Question about Method and Wisdom
Could Your Holiness explain a little bit more about method and wisdom?
When we speak of method and wisdom in Buddhism, method is referring primarily to the various actions and practices that will act as a cause for being able to generate a Form Body of a Buddha or a Rupakaya, a Corpus of Emanations. When we speak of wisdom, this is referring to those actions or things that will build up a network of deep awareness, a collection of insight, to act as a cause for achieving the mind or the omniscience of a Buddha.
A general presentation in the Dharma is of the two truths as the basis, the pair of method and wisdom as the path, and then the two types of Body or Corpuses of Buddha as the result. In terms of the enlightening forms of the body of a Buddha, these are actually involved with being for the benefit of others. This is because these enlightening forms can actually meet with others and will actually directly bring about benefit to others. The enlightening forms or Rupakaya of a Buddha are things that are for the benefit of others.
Wherever there is the body of a Buddha, the mind of a Buddha must also be present. The body and mind are inseparable. Therefore, if one has not achieved the omniscient mind of a Buddha, one will not be able to have infinite enlightening forms that benefit others. The enlightening mind of a Buddha is actually something for the benefit of oneself. It is a meaningful purpose for oneself. This is the basis for allowing one to have meaningful benefit for others with one's actual physical bodies of a Buddha.
There are different aspects within the categories of method and wisdom. For instance, in the category of method there are the far-reaching attitudes or perfections of generosity and patience, as well as love, compassion and so forth. Included on the side of wisdom are the various types of wisdom; but, primary among them is the discriminating awareness with which we understand a lack of truly established existence, in other words voidness. Although we could include the discriminating awareness of understanding impermanence and the different types of voidness, it is primarily the discriminating awareness with which we understand a lack of true, self-established existence.
Questions about Liberating the Countless Number of Sentient Beings
Buddhism teaches that there are innumerable sentient beings to be helped and liberated. This countless number can make one feel hopeless. Is there hope that all can be liberated?
In general, to think even of things that might be extremely difficult or impossible to establish is helpful for developing one's own resolution and determination to practice. This is true regarding bodhisattvas who generate many prayers for the benefit of all. In general, when we speak about samsara – uncontrollably recurring existence – it's something that has no end. Similarly, sentient beings or limited beings are also without any end. They are innumerable and likewise, the Buddhas are limitless.
In the face of there being a countless number of atoms, for example, it is still possible to say that all the atoms exist in such and such a way. However, we can also categorize all the atoms of a particular phenomenon as the countless number of that particular phenomenon. In the same way, sentient beings are countless in number, and we can categorize them as the countless number of sentient beings and view that category with some resolution and the courage and determination to liberate them all.
Now we may ask the question, is it possible that all sentient beings may become Buddhas? It is possible for all sentient beings to become enlightened, each and every individual one. This is because each individual sentient being has the various purities and potentials within their mind streams. However, when we try to conceive of all of them actually having achieved enlightenment, of the actual time when that will come about, that may be quite difficult to even imagine.
More importantly, we are thinking in terms of expanding our hearts out with a bodhichitta aim to all beings and to benefit all beings. Surely that will benefit a few of them. However, if we think, "There are an infinite number of sentient beings and that is too many," and give up, then we're not going to benefit anyone.
How can we assist others who are mentally disturbed or severely ill or impaired? How can we help others to end their suffering and get rid of the causes of their suffering?
In general, when someone is extremely ill or suffering in some great way, the karma has already ripened. For example, if someone is born blind, then that's something that one cannot usually reverse for someone else. Certainly, assistance can come in the form of medical treatment and practical support. Also, depending on the qualifications of the person offering this support, benefit can come through certain kinds of mantra recitation. However, the crucial effort to find relief from suffering and the causes of suffering comes from the side of the person who is experiencing the difficulty.
Question about the Jonang Tradition and Other Voidness
Your Holiness mentioned that the Jonangpas who assert other voidness could achieve realizations and attainments. What level can they achieve? Can they gain liberation?
In general, following the view of other voidness as asserted by the Jonangpas, one cannot attain liberation. This is because this view of other voidness asserts true self-established existence. It's saying that other-powered phenomena, while being devoid of totally imaginary ways of existing, still, as thoroughly established phenomena, are truly existent. It's asserting truly established existence. On the relative level, things are self-void, but on the ultimate level they are not self-void. It's the other voidness, being devoid of something else. It itself is truly established; however, it is devoid of something else, something other. Other voidnesss is asserted as something positive, established and independent. With that view, one cannot achieve the second of the five paths, the path of application (path of preparation) and above.
