Adaptations and Transformations of Indian Yogācāra in Tibetan rDzogs chen
(The British Library)
The doctrines of the Yogācāra or Vijñānavāda movement, especially as developed in the works of Vasubandhu and Asaṅga, had a deep and lasting influence on all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In the classical Tibetan hierarchies of philosophical views, Yogācāra is generally placed below Madhyamaka; however,
in the Tibetan 'practice traditions' of rDzogs chen and Mahāmudrā, this hierarchy is ignored or inverted, and the most important models are drawn from Yogācāra. The influence of Yogācāra on rDzogs chen, especially in its treatment of the psychological makeup of samsaric consciousness, has often been noted.
The Kun tu bzang po ye shes klong gi rgyud by 'Jigs med gling pa is perhaps the best example of a work on rDzogs-chen philosophy in which the fusion of the doctrine of the Vijñānavāda and rDzogschen reaches its most characteristic elaboration.
The Kun tu bzang po ye shes klong gi rgyud, which can be translated as the Tantra of the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, is the most important rDzogs chen tantra of the Klong chen snying thig, a gter ma collection written down by ‘Jigs med gling pa (1730–98) in the latter half of the eighteenth century.3 As with all of the rDzogs chen texts in this collection, it is classed as sNying thig (‘heart essence’), a category
1 The most thorough discussion of the rDzogs chen development of Yogācāra thought is Waldron and Germano 2006. See also Karmay 1988: 180-82; and Guenther 1989: 134-38. 2 Karmay 1988: 180-81. 3 On the life of ‘Jigs med gling pa and the revelation of the Klong chen snying thig, see Goodman 1992, Thondup
1996, Gyatso 1998, and van Schaik 2004a. The Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is one of eleven rDzogs chen texts in the Klong chen snying thig. It and the other rDzogs chen texts of the Klong chen snying thig have been translated in van Schaik 2004a.
of text and practice closely associated, and often synonymous with the Instruction Class (man ngag sde).4 The foremost exponent of the Instruction Class was Klong chen rab ‘byams, usually known simply as Klong chen pa (1308–63); in his most methodical and elaborate works on rDzogs chen, the vast Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle and the more concise Treasury of Meanings, Klong chen pa presented a systematisation of the doctrines of the Instruction Class, based largely on the fundamental scriptures of the genre, the Seventeen Tantras. Although some of the rDzogs chen texts in the Klong chen snying thig are
presented by ‘Jigs med gling pa as essentialisations of Klong chen pa's work, the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is not; rather it is a gter ma text said to have been ‘set down’ by Vimalamitra in the eighth century.5 Whatever one thinks of the nature of gter ma texts, there is no doubt that the Wisdom
Expanse of Samantabhadra is quite different from the rDzogs chen texts for which ‘Jigs med gling pa claimed authorship in the more conventional sense. The first chapter of the tantra takes on a key theme of Instruction Class rDzogs chen: how awareness develops from the basis of mind into either samsaric
consciousness or enlightened awareness. The way that it presents this topic differs in some important respects from Klong chen pa's systematised version of rDzogs chen, and indeed from ‘Jigs med gling pa's own major philosophical work, the Treasury of Qualities and its autocommentary, which follow Klong chen pa closely.6 One could argue that the truly characteristic rDzogs chen elaboration of Yogācāra is found in Klong chen pa's innovative works, and those in
which ‘Jigs med gling pa followed Klong chen pa's lead. What is interesting about the presentation of the nature of consciousness in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is how much closer it is to the classical form of Indian Yogācāra than to Klong chen pa's elaborations of the same themes. The Yogācāra was
not, of course, a homogeneous set of doctrines, and the comparisons made here are based on key texts within the multiplicity of the Yogācāra school's discourse.7 Nevertheless, I will try to show the ways in
Karmay (1988: 210) and Germano (1994: 269) argue that the basic texts of the Instruction Class, i.e. the Bi ma snying thig and Seventeen Tantras, were written in the eleventh century. The tradition believes them to be eight-century translations from Indian scriptures. 5 See van Schaik 2004a: 42. 6 It is the last three of the thirteen chapters of the
Treasury of Qualities which deal with rDzogs chen, and the commentary on these chapters is contained in the second book of the autocommentary, called Chariot of Omniscience. 7 Other doctrines associated with the Yogācāra have some presence in rDzogs chen. The idea of a self-referential awareness (rang rig, skt. svasaṃvedana) is present, though not in a philosophically elaborate form. Paul Williams (1998) has Adaptations and Transformations of Indian Yogācāra which the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra tends to steer closer to Indic Yogācāra models than those of Klong chen pa.
