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THE JOURNAL

OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF


BUDDHIST STUDIES
Peter N. Gregory
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Roger Jackson
Dept. of Religion
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057
USA
EDITORS
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
Alexander W. Macdonald
Universite de Paris X
Nanterre, France
Ernst Steinkellner
University of Vienna
Wien, Austria
Jikido Takasaki
University of Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan
Steven Collins
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Robert Thurman
Columbia University
NewYork,NewYork, USA
Volume 15 1992 Number 2
TIm JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF BUDDHIST STUDIES, INC.
This Journal is the organ of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
Inc. It is governed by the objectives of the Association and accepts scholarly ,
contributions pertaining to Buddhist Studies in all the various disciplines, such
as philosophy, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, art, archaeology,
psychology, textual studies, etc. The JIABS is published twice yearly, in the
summer and winter.
Manuscripts for publication (we must have two copies) and correspondence
concerning articles should be submitted to the JIABS editorial office at the
address given below. Please refer to the guidelines for contributors to the
JIABS printed on the inside back cover of every issue. Books for review
should also be sent to the address below. The Editors cannot guarantee to
publish reviews of unsolicited books nor to return those books to the senders.
The Association and the Editors assume no responsibility for the views
expressed by the authors in the Association's Journaland other related
publications.
New Editor's Address
(Effective January 1, 1993)
Donald S. Lopez, Jr.
Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Michigan
3070 Frieze Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD
Andre Bareau (France)
M N. Deshpande (India)
R. Gard (USA)
B.G. Gokhale (USA)
John C. Huntington (USA)
P.S. Jaini (USA)
Joseph M. Kitagawa (USA)
Jacques May (Switzerland)
Hajime Nakamura (Japan)
John Rosenfield (USA)
David Snellgrove (UK.)
E.Zurcher (Netherlands)
Both the Editor and Association would like to thank Carleton College for its
financial support in the production of the J oumal.
Copyright The International Association of Buddhist Studies 1992
ISSN: 0193-600X
Indexed in Religion Index One: Periodicals. American Theological Library
Association, Chicago, available online through BRS (Bibliographic Retrieval
Services), Latham, New York, and DIALOG Information Services, Palo Alto,
California.
Composition by Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, CA 94704.
Printing by Thomson-Shore, Inc., Dexter, MI 48130.
CONTENTS
1. ARTICLES
jThe Heart Siitra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text?
. by Jan Nattier 153
2. Iridian Altruism: A Study of the Terms bodhicitta and bodhicittotpada,
by Gareth Sparham 224
II. TRANSLATION
Tibetan Classic of Mahamudra: The Path of Ultimate
. Profundity: The Great Seal Instructions of Zhang,
by Dan Martin 243
III. BOOK REVIEWS
Mind Only: A Philosophical and Doctrinal Analysis of the
Vijfianavada, by Thomas E. Wood (Paul J. Griffiths)
Yuktisastika-vrtti: Commentaire a la soixante sur Ie
.1
raisonnement ou Du vrai enseignement de 1a
causalire par Ie Maitre indien CandrakIrti,
320
by Cristina Anna Scherer-Schaub (Jose Ignacio Cabez6n) 325
IV. LA.B.S. MEMBERSHIP LIST 328
The Heart Sutra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text?
by Jan Nattier
Introduction
The Heart Sutra
1
is surely one of the best loved Buddhist
scriptures in all of East Asia. Esteemed both as a concise summary
of some of the key doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism and as a dhfiraIJi
of immense supernatural power, it has been revered by lay people and
clerics alike as one of the pinnacles of Buddhist teaching. It has been
valued by monastic scholars of a variety of sectarian persuasions, as
. attested by the wealth of commentaries on the text from such diverse
perspectives as Yo gacara, Madh yamika, and Ch' an. And the tenacity
of the mass appeal of this sutra is attested by the fact that in
contemporary Japan the Heart Sutra has been printed on more
teacups, hand towels and neckties than has any other Buddhist
scripture.
Nor has the Heart Sutra been overlooked by modern Buddhist
scholars. Considerable attention has been devoted to the Sanskrit
. versions of the sutra by Edward Conze,2 while the Chinese versions
of the text have been the object of a vast number of studies by Japanese
scholars, most recently (and most notably) by FuKUI Fumimasa.
3
Likewise the canonical Tibetan version of the text and the importance
of the Indian and Tibetan commentaries have been brought into the
purview of modern scholarship by the recent work of Donald Lopez,4
while Indian and Chinese commentaries on the sutra have been the
subject of studies by David Eckel and John McRae, respectively.s
Finally, it would be fair to say that few students enrolled in
introductory courses on Buddhism in American universities have
escaped without some encounter with the Heart Sutra, for its pithy
undermining of all previous categories of Buddhist analysis ("fonn
is emptiness, emptiness is form" and so on) has earned it a place in
153
154 JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
virtually every an tholo gy of Buddhist Ii terature. This text is, in short
,
one of the most familiar pieces of Buddhist writing both in traditional
Mahayana Buddhist societies and in modern academic circles.
Yet it may be OUT very familiarity with this scripture that has
inhibited our ability to gain a clear picture of its ancestry. Modem
scholars and modem Buddhists have read, heard and chanted the
sutra so frequently that its fonn and content no longer seem strange
to us. Yet this brief scripture contains a number of peculiar features
(to be examined in detail below) that can provide us with important
clues to the circumstances of its origin.
But it is not only such overexposure to its content that has
prevented modern scholars from undertaking a thorough re-evalua-
tion of this important text. An additional factor has been the
understandable propensity of Buddhist specialists to approach the
text either in its Sanskrit versions (with occasional reference to the
recensions preserved in Chinese) or in its Chinese editions (with
more or less adequate references to the corresponding passages in the
Sanskrit). There have been, in other words, Bumerous intra-Sanskrit
and intra-Chinese studies of the sutra, but no rigorously comparative
- and cross-lingual - analysis of the text.
The present study is intended to remedy both of these
deficiencies, fIrst by approaching the Heart Sutra within its literary
setting (both as a member of the category of Mahayana sutras in
general and, more specifIcally, as a text belonging to the Prajiiaparamita
class), and second by engaging in. a thorough comparative examina-
tion of all the earliest versions of the text, both in Chinese and in
Sanskrit. By doing so we will be able to bring into focus not only
the peculiar features of this all-too-familiar text, but also the clues it
contains - all plainly visible in retrospect - to the time and the place
of its composition.
The Heart Sutra: The Short Recension
The Heart Sutra exists in two recensions: a shorter (and earlier)
recension, which will be the main object of OUT attention here, and
a longer recension, known in Indian and Tibetan versions as well as
in several relatively late Chinese translations. The relative dating of
TIIE HEART SUTRA 155
;.these texts will be discussed in detail below; for the moment, our main .
. concern is to gain an overview of the fonn and content of the text;
. The Heart Sii'traconsists of three sections: (1) a brief
in which the perspective of the bodhisattva A valokitesvara
. on the emptiness of the five skandhas (based on his prac.tice of the
.... Perfection of Wisdom) is introduced; (2) a core, in which
'Avalokitesvara (the implied speaker, though his name does not
appear in this section) addresses a series of observations to the elder
(sthavira) Sarlputra, beginning with the well-known affinnation of
the non-difference between fonn and emptiness and culminating in
a series of negations countering virtually all the most basic categories
of Buddhist analysis of the person, the nature of causality, and the
path; and (3) a conclusion, in which the bodhisattva who relies on the
Perfection of Wisdom is described, the' Perfection of Wisdom is
touted as the basis for the enlightenment of all buddhas, and the well-
known mantra (gate gate paragate parasarpgate bodhi svah) is
recommended as a means to eliminating all suffering. Thesii'tra
concludes with the mantra itself, which in all non-Sanskrit versions
of the text is maintained in its Indian fonn (that is, it is transliterated
rather than translated).
The brevity of the sii'tra makes it possible for us to include here .
a complete English translation of the shorter Sanskrit recension,
which will serve as a point of reference for the analysis given below.
INTRODUCTION: The bodhisattva Noble AvalokiteSvara, prac-
ticing [his] practice in the profound Perfection of
Wisdom (prajiiifpiframitif) , looked. down
(vyava]okayatisma). [And] he regarded the five
skandhas as empty.
CORE:
Here, Sanputra, fonn is empty; emptiness
itself is fonn. Fonn is not distinct from emptiness;
emptiness is not distinct from And the same
goes for sensation (vedan), concept (sarpjii), condi-
tioning force (sarpskara) and consciousness
(vijiiifna).
156
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Here, Sfuiputra, all dharmas have the mark of
emptiness. They are non-originated, non-extinct
non-defiled, non-pure, non-decreasing,
ing.
Therefore, Sfuiputra, in emptiness there is no
form, no sensation, no concept, no conditioning
forces, no consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue,
body [or] mind; no form, sound, scent, taste, touch-
object [or] mind-object (dharma); no eye-realm
(cak$ur-dhatu) and so on up to no realm of mind-
consciousness (manovijiiana-dhatu); no ignorance,
no destruction of ignorance and so on up to no old-
age-and-death and no destruction of old-age-and-
death. There is no suffering, arising [of suffering],
extinction [of suffering], or path; no knowledge
(jiiiina) and no attainment (prapti ).
CONCLUSION: Therefore, Sariputra, because there is no attain-
ment the bodhisattva dwells in reliance on the
Perfection of Wisdom, without mental obstruction
(cittavaraIJa). Because there is no mental obstruction
he is unafraid, has passed beyond error, and [his]
destination is nirvfu)a (ni$.tha-nirviII)a).
All the Buddhas of the three times have awak-
ened (abhisarpbuddha) to unexcelled perfect enlight-
enment (anuttara-samyaksarpbodhi ) by relying on
the Perfection of Wisdom.
Therefore the great mantra of the Perfection of
Wisdom is to be known: the great spell (vidya)
mantra, the supreme mantra, the mantra which is
equal to the unequalled, the mantra which appeases all
suffering. Because it is true, not false (satyam
amithyatvat[sicD, the mantra is spoken in the Perfec-
tion of Wisdom.
It goes as follows (tadyatha): gate gate paragate
parasarpgate bodhi sviih.
THE HEART SUrRA 157
Viewing this brief sutra within its literary context - that is, as
a member of the Mahayana sutra category and, more specifically, as
-a Prajfiaparamita text - one immediately observes a number of
. peculiar features. First, of course, is the very fact of its brevity: as
. compared with Mahayana scriptures in general the Heart Sutra is an
-extremely short text. This feature is not, however, unique, as there
are a few other Mahayana texts of comparable length, particularly
within the Praj:iiaparamita category, where Conze has labeled a whole
; group of such sutras (virtually all of relatively late composition) as
"abbreviations" of earlier texts.
6
More important for our purposes are two further features
which are far more unexpected in a Mahayana scripture: first, that
the sutra lacks a proper opening (that is, the requisite formula "Thus
have I heard at one time. The Lord was staying at ... ," specifying
the location and circumstances of its preaching)? and second, that it
lacks a proper conclusion (in which some reference to the reaction
of the audience is generally made). A third and most unexpected
peculiarity is the fact that the Buddha himself makes no appearance
whatsoever in this sutra - a defect that is perfunctorily remedied in
the longer recension of the text, but appeared not to concern the_
compilers of the shorter version.
When we approach the Heart Sutra not merely as a represen-
tative of the Mahayana class of sutras, but more specifically as a
Praj:iiaparamita text, a fourth peculiar feature comes into focus. For
-the main (and indeed only) speaker in this sutra is the bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara, who generally plays no role at all in the Prajfiaparamit[
literature.
8
Conversely, completely absent from the Heart Sutra is
Subhuti, the main interlocutor in all of the earliest Prajfiaparamita
texts. The cast of characters, in other words, is not at all what we
would expect, for both the Buddha himself and Subhuti are entirely
missing, while a seeming interloper, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara,
has been awarded the only speaking part. The name of the sthavira
Sariputra does appear in the Heart Sutra, as in the main body of
Prajfiaparamita texts, but only as the listener addressed by
A valokiteSvara in this text. This is not, however - as we shall see
below - a coincidence, for this passage has an exact parallel in
158
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
another PrajiUiparamita text.
A fifth and final feature that sets the He{1It Sutra apart, if not
from the Prajfiaparamita literature as a whole (for certain other
relatively late scriptures in that category share this feature) but from
the earliest and most widel y used texts in this category, is the presence
of a mantra at the conclusion of the text. We have already noted that
it is peculiar for a Mahayana sutra to end with anything other than a
reference to the reaction of the Buddha's listeners; it is Particularly
unusual for such a text to end, quite abruptly, with a mantra. For
while the Prajfiaparamita: literature is not utterly lacking in such
formulas, they playa relatively limited role in texts of this kind, and
when they first appear in this literature they are labeled not mantras
but dhfiraI)Is, a term referring (in this early usage) to mnemonic
devices rather than inherently salvific or protective formulas.
9
The
very presence, in other words, of a mantra in a Prajfiaparamita text
-let alone the highlighting of such a mantra by allowing it to stand
alone as the sutra's conclusion - is a feature that demands our
attention.
The Heart Sutra, then, contains a number of features that are
unusual in a scripture of its kind. These suggest, at the very least, that
the circumstances of its composition may have differed notably from
those that led to the production of the more extensive Prajfiaparamita
texts. Our task at this point, therefore, will be to attempt to determine
where and under what circumstances this unusual text was produced.
The Heart Sutra and the Large Sutra 10
The single most important clue to the origins of the Heart Sutra
is provided by yet another peculiarity of this text: the fact that the
core section - from the declaration to Sariputra that form is not other
than emptiness, and vice versa, to the statement that in emptiness
there is "no knowledge and no attainment" - is virtually identical to
a passage in another Prajfiaparamita text. As scholars of East Asian
Buddhism have long been aware, the central section (that is, all but
the opening and closing lines) of the Heart Sutra matches a passage
in the Large Sutra on the Perfection of Wisdom (Ch. Mo-ho po-jo
po-lo-mi ching; Skt. Paiicavirpsatisahasrikii-prajiiiipfiramita-sutra)
THE HEART SUTRA 159
!'almost character for character. 11
The extent of this resemblance is so great that it can be
.. recognized even by the non-Sinologist through a simple juxtaposition
the core passage as contained in these two texts:
l.J;ITge Surra, trans. Kumarajiva
(1'. No. 223. 8.223aI3-20)
*;fIJ1j



/FJf;;r:j.(


jt;t

utUl Jj 3i.
ifF
Jj ifF Jf. Jt..-


_ "" tit
Hum SUvCl, attributed to
(T. No. 251, 8.848c4-10)



;f!t;flt

;fJt;fill,
'f
.PLtlFJ. -=ff.-;t




-1}jlJ(j)!

160
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Such word-for-word agreement cannot possibly be coincidental. It
seems necessary to conclude - unless we assuII}e that both texts are
based on a common but unattested ancestor - that one of these texts
must be patterned directly on the other.
When we tum to the Sanskrit version of the Heart Surra, its
resemblance to its Chinese counterpart (and, accordingly, to the
corresponding passage in the Chinese Large Surra as well) is again
very Indeed it would be fair to say that there is a virtual
word-for-word correspondence between the Sanskrit Heart Surra, in
the critical edition published by Edward Conze, and the Chinese
Heart Surra attributed to Hstian-tsang. An English translation of the
core passage as contained in these two versions of the Heart Surra
clearly illustrates their similarities:
Chinese Heart Sutra
Sariputra,
Form is not different from emptiness,
emptiness is not different
from form.
Form itself is emptiness,
emptiness itself is form.
Sariputra,
All dharmas are marked by
emptiness:
[They are] not originated,
Not extinguished,
Not defiled,
Not pure,
Not increasing,
Not decreasing.
Therefore in emptiness there is
no form, no sensation, no concept,
conditioning force, [or]
consciousness;
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body [or]
mind;
No form, sound, smell, taste,
touch-object
[or] mind-object (dharma);
Sanskrit Heart Sutra
Here, Sariputra,
Form is empty, emptiness itself is form.!2
Form is not distinct from emptiness,
empti,ness is not distinct
from form.
[That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness is form.
I2
.]
Here, Sariputra,
All dharmas have the mark of
emptiness:!3
[They are] non-originated,
Non-extinct,
Non-defiled,
Non-pure,
Non-decreasing,
Non-increasing.!4
Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness there
is no form, no sensation, no concept,
no conditioning forces, no
consciousness;
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body [or]
mind;
No form, sound, smell, taste,
touch-object
[or] mind-object (dharma);
THE HEART StJTRA
No eye-realm (and so on up to) no
realm of mind-consciousness;
And no ignorance and no destruction
of ignorance;
(And so on up to) no old-age-and-
death [and] no destruction of
old-age-and-death;
There is no suffering, arising
[of suffering], extinction
[of suffering], [or] path;
No wisdom and no attainment.
No eye-realm (and so on up to) no
realm of mind-consciousness;
No ignorance, no destruction
of ignorance;
(And so on up to) no old-age-and-
death [and] no destruction of
old-age-and-death;
There is no suffering, arising
[of suffering], extinction
[of suffering], [or] path;
No wisdom [and] no attainment.
161
The two texts are thus so similar that either could be construed as a
translation of the other.
The Problem of the Sanskrit Large Sutra
When we turn to the Sanskrit version of the Large Sutra,
however, the pattern of word-far-word correspondence that we have
observed so far breaks down. If we compare the core passage of the
Sanskrit Heart Sutra with its counterpart in the Large Sutra (that is,
the Paiicavirpsatisahasrika-prajiiaparamita-sutra, here transcribed
from the Gilgit manuscript copy, in which certain features of
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit are evident
15
) a general similarity in
content - that is, in the ideas and their sequence - is evident. Yet a
comparison of the two Sanskrit texts reveals a degree of divergence
great enough to be evident even to those who are not Sanskrit
specialists:
Sanskrit Large Surra
na hi saradvatiputra-
16
-anyad riipam anya sunyata:
18
nanya sunyata:nyad riiparp
[rii]pam eva sunyata:
sunyat(ai)va riiparp
evarp na(ny)a vedananya sunyata: .
nanya sarpjfia nanya slinyata: .
nanye sarpskara anye sunyata: .
nanya vijfianam anya sunyata: .
nanyal) sunyatanyad vijfianarp
Sanskrit Heart Surra
iha Sariputra
rlipam slinyam
17
slinyataiva riipam
rlipan na p ~ t h a k slinyata:
slinyata:ya na prthag riipam
[yad riipam sa siinyata:
ya slinyata: tad rlipam
19
]
evam eva vedana-sarpjfia-sarpskara-
vijfianam
162
nABS VOL. 15 2
vijiUinarn eva sunyatiisunyataiva
vijiianarp. .
ya Sliradvauputra sunyata
na utpadyate
na nirudhyate .
na sarpklisyate
na vyavadayate .
na hlyate
na vardhate .
nauta nanagata na pratyutpanna:o
ya notpadyate na nirudhyate na
sarpklisyate na vyavadayate na
hlyate na vardhate natlta
nanagata na pratyutpanna!)
na tatra riiparp. na vedana na
na sarp.jfian na sarp.skliran
na vijiianarp.
na na srotrarp. na ghraJ)arp
na jihva na kaye na manaJ:!
na riiparp. na sabdo na gandho na rasa
na sparso na dharma!)
(na) tatra skandha na dhatavo
nayatanani
na tatra na riipadhatur
na
na (sro)tradhatu na sabdadhatur
na srotravijiianadhatuJ:!
na ghraJ)adhatur na gandhadhatur
na ghr3:Qavijfianadhatu
na jihvadhatur na rasadhatur
na jihvavijiianadhatuJ:!
na kayadhatur na
na kayavijiianadhatur
na manodhatur na dharmadhatur
na manovijnana[dha]tuJ:!r [sic]
na tatravidya navidyanirodhaJ:!
na sarp.skliran na sarpskaranirodhaJ:!
na vijiianarp na vijfiananirodhaJ:!
na namariipaqt na namariipanirodhaJ:!
na satvayatanam
23
na
iha Sliriputra sarva-dharmaJ:t siinyata-

