A Combined Presentation of the Ten Levels

A Combined Presentation of the Ten Levels

 

GSUM PA LA GSUM, SA BCU’I THUN MONG GI RNAM GZHAG, SA SO SO’I RNAM GZHAG, SA BCU’I YON TAN BSTAN PA’O,,

 

This brings us to the third point in our explanation of the levels which act as a cause, which is a presentation on the structure of the levels for realized beings who are bodhisattvas.  We will cover this subject in three different steps: a combined presentation of the ten levels; a separate presentation for each one of these levels; and then a description of the high good qualities of the ten.

 

 

DANG PO NI, ‘DIR RAB DGA’ SOGS SA BCU GCIG BSHAD PA NI, RIN CHEN ‘PHRENG BA LAS,

 

Here is the first.  Our presentation here on eleven levels—Perfect Happiness and the rest—is based upon the following lines from The String of Precious Jewels which speak of ten levels, and a broad presentation of eleven levels:

 

 

,JI LTAR NYAN THOS THEG PA LA,

,NYAN THOS SA NI BRGYAD BSHAD PA,

,DE BZHIN THEG PA CHEN PO LA,

,BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’I SA BCU’O,

 

For the way of the listeners,

We see a description

Of eight different listener levels.

Just so, for the greater way,

There are ten bodhisattva levels.[1]

 

 

ZHES SA BCU DANG, BCU GCIG PA’I RNAM GZHAG RAGS PA CIG GSUNGS PA LA GZHI MDZAD CING,

 

SA BCU PA’I MDO LA YANG BRTEN NAS MDZAD DE, DE LA RAB DGA’ SOGS SA [@21b] BCU LA SEMS BSKYED PA BCUR BSHAD PA NI, DON DAM PA’I SEMS BSKYED LA DGONGS SO,,

 

Our explanation is also based upon The Sutra on the Ten Levels.  In this scripture, the ten levels—Perfect Happiness and the rest—are spoken of as the “ten forms of the Wish for enlightenment.”[2]  We are meant to understand that this is a reference to the ultimate form of this Wish.[3]

 

 

DON DAM SEMS BSKYED DU BZHAG PA’I SA BCU’I NGO BO NI, ‘GREL PA LAS, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS KYI ZAG PA MED PA’I YE SHES SNYING RJE LA SOGS PAS ZIN PA NYID CHAR RNAM PAR PHYE BA NA, SA ZHES BYA BA’I MING ‘THOB STE YON TAN GYI GNAS SU ‘GYUR BA’I PHYIR RO,

 

What is the essential nature of these ten levels that are described as consisting of the ultimate Wish for enlightenment?  As the Commentary puts it,

 

We can take the immaculate wisdom of the bodhisattvas—and specifically that one which is imbued with qualities such as compassion—and divide it into certain parts.  These are then given the name of “level,” in the sense that they are stages of extraordinary spiritual qualities.[4]

 

 

ZHES SA YI NGO BO DANG GANG GIS YONGS SU ZIN PA DANG, SA’I MING ‘THOB TSUL DANG, SGRA’I DON BSHAD PA BZHIS BSTAN NO,,

 

The idea of a “level” is thus presented in four aspects: its essential nature; that thing which imbues it; how something gets the name of “level”; and a literal explanation of the word “level.”

 

 

ZAG PA MED PA’I YE SHES ZHES PA’I NGO BO NI, KHA CIG MDZOD NAS BSHAD PA LTAR GYI ZAG PA RGYAS SU MI RUNG BA LA ZAG MED DU ‘CHAD PA NI, LUGS ‘DI’I ZAG MED DU ‘JOG PA’I DON THUN MONG MA YIN PA MA RTOGS PAR SNANG BAS,

 

What is the essential nature of immaculate wisdom?  Some have glossed the word “immaculate” here in the way in which it is explained in The Treasure House of Higher Knowledge: as referring to a quality of not being something which would contribute to the increase of impurities.  It would appear that such commentators have failed to grasp the unique way in which the present system determines that something is “immaculate.”

 

 

 

RANG GI LUGS NI BDEN ‘DZIN GYI MA RIG PA DANG, DE’I BAG CHAGS GANG RUNG GIS BSLAD PA NI ZAG BCAS DANG, BSLAD PA DE DANG BRAL BA’I YE SHES NI ZAG PA MED PA YIN TE,

 

Our own position here though is that the term “impure” refers to something’s being infected by ignorance in the form of grasping things to be real, or by the mental seed for this tendency.  And then that which is “immaculate” is any form of wisdom which is free of such infection.

