Uttaratantra: The Buddha Gem

Review

Regarding the seven vajra points, our text states:

(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 main source of these teachings is The Sutra Requested by King Dharani Ishvara. The first three vajra points come from its introduction and are explained in the first chapter of our text. The last four vajra points are discussed in the rest of the chapters. They explain the differentiation of the qualities of the bodhisattvas and Buddhas in terms of the Dharma measures of those with the mindset and of the Triumphant Ones. “Those with the mindset” refer to the bodhisattvas, the dedicated beings; the “mindset” is the dedicated heart of bodhichitta. “The Triumphant Ones” refer to the Buddhas.

The qualities of the bodhisattvas are delineated in this sutra by its discussion of the 60 completely pure points or purifying factors. These are the 4 adornments of bodhisattvas (the three trainings in ethical self-discipline, absorbed concentration and discriminating awareness, and the vital measures), the 8 aspects of a bodhisattva's illuminating awareness, the 16 aspects of their great compassion and their 32 types of enlightening influence. In addition to these 60 purifying factors of the bodhisattvas, the sutra presents, as the qualities of a Buddha, the 10 forces of a Buddha’s omniscient mind, the 4 guarantees about which a Buddha is fearless and the 18 unshared features of a Buddha.

What does this presentation of seven vajra points and their order amount to?

(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.

When the Buddhas set flow the rounds of teachings, the preventive measures of Dharma were transmitted. So, from the Buddhas, the Dharma. From this setting in flow of the Dharma, a spiritual community of highly realized practitioners, a Sangha, evolved: from the Dharma, the highly realized arya Assembly.  

In the line, the deep awareness source (up to) the endpoint, its attainment, “the deep awareness” is that of the Buddhas and “up to the endpoint, its attainment” indicates its full attainment with the actual state of enlightenment. The “source” that allows everybody to achieve this endpoint, enlightenment, is within the Sangha assembly, specifically the Buddha-nature of each member. Their Buddha-nature as the essential factor (the womb) is the obtaining cause that enables them to become enlightened.

From the attaining of that deep awareness refers to when we fully realize and actualize the source that allows for enlightenment, we reach the supreme purified state: we become enlightened. Having reached the enlightened state of the Buddhas, we become endowed with the powers and so forth: we possess all the enlightening qualities of a Buddha. With these enlightening qualities, these Dharma measures that bring meaningful benefit to all limited beings, we can bring benefit to all limited beings through our enlightening influence.

The Structure with Which the Text Presents the First Three Vajra Points

The text presents each of the Three Rare and Supreme Gems with the same structure. First, there is a verse of homage that presents the Gem’s various general characteristics. It is followed by a statement of its eight qualities. The next verses give the reasons for the eight qualities by drawing from the words of the homage. It is important to see how to apply certain words from the verse of homage into the later verses concerning the qualities and the reasons for these qualities. If we have this general idea of how the text presents the material, we can untangle it and figure out how the various parts relate to each other.

The Buddha Gem

The text presents the first of the vajra points, the Rare and Supreme Gem of the Clear Evolved Buddhas with the following verses:

(4) I bow to the one who, with Buddhahood, having no beginning, middle or end, and a serene stillness, has awakened himself, and, once enlightened, fearless and stable, shows 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.

(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.
(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 the paths of the 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.

This section of the text begins with the long verse of homage and then a verse presenting the eight qualities of a Clear Evolved Buddha. These first six qualities are: unaffected, spontaneously accomplishes all, not realized under the circumstances of others, possesses omniscient awareness, intense loving concern and powerful abilities. The seventh and eighth qualities are indicated as possesses a meaningful benefit for both, with “both” referring to both oneself and others. The seventh quality, possessing a meaningful benefit for oneself, is the result of having mastered the first three qualities. The eighth quality, possessing a meaningful benefit for others, is accomplished through the second set of three qualities. So, there are eight qualities, the last two summarizing the first two groups of three each.

The text first lists these qualities and then follows it with several verses that explain each of the qualities. It explains the reasons for each of a Buddha’s eight qualities by referring back to the descriptions of a Buddha in the verse of homage.

The Qualities of Abandonment

Verse 4 begins:

I bow to the one who, with Buddhahood, having no beginning, middle or end, and a serene stillness, has awakened himself,

Because it has a self-nature with no beginning, middle or end, it is unaffected refers to the first quality that a Buddha possesses, the quality of being unaffected, unconditioned. The text is not simply saying that a Buddha has a self-nature that is unaffected by causes and conditions, but that Buddhahood also has a self-nature that is unaffected by causes and conditions. Because their self-nature has no truly established arising, it has no truly established beginning; because it has no truly established abiding, it has no truly established middle; and because it has no truly established stopping, it has no truly established end. Thus, the quality of the self-nature of a Buddha and Buddhahood of being unaffected is because it has no beginning, middle or end.