anutpanna
aniruddha
amala
avimala
aniina
aparipiirJ)aJ:!
tasmac Chliriputra sunyatayam na
riipam na vedana
na sarpjfia na saqtskliraJ:!
na vijiianam
na
manaqtsi
na rupa,sabda-gandha-rasa-

na yavan
namanovijiiana-dhatuJ:!
navidya
THE HEART SUTRA
saMiyatananirodhal).
na sparSo (na) sparSananirodhal).
na vedana na vedananirodhal).
na na
nopadilnaJTI nopadananirodhal).
na bhavo na bhavanirodhal).
na jati(r n)a jatinirodhal).
na jarfunaral)aI11
na jaramaral)anirodhal}
na duI:UchaI11 na samudayo na nirodho
na margal).
na prapti nabhisamayaJ:!24
yavan na jarfunaral)am
na
na duI:Ucha-samudaya-nirodha-marga
na jfianam na praptir
163
There are a number of obvious discrepancies between these
two versions, of which the most evident is the greater length of the
Large Sutra relative to the Heart SutTa. This is due, however, not to
the presence in the Large Sutra of ideas or images that are altogether
absent from the Heart Sutra, but merely to the greater thoroughness
of the Large SutTa in spelling out in detail categories that are related
in a more summary form in the Heart SutTa. The Large Sutra, for
example, is not content simply to declare that "form is not one thing
and emptiness another" (na ... anyad rilpam anyiI sunyatif), but goes
on to repeat the same formula for each of the remaining four skandhas
("sensation is not one thing and emptiness another" and so on). The
Heart Sutra, by contrast, states simply that the same is true of the other
skandhas as well (evam eva vedaniI-sarpjfiii-sarpskiira-vijfiiInam).
Likewise when the Large Sutra declares that in emptiness there is no
eye, no ear, and so forth, it does so by enumerating each of the
eighteen dhfitus individually, while the Heart SutTa simply lists the
first twelve elements in the list (that is, the sense-organs and their
respective objects) in streamlined fashion and then summarizes the
remaining dhiItusin abbreviated form ("no eye-realm and so forth up
to no mind-consciousness-realm," Skt. na Cak$UI-dhatur yiIvan na
manovijfiiIna-dhiItulJ). The Heart SutTa, in other words, contains all
the same elements that are found in the Large SutTa, but simply
expresses them in as concise a fashion as possible.
25
More peculiar than these discrepancies, however, are diver-
gences of a second type, in which the general meaning of the two texts
164
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
is the same but the vocabulary they employ is not. Two represen-
tative examples are the following:
Large Siitra
(W anyad riipam anyii sunyatii
nanya sunyatiinyad riiparp
na jaramaraIjarp
na jaramaral}anirodhal;1
Heart Siitra
riipan na Qrthak siinyata
siinyatayii na prthag riipam
yiivan na jaramaraIJam
na jaramaral}aifayo
In both of these cases we have statements that are fully synonymous,
but contain distinct (and quite unrelated) vocabulary. In the fIrst
example the Large Siitra reads "form is not other than emptiness,
emptiness is not other than form" using the Sanskrit expression na
anya X anya Y, that is, "X is not other than Y" (literally "not other
X other Y"). The Heart Siitra, by contrast, employs the expression
X Ita p[fhak Y, that is, "Y is not distinct from X" (lit. "from-X not
distinct Y," in which item X appears 'in the ablative case). The two
texts are thus essentially identical in meaning, but they differ
noticeably in wording. Similarly, in the second example both texts
assert that "there is no old-age-and death" (na jariimaraIJam); the
Large Siitra, however, goes on to state that there is no "extinction"
(or "stopping," Skt. nirodha) of old-age-and-death, while the Heart
Siitrauses instead the Sankrit termk$aya ("destruction"). Once again
the essential meaning is the same, but the manner of expression is
different.
An even more vivid example of the divergence between these
two texts may be found in the well known passage describing the
nature ofdharmas characterized by emptiness. Here the parallels are
the following:
Large Siitra
. na ... utpadyate
na nirudhyate
na sarpk1iSyate
Heart Siitra
anutpannii
aniruddhii
amalii
THE HEART SUTRA
na vyavadayate
na hlyate
na vardhate
avimala
an una
aparipiin)a
165
In this sequence the Large SutTa employs singular verbal forms
throughout:
[It] does not originate (na ... utpadyate), is not extinguished
(na nirudhyate), is not defiled (na sarpklisyate), is not purified
(na vyavadayate), does not decrease (na hlyate), does not
increase (na vardhate).
The Heart Sutra, by contrast, uses plural adjectival forms:
[They] are non-originated (anutpann8), non-extinct (anirud-
dh8), non-defiled (amal8), non-pure (avima15), non-decreas-
ing (anun8), non-increasing (aparipiln;1aJ}).
Not only are the terms themselves different in these two renditions;
their grammatical forms (verbs vs. adjectives, singulars vs. plurals)
do not agree. The wording thus could not be more different, though
the overall meaning is the same.
26
These two types of divergences - the repetitive style of the
Large Sutra vs. the conciseness of the Heart Sutra, on the one hand,
and their differences in vocabulary and grammatical categories on the
other - offer in turn two very different kinds of evidence concerning
the respective histories ofthese texts. To begin with the first, itis well
known that Indian Mahayana texts were subject to continual elabo-
ration and expansion, culminating (in the case of the Prajfiaparamita
literature) in such literary monstrosities as the Perfection of Wisdom
in 100,000 Lines (Sa ta-sahasrika-prajfia-piiramita-sutra) , whose con-
siderable bulk is due mainly to its endless repetitions. A text that was
originally as short and compact as the Heart SutTa (or rather, its core)
could easily have grown, via this gradual process of literary elabo-
ration, into what we see in the Large Sutra.
Yet we must stop at this point and remind ourselves that the
166 nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Heart Siitra was considered by Edward Conze, the foremost Western
scholar of the Prajiiaparamim literature, to be !ater, not earlier, than
the Large Siitra, and to represent a condensation (not a prototype) of
the larger text.
27
And ~ h e evidence offered by the Chinese and Tibetan
sources would seem to confirm Conze' s hypothesis. While the Large
Siitra had been translated into Chinese by the end of the 3rd century
CE, the Heart Siitra makes its appearance much later, in the 5th
century CE at the earliest arid quite possibly not until the 7th.28
Likewise the extant Indian commentaries on the Heart Siitra (which
have not survived in their Sanskrit originals, but are preserved in
Tibetan translation) date only from the 8th to the 11 th centuries,29
while commentaries on the Large Siitra appear several centuries
earlier.30 It seems clear, therefore, that we must follow Conze's lead
in considering the Large Siitra to be considerably older than the Heart
Siitra. Thus what needs to be explained here is not the development
from a shorter text to a longer one (a process quite usual in the history
of Indian Buddhist literature), but the reverse.
But how are we to get from the Large Siitra, with its extensive
and repetitive language, to the crisp and abbreviated formulations of
the Heart Siitra? We could, of course, assume (as Conze has done)
that the Heart Siitra was intended as a summary of the overall contents
of the earlier Prajiiaparamita literature, and as such represents a
deliberate act of abbreviation on the part of some unknown Indian
author. This hypothesis seems quite reasonable at first, even though
it runs counter to the usual Indian practice of expanding (not
contracting) Buddhist texts. Yet the absolute parallelism in the
sequence of ideas between the Large Siitra and the Heart Siitra - not
to mention the word-for-word agreement in the Chinese versions of
the two texts ....:. makes it clear that the Heart Siitra is not an
"abbreviation" of the Prajiiaparamita literature in general; it is built
around a specific passage found in the Large Siitra, with additional
introductory and concluding material. Our problem, therefore, is to
come up with a sequence of literary evolution that could lead from
the expansive text found in the Large Siitra to the concise formula-
tions of the Heart Siitra.
At this point we must return to the second type of divergence
TIIE HEART StJTRA 167
f'discussed abOve: the difference in vocabulary found in the. two
lsanskrit texts, despite the fact that the ideas they contain (and their
'. sequence) are identical. To get from the Sanskrit text of the Large
Siitra to the Sanskrit Heart Sutra, in other words, we must not only
; 'posit the emergence of an abbreviated style from an elaborate one;
'\we must also account for the substitution of adjectives for verbs,
:;plurals for singulars, and synonyms (e.g., k$aya for nirodha) for
;'certain Buddhist technical terms.
" If the evolution from a longer text to a shorter one is mildly
: (but not insuperably) problematic, these differences in vocabulary
:; comprise an obstacle of an altogether different order. For such
c. changes simply do not follow the normal rules of textual emendation.
". While an Indian editor might add (or far less commonly, subtract)
certain expressions and terms when transmitting an existing text, to
change virtually every word in the text (aside from certain fixed
technical terminology, such as the names of the five skandhas, the
eighteen dhatus, and the four noble truths) while adding no new
conceptual input is, at least in this writer's experience, unheard of.
We can identify, in other words, neither a motive nor a precedent for
the kinds of changes we see when comparing the Sanskrit Heart Sutra
to its parallel passage in the Large Sutra. To put it succinctly: there
" is no straightforward way to derive the Sanskrit Heart Sutra from the
" Sanskrit Large Sutra, or vice versa.
",
Textual Transmission: ARe-Analysis
How, then, are we to explain the virtual identity of these two
texts in their Chinese translations? The usual (and understandable)
assumption has been that the path of transmission is from the Sanskrit
Large Sutra to the Chinese Large Sutra, and from the Sanskrit Heart
Sutra to the Chinese Heart Sutra. To approach the problem in this
way, however, means that we would have to explain the identical
appearance of the two Chinese texts via convergence: i.e., that they
were either accidentally or deliberately brought into hannony. To
, further incorporate into our explanation the exact correlation in
wording between the Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Heart
Sutra, we would have to concoct a hypothesis that goes something
168
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
like this: Sometime after the completion of Kumarajiva' s translation
of the Large Sutra into Chinese, the Heart Sutra was translated into
Chinese by Hslian-tsang. At this point a Chinese editor noticed a
certain similarity between the core of the Heart Sutra and a passage
in the Large Sutra. In order to make the two texts match, he altered
one of the two (either the Chinese Large Sutra of Kumarajiva or the
Heart Sutra attributed to Hslian-tsang) to bring it into conformity with
the other. No similar emendation was made, however, in the text of
the earlier translations of the Large Sutra.
Such a hypothesis is, however, intolerably convoluted, and
requires us to posit a set of literary processes that are unattested
elsewhere (to the best of my knowledge) in Chinese Buddhist textual
history. And it goes without saying that the odds against two virtually
identical Chinese translations of this core passage (one in the Large
Sutra, the other in the Heart Sutra) being produced independently -
especially given the evidence that the underlying Sanskrit versions
were not identical- are astronomical. But if we accept the standard
assumption that the ancestor of the Chinese Large Sutra is the
Sanskrit Large Sutra and that the ancestor of the Chinese Heart Sutra
is the Sanskrit Heart Sutra, there is simply no other way to account
for the evidence. I would suggest, therefore, that we discard this
assumption and begin again at the beginning, taking the earliest texts
as our starting point.
When we compare the passage in the Sanskrit Large Sutra (in
particular, the earliest extant version, found in the manuscript copy
discovered at Gilgit) with its counterpart in the Chinese Large Sutra
ofKumarajIva, the two agree almost perfectly - provided we assume
that KumarajIva indulged in a certain degree of textual condensation
in the course of his translation. But this is precisely what we would
expect of a Chinese translator, and in particular of KumarajIva, who
is renowned for having produced translations of Indian Buddhist
texts capable of appealing to Chinese aesthetic sensibilities. In the
Chinese literary world one of the greatest offenses is to be repetitious,
for succinctness - not effusive reiteration - is seen as a virtue in
Chinese aesthetic theory (precisely the opposite of Indian prefer-
ences).31 The differences between the Sanskrit Large Sutra and its
THE HEART SUTRA 169
Chinese counterpart are thus exactly what we would expect, given
both what is generally known concerning Chinese literary prefer-
ences and what we can actually observe in other Chinese Buddhist
texts.
32
There is no difficulty, therefore, in positing a line of
transmission from a version of the Sanskrit Large Siitra resembling
the extant editions to the Chinese Large Sutra of Kumarajiva.
The next step in our analysis, while perhaps somewhat
unexpected (at least by scholars whose orientation is primarily
Indological), seems to be required by the degree of similarity between
the Chinese Large Sutra of Kumarajiva and the Heart Sutra attributed
to Hslian-tsang: we must assume that the core of the latter - as East
Asian Buddhist scholars have long been aware - is an excerpt from
the fonnerY The Chinese Heart Sutra, in other words, consists of an
excerpt from the Chinese Large Sutra, together with certain "frame"
elements (the opening and closing sections) that have no parallel in
the larger text.
So far, then, we have succeeded in establishing the sequence
Sanskrit Large Sutra ---+ Chinese Large Sutra ---+ Chinese Heart Sutra,
with no step of this process offering any difficulty_ But how are we
to fit the Sanskrit Heart Sutra into this scheme? The answer is as
compelling as it is startling: the Sanskrit Heart Sutra is a translation
from the Chinese.
Such a seemingly heretical assertion requires strong support-
ing evidence. Such evidence, however, is readily available. We may
approach the problem from two angles: first, the evidence for this
direction of transmission found within the texts themselves; and
second, the historical possibility (and plausibility) of such a transac-
tion.
Internal Evidence: How to Spot a Back-Translation
Before proceeding with our analysis of the Chinese and
Sanskrit versions of the Heart Sutra, it may be useful to consider an
instance of back-translation (that is, the reconstruction of Sanskrit
tenns from another Buddhist language) found in another context.
Numerous examples of such back-translations can be found in the
Mongolian Buddhist canon, the result of a long-standing Mongolian
170
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
preference for Indian loan words rather than the translated expres_
sions preferred by the Tibetans. When, during and after the Yuan
dynasty (1280-1368), the Mongols came under strong Tibetan
influence and began to translate voluminous quantities of Tibetan
Buddhist texts into Mongolian, they were faced with the task of either
finding appropriate Indian-based equivalents for Tibetan Buddhist
terms or capitulating to the Tibetan procedure and simply translating
these terms into Mongolian. Especially in the case of personal and
place names, the Mongols tried - wherever possible - to reconstruct
the corresponding Indian original.
The result, of course, was a combination of correct and
incorrect guesses on the part of the Mongols as to what the original
Sanskrit form was. A revealing example of an incorrect guess can
be found in the story of the future Buddha Maitreya, as given in the
* Arya-maitri-siitra.
34
The Indian city in which Maitreya will appear
is regularly referred to as KetumatI in the Sanskrit literature, which
in turn is translated into Tibetan as Rgyal-mtshan biD-gros, where
rgyal-mtshan (lit. "royal ensign") is a Tibetan translation of Skt. ketu
"flag," and blo-gros ("mind") is an attempted rendition of the suffIx
-ma ti. 35 In their efforts to recover the original Indian spelling of
Rgyal-mtshan blo-gros, however, the Mongolian translators recon-
structed the first element in the name not as ketu, but as dhvaja-
another Sanskrit word for "flag," which is also regularly rendered
into Tibetan as rgyal-mtshan. The Mongols, in other words, made an
educated but erroneous guess, in all probability using a Tibetan-to-
Sanskrit dictionary as their reference.
36
An unmatched but synonymous equivalent of a Sanskrit term,
then, is one of the leading indicators of back-translation. But there
are other indicators as well. Incorrect word order, grammatical errors
that can be traced to the structure of the intermediary language, and
incorrect readings (due to visual confusion of certain letters or
characters in the intermediary language) can all provide evidence that
reconstruction, not preservation of an orignal text, has taken place.
In sum, it is through the inadvertent errors of the back-translators that
we can observe this process in operation.
In the case just described, of course, we are concerned with the
THE HEART SfJTRA 171
reconstruction of individual Indian terms (in particular, proper
.naIIles) within an overall Mongolian text. The same logic can be
used, however, to evaluate the ancestry of the Sanskrit Heart Siitra.
If we can identify differences between the Sanskrit Large Siitra and
the Sanskrit Heart Satra that can easily be explained by the presence
of the Chinese Heart Satra as an intennediary (and are difficult or
impossible to explain otherwise), these will serve as evidence that the
Sanskrit Heart Satra is indeed a back-translation from the Chinese.
We may begin with the first two examples cited above in our
discussion of the divergences between the Sanskrit texts of the Large
satra and the Heart Sutra, respectively. In the first of these the Large
Sarra reads na anyad rfipam anya sunyatii ("form is not one thing and
emptiness another") or - to translate this expression more colloqui-
ally - "form is not different from emptiness." In Kumarajiva's
Chinese translation of the Large Satra this is in turn rendered as se
pu i k'ung ("form is not different from emptiness"), a perfectly good
. rendition of the Sanskrit. The Chinese version of the Heart Surra
attributed to Hslian-tsang follows the wording of Kumarajiva's
Large Surra exactly, as it does almost without exception throughout
the core passage of the text. The Sanskrit Heart Surra, however, does
not conform to the wording of the Sanskrit Large sarra; instead it
reads rfipan na p[thak sanyata("emptiness is not distinct from form"),
a perfectly good (if somewhat unidiomatic) translation of Chinese se
pu i k 'ung. What we have here, in other words, is an exact counterpart
of the sequence Skt. ketu ~ Tib. rgyal-mtshan ~ Skt. dhvaja, in which
a Sanskrit term is transformed - via back-translation through a
second-language intermediary - into a synonymous but quite differ-
ent expression.
A similar transformation can be observed in our second
example, in which the Sanskrit Large Satra reads na
jarfimaraI}anirodhal}. "no extinction (nirodha) of old-age-and-death,"
while the Heart Satra has na jarfimaraIJak$ayo "no destruction
(k$aya) of old-age-and-death." Once again the effect of a Chinese
intermediary provides an intelligible explanation, for the character
chirf which appears in this expression in both the Large Satra and the
Heart Sutra can serve as an equivalent of either nirodha or k$aya
172
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
(though more commonly the latter) .. KumarajIva apparently chose'
in other words, to render the Sanskrit term njrodha into Chinese a ~
chin, a reading maintained in the Chinese Heart Siitra attributed to .
Hsuan-tsang and subsequently retranslated into Sanskrit as k$aya.'
Most striking of all, however, is the evidence contained in the
third passage c i ~ e d above. Here the sequence of negations is
expressed in the Sanskrit Large Siitra in singular verbal forms, while'
in the Heart Siitra the entire list is given in the form of plural
adjectives. But this is precisely the sort of information that is not
generally marked in Chinese: though a plural can be specified if
necessary, the usual practice is to let the number be implied by the
context, while (as students of Chinese are all too well aware) a given
word can easily serve such diverse functions as noun, adjective, or
verb, depending once again on the context. Here the parallels are the
following:
Sanskrit Large Siitra Chinese Large Siitra Sanskrit Heart Siitra
(=Chinese Heart Siitra)
na ... utpadyate
na nirudhyate
na sarpkliyate
na vyavadayate
mi hlyate
na vardhate
pu shent
pu mieh
e
pu kozl
pu ch'in[!
pu tsent'
pu chieri
anutpanna
aniruddha
amala
avimala
aniina
aparipiIrr)a
In each case the Chinese is a perfectly good rendition of the
terminology contained in the Sanskrit Large Siitra, while the Sanskrit
Heart Siitra in tum represents a perfectly good rendition of the
Chinese. Once again the Sanskrit Heart Siitra offers us exactly the
kind of synonym-shift that we would expect if it were a back-
translation from the Chinese.
In sum, while the sequence of ideas found in the Sanskrit Heart
Siitra matches that of the Sanskrit Large Siitra exactly, virtually
every word in these two texts (with the exception of certain fixed
technical terminology such as the names of the skandhas, ayatanas
and 'dhatus3
7
) is different. Such a striking similarity in content,
THE HEART SUTRA 173
with an equally striking difference in vocabulary, can only
'be explained as the result of a back-translation - that is, by the
>translation of the Sanskrit Heart Siitra from the Chinese.
'The Emergence of the Heart Sutra: Indian. and Chinese Evidence
.... Though the philological data reviewed above can stind alone
Vas convincing evidence for the back-translation of the Heart Satra
;frorn Chinese into Sanskrit, it is nonetheless of considerable interest
to review the corroborating historical evidence as well. Such
!:evidence can serve. not only to support (or, if need be, to modify) our
fi:."hypothesis concerning the general direction of transmission of the
X, sutra but also to provide concrete information as to the date, place,
general environment in which the Heart Satra was fIrst created
an independent text.
One of the most reliable methods for documenting the
of the Heart Satra as an independent scripture is to
the dates of the earliest commentaries on the text. On the