Again and again you have given the teaching on separating the phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa through distinguishing the ālaya and great wisdom. What is the difference between the characteristics of these two?8
The Sanskrit term ālaya is translated into Tibetan as kun gzhi, which literally means ‘universal ground.’ In the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, the ālaya is clearly stated to be a samsaric phenomenon, in opposition to nirvanic wisdom (ye shes, Skt. jñāna). This distinction places the text firmly in the
Instruction Class tradition. In the other classes of rDzogs chen literature the term ālaya is often used to signify the ground of all existence, both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. So the opening question of the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra indicates that in this discussion the distinction between ālaya and
wisdom is a given. The phrase ‘again and again you have spoken’ alludes to the fact that there is a standard type of Instruction Class discourse which defines and polarises ālaya from the enlightened state, usually signified by ye shes, rig pa or chos sku (Skt. dharmakāya). Detailed discussions of this topic are to be found in Klong chen pa's Treasury of Words and Meanings and ‘Jigs med gling pa's own Chariot of Omniscience.9 The following is from one of the Seventeen Tantras:
discussed a Nyingma defense of rang rig, but this defense is not made in the context of rDzogs chen. The ‘mind only’ theory has a complex history within rDzogs chen: the assertion that ‘all phenomena are mind’ is common in the Mind Series literature, but much more rare in the Instruction Class, and is in
fact explicitly rejected in certain passages in the Seventeen Tantras and by Klong chen pa in Treasury of Words and Meanings 114.5-115.6. In brief, Klong chen pa's position is that perceptions (snang ba) can be called ‘mind’ (sems) but to call the object of perception (snang yul) ‘mind’ is an error. ‘Jigs med gling pa takes the same position in Treasury of Qualities 101.3. On criticisms of Yogācāra in rDzogs chen, see van Schaik 2004a: 78–84. 8 kun gzhi dang ye shes chen po'i khyad par las 'khor ba dang mya ngan las 'das pa'i chos tha dad du rgyab gyes par ston pa khyod kyis yang nas yang du bka' stsal la
Kyé, Sems-dpa' Chen-po! The location of mind is the ālaya. If you ask why, it is because the ālaya amasses all the objects of thought and is awareness [operating] as mind. The location of wisdom is the dharmakāya. If you ask why, it is because the dharmakāya is not under the power of all the concepts of consciousness and is without the awareness that apprehends objects as distinct.10
There are possible sources for this type of discourse in the Yogācāra, which I will come to later. Returning to the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, Samantabhadra's answer to Vajra Realisation’s question focuses on the nature of the ālaya:
The analogy of sleep is used here to point to the relationship between the ālaya and its counterpart the ‘general ground’ (spyi gzhi). This general ground, which is often simply called ‘the ground’ (gzhi) in Instruction Class texts, is completely pure and undefiled, equivalent to the dharmakāya itself. The
three aspects of this pure ground are essence (ngo bo), nature (rang bzhin) and compassion (thugs rje); the usual attributes of the three are the emptiness (stong pa) of the essence, the luminosity (gsal ba) of the nature, and the dynamism (rtsal) or unobstructedness (dgags med) of compassion.12 The image of
the general ground falling asleep differs from the way in which the coming-to-being of the ālaya is presented in Klong chen pa's Instruction Class texts, where the process is explained as a misapprehension (ma shes pa), rather than a blank unawareness.13 For Klong chen pa, the nature of this misapprehension is that the ground's manifestation (gzhi snang) is not recognised as intrinsic to the ground itself. From the Treasury of Words and Meanings:
kye sems dpa' chen po / sems kyi gnas ni kun gzhi yin no / de ci'i phyir zhe na / kun gzhi ni bsam pa'i yul thams cad sdud cing / sems su shes pa'i phyir ro / ye shes kyi gnas ni chos kyi sku yin no / de ci'i phyir na / chos sku ni dran rtog thams cad mi mnga' zhing / yul tha dad du 'dzin nga'i shes pa med pa'i phyir ro / (Klong drug, cited in Chariot of Omniscience 649.4). 11 kun gzhi ni 'khor ba dang mya ngan las 'das pa thams cad kyi spyi gzhi chen po
dbang po yul la ma sad pa gnyid du song ba'i skabs lta bu ste / (AC III p. 76.1). 12 See van Schaik 2004a: 52–54. 13 For a discussion focussed specifically on Klong chen pa's presentation of these topics and his sources in the Seventeen Tantras see Achard 2001 and 2005. Adaptations and Transformations of Indian Yogācāra
Delusion comes from the ground's manifestation not being recognised as intrinsic. The ground's manifestation is apprehended as an ‘other’ (gzhan), and consequently there is a subject/object-oriented awareness (shes pa gzung 'dzin).15 These Instruction Class texts present the scenario, then, of the ground's manifestation being a non-dual awareness (i.e. shes pa prior to subject/object
perception) which slips into dualistic apprehension by mistaking appearances which are intrinsic to it as something 'other'. Attendant upon this comes the concept that this awareness is in itself a discrete 'self'. Then, with awareness operating with the conceptual framework of subject and object, the basis
(i) Not recognising the ground's manifestation as coming forth from oneself is the causal condition. (ii) The ground's manifestation arising as an object is the objective condition. (iii) Apprehending ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is the egoic condition. (iv) The above three being present at the same time is the fourth, the immediate condition of straying.16
Klong chen pa adds that the cause of straying is nescience, and the condition is the manifestation the objective realm (yul) in awareness. The process is this: an awareness of the ground manifests from the ground itself, and in this slight movement, the one who strays is bound by a spreading dualistic
awareness. The term 'slight movement' ('gyu ba) implies that, though the consequence of the move from enlightened awareness to delusion is the opposed states of nirvāṇa and saṃsāra, the initial move is only a minor realignment of awareness.17
14 gzhi snang de rang ngo ma shes pa'i cha las 'khrul te (Treasury of Words and Meanings 40.3). 15 Treasury of Words and Meanings 41.1-3. 16 de yang gzhi snang de rang las byung bar ma shes pas rgyu'i rkyen / de nyid yul du shar bas dmigs pa'i rkyen / bdag dang bdag gir bzung bas bdag po'i rkyen / de gsum dus mtshungs pas de ma thag pa'i rkyen bzhir 'khrul pa ni / (Treasury of Words and Meanings 43.3-4). rTse le sNa tshogs rang grol (b.1608) enumerates only three conditions in his Nyi ma'i snying po (Guenther 1992: 105). 17 Guenther 1992: 102.