The Buddha is able to spontaneously accomplish all beneficial activities because of the quality of a serene stillness of any obstructions preventing that. A Buddha is awakened himself because Buddhahood is not realized through the circumstances of others. In other words, a Buddha attains enlightenment by his own, individual efforts, from his own realizations

In more detail, there are four qualities of a Dharmakaya or a Corpus Encompassing Everything, both a Deep Awareness Dharmakaya (Jnana Dharmakaya) and an Essential Nature Dharmakaya (Svabhavakaya). The first quality is that a Corpus Encompassing Everything is constant, because it is unaffected. The second quality is that it is blissful, because it is not a Corpus derived from unawareness, or ignorance, and its tendencies. The third quality is that it is cut off from disturbing emotions and is free of the two obscurations, emotional and cognitive. The fourth quality is that it is profound, because it is not an object of the sounds of words or an object of conceptual thought.

The verse of the homage that a Buddha has no beginning, middle or end refers to the first quality of being unaffected. Being unaffected refers to those four qualities of the Dharmakaya. The four qualities of the Dharmakaya are applied here to the first quality of a Buddha.

The next quality of a Buddha in the homage refers to a serene stillness, which is referring to the second quality, spontaneously accomplishing all. The verse explaining this states:

(6) Because it has the serene stillness Dharmakaya, a Corpus Encompassing   Everything, it is spoken of as spontaneously accomplishing all.

Since it is a Corpus of Deep Awareness Encompassing Everything (Jnana-Dharmakaya), with serene stillness and free from the two types of mental obscurations, it is able to spontaneously accomplish all, the second quality.

The third quality is that it is not realized through the circumstances of others. This is indicated by the words of the homage that a Buddha awakens himself; he becomes enlightened through his own efforts. This refers to the fact that when a Buddha achieves enlightenment, he does not have to rely on the circumstances of others in order to fulfill his own purposes and possesses a meaningful benefit for oneself. This explains the three qualities of being unaffected, spontaneously accomplishing all and not realized through the circumstances of others.

The first three qualities are the qualities of abandonment that bring meaningful benefit for oneself and they must be achieved individually.

The Three Qualities of Realization

The homage verse 4 continues:

…and, once enlightened, fearless and stable, shows 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.

These lines refer to the next set of three qualities, the three qualities of realization: omniscient awareness, intense loving concern and powerful abilities. Through these qualities, a Buddha possesses a meaningful benefit for others by fulfilling their aims.

The first of these qualities is omniscient awareness. This is the knowledge of all things and is referred to in the homage in terms of once enlightened, shows fearless, stable paths of the mind.

With omniscient awareness as a dominant condition or cause and moved by the motivation of intense loving concern for others, a Clear Evolved Buddha indicates to them paths of the mind. It states in the homage of the text that a Buddha fearless and stable, shows paths of the mind. Being stable refers to the fact that once we have achieved the abandonments and realizations, it is not necessary to abandon again what has already been abandoned or realize again what has already been realized. This attainment is stable and unwavering, so a Buddha is fearless about declaring this attainment.

The word “stable” is sometimes translated as permanent, but we should not think of it as meaning permanent in the sense of the division of permanent and impermanent. The meaning here is that once the abandonment and realizations are accomplished, a Buddha has achieved a constant, stable state that does not need to be accomplished again.

The first two qualities of a Buddha’s realizations, then, are omniscient awareness or knowledge of what has not yet been realized by those with no realization, and the quality of intense loving concern that fearless and stable, he shows paths of the mind.

The next quality is powerful abilities. This is referred to in the text in the lines:

…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.

These lines refer to a Buddha’s powerful ability to eliminate all of the problems of limited beings. He wields his sword to cut down the sprouts of all problems, and with his diamond-strong scepter he smashes the walls of indecisive wavering and doubt that are surrounded by the thick darkness of a dense growth of variant outlooks and distorted views.

These qualities have powerful abilities because they can bring about the abandonment of problems and disturbing emotions through deep awareness and compassion. In this text, the sword that cuts down problems and the diamond-strong scepter or vajra that smashes the walls of the disturbing emotions symbolize the process of abandonment.

The qualities of a Buddha are often explained in terms of his splendid attainment of his own purposes, the splendid attainment of others’ purposes, and his splendid attainment of an enlightening influence. The first of these, the splendid attainment of his own purposes, is divided into the attainment of abandonment and the attainment of realizations. It is presented here in terms of the three qualities of abandonment that are of meaningful benefit to oneself and the three qualities of realization that are of meaningful benefit to others: omniscient awareness, intense loving concern and powerful abilities.

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