side, however, such works make a very late appearance; as we
.;;have already noted, the earliest extant Indian commentaries date only
the 8th century CE.38 Nor has any other independent evidence
;, for the existence of the text in India prior to this date (e.g., citations
'.of the satra in other works or reports of its existence by Chinese
. travelers in India) yet come to light.
39
There is, in sum, no evidence
for the existence of the Heart Satra in India before the 8th century CE ..
When we turn to the Chinese records, by contrast, evidence
for the avid use of the satra by Chinese Buddhists prior to this date
is abundant. Extant commentaries include works by both of Hstian-
tsang's major disciples, K'uei-chijand Wonch'ilkk, both dating from
the latter half of the 7th century, as well as a group of three closely
related works known only from manuscripts found at Tun-huang, of
which at least one appears to have been composed prior to 645 CE.40
We have solid evidence, then, for the existence of commentaries on
the Heart Satra in China no later than the second half of the 7th
century CE, and quite possibly as much as several decades earlier.
As to evidence for the existence of Chinese versions of the
satra itself, here matters become somewhat more complicated.
174
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Modem catalogues list a total of eight Chinese versions of the Heart
Siitra, ranging in date from the early 5th through the beginning of the
11th century CE.
41
The attributions of the first two of these texts
however - those supposedly translated by Kumarajlva and H s u a n ~
tsang - are extremely problematic. The so-called "Kumarajlva
version" is associated with his name for the fIrst time only in an 8th-
century catalogue, the K'ai-yiian shih-chiao lzi; likewise there is no
mention of a translation by Hsuan-tsang prior to the publication of
the same catalogue.
42
Moreover, it is noteworthy that Hsuan-tsang's
biography speaks not of his translation of the text, but of his being
given the text by a sick man he befriended.
43
We will return to the question of the ancestry of these two
versions of the text below. For the moment, however, the most
important point to observe is this: that the existence of the Heart Siitra
is attested in China at least a century before its earliest known
appearance in India.
44
Thus the dates of the fIrst appearances of the
siitra in China and India, respectively, tell us nothing that would
contradict the hypothesis that the Sanskrit text is a back-translation
from the Chinese, and indeed offer much to support it.
The Frame Sections: Reconstructing the Context
As we have seen, the core section of the Heart Sutra has an
exact parallel in the Large Sutra, and East Asian commentators had
realized as early as the latter half of the 7th century that the former
was in fact an excerpt from the latter. What remains to be considered,
however, are those passages we have described as the "frame
sections" of the Chinese Heart Siitra: that is, the introductory and
concluding sections of the text, which have no parallel in the larger
sutra. If the Heart Sutra was indeed manufactured as an independent
text in China, these sections should be purely apocryphal composi-
tions - that is, they should have been created on Chinese soil, using
only materials available there.
At this point we may return to consider some of the
anomalies in the form and content of the Heart Sutra noted above:
first, that the text has no proper opening (that is, that it does not begin
with the phrase "Thus have I heard at one time"); second, that
THE HEART SUTRA 175
j\valokitesvara - who is almost unknown elsewhere in the
Prajfiaparamita literature - here plays a major role, while the Buddha
is omitted altogether, and Subhuti (the main interlocutor in the
mainstream Prajfiaparamitil texts) likewise does not appear at all; and
third, that the text does not have a proper conclusion (in which some
indication of the reaction of the Buddha's audience should be given),
but concludes simply with a Sanskrit mantra, providing (for those
accustomed to "proper" sutra format) a sense of no real conclusion
at al1.
45
All of these anomalies occur exclusively in the frame sections
of the text, though the context may lead us to read them into the core
section as well. (Though A valokitesvara is never mentioned by name
in the core section, for example, his presence in the introductory lines
leads the reader to infer that he is the speaker in the core of the text
as well.) Thus these divergences from the expected form and content
of a Prajfiaparamita sutra may offer us certain clues as to the locus
of the composition of the frame sections and, accordingly, to the time
and place of the production of the Heart Sutra itself as a free-standing
scripture.
Is this, then, the sort of text we would expect to have been
formulated in China? At first we might well be dubious of this
assertion, for it is one of the hallmarks of Chinese apocryphal sutras
that their authors have exerted themselves at all costs to make them
resemble their canonical Indian counterparts. That is, creators of
Chinese apocryphal sutras have generally been extremely careful to
supply the proper Indian fonnat (from the introductory "thus have I
heard" to a proper conclusion), as well as peppering their newly-
minted texts with authentic-sounding Indian names. 46 If this is indeed
a Chinese apocryphal text, we must ask ourselves, why does its author
seem to have made so little effort to make the text confonn to Indian
standards?
At this point the writings of FuKUI Fumimasa provide an
important clue, for Fukui's research has led him to conclude that the
Heart Sutra is not really a sutra at all; rather, the Chinese expression
hsin chingn, which is generally translated into English as "Heart
Sutra," should be understood instead as meaning "dharaI)I scripture"
- that is, a text intended for recitation, not (as has previously been
176
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
supposed) a text intended to represent the "heart," or essence, of the
PrajiHiparamita philosophy.47 If this is indeed the case (and Fukui's
arguments in this regard are quite convincing), we need not wonder
at the absence of the standard sutra fonnat in the earliest Chinese
version of this text. Since the text was intended for ritual use (that
is, as a dhiiraI)I to be chanted) rather than to impersonate a genuine
Indian sutra, it is no surprise that the author(s) of the text have not
tried to cloak their product in foreign garb; nor, we might add, that
the text does not contain that other hallmark of most Chinese
apocryphal texts: the intrusion of indigenous Chinese (i.e., non-
Indian and non-Buddhist) ideas.
48
But we must still consider whether it is plausible to contend
that the introductory and concluding portions of the text could have
been manufactured in China. Foremost among the items to be
considered in this regard are two elements in the text: fIrst, the
substitution of A valokitesvara for the expected Prajfiaparamita
spokespersons, Subhiiti and the Buddha himself; and second, the
presence in the concluding section of a perfectly good Sanskrit
mantra.
49
Both are features that have no parallel in the Large Sutra
from which the core passage was clearly derived, and indeed are
extremely unusual in the Prajfiaparamita literature in general. Thus
both A valokitesvara and the concluding mantra appear to have been
introduced into the frame sections gratuitously, as it were, based on
considerations extraneous to the Large Sutra.
Would such considerations have been found in the time and
place where the Heart Sutra first makes its appearance (that is, in
southwest China in the 7th century)? The answer, emphatically, is
yes. The presence of A valokitesvara is not at all unexpected, for this
figure was by far the most popular bodhisattva in China at this time,
as attested by both textual and artistic evidence.
5o
Indeed it is
probably fair to say that his following among Chinese Buddhists over
the centuries has far exceeded his popUlarity in India.
51
Thus the
choice of A valokitesvara as the central figure in a newly created
Buddhist recitation text would be perfectly plausible in a Chinese
milieu.
But what of the mantra itself - the well-known expression
THE HEART SUTRA
177
gate pifrasarpgate bOOhi svahii - with which the text
ntS shorter recensIon) comes to an end? If the mantra were found ill
of the text (that is, the portion which duplicates material
Jitontained in the Large Sutra) we would have no difficulty, for this
was clearly composed in India. Yet the mantra does not occur
(here but in the frame section, which (if the reasoning outlined above
correct) should be viewed as a purely Chinese creation. How, then,
we to explain the presence of a perfectly good Sanskrit mantra in
text that was tailored in China?
Here a point recently made by both McRae and Fukui is of
nonsiderable importance, for some or all of the mantra found in the
;icHeart Sutra also occurs in at least three other texts contained in the
fChinese Buddhist canon. Of these one is a catalogue of mantras, saId
!.to have been translated into Chinese in 653 CE,52 while two others
:;life Mahayana sutras.
53
It would thus have been perfectly plausible
'that the composer of the original Chinese Heart Sutra adopted the
Xmantra in question from al1 existing work and inserted it directly into
s:his text.
54
Moreover, not only the mantra itself, but also the string of
(epithets that precede it ("the supreme mantra, the mantra which is
equal to the unequalled," etc.) have now been shown to occur
in other Chinese texts. 54a The presence of a genuine
'Sanskrit mantra, then, offers no obstacle to the hypothesis that the
Heart Sutra as an independent text was an indigenous Chinese
; production.
When we consider the likelihood that the frame elements are
entirely Chinese in origin, this casts certain textual problems in the
Sanskrit version of the sutra in a wholly new light. For most of the
problematic elements in the Sanskrit text are found precisely in these
frame sections and not in the core of the text. If we treat the Chinese
- rather than the Sanskrit - as the original, much can be clarified, for
the language used here (particularly in the list of epithets of the
mantra) includes Chinese terms for which no Sanskrit equivalent is
readily apparent. When the text tells us, for example, that the mantra
is "genuine, not vain" (chen shih pu hsii n), the wording is entirely
natural in Chinese, while its Sanskrit counterpart satyam amithyatviit
[sic] (translated rather idiosyncratically by Conze as "[it is] true. For ------- ---------
178
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
what could go wrong?") has perplexed a number of modem readers.iJI
Likewise it is intriguing to note that the Chinese term Shelf!:?
"spirit" in t?e ta (lit.
has no eqwvalent m the Sanskrit verSIOn, WhICh reads sunply maha..,{,
mantra ("great mantra") in Conze'sedition, while the Sanskrit word\E
mantra elsewhere in this section corresponds to the character chOlfl,\
alone. It seems quite likely that a Sanskrit translator would have had
. great difficulty in finding ail appropriate Buddhist technical term to':
represent the not-particularly-Buddhist tenn shen Q in this Context.55
Finally, the Chinese expression chiu-ching nieh-p 'an
r
(lit. "ultimate[ly]
nirvaI}a") is attested, in a number of other Buddhist texts, and might
well be described as standard (even idiomatic) Buddhist Chinese
,
while the corresponding Sanskrit phrase ni$f;ha-nirviiI)a (in which the
first tenn can carry such meanings as "state," "perfection," or
"termination") strikes the reader as overly abbreviated at best, and
has required a certain amount of textual supplementation not only in _i'-
the English translation of Edward Conze, but even in some of the<:
Sanskrit manuscript copies themselves. 56 Both in terms ofvocabu..:
lary and of grammatical structure, then, it is easier to understand the
Sanskrit Heart Siitra as a translation from the Chinese than the
reverse.
We have seen that it is fairly easy to identify elements in the -
frame sections of the Heart Siitra that make better sense in the
Chinese than in the Sanskrit. But even in the core passage of the
Sanskrit version of the text we can identify, in retrospect, elements
that are less idiomatic than we would - expect from an Indian
composition. The fonnat of the list of negations of the six sense
organs, for example - which in the Heart Siitra reads na cak$u1)-
srotra-ghriiI)a-jihva-kaya-maniirp.si - simply does not "ring" properly
(that is, does not sound idiomatic) to the well-trained Sanskrit ear.
57
Rather, the construction one would expect to find is precisely what
we have in the Sanskrit Large Siitra, where the negative na is repeated
before each of the sense-organs in turn (in the Gilgit manuscript, na
Cak$UI na srotrarp. na ghriiI)am najihva na kaye na manal;1). The Heart
Siitra thus diverges from the anticipated Sanskrit usage, offering
instead a precise replication of the word order of the Chinese.
THE HEART SUTRA 179
If the evidence reviewed above seems unanimous in support-
tiftg the hypothesis that the Chinese te.xt is indeed the antecedent of
filii Sanskrit, we are still faced with an important historical question:
fwhen, and by whom, could the text have been transported to India
ffendered into Sanskrit? Here our discussion will necessarily become .
ffuore speculative, for we have neither a Sanskrit colophon relating the
of the text nor an external historical source describing its
ftiansmission. Nonetheless there is strong circumstantial. evidence
jpointing to the role of a specific figure: the well-known Chinese
scholar, translator, and pilgrim, Hstian-tsang.
fmstorical Evidence: In the Footsteps of HSiian-tsang
I.,
f In the discussion above we have noted that Chinese commen-
on the Heart Siitra begin to appear considerably before their
!!Indian counterparts. What we have not mentioned so far, however,
a noteworthy difference between the Chinese commentaries, on the
hand, and their Indian and Tibetan counterparts on the other: all
Chinese commentaries are based on a single version of the
Siitra, namely, the version associated with Hstian-tsang (T. No.
,;jf.:1,
and thus with a version of the shorter recension of the text
sST); all Indo-Tibetan commentaries, by contrast, are based
the longer version (LT), which is clearly a later recension. 58 The
commentaries, then, are not only in Chinese, but are all based
the version generally described as a "translation" by Hstian-tsang.
){ . The spotlight that this places on Hstian-tsang' s version of the
:i'text raises two further questions: where did Hstian-tsang get his copy
tA of the text, and what role did he play in its subsequent diffusion? That
Hstian-tsang was already familiar with the Heart Siitra prior to his
l7'departure for the Western Regions is made quite clear in' his
.r biography, where his initial encounter with the text is described as
;Lfollows:
Formerly when the Master was in Szechuan, he once saw a
sick man suffering from foul boils and dressed in rags. With
pity he took him to his monastery and supplied him with food
and clothes. Out of gratitude the sick man taught the Master
this siitra, which he often recited.
59
180
nABS VOL. 15 NO. 2
Subsequently in the course of his journey Hstian-tsang is said to have
recited the text at various points along the way when he was in danger
finding it even more powerful than appealing to the
Kuan-yin.
60
We are given to understand, in other words, that this text
immediately became a favorite of Hstian-tsang's, so much so that he
entrusted himself to it in a number oflife-threatening situations. This
account provides concrete evidence, then, both ofHstian-tsang's love
for the text and his transport of its content (at least in oral form) to
India.
What, then, would he have done if, upon arriving in India, he
discovered that the Indian Buddhists were unfamiliar with this text?
According to his biography, this was exactly what took place in the
case of another text, The A wakening of Faith in the Mahayana,
widely believed to be a Chinese apocryphon. As Hui-li
S
tells the
story, during his stay at Niilandii University Hstian-tsang discovered
that this important text was unknown to his Indian correligionists.
And his response, we are told, was to translate the text into Sanskrit. 61
Thus there is a clear precedent for viewing Hstian-tsang not merely
as the passive recipient of Indian Buddhist learning, but also as an
active transmitter of Chinese Buddhist culture in foreign lands.
We are not told, of course, that Hstian-tsang translated the
Heart Sutra into Sanskrit, and indeed we should not expect this fact
to be recorded even if Hstian-tsang and his biographers knew it to be
the case. For in China the fundamental criterion for the authenticity
of a Buddhist sutra is its Indian pedigree, and to state outright that
Hstian-tsang had translated the Heart Sutra from Chinese into
Sanskrit would cast doubt upon its legitimacy, arousing suspicions
that it might be a non-Indian text and hence (by Chinese Buddhist
standards) apocryphal. One can well imagine that Hstian-tsang,
convinced of the authenticity of the Heart Sutra as a religious text and
with first-hand experience of its supernatural protective power,
would simply have concluded that the Indian original had been lost.
Under the circumstances he may have done just what we would
expect him to do: quietly re-translate the text back into Sanskrit.
If the image of Hstian-tsang as a forger of an Indian Buddhist
text seems amusing (or perhaps, to other readers, alarming), it is
THE HEART SUTRA
181
because it is so contrary to what the standard histories of Buddhism
. would lead us to expect. The Chinese people, we are told, were the
recipients - not the creators - of Buddhist siitras, and the "siitra
trade" flowed exclusively from West to East. Yet it is now becoming
clear that the Chinese were avid producers as well as consumers of
Buddhist siitras, and that some of the most popular scriptures in East
Asia - e.g., the Humane King's Siitra (len-wang ching) and the
Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Ta-sheng ch 'i-shin lunU) were
the product of Chinese hands.
62
Even more striking is the convincing
evidence recently set forth by Robert Buswell for the Korean origin
of the Vajrasamadhi Siitra (Chin-kang san-mei ching), a text
subsequently exported westward to both China and Tibet. 63
It is not unheard of, then, for Buddhist siitras to flow from East
to vVest, and indeed evidence is accumulating of an important
backwash of Chinese Buddhist influence into eastern Central Asia
. (the Tarim Basin region) during and after the late T'ang period.64
That the Heart Siitra should have been a part of this East-to-West
trade is thus not at all impossible.
The role of Hstian-tsang himself in the back -translation of the
Heart Siitra into Sanskrit cannot, of course, be definitively proven.
We have at our disposal only, circumstantial evidence, which is
insufficient to decide the case with certainty. It is possible that
Hstian-tsang simply left the text with his correligionists in India,
where it awaited the efforts of some other Chinese pilgrim before it
was finally translated into Sanskrit. Nonetheless, whatever the
specific circumstances surrounding the Sanskrit translation of the
text may have been, we should note that the first Indian commentaries
on the text appear roughly a century and a half after Hstian-tsang's
visit. Thus if it was not Hstian-tsang himself who translated the text
into Sanskrit, we must credit this work to some other Chinese visitor
who would have arrived in India at approximately the same time,
someone fond enough of the siitra to have transported it westward
over this great distance and skilled enough in Sanskrit to have
translated (or overseen the translation of) the text back into an Indian
"original." Until further evidence of other possibilities should
surface, Hstian-tsang must remain the most likely candidate for the
182
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
transmission of this Chinese creation to India.
The Heart Siitl'a in China: The Role of HSiian-tsang
We may now pause to consider briefly an issue whose
thorough explication is properly the preserve of the Sinologist: that
of Hsuan-tsang's role in the diffusion of the Heart Sutra in China. A
thorough study of this topic would be highly desirable, and it is hoped
that a specialist in Chinese Buddhism will take up this challenge in ....
the future, In the meantime, however, a few preliminary comments'
may be offered on this topic.
Up to this point we have focused on only one version of the
Heart Sutra : the Chinese "translation" (a term we can now use only
in quotation marks) of the shorter recension of the text popularly
attributed to Hsuan-tsang, together with its Sanskrit counterpart. But
there are other versions of the Heart Sutra found in the Chinese canon
as welL Of the eight versions contained in the Taish5 canon three
represent the shorter recension of the text (ST), while the other five
are variant editions of the longer recension (LT).65 In addition to
these eight extant versions of the text we should also take note of two
titles found in ancient catalogues which have been considered by
some scholars to represent early translations of the text into Chinese, .
though the texts themselves are no longer extant. 66
All five of the Chinese versions of the longer recension of the
text postdate Hsuan-tsang's edition by periods ranging from several
decades to several centuries. It is the earlier versions of the sutra,
however, that are of the greatest interest to us here, since we are
interested in determining what versions of the text, if any, were
circulating in: China prior to Hsuan-tsang' s involvement with the text.
More specifically, the questions we must confront are these: first,
when did any version of the Heart Sutra first surface in China; second,
what version of the text did Hsuan-tsang obtain during his sojourn in
Szechwan; and third, what changes (if any) did he subsequently make
in the content of the text?
"Lost translations" of the Heart Siitra. Two titles that have
been considered by some scholars to represent lost Chinese transla-
THE HEART SUTRA 183
fHons of the Heart SzUra are known to us only through their inclusion
tin Tao-an' SW catalogue, the Tsung-li chung-ching mu-lrf (itself non-
but largely reproduced in Seng-yu'sY Ch 'u san-tsang chi-chi, Z
ft20Illpleted c. 515 CE).67 Both are listed here as the work of
ft1anonymous (that is, unknown) translators. The attributions of these
to Chih Ch'ien
a
and KumarajIva, respectively, given in
scripture catalogues are clearly after the fact and can easily be
fdiscounted.
68
Their titles, however, are intriguingly similar to those
"bf subsequent versions of the Heart Sutra. Titled Mo-ho po-jo po-