 

 

TSIG GSAL LAS, MA RIG PA’I RAB RIB DANG BRAL BA DAG GI YE SHES ZAG PA MED PA’I YUL GYI RANG BZHIN LA LTOS NAS NI MA YIN NO, ZHES GSUNGS PA BZHIN NO,,

 

A Clarification of the Verses concurs when it states, “…but this is not something taught with reference to the nature of the object of immaculate wisdom, which is possessed by those who are free of the cataract of ignorance.”[5]

 

 

DE YANG SANGS RGYAS KYI SA MA THOB TSUN CHAD DU MA RIG PA’I BAG CHAGS KYIS MA BSLAD PA’I SHES PA NI, ‘PHAGS PA RNAMS KYI MNYAM GZHAG MI RTOG PA’I YE SHES MIN PA MED LA, DE YANG RES ‘JOG PA STE MNYAM GZHAG LAS LANGS PA NA BAG CHAGS KYIS BSLAD PA CAN DU SKYE’O,,

 

We should though here make a point about the state of mind which is not infected by the mental seed for ignorance; at least, as it occurs prior to the point that one reaches the level of an enlightened being.  There does not exist any case of this particular state of mind other than the wisdom of a realized being who is in deep meditation and who is no longer thinking that things are real.  And this wisdom itself happens to be intermittent; that is, once the realized being comes out of this meditation, their mind once again begins to be infected by those mental seeds.

 

 

SA [@22a] BDUN PA’I BAR DU NI MA RIG PAS SLOD PA YOD LA, SA BRGYAD PA NAS DANG DGRA BCOM PA GNYIS LA NI, SLOD BYED KYI MA RIG PA ZAD PAS, DES BSLAD PA MED KYI MA RIG PA’I BAG CHAGS KYIS BSLAD PA NI YOD DO,,

 

This infection by ignorance lasts up through the seventh bodhisattva level; but at two points—that is, from the eighth level on, and when one becomes an enemy destroyer—the ignorance which would do the infecting is finished.  Thus there is no infection by this ignorance; although there is still infection by the mental seeds for the ignorance.

 

 

YANG ‘GREL PAR SA DANG PO LA GNYIS SU MED PA’I YE SHES KYI MING CAN ZHES GSUNGS PA NI, YUL YUL CAN RGYANGS CHAD DU GNYIS SU SNANG BA MED PA LA ZER GYI, MTHA’ GNYIS SPANGS PA TZAM GYI YE SHES LA MI BYA’O,,

 

In the commentary, where it speaks of “what is given the name” of “the wisdom beyond duality” at the first bodhisattva level, it is referring to the lack of a state of duality where the subject and the object appear to be separated by some great distance; we are not though to consider it a reference to wisdom where we have but rejected the two extremes.[6]

 

 

SLOB DPON ‘DI’I GZHUNG DU MA RIG PA’I RAB RIB DANG BRAL BA’I SHES RAB DANG YE SHES, ZHES DU MA ZHIG GSUNGS PAS MA RIG PA DANG, DE’I BAG CHAGS RIG PA’I KHYAB BYED DU BYAS NAS, DE GNYIS ZAD PA NA YE SHES KYANG LDOG PA SLOB DPON ‘DI’I LUGS SU SMRA BA NI,

 

Some people have taken the following position.  They say that the numerous references here in the text of the Master to the “wisdom” or the “knowledge” which is such that “we are free of the cataract of ignorance” imply that ignorance and the mental seeds for it subsume awareness itself.  They assert thus that it is the Master’s position that—if we manage to finish off these two—then we have also stopped the wisdom itself.

 

 

MU STEGS DPYOD PA BA DRI MA ZAD NA SEMS KYANG ZAD PAR ‘DOD PA LTAR SMRA BA’I SKUR ‘DEBS CHEN PO YIN LA, ‘PHAGS PA’I MNYAM GZHAG NA YE SHES MED ZER BA YANG DE DANG ‘DRA’O,,

 

This is an extraordinary dismissal on the order of that expressed by the Hindu school known as the Analysts, who say that when we put an end to impurity in the mind we also put and end to the mind itself.[7]  The claim that the wisdom of a realized being deep in their meditation ceases to exist is the same.

