Commentary on Chapter 3 of Longchenpa’s Dzogchen Text – Dudjom Rinpoche

“A Precious Garland of the Four Themes of Gampopa”

3 Having the Pathway Minds Eliminate Confusion

“Pathway minds” here refer to minds you have, once you have entered the gateway of the Dharma, that go toward the Dharma, as in the aspiration prayer, “Inspire me to have my mind go toward the Dharma.” A mind that has gone toward the Dharma is one that is without obstacles on it as a pathway mind. Such a mind is called “one that is free of confusion on the path.” Since there can also be pathway minds having causes for what is mistaken, an example of a pathway mind that is not like that, one that is totally without confusion, is one that is an excellent and blissful pathway of mind. 

What is called “confusion on a pathway mind” refers to a mind that has the confusion of what is mistaken on it as a pathway mind. It is also correct to call it “a mind that has been lost to obstacles on the path.” Various obstacles can arise on a mind that is proceeding as a pathway mind. If the confusion of what is mistaken arises, then it is proceeding with obstacles. It should not be like that. So, what is called “confusion,” here, is the confusion of what is mistaken. Therefore, a mind that has gone toward the Dharma is one that, while proceeding, does not have obstacles on it as a pathway mind. 

The Shared Mahayana Pathway of Mind

The root text says:

(54) Furthermore, out of the shared, distinct and unsurpassable methods for having the pathway minds eliminate confusion, the first is the great Mahayana pathway of mind that is shared (by them) in common. 

Out of shared, distinct and unsurpassable methods, suppose you ask, “What is the great pathway mind of the shared vehicle of mind?” As for what is designated as the “shared vehicle of mind,” the great Mahayana pathway mind shared by sutra and tantra is one that has developed a bodhichitta aim through the gateway of the four immeasurable attitudes and has trained with aspiration prayers and compassion.

It eliminates confusion by developing a bodhichitta aim through the four immeasurable attitudes and (engaging in) great waves of (bodhisattva) behavior having an identity-nature of aspiration prayers and compassion. 

Having generated a bodhichitta aim through the gateway of the four immeasurables, and then, through the gateway of immeasurable aspiration prayers and compassion, engaging in great waves of bodhisattva behavior to benefit wandering beings – that is called “eliminating confusion on a pathway mind” or “having a pathway mind that eliminates and has eliminated confusion.”

(55) When (you have gained stable realization of) voidness, having compassion at its heart, and (thus are able to) fulfill completely both your own and others’ aims, 

As your surface, conventional level of practice, develop a mind of great compassion for all wandering beings and train in love, compassion and a supreme bodhichitta aim. As your deepest level, reach certitude about voidness (emptiness), with voidness combined into one with compassion. When voidness and compassion are combined, the text says that you are able to fulfill completely both your own and others’ aims

then to cleanse away the fleeting stains from the sphere of reality, which is constructive and unaffected,

That being so, the sphere of reality, dharmadhatu, which is constructive in the words themselves of the great Omniscient One – “The abiding nature of the sphere of the reality of phenomena is constructive and unaffected.” But, having been obscured by the fleeting stains of objects taken and minds that take them (gzung-‘dzin), then for the sake of cleansing away those that are present:

meditate on the thirty-seven factors leading to a purified state through the four pathways of building up, applying, seeing and accustoming (minds), and, with the pure view of the sixteen voidnesses, perfect the six far-reaching attitudes with faultless (bodhisattva) behavior.

This is referring to the extensive, full presentation of voidness in the sutras. Through the four pathways of building up, applying, seeing and accustoming minds, you meditate on the thirty-seven factors leading to a purified state. Then, as for the pure view of the sixteen voidnesses, these sixteen voidnesses are divisions found in the sutras. Faultless behavior refers to meditation on the far-reaching attitudes, the perfections, in the practice of enhancing a supreme engaged bodhichitta mind.

As for far-reaching discriminating awareness, prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom:

(56) After gaining stable realization of the lack of both a “self” of persons and of phenomena, 

After having reached certitude about both selflessness with respect to a self of persons and with respect to a self of phenomena,  

then cleansing (your mind) with (this) method as the antidote to the disturbing emotions is the excellent pathway of mind of the bodhisattvas.

Then, through stable realization (rtogs-pa) of these two aspects of selflessness, cleansing your mind through this method as the antidote to the disturbing emotions determines whether or not you have the excellent pathway mind of the bodhisattva sutras. The main essence, then, is that voidness combined with compassion is the excellent pathway of mind of the bodhisattvas that has no confusion.

(57) In other words, from within (the state of everything existing) merely in the confusing, deceptive manner of an illusion or a dream, work for the sake (of others by) abandoning and adopting – adopting what is constructive and rejecting what is negative – and cleanse (your mind) with a river of (meditation on) uncleanness, love and dependent arising (as respective antidotes) for the disturbing emotions of longing desire, hostility and naivety. 

With everything existing in the confusing, deceptive manner of appearance that is like an illusion or a dream, carry out abandoning what is negative and to be rejected, and adopting what is constructive and to be adopted. For the sake of cleansing your mind with the antidotes to all the disturbing emotions of longing desire, hostility, and naivety, reach certitude about the abiding nature of the two truths. Then, within the state of all phenomena being like an illusion or a dream, as is the case in their surface, conventional truth, work for the sake of wandering beings through the gateway of the six far-reaching attitudes, and so on.