This discussion of the initial straying, so fundamental to Klong chen pa's Instruction Class philosophical texts,18 is completely absent in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, where the metaphor of falling asleep stands in its place. Yet the sleep metaphor has its own complexity, with two possible
nuances to its interpretation. First, there is the old Buddhist analogy: saṃsāra is like a dream and a buddha is one who has woken up from the dream. In the same way, the ālaya is like sleep because it is on the side of delusion, and all appearances thereof are like dreams. This is the way ‘Jigs med gling pa uses the metaphor in his Chariot of Omniscience:
The other possible use of the sleep metaphor is to illustrate the neutral, non-engaged nature of the ālaya, in contrast not to the nirvanic state, but to the activity of the further manifestations of samsaric consciousness, which I will come to shortly. Here ‘sleep’ carries the sense of unconsciousness rather than dreaming. This association with unconsciousness is characteristic of the ālaya from its earliest appearance in the sutras; see for example the following passage from the Yogācārabhūmi:
When [a person] has entered [absorbtion into] cessation (nirodha (samāpatti)), his mind and mental [factors] have ceased; how then is it that his mind (vijñāna) has not withdrawn from his body? – [Answer: No problem;] for [in] his [case] ālayavijñāna as not ceased [to be present] in the material sense-
faculties, which are unimpaired; [[[ālayavijñāna]]] which comprises the seeds of the forthcoming [[[forms]] of] mind (pravrttivijñāna), so that they are bound to re-arise in the future.20 Both senses of the sleep metaphor are present in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, if not explicitly distinguished. This is shown by the appearance of the metaphor in the descriptions of the process of enlightenment and the development of samsaric consciousness.
It is also present in the Seventeen Tantras and in rTse le sNa tshogs rang grol’s Nyi ma'i snying po (Guenther 1992: 99ff). 19 kun gzhi'i rang bzhin ni gnyid du song ba lta bu 'khrul snang dang mi lam sna tshogs pa 'char ba'i rten du gyur pas na de las sad par byed dgos te / (Chariot of Omniscience 650.3). 20 Yogācārabhūmi 78b5; translation in Schmithausen 1987: 18.
The Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra places the ālaya in an ambiguous middle state, transitional between samsaric and nirvanic realms: Latently existent in [the ālaya], non-manifest in a way unfathomable by thought, there is: purity which is the gate to wisdom and the path to nirvāṇa, also the visions of the great thig le and the lake-like dharma of the fruit; and impurity in accord with saṃsāra, also karma, suffering and the multitude of
discursive thoughts. Therefore it is not anything such as sentient beings or buddhas, the wisdom of the path or mind itself; it is the container of them all (kun) or it becomes the ground (gzhi) of their arising. Therefore it is called ālaya (kun gzhi).21 Again, there is a difference of emphasis here between the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra and many other Instruction Class texts. The statement that the
ālaya cannot be identified with nirvanic phenomena (‘buddhas’ and ‘mind-itself’) is normal in the Instruction Class context, but the same assertion regarding samsaric phenomena (‘sentient beings’) is surprising. By contrast, Klong chen pa's Instruction Class texts, and ‘Jigs med gling pa's own Chariot of Omniscience, explicitly identify the ālaya with saṃsāra, and draw on the Seventeen Tantras as authority for this. The following verse from one of the
In the grasping, conceptualising ālaya The various appearances are polluted by straying awareness. The ālaya is nescience and substantial things (dngos po); It is named as such because it is the ground of all.22
A strong definition of this type does not appear in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra. Yet we cannot assume that this text is simply reverting to the more general use of ālaya. For one thing there is the bodhisattva Vajra Realisation's original question, which makes it clear that ālaya is held to be a fundamentally different entity from wisdom (ye shes); and for another, there is the following statement:
sems med pa'i gnas skabs lnga'i dus na'ang sems dang sems nyid kyi rten dang brten pa'i rang bzhin bag la nyal du gnas so / … de'i phyir 'di'i go na dag pa ye shes kyi sgo mya ngan las 'das pa'i lam dang / thig le chen po'i snang ba dang / 'bras bu'i chos rgya mtsho lta bu dang / ma dag pa 'khor ba'i sgo las dang / nyon mongs pa dang / rnam par rtog pa tshogs bsam gyis mi khab pa ltar mi mngon pa bag nyal gyi tshul du yod pas na / sems can dang / sangs rgyas dang / lam gyi ye shes dang / sems nyid gang yang ma yin te kun gyi snod dam / 'char gzhi gyur pas na / kun gzhi zhes bya'o / (AC III 76.2). 22 kun gzhi rnam rtog 'dzin pa la / sna tshogs 'khrul pa'i shes pas bslad / kun gzhi ma rig dngos po yin / kun gyi gzhi zhes de la bya (Rig pa rang shar, cited in Chariot of Omniscience 648.6).
This is a clear rejection of a tendency in certain texts (notably the Laṅkāvatāra sūtra),24 to identify ālaya with the buddha nature (de gshegs snying po, skt. tathāgatagarbha). If the ālaya was the signifier both of samsaric and nirvanic for the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra then there would be no
particular objection to identifying it with the buddha nature.25 These two passages indicate that in Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra the ālaya cannot directly signify the nirvanic, yet it still does not seem to be explicitly linked with saṃsāra. A solution to this apparent paradox is implicit in the text in the suggestion that saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are potentially present in the ālaya.26 The passage above states that the pure aspect is a ‘gate’ (sgo) to
wisdom and a ‘path’ (lam) to nirvāṇa, and in the same way the impure aspect is a ‘gate’ to saṃsāra, which indicates that the ālaya is defined as holding the potential for either. This appears to mean that if the suggested potentiality for purity is realised, it is no longer called the ālaya; rather, the ground (gzhi), wisdom (ye shes) or an equivalent term is used. If the potential for impurity is realised, then ālaya (under that name) becomes the basis of
di nyid bde gshegs snying po'i rang bzhin du bstan pa ni / re zhig chos 'byings dri med la the tshom za ba'i byis pa rnam drang ba'i slad du'o / (AC III p. 76.3). Note that Guenther's reading of this makes it an assertion that the teaching of the tathāgatagarbha is itself provisional. In view of the unconditional use of the term bde gshegs snying po in Chapter 5 of the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra (AC III p. 89.6), Guenther's reading seems unlikely.