 

 

RIN CHEN PHRENG BA LAS KYANG,

,DE PHYIR DE LTAR MTHONG BA GROL,

,GANG GIS MTHONG BAR ‘GYUR ZHE NA,

,THA SNYAD DU NI SEMS LA BRJOD,

 

The String of Precious Jewels also says,

 

Therefore those who see it thus

Are liberated.

And with what do they see?

We say it is with the mind,

And by that nominally.[8]

 

 

,CES YUL CAN GYI BYED PA CI ‘DRA BA ZHIG GIS DE KHO NA NYID MNGON SUM DU MTHONG BA DRIS PA’I LAN DU, THA SNYAD DU SEMS KYIS DE KHO NA NYID MNGON SUM DU MTHONG BAR GSUNGS SHING,

 

These lines are a response to the question: With what kind of action does the subject state of mind perceive suchness directly?  The answer given is that “It is by acting nominally that the mind sees suchness directly.”

 

 

CHOS DBYINGS BSTOD PA LAS KYANG,

,JI LTAR ME YIS DAG PA’I GOS,

,SNA TSOGS DRI MAS DRI [@22b] MA CAN,

,JI LTAR ME YI NANG BCUG NA,

,DRI MA ‘TSIG ‘GYUR GOS MIN LTAR,

,DE BZHIN ‘OD GSAL BA YI SEMS,

,’DOD CHAGS LAS SKYES DRI MA CAN,

,YE SHES ME YIS DRI MA SREG

,DE NYID ‘OD GSAL MA YIN NO,

 

The Praise of the The Realm of Reality as well states:

 

Consider a piece of cloth

Which has been treated with chemicals

So that it cannot be burned, but which

Is covered with different stains.

 

If you thrust it into the flame,

The stains will burn away—

But not the cloth.

 

It’s the same with the mind

Of clear light, covered in stains

Born of feelings of desire:

The fire of wisdom will burn

The stains away, but not

That one of clear light.[9]

 

 

ZHES RDO RGYUS KYI GOS DRI MA CAN MER BCUG PA NA, MES DRI MA TSIG KYANG GOS MI ‘TSIG PA LTAR, SEMS KYI DRI MA YE SHES KYI MES BSREGS PA NA, DRI MA SREG PA YIN GYI ‘OD GSAL BA’I SEMS MED PAR MI ‘GYUR BAR GSUNGS SO,,

 

These lines are describing a piece of cloth which has been treated with fire-resistant minerals but which is covered with stains.  If you thrust it into the flame, this fire will burn away the stains, but will not burn the cloth itself.  It’s the same with the mind, when we burn away its impurities using the fire of wisdom.  The stains are burned, but it is not the case that the mind of clear light disappears.

 

 

BYANG SEMS ‘PHAGS PA’I MNYAM GZHAG YE SHES DANG, NYAN RANG ‘PHAGS PA’I MNYAM GZHAG YE SHES GNYIS, MA RIG PA’I BAG CHAGS KYIS MA BSLAD PAR CHOS NYID MNGON SUM DU RTOGS PAR MTSUNGS KYANG,

 

Consider now the wisdom of a realized being who is a bodhisattva, deep in that meditation where they see emptiness directly, and the wisdom of listeners and self-made buddhas who are deep in the same meditation.  These two states of mind are equivalent from the point of view that they are both free of being infected by the seeds of ignorance.

 

 

BYANG SEMS ‘PHAGS PA’I SAR ‘JOG MI ‘JOG GI KHYAD PAR NI, SNYING RJE CHEN PO’I GZHAN DBANG DU GYUR MA GYUR DANG, YON TAN BRGYA PHRAG BCU GNYIS SOGS KYI NUS PA YOD MED KYI DBANG GI YIN NO,,

 

There is a distinction between them though from the point of view that the latter is not considered one of the levels of a realized being who is a bodhisattva.  This distinction is drawn according to whether the person involved has lost themselves to great compassion or not; and whether or not they possess the capabilities included within the 1200 high qualities, or the like.[10]

 

 


[1] Just so, for the greater way: The lines are found on f. 123b of the text (%S16, TD04158).