(58) While, on the deepest level of what is perfect, because it is unborn and totally pure, there is no dualism of samsara and nirvana, being parted from (such) conceptual fabrications.

When you have generated supreme, deepest bodhichitta, your mind, in that state, is parted from the conceptual fabrications of the dualism of samsara and nirvana. On the face of what is deepest, there are no concepts; it is totally pure. As for what are called “samsara and nirvana” – with so-called “samsara” being something bad and so-called “nirvana” being something excellent – your mind, being parted from conceptual fabrications, does not make this dualistic distinction. Gain stable realization of the meaning of this to be like that.

The pathway mind (that has stable realization) of the meaning of the two truths to be dependent arising is the causal Mahayana vehicle of mind, that of dialectics.

Further, as for the pathway mind of the unified pair (zung-‘jug) of the two truths, there are the two: surface, conventional truth and deepest truth, with surface, conventional truth taken from phenomena’s facet of appearance and deepest truth from their facet of voidness. Stable realization of the unified pair of these two, appearance and voidness, is the pathway mind of dependent arising. Whether or not you have a causal Mahayana pathway mind of dialectics (mtshan-nyid) depends on this.

When it says, “On the deepest level of what is perfect,” it refers to what, on the deepest level, has a self-nature of total purity, from the depths primordially unborn and totally pure. That being so, on it there is no dualism of samsara and nirvana, with samsara being something bad and nirvana being something excellent. When there is finally no dualism of samsara and nirvana, then you have gone to a state that is parted from conceptual fabrications. The state parted from conceptual fabrications is said to be like this. 

In other words, when you have reached certitude about the abiding nature of what is deepest, it is like this. And when you have reached certitude about far-reaching discriminating awareness, you have reached certitude about the two selflessnesses. When you come to reach certitude about the two selflessnesses, you go to a state without the conceptual conventions of the two: samsara and nirvana.    

As Longchenpa said:

(When) there is no dualism of samsara and nirvana, being parted from (such) conceptual fabrications, (that is) the pathway mind (that has stable realization) of the meaning of the two truths to be dependent arising

Furthermore, as Nagarjuna wrote in The Root Verses for Madhyamaka, Called Discriminating Awareness (XXIV.19):

Because any phenomena that does not dependently arise does not exist, for that reason any phenomenon that is not devoid does not exist.

Like this, all phenomena of samsara and nirvana do appear. By relying on the dependent arising of conducive causes and circumstances, their appearing is made possible through the power of dependent arising. Their manner of appearing is not impeded or prevented by voidness. The appearances of phenomena that arise unimpeded as the natural display (rang-mtshams) of voidness, are surface, conventional truths. 

As for all that are fit to appear as they are, as surface, conventional truths – in deepest truth, other than subsiding and passing within the state that is parted from all mental fabrication, they are not established as objects of grasping for defining characteristics (for fitting them into conceptual categories) (mtshan-mar ‘dzin-pa). This is a state that is beyond the dualism of objects taken and minds that take them. 

The manners of reaching certitude about pure and deepest voidness in both dzogchen and the causal vehicle of dialectics come to exactly one and the same point. The way of reaching certitude about voidness in the causal vehicle of dialectics, such as in terms of mental labeling with words, is varied. In dzogchen, on the other hand, you reach certitude by going straight to the point (kha-ri kha-thug-gis). Except for differences like that, the manners of reaching certitude about the essential nature of voidness definitely come to the same point. 

When you apply lines of reasoning that stand up to logic (rigs-pa rang-tsho zin-pa), as you go higher and higher in the tenet systems, your manner of applying them becomes more and more skillful and your mind becomes more and more expansively open (gu-yangs). Thus,

The pathway mind (that has stable realization) of the meaning of the two truths to be dependent arising is the causal great Mahayana vehicle of mind, that of dialectics.

Up to here, these are like the quintessence teachings for how the pathway mind of the causal vehicle of dialectics eliminates confusion. 

The Distinct Mahayana Pathway of Mind of Secret Mantra: Outer and Inner

(59) The distinct Mahayana pathway of mind, that of secret mantra, has outer and inner (classes).

The distinct pathway of mind for eliminating confusion with a pathway mind that is functioning as a pathway mind is that of secret mantra, both outer and inner.

It has the fathomlessly supreme method of the generation and complete stages as a unified pair, by which you cleanse away confusion through various steps.

The pathway mind of the unified pair of generation and complete stages has fathomless methods for functioning as a supreme pathway mind. As for these varied methods, there is the cleansing away of the confusion of what is impure by relying on the generation stage and, after that, the cleansing away of the confusion of what is impure by relying on the complete stage. The objects that are cleansed away at the heart to get to the level of purity that is indeed the deepest are the impurities that are the confusion of deceptive appearances. 

The manners of cleansing them away that are distinct from those of sutra are varied. There is the manner of cleansing them away as on the generation stage and the manner of cleansing them away as on the complete stage. Practicing like that is the distinct Dharma method of secret mantra, unshared with sutra.