24 Eg. from the Lankāvatārasūtra: ‘Mahāmati, if you say there is no Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna, there will be neither the arising nor the disappearing [of an external world of multiplicities] in the absence of the Tathāgata-garbha known as Ālayavijñāna.’ (Suzuki 1932: 192). See also Brown
1996: 179-94. 25 Chapter 3 of Treasury of Words and Meanings (79.6ff) is devoted to the the buddha nature, which is identified with wisdom. 26 This interpretation may have precendents in Indian Yogācarā material. For example, Brian Brown (1989: 270) quotes the following passage from the
Mahāyānaśraddhotpāda: ‘This Consciousness has two aspects which embrace all states of existence. They are (1) the aspect of enlightenment, and (2) the aspect of non-enlightenment.’ 27 Germano's commentary (1992: 633) on Klong chen pa's explanation of why ye shes is sometimes identified with ālaya (in Zab mo yang tig II, p. 267.3ff among other sources) indicates the same position: [[[Klong chen pa]]] indicates that our current state is called ‘universal ground’ [[[ālaya]]] because in our present state of stained neurosis, awareness continues to be within saṃsāra, while the potential for these states to be reversed is
perpetually between samsaric and nirvanic states, merely containing the potential for either. There is no question that the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is ambiguous where Klong chen pa, and ‘Jigs med gling pa himself in his Treasury of Qualities and autocommentary, strove to remove all ambiguity. Yet in this ambiguity, it is closer to the core texts of Indian Yogācāra. For example, in Vasubandhu's Triṃśikā the dharmakāya is identical with the transformed ālaya:
From abandoning the two faults the reversal of the ālaya comes about. That alone is the dhātu, inconceivable, auspicious, unchanging, blissful, The liberation-body which is also called the dharmakāya of the Great Sage.28
Here we see the model for the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, in which there is a single base undergoing a transformation. Thus, insofar as the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra does seem to employ a strategy in reconciling the samsaric and nirvanic aspects of the basis, it is the strategy found in classical Yogācāra literature, not the distinction between a wholly samsaric ālaya and the nirvanic ground preferred by Klong chen pa in his Instruction Class works.
The Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra goes on to describe the way in which the potentials for saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are realised. Here we return to the metaphor of sleep; the two opposed processes of becoming, samsaric and nirvanic, are both described as a kind of awakening from sleep. Let us look first at the samsaric side:
The domain of the ālaya with no mental activity at all is like an egg. When its dynamic energy rises up as ground of the arising of its various contents, this is the ālaya-vijñāna itself. From that comes the movement of the winds which engage in virtue and non-virtue
present. While awareness itself is unfragmented into either extreme, its radiation [[[gdangs]]] as our psychic substratum can fuel the experience of either (thus ‘foundation of all’). However, once we become free via realisation, this experience of saṃsāra is no longer possible as awareness functions
exclusively as foundation for nirvāṇa ... such that this term ‘universal ground’ no longer pertains.... 28 āśrayasya parāvṛttir dvidhā dauṣṭhulyahānitaḥ sa evānāsravo dhātur acintyaḥ kuśalo dhruvaḥ | sukho vimuktikāyo ’sau dharmakāyo ’yaṃ mahāmuneḥ || (Triṃ v.29–30; text in Jaini 1985: 491).
through desire, anger and indifference. These are the characteristics of mind. Then, after waking up to the six sense objects, you become associated with the movement of the manas with its grasper and grasped and the afflicted manas which clings at ‘mine’. From that, the five root afflictions, twenty related afflictions, fifty mental factors29 and eighty-four thousand aggregate concepts are brought into being. Now everything which connects up to and supports the three realms is without a single exception complete.30
This is the negative used of the metaphor of ‘waking up’: because it is accompanied by grasping and the subject-object fixation, it is waking up into delusion, saṃsāra itself. As the ālaya is not contingent with wisdom, this is not a description of a development from nirvanic wisdom to samsaric delusion, but the unfolding of delusion from the neutral latency of the ālaya. In the opposite yet complementary process, where ‘waking up’ takes the positive sense, the nirvanic state is distinguished from that unconscious state:
That which is called ‘the transformation of the essence’ is like waking up from that sleep. In this situation, although you have awakened to the sense-objects, you are not tainted by the manifestation of the objects, and you do not fall back into the co-emergent and conceptual-imputation forms of nescience.
There are several statements here which need to be unpacked. First, ‘that which is called ‘the transformation of the essence’ is like waking up after having falling asleep.’ The ‘transformation’ (gnas ’gyur) of ālayavijñāna features in the Yogācāra as a way of describing enlightenment: the ālayavijñāna is ‘transformed’ (Skt. pariṇāma) or ‘reversed’ (Skt. parāvṛtti) at enlightenment, as in this line already quoted above from the Triṃśikā:
sems byung lnga bcu: this is unusual in that the number is usually 51; c.f. Dudjom 1991: II.185. 30 kun gzhi’i khams ni ci yang mi sems bsgo nga lta bu'o / rtsal snod du ma'i 'char gzhir langs pa ni kun gzhi rnam par shes pa nyid do / de las dge mi dge chags sdang bar ma gsum gyis nye bar len pa'i rlung g.yos pa ni sems kyi mtshan nyid do / 'di ltar dbang po drug gi yul las sad pa'i las gzung 'dzin gyi yid g.yos / nyon mongs pa'i yid nga yir 'dzin pa dang 'grogs nas rtsa ba'i nyon mongs pa lnga / nye ba'i nyon mongs nyi shu / sems byung lnga bcu / rtogs tshogs brgyad khri bzhi stong ldang 'dug gi tshul du khrid de khams gsum gyi rten cing 'brel bar 'byung ba ma lus shing lus pa med pa thams cad rdzogs par bya'o / (AC III p. 77.3). 31 ngo bo gnas 'gyur ba zhes bya ste gnyid du song ba de las sad pa lta bu'o / 'di ltar dbang po yul la sad kyang yul gyi snang bas ni ma gos / lhan cig skyes pa dang kun tu brtags pa'i ma rig pa gnyis kyi sbubs su'ang ma chud / (AC III p. 78.1).