The Sangha Jewel
Let’s continue now with our text. When we speak of the Sangha Jewel, this refers to those who have achieved the actual true cessations or true stoppings and true paths of the mind on their mental continuums. This is referring to highly realized beings or the aryas, and above. That's primarily the arya Sangha. We can also speak of ordinary beings as members of the Sangha. In this case, when four or more are gathered, this acts as a representation of the Sangha.
From the Mahayana point of view, those who have achieved the first level of a highly realized mind, the first bodhisattva bhumi, and above would be included within the arya Sangha. When we speak of the Buddhas, the Dharma or the preventive measures, and the assembly of the Sangha, these are the Three Jewels of Refuge. These give us safe and sound direction.
To review, we approach this by first gaining an understanding of the two levels of truth. Then based on that, we derive the four noble truths, and on the basis of that, we derive the Three Jewels of Refuge. This is the way it is presented in texts such as Prasannapada, (The Clear Words by Nagarjuna) and Abhisamayalamkara (A Filigree of Realizations by Maitreya).
The Scriptural Source for the Seven Diamond-Strong Points
We have discussed the Three Jewels as presented in the first verse as the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha Assembly. The next aspect to speak about is the source, which is referring to Buddha-nature, and this will be explained below. With the purified state, enlightening qualities and enlightening influence, these are the seven points that are diamond-strong.
Then the second verse:
(2) The sequential connection of these that is due to their defining characteristics, in the order in which they are to be understood, is as in The Sutra (Requested) by King Dharani. From its introduction, one is to be aware of three of its points, while four from its delineations of the Dharma measures of those with the mindset and of the Triumphant Ones.
The source in the sutras for all these seven points can be found in two ways. There are individual sutras from which each of these points derives individually. But, there is also one sutra, namely this one mentioned in the text, The Sutra (Requested) by King Dharani, in which all the points are presented.
We can derive the first three of its seven points from the introduction; whereas, the other four remaining points come from chapters that are delineations of the Dharma measures of those with the mindset of bodhichitta – the bodhisattvas – and also the Dharma measures of the Triumphant Ones, the Buddhas.
The Order in Which the Seven Vajra Points Are to Be Understood
The third verse in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum gives a presentation of the order in which these seven are to be understood.
(3) From the Buddhas, the Dharma; from the Dharma, the highly realized arya Assembly; from the Assembly, the essential factor (the womb), the deep awareness source (up to) the endpoint, its attainment. And from the attaining of that deep awareness, the supreme purified state, endowed with the powers and so forth, the Dharma measures that bring meaningful benefit to all limited beings
First, we have the Clear Evolved Buddhas. The Buddhas indicate the preventive measures or the Dharma. Then from these indications in the scriptures of the preventive measures of Dharma, the things that they themselves practiced, we get the highly realized arya Assembly of the arya Sangha, who practice these measures as well.
From this Assembly, we can understand the essential factor of deep awareness, which is the source up to the endpoint, its attainment. This is referring to Buddha-nature, or the essential factors of deep awareness and so forth. This is the source within all the members of the Assembly that will allow them to reach enlightenment. Attaining that deep awareness, one attains that supreme purified state of enlightenment. When one depletes the various stains or gets rid of the stains that are obscuring this source or essential factor within everyone, then one achieves the purified state of enlightenment.
When one has that state of enlightenment, one possesses the powers and so forth that are the qualities of that state of enlightenment. Possessing all these qualities oneself, then one possesses the Dharma measures that bring meaningful benefits to all limited beings. In other words, one has the enlightening influence to be able to then help bring about the depletion of stains from others’ Buddha natures. One is able to help bring them to enlightenment. It's in this way that one understands the order of these seven points.
After the third verse which presents these points in order, then the verses that follow present the actual three sources of safe direction or refuge.
The Eight Defining Characteristics of the Buddha Gem
The fourth verse presents the Buddha Jewel in an abbreviated manner:
(4) I bow to the one who, with Buddhahood – having no beginning, middle or end, a serene stillness, and a total enlightenment by himself – once enlightened, shows fearless, stable paths of the mind to bring realization to those with no realization and who, holding the supreme sword and diamond-strong scepter of omniscient awareness and intense loving concern, cuts down the sprouts of all problems and smashes the walls of indecisive wavering that are surrounded by a dense growth of variant outlooks.
