foregoing] exegesis of the intrinsic nature of the principal deities of the five enlightened families should be followed by an explanation of the retinue of male bodhisattvas: In the manner of the teacher Śākyamuni himself, who was a great bodhisattva, the retinues that arise from the disposition of that self-manifesting compassionate spirituality are great (chen po) because they themselves have attained buddhahood, purified (byang) of all obscurations, while in their buddha mind all enlightened attributes without exception are perfected (chub). As such, they are superior to those bodhisattvas who abide on the [ten] levels (bhūmigatabodhisattva, sar gnas kyi sems dpa’).
There are four [inner] bodhisattvas embodying aspects of consciousness who are endowed with indestructible reality in that they are without duality of expanse and pristine cognition, or of appearance and emptiness, and they are free from disintegration.
Because it is neither solid nor empty at the core,
Neither to be cut off nor analyzed,
Neither to be burned nor disintegrated,
The term also implies that [the bodhisattvas have subdued all obscurations and cannot be further harmed by obscuration. As is said in the Extensive Tantra of the Net of Magical Emanation in Eighty-Two Chapters]:
Is that all obscurations are subdued,
And it cannot be harmed in any respect.
Among them, Kṣitigarbha is [the great bodhisattva of indestructible vision, so called because the buddha eyes engage their five objects and perceive actual reality in a single savor, surpassing the mundane visual consciousness through which visual forms are seen. Vajrapāṇi is the great bodhisattva of indestructible hearing, so called because the buddha ears engage their five objects and listen to the real nature in a single savor, surpassing the mundane auditory consciousness through which sound is heard. Ākāśagarbha is the great bodhisattva of indestructible fragrance, so called because the buddha nose engages its five objects and senses the uncreated nature in a single savor, surpassing the mundane olfactory consciousness through which odors are smelled, and Avalokiteśvara is the great bodhisattva of indestructible savor, so called because the buddha tongue engages its five objects and relishes the nondual nature in a single savor, surpassing the mundane gustatory consciousness through which merely tastes are experienced.
Their four corresponding female bodhisattvas are respectively the assembled host of Lāsyā, the queen of visual forms, that is, the forms that are within the perceptual range of pristine cognition; along with Mālyā, [the queen of] sounds; Gītā, [the queen of] fragrances; and Nartī, [the queen who delights in the emanational display of savors. Although this sequence is somewhat disordered, there is no contradiction because it pertains to their names alone, and there are actually held to be four inner beauties. Etymologically, however, Gītā denotes the sounds that are heard and Dhūpā the fragrances that are smelled.256 [See plates 2a–2d.]
THE OUTER MALE AND FEMALE BODHISATTVAS
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:11–12)
And there are the great bodhisattva of indestructible eyes, the great bodhisattva of indestructible ears, the great bodhisattva of indestructible nose, and the great bodhisattva of indestructible tongue, the assembled host of the queen of time past, the queen of time present, the queen of time future, and the queen of time indeterminate.
Among the four [outer] male bodhisattvas, Maitreya is [the great bodhisattva of] indestructible eyes, whose unobscured and indestructible buddha eyes support the apprehension of their five objects, surpassing the mundane sense organ of the eye, which resembles a sesame flower; Nīvaraṇaviṣkambhin is [the great bodhisattva of indestructible ears, whose unimpaired sense organs of buddha ears support their five clear objects, surpassing the mundane sense organ of the ear, which resembles knotted birch bark; Samantabhadra is [the great bodhisattva of indestructible nose, whose sense organ of the buddha nose supports the engagement with its five objects, surpassing the mundane sense organ of the nose, which resembles a straight copper bodkin needle; and Mañjuśrī is [the great bodhisattva of indestructible tongue, whose supreme savoring of buddha speech supports the engagement with its five objects, surpassing the mundane sense organ of the tongue, which resembles a half moon.257
Their four corresponding female bodhisattvas are the assembled host [respectively] of the queen of time past, who appears as Dhūpā to illustrate that she engages with the vision of pristine cognition, unobstructed and unimpeded with respect to the past, the nature in which phenomena of the past actually radiate as they really are, surpassing those phenomena that were known in the past and are now nonexistent, having disintegrated; the queen of time present, who appears as Puṣpā to illustrate that she engages with the vision of pristine cognition, unobstructed and unimpeded with respect to the present, in which all phenomena become meaningless in terms of aeons, surpassing those that are merely the actual perception of the sense organs; the queen of time future, who appears as Ālokā to illustrate that she engages with the vision of pristine cognition, unobstructed and unimpeded with respect to the future because phenomena of the future are seen in the present, just like a gooseberry (kyu ra ra) in the palm of the hand, surpassing those objects of the future that have not become manifest; and the queen of time indeterminate, indefinite in its moment of emergence, who appears as Gandhā to illustrate that she is present as the pristine cognition of sameness with respect to the four times, the actual reality in which naturally present appearances do not fluctuate from their disposition, as it really is.258 [See plates 2e–2h.]
