How Buddhas Take Their Holy Birth from Bodhisattvas

How Buddhas Take Their Holy Birth from Bodhisattvas

 

GNYIS PA NI, NYAN RANG GNYIS THUB DBANG LAS SKYES PA YIN NA, THUB PA’I DBANG PO DE RNAMS GANG LAS BLTAMS SHE NA, RDZOGS PA’I SANGS RGYAS RNAMS NI BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ LAS ‘KHRUNGS PA YIN NO,,

 

Here is the second point from above, on how it is that Buddhas take their holy birth from bodhisattvas.  One may ask the following question: “If listeners and self-made buddhas are born from the Lords of the Able, from whom then do these Lords take their own holy birth?”  The totally enlightened Buddhas take their holy birth from the bodhisattvas.

 

 

GAL TE BYANG SEMS RNAMS KYANG SANGS RGYAS KYIS NYE BAR BSTAN PA LAS SKYES PAS, RGYAL BA’I SRAS ZHES BRJOD PA MA YIN NAM, RGYAL BA’I SRAS YIN PA DE’I PHYIR, SANGS RGYAS RNAMS BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ LAS ‘KHRUNGS PA JI LTAR RIGS TE, DPER NA BU’I PHA NI BU DE LAS SKYES PA MI RIGS PA BZHIN NO ZHE NA,

 

One may pose the following question:

 

Isn’t it though also the case bodhisattvas are born from being taught by the Buddhas?  They are after all referred to as “the daughters and sons of the Buddhas.”  And if it is true that they are the “children of the Buddhas,” how then can it be correct to say that Buddhas are born from the bodhisattvas?  It would be wrong to say, for example, that the father of a child were born from that child.

 

 

BYANG SEMS RNAMS RGYAL BA ‘GA’ ZHIG GI SRAS YIN PA NI BDEN MOD KYI, ‘ON KYANG RGYU MTSAN GNYIS KYIS BYANG SEMS RNAMS SANGS RGYAS RNAMS KYI RGYUR ‘GYUR RO,,

 

It’s true that bodhisattvas are the children of particular Victors;[1] and yet still bodhisattvas are the causes of the Buddhas, for two different reasons.

 

 

DE LA GNAS SKABS KYI KHYAD PAR LAS BYANG SEMS RNAMS SANGS RGYAS RNAMS KYI RGYUR ‘GYUR TSUL NI, DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA’I GNAS SKABS NI BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’I GNAS SKABS KYI ‘BRAS BU YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Bodhisattvas are causes of the Buddhas in the sense of the periods in a person’s spiritual evolution; that is, the period in which one is a Buddha is the outcome of the period in which one is a bodhisattva.

 

 

‘DIS NI SANGS RGYAS KYI GNAS SKABS THOB PA GANG YIN THAMS CAD, [@8a] SNGON SLOB LAM DU BYANG SEMS KYI GNAS SKABS SU GYUR PA KHO NAS THOB PA YIN NO, ZHES SANGS RGYAS DANG RGYUD GCIG PA’I BRGYUD PA’I NYER LEN GYI RGYU’I SGO NAS BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ SANGS RGYAS KYI RGYUR BSTAN NO,,

 

The wording here is meant to indicate that bodhisattvas are the cause of Buddhas in the sense of being the material cause which transforms into the Buddha who follows them, as a continuation of the same mind stream: “Each and every one who has reached the period in which one has already become a Buddha had to do so by going first through the period in which they were a bodhisattva on the path of those who still have more to learn.”

 

 

YANG DAG PAR ‘DZIN DU ‘JUG PA LAS BYANG SEMS SANGS RGYAS KYI RGYUR ‘GYUR TSUL NI, RJE BTZUN ‘JAM DPAL BYANG CHUB SEMS DPAR GYUR PA NYID KYIS, BDAG CAG GI STON PA DANG, DE LAS GZHAN PA’I SANGS RGYAS RNAMS CHES THOG MA KHO NAR BYANG CHUB KYI SEMS ‘DZIN DU BCUG PAR MDO SDE LAS ‘DON PA YIN NO,,

 

There is also a way of describing how bodhisattvas are the causes of Buddhas by virtue of “inducing them to make the perfect commitment.”  This we see in descriptions from the sutras, in incidents which took place in the infinitely distant past, where the holy Gentle Voice—in a form where he was nothing more than a bodhisattva—induced our own Teacher,[2] and other Buddhas as well, to make the commitment to the Wish for enlightenment.