[2] Ten forms of the Wish: What is commonly referred to as The Sutra on the Ten Levels is actually an extended section inside the collection, found in the Kangyur, entitled The Majority of the Enlightened One—known in Sanskrit as the Avatansaka.  See bibliography entry %S35, ACIP catalog number KL00044E3.  Read the area around ff. 150-160, for example, for references to the levels as “Wishes for enlightenment.”

[3] The ultimate form of the Wish: The phrase “ultimate form of the Wish for enlightenment” is a technical term which refers to the direct perception of emptiness.  See, for example the explanation at f. 7b of the commentary to The Diamond Cutter Sutra (%B14, ST00024) written by the great Cho-ne Lama Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748).

[4] Given the name of “level”: See f. 224a of Master Chandrakirti’s autocommentary (%S3, TD03862).  Our Tengyur version of the original reads rten du (“they act as a support for extraordinary spiritual qualities”) for the gnas su (“they are stages of extraordinary spiritual qualities”); the two are essentially interchangeable, but the former gives a nice feeling for the word sa, which can meet level but also the earth which underlies a structure, and so on.

 

[5] Free of the cataract of ignorance: See f. 13a of the work, at %S6, TD03860.  The context of the discussion, incidentally, is pointing up the difference between presenting reality in terms of dependent creation (the “this” mentioned in the citation, which is still deceptive reality) or in terms of emptiness itself (ultimate reality, the object of the immaculate wisdom mentioned).

[6] The wisdom beyond duality: See f. 224a of the Autcommentary (%S3, TD03862) and the discussion of the two folios preceding it.  The classical two extremes are either (1) to believe that things are coming from their own side; or (2) to believe that—if they are not—then they must not exist at all.

[7] Hindu school known as the Analysts: A reference to the Mimansa School; a nice summary of the school’s beliefs, including that mentioned here, can be found at f. 137a of The Section on the First Seven Chapters of the “Overview of the Schools of Philosophy” and the Rest, from “A Cherished Gem for Those Who Think Clearly, a Book which Unravels the Knots of Every Difficult and Crucial Point”: An Annotated Commentary to “The Great Book on the Schools of Philosophy” (%B15, ACIP S00986-1), a massive explanation by the Mongol savant Chuje Ngawang Pelden (b. 1806) of the classic presentation from Changkya Rolpay Dorje (1717-1786).

[8] And by that nominally: The quotation is found on f. 120b of the work (%S16, TD04158).  The spelling of the title in Tibetan is an example of a gdam-ka, or acceptable alternate spelling (phreng-ba or ‘phreng-ba).  Our Tengyur version of the text by the way gives the last two lines as gang gis sems mthong ‘gyur zhe na, tha-snyad du ni sems brjod de, or something more like:  With what does their mind see? / We say it is with the mind, / And by that nominally, because…

[9] That one of clear light: The lines are found on f. 64b of the work (%S26, TD01118).  Our Tengyur version reads slightly differently: …the mind of clear light, / Covered in stains like desire: / The fire of wisdom will burn / The negative thoughts away, but not…

[10] The 1200 high qualities:  These are 12 sets of 100 high qualities attained at the first bodhisattva level during the “aftermath” period, just after one has come out of the direct perception of emptiness.  They are listed, for example, by Master Sherab Wangpo (1500-1586) as follows in his commentary to the present work entitled, The True Intent Made Even More Clear (%B@, S00273A, ff. 36b-37a):

         (1) In a single instant we see 100 Buddhas

         (2)

 

 SKAD CIG THANG CIG YUD TZAM GCIG

 

LA SANGS RGYAS BRGYA MTHONG, 2 DE DAG GIS RANG BYIN GYIS BRLABS

 

PA SHES,

 

3  BSKAL PA BRGYAD GNAS, (brgya’i? brgyar?)

 

4? DE DAG GI SNGON DANG PHYI MA’I

 

MTHAR ‘JUG

 

 

 

@037A *, ,PA,

 

5 TING NGE ‘DZIN BRGYA LA ‘JUG LDANG BYED,

 

6’JIG RTEN GYI KHAMS BRGYA GA-YO ZHING,

 

7 ‘JIG RTEN GYI KHAMS BRGYA SNANG BAR BYED,

 

8 RDZU ‘PHRUL GYIS SEMS CAN BRGYA SMIN PAR BYED,

 