As for the generation and complete stages as a unified pair, what is called the “unified pair on the generation stage” means it will not do for the generation stage itself to meditate on its visualizations as being concrete and solid (a-‘thas). The generation stage is not one that accepts concrete, solid existence. The foundation of the generation stage is their essential nature of voidness. When it says, “voidness,” that is not a voidness that is an utterly bare nothingness (stong-nyid phyang-chad). It is the lack of any impediment preventing the dependent arising of the appearance facet. The unified pair of the generation and complete stages is like that. 

It is not that there are three stages: generation, complete and their unified pair. Both the generation and complete stages are pathway minds of a unified pair. Having both generation and complete stages be pathway minds of a unified pair makes it supreme among methods.

Both generation and complete stages being unified pairs means that when you practice the generation stage, it is not simply a generation stage alone and not also a complete stage. Similarly, when you practice the complete stage, it is not simply a complete stage alone and not also a generation stage. The unified pair of the two means the two always remaining simultaneously together. Such a unified pair is somewhat like two people living in a marriage.

(60) As for the three outer (classes of) secret mantra, through their taking purification as the main (practice), you abandon and adopt, sometimes one sometimes the other, and thus eliminate stains by means of antidotes. 

The three outer classes of tantra are kriya tantra, charya tantra and yoga tantra. Since they take purification through washing, being hygienic, and so on, as their main practice, they entail abandoning and adopting, sometimes one sometimes the other.

As for “abandoning and adopting, sometimes one sometimes the other (res-‘jog),” what is to be abandoned, or gotten rid of, are all the disturbing emotions, and what is to be adopted is deep awareness (ye-shes). As you are not yet able to directly transform disturbing emotions into deep awareness, then, as antidotes to the disturbing emotions, you practice washing, being hygienic, and so on. On top of that, you practice meditation on love, meditation on compassion and the like. In this way, you practice abandoning and adopting, sometimes one sometimes the other. When you are practicing one, you remain not practicing the other. This is a bit difficult like that.

The practice of these three outer tantras, then, requires eliminating stains by relying, in stages, on antidotes with which you abandon and adopt, sometimes one sometimes the other. With these three outer tantras, for the disturbing emotions to be abandoned, you seek extraneous methods as antidotes that will rid you of them, and then you need to eliminate the stains by applying them, also sometimes one sometimes another. Except for such types of methods, you are unable to transform the disturbing emotions themselves into deep awareness.

As for the inner (three), with deep awareness of the non-dualistic unified pair, you transform, with that as the method, those actual phenomena that are to be abandoned into pathway minds.  

With the three inner classes of tantra – mahayoga, anuyoga and atiyoga – you have the unified pair of method and discriminating awareness. You generate [the mandala of Buddha-figures] through the power of deep awareness of the non-dualistic unified pair of the two: the appearance facet that is surface, conventional truth and, with discriminating awareness, the voidness facet that is their deepest truth. Because of that, then if, as an example of what is to be abandoned, there is something like the suffering of a disturbing emotion, it is said that, without needing to abandon or get rid of it, the disturbing emotion itself is taken and transformed into a pathway mind. This is the distinct feature of these higher tantras. 

(61) In the mandala of the basis sphere, which is a womb containing a Blissfully Gone One, all phenomena, which are its reflexive appearances, are mere appearances of and to your own limited mind.

The essential nature (ngo-bo) of the womb containing a Blissfully Gone One (bde-gshegs snying-po) – that basis sphere (gzhi-dbyings) – is a totally pure mandala. In it, all phenomena, which are its reflexive appearances, are mere appearances of and to your own limited mind. In other words, the mandala of the [Buddha-nature] womb containing a Blissfully Gone Buddha is like a mirror. In it, the surface, conventional truth of all phenomena appears, like derivative reflections (gzugs-brnyan) dawning in a mirror, without any impediment to what is to appear. All phenomena, which are its reflexive appearances (rang-snang), are nothing but the mere appearances of and to your own limited mind.  

They are the deceptions of confusion, not true phenomena – devoid forms that are states of clarity and appearance.

The deceptions of confusion themselves are not true phenomena (dngos-med). They have voidness as their self-natures. Out of that voidness, various appearances dawn as states of [the unified pair] of clarity [appearance-making] and appearance. 

(62) When you have become mindful that the aggregates, the constituent elements, the cognitive stimulators, and so on, are, in pure (form), the five (Buddha) families, then through the generation stage (practices), the samsaric world of appearances becomes a single mandala. 

Become decisive that all deceptive appearances – all this confusion – are nothing other than merely appearances of and to your limited mind. All these confusing, deceptions are not true phenomena. They are nothing other than devoid forms (stong-gzugs), forms that are derivative reflections of voidness. 

These [unified pairs of] clarity [appearance-making] and appearance are called “aggregates, constituent elements, cognitive stimulators, and so on.” But, by visualizing your five aggregates as the Buddha-figures of the five Buddha- families, your five elements as the five consorts, and your cognitive stimulators and eightfold network of primary consciousnesses as the eight male bodhisattvas and eight female bodhisattvas, generate all these disturbing factors that occur on the basis of your body only in the self-nature of deities, such as the Buddha-figures of the five Buddha-families. Then, in stages, as is said, the entire samsaric world of appearances (snang-srid) becomes rolled into a single mandala.