This is another case where the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra does not conform to the strictures of Klong chen pa’s Instruction Class. In the Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle Klong chen pa rejects the use of the term ‘transformation’ with regard to the switch from ālaya to wisdom because it suggests a
contingency in the unconditioned nirvanic state.33 Yet this does not mean that the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is suggesting that there is a contingency in the nirvanic state, a possibility which is expressly denied elsewhere in the text:
Because from the side of the essence there is no falling into the extreme of appearance or emptiness, do not look hopefully for buddhahood in a ‘creator’ and ‘created’ which involve cause and effect.34
What this does mean is that here, once again, the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra follows the example of classical Indian Yogācāra rather than the philosophical developments of Klong chen pa’s rDzogs chen. Second: ‘although you have awakened to the sense-objects, you are not tainted by the
manifestation of the objects.’ The nirvanic ‘waking-up’ here becomes a parallel process to the deluded version: the sense-objects feature again, but in the absence of the mano-vijñāna and afflicted manas, they have a different character. The metaphor in here suggests that the objects have no binding or
entrapping character – there is a faint allusion to the ‘naked awareness’ (rig pa rjen pa) spoken of in the more practice-oriented rDzogs chen texts.35 Third: ‘you do not fall back into the co-emergent (lhan gcig skyes pa) and conceptual imputation (kun tu brtags pa) forms of nescience.’ This line
indicates that the transformation is permanent; nescience will not return. Here a little more should be said about nescience and its sub-divisions. As we saw earlier, nescience (ma rig pa) is the apprehension of the ground's manifestation or awareness (shes pa) as ‘other’. Klong chen pa, in the Treasury of Words and Meanings gives it
āśrayasya parāvṛttir dvidhā dauṣṭhulya-hānitaḥ || (Triṃ v.29; text in Jaini 1985: 491). See also the discussion of this in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra (Suzuki 1932: 55). 33 TCD 33.4ff. 34 ngo bo'i cha nas snang ba dang stong pa'i phyogs gang du'ang lhung ba med pas rgyu 'bras dang bcas pa'i bskyed bya skyed byed la sangs rgyas su re ba ma 'tshol cig / (AC III p. 85.5). 35 For example, see The Lion’s Roar from the Klong chen snying thig (AC III p. 547565).
The three are:
It is (ii) and
(i). These divisions can be read as a chronological sequence,
(i) being the initial non-recognition,
(iii) awareness elaborating on its basic misapprehension and its perception being based on a more and more complex field of conceptualisation. However, they could also be read as three ways of describing a process constantly in progress,
(ii) indicating that awareness and the basic misapprehension occur in simultaneity, and
(iii) is established, all three are different ways of describing a process in progress at this time. Since the nescience described in (i) is included in
(ii), the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra need not be contradiction with this arrangement by dropping (i), and the fact that it does so indicates that the second way of reading of the three-fold division is more appropriate. Returning to the description of the ālaya in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, its role is broken down into a four-fold definition:
An alternative six-fold division is also given in the Treasury of Words and Meanings p. 41.1-4 (see Germano 1992: 175ff). 37 rgyu bdag nyid gcig pa'i ma rig pa shes par skyes pa de nyid du ma shes pa dang / lhan cig skyes pa'i ma rig pa rang ngo ma shes pa de dang shes pa de gnyis lhan cig skyes pa dang / kun brtags pa'i ma rig pa rang snang la gzhan du dpyod pa'i cha dang gsum mo / (Treasury of Words and Meanings 40.5-6). 38 dbye na rnam pa bzhi yod de / gdod ma'i gzhi'i kun gzhi / sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi / bag chags lus kyi kun gzhi / bag chags sna tshogs pa'i kun gzhi 'o / (AC III p. 77.1).
Here the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is characteristically terse and ambiguous. Klong chen pa provides extensive glosses of this four-fold division in the Treasury of Words and Meanings, which ‘Jigs med gling pa follows fairly closely in his Chariot of Omniscience.39 Here is the Treasury of Words and Meanings version:
The four in detail are: [i] The primordial ālaya (ye don gyi kun gzhi): it is the attendance of nescience upon rig pa – that aspect [of nescience] which primordially from the first arises simultaneously with rig pa, like tarnish on gold; it serves as the initial ground for all samsaric phenomena. [ii] The
linking-up ālaya (sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi): the ground of karmic activity, the neutral basic support which links up and impels one through one's individual karma to saṃsāra or nirvāṇa. [iii] The ālaya of various imprints (bag chags sna tshogs pa'i kun gzhi): the neutral [ground] of diverse latent
karma which generates the samsaric cycle of mind (sems) and mental factors (sems 'byung). [iv] the ālaya of the imprints-body (bag chags lus kyi kun gzhi): nescience as a basis, a ground for the manifestation of three different bodies: [a] a gross body which is manifest in parts, whose limbs and organs are [composed of] minute particles, [b] a radiant body of light, and [c] a body which manifests out of contemplation.40
Sources for all of these functions may be located in the sutras. For example, Lambert Schmithausen has isolated several different roles for the ālaya in the early sources for Yogācāra, which were brought together in later writing, including: ālaya as the basis of the personality, as the factor which ‘links
up’ (Skt. pratisaṃdhi) to further existence through rebirth, as the container of the seeds, and as the support for the material body.41 In Klong chen pa's passage quoted above, the primordial ālaya is equated with nescience and specified as the ground of saṃsāra. Yet where Klong chen pa prefers the term
39 Chariot of Omniscience 650.5ff. 40 dbye na bzhi ste / ye don gyi kun gzhi ni rig pa'i steng na ye thog dang po'i dus nas gser dang g.ya' bzhin lhan cig skyes pa'i cha rig pa la ltos pa'i ma rig pa ste / 'khor ba'i chos kun gyi dang po'i gzhi dang / sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi las kyi cha'i gzhi de 'khor 'das su las dang so sos sbyor zhing 'phen pa'i rtsa ba'i rten can lung ma bstan pa dang / bag chags sna tshogs pa'i kun gzhi sems dang sems 'byung gi 'khor ba bskyed pa'i cha'i las sna tshogs pa bag la nyal gyi cha lung ma bstan pa dang / bag chags lus kyi kun gzhi yan lag dang nying lag rdul phran cha shas su snang ba rags pa'i lus dang / dangs pa 'od kyi lus dang / ting nge 'dzin ltar snang ba'i lus gsum du so sor snang ba'i gzhi ma rig pa'i rten gyi cha can te
(Treasury of Words and Meanings 106.1-5). 41 Schmithausen 1987: 51ff, 36ff, 26ff and 18ff, respectively. don signifies no more than primordiality, gdod ma'i gzhi is specifically the source of enlightened awareness, equivalent to the dharmakāya. Thus, once