9 SANGS RGYAS KYI ZHING BRGYA PHRAG DU ‘GRO BA DANG,

 

10 CHOS KYI SGO BRGYA PHRAG ‘BYED PA DANG,

11 LUS BRGYA STON CING,

12 LUS RE RE LA’ANG BYANG SEMS KYI ‘KHOR BRGYA PHRAG RE STON NUS PA’I YON TAN RNAMS YIN PA’I

 

PHYIR,

 

 

CLARIFIED IN ANOTHER COMMENTARY:

 

/Users/michaelroach/Documents/C DRIVE FILES/A/SUNGBUM NYINGPO UPDATED TO 9 14 13/DBU MA_MIDDLE-WAY PHILOSOPHY (MADHYAMIKA PRASANGIKA SCHOOL)/DBU MA LA ‘JUG PA’I ‘GREL PA_COMMENTARIES ON ‘ENTERING THE MIDDLE WAY’ (MADHYAMAKA AVATARA)/S1001E.ACT

SHES BYA CHOS CAN, SA DANG POR

 

SKYE BA MED PA’I YON TAN BRGYA PHRAG BCU GNYIS THOB PA YIN TE,

 

SA

 

 

 

DANG PO THOB PA DE’I TSE BYANG SEMS ‘DIS NI SKAD CIG THANG CIG

 

YUD TZAM ZHIG LA SANGS RGYAS BRGYA MTHOD BA DANG, BRGYA PO DE

 

DAG GIS RANG NYID BYIN GYIS BRLABS KYANG STE BRLABS PA YANG

 

BYANG SEMS ‘DI YIS

 

 

 

RTOGS PA DANG, SKAD CIG THANG CIG YAD TZAM NYID KYI TSE BSKAL BA

 

BRGYAR GNAS NUS PA DANG, SNGON DANG PHYI MA’I MTHA’I BRGYA YANG

 

YE SHES KYI GZIGS PA YANG DAG PAR ‘JUG PA DANG, BLO LDAN BYANG

 

SEMS

 

 

 

@113B ‘DIS NI TING NGE ‘DZIN BRGYA PHRAG GCIG LA SNYOMS PAR ‘JUG

 

CING GTONG BA STE LDANG BAR BYED PA DANG, BYANG SEMS ‘DI YIS

 

‘JIG RTEN GYI KHAMS BRGYA KUN NAS GA-YO PAR NUS PA DANG, ‘JIG

 

RTEN GYI KHAMS BRGYA

 

 

 

SNANG BAR BYED NUS PA DANG, DE BZHIN DU RDZU ‘PHRUL GYIS BYANG

 

SEMS DES SEMS CAN BRGYA PHRAG SMIN PAR BYED PA DANG, BRGYA PHRAG

 

GI GRANGS DANG RJES SU ‘BREL BA STE DE’I GRANGS DANG LDAN PA’I

 

SANGS RGYAS KYI ZHING

 

 

 

DAG TU ‘GRO BAR ‘GYUR BA DANG, BYANG SEMS DES NI CHOS KYI SGO MI

 

‘DRA BA BRGYA RNAMS YANG DAG PAR ‘BYED PAR BYED PA DANG, THUB

 

DBANG GI SRAS PO ‘DI NI RANG GI LUS LA LUS BRGYA RNAMS KUN NAS

 

STON PAR BYED

 

 

 

PA’ANG YIN PA DANG, LUS NI BRGYA PHRAG RE RE ZHING RGYAL BA’I

 

SRAS PO BRGYA PHRAG RE RE DAG DANG RJES SU ‘BREL PA’ANG STON

 

PA’I RANG GI ‘KHOR DANG BCAS PAS MDZES SHING ‘BYOR BA DANG BCU

 

GNYIS THOB PA’I PHYIR,

 

 

 

 

 

C:  S0273\

TN: DBU MA LA ‘JUG PA’I RNAM BSHAD DGONGS PA RAB GSAL GYI DKA’ GNAD GTAN LA ‘BEBS PA DGONGS PA YANG GSAL\

YY: “The True Intent Made Even More Clear,” a Treatment of Difficult Points in the Explanation of “Entering the Middle Way” Entitled “Illumination of the True Thought”\

AT: DGE SLONG SHES RAB DBANG PO\

AP: \

AD: \

P:  1A-188A\