The word for fearless in the text can be spelled in Tibetan either with or without the suffix “s” at the end of the word jig; therefore, it can be taken either as “fearless” or as “non-perishing.” [Translators note: The original Sanskrit version has “fearless.”]
Then the next verse, the fifth verse, takes the essence of what is explained in the first verse, the abbreviated showing of it, and then lays it all out, giving specific names to each of the points, or identifying each of the points.
(5) Buddhahood is unaffected, spontaneously accomplishes all, is not realized under the circumstances of others, possesses omniscient awareness, intense loving concern and powerful abilities, and possesses a meaningful benefit for both.
This is followed by:
(6) Because it has a self-nature with no beginning, middle or end, it is unaffected. Because it has a serene stillness Dharmakaya, a Corpus Encompassing Everything, it is spoken of as spontaneously accomplishing all.
(7) Because it is to be realized by each one individually, it is not realized under the circumstances of others. Because it has the realization of these three aspects like this, it has omniscient awareness. Because it indicates paths of mind, it has a heart of intense loving concern.
(8) It has powerful abilities because it can bring about the riddance of problems and disturbing emotions through deep awareness and a compassionate heart. With the first three, there is meaningful benefit for oneself, while with the latter three a meaningful benefit for others.
The method of explanation that is followed in the text is presented with these three verses. It takes the meaning that was given in the first verse, and takes the identification of each of the points as given in the second verse, and then combines these together in the third verse in order to explain what is going on with this entire point that's being explained. This is the method that is followed in the presentation of the material in the text.
Buddhahood Is Unaffected or Unconditioned
It's not necessary to go through a complete commentary on each of the words of the text. But we may ask what a Buddha is, or what the state of enlightenment, Buddhahood is? It's a state that has eight qualities. Firstly, it is something unaffected or unconditioned.
When the fifth verse says, Buddhahood is unaffected, it refers back to the words in the fourth: Buddhahood, having no beginning, middle or end. It is explained in the first part of the sixth verse: because it has a self-nature with no beginning, middle or end.
Because Buddhahood does not have a birth in the beginning, it doesn't have an abiding in the middle and isn't something that perishes at the end. Buddhahood, enlightenment, has this type of self-nature. Therefore, it is something that is unaffected or unconditioned, having no beginning, middle or end; or no true arising, abiding and perishing.
We can think of it in terms of having this self-nature, as something in which the nature itself is not created from causes and circumstances. Therefore, it has no beginning, middle or end in that sense of not arising, abiding and ending in terms of its nature not being created from causes and circumstances. But it also can be commented upon in terms of this self-nature or nature of reality always having been the case with no beginning. That's another way of taking this point.
In the commentary on this line by Rongton Sheja Kunrig, he explains “unaffected” or unconditioned in terms of being not affected or conditioned by causes and circumstances. That's one level of not being affected or conditioned, namely not conditioned by compulsive behavior or karma, and not tainted with ignorance. Disturbing emotions is another level of what Buddhahood is not affected by and the third level is not affected by the habits of the disturbing emotions.
If we speak of the Corpus of Essential Nature of a Buddha, the Svabhavakaya, this nature is unaffected by causes and circumstances. Whereas if we think in terms of the Deep Awareness Dharmakaya, the Corpus of Deep Awareness that Encompasses Everything, we can't say this is something unaffected by causes and circumstances. Rather, we would have to say it's unaffected in the sense that it's unaffected by karma and disturbing emotions. But we can also understand it from a third sense of unaffected, that it is unaffected in terms of its way of appearing. It is not that sometimes it is appearing to the side of disciples and at other times ceasing from appearing to disciples. It's not like Emanation Bodies, Nirmanakaya, of a Buddha, that sometimes from the side of disciples appear to them and at other times will disappear or perish from their sight. It's not like that, so it's unaffected by this type of appearance aspect. We need to understand what unaffected means in various situations according to the context.