again, where Klong chen pa strove to eliminate ambiguity by separating the samsaric from the nirvanic, it remains in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra. While the ‘linking-up ālaya’ elaborated in Treasury of Words and Meanings is similar to the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra passage regarding the ālaya's
How can the ground of saṃsāra also be the ground of purification which is considered to be good? [Answer:] The general ground and the ground of substantial things are like the sun and its rays. The linking-up ground acts as the ground of higher realms through virtuous actions. It is given the name ‘linking-up
ground’ because it is the aspect of the ālaya which accumulates through the three gates virtuous actions which are in harmony with the side of liberation which links to nirvāṇa. Actions conducive to liberation are called the cause of nirvāṇa in that they cause the clearance of the obscuring stains to
nirvāṇa, but this does not mean as cause and fruit, creator and created. This is because it is contradictory [to assert that] the unconditioned essence of nirvāṇa can be created afresh through causes and conditions.42
In order to maintain the pre-existence of the nirvanic state, the mode through which the ālaya links up to saṃsāra is explained by Klong chen pa using the same model as used in the Uttaratantraśāstra to explain the move from saṃsāra to nirvāṇa, that is, as the revelation of a pre-existent but obscured state. Klong chen pa ensures that the ālaya's realm of operation is strictly samsaric, even when there is movement towards nirvāṇa. The third and fourth aspects
of the ālaya concern its function as store-house for imprints (bag chags, Skt. vāsanā). These imprints are mentioned briefly by name in Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, but no explanation of their nature is given. Similarly, although imprints are mentioned more frequently in the Seventeen Tantras, in the rele
'khor ba'i gzhir 'thad kyi rnam byang gi gzhi ji ltar yin zhe na / spyir gzhi la dngos kyi gzhi zer las nyi ma lta bu dang / de la sbyor ba'i gzhi dge bas mtho ris kyi gzhi byed pa lta bu las / 'di sbyor ba'i gzhi la ming du btags pa ste / myang 'das la sbyor ba'i thar pa cha mthun gyi dge ba sgo gsum gyis
bsags pa'i kun gzhi’i steng na yod pa'i cha las so / thar pa cha mthun gyi las de myang 'das kyi cha la sgrib pa'i dri ma sel ba'i rgyu byed pa la myang 'das kyi rgyur btags kyi bskyed bya skyed byed kyi rgyu 'bras su mi 'dod de / myang 'das kyi ngo bo 'dus ma byas pa yin pas rgyu rkyen gyis gsar du byed par 'gal ba'i 'phyir te / (Treasury of Words and Meanings 108.2-5).
vant sections of Klong chen pa's Treasury of Words and Meanings and Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, and ‘Jigs med gling pa's own Chariot of Omniscience, there is little in the way of a full definition. The concept of imprints, or seeds (Skt. bīja), which goes back to the early development of the doctrine
of the ālaya-vijñāna in the sutras, was adopted in rDzogs chen without significant alteration.43 In the Chariot of Omniscience ‘Jigs med gling pa explains the process by which karma ripens as imprints in the ālaya:
Because of the traces of the initial action, there is an imprint; after that, because of clinging, there is ripening; after the initial cause and fruit, there is conjoined ripening; and the linking-up to all happiness and suffering.44
This is very similar to the explanation in the Triṃśikā: Due to karmic imprints along with the twofold grasping, once the previous stage Of ripening has been exhausted, the next stage of ripening is engendered.45
In our discussion of the ālaya, we have seen how Klong chen pa's philosophical works on Instruction Class rDzogs chen (followed by ‘Jigs med gling pa in his own writings) attempted to remove ambiguity in the samsaric or nirvanic status of the basis of consciousness by distinguishing the ālaya (as samsaric) from the nirvanic ground, called ‘the general ground’ (spyi gzhi) or just ‘the ground’ (gzhi). This development is not seen in the classic Yogācāra texts,
where there is no ontological distinction between two bases, one samsaric and one nirvanic. We have already seen that the concept of a ‘reversal of the basis’ was disliked by Klong chen pa. On the other hand, the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, with its sense of the indeterminability of the ālaya, and use
43 C.f. Schmithausen 1987: 7ff. 44 las snga ma'i rjes 'jog bas bag chags / phyi ma nye bar len pas rnam smin / rgyu 'bras snga phyir smin pa'i sdebs dang / bde sdug gi kun sbyor byed pa / (Chariot of Omniscience 651.6). 45 karmaṇo vāsāna grāhadvayavāsanayā saha | kṣīṇe pūrvavipāke ’nyad vipākaṃ janayanti tat || (Triṃ v.19; text in Jaini 1985: 490). 46 C.f. Karmay (1988:
A further distinction of the nature of the samsaric basis occurs in the Instruction Class, between the ālaya and the ālaya-vijñāna (kun gzhi rnam shes). In most Indian Yogācāra literature, ālaya is synonymous with ālaya-vijñāna, the ‘basis of consciousness’, but in Instruction Class rDzogs chen, a clear
distinction is usually made between the two. While the ālaya, as we have seen, has an ambiguous status in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, the ālaya- vijñāna is firmly placed on the side of samsaric consciousness:
When the ālaya's own dynamic manifestation moves out from it, and awareness begins to enter its object, the ālaya-vijñāna rises up. It is as if the realm of the ālaya awakens from a deep sleep. The objects which are grasped – that is the five sense-objects – have not arisen as substantial things, but a very
The dynamism (rtsal) is a defining characteristic of the ālaya-vijñāna, and is associated with grasping at the object.48 The same point is made in another Klong chen snying thig gter ma text, Distinguishing the Three Essential Points:
The ālaya-vijñāna is similar to ice on water. It arises as the dynamic energy which apprehends the state of the essence, And due to attachment to the object thus grasped, it is extensively deluding.49
Similar definitions occur in Klong chen pa's writing, where ‘clarity’ (gsal ba) or ‘radiance’ (gdangs) often take the place of dynamism.50 In these passages and the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra there seems
kun gzhi las rang gi rtsal snang g.yos te shes pa yul la 'jug par rtsom pa na kun gzhi'i rnam par shes pa ldang ste / dper na kun gzhi'i khams gnyid 'thug po lta bu las ni sad / yul lnga'i bzung yul la dngos su ni ma shar / 'dzin byed kyi shes pa shin tu phra ba zhig langs ba des kun tu rtogs pa'i gzugs brnyan 'dzin pa'i rten 'brel rang chas su slod ste me long bzhin no / (AC III p. 81.1). 48 As discussed earlier, dynamism (rtsal) is also commonly stated
in Instruction Class texts to be the attribute of the general ground's compassion. 49 kun gzhi’i rnam shes chu nang chab rom 'dra / ngo bo'i gshis la 'dzin pa'i rtsal shar te / gzung ba'i yul la chags pas phal cher bslu / (AC III p. 117.2). 50 Germano 1992: 406-7.