i'lo-mi shen-chou i chuan ab and Po-jo po-lo-mi shen-chou i chuan:
c
both are clearly intended to be construed as mantras
t::(shen-chou ad) based upon - or at least associated with - the
Prajfiaparamita corpus. In the case of the fIrst of these titles the
seems at fIrst glance to refer specifIcally to the Large Sutra,
!lwhose title (in Kumarajiva's translation) is Mo-ho po-jo po-lo-mi
ching. ae Yet upon further reflection this association is unfounded, for
a work by this title really was included in Tao-an's original
ficatalogue, it would predate the appearance of KumarajIva's transla-
of the Large Sutra by several decades.
69
Earlier Chinese
Ftranslations of the Perfection of. Wisdom in 25,000 Lines (to use the
t Sanskrit form of the title) do not use the terms mo-ho po-jo po-lo-mi;af
Crather, version is titled Fang kuang po-jo chingg (T No.
:221), text is labeledKuangtsangchingm (TNo.
':222). Thus the very use of the term po-jo po-lo-mfi (let alone mo-
{"ho po-jo po-lo-IIJi'f) in reference to the Large Sutra in a Chinese text
'prior to the time of KumarajIva is anachronistic, and casts doubt on
the likelihood that these titles are genuine references to early versions
of the Heart Sutra. In the absence- of an extant copy of either text,
-then, we are not in a position to say anything about their content. Until
and unless new data should appear we must leave open the question
of whether either of the texts represented by these titles had any
association with what eventually came to be known as the Heart
Sutra.
The three extant versions of the shorter (ST) recension,
however, clearly demand our attention. These are the Chinese'
version attributed to KumarajIva (T No. 250) which, if the attribution
184
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
were correct, would date to some two and a half centuries before
Hstian-tsang's time; the transliterated Sanskrit version in Chinese
characters (T No. 255), attributed by at least one modern scholar to
Hstian-tsang himself; and the Chinese version discussed above (T
No. 251), which has traditionally been considered a translation by
Hstian-tsang from the Sanskrit.
The "Kumarajiva translation" (I' No. 250). A thorough
evaluation of the origins of the so-called "Kumarajiva version" of the
Heart Sutra has long been needed, and significant p:rog:ress in this
enterprise has recently been made by Japanese and Western scholars.
To summarize their findings briefly, it seems clear that students of
Kumarajlva (in particular,Seng-chao) read and commented on the
core passage of the Heart Sutra found in Kumarajiva's version of the
Large Sutra.
70
There is no evidence, however, that they were aware
of the existence of the Heart Sutra as a separate text, nor is there any
evidence that Kumarajiva himself had any role in the production of
the "translation" associated with his name. In the earliest catalogues
of his works no such translation is listed, and for this reason alone the
attribution of this text to Kumarajiva in later works is highly
suspect.
71
The actual content of this translation raises some intriguing
questions concerning the process of its composition. The bulk of the
text ag:rees word for word with Hstian-tsang's edition of the sutra (T
No. 251); yet in certain crucial respects the two versions diverge.
These divergences may be summarized as follows:
(1) at the beginning of the text (T 8.847c, lines 5-7)
Kumarajiva's Heart Sutra contains a series of 37 characters which
have no counterpart in Hstian-tsang's version of the text;
(2) in the midst of the core passage of the text (T 8.847c, line
10) Kumarajiva' s Heart Sutra contains a line stating that "these empty
dharmas are not past, not future, not present" (shih k'ung fa fei kuo-
ch 'ij fei wei-lai fei hsien-tsar
i
) which has no counterpart in Hstian-
tsang's version; and
(3) at another key point in the core passage - that is, in the
first statement of the non-difference between fonn and emptiness -
THE HEART SUTRA
185
'J{umarajiva's text phrases this statement differently than does
: fIstian-tsang; and
(4) at yarious points throughout both the core and the frame
sections the two versions differ in their rendering of certain Buddhist
technical tenns (e.g., the tenns prajiiapiiramita, skaiJdha, bodhisattva,
and the names of A valokiteSvara and Sariputra). .
These divergences, I believe, provide us with our best clues
to the ancestry of the two texts as well as to the relationship between
. them.
Beginning with the first, as Fukui has recently pointed out
there are near the beginning of the so-called Kumarajiva translation
. (T No. 250) a series of 37 characters which have no counterpart in
Hsiian-tsang's version of the text (or, for that matter, in any other
Chinese or Sanskrit recension of the sutra).72 These characters -
reading in English translation "Sariputra, because fonn is empty, it
is without the mark of disfiguring (nao-huafk); because perception
(vedani) is empty, it is without the mark of perception; because
concept (sarpjiii) is empty, it is without the mark of knowing; because
conditioning force (sarpskiIra) is empty, it is without the mark of
production; because consciousness (vijiiana) is empty, it is without
the mark of awakening (chileJtl). And why?" (T 8.847c5-7) -
correspond exactly, however, with a line in Kumarajiva's version of
the Large Sutra.
73
Fukui also draws attention to the second of the divergences
listed above, namely the statement in Kumarajiva' s Heart Sutra - and
in this version alone - that "empty dharmas are not past, not future,
[and] not present." Once again, however (as Fukui rightly points
out), this line corresponds character for character with a line in the
Large Sutra translation of Kumarajiva,74 but is found in no other
version (in any language, we might add) of the Heart Sutra.
Basing his discussion only on the features listed in (1) and (2)
above, Fukui concludes that the word-for-word identity between
these elements unique to the so-called Kumarajiva translation of the
Heart Sutra (among Heart Sutra recensions) but found also in
Kumarajiva's own version of the Large Sutra serves as proof that this
recension of the Heart Sutra is a genuine translation by Kumarajiva
--------------------
186
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
himself. This contention is problematic, however, for it rests on a
questionable assumption: namely, that if a s_ingle individual (e.g.,
Kumarajiva) were to translate both the Heart Sutra and the Large
Siitra into Chinese from Sanskrit originals, the two Chinese transla-
tions should agree word for word even though the Sanskrit texts do
not. For, as we have already seen, the Sanskrit texts of the HeartSiitra
and the Large Sutra diverge in a number of respects. Thus the nearly
verbatim agreement between the two Chinese texts should instead
arouse our suspicions. Moreover, even if a given translator were to
render two perfectly identical texts on two separate occasions into a
second language, the odds against his or her choosing exactly the
same word in each instance are enormous. And this is especially true
of a translator like Kumarajiva, who is renowned not for a wooden
faithfulness to the Sanskrit original but for his fluid and context-
sensitive renditions. Thus the character-for-character correspon-
dences between the Large Sutra of Kumarajiva and the Heart Surra
attributed to the same person can be used to argue against - rather
than for - this attribution. Instead, such a close correspondence
serves as evidence of what we in the 20th century would describe as
plagiarism: the adoption of one individual's wording by another.
It is the third divergence listed above - the fact that the so-
called Kumarajiva translation of the Heart Sutra phrases the initial
statement of the non-difference between form and emptiness in
wording distinct from the version of Hsiian-tsang - that may offer us
the most valuable clue to the ancestry of "Kumarajiva' s" version of
the text. For in this line the Heart Surra attributed to Kumarajiva does
not agree with his own translation of the Large Sutra on the Perfection
of Wisdom; rather, it corresponds to his 'version of the Ta chih-tu
lUJtI" (Skt. * Mahaprajnaparamita-sastra). 75 Where the Heart Siitra of
Hsiian-tsang and the Large Sutra of Kumarajiva both read se pu i
k'unt ("form is not different from emptiness"),76 the Heart Surra
attributed to Kumarajiva and the Ta chih-tulun both read fei se i
k'ungn ("it is not that form is different from emptiness").77 How,
then, are we to explain this divergence?
The answer, I believe, is a simple one. If we combine this
piece of evidence with the fact just set forth - that the near-identity
TIIE HEART SUTRA
187
in wording between the Heart Siitra and the Large Siitra should be
attributed to borrowing by a third party and not to sequential
translations by a single individual - we can then draw a further
that the Heart Siitra attributed to Kumarajiva was based
llot directly on his version of the Large Siitra, but on the citations from
that siitra contained in the Ta chih-tu lun. In other words, the Heart
Siitra may be viewed as the creation of a Chinese author who was
,'more familiar with the Large Siitra as presented in this widely popu1ar
commentary than with the text of the siitra itself.
The hypothesis that the so-called Kumarajiva version (T No.
250) of the Heart Siitra was created on the basis of the Ta chih-tu lun
also accords well with the fourth and final divergence listed above:
. the fact that in numerous respects this recension uses vocabulary that '
is quite at home in the translations of Kumlirajiva, but for which
Hsiian-tsang (and the recension of the Heart Siitra attributed to him)
used later, more scholastic tenns. If T No. 250 was the creation of
writer(s) familiar with Kumarajiva's work, in other words, we shou1d
not be at all surprised to find that it renders the Sanskrit word skandha
into Chinese as yin,"o not yiin
ap
(the reading found in Hsiian-tsang's
works, and in the Heart Siitra attributed to him). Nor should we be
surprised to find Avalokitesvara given in Kumarajiva's standard
rendering as Kuan-shih-yinaq (in contrast to Hsiian-tsang's Kuan-tzu-
tsa:f'X) , Sariputra as She-ii-fifs (vs. Hsiian-tsang's She-ii-tzzft) ,
prajiiiiparamitii as po-jo po-lo-miai(vs. Hsiian-tsang' s po-jo po-lo-mi-
ter), and the word bodhisattva in its standard Chinese rendering of
. p'u-sa"v (while in one instance Hsiian-tsang's Heart Siitra offers the
rather pedantic reading p 'u-ti-sa-to
aw
). T No. 250 need not be, in
other words, the work of Kumarajiva himself in order to exhibit
Kumarajiva's standard vocabulary; the core passage has simply been
extracted from his Ta chih-tu lun, while the frame sections need only
be the product of a community or an individual at home with his
renderings of Buddhist technical tenns.
If this text is not the work of Kumarajiva himself, then, when
(and under what circumstances) was it produced? This question
cannot be answered easily, though the evident patterning of T No.
250 on Kumarajiva's Ta 'chih-tu lun provides us at least with a
- - - - ~ ~ - - - - - - - -
188 nABS VOL.15 NO.2
terminus post quem for its composition; that is, it cannot have been .
produced prior to the completion of the Ta c!llh-tu lun itself, which
according to the K'ai-yuan shih-chiao Hi took place in 406 CE.78 No
comparable tenninus ante quem, however, is available to us, and
indeed at least one scholar has suggested that this version of the text
may postdate that of Hsiian-tsang himself.1
9
In the absence of ftnn
evidence, therefore, we must restrict our inquiry to the most obvious
question: that is, when the so-called "Kumarajiva translation" of the
Heart Siitra ftrst gained currency in China. Yet the answer to this ~
question is startling, for this version of the siitra (unlike the one'
attributed to Hstian-tsang) never became popular in China. Not a
single Chinese commentary is based on this version (nor, for that
matter, on any version of the siitra other than that of Hstian-tsang),80 .
and the version of the text recited throughout China, Korea, and Japan
is the recension attributed to Hsiian'-tsang. In retrospect this may
indeed be the most telling indication that Kumarajiva played no role .
in the creation of this version of the Heart Siitra, for it is otherwise
quite unheard of in Chinese Buddhist history for a work of Hsiian-
tsang's to eclipse one of Kumarajiva's. Hstian-tsang's cumbersome
and (by Chinese standards) overly literal style, together with his
scholarly innovations in Buddhist technical terminology (most of
which were never accepted outside limited scholarly circles), seem
to have put off most of his Chinese audience. Kumarajiva's
translations of a number of works have thus remained the most
popular until today, despite the existence of later (and technically
more accurate) renditions by Hsiian-tsang. If a version of the Heart
Siitra attributed to Kumarajiva had indeed been in circulation in
China prior to the appearance of the version attributed to Hsiian-
tsang, it seems highly unlikely that Hsiian-tsang's edition would have
succeeded in supplanting it.
Based on the evidence presently available, then, we cannot
determine with certainty just when the Heart Siitra attributed to
Kumarajiva was produced. We are quite safe in concluding,
however, that this HeartSiitra is not the work of Kumarajiva himself,
but is an adaptation of his version of the Large Siitra (or rather, an
adaptation of the version of his Large Siitra contained in the Ta chih-
THE HEART SUTRA 189
;tu lun) by a third party. We will return to a consideration of the
;relationship between this version of the sutra and the version
'attributed to Hsuan-tsang below, at which point we will again take
iup the fourth' feature noted above, namely the divergences in
'technical vocabulary between the versions of the Heart Sutra
;associated with Kumarajiva and Hsuan-tsang. What we can state
:With certainty at this point is that this version of the Heart Sutra is
lneither Kumarajiva's nor an independent translation from the San-
'skrit.
The HSiian-tsang "translation. ;, But should we raise the same
question concerning the Chinese version of the text attributed to
.. , Hsuan-tsang? As we have seen, we can no longer use the term
"translation" to apply to this text, for there is every indication that it
was fabricated in China. Moreover, Hsuan-tsang's biography speaks
of his translation of the text, but of his initial encounter with the .
siitra in Szechwan. But the possibility of some editorial input by
Hsuan-tsang into the text as it has come down to us must still be
. examined. What, then, was the role of Hsuan-tsang in composing,
editing, or popularizing the text in the form in which it has come down .
to us?
In retrospect, we should perhaps have been alerted to the fact
that this text is not what later generations have taken it to be - that
is, a translation from the Sanskrit by Hsuan-tsang - by the fact that
the sutra does not appear where we would expect it to: as part of
Hsuan-tsang's magnum opus, the translation of a compendium of
Prajfiaparamita texts ranging frbm the Perfection of Wisdom in
100,000 Lines (Skt Satasifhasrika-prajiiapiIramitif-siitra) to the
Questions of Suvikrantavikrami (Skt. Suvikrantavikrifmi-parip!ccha-
siitra).81 Here the various sutras are not treated as separate texts, but
. as chapters in a single work, a rather unusual arrangement that may
well go back to Hsuan-tsang himself. . No Prajfiaparamita text
translated by Hsuan-tsang appears anywhere else in the canon but in
this collection - none, that is, but the popular Heart Siitra edition
associated with his name, which appears in the general Prajfiaparamita:
section. This in itself may tell us something of the history of the text:
190
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
that it was first classified simply as a Prajiiaparamita text, in all
probability listed as "translator unknown," ,and that only later _
through its close association with Hsiian-tsang and his activities in
popularizing it - it.came to be attributed to him.
. But did HSiian-tsang simply pass on the siitra as he receiVed
it, or did he himself leave a certain editorial imprint on the text? In
a number of respects we find evidence that Hsiian-tsang may have
"corrected" the text, in all probability after his travels in India.
In most respects Hsiian-tsang' s Heart Siitra contains readings
identical to those found in Kumarajiva's Large Siitra. It does differ,
however, in the translation (or transliteration) of certain terms, most
notably the spellings of the name of Sariputra as She-ii-tzrlt (vs. She-
ii-trls in Kumarajiva's translations and in the Heart Siitra erroneously
attributed to him), Avalokitesvara as Kuan-tzu-tsai" (vs. Kuan-shih-
yiIt
q
) , and the Sanskrit word skandha as yiiItP (vs. yiIt). Other
minor divergences between the versions of the Heart Siitra attributed
to Hsiian-tsang and Kumarajiva, respectively, can be identified as
well; since the above three examples are the most regular and the
most easily traceable, we will restrict our inquiry to them. 82
A survey of the uses of the terms She-ii-tzu, Kuan-tzu-tsai and
yiin (in the sense of Skt. skandha) in the Taisho canon reveals a
striking and consistent pattern, for all three of these terms appear to
have b e ~ n introduced into the Chinese Buddhistliterature by Hsiian-
tsang himself. Not a single one of them is certain to have appeared
in the work of any translator active prior to Hsiian-tsang's time, and
indeed the pool of Chinese translators and commentators who later
adopt these spellings is conspicuously small. 83 The appearance of all
three of these terms in a work that is certain to have been in circulation
by the middle of the 7th century is thus a virtual fingerprint ofHsiian-
tsang's editorial activity. 84
Should we assume, then, that Hsiian-tsang was responsible
not only for the editing of the text, but for the composition of the
frame section itself? This would, I believe, be going too far. His
biography is eloquent on the extent of his devotion to the text and its
recitation, a devotion that seems unlikely to have been so strong if
Hsiian-tsang himself were the author (or the partial author) of the text.
THE HEART SUTRA 191
The most likely possibility, it would seem, is that Hstian-tsang
encountered the text in its full form and made only minor editorial
changes, in all likelihood after his extended study of Sanskrit terms
in India.
We cannot determine, on the basis of the evidence presently
available, the extent of the resemblance between the text given to
IIsuan-tsang in Szechwan and the version traditionally attributed to
. J(umarajiva. In addition to the changes in technical vocabulary
introduced by Hsuan-tsang himself, if a text resembling T No. 250
was indeed the prototype (and not a later creation) we must also
account for the absence of the 37 characters at the beginning of the
longer version from Hsuan-tsang's copy of the text, and for the
... absence of the line "empty dharmas are not past, not future, [and] not
present." Hsuan-tsang's version of the sutTa, in other words, is
somewhat abbreviated when compared with the so-called Kumarajiva
version, or indeed with the core of the sutTa found in the Chinese
Large Sutra itself. If these lines were not removed by Hstian-tsang
himself, then, they must have been extracted at so,me time prior to his
encounter with the text.
At least three scenarios can be envisioned to explain the
divergences between Hsuan-tsang's version of the sutTa and the only
other version (T No. 250) which can lay any claim to priority: (1)
T No. 250 was fabricated after Hsuan-tsang' s version of the sutTa was
already in circulation, perhaps by a traditionalist party unhappy with
Hsuan-tsang's innovations in Buddhist technical terms; (2) the
version of the sutTa obtained by Hsuan-tsang in Szechwan was
essentially identical with the text now classified as T No. 250, and
Hstian-tsang himself not only "corrected" its technical terminology,
but excised certain portions of the text; and (3) the version of the text
given to Hsuan-tsang had already been abbreviated before he
obtained it, and the innovations introduced by Hsuan-tsang were
limited to certain changes in technical terminology. At the present
state of our know lege it is not possible to determine with certainty
which of these scenarios is correct. As a working hypothesis,
however, the third possibility seems the most likely.
192
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
The "Hsiian-tsang" transliteration (I' No. 256). We now
come to the most peculiar version of the Sutra found in the
Chinese canon: a Sanskrit version in which the Indian sounds are
recorded in Chinese characters.
85
In contrast to the Chinese version
attributed to Hstian-tsang, this transliterated version seems not to
have been widely circulated in China, for it was not included in the.
Buddhist canons produced at least from the Liao through the Ch'ing
dynasties (10th-19th centuries), and was recovered only in the 20th
century by Western archaeologists at Tun-huang.
86
The text is not assigned a translator in the Taish5 edition of
the canon (nor indeed in the body of the text itself), for it is not, of
course, a translation. Nonetheless, it would be of considerable
interest to know both the date of this transliterated edition and the
identity of the person or persons responsible for its recording. In a
recent article Leon Hurvitz has suggested that this transliteration, or
"Brahmanical text" (as he calls it), was set down in writing by Hstian-
tsang himself.87 A quite different thesis, however, has recently been
put forth by Fukui, who argues that the text is not the work ofHstian-
tsangat all, but is to be attributed to the 8th century tantric master,
Amoghavajra.
88
/'
Fukui's arguments in this regard are quite convincing, and the
reader is referred to his monumental study for further details. One
piece of supporting evidence not discussed by Fukui, however, may
be mentioned here: that is, that the transliterated version diverges in
several respects from the Chinese text attributed to Hstian-tsang.
Where Hstian-tsang's Chinese text reads "[he] passed beyond all
suffering" (8.848c4), for example, the transliterated text -like all the
Sanskrit versions of the sutra discovered to date- has no equivalent
of this line. 89 Again, where the transliterated text reads riipam
siinyam siinyataiva rupam ("form is empty, emptiness itself is form,"
8.851 b29-c 1) the Chinese text associated with Hstian-tsang lacks any
equivalent of these lines. Likewise the expression na vidyif na
nifvidyif ("no knowledge, no destruction of
knowledge; no ignorance, no destruction of ignorance" in the
transliterated text (8.851c17-19) does not match Hstian-tsang's
Chinese version, which reads simply "no ignorance, destruction
THE HEART SUTRA 193
of ignorance" (8.848c9). Finally, while Hsiian-tsang's Chinese
version reads "no knowledge and no attainment" (8.848clO), the
transliterated text contains an expansion of this expression found in
some (but not 'all) copies of the Sanskrit text, namely na jiiifna na
prfipti(r) nfibhisama(yal}.) ("no knowledge, no attainment, [and] no
realization," 8.852a2-3). The two texts, in other words, diverge in
content (not just in wording) in a number of respects, and thus are
extremely unlikely to have been the work of the same person. In
they are unlikely to have been the work of a person like
whose philological and textual precision were legen-
clary, and who certainly would not have let such discrepancies go
unnoticed.
90