Buddhahood Spontaneously Accomplishes All
The second of the qualities of the state of a Buddha is that it spontaneously accomplishes all. The reason given for this is because it has a serene stillness Dharmakaya, a Corpus Encompassing Everything, it is spoken of as spontaneously accomplishing all. When we spoke about it being unaffected, it is unaffected in terms of not arising and disappearing to the minds of others. If something were to spontaneously accomplish all, it would not be something that just appears sometimes and then disappears. That wouldn't be able to spontaneously accomplish all. It can only spontaneously accomplish all if it is always appearing.
If we haven’t achieved a serenely stilled Corpus Encompassing Everything, in other words, if we haven't achieved a Dharmakaya in which we have stilled the habits for making things appear in a discordant manner from the way in which they actually exist, then what happens is that we can only intermittently be in either total absorption on space-like voidness or in subsequent realization of illusion-like voidness. We can't have the two constantly and simultaneously.
If we have the two intermittently, sometimes we have one and sometimes we have the other, then we're not in a situation in which we can spontaneously accomplish all. We are intermittent and we are not constant.
Buddhahood Is Realized Individually
The third quality, it's not realized under the circumstances of others, is because it is to be realized by each one individually. This means that this Deep Awareness Dharmakaya of a Buddha is something that can only be understood among the Buddhas themselves, or realized individually among themselves and cannot be something fathomed by those other than the Buddhas.
Buddhahood Has Omniscient Awareness, Loving Concern and Powerful Abilities
It also possesses omniscient awareness simultaneously and constantly. Because it has the two states – total absorption and subsequent realization – simultaneously, it has awareness of both the extent of what exists and the manner in which everything exists. The cognitive obscurations to awareness of everything are what cause the subsequent realization and the total absorption to be alternating. Because that is removed, a Buddha is able to be aware of both the extent of what exists and the way in which it all exists simultaneously. Therefore, Buddhahood has omniscient awareness.
The next quality is intense loving concern. This is because it indicates paths of mind, the paths of mind that possess deep intense loving concern for others as their basis. Buddha was able to teach paths of mind in accordance with the aspirations, dispositions and idiosyncrasies of all the different disciples because of his love, compassion, and so forth. This is because a Buddha has a heart of intense loving concern.
When we understand the fact that there are so many different teachings within Buddhism, we realize that this is because people have so many different mental dispositions. The various things Buddha teaches may not be his own deepest realizations. But because of so many mental dispositions, Buddha was compelled to speak something different, some different views. Once we realize that, this is very helpful for developing deep respect for all different religions.
It has powerful abilities because it can bring about the riddance of problems and disturbing emotions. Having these various qualities of omniscience and intense loving concern and so forth, the state of Buddhahood is one with the powerful ability to be able to bring about the elimination and riddance of others’ problems and disturbing emotions. How can it do this? It does this through deep awareness or omniscience and a compassionate heart. That is the explanation of the Buddhas.
If this were to be explained well and extensively, if there were a lot of time, then it should be explained in connection with the discussion in the second chapter of Pramanavarttika (A Commentary on Valid Cognition), where Dharmakirti establishes the existence of omniscience.
The Eight Defining Characteristics of the Dharma Gem
The next verses present the discussion of the preventive measures of the Dharma. This also has eight qualities of being unimaginable, without the two and so on. This is presented in the text in the same method as we had in the previous point about the Buddhas. The first verse, verse nine, presents the meaning in a summarized form. Then the next verse, verse ten, lays out the names of the various points that are being made and then the following two verses, eleven and twelve, put together the words or names of the points together with their meanings, as previously presented in verse nine.
The verses read:
(9) I bow to the sun which is the hallowed Dharma, which is neither totally non-existent nor truly existent, neither both truly existent and non-existent, nor something other than either truly existent or non-existent, which cannot be intellectualized, is parted from words to make it definite, must be known individually by oneself, is a serene stillness, and which is stainless, is a deep awareness having illumination with rays of light, and destroys any attachment, hostility or murkiness regarding any focal object.
(10) The Dharma is that which is unimaginable, without the two and without conceptual thought, and that which, as something pure, clarifying, and on the side of being an opponent, brings this about – in other words what is and what brings about a parting from attachment and has the defining characteristics of the two truths.
(11) What is involved in being parted from attachment can be summarized under true stoppings and true paths of the mind. The order in which these are to be understood should be known in terms of the qualities, three and three.
(12) Because it cannot be intellectualized, because it cannot be verbalized and because it is known by the highly realized aryas, it is unimaginable. It is a serene stillness since it is without the two and without conceptual thought. The three, purity and so forth, are similar to the sun.