be a wish to explain what happens in the intermediate stage between the latent ālaya and the conceptual awareness of the manovijñāna and afflicted manas. The explanation creates a space for a specific concept of the ālaya-vijñāna as the dynamic effulgence of the ālaya itself.51 This stage of awareness is
described as a grasping, though ‘apprehension’ is probably better here for 'dzin pa, without distinct objects. Thus the basic duality of apprehender and apprehended is in place, without any further elaboration. The analogy of the mirror and its reflections address the question of how the dual phenomena of
subject and object can be generated from a single basis, with the further suggestion that this grasping is distorting in that it creates its own type of appearances. Thus the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra follows the Instruction Class model of differentiating the ālaya from the ālaya-vijñāna, defining the
latter in terms of dynamic energy or radiance, words with a technical meaning that are specific to rDzogs chen. Here the text moves away from the classic Yogācāra position; however, when we turn to the ālaya-vijñāna in its relationship with the other elements of consciousness, it is again closely based on earlier Yogācāra material.
In Instruction Class rDzogs chen, the agents which turn the undistinguished shapes of the ālaya-vijñāna into the distinct objects perceived by the five senses (sgo lnga, skt. cakṣur-ādi) are the channels (rtsa, skt. nādi) and winds (rlung, skt. prāna). This is a link to the discourse of Vajrayāna, in
particular the practices of the perfection stage. In the Nyingma this appears mainly in the anuyoga class of meditation practice, but the channels and winds are also a feature of thod rgal practices of rDzogs chen.52 This process of perception is described in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra thus:
By the activity of the channels and winds of each of the five gates, that [[[awareness]]] is led to the objects of awareness: form as the object of the eyes, sound as the object of the ears, odour as the object of the nose, taste of the object of the tongue and physical sensation as the object of the body. So
the five sensory spheres of consciousness have arisen. Through the essential manas and the afflicted manas grasping 51 This is a similar process to Klong chen pa's elaboration of the six-fold manas in successive stages. 52 For example, the thod rgal section of the Ye shes bla ma, from the Klong chen snying thig (AC III 336.4-339.2).
at them with desire, anger and stupidity, nescience which is the cause of saṃsāra, karmic actions, imprints and all their fruits are compounded.53 Here it is assumed that the sense-objects already have the nature of external objects, the basic subject/object discrimination having appeared along with
the ālaya-vijñāna. The sense objects are grasped by the egoic mind (yid, Skt. manas), distinguished here into two basic elements: essential manas and afflicted manas (Skt. kliṣṭa-manas). In the Instruction Class, manas is sometimes explained as having six functions, and sometimes only the two functions
of essential manas (also known as mano-vijñāna) and kliṣṭa-manas.54 Klong chen pa, in the Treasury of Words and Meanings, identifies the former as a special teaching specific to rDzogs chen and the Instruction Class, and the latter as common.55 His presentation of the common teaching is virtually
identical to the description of mano-vijñāna and kliṣṭa-manas in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra. The mano-vijñāna and kliṣṭa-manas are indeed ‘common’ in that they are straightfordly adopted into rDzogs chen from Yogācāra literature. In the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra, the mano-vijñāna engages with the object through conceptualisation and the kliṣṭa-manas through the three emotional reactions:56
In short, that which becomes like a container or ground for all of this is the ālaya. The aspect which opens up (go 'byed) is the ālayavijñāna. The aspect which, because of that [opening up], looks out and wakes up to the objects is five gates. The aspect which, moving from its own place engages with the
afflictions is the kliṣṭa-manas. The aspect which distinguishes into various appearances is the 53 de'i sgo lnga so so'i rtsa rlung gi byed pas shes pa yul la khrid de / mig gi yul du gzugs dang / rna ba'i yul du sgra dang / sna'i yul du dri dang / lce'i yul du ro dang / lus kyi yul du reg bya ste rnam par shes pa'i khams lnga ldang ngo / de nyon mongs pa can dang yid kyi ngo bos chags sdang rmongs gsum la sogs
par bzung nas 'khor ba'i rgyu ma rig pa dang / las dang / bag chags dang / 'bras bu thams cad du 'du byed pa'o / (AC III 81.5). 54 The sixfold model of the manas seems to be specific to the discourse on straying from the ground; see for example Treasury of Words and Meanings 42.3-4. 55 Treasury of Words
and Meanings 119.5-120.4. 56 Another way of defining them makes the realm of the activity of the mano-vijñāna the object, and that of the kliṣṭa-manas the subject. In Treasury of Words and Meanings Klong chen pa employs that definition: “— At the time of conceptualising the object of conceptualisation which
is nothing yet radiant, like a vajra throne: first, conceptual awareness is born as the object – the mano-vijñāna; following that, the awareness of the subject gives birth to the activity according to desire, aversion and neutrality – this is called the kliṣṭa-manas" (Treasury of Words and Meanings 120.1- mano-vijñāna. These are called ‘the eight aggregates of consciousness’.57