 

 

‘DIS NI BYANG SEMS GZHAN GYIS THOB BYA’I SANGS RGYAS DANG, RGYUD THA DAD PA’I BYANG SEMS KYIS SANGS RGYAS DE’I LHAN CIG BYED RKYEN BYAS PA’I SGO NAS, SANGS RGYAS BYANG SEMS LAS ‘KHRUNGS PAR SGRUB PA YIN NO,,

 

This then would be a case where the holy birth of a Buddha from a bodhisattva was accomplished in such a way that the bodhisattva acted as a contributing cause for a particular Buddha: the bodhisattva who did this was a separate person from the bodhisattva who would later attain their own Buddhahood.

 

 

‘DIR PHYOGS SNGA MA SMRA BAS, BYANG SEMS RNAMS RGYAL BA’I SRAS YIN PAS, BYANG SEMS RGYAL BA LAS ‘KHRUNGS PA RIGS KYI, DE LAS BZLOG NAS SMRA BA MI RIGS ZHES BRTZAD PA LA,

 

At this point, a person who had raised the original issue might persist, expressing the following thought:

 

An argument has been raised which says that—since bodhisattvas are the “sons and daughters” of the victorious Buddhas—it makes sense to say that bodhisattvas are born from the Victorious Ones; but that asserting the reverse does not.

 

 

BYANG SEMS RGYAL BA’I SRAS YIN PA BDEN MOD KYI, ZHES RANG YANG DE LTAR BZHED PAR BSTAN PA NA, DE KHAS LEN KYANG BYANG SEMS LAS SANGS RGYAS ‘KHRUNGS PA MI ‘GAL BA’I RGYU MTSAN BSTAN DGOS PA MA BSTAN PAR,

 

In response to this argument, you have said that “It is admittedly true[3] that bodhisattvas are the children of the Victors”—indicating that you also accept this fact.  Having accepted this though, you should have followed up by giving us some reason why it isn’t then contradictory to say that Buddhas take their holy birth from bodhisattvas.  And yet you failed to do so.

 

 

BYANG SEMS LAS SANGS RGYAS ‘KHRUNGS PAR SGRUB PA MI RIGS TE, DE LTAR BSGRUBS PA LA YANG DA DUNG DOGS PA SNGA MA SKYE BAS, [@8b] DOGS PA DE MI CHOD PA’I PHYIR RO SNYAM NA,

 

As such it remains the case that it is wrong to assert that Buddhas take their holy birth from bodhisattvas; for even if you persist in doing so, the same question that we expressed before must be raised—you have done nothing to resolve this issue in our minds.

 

 

SKYON ‘DI MED DE BYANG SEMS LAS SANGS RGYAS ‘KHRUNGS PAR RTZA BAR BSTAN PA’I DON NI, RGYU MTSAN DANG PO’I SKABS SU SLOB LAM GYI BYANG SEMS KYIS, LAM NYAMS SU BLANGS PA LAS ‘BRAS BU SANGS RGYAS THOB PA LA BSHAD PA NA, BYANG SEMS DES THOB PA’I SANGS RGYAS KYI SRAS BYANG SEMS DE MIN PAR SHES PAS, DE LA BDEN MOD KYI ZHES ZER BA GA LA YIN,

 

And yet there is no such problem.  When the root text[4] states that Buddhas take their holy birth from bodhisattvas, it’s understood that—in the context of the first way that they do so—when we speak of a bodhisattva who is on a path where they are still learning and who undertakes a practice of the spiritual path and then attains the goal of becoming a Buddha, then we are not saying that the bodhisattva who turned into the Buddha is the child of that particular Buddha.  As such we would obviously not be referring to this particular bodhisattva and Buddha when we say “It is admittedly true” that bodhisattvas are children of the Buddhas.

 

 

YANG BDAG CAG GI STON PA’I GSUNG LAS GSAR DU BYANG SEMS SU SKYES PA DE, SANGS RGYAS DE’I SRAS YIN KYANG BYANG SEMS DE LAS, SANGS RGYAS DE ‘KHRUNGS PA MIN PAS RTZOD PA DE NI TSUL DE GNYIS RNAM PAR MA PHYED PA’I RTZOD PAR, ‘GREL PAS LAN BTAB PA LA BRTEN NAS, SHES RAB YOD NA CI’I PHYIR MI RTOGS, DE LTAR NA’ANG ‘DI LA YANG SNYING PO MED PA’I BSHAD PA MANG DU BYUNG SNANG NGO,

 

Consider furthermore a case where a particular practitioner has been given birth as a new bodhisattva by following the words of the Teacher.  They are then a “child” of this particular Buddha, but it is not the case that this same Buddha has taken their holy birth from this particular bodhisattva.  How on earth then could anyone with any intelligence at all fail to grasp, by reviewing the answer given in the commentary,[5] that the argument raised here represents a failure to distinguish between these two different ways in which a Buddha could take their holy birth from a bodhisattva?  Nonetheless, we do see a great many pointless discussions of this issue being offered.