!'i' But if the two texts were not produced by the same person,
which - if either - should we attribute to HSiian-tsang? The
answer hinges in part, of course, on the degree of probability with
we can establish some connection between Hsiian-tsang and
tE the text regularly associated with his name. As we have already seen,
T No. 251 (ordinarily described as a "translation" by
does indeed contain the distinctive technical vocabu-
fJary that appears in other translations and original compositions by
Hsiian-tsang. Moreover, it is this version of the sutra that served as
the basis for commentaries by both of Hsiian-tsang's main shldents,
K'uei-chi and Wonch'Uk:. The combined weight of this evidence
'? seems sufficient, in the view of this writer, to point to this version of
the sutra as the one used by Hsiian-tsang.
";!
\7"
;! Hsiian-tsang and the Reception of the Heart Sutra in China.
" Whatever the extent of Hsiian-tsang's role in the editing of the
' . Chinese Heart Sutra associated with his name, we .can be of
one thing: that it waS this version, and not any other, that fIrst gained
wide popularity in China, and that it has remained down to the present
day the sole version of the sutra that is actually read, chanted, and
commented upon in East Asia. And this situation was clearly already
in effect during the T'ang dynasty. As Fukui has pointed out, most
T'ang-period references to the Heart Sutra refer to the text as the To
hsin ching,ax where the first character (pronounced to in the modem
194
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Beijing dialect, but ta in T'ang-period Chinese) represents the final
character of the transliteration of the Sanskrit word prajiiiipiiramita.9J
These three characters are, however, the last thiee elements in HSiian_
tsang's title of the text; the character to does not appear in the title
of the version attributed to Kumarajiva (nor, for that matter, in the
titles of the two non-extant texts popularly supposed to have been
early versions of the Heart Sutra
92
). That some of the later Chinese
renditions of the sutra (none of which ever gained significant
popularity) also end in these three characters - quite likely in
imitation of Hstian -tsang's text - need not dissuade us from drawing
the obvious conclusion: that these T'ang-period mentions of the To
hsin ching refer specifically to Hstian-tsang's edition.
It was certainly Hstian-tsang, then, who was responsible for
the widespread popularity of the sutra in China, and in all probability
for its initial circulation (and perhaps its translation into Sanskrit) in
India as well. It now remains only for us to consider the subsequent
fate of this Chinese apocryphal scripture in the hands of the Buddhists
of India and Tibet.
The Heart Sutra in India and Tibet
It has long been known that there are numerous Sanskrit
manuscript copies of the Heart Sutra, a fact which has obscured until
now the Chinese ancestry of the text. But the text did not stop
evolving once it had been introduced into the Indian environment.
Far from it; like all other Indian Buddhist texts, the Heart Sutra was
subjected to a series of additions and changes, the most striking of
which was the creation of a distinctive variant of the text popularly
known as the "longer" recension.
We have already taken note of the fact that commentaries on
the Heart Sutra attributed to Indian authors are clustered in a period
from the 8th to the 11 th century CE.93 There is also, however, a
clustering of a different sort, for all seven of the surviving commen-
tariesare based on the longer recension of the sutra.
94
And the same
is true of the commentaries on the sutra written in Tibet, all of which
are based on the longer version of the text. The situation is precisely
the reverse, however, in China: here all of the extant commentaries
are based not only on the shorter recension of the text, but on a single
THE HEART SfJTRA 195
of that recension - the version attributed to Hsiian-tsang (T
kNo.251).
t How can this striking discrepancy be explained? There is
no significant doctrinal difference between the two
for the core section of the siitra (in which the basic
;{teachings are given) is identical in the shorter and longer texts.
the only difference is that the "defects" we identified above
our discussion of Hsiian-tsang's shorter recension (the absence of
standard opening and closing statements, together with the total
of the Buddha himself) have been remedied in the
version, at least in perfunctory fashion. With only such a
):fseeming1y minor difference between the two versions, then, why
i{,should it be that all the Indian and Tibetan commentaries are based
the longer recension, while all the Chinese commentaries expound
the shorter one?
f;: Not every event in the history of Buddhism, of course, has a
M single easily identifiable cause. We must not discount the importance
of preservation and popularization: the role of a single
preacher (whose name has long since been lost), for
!f example, in disseminating a particular version of a text could have
( left an impact which we will never be able to recover. There is,

however, at least one identifiable factor which may explain this
':\::
commentarial pattern: the difference between Chinese and Indian
:/ perceptions of what constitutes an authentic Buddhist scripture.
;: Scriptural Authenticity: The Chinese View. The dilemma
faced by the early converts to Buddhism in China, confronted by an
ever-mounting collection of canonical scriptures (many of which
seemed to conflict with one another) ,arriving almost daily from the
Western Regions, has long been familiar to modern scholars. And
indeed it was just this seeming jumble of self-proclaimed authorita-
tive works that led to some of the most creative developments in East
Asian Buddhism, from .the complex p'an-chiacjYsystems of Chih-i
and some of his predecessors (who tried to incorporate all of these
diverse scriptures into a single coherent framework) to the formation
of a variety of "one-practice" systems (based on the selection of a
196
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
single scripture or practice as most appropriate to the present age) in
Kamakura-period Japan.
Yet throughout these quite divergent efforts a single funda-
mental criterion of authenticity can be discerned: the fact that a
Buddhist scripture, to be authentic, must be of Indian origin. And
when the composers of apocryphal texts set out to create new
scriptures in China or Korea, one of their first concerns (as demon-
strated by Robert Buswe1l
95
) was to include the proper Indian-
sounding elements, such as personal names and place names, in order
to give their newly minted scriptures the ring of authenticity. In
China, in other words, the first criterion of scriptural legitimacy was
that of geography, for any text that had no demonstrated Indian
pedigree was, on those grounds alone, suspect.
Scriptural Authenticity: The Indian View. In India, by
contrast, the criterion of geography could hardly be used, for both
genuine traditions of the Buddha's own sermons and texts containing
much later fabrications emerged in precisely the same geographical
milieu. Here other means had to be used to determine whether a given
text was indeed the word of the Buddha, and the early Buddhists
formulated a series of methods for deciding doubtful cases (to be
discussed immediately below). That these means were insufficient
for weeding out later claimants to the status of "Buddha-word" (Skt.
buddhavacana) is amply demonstrated, for the modern scholar, by the
fact that a large number of so-called Mahayana scriptures, and
eventually even certain tantric works, came to be accepted as genuine
by substantial portions ofthe Buddhist community.96 These were not,
of course, accepted without some resistance, and some of the earliest
scriptures that eventually came to be associated with the Mahayana
wing of Buddhism still bear the marks of their struggle for legiti-
macy.97
At least in the early centuries, however, Indian Buddhists had
a fairly clear-cut method of evaluating the authenticity of a given text
(a method evolved prior to the recording of Buddhist scriptures in
written form): it had to agree with the other teachings of the Buddha,
on the one hand,98 and it had to be something "heard" from a
THE HEART SfJTRA
197
source, on the other.
99
It is this latter category, I would
:{argue, that led to the eventual formulation of an implicit single
'fcriterion for authenticity: a legitimate siitra had to conform to the sole
;!acceptable format for this genre of Buddhist literature - that is, it had
is: to open with the words "Thus have I heard at one time. The Lord was
iCdwelling at ... ,"100 and to close with some indication of the reaction
ii'of the audience. Everything else":' as the Mahayana scriptures amply
- was negotiable.
By this Indian criterion, then, the reason for the clustering of
attention around the long version of the siitra becomes
The difference between the shorter and longer versions of
'ii:, the Heart Siitra is - to put it bluntly - that the longer version is a siitra,
while the shorter one is not.
In sum, the first order of business, for Indian Buddhists, was
:ll:
to convert the text into acceptable siitra format. Once this had been
F' done, its legitimacy could be established, and the work of commen-

;t
r
tary-writing could begin. What we see in the longer recension of the
5i 'siitra, in other words, is the result of the domestication of a Chinese
product to fit the demands of the Indian Buddhist market.
Scriptural Authenticity and the Heart Sutra in .Tibet Tibet is,
T' of course, situated midway between India and China, and thus it is
not surprising that Tibetan criteria for the genuineness of a Buddhist
,fL scripture represent a combination of Indian and Chinese specific a-
tions. First and foremost, a legitimate text must come from a

r.; certifiably Indian source; and second, it must - in accordance with
the sole identifiable Indian critenon - be of the "proper" genre. It is
thus quite natural that only the longer version of the Heart Siitra was
S' ever accepted into the Tibetan Buddhist canon, despite the fact that
a short version of the text is known to have been extremely popular

('. in the Sino-Tibetan border region' of Tun-huang.
101
\:/"
:::' But there may be evidence of Chinese, rather than Indian,
i; influence in the pattern of the commentaries on the Heart Siitra
ti,! written in Tibet, for these are apparently clustered into two distinct
, .. . ' .. '. periods of composition: an earlier group, composed during the
Imperial Period (7th-9th centuries CE) and its aftermath, and a later

",

- -'i.