Another passage offers a complementary definition, assigning to the mano-vijñāna and kliṣṭa-manas the roles of distinguishing subject and object, and self-clinging respectively: Then, after waking up to the six sense objects, you become associated with the movement of the manas with its apprehender and apprehended and the kliṣṭa-manas which clings at ‘mine’.58
These statements in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra are obviously based on the Indic scriptural and exegetical literature; for instance, the following passage on the manovijñāna is from the Laṅkāvatārasūtra:
Because the self-nature of form etc. is not comprehended, Mahāmati, the system of the five consciousnesses comes to function. Along with this system of the five consciousnesses there is what is known as the mano-vijñāna, whereby the objective world is distinguished and individual appearances are distinctly determined.59
However, in the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra the manas is not accorded the central role of maintaining samsaric consciousness which certain Yogācāra texts ascribe to it.61 Although, as I discussed above, it is not explicitly defined as samsaric, the ālaya is not defined as nirvanic either, and nescience is not explained as the defilement of a pure basis (ālaya) by an impure agent, the kliṣṭa-manas. Rather, the
mdor bsdu na / de thams cad kyi snod dam gzhi lta bur gyur pas na kun gzhi / go 'byed pa'i cha nas kun gzhi'i rnam par shes pa / de kha phyir bltas te yul la sad pa'i cha nas sgo lnga / rang sa nas nyon mongs nye bar len pa'i cha nas nyon yid: sna tshogs su 'byed pa'i cha nas yid shes te / rnam par shes pa'i tshogs brgyad ces bya'o / (AC III 82.3). 58 'di ltar dbang po drug gi yul las sad pa'i las gzung 'dzin gyi yid g.yos / nyon mongs pa'i yid nga yir 'dzin pa dang 'grogs … (AC III 77.4). 59 Suzuki 1932: 40. 60 kleśaiś caturbhiḥ sahitaṃ nivṛtāvyākṛtaih sadā | ātmadṛṣṭyātmamohātmamānātmasneha saṃjñitaiḥ || (Triṃ v.6; text in Jaini 1985: 475). 61 See Brown 1989: 216-17.
It should be apparent by now that the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra cannot be said to represent the most elaborate development of the Yogācāra doctrines in the Instruction Class. Indeed, it is in this respect much less sophisticated than in Klong chen pa's Treasury of Words and Meanings and Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, being less elaborately worked out, and less philosophically consistent. However, we should not leap to the assumption that there was a degeneration or simplification of these doctrines between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. In his own major philosophical work, Treasury of
Qualities and its commentaries, ‘Jigs med gling pa deals in great detail with this material and stays close to Klong chen pa's interpretation of the nature of consciousness. Nor should this be interpreted as a development in ‘Jigs med gling pa's own understanding between his revelation of the Klong chen snying thig and his writing of the Treasury of Qualities. In the rDzogs chen section of the Mirror of Wisdom and Compassion, an early work written before the Klong chen snying thig, his presentation of the doctrines of the Instruction Class is also in accord with Klong chen pa.62 It is the status of Wisdom
Expanse of Samantabhadra as a gter ma text which sets it apart from these other works by ‘Jigs med gling pa; as I have mentioned, this text's own account of its history places its genesis in the time of Vimalamitra or earlier. True to this origin story, it hearkens back to a pre-Klong chen pa rDzogs chen, to
the multitude of Instruction Class texts from the Bi ma snying thig and Seventeen Tantras. To return to the question raised at the beginning of this paper, we can say that the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra is probably not the best example of the fusion of Yogācāra with rDzogs chen. That is to be found
in the works of Klong chen pa, which elaborate, extend, and transform the models of Indian Yogācāra in ways never thought of in Indic Buddhism. What the Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra does is reveal the plurality of rDzogs chen discourse, showing how the gter ma genre worked, alongside the systematising
work of writers such as Klong chen pa and ‘Jigs med gling pa, against the establishment of orthodox interpretations of scripture through the constant production of variations on the themes of rDzogs chen. 62 See Mirror of Wisdom and Compassion 54–74.
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TIBETAN LITERATURE ’Jigs med gling pa 1. The Collected Works of Kun-mkhyen 'Jigs-med-gling-pa [[[Lhasa]] edition] (CW). 9 vols. (Ngagyur Nyingmay Sungrab series, vols. 29-37). Ed. Sonam T. Kazi. Gangtok, 1970-75. 2. Klong chen snying thig (AC). Reproduced from prints from the A'dzom Chos-sgar blocks by Ngawang Sopa. 3 vols. New Delhi. 1973.
Texts in (1): Treasury of Qualities – Yon tan rin po che'i mdzod. II.1-121. Chariot of Omniscience – Rnam mkhyen shing rta. II.122-877. Mirror of Wisdom and Compassion – Mkhyen brtse'i me long 'od zer brgya pa. IV: 1-137).
Texts in (2): Wisdom Expanse of Samantabhadra – Kun tu bzang po ye shes klong gi rgyud. III.73-95. Distinguishing the Essential Points – Gnad gsum shan 'byed. III.116-120. The Lion’s Roar – Seng ge ngar ro. III.547-565.