As for the way in which past, present, and future are known [in this context], they are all clearly known, just as the signs of past and future arise along with those of the present when they are prognosticated on the surface of an oracular mirror (prasena). Accordingly, it says in the Sūtra of the Great Bounteousness of the Buddhas:
As many as there are, become manifest.259
THE MALE AND FEMALE GATEKEEPERS
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:13–14)
[Also present] are the great subjugator indestructible with respect to sensations of contact, the great subjugator indestructible with respect to the contacting subject, the great subjugator indestructible with respect to the contacted object, and the great subjugator indestructible with respect to the consciousness of contact. And there is the queen who is without eternalist views, the queen who is without nihilist views, the queen who is without egotistical views, and the queen who is without substantialist views. The assembly [in maṇḍalas such as this is inexpressible and present without duality.
Free from expression, and free from conception.260
Explained accordingly, the term subjugator denotes skillful means, and great denotes discriminative awareness. Indestructible implies that the great emanations who possess these two attributes tame cruel and malign spirits, such as Māra and Yama.
Now, the three aspects of sensory interaction, which occurs when the sensation of physical contact arises, comprise the body that is the contacting subject, the object that is contacted, and the consciousness of contact or consciousness of the body that derives from the encounter [of these two]. Respectively, these four modes are symbolized by Amṛtakuṇḍalin, Aśvottama, Mahābala, and Yamāntaka, whose buddha bodies engage with their five contacted sense objects, surpassing ordinary sensations of physical contact. [See plates 3a–3d.]
Then there is also vocalized, verbal contact. Although in this text it is the four aspects of physical contact that are primarily indicated, those of speech and mind are present by implication. When the sensation of verbal contact arises, there is an interaction between the signifying sound, the signified object, and the consciousness of sound which derives from the accumulated conditions inherent in these two aspects of signification. These manifest respectively as the four wrathful deities, beginning with Amṛtakuṇḍalin, to illustrate that buddha speech free from all obscurations of intonation engages with its five objects, surpassing the mundane sounds—euphonious, discordant, and neutral—that [ordinarily] emerge.
Then, when mental contact occurs, mental phenomena come into being. When the sense field of mental phenomena arises as an object of the mental faculty, there is an interaction between the mental faculty or subject of perceptual contact, the various generic concepts (arthasāmānya, don spyi), which are the objects of perceptual contact, and the consciousness that derives from the encounter of these two, generating bliss, sorrow, refutation, proof, and so forth. Surpassing this mundane interaction, the four wrathful deities manifest in and of themselves at the gates [of the maṇḍala through the energy of pristine cognition to illustrate that the unobscured pristine cognition of the buddhas is actualized without regard for the apprehension of generic concepts and is free from all desires and hatred.
These [four gatekeepers are none other than the four pristine cognitions, which realize [respectively] that there is neither production nor disintegration, there is nothing to be expressed, there is nothing to be apperceived, and there is nothing at all [to be conceived.
Their four female consorts are respectively (i) Aṅkuśā, [the queen who essentially is without eternalist views with respect to all things such as physical form—illustrating that appearances are like reflected imagery, not existing in reality, and illustrating that she draws in sentient beings with loving-kindness and generosity, which are her attributes; (ii) Pāśā, the queen who essentially is without nihilist views with respect to all things such as sound, because she illustrates that these respective appearances are not abandoned but resemble a mirage and because she draws in sentient beings with compassion and gentle speech, which are her attributes; (iii) Sphoṭā, the queen who essentially is without egotistical views, in which mental phenomena are subjected to refutation and proof, to symbolize that these are dreamlike, and that she overpowers sentient beings with empathetic joy and sympathy, which are her attributes; and (iv) Ghaṇṭā, the queen who essentially is without substantialist views in respect of the entity of all phenomenal appearance, cyclic existence and nirvāṇa, illustrating that these are like phantoms, lacking independent existence from the beginning, and that she establishes sentient beings in quiescence through purposeful conduct and great equanimity, which are her attributes.262 [See plates 3a–3d.]
On the buddha level, each of the five modes of sensory consciousness respectively engages with all five types of sense object.263 Concerning this, it says in the Ornament of the Sūtras of the Great Vehicle:
When the five sense organs focus externally,
They engage with all sense objects.