With your body as deities, your speech as mantras, you apply your conscious conceptual thoughts to emanating and reabsorbing,

You apply your conscious conceptual thoughts (dran-rtog) to emanating from and reabsorbing into the basis; you visualize everything of your body as deities; you visualize all the speech you utter as the energy-wind of mantras; and then you cleanse the conscious conceptual thoughts of your limited mind into a play of deep awareness. 

(so that) in the end, (all) deceptive appearances are regarded as a Buddha-field.

In the end, when it says, “merely deceptive appearances,” for example, “are not established as truly existent,” it means that, in the end, when a deceptive appearance comes to appear, it is nothing other than a mere appearance on the face of your confusion. No one can say that it is an extraneous deceptive appearance apart from being, on the deepest level, nothing other than a Buddha-field

Up to here is the generation stage. Needing to cleanse the body as deities, speech as mantras, and mind as the play of the actual nature of all things (chos-nyid) – all of these are on the generation stage. Now, as for complete stage:

(63) With the complete stage (practices), everything is made to enter into the sphere of the actual nature (of all things) and the clear light mind beyond all thought. 

Suppose you ask, “What is the method for entering into the sphere (dbyings)?” 

(To accomplish this,) through yoga (practices) dealing with the energy-channels, energy-winds and creative energy-drops, the energy-winds and the mind (are made) serviceable and the sphere and deep awareness are conjoined.

It is by relying on yogic practices of the energy-channels, energy-winds and creative energy-drops, with which your body is a lattice (dra-ba) of energy-channels, your speech is a lattice of energy-winds, and your mind is in the nature of creative energy-drops.

The body, as a lattice of energy-channels, is made serviceable primarily by relying on yoga exercises (‘khrul-‘khor), tummo inner heat (gtum-mo), and so on, and, on top of that, getting the energy-winds to pierce through and enter [into the subtle energy-hubs, the chakras]. Then you need to meditate on your limited mind as being together with the deep awareness of great bliss. When you practice like this, the energy-winds and mind become serviceable as a result of the meditation. 

“Serviceable” means that you have power over the energy-winds. There are accounts of some mahasiddhas, greatly accomplished tantric practitioners of the past, who, in one breath, were able to cross to the other side of the Tsangpo River, and some, in one breath, were able to travel many kilometers. These are signs of their having made their energy-winds and minds serviceable. Nowadays, except for mere explanations of these historical accounts of old, there is no one able to accomplish such feats from their meditation practice.

As for the sphere and deep awareness are conjoined, “the sphere” refers to voidness. “Deep awareness” refers to the five types of deep awareness, which are the unimpeded effulgence (rtsal) of voidness. These two, the sphere of voidness and deep awareness conjoined means they are a unified pair [as a Deep Awareness Dharmakaya and an Essential Nature Dharmakaya]. Their inseparability is the great seal, mahamudra. This is what the ultimate resultant state is like of the resultant secret mantra vehicle of mind, Vajrayana.

The pathway mind of the great seal, mahamudra, which is (this) inseparable unified pair, is the resultant Vajrayana vehicle of mind of secret mantra.

Up to this point, Longchenpa has been talking about the generation of deities as mahayoga and the energy-winds as anuyoga. All the practices of the energy-channels, energy-winds and creative energy-drop are on the complete stage of anuyoga, but they are also found in atiyoga. It’s the same with mahayoga and atiyoga. It all depends on what has greater or lesser emphasis. In anuyoga, the main emphasis is on the complete stage with the energy-channels, energy-winds and creative energy-drops. With atiyoga the main emphasis is on cleansing, into the actual nature of all things, your external body as a deity and speech. 

Although there are texts that explain all three – mahayoga, anuyoga and atiyoga – put together; however, for the purpose of theoretical exposition, it is easier to understand if these three inner tantras are treated separately, as is the case here in this text. But in the case of The Precious Gems Gathering into One (dKon-mchog spyi-‘dus), for example, in actuality it is called a maha-ati practice, except that its generation of the deity is as in atiyoga:  

In its identity-nature, this normal mind of mine is unfabricated. It appears as a Body of Padma Obar, the Precious Gems gathered into one, complete in a single moment of recollection, like a fish taken out of water.  

With mahayoga, however, first, everything is cleansed into voidness. For this, you meditate on the basis absorbed concentration (samadhi) on the authentic nature (gzhi de-bzhin-nyid-kyi ting-nge-‘dzin), which is the void nature of everything. Then, within this state of voidness, moved by great waves of a compassionate motivation, you meditate on the pathway absorbed concentration illuminating everywhere (lam kun-snang-ba’i ting-nge-‘dzin). This absorbed concentration illuminating everywhere has voidness and compassion made into a unified pair. Then, from this basis, you arise as the seed-syllable of the deity, which is in the essential nature of rigpa, pure awareness. This is the resultant absorbed concentration on the cause (‘bras-bu rgyu’i ting-nge-‘dzin).   