198
nABSVOL. 15 NO.2
group, dating from the period ofthe Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1912).102
But these are precisely the two periods in Tibetan history when
Chinese influence in Tibet was at its peale In the face of this striking
pattern it seems legitimate to raise the question of whether the degree
of Tibetan interest in the Heart Sutra may have been directly related
to the extent of Tibetan contacts with China. Once again, what We
may be seeing here is evidence not of the centrality of the Heart Sutra
to Tibetan religious concerns, but of its ongoing importance in China.
Conclusions
In this paper I have sought to demonstrate, primarily on the
basis of philological evidence, that a flow chart of the relationships
among the Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Large Sutra and the
Heart Sutra can reasonably be drawn in only one sequence: from the
Sanskrit Large Sutra to the Chinese Large Sutra of Kumarajlva to the
Chinese Heart Sutra popularized by Hsiian-tsang to the Sanskrit
Heart Sutra. To assume any other direction of transmission would
present insuperable difficulties - or would, at the very least, require
postulating a quite convoluted series of processes, which (by virtue
of this very convolution) seems considerably less likely to have taken
place.
A second level of argument - and one that need not be
accepted in order to validate the hypothesis of a Chinese-to-Sanskrit
transmission of the Heart Sutra - has been offered in support of the
roleofHsiian-tsang in the transmission of the Chinese Heart Sutra
to India, and perhaps even in the translation of the text into Sanskrit.
While the circumstantial evidence of his involvement with the text
(and, in particular, of his recitation of the text en route to India) is
sufficient to convince this writer that he is the most likely carrier of
this sutra to the West, one need not accept this portion of the argument
in order to conclude that the Sanskrit Heart Sutra is indeed a
translation from the Chinese.
What is not open to question, however, is the fact that the
Heart Sutra gained significant popularity in China well before it
became the subject of commentarial attention in India, and that it has
maintruned a central role in East Asian Buddhism from the 7th
THE HEART StJTRA
199
rbenturY CE down to the present. And even if we accept the idea that
:.the satra is "apocryphal" in the technical sense - that is, that it was
.,{created as a separate scripture in China, composed of an extract from
Large Satra' of Kumarajiva (itself a translation of the Indian
Ep;wcavilpsati-prajfiaparamita-satra) together with an introduction
.. and conclusion composed in China - this in no way undermines the
that the text has held for Buddhist practitioners. "Whatever is
:I:conducive to liberation and not to bondage" - so the is said
have told his followers - "that is my teaching. "103 And for millions
52 of East Asian Buddhists, and countless numbers of Indian and
Buddhists as well, the Heart Satra has played just such a role.
if . "The Prajiia-piiramita-brdaya," wrote John McRae in the
f:opening line of an article published recently in this journal, "is a
;'Chinese text."l04 He went on to make it clear that he did not mean
statement to be taken literally, and offered a carefully docu-
hmented analysis of the centrality of this text in Chinese Buddhist
and practice and of the variety of ways in which Buddhist
.lfcommentators had employed it. . Yet his words were, in retrospect,
After many years spent in demythologizing the work both
\. of Buddhist hagiographers and (occasionally) of other Buddhist
i.. scholars, I now find myself in the rather unaccustomed position of
.:( urging the reader to take this statement in a literal, not a figurative,
.; . sense. The Heart Satra is indeed - in every sense of the word - a
/\ Chinese text.
200
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
NOTES
The author would like to thank Gregory Schopen for providing a photocopy and
transcription of the relevant section of the Gilgit manuscript of the Palicavirpsati_
sahasrikfI-prajflfI-paramitii-sutra. Extensive comments on an earlier draft of this
manuscript were offered by Gil Fronsdal, John McRae, Masatoshi Nagatomi, and
Alan Sponberg. Additional comments, suggestions, and good leads were Provided
by Judith Boltz, Robert Buswell, Paul Harrison, Dan Lusthaus, Elizabeth Napper, .
Richard Salomon, Jonathan Silk, and NobuyoshiYamabe. Michael Saso and
David Chappell cheerfully answered my inquiries on a variety of Chinese SOurce-
materials; David Eckel and Donald Lopez did the same for texts Originating in
India and Tibet. Finally, the members of the American Oriental Society (Westem
Branch) provided the needed encouragement and enthusiasm to propel this paper
from its earlier incarnation as a conference talk into its present printed form.
1. Skt. Prajflaparamitii-hrdaya (the word surra does not appear in the title in
any of the extant Sanskrit manuscripts). For a critical edition of the Sanskrit text
based on manuscripts found in Nepal, China, and Japan see Edward Conze, "The
Prajflaparamitii-hrdaya-sutra," in his Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies (London:
Bruno Cassirer, 1967), pp. 148-167. (A similar but not identical discussion and
edition of the text was published by Conze in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
[1948], pp. 38-51; because each contains certain elements not found in the other,
the two publications are best used together.) Both short-text (ST, in Conze's
terminology) and long-text (L T) recensions of the Sanskrit text are known; Conze
has conflated the two in his edition.
A number of versions of the surra (both ST and L T) are included in the
Taisho edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon, under various titles for the ST see
Taisho nos. 250, 251, and 256 (the latter a transliterated Sanskrit version in Chinese
characters), and for the LT nos. 252, 253, 254, 255, and 257 (of which no. 255 is
a translation from the Tibetan). In working with the Chinese Heart Sutra I have
been greatly assisted by an unpublished synoptic edition of all the Chinese versions
of the text prepared by Gil Fronsdal.
The Tibetan canon contains only the LT edition, which is ordinarily found
in both the PrajfUiparamita and Tantra sections of the Kanjur (Derge nos. 21, 531;
Narthang nos. 26,476; Lhasa no. 26, 499), though in the Peking Kanjur the text
appears. only in the Tantra section (no. 160). Numerous copies of a Tibetan ST
version, however, have been found at Tun-huang. For the canonical (LT) version
a superb critical edition has been prepared by Jonathan Silk, to be published in the
near future. The ST Tibetan text is the subject of a study now being prepared for
publication by John McRae and myself; in the meantime see a preliminary note on
the ST version published by UEYAMA Daijun in Indogaku bukkyi5gaku kenkyil,
vol. 26 (1965), pp. 783-779 (where, however, the Tun-huang text has been
substantially regularized to conform with the orthographic conventions of Classical
THE HEART SUrRA
201
Tibetan). The Mongolian Kanjur, following the fonnat of the Tibetan Peking
xylograph edition, includes the Heart Siitra only in the Tantra division (Ligeti No.
162).
A Sogdian version of the Heart Siitra, together with a barbarous rendition
of the Sanskrit, has been edited by E. Benveniste in Textes sogdiens, Part 1 (paris:
Paul Geuthner, 1940), pp. 142-144. An incomplete Khotanese version has recently
been edited and translated by Prods Oktor Skjrerv0; see 'The Khotanese Hrdayasiitra"
. in A Green Leaf: Papers in Honour of Professor Jes P. Asmussen, Acta Iranica,
Series 2, No. 28 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988), pp. 157-171. An Uighur (Turkish)
version of the text has recently been discovered in the Berlin Turfan collection, but
is as yet unpublished. According to Peter Zieme (cited in Silk, op. cit., p. 71, n.
78) the text is an incomplete manuscript, translated into Uighur from the Chinese
but possibly also with reference to the Tibetan.
For additional bibliographical comments see Edward Conze, The
Prajiiaparamita Literature, 2nd revised ed. (Tokyo: The Reiyukai, 1978), pp. 67-
74.
2. See the studies by Come in his Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies and in
the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society cited above, note 1. For an English
translation and commentary on the text see his Buddhist Wisdom Books, 2nd ed.
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1975), pp. 99-129.
3. FUKUI Fumimasa, Hannya shingyo no rekishiteki kenkyii (Tokyo:
Shunjusha, 1987).
4. Donald S. Lopez, Jr., The Heart Siitra Explained: Indian and Tibetan
Commentaries (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988).
5. See M. David Eckel, "Indian Commentaries on the Heart Siitra: The
Politics of Interpretation," Journal of the Intemational Association of Buddhist
Studies, vol. 10, no. 2 (1987), pp. 69-79, and John R. McRae, "Ch'an Commen-
taries on the Heart Siitra: Preliminary Inferences on the Permutation of Chinese
Buddhism," Journal of the Intemational Association of Buddhist Studies, vol. 11,
no. 2 (1988), pp. 87-115.
5a. An additional line, which occurs only in a small minority of Sanskrit
manuscripts, has not been translated here. See below, note 19.
6. See Edward Conze, The PrajiiapfiramitaLiterature (2nd ed.), pp. 56-74.
7. On this formula see John Brough, "Thus have I heard ... ," Bulletin of the
School of Oriental and African Studies, 13 (1950), 416-426.
8. See Lopez, The Heart Sutra Explained, p. 7 and n. 14.
9. No instance of the use of mantras or dhfiraIJis occurs in what are generally
considered to be the earliest Prajfiaparamita texts, viz. the RatnagUI)asa.rp.cayagatha
and the A${asiihasrika-prajiifipfiramita-siitra. The fIrst appearance of such formulas
in this body ofliterature occurs in the PaficaviJ!lsatisiihasrika-prajiiapiiramita-siitra
(see the following note), where these formulas are arranged in a syllabic sequence
known as the arapacana, which is widely attested in documents written or originally
composed in the Kharo$thi script (see Richard Salomon, "New Evidence for a
202
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Gandhari Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary," Journal of the American Oriental
Society, vol. 110, no. 2[1990]), 255-273). The term mantra is of course widely
used in Indian religions generally, and goes back to the period of the Vedas; the
term dhararji, by contrast, appears to be a peculiarly Buddhist expression. Though
it is not always possible to distinguish clearly between incantations of these two
types (and indeed the two categories seem increasingly to fall together over the
course of Buddhist history), it would appear that the word dharaI)i was flIst
employed in reference to mnemonic devices used to retain (Skt. v'dhr, "hold")
certain elements of Buddhist doctrine in one's memory, in contrast to the Word
mantra which was used to refer to words or phrases in which the sounds themselves
were considered to be highly effective when pronounced correctly. Much basic
research still remains to be done on the uses of both mantras and dharm;J!s in
Buddhist literature and practice.
10. The name "Large Sutra" is derived from the title of the most popular
Chinese version of the text (discussed immediately below), and has been adopted
here for convenience to refer to versions of the siltTa in all languages. The Sanskrit
title is PaiicaviIp.satisaiJasrikajJrajnaparamita-siltra ("The 25,OOO-Line Perfection
of Wisdom Siitra"). A Sanskrit text of the so-called "rearranged" version of the
text (Conze's type2a), which was edited in around the 9th century to conform with
the format of the AbhisamayaJaIp.kara of MaitreyaruHha, has been published by N.
Dutt on the basis of very late (c. 19th c.) Nepalese manuscripts; see his The
PaflcaviIp.satisaiJasrika-prajnaparamita, Edited with Critical Notes and an Intro-
duction, Calcutta Oriental Series No. 28 (London: Luzac & Co., 1934). For the
passage corresponding to the core of the Heart Siltra see p. 46, line 2 through p.
47, line 3. A portion of an older (unrearranged, Conze's type 2) Sanskrit version
has survived in manuscripts found at Gilgit, dating to around the 6th century CE;
these have been published in facsimile by Raghu Vira and Lokesh Chandra, Gilgit
Buddhist Manuscripts, Parts 3-5, S a t a p i ~ a Series, Vol. 103 (New Delhi:
International Academy of Indian Culture, 1966). For the passage corresponding
to the core of the Heart Siltra see folio 21 v, lines 2-1l.
Though the PrajfUiparamita siitras are regularly identified in Sanskrit (and
in the corresponding Tibetan translations) by the number of lines they are said to
contain, in Chinese this convention is not followed. The Taisho edition of the
Chinese canon contains four versions ofthe text: T. nos. 220 (section 2, 7.1a-426a),
221, 222 (a partial translation), and 223. Of these by far the most popular is the
translation attributed to Kumarajiva (no. 223); it is titled Mo-ho po-jo po-Io-mi
chinge (*Maha-prajnaparamitii-siltra, that is, "The Large Prajfiaparamita Sutra"),
and is popularly known simply as the "Large Sutra."
The sole translation of the text preserved in the Tibetan canon corresponds
to the unrearranged Sanskrit version (Conze's type 2); see Peking no. 731, Derge
no. 9, Narthang no. 10, and Lhasa no. 10. For the corresponding Mongolian version
see Ligeti nos. 758-76l.
No manuscript copies of the Large Siltra have yet been identified, to the best
THE HEART SUTRA
203
of my knowledge, in any of the major Buddhist hulguages of Central Asia
(Tokharian A and B, Khotanese, Sogdian and Uighur). Sanskrit fragments of other
closely related texts (the Prajfiaparamita siitras in 100,000 and 18,000 lines) have,
however, been found in Sinkiang; see Lore Sander, "Buddhist Literature in Central
Asia," in G. P. Malalasekera, ed., Encyclopedia of Buddhism, vol. 4, fase. 1
(Colombo: Government Press, 1979), pp. 52-75 (especially p. 68).
For further discussion and bibliography see Conze, The Prajiiapfiramita
Literature (2nd ed.), pp. 34-40.
n. The fIrst such reference was apparently made in the 7th century (see
below, note 33).
12. This line, which is absent from all the Chinese versions of the text,
appears in the fonn cited here (that is, Skt. riiparp. siinyarp siinyataiva riiparp.) in
the majority of extant Sanskrit copies (for details see Conze' s critical edition [cited
in n. 1 above], p. 150, n. 10) as well as in the Tibetan translation of the longer
recension of the sutra (which reads gzugs stong-pa'a). Conze, however, preferred
the reading "form is emptiness" (riiparp. siinyat) and accordingly chose this
version (which constitutes a distinct minority of readings in the manuscript copies)
as standard.
13. Here we come to a large rift between the traditional Chinese understand-
ing of this line, on the one hand, and the Tibetan on the other. The Chinese Heart
Sutra reads shih chu fa k'ung hsiang, "all dhannas [have] the mark [of] emptiness."
The Tibetan Heart Sutra, by contrast, reads chos thams-cad stong-pa-nyid-de /
mtshan-nyid med-pa ("all dhannas are emptiness [they are] devoid of marks").
Grammatically the Sanskrit admits of either interpretation; it can be read either as
sarvadhannaJ;. siinyata-lak$aI)a ("all dhannas have the mark of emptiness") or as
sarvadhannaJ;. siinyata-alak$aI)a ("all dhannas are emptiness, [and are] un-
marked"). Conze's English translation of the Sanskrit follows the Chinese sense,
but without a discussion of the alternative reading.
14. It is noteworthy that both Sanskrit versions of this passage (that is, both
the Heart Sutra and the Large Sutra) follow the sequence "not decreasing, not
increasing," while both Chinese versions place the word "increasing" (tseng)
before "decreasing" (chien). It is difficult to explain this reversal no matter what
direction of textual transmission is postulated. A possible explanation is that that
the difference is due simply to the established sequences of these terms in the two
languages: that is, that in Sanskrit the more natural sequence would be "decreasing-
increasing," while the reverse would be true in Chinese (just as in English we
normally say "waxing and waning" rather than the reverse, and would tend to
follow this sequence even when translating from a language that read "waning and
waxing"). An additional factor may be the visual effect of the Chinese characters:
by placing the word "decreasing" last, one obtains a sequence of six negations in
which items 2, 4 and 6 all contain the "water" radical while items 1, 3 and 5 do
not. If one followed instead the sequence found in the Sanskrit Large Sutra the
waterradical would not alternate so rhythmically, but would instead appear in items
204
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
2,4 and 5, lending a perhaps less poetic appearance to the list Both of these
suggestions are, however, merely hypothetical.
15. All citations from the Sanskrit Large Siitra are based on the readings
found in the Gilgit manuscript published in facsimile by Raghu Vira and Lokesh
Chandra (cited above; note 10); a photocopy and transcription of the passage
corresponding to the core section of the Heart Siitra were generously supplied by
Gregory Schopen. I have followed Schopen' s lead in not regularizing the
transcription. Some of the more important scribal errors and variants are discussed
in the following notes.
16. The Gilgit manuscript of the Sanskrit Large Siitra regularly reads
Saradva{fputra, while the later Nepalese manuscripts (and the Tibetan translation)
read Sariputra. For a discussion of this and other variants of this name see Andre
Migot, "Un grand disciple du Buddha Sariputra," Bulletin de l'Ecole FraIlfaise
d'Extreme-Orient, 56 (1954), 405-554 (p. 411).
, 17. See above, note 12.
18. The Gilgit manuscript regularly reads sunyatawhere one would expect
siinyatif;
19. The sentences yad riipam sa siinyatif ya siinyatif tad riipam ("that which
is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form ") are absent from a substantial
majority of the Sanskrit manuscripts reviewed by Conze in his critical edition, as
well as from the canonical (LT) Tibetan translation, though they do appear in the
Tun-huang manuscript copies (ST), where they are rendered into Tibetan as gag
gzugs-pa de stong-pa-nyid II gag 'Stong-pa- nyid-pa de gzug-te [sic]. Accordingly,
I have omitted these lines from the English translation of the Sanskrit given above
(p. 155).
20. This line ("not past, not future, [and] not present") is found in both the
Gilgit manuscript and Dutt's late Nepalese copies of the Large Sutra, as well as in
the Chinese translations of the text. It is absent, however, from all versions of the
Heart Satra (in all languages) exceptthe Chinese version attributed to Kumarajiva,
a text whose 'attribution is extremely problematic. Fot further discussion see below,
pp. 184-189 and notes 71-73.
21. Note that the Heart Satra reads spr:1$tavya while the Large Siitra has
sparsa. In this context (that is, in the list of ayatanas and dhiftus) the reading
("touchable") is more standard than sparsa ("touch"); see Bruce Hall,
Vasubandhu on "Aggregates, Spheres, and Components": Being Chapter One of
the "Abhidharmakosa", Ph.D. thesis,Harvard University, 1983,p. 62 (I, 9a-b) and
p. 80 (I; 14a-b).
22. The Heart Siitra regularly reads cak$UIdhatu where the Large Satra has