The phrase in verse nine, which cannot be intellectualized, is referring to the quality of it being unimaginable. The phrase is parted from words to make it definite means it can't be pinpointed down with words, it cannot be verbalized. Because it is known by the highly realized, it is unimaginable. It is something that must be known individually by oneself. But, as an ordinary being, one cannot understand or realize it. It’s only something that can be known by the highly realized aryas.
At the end of verse ten, when it says it has the defining characteristics of the two truths, these are the last two truths from the four noble truths, referring specifically to the purifying side of true stoppings and true paths of the mind. This is not referring to the two truths in the context of the two truths being superficial truth and deepest truth.
When the verse mentions serene stillness and without the two, this is referring to karma and the disturbing emotions. It is a stillness because it's parted from them. It is also without conceptual thought as in verse twelve, because it is without incorrect consideration. It doesn't consider things in an incorrect way, so that is the meaning of being without conceptual thought.
The last line in verse twelve, the three, purity and so forth, are similar to the sun, refers to the three qualities in verse ten: pure, clarifying, and on the side of being an opponent. These three are like the sun in the sense that it's pure and that it's been purified of all the various mental obscurations.
The emotional obscurations, which refer to the disturbing emotions, are called the “obscurations of attachment” in this text. There are also the cognitive obscurations with respect to all knowable phenomena. In this text, they are referred to as the “obstacles of being impeded about everything that is knowable.” The third set of obscurations is sometimes referred to as the “obscurations of the modest-minded ones.” Since it's purified of all of these, then it's able to be clear like the sun, to make things clear. The purity side of it is referring to the true cessations or true stoppings aspect of the Jewel of Dharma. When it says it's on the side of being an opponent, that's referring to the true paths aspect of the Dharma Gem.
The Eight Defining Characteristics of the Sangha Gem
The next verses refer to the Jewel of the Sangha or the intent community and starts with verse thirteen.
(13) I bow to those who see that since awareness has a self-nature of clear light, the disturbing emotions have no true essential nature, who, by realizing the perfect, namely that all who wander lack a true identity and are serenely stilled of extremes, see that total enlightenment permeates continually in all, and who possess an attitude that is unobstructed and possess the sight of deep awareness that has as its object limited beings' total purity and infinitude.
(14) Because of its sight of deep awareness, which is of how things exist, the extent of what exists and which is inner, and (because of) its purities, the Assembly of those with the mindset who never turn back is something that possesses peerless good qualities that are corrections of inadequacy.
(15) Because it realizes that those who wander have an actual nature that is serenely still, it is of how all exists. And that is because their disturbing emotions are finished from the start, because their self-natures are perfectly pure.
(16) Because it sees with an attitude that realizes the ultimate thing to be known – that the actual nature of an omniscient awareness is present in all beings whose awareness is limited – it is something that has the extent of what exists.
(17) Any realization like this is something to be known and then seen by each one individually. Because in the stainless sphere there is no attachment and no impediment, it is pure.
(18) Because due to its sight of deep awareness and purities there is the peerless deep awareness of the Buddhas, the highly realized (Assembly) who never turn back are a source of safe direction for everyone with limited bodies.
There's not much time, so there's no need to really explain this.
The Sources of Resultant Refuge
(19) There is a presentation of three sources of safe direction in terms of the ones who indicate them, their indications and the ones who are training, as this has been made under the influence of there being three vehicles of mind and those with fervent regard for three types of actions.
This is a discussion of why there are the three refuges, the Three Jewels.
The presentation of the three sources of safe direction or refuge is in terms of the sources taken from our own future results. Before, we were speaking about resultant refuge, or taking safe direction from the results that we ourselves will attain in the future. From that perspective, there's the presentation of the Three Jewels in terms of the three types of disciples – those who follow the three vehicles of mind – and the type of results or three types of actions that each of them are aiming for.
The first type of disciple is the shravakas, the listeners. The listeners are practicing and aiming for the situation in which a Buddha has come and is present. The shravakas, through their own type of wisdom and understanding with their own type of motivation, are aiming to become arhats or liberated beings. Thus, they can become a member of the entourage or the circle of those around the Buddha. In this way, we have the presentation of the Sangha Gem as being the result of the aim of the listeners.