From the seed syllable of the deity, light rays emanate, cleansing the external environment and cleansing the beings inhabiting within it, cleansing everything into voidness. Then, from the reflexive brilliance (rang-mdangs) of voidness comes the basis foundation of wind, on top of which is a giant crossed vajra with the interstitial space filled with a lattice of crossed vajras (rdo-rje rgya-rgyam). On it are stacked, in succession, the four element mandalas. On top of that, you meditate the entire external world as the sphere of a Buddha-field and an immeasurably magnificent palace and, inside it, as its resident, you dissolve your aggregates and then have your mind arise as the seed-syllable HUM. From the HUM, light rays emanate and collect back in, whereupon the HUM transforms into a vajra. The vajra, in turn, emanates rays of light, which collect back in and the vajra transforms into Vajrasattva. The extensive generation stage practice proceeds like this in mahayoga. 

In anuyoga, the generation stage is short and more condensed than this. Its main emphasis is on the energy-channels, energy-winds and subtle energy-drops. It contains very extensive practices with them. 

As for atiyoga, or dzogchen, is if often called “maha-ati,” with “maha” referring to the generation stage practices. “Maha” literally means “great” and “ati” means “most” – in other words, the highest, like the highest rung on a ladder. That being so, because there is the necessity, with the methods of one of the generation stages, to meditate yourself as being Guru Rinpoche and to recite his mantra, if you don’t generate these, at least to some extent, with the methods of one of the generation stages, but just remain with yourself meditating on a great voidness with complete stage practices alone, you won’t have anything to recite. You won’t have a deity to meditate yourself as or mantras to recite. 

That being so, then, for the sake of bringing it about that, with one thought, we actualize ourselves, a person, as the deity Guru Rinpoche and bring about the recitation of his mantra, then I myself appear as a Body of Padma Obar, the Precious Gems gathered into one, complete in a single moment of recollection, like a fish taken out of water.  

Like this, without needing to go through all the difficulty of generating yourself as a deity through the three absorbed concentrations, the three samadhis, you appear clearly as a deity in an instant. When you appear clearly in an instant like this, all external and internal phenomena are the sphere of a Buddha-field and an immeasurably magnificent palace. Then, you are able to fly in the sky like an airplane. Then is an “airplane tradition.”

The Unsurpassable Pathway Mind of Dzogchen

Now, for how the pathway mind of atiyoga, dzogchen, eliminates confusion from the mind:

(64) The unsurpassable vehicle of mind of the supremely secret great completeness, dzogchen, connects you directly with the sphere that spontaneously establishes (all). In the basis sphere, which is unchanging like space, all good qualities are spontaneously established like the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars. 

Reflexive pure awareness (rang-gi rig-pa) is the basis sphere, which is unchanging like space. In it, all the good qualities of the enlightening physical bodies and deep awareness are automatically and spontaneously established like the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars circling in the sky. 

Because (they are) spontaneously established primordially from the depths, without need for being sought,  

There is no need to seek for these, or to accomplish their attainment. They are spontaneously established primordially from the depths (ye-nas lhun-gyis grub-pa). They are like that. Because of that,

(this is) a pathway of mind with a self-nature of being straightforward, making no effort or exertion.

There is not a single new thing that needs to be accomplished by making an effort or exertion. There isn’t a single thing to attain. That being so, it is effortless and without exertion. This pathway of mind with a self-nature of being straightforward (mngon-sum) takes as a pathway mind straightforward, bare cognition itself of the actual nature of all things.

(65) The mandala of the sphere of the clear light mind is unaffected.

The mandala of the sphere of the clear light mind is unaffected refers to the basis clear light mind, which has an essential nature of being pure from the top (ka-dag). 

It is the naturally abiding Dharmakaya (a Corpus Encompassing Everything), the intended meaning of what is equal (in everyone). Having stable realization (of it) is the supreme view of the abiding nature.

The naturally abiding Dharmakaya, a Corpus Encompassing Everything, refers to the unaffected abiding nature of the basis clear light mind. Viewing that Dharmakaya as the same in everyone, equal to space, is the intended meaning of total excellence, Samantabhadra. 

“The naturally abiding Dharmakaya” is nothing other than what remains abiding on our own mental continuums. There is no total excellence, Samantabhadra, to be attained by searching elsewhere. Dharmakaya is the reflexive pure awareness that primordially, from the depths, remains abiding in yourself. When cleansed of the constant habits, it is the intended meaning of what is equal in everyone.

It is said that having stable realization of it is the supreme correct view. Once you have been brought to meet, straightforwardly and non-conceptually, Dharmakaya face to face, your knowing of Dharmakaya, face to face, is called “the view.” Therefore,

(66) On the sphere that is totally pure, the clouds of fleeting obscurations are the deceptive appearances of the limited minds of wandering beings. While being on something that is totally without them, yet through their nevertheless appearing (to their minds), these (beings) continue to roam as the six classes (of wandering beings) on the three planes. 

The sphere of reality, dharmadhatu, that is totally pure is a sphere that is parted from conceptual fabrications. On it, fleeting obscurations, which are like clouds, are the confusion of the deceptive appearances of the limited minds of wandering beings. Despite the appearance facet of the deceptive confusion of wandering beings being on something that is without them, nevertheless their entire uncontrollably recurring samsaric existence as the six classes of wandering beings on the three planes is these appearances.  In other words, when the total absence, the voidness of these, is obscured by unawareness, their situations as the six classes of beings appear to them, despite being on something that lacks them, and they continue to roam from situation to situation. All this is this appearance facet of deceptive confusion.