 

 

BYANG SEMS RNAMS SANGS RGYAS KYI RGYU’I GTZO BO YIN PA DE NYID KYI PHYIR, SANGS RGYAS RNAMS KYIS BYANG SEMS LA BSNGAGS PA MDZAD PA YIN NO ZHES SBYAR RO,,

 

What the author then is saying here is that “For precisely the reason that bodhisattvas represent the primary cause of Buddhas, the Buddhas themselves sing the praises of the bodhisattvas.”

 

 

BSNGAGS PA MDZAD PA’I DGOS PA BZHI LAS, DANG PO NI, SANGS RGYAS KYI RGYU PHUN TSOGS NI CHES BRLING BA STE SHIN TU GCES PA YIN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

There are four reasons why it is necessary for these praises to be sung.  First of all, the most excellent cause of the Buddhas is “far beyond our ken”[6]—here meaning “something we should cherish deeply.”

 

 

GNYIS PA NI, RGYU BYANG SEMS LA MCHOD PAR BRJOD PA LAS KYANG, ‘BRAS BU SANGS RGYAS LA MCHOD PA SHUGS KYIS ‘PHANGS PAR DGONGS PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Secondly, the author intends for us to understand that—by making an offering of praise to the cause (that is, to the bodhisattvas)—he is by implication making offerings to the result: to the Buddhas.

 

 

GSUM PA NI, SMAN GYI LJON SHING ‘DOD PA’I ‘BRAS BU DPAG TU MED PA STER BA’I SHING GI MYU GU DANG SDONG BU LA [@9a] SOGS PA MTHONG ZHING, SHING GI LO MA GZHON PA ‘JAM PO’I GNAS SKABS SU, LHAG PAR YANG GCES SPRAS SU BYAS TE SKYONG BA BZHIN DU,

 

Think, thirdly, about the point at which we first spot the sprout, and then the trunk and the rest, of a medicinal tree from which we can expect an infinite number of luscious fruits.  It is at this point—when the leaves of the tree are still young and soft—that we cherish the tree the most, and do our best to protect it.

 

 

SANGS RGYAS KYI LJON SHING SKYE DGU THAMS CAD KYI GSOS SU GYUR PA’I MYU GU BYANG SEMS LAS DANG PO PA LA YANG GCES SPRAS SU BYAS TE, ‘BAD PA CHEN POS BSKYANG BAR BYA BAR BSTAN PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

The author wishes to express the thought that we should appreciate the small sprout of those neophyte bodhisattvas, which will grow into the medicinal tree of a Buddha, and thus become the sustenance of each and every living being there is; and we should expend every effort to protect this tiny sprout.

 

 

BZHI PA NI, BYANG SEMS LA BSNGAGS PA GSUNG BA’I DUS DER ‘KHOR DU NYE BAR GYUR CING, THEG PA GSUM LA BKOD PA RNAMS THEG CHEN NYID LA NGES PAR SBYAR BAR BYA BA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

Fourth, the author hopes to guide those who were close at hand at the actual point when he expressed his praise of the bodhisattvas, and those who were already upon some one of the three different ways,[7] to the greater way alone.

 

 

DKON MCHOG BRTZEGS PA’I MDO LAS KYANG, ‘OD SRUNGS ‘DI LTA STE, DPER NA ZLA BA TSES PA LA PHYAG ‘TSAL BA LTAR NYA BA LA MA YIN NO, ,’OD SRUNGS DE BZHIN DU GANG DAG NGA LA RAB TU DAD PA DE DAG GIS, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ RNAMS LA PHYAG BYA’I, DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA RNAMS LA NI DE LTAR MA YIN NO,,

 

As a sutra within The Pile of Jewels also says,

 

O Protector the Light, this is how it is.  To use an analogy, we do not honor the full moon in the same way that we do the waxing moon.  Just so, o Protector of the Light, those who possess the highest devotion for me should bow to the bodhisattvas in a way that they do not do even to Those Who Have Gone That Way.[8]

 

 

DE CI’I PHYIR ZHE NA, BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ LAS NI DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA RNAMS ‘BYUNG NGO, ,DE BZHIN GSHEGS PA RNAMS LAS NI NYAN THOS DANG RANG SANGS RGYAS THAMS CAD ‘BYUNG NGO, ,ZHES GSUNGS PA LTA BU’O,,

 

Why is this the case?  It is because Those Gone That Way come from the bodhisattvas; and from Those Thus Gone come all the listeners and self-made buddhas.