Altogether there are twelve hundred
First, the sense organ of the eye is analyzed according to the six directions [of its vision], namely, the four cardinal directions, the zenith, and the nadir; and each of these six is further analyzed according to its ten subsidiary directions. When, among these for example, the sense organ of the eye focuses on the vision of an easterly form in the eastern direction, there are four [further sensory attributes that arise], namely, sound is heard, odor is smelled, taste is savored, and tangible objects are felt. Each of the remaining nine subsidiary directions also has these four [sensory attributes, making forty in all. Similarly, each of the five remaining directions [in which the eye casts its vision, when analyzed according to their ten respective subsidiary directions, also has forty such [sensory attributes. Thus there are six sets of forty, making two hundred forty [sensory attributes associated with the sense organ of the eye. And when the sensory attributes associated respectively with the sense organs of the ear, nose, tongue, and body are similarly estimated, they number twelve hundred. These are the extraordinary sensory attributes of the buddha level.265
While these male and female buddhas, male and female bodhisattvas, male and female gatekeepers, and so forth appear in the middle of the basic maṇḍala, they are surrounded by many hundreds of thousands of retainers, who form the respective maṇḍala clusters of the four enlightened families in the four directions. The quantity and aspects of this array of deities forming the assembly in basic maṇḍalas such as this is inexpressible, pervading the entire celestial expanse, and these appearances are naturally present without duality. This is crucially because they arise from the disposition [of actual reality] through a unique display of self-manifesting pristine cognition.
A SYNOPSIS OF PRISTINE COGNITION’S SELF-MANIFESTING ARRAY
The third section [of the interlinear commentary on ch. 1 of the Tantra of the Secret Nucleus, see above, p. 48] is the synopsis of pristine cognition’s self-manifesting array. This comprises (i) the essential nature in which this array emerges (18.104.22.168.3.1) and (ii) the modality of the array itself Among them, the former [comments on the verse]:
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:15)
Then the following [verses] emerged from their indestructible buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities. This itself is the [most] secret of these secret maṇḍalas, in which the tathāgatas and the assembled host of their queens are [united] without duality.
Once [the assembled deities of] the introductory narrative had been extensively revealed, then the following secret verses of indestructible reality that reveal the truth of the self-manifesting maṇḍala of the five enlightened families emerged inexpressibly and as a naturally arisen enlightened intention from their indestructible buddha body, their indestructible buddha speech, their indestructible buddha mind, their indestructible buddha attributes, and their indestructible buddha activities. This itself is the most secret of all these self-manifesting maṇḍalas, which are secret because their essential nature is not within the perceptual range of others, but is one in which the tathāgatas or male buddhas and the assembled host of their queens or female buddhas are without duality.
THE MODALITY OF PRISTINE COGNITION’S SELF-MANIFESTING ARRAY
The latter, concerning the modality of this self-manifesting array, comprises (i) the disposition through which this self-manifesting maṇḍala is arrayed ; (ii) the manner in which it manifests (22.214.171.124.3.2.2); and (iii) the recognition of its abiding nature
The first of these [comments on the verse]:
Holding sway over the expanse that is real,
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:16)
E, Ema, Emaho!
Through the disposition of the buddha body of actual reality, symbolized by] the syllable E, the buddha body of perfect resource symbolized by] the syllables Ema becomes manifest, and the wondrous teacher symbolized by] the syllables Emaho then diversely manifests in and of himself. Holding sway over the essential nature that is the buddha body of actual reality and the very expanse that is real, the spontaneous maṇḍala of the buddha body of perfect resource along with its fivefold pristine cognition emerges through the teacher’s own disposition of inconceivable compassionate spirituality.
THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS ARRAY MANIFESTS
The second, concerning the manner in which this array becomes manifest [comments on the verse]:
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:17)
This buddha field of the spontaneous Bounteous Array, which is a self-manifestation that appears to the tathāgata himself, is said to be a pure reflection of the buddhas’ meditative stability, a magical display of pristine cognition, radiant in its naturally pure essential nature.
THE RECOGNITION OF ITS ABIDING NATURE
The genuine abiding nature is expressed in these secret words.
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:18)
. . . is a wish-fulfilling gem of enlightened qualities—the buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities, where there is nothing [impure] to be dispelled. This itself is the abiding nature of supreme indestructible reality, an inexhaustible wheel of adornment.—Such were the secret words of indestructible reality that emerged.
This identity of buddha body, speech, mind, attributes, and activities, where there is nothing [impure] to be dispelled, not even the slightest defective blemish, is an inconceivably mighty wish-fulfilling gem of excellent enlightened qualities. This itself is the essential nature of supreme indestructible reality, without conjunction or disjunction, a nature endowed with pristine cognition’s inexhaustible wheel of adornment, and the abiding nature of the buddha body of perfect resource.
There are some who ascribe this last passage to the compiler [of the Guhyagarbha Tantra, but incorrectly so because the words “indestructible reality” denote that this belongs to the Tantra of the Secret Nucleus.266
Root Tantra (Ch. 1:19)
The introductory narrative is so called because it sets the background concerning the tantra’s origin, provides authentication, and establishes the basis for the tantra that will [subsequently] unfold. The Tibetan word le’u chapter corresponds to [the Sanskrit pariccheda and conveys the sense of “section” or “fragment,” which is what is also implied in this context. First denotes that this is the initial chapter, positioned at the beginning of the series [of twenty-two chapters].