This basis, the womb containing a Blissful Gone One, as the essential nature that is total excellence, Samantabhadra, is said to pervade all wandering beings, primordially from their depths, as their own Buddha-nature wombs containing a Blissfully Gone One. As their basis, it is indeed Samantabhadra, total excellence. But that intended meaning of total excellence, Samantabhadra, being like space, for us is a case of oneself not recognizing one’s own face (rang-ngo rang-gis mi-shes). Because of not being able to hold its own ground (rang-sa ma-zin-pa), the intended meaning of it being like space becomes like a mirror with barley flour, tsampa, tossed on it. When tsampa is tossed on it, it becomes foggy.

Likewise, by not recognizing its own face, that Dharmakaya immediately degrades into an alaya (kun-gzhi), a foundational awareness. The defining characteristic of this foundational awareness is that it does not cognitively take anything, being an empty void (bem-stong), like space, So, it transforms into an alaya foundational awareness, which now, at this point, is a blank void, like space. 

That alaya foundational awareness, however, gives rise to a dualistic intellect (blo) that grasps for a self, thinking “me” – a subtle continuum of the ignorance of imagining that you have a unique identity-nature. It is a subtle awareness. From that subtle awareness there appear objects cognitively taken with the thought, “These are objects that I take as ‘mine.’” 

As for these appearances as objects cognitively taken as “mine,” if you let them automatically settle themselves (rang-bzhag) in the place where they appear (snang-sa), it will be all right; they will disappear. However, if you do not let them automatically settle themselves in the place where they appear, but follow them out, then from that subtle awareness will come one that is simply grosser, thinking, “This is ‘this’ and that is ‘that.’” It will designate them with names. Having then grasped to them as the meaning of names, you will cling to them. Having done this, then, with your awareness becoming increasingly grosser, you will cognitively take them with an obtainer attitude (nye-bar len) [an attitude that will obtain for you a samsaric rebirth]. Then by joining together the two hands of objects taken and minds that take them, you manufacture your samsaric existence merely with this: you manufacture it as the dualism of objects taken and minds that take them. Thus,

These (beings) continue to roam as the six classes (of wandering beings) on the three planes. 

If you really scrutinize and analyze it:

But whatever appears, at the time of its appearing, is not established on the deepest level.

If you scrutinize and analyze each and every appearance, like this, of the phenomena of samsara on the three planes of compulsive existence, then except for the total absence, the voidness of them all, they are not established on the deepest level

Like the sky and clouds, it is merely appearing (dependently on) fleeting circumstances

Like the sky and the clouds in it, clouds fleetingly arise with heat and moisture gathered by the wind. In this way, clouds appear. Except for appearing from the sky itself, it is not that they come into the sky, having come from some other place. Further, they do not have a place where they stay remaining in the sky; they disappear. As for where they disappear into after some time, except for into the sky itself, clouds do not have some separate place where they go. 

Similarly, these appearances as the three planes of compulsive existence that come from the confusion of the deceptive appearances of ignorance on your own limited minds are like that. When, later, you understand, then no matter how extensive or how numerous these deceptive appearances may be, the abiding nature of all these phenomena is one that does not go beyond voidness. Because of that, there is no place in voidness for deceptive confusion on the face of pure awareness, rigpa. 

These three planes of compulsive existence that are called “samsara,” then, are the appearances of the confusion of deceptive appearances on something that is without such things. These appearances are an interpolation. When you take them as definitely, truly existing, you go from interpolating them to grasping them to be actually real. 

These interpolations (appearing) as uncontrollably recurring samsara are (totally conceptional objects) cut off from being definitional ones (mtshan-nyid chad-pa).
(67) (In other words,) while being on something that is totally without them, (the phenomena of samsara) nevertheless appear, but their essential nature is voidness. Void appearances are not (true) phenomena. They are like a blur, falling hairs (seen by someone with cataract), a dream, an illusion, or a conch perceived as yellow (by someone with jaundice). At the time when they are appearing in whatever way (they may appear), they can never be (validly) experienced as being established from themselves (nyid-nas grub-pa).

This is easy to understand, isn’t it? 

They are without a basis, without a support, and without an (actual) beginning, middle or end. Know that, by self-nature, they are primordially pure from the start (gdod-nas).

Now, these lines are really bringing you face to face with dzogchen, the great completeness.

(68) Concerning (all) phenomena like this – the samsaric world of appearances: environments and their inhabitants – there are no (actual) objects to be taken. They are like magical emanations or visual apparitions. And there are no (actual) limited minds to take them; (all is) pure like empty space. (Since) there is no (actual) pair: objects to be taken and minds that take them, samsara has never been (validly) experienced as being (actually) existent.

Although what is called “samsara” has never been validly experienced as being actually existent, yet from what is totally without them, they nevertheless appear like deceptive confusion.

By cognizing it as an appearance on what is totally without it and as having the self-nature of being deceptive, you liberate yourself.

As soon as you cognize the self-nature of samsara – namely, its abiding nature – you immediately liberate yourself.   

(69) Because the appearances of things to be abandoned or adopted, causes, effects and circumstances naturally purify themselves, know that, on the deepest level, their abiding nature is beyond cause and effect.