23. Where the Gilgit text reads na satvayatanaIp. na satvayatananirodhal)
("no being-ayatanas and no extinction of being-ayatanas") Dutt's edition has na
na ("no six ayatanas and no extinction of the six
ayatanas"), which is the more expected reading.
THE HEART SUTRA 205
24. While the Sanskrit Large Siitra negates attainment (praptJ.) and realiza-
tion (abhisamaya), most Sanskrit manuscript copies of the Heart Siitra place the
.. term prapti second rather than first and negate knowledge Unana) rather than
realization. In this respect the Sanskrit Heart Sutra matches both the Chinese Heart
Sutra attributed to Hsiian-tsang and the Chinese Large Sutra translation of
J(umarajiva, where the corresponding terms are chiJtz and te.
ba
25. The Sanskrit text of the Large Siitra edited by Dutt (based on
considerably later manuscripts) is even more repetitive, demonstrating the ongoing
amplification that has continued throughout the life of the text
26. The shift from singular forms (in the Large Siitra) to plurals (in the Heart
satra) is paralleled by a change of subject in the Sanskrit texts, from "emptiness"
(in the Large Sutra) to "all dharmas' (in theHeart Satra). This change, however,
seems easiest to explain as the result of a transition that took place in the course
of Kumarajiva's translation of the Large Satra from Sanskrit into Chinese. While
the Sanskrit Large Satra reads "that which is emptiness does not originate" and so
on, the Chinese Large Siitra of KUffiarajiva reads "all dharmas are marked by .
emptiness: not originated" and so on, wording which the Heart Siitra attributed to
Hsiian-tsang follows exactly. In this context, without an explicit subject in the
Chinese text, the reader would most naturally assume that the subject is "all
dharmaS' - which is exactly what we find in the Sanskrit Heart Siitra. (For the
Chinese and Sanskrit texts see above, pp. 159 and 162, respectively.)
27. See Conze, The PrajflaplIramita Literature (2nd ed.), pp. 10-12.
28. The earliest complete Chinese version of the Large Siitra was translated
by (T No. 221) in 291 CE, though a partial translation was produced by
in 286 CE (T No. 222). The version of the Heart Satra attributed
to Hsiian-tsang is said to have been translated in 649 CE
l
while Kumarajiva's
version is dated to 402-412 CEo Both of these attributions are, however, extremely
problematic; for details see below, pp. 184-191.
29. On the date of the Indian commentaries see Lopez, The Heart Sutra
Explained, pp. 4 and 8-13, and Eckel, "Indian Commentaries," p. 71.
30. Commentaries attributed to Nagarjuna (but certainly not by him) and to
Maitreyanatha (whose identity is likewise Problematic) both appear by the early
5th century CE, the former in China and the latter in India For details see Conze,
The PrajflaplIramita Literature, pp. 35-36 and 39-40.
31. The classic statement of differences between Chinese and Indian
preferences is given by Tao-anw in his Preface .to an Abstract of the Prajfla Siitras
(382 CE), where he enumerates five deviations (Ch. wu shih pen
bb
) and three non-
alterations (san pu r) in Chinese translations from Indian originals. For a
discussion of these eight categories arid whether Tao-an viewed any or all of them
as permissible deviations from the Indian originals see Richard H. Robinson, Early
Madhyamika in India and China (1967; Ipt. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1976), pp.
77-88. For a convenient discussion of Chinese Buddhist translation practices in
general $ee also Kenneth Ch'en, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey
206
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964), pp. 365-372. As Ch' en notes
despite the scholastically superior innovations of Hsiian-tsang and others " t h ~
principles advocated by Kumarajiva tmally won supremacy" (p. 372).
32. An exception to this rule is Hsiian-tsang, whose scholastic scruples Won
out over his awareness Of Chinese literary preferences, resulting in translations
which - while prized by certain scholars for their accuracy.- never gained
widespread favor among Chinese Buddhists. A poignant account ofHsiian-tsang's
struggle between his awareness of Chinese literary preferences (as pointed out to
him by, among others, his students) and his desire for faithfulness to the Sanskrit
original is contained in his biography, as recorded by Hui-li:
On the first day of the first month in the spring of the fifth year (A.D. 660),
he started the translation of the Mahifprajflifpiiramitif Sutra [Skt. Satasifhasrika_
prajiiffpiiramitif-sutra] . ... Since it was such an extensive work, his disciples
suggested that he should make an abridgement of it. The Master complied with
their wishes and intended to translate it in the way as Kumarajiva translated
the Buddhist texts, expunging the tedious and repetitionary parts. When he
cherished this thought he dreamed in the night some very terrible things as a
warning to him. He dreamed that he was climbing over a precipitous peak and
some wild animal was trying to catch him. He trembled with perspiration and
managed to escape from the dangerous position. Mter awakening he related
his evil \iream to the people and decided to translate the sutra in full text. In
that night then he dreamed to see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emitting a light
from the middle of their eyebrows, shining over his body and making him feel
comfortable and happy .... When he awoke he felt happy, and he thought no
more of making any abridgement but made the translation in exact accordance
with the original Sanskrit text.
(English translation from LI Yung-hsi, trans., The Life of Hsiian-tsang [peking:
The Chinese Buddhist Association, 1959], pp. 260-261).
33. See T. No. 1710, 33.524a25-bl, where K'uei-chi writes as follows:
"Hsin" [lit.: heart or core] refers to what is firm and substantial, yet subtle and
exalted. In accord with the capacity of its [original] audience, the Large Sutra
has a meaning and content of expansive breadth. When we, however, receive
it, grasp it, transmit it and study it, it gives rise to a sense of timorous retreat.
The sages who transmitted the Dharma therefore published this [Heart Sutra]
separately to record the firm and substantial, yet subtle and exalted purport
[of the Large Sutra]. The traditional three divisions and dual introduction [of
that work] were consequently truncated in order better to formulate its
essence and highlight its guiding themes: [the teaching that] things, occurring
in their myriad representations, all have form, yet are all empty as well. The
Way allows a thousand gateways, yet all pass through non-wisdom: to attain
THE HEART SaTRA 207
realization of both [the fonn and the emptiness of all things]. This siitra assays
the marvelous purport of the expanded scripture signalling its substance, and
thus it is given the name Heart [of the Perfection of Wisdom].
ii (translation by Alan' Sponberg, in a paper to appear in a volume of translated
,.commentaries on the Heart Siitra, edited by Donald Lopez). The most striking
'.:(feature of K'uei-chi's description of the HeartSiitra, for our purposes, is the
i2statement that the Heart Siitra was "published separately" by "the sages who
'TtraDsmitted the Dharma" - not ''preached separately" by the Buddha himself. Such
'/a statement by Hsiian-tsang's own student (who was also, as Sponberg points out,
,: C. ihe author of the earliest extant commentary on the Heart Siitra) carries significant
and seems to be seconded by the comparison made by Wonch 'Uk, another
i;'/of Hsiian-tsang's disciples, between the Heart Siitra and the Kuan-yin
(Avalokitesvara) chapter of the Lotus Siitra, which was likewise part of a larger text
but was extracted and circulated separately (see T No. 1711, 33.543b). In sum, the
statements of both K'uei-chi and Wonch'Uk indicate that at least some Chinese
Buddhists, already in the 7th century CE, considered the Heart Siitra to be not a
...... separate sermon preached by the Buddha, butan extract made by certain "sages
'. who transmitted the Dharma" from the Large Siitra of Kumarajiva.
34. For the Mongolian text see Ligeti no. 1105, Qutur-tu asaraqui neretii
sudur (Mongolian Kanjur vol. 90, eldeb folio 437b and passim. The
Mongolian version is a translation of the Tibetan text titled 'Phags-pa byams-pa'i
mdo zhes-bya-ba (peking no. 1010, Narthang no. 328, Lhasa no. 349; the text is
not included in the Derge edition): The Sanskrit title appears in Tibetan
: transcription as one would have expected it to read instead
* Arya-maitreya-siitra. The fact that both Maitreya and maitri are regularly
translated into Tibetan as byams-pa suggests that this Sanskrit title is not original, '
but was reconstructed by the Tibetans. No Sanskrit version of the text has survived;
there is, however, a Pali edition of this peculiar text, which represents an.
amalgamation of a prophecy concerning the future Buddha Maitreya (pali
. Metteyya) in verse, and a prose commentary by Buddhaghosa on the AIiguttara-
nikaya. For further details see Jan Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in
a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1991), p. 56
and n. 81. In the other Mongolian version of the same text (Ligeti No. 783,
corresponding to Peking no. 751) the name of Maitreya's city is simply translated
into Mongolian.
35. The term blo-gros"mind" is, however, the equivalent of Skt mati (id.),
not of -maa (which occurs regularly in the Sanskrit version of the name Ketumati).
The latter is presumably a feminine form of the suffix -mat "having, possessed of." .
The name of the city thus seems to have meant "the one (f.) possessing a flag," not
- as the Tibetans interpreted it - "flag-mind."
36. The various Mongolian-Tibetan-Sanskrit dictionaries employed by the
Mongols in translating Buddhist texts from the Tibetan are discussed in detail in
----------------
208
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
Vladimir Leonidovich Uspensky, "Buddiiskaya tenninologiya v mongol'skol11
perevode. Istbchniki dlya izucheniya i puti fonnirovaniya" ["Buddhist Terminal.
ogy in Mongolian Translation. Sources for their ,Study and their Means of
. Fonnation"] (unpublished M.A. thesis, Leningrad University, 1981), pp. 8-27
One af the most important of these texts is the Mongolian version of the
Sanskrit dictionary kIiown as the Mahavyutpatti; see Alice " Some Words .
on the Mongolian Mahavyutpatti," Acta Orientalia (Budapest), vol. 34 (1980), Pp.
219-234. '
37. Even the ruUne of one of the dhatus is given differently in these two texts
(see above, note 21).
38. See above, p. 166 and n. 29.
39. According to a story recently quoted in a number of English-language
studies (e.g., Eckel, "Indian Commentaries," p. 70, and Lopez, The Heart Sutra
Explained, p. 13), one of the stories collected by Hsiian-tsang on his visit to India
was that of the Buddhist philosopher Bhavaviveka, who is said ta have recited the
Heart Sutra in order to conjure up a vision of the bodhisattva A valokitesvara. If
this story were true, it would provide evidence of the use of the Heart Sutra in India
well before HSiian-tsang's visit in the first half of the 7th century. This assertion,
however, which is based on the account given in Samuel Bea1's translation of the
Hsi-yii chfd (Si-yu-ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World [1884; rpt. New
York: Paragon Reprint Corp., 1968], vol. 2, pp. 223-225) is a figment of Bea1's
translation; the text in question is not the Heart Sutra at all, but an entirely different
work of which certain characters in the Chinese title are identical with those in
title of the Heart Sutra (viz., the "Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Wish-Granting
DharaI}i Sutra," Ch. Kuan-tzu-tsai p'u-sa tan-fo sui-hsin t'o-lo-ni ching,be T No.
1l03b, translated by Chih-t'ung
bf
c. 650 CE).
Another oft-cited piece of evidence for the early currency of the Heart
Sutra in India is the existence of a Sanskrit palm -leaf manuscript of the siitra kept
at the lIoryuji temple in Japan and supposedly brought from China to Japan in 609
CEo This assertion first appeared in the works of F. Max Miiller, and has
subsequently been widely quoted in Western-language sources (e.g., Edward
Conze, Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies, p. 155). Here Miiller was misled by his
Japanese research assistants, who reported to him that a date for the arrival of the
. sutra in Japan corresponding to 609 CE appears in a Japanese source (see F. Max
Miiller, ed., Buddhist Texts from Japan [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1881], pp. 4-
5). Indeed it does; but the source in question, a local. chronicle titled Jkarugakoji
benran
bg
("Memorandum on Ancient Matters of Ikaruga") , composed in 1836, is
entirely unreliable on matters of ancient chronology; to cite only one example, it
asserts that together with the palm -leaf Heart Sutra the mission that arrived in Japan
in 609 brought (inter alia) a robe and a bowl belonging to Bodhidharma, items that
acquired symbolic importance in Chinese Ch'an only during and after the time of
Shen-hui
bb
(684-758 CE). Such a tradition, in other wQrds, could only have been
formulated around 730 CE at the earliest, and thus the assertion that Bodhidharma's
THE HEART SUTRA 209
robe and bowl reached Japan in 609 CE is patently false, making the parallel claim
that the Heart Sutra manuscript was brought by the same mission quite useless as
evidence. In the absence of any other source that could provide a concrete date for
the arrival of this manuscript in Japan (and accordingly a terminus ante quem for
its copying in India), we may provisionally accept the evidence (admittedly always
tentative) provided by the shape of the letters in the manuscript itself: as G. Buhler
asserts in the same volume (Muller, Buddhist Texts from Japan, p. 90), "If we had
no historical information [a reference to the Jkaruga chronicle] regarding the age
of the Horiuzi palm-leaves, every palaeographist, I believe, would draw from the
above facts the inference that [the Heart Sutra manuscript] belonged to the
beginning of the eighth century A.D." Constrained by what he believed was a
concrete date for the Heart Sutra manuscript, BUhler went on to use that text to re-
evaluate the history of Indian palaeography (pp. 90-95); as we can see, however,
such contortions were not necessary, and the appropriate move would have been
the reverse.
40. See McRae, "Ch'an Commentaries," pp. 93-94 and p. 109, n. 23. I have
retained the full form of the name "K'uei-chi" for ease of identification. The
validity of this usage has been questioned, however, by Stanley Weinstein; see his
"A Biographical Study of Tz'u-en," Monumenta Nipponica 15, 1-2 (1959), pp.
119-149.
41. For references see above, note l.
42. On the tenuousness of the attribution of this text to Kumarajiva see
McRae, "Ch'an Commentaries," p. 88 and p. 106, n. 6; for the supposed Hsuan-
tsang translation see Fukui, Hannya shingyo no rekishiteki kenkyil, p. 188. (Fukui
. does not, however, question this attribution.) The fact that this famous text is
attributed to these two illustrious translators for the first time only several centuries
(in the case of Kumarajiva) or several decades (in the case of Hsuan-tsang) after
their deaths, while no such translation is mentioned in contemporary biographical
accounts of either of them, casts considerable doubt on the validity of these
attributions.
43. The story of Hstian-tsang's receipt of the text becomes ever more
detailed in the course of its transmission, acquiring evidently hagiographic
elements along the way. In the Chen-yuan hsin-ting shih-chiao mu-lziri edited by
Yuan-chao,b
j
for example, Hsuan-tsang receives the text not from a sick man, but
from a "spirit person" or "divine man" (shenjen
bk
) (T No. 2157, 55.893c-894a),
while in the novelized version of Hstian-tsang' s journey the anonymous donor has
acquired a concrete identity as the "Crow's Nest Ch'an Master" of Pagoda
Mountain, described by Hstian-tsang as a bodhisattva (see Anthony Yii, trans.,
Monkey [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977], vol. 1, pp. 392-394). For
the earliest version of this story, as related by Hui-li: see below, p. 179.
44. Hsuan-tsang's biography states that he acquired the text during his
sojourn in Szechwan, a visit which took place during c. 618-622 CE, while the
earliest evidence for the presence of the sutra in India - the commentary attributed
210
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
to KamalaiIa - dates from around the end of the 8th century CE (see Lopez, The
Heart Sutra Explained, pp. 4 and 11).
45. The first and third of these items are corrected, at least in perfunctory
fashion, in the longyr recension of the text, while the Buddha makes a brief
appearance there as well; yet it is quite clear that the shorter recension is older, and
is thus the version which should be of primary concern to us in our inquiry into
the origins of the text. For a discussion of the relation between the shorter and
longer recensions of the text see below, pp. 194 - 197.
46. See Robert E. Buswell, Jr., ed., The Formation of Ch'an Ideology in
China and Korea: The Vajrasamadhi-sutra (Princeton: Princeton University Press
1989), pp. 16-17. '
47. Fukui, Hannya shingyo, p. 201-207. It may well be the fact that the Heart
Sutra was originally produced for ritual use - that is, for use as a dharmji to be
chanted - that accounts for the peculiar absence of a single line found in
Kumarajlva's Large Sutra (and the Sanskrit manuscripts of the Large Sutra as well)
from all extant versions of the Heart Sutra, in all languages, with a singJe exception
to be discussed immediately below: that is, the line that reads "[empty dharmas]
are not past, not future, not present" (T 8.223a16; for the corresponding Sanskrit
text see Dutt, Paficavirpsati, p. 46, line 11). While all the surrounding materials in
this section are arranged in groups of two, this line alone contains three elements.
Thus it is possible (though this is admittedly far from certain) that this line was
omitted from the text as it was excerpted and transfonned into a dharmjibecause
this three-part arrangement would have interrupted the rhythm used in chanting.
If this line. of reasoning is correct, the fact that the so-called "Kumarajiva
translation" does include this line (in agreement with Kumarajlva's Large Sutraand
his Ta chih-tu iUIf'" but in disagreement with all other versions of the Heart Sutra,
in any language) may provide additional evidence that the so-called Kumarajiva
text has a separate (and aberrant) history - that is, that it was excerpted from the
Ta chih-tu lun after a Chinese version of the Heart Sutra resembling that attributed
to Hsiian-tsang was already in circulation.
48. Another possibility, suggested by Robert Buswell in a letter dated 21
January 1992, is that the Heart Sutra might be a kind of ch 'ao-ching ("condensed
sutra"), "a fairly common genre of scriptural writing in early Chinese Buddhism,
which excerpted seminal passages from the Mahayana sutras to create easily
digestible' gists' of these texts." (For a discussion of this genre see Kyoko Tolcuno,
"The Evaluation of Indigenous Scriptures in Chinese Buddhist Bibliographical
Catalogues," in Buswell, Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha, pp. 31-74, especially p.
39.) If this line of interpretation is followed, the term hsin-ching might be