The second type of disciple is the self-evolvers, the pratyekabuddhas. The self-evolvers are practicing at the time when a Buddha is not present on the earth. During those times of difficult situations, famines and so forth, they wish to be able to achieve their own state of arhatship or liberation by means of practicing the Dharma alone. The ultimate aim or main point from which the entire pratyekabuddha path evolves is the point of the Dharma itself, the Dharma Jewel. This is the presentation of the Dharma Gem in terms of the aim of the self-evolving pratyekabuddhas.
But when we turn to the third type of disciple, the bodhisattvas, those with bodhichitta, their aim is to attain the state of a Buddha to be able to help all limited beings. In terms of their aim, there's the presentation of the Buddhahood and the Buddha Gem.
It's in terms of these three different types of practitioners, the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas, that we have the presentation of the Three Gems, the three sources of safe direction, from the perspective of the future results toward which each of these three types of disciples aim.
The Buddha’s Alone Are the Ultimate, Deepest Sources of Refuge
There are also provisional sources of safe direction or refuge. But if we speak of the deepest level, or ultimate source of direction, this is the Buddhas alone. The reason for this is explained in the next two verses:
(20) Because it is to be gotten rid of, because it is an item that is fallacious, because it is a non-existence and because it has fear, the preventive measures in their two aspects and the highly realized assembly are not continual supreme sources of safe direction.
Because it is gotten rid of refers to the scriptural indications of the Buddhas. In other words, we need to rely on their scriptural teachings, but once we’ve relied upon and actually gained realizations and so forth through them, then we no longer need to rely on these scriptural sources. Therefore, the Dharma refuge as the textual Dharma is not an ultimate source of refuge.
The next line of verse twenty, because it is an item that is fallacious, refers to the realizations on the mental continuums of highly realized arya bodhisattvas. They have a level of deep awareness, but it is not the ultimate level of deep awareness and it is not the deep awareness that is attained with the state of enlightenment. So, the Dharma refuge as the aryas’ levels of realization are also not an ultimate source of direction, because it is an item that is fallacious. It's not the ultimate deep awareness.
Then the next reason, because it is a non-existence, is referring to the true stoppings or true cessations on the mental continuums of the Sangha. In this context, Sangha refers to the liberated beings, the arhats, when they have attained nirvana without residue. That's referring to the mere cessation or stilling of only true problems and true sources of problems, the first two truths on their mental continuums. Therefore, it's a non-existence in terms of merely these cessations and that is a reason why the Dharma refuge as the true stoppings on the mental continuums of liberated arhats are also not an ultimate source of refuge. That’s because they just a non-existence of only part of what is to be gotten rid of.
The Sangha Jewel is also not an ultimate or deepest source of safe direction, because it has fear. This refers to the liberated listeners, the shravaka arhats. They still have on their mental continuums the cognitive obscurations preventing their knowing all knowable things. In that sense, they have fear and in that sense they are limited and do not have the ability to provide us with ultimate or deepest level safe direction.
These verses conclude with:
(21) So, in the deepest sense, the source of direction for wandering beings is the Buddhas alone, because the Able Ones have a Dharmakaya Corpus that Encompasses Everything and because they are the ultimate endpoint for the Sangha Assembly.
We should not think that since it says here that the Buddhas alone are the source of direction for wandering beings, that there's no presentation of the Three Jewels of Refuges because the other two are eliminated. This is because, when it says, because the Able Ones have a Dharmakaya Corpus that Encompasses Everything, then although the Buddhas themselves are the ultimate source of direction, they include the other two Gems in the sense that these Able Ones themselves have a Dharmakaya, a Corpus that Encompasses Everything. The Dharmakaya includes the Dharma refuge and the Buddhas’ attainment of enlightenment is the ultimate aim and endpoint that Sangha assembly is intent on reaching. This is the way of commenting according Ngulchu Togme Zangpo’s commentary.
The Reasons for the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha Being Called “Rare and Supreme Gems”
Then the next verse, explains why the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha are called the “rare and supreme gems.” This is easy to understand; one just needs to read it:
(22) Because their occurrence is rare, because they are stainless, because they have strength and because they become adornments for those with a perishable basis, because they are what is supreme and because they are inalterable, they are the rare and supreme (gems).
Of the four diamond-strong or vajra points of the Furthest Everlasting Continuum, this concludes the discussion of the first three.