The Dharma that is beyond cause and effect is called “dzogchen, the great completeness.” Concerning that, all phenomena – including what is to be abandoned and what is to be adopted and causes and effects – naturally purify themselves (rang-dangs) into their self-natures. Because of that, when it is the case that when searching for something with a defining characteristic of a functional phenomenon and, totally separate and extraneous to that, its truly established existence, neither has ever been validly experienced as being actually existent, then, on the deepest level, the ultimate meaning of the abiding nature of all things must be called “a phenomenon that is beyond cause and effect.”  

The basis support for them, is pure awareness, rigpa, the (deepest) bodhichitta mind.

The basis support for them refers to these phenomena that are beyond cause and effect. As for what is like a basis support (rten-gzhi) for them, if it were to be taken to be like a basis for being designated with a name, the name it would need to be designated with would be the bodhichitta mind of reflexive pure awareness, rigpa

More fully, what is called the “basis support for them” is the deepest level of the abiding nature that your certitude reaches, which is without both cause and effect and objects taken and minds taking them. 

Suppose you say, “Having reached a state of certitude, there must be something that you reach down to that is something like a basis for them.” Then, as for the place that you reach down to, you have reached down to the bodhichitta mind of rigpa, pure awareness. Actually, though, having reached a state of certitude, you cannot find such a place. When everything has gone to there being just voidness, it has come about that there is no place on which to designate a name. 

Suppose you ask, “If one has come about, what kind of thing would it need to be that you could set a name on?” It would be a basis support. In other words, having reached a state of certitude about the voidness of all things, suppose you ask, “What would that place be on which you could designate a name?” It would be the basis support of them. That place on which you could designate a name, having reached certitude about voidness, is a basis. Suppose you ask, “What is it?” It is the bodhichitta mind, pure awareness, rigpa. It is the foundation of them. 

The sphere of (naturally) released nirvana, the great spontaneous establisher (of all) is the deepest truth, pure from the start. 
(70) In other words, with an identity-nature of being without a beginning and without an end and being a clear light mind in its self-nature – profound, stilled and parted from conceptual fabrication – it is a Dharmakaya naturally abiding in you, primordially from the depths, without any stains, abiding with an essential nature that never shifts over the three times.

It is a Deep Awareness Dharmakaya, with no beginning and no end, being a clear light in its self-nature – profound, stilled, and parted from conceptual fabrications – abiding in you, primordially from the depths, without any stains. Over the three times – the time no longer happening., the presently- happening time and the time not yet happening – without conventions or ever shifting, it abides with an essential nature like that.

(71) This is the sphere of the basis, the diamond-strong vajra essence. Whoever has stable realization of that is someone with the (correct) view of the abiding nature,

This sphere of the basis (gzhi-dbyings) is called “the diamond-strong vajra essence” (rdo-rje snying-po).  Whoever has come to a stable realization of that is called “someone with a correct view of the abiding nature.

and, with interpolation and repudiation stilled, has stable realization of it as the heart-essence of the deepest level.

With the interpolation and repudiation of it existing or not existing stilled, they must have had stable realization of what is like the heart-essence of the deepest level.

Cultivating a Correct View of Dzogchen in Meditation

Suppose you now ask, “Once you have had a stable realization like this, how do you meditate on it?” 

(72) Stainless meditation, (done) within a state of stable realization of the heart-essence of the clear light mind, is parted from mental dullness, flightiness of mind and conceptual fabrication. It is without mental wandering and, being parted from the dualistic intellect, it is a great expanse. In other words, it is totally pure like the sky, without the making or dropping of plans (rgya-chad) and without bias (phyogs-lhung med), beyond all thought, expression and imagination.

Within a state of this correct view that you have stable realization of, there is no mental dullness and no flightiness of mind. It is parted from conceptual fabrication and is also without mental wandering. It is parted from the dualistic intellect (blo-bral), which means it is parted from the manner of taking objects by a dualistic intellect. It is a great expanse (yangs-pa chen-po), for example like the greatness of space, whose vastness is a great expanse. What is called “dzogchen meditation” is something like that.   

As for what is called “parted from the dualistic intellect (blo-bral),” as Shantideva wrote in Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior (IX.2): 

Deepest truth is not a cognitive object of the dualistic intellect.

Because it is something that has gone beyond being an object of the dualistic intellect, it is called “something parted from the dualistic intellect.” In other words, it is not an object known by an investigating, analyzing mind.  

As for what is called “without mental wandering,” in an absence of a basis for mental wandering. On what is there mental wandering? Who is there to mentally wander? Where is there an object to mentally wander to? It has completed decisively reaching the voidness of everything. It is a total absence. This is called “the great expanse parted from the intellect.” It is expansive like space, beyond being an object that can be thought of by the limited mind, beyond being an object that can be put into words and uttered, beyond being an object that can be imagined.

Cultivating Correct Behavior Based on the Dzogchen View

Out of behavior, view and meditation, Longchenpa has spoken about the last two. Now, as for behavior:

(73) As for behavior, whatever appears has no truly (established existence): it purifies itself away. Any (mind) internally taking (objects) that dawns automatically releases itself. 