 

 

‘DIS NI SANGS RGYAS BYANG CHUB SEMS DPA’ LAS ‘KHRUNGS PAR LUNG GIS BSGRUBS LA, RGYU MTSAN SNGA MA GNYIS KYIS NI RIGS PAS BSGRUBS SO,,

 

This statement by the way serves to prove, through the use of authoritative scripture, the fact that Enlightened Beings take their holy birth from bodhisattvas; whereas the two reasons given before serve to prove this fact through logical reasoning.

 

 

DE LTAR NA GZHAN LAS MCHOD BRJOD KYI YUL DU GRAGS PA’I NYAN RANG GNYIS DANG, SANGS RGYAS DANG BYANG SEMS LA ‘DIR DNGOS SU MCHOD BRJOD [@9b] MA MDZAD PA NI, DE RNAMS KYI RTZA BA’I RGYU LA MCHOD BRJOD BYED PA YIN LA,

 

As such, the reason that here in this context we make an offering of praise not to the two of the listeners and the self-made buddhas, nor to the Buddhas or bodhisattvas—at least, not directly—is that we are making this offering to their root cause.

 

DE BZHI RIM PA BZHIN RGYU ‘BRAS SU, NYAN THOS ZHES PA’I RKANG PA GNYIS KYIS BSTAN PA NI, DE RNAMS KYI MTHAR GTUGS PA’I RTZA BA’I RGYU NGOS GZUNG BA’I PHYIR DU YIN NO,,

 

The four lines of the text[9] which start with “The listeners…” indicate how these four represent a chain of cause and effect;[10] and this is done all for the purpose of identifying the thing which serves as their ultimate root cause.

 

 

DE LTA NA SANGS RGYAS KYIS NYE BAR BSTAN PA LAS, BYANG SEMS SKYE BA YIN KYANG, THUB DBANG SKYES ZHES PA’I SKABS SU, DE LA NYAN RANG LTAR BSHAD MI DGOS TE, DE GNYIS THUB DBANG LAS SKYES PAR STON PA NI, DE GNYIS KYI RTZA BA YANG MTHAR GTUGS NA, SNYING RJE LA THUG PAR BSTAN PA’I PHYIR YIN LA, BYANG SEMS KYI RTZA BA SNYING RJE LA THUG PA NI LOGS SU STON PA’I PHYIR RO,,

 

It is then the case that bodhisattvas are born from receiving teachings from the Buddhas; nonetheless, we need not explain their birth in the way that we do with the listeners and self-made buddhas in the part about being “born from the Lords of the Able.”  When we demonstrate how these two are born from the Lords of the Able, we are also saying that—ultimately—their very root traces back to compassion; and then we continue on to show separately how it is that the root of a bodhisattva traces back to this same compassion.



[1] Victor: Skt, Jina; that is, an Enlightened Being.

[2] Our own teacher: That is, Lord Buddha.

[3] It is admittedly true: An allusion to the wording of the Autocommentary at this point; see f. 221b (%S3, TD03862).

[4] The root text: That, is the “root text” for the current commentary, meaning the Autocommentary.

[5] In the commentary: Again, referring to the Autocommentary.

[6] Far beyond our ken: Once more, an allusion to the wording of the Autocommentary; see f. 221b (%S3, TD03862).

[7] The three different ways: That is, the way of the listener; the way of the self-made buddha; and the way of the bodhisattva—the last also known as the “greater” way.

[8] Those Who Have Gone That Way: Sanskrit, Tathāgata, an epithet of the fully enlightened Buddhas.  The Pile of Jewels (Skt: Ratna Kūa) is a collection of sutras within the canon; the sutra in question is The Account of Kashyapa, the Protector of Light—see ff. 237b-238a (%S14, ACIP KL00087).

[9] The text: That is, Entering the Middle Way.

[10] A chain of cause and effect: That is, (1) bodhisattvas giving birth to (2) Buddhas who give birth to (3) listeners and (4) self-made buddhas.