As for the conceptual thoughts of limited minds internally taking objects, which shakily (ling-nge) dawn – as soon as they dawn, with the mere recognition of them as conceptual thoughts, there is nothing they can do except automatically disappear right in their own place (rang-sar). Like lines drawn on water, their drawing and deleting, other than occurring simultaneously, do not happen first one before and then the other after. When you draw a line in water with your finger, as soon as you finish drawing it, it has already finished disappearing. Just like that, when a conceptual thought has finished dawning, because there is nothing sitting there on top of this dawning that can be cognitively taken, it disappears. This is referred to as whatever dawns automatically releases itself (gang-shar rang-grol).

If there is nothing dawning, however, then it is the same as the cessation (of thoughts) of a shravaka. But it is not that there is nothing dawning. When there is nothing dawning, you have fallen into a stupor and your state has become that of a shravaka’s cessation of thoughts. When that happens, there are no conceptual thoughts that are the basis for releasing themselves. But it is not like that. In dzogchen, anything that appears, its manner of releasing itself is, in fact, “one thing is sufficient for an adornment and garment” (rgyan-gos gcig-chog). In other words, no matter what dawns as a phantasmagoric display (yo-langs) of all phenomena, pure awareness rigpa recognizes it as its own face. Sustaining this, without continuing after anything, is called “automatically dawning, automatically releasing” (rang-shar rang-grol). By merely looking at it, without following after it, it releases itself.

External (objects) taken are like a dream or an illusion. On the deepest level, there isn’t a duality, (so) act without adopting or discarding.

All external objects taken are like a dream or an illusion. On the deepest level, there isn’t anything existing as a duality. Nothing is established as something to adopt, and nothing is established as something to discard. So, there is no duality of adopting or discarding

Recapitulation of Dzogchen

(74) As for the phenomena that are taking (objects, objects) taken, disturbing emotions, negations and affirmations, they arise and automatically release themselves. By knowing their self-natures, they automatically release themselves. 

No matter what disturbing emotions dawn, as soon as they arise, their self-nature is that they release themselves. By merely knowing their self-nature, they release themselves

They release themselves into a state of equality in Dharmakaya, primordially complete from the depths, 

Suppose you ask, “Where is the place into which they release that they release themselves into?” There is no place into which to release except the sphere of voidness, the state of equality in Dharmakaya, primordially complete from its depths,

(Thus), there is no need to seek a nirvana from having an abandonment of samsara.

There is no nirvana to be sought by abandoning samsara.

(75) Whatever appear are mirrors making a clear image of what is deepest. Whatever dawn, when known, automatically release themselves. They are the effulgence of the Dharmakaya.

As for the entire extent of whatever appear, they are all like mirrors making a clear image of their deepest truth. As for the entire extent of whatever conceptual thoughts dawn, they all release themselves in their own place with the mere knowing of what they are. They are the effulgence (rtsal) of Dharmakaya.

Whatever appear refer to any kinds of phenomena of samsara or nirvana that appear. Everything that appears is like a mirror making a clear image of what is deepest, namely, deepest truth. When they appear, the extent of their appearing does not block this. They are making a clear image on the essential nature of what is deepest. Because they appear in the family of voidness, the essential nature of rigpa, pure awareness, everything is like a mirror making a clear image of itself, namely of voidness, the essential nature of what is deepest. 

Now, no matter what conceptual thoughts dawn internally, as soon as they dawn, they disappear in their own place with the mere knowing of what they are. When they have disappeared, there is no place where they are now staying, even externally. Because they themselves are a voidness, knowing this, they automatically release themselves, being what are called “the effulgence of Dharmakaya.”  

Like water and waves, they are an overarching oneness (phyam-gcig) in Dharmakaya. This is the (Buddhas’) intention concerning the ultimate point, the very summit of views, the great completeness, dzogchen.

Like water and waves, a division of them into two separate things, water and waves, is not something known. When it is the case that waves come to arise from the effulgence of the water, then a division of them into two separate things, water and waves, is not something known. As for the extent of whatever appears as a phenomenon of samsara or nirvana – the extent of what appear externally and the extent of what clearly arise internally – these two, objects taken and minds that take them, both externally and internally, are, on an impure level, called “the duality of objects taken and minds that take them” and, on a pure level, whatever appear, they are all the phantasmagoric display of Dharmakaya. They are all nothing other than the effulgence of Dharmakaya.

This completes reaching certitude about the view, meditation and behavior of dzogchen.

Summary

(76) In short, however you practice in any of these ways, grasping for a “self” automatically releases itself and disturbing emotions purify themselves away in the sphere. 

In summary of all these methods, the essence is that, through the opponent power of a Dharma method, whichever one you practice, grasping for a “self” should be able to release itself in its own place and all disturbing emotions should be able to purify themselves in the sphere of deep awareness.

Being skilled in behaving according to (these) methods in all (situations) is taught as (the way for) having the pathway minds eliminate confusion.

Someone who is skilled in upholding behavior according to these profound methods in all situations is called someone who is able to have the pathway minds eliminate confusion.

(77) May all nine kinds of beings, without exception, cross the ocean of compulsive existence by means of the precious great ship of (these) ways of the Dharma like that, and, on the supreme island of a stilled state of precious liberation, behold a banquet of an untainted stilling and bliss.
This (concludes) the third chapter of A Precious Garland for the Four Themes of (Gampopa), “Having the Pathway Minds Eliminate Confusion.”
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