understood - as Buswell suggests - not as dharaI)l (as Fukui would have it) but as
"gist sutra," a reading more in line with traditional exegesis.
49. For a recent discussion of the mantra of the Heart Sutra see Donald S.
Lopez, Jr., "Inscribing the Bodhisattva's Speech: On the Heart Sutra's Mantra,"
History of Religions, vol. 29 [1990], pp. 351-372.
THE HEART SUTRA 211
50. TSUKAMOTO Zenry\i has noted, based on a study of the iconography of
the Lung-men caves in northern China, a shift from Sakyarnuni and Maitreya as
the primary figures in Buddhist iconography dUring the late Northern Wei dynasty
and after (c. 500-540 CE) to a focus on Amitabha and A valokitesvara at a later time
. (c. 650-720); for an English summary of his study see Ch'en, Buddhism in China, .
pp. 171-172. In fact the emergence of AvalokiteSvara as a dominant figure appears
to take place even earlier - around 530 CE - based on the data assembled by
Tsukamoto. Avalokitesvara's popularity has continued to increase since that time,
and he ( or she) has remained the most prominent bodhisattva in China until today.
51. It is difficult to fmd textual support for this assertion, which is admittedly
based on anecdotal evidence both from traditional written sources and from modern
scholars specializing in Chinese Buddhism. Nonetheless, it seems to be a fair
characterization of the situation in these two societies, where Avalokitesvara
remaIned one bodhisattva among many in India, on the one hand, while attaining
the status at least of first-among-equals in China, on the other.
52. See McRae, "Ch'an Commentaries," p. 107, n. 10. The text to which
McRae refers is the To-lo-ill chi ching'I(T. No. 901, lS.7S5a-S97b); for the mantra
of the Heart Siitra see p. S07b20-21. It is noteworthy that this dhaIa1}I catalogue
offers not one but three hsin t'o-lo-nJ= ("heart dharaI)is") associated with the
Perfection of Wisdom; for the complete list see lS.S071b19-c9. Still otherdhiinu:J.is
associated with the Perfection of Wisdom are given on the preceding pages
(18.S04c-807b ).
53. Fukui, Hannya shingyo, p. 192, referring to the Ta-fang-teng wu-hsiang
ching'" (Skt. Mahamegha-siitra, T No. 387) and the Tung-fang tsui-sheng teng-
want t'o-lo-ni chint" (Skt. AgrapradipadharaI)ividyaraja, T No. 1353). No page
references are given in Fukui's study, but the passages to which he refers are
presumably T 12.1084c7 and c 12 and T 21.867 el2 and c22, respectively. While
neither of these passages contains a full replication of the mantra found in the Heart
Siitra, the striking similarities between them suggests that a number of variants of
this mantra must have been circulating outside the context of the Heart Siitra itself.
Though T No. 1353 was translated into Chinese only toward the end of the 6th
century, T No. 387 was translated by D h a r m a k ~ m a early in the 5th century (during
the period 414-421 according to the Ku-chin i-ching l'u-chin,lrp T No. 2151,
55.360b24).
54. It is also possible, of course, that the mantra was circulating in oral form,
in Szechwan and perhaps also elsewhere in China.
54a. Just as this paper was going to press, I received word from two
colleagues of a number of occurrences of the list of epithets of the mantra (chou
or ming-chou) in other Chinese texts. (Here I must beg the reader's indulgence for
the absence of Chinese characters for the terms mentioned in this footnote; it was
not possible to add to the glossary at this late stage in the publication process.) The
closest correspondence (indeed, an exact one) is found in the Chin-kang san-mei
ching (* Vajrasamadhi-siitra), which reads po-jo po-lo-mi shih ta shen-chou, shih
212
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
taming-chou, shih wu-sbangchou, shih wu-teng-tengchou (TNo. 273, 9.371b12_
14), a word-for-word match to the epithets lists (though not to the spelling Of
prajfiaparamitfi) found in the version of the Heart Silrra associated with Hstian_
tsang (T No. 251, 8.14-15). Given the late date of this sutra (685 CE according to
Buswell), however, and its originally Korean provenance, it seems certain that this
passage did not provide the inspiration for the corresponding section of the Heart
Silrra, but quite the opposite: that is, the composer of the Vajrasamadhi borrowed
these lines from the by then quite popular Heart Silrra (as suggested in Buswell
The Formation of Ch'an Ideology, p. 22 and n. 28; I would like to thank Gil
Fronsdal for bringing this discussion to my attention).
Of considerably greater interest, therefore, are a number of similar
occurrences that clearly date from well before Hsiian-tsang's time. This group of
passages, recently identified by Nobuyoshi Yamabe (who kindly sent me notice of
his findings in letters dated 1 October 1992 and 7 November 1992), includes the
following:
(1) Kuan-fo san-mei hai ching ("The Sutra of the Samadhi-Sea of Buddha
Visualization," tr. c. 420-422 CE by Buddhabhadra; T No. 643, 15.647b4-6):
po-jo po-lo-mi shih ta ming-chou, shih wu-shang chou, wu-teng-teng chou.
No Sanskrit version of this text is known.
(2) Hsiao-p'in po-jo po-lo-mi ching (Ail{asIihasrika-prajfiapiIIamita-silrra, tr. 408
CE by Kumarajiva; T No. 227, 8.543b25-27 and repeated in 28-29): po-jo po-
lo-mi shih ta ming-chou, po-jo po-lo-mi shih wu-shang chou, po-jo po-lo-mi
shih wu-teng-teng chou. The corresponding Sanskrit passage reads
mahavidyeyarp Kausikayad uta prajnapiIIamita I apramfiI).eyarp Kausika vidya
yad uta prajnaparamita I aparimfiI).eyarp KUaSika vidya yad uta prajfiaparamita
I niruttareyarp Kausika vidya yad uta prajnapiIIamita / anuttareyarp Kausika
vidya yad uta prajnaparamita I asameyarp Kausika vidyayad uta prajfiaparamita
I asamasameyarp Kausika vidya yad uta prajnapiIIamita (from P. L. Vaidya,
ed., AiltasIihasrika-prajnaparamita, p. 36, line 30 - p. 37, line 7; cf. Conze, The
Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines, pp. 108-109). As the reader
will note, the extant Sanskrit text is considerably more repetitive than is
Kumarajiva's version.
(3) Ta-p'in po-jo po-lo-mi ching (PaficaviIp.sati-sIihasrika prajnaparamita-siltra,
tr. 404 CE by Kumarajiva; T No. 223, 8.283b9-IQ): shihpo-jo po-lo-mi shih
taming-chou shih wu-shang ming-chou (cf. Conze, The Large Sutra on Perfect
Wisdom, p. 229). No corresponding Sanskrit text of the PaficaviIp.sati is easily
available for comparison (Dutt's published edition of the Nepalese version
ends with Chapter 21, while this citation occurs in Chapter 28; and the
corresponding section of the text is missing from the Gilgit manuscripts
according to Conze, The Prajnaparamita Literature, 2nd ed., pp. 34-37).
In addition Yamabe has located a number of parallel passages in the translations
THE HEART SfJTRA 213
of Hsiian-tsang himself (T 7.151a29-b3, 156a17-19, 551blO-13, 556a23-25,
580c4-6, and 875a3-4).
- To Y amabe' s substantial list may now be added two further occurrences
in Kumarajiva's tt:anslations (cf. nos. 2 and 3 above), located by this writer as a
direct result of Yamabe's fmdings:
(4) Hsiao-p'in (tr. Kumarajiva, T No. 227): po-jo po-Io-mi shih ta chou-shu, wu-
shang chou-shu (T 8.542b5-6). The corresponding Sanskrit passage reads
mahavideyarp Kausika yad uta prajiIaparamital apramai)eyarp Kausika vidya.
yad uta prajiIaparamital aparimai)eyarp KatiSika vidyayad uta prajiIaparamita
I anuttareyarp Kausika vidya yad uta prajiIaparamita I asameyarp Kausika
[vidya] yad uta prajJIaparamita I asamasameyarp Kausika vidya yad uta
prajiIaparamita (Vaidya, A.?tasahasrika, p. 27, lines 29-32; cf. Conze, Eight
Thousand, p. 104). Note that Kumarajiva's text is not consistent in its
rendering of the word vidya "lore, knowledge, spell"; in (2) above it appears
as ming-chou (or simply chou), while here it is translated as chou-shu "mantric
art."
(5) Ta-p'in (tr. Kumarajiva, T No. 223): shih po-jo po-Io-mi ... shih ta ming-chou,
wu-shang ming-chou, wu-teng-teng ming-chou (T 8.286c2-3; cf. Conze, The
Large Surra, p. 237). No published Sanskrit text is available for comparison
(cf. (3) above),
These examples (and there may well be others) are quite sufficient to demonstrate
that there were ample prototypes available in China for the creation of an epithets
lists such as the one contained in the Heart Surra.
Even more important, however, is yet another observation offered by Mr.
Yamabe: that the underlying Sanskrit term (where extant texts are available for
comparison) corresponding to Ch. chou is not manrra (as in the Heart Surra) but
vidya - thus supplying us with yet another example of back-translation. The
Sanskrit term vidya, in other words, was originally translated into Chinese as ming-
chou (or simply chou); but after a passage containing this term was incorporated
into the Chinese Heart Sutra, it was then back-translated into Sanskrit using the
partially synonymous term mimtra.
55. The Chinese term shena is sometimes used to translate Sanskrit rddhi,
"supernatural power," and, less commonly, deva, "god." Neither of these
renderings would, however, have been appropriate in the present context. My
assumption is that the person who translated the text into Sanskrit simply chose not
to include an equivalent of this, character.
56. The majority of Conze' s Nepalese Sanskrit manuscripts, for example,
add the word prapnoti ("he attains") following the phrase ni$tba-nirvai)a (see
Conze, Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies, p. 152 and n. 44), as does the Tibetan
(LT) translation, which reads mya-ngan-las 'das-pa'i mthar phyin-to ("he attains
to the end [which is] nirvai)a"). Likewise Conze finds it necessary to supplement
214 nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
this cryptic phrase with additional words in his English translation, where he
renders it as "in the end he attains to nirvfu)a."
57. The ear in question is not my own but that of Richard Salomon, who
kindly drew this infelicity to my attention.
58. On the Sanskrit LT recension and its Chinese and Tibetan translations
see below, pp. 194-197 and note 65.
59. Li, Life of HSiian-tsang, p. 23.
60. Loc. cit.
61. See Arthur Waley, TheRea1 Tripitaka and Other Pieces (London: Allen
& Unwin, 1952), p. 53.
62. On these and other apocryphal texts created in China see Buswell,
Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha, especially pp. 1-29.
63. See Buswell, Vajrasamfidhi, especially pp. 3-40.
64. For a preliminary discussion of this issue see Jan Nattier, "Church
Language and Vernacular Language in Central Asian Buddhism," Numen, vol. 37
(1990), pp. 195-219.
65. Long versions of the sutra contained in the Taisho canon are T No. 252
(translated by Dharmacandra in 741 CE), No. 253 (Prajna, 790 CE), No. 254
(Prajiiacakra, 861 CE), No. 255 (Fa-ch'eng,bq 856 CE, from the Tibetan), and No.
257 (Danapala, 1005 CE). Short versions are TNo. 250 (attributed to Kumarajiva),
No. 251 (attributed to Hsiian-tsang), and No. 256 (a transliterated version of the
Sanskrit text in Chinese characters, for which no clear attribution is given).
66. For a discussion of these titles see John McRae, "Ch 'an Commentaries,"
p. 88 and notes 4-7, and FuKUI Fumimasa, Hann ya shingyo no rekishiteki kenkyil,
pp. 171-185.
67. Although Tao-an's catalogue was not completed until 374 CE, it is
generally considered to include only those works available in China through the
beginning of the 4th century. For a convenient summary of the current state of our
knowledge of this and other catalogues of Chinese Buddhist scriptures see Kyoko
Tokuno, "The Evaluation of Indigenous Scriptures in Chinese Buddhist Biblio-
graphical Catalogues" (cited above, n. 48).
68. For further discussion see McRae, "Ch'an Commentaries," p. 106, notes
5 and 6.
69. Kumarajiva's translation was completed in 404 CEo
70. McRae, "Ch'an Commentaries," p. 89 and n. 9. For another example
of the use of the section of the Large Sutra which would eventually be extracted
to form the core of the Heart Sutra in the commentary literature prior to the time
of Hsiian-tsang see Chih-i's Mo-ho chih-kuan, T No. 1911, 46.5b20.
71. According to Fukui (op. cit., p. 177) this text is attributed to Kumarajiva
for the first time in the K'ai-yiian shih-chiao Iii (730 CE). Cf. McRae, op. cit., p.
89 and n. 9.
72. Fukui, op. cit., p. 178.
73. These characters in tum are clearly patterned on a passage found at this
TIIE HEART S[JTRA
215
point in the Sanskrit Large Sutra, which reads (in Conze's translation) "because the
emptiness of fonn does not molest [sic], the emptiness of feeling does not feel, the
emptiness of perception does not perceive, the emptiness of impulses does not put
together, the emptiness of consciousness is not aware" (Skt tathahi ya riipasiinyata
na sa rupayau ya vedanasiinyata na sa vedayau ya saIJ1jiiasiinyata na sa saIJ1janIte
I ya saIJ1skliraSiinyata na sabhisaIpskaroti ya vijiianasiinyata na sa vijanati). For
the English text see Conze, The Large Sutra, p. 61; for the Sanskrit see Dutt, op.
cit., p. 45, line 14 - p. 46, line 2.
74. Fukui, loe. cit.
75. I would like to thank Prof. Masatoshi Nagatomi of Harvard University
for drawing my attention to the Tachih-tu IwF in this connection, and for raising
the question of the significance of this divergence in phrasing. The reading found
in the Ta chili-tu lun also occurs in some of the more recent editions of
KumarajIva's Large Sutra consulted by the Taisho editors (viz., the Sung, Yiian and
Ming editions, as well as the K'ai-pao [Old Sung] edition). My working
assumption, at this point, is that these relatively late editions reflect an editorial
emendation introduced on the authority of the Ta chih-tu lun itself.
76. See T 8.848c4-5 and 8.223a13, respectively.
77. See T 8.847c7-8 and 25.327c22, respectively.
78. T No. 2154, 55.513a4.
79. McRae, op. cit., p. 89.
80. See above,p. 179. The sole exception to this rule appears (at first glance)
to be the commentary by Kiikai (T No. 2203a), who claims to be writing on the
basis of Kumarajiva' s version of the text. A close examination of the actual content
of Kiikai' s commentary, however, reveals that it is Hsiian-tsang's version, not the
text attributed to KumarajIva, that served as its basis.
81. T No. 220, comprising the totality of volumes 5-7 of the Taisho edition.
82. Other respects in which T No. 250 differs from T No. 251 include the
rendition of Skt. prajiiapliramitaas po-jo po-lo-mfi in the fanner (vs. po-jo po-Io-
mi-to"u in the latter), the rendering of the term bodhisattva in one instance as p'u-
t'i-sa-to"w in the latter (but never in the former, which consistently has the standard
Chinese reading p'u-sa'V); differences between certain characters used in the
transliteration of the mantra at the end of the sutra (seeT 8.847c20-21 and 848c18-
19, respectively); and the use of the term hsirf" "heart" or rather - as Fukui haS
argued - "dhlir8.I}l' in the title of the latter, where the former reads ming chOli'u
. ("bright incantation").
83. The only translators in whose works these three terms (Kuan-tzu-tsai,SI
She-li-tzu,at and yiiItP) regularly appearjn the forms found in the version of the
Heart Sutra attributed to Hsiian-tsang (T No. 251) are Divakara (fl. 680-688),
Bodhiruci II (fl. 693-727), Amoghavajra (fl. 723-774), *DevaSanti, a.k.a.
*Dharmabhadra (fl. 980-1000), Danapala (fl. 928-1017), Dharmapala (fl. 1004-
1058), and of course Hsiian-tsang himself. Not one of these translators, however,
predates the work of Hsiian-tsang; thus it seems quite probable that these terms
216
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
- all of which represent scholastic innovations designed to replace oilier, already
well-established expressions - were in troduced by Hsuan-tsang himself. (The only
exceptions to this chronological pattern are two works attributed to Bodhiruci I, fl.
c. 508-540, one containing the tenn yiirtP [T No. 675] and another using the name
[T No. 587]. Elsewhere in the works of this earlier Bodhiruci
however, the expressions yin"0 and Kuan-shih-yiIf" are consistently used instead:
one therefore suspects that in these two instances either some textual
has taken place or there has been some confusion with Bodhiruci' s later namesake.)
84. It is noteworthy that even Hsuan-tsang's own disciples, K'uei-cbi
i
and
Wonch'Uk,k tended to retain the reading Kuan-shih-yiIf" rather than Kuan-tzu_
tsal" as the name of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, even while they followed their
master's lead in adopting new readings for Sanputra and skandha.
85. See T No. 256, based on the Tun-huang manuscript now catalogued as
Stein 2464. For a recent discussion of this text see Leon Hurvitz, "Hsiian tsang
(602-664) and the Heart Scripture," in Lewis Lancaster, ed., Prajiiapiiramitlf and
Related Systems: Studies in Honor of Edward Conze (Berkeley, CA: Berkeley
Buddhist Studies Series, 1977), pp. 103-121. Two minor corrections should now
be made to the transcription of the Sanskrit text given there: on p. Ill, line 1, the
word siinyam has been omitted in typesetting before the word siinyataiva (see T
8.851b29); and on p. 112, line 2, the five characters read by Hurvitz as na siddhitvad
are probably intended to represent the expression nastitviid instead (see T 8.852aS).
A complete romanization of the transliterated Chinese text, based on the Tun-huang
manuscript versions, may now be found in Fukui, op. cit., pp. 127-138.
S6. The version of the text that served as the basis of the Taisho edition is
Stein No. 2464. Fukui has recently drawn attention, however, to the existence of
two other Tun-huang manuscript copies (Stein 5648 and Pelliot 2322); see Fukui,
Hannya shingyo, pp. 98-99.
87. Leon Hurvitz, "Hsiian tsang (602-664) and the Heart Scripture," p. lOS.
88. See Fukui, Hannya shingyo, especially pp. 92-115.
89. This is also true of both Tibetan versions of the text CST and LT), as well
as of all extant Chinese versions of the text except T Nos. 250,251, and 254.
90. Without discussing the discrepancies between the transliterated and
translated versions, Fukui suggests that the transliterated version corresponds to the
text obtained by Hsiian-tsang before his trip to the West, popularly known as the
"Kuan-yin-given version" (p. 93).
91. The character ml
bv
was pronounced with a final -t in Tang-period
Chinese, and thus was able to stand alone as an equivalent offinal-mitlfin the tenn
prajmplIramita (see Bernard Karlgren, Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-
Japanese [1923; rpt. New York: Dover, 1974], no. 617, and cf. the Japanese
pronunciation of the same character as mitsu). For the pronunciation of the final
character in the title of T No. 251as ta in Tang-period Chinese see Karlgren,
Analytic Dictionary, no. 1006.
92. See above, pp. 182-184.
THE HEART SUTRA
217
93. See above, p. 166 and note 29. It is st:rildng that not a single one of
these commentaries is preserved either in an extant Sanskrit text or in a Chinese
translation; comentaries attributed to Indian authors appear only in the Tibetan
canon, and a number of them may in fact have been composed in Tibet. (Forfurther
details see below, notes 94 and 102.) All the commentaries preserved in the
Chinese canon, by contrast (T Nos. 1710-1714, plus Nos. 2746-2747 [classified
as "apocryphal" in the TaishO canon] and 2202-2204 [composed by Japanese
authors]), are the works of East Asian authors.
94. See Peking nos. 5217-5223 and Derge nos. 3818-3823. (Note that the
Derge edition of the Tibetan canon lacks any equivalent of Pek. No. 5221, titled
Shes-rab-kyi pha-tol-tu phyin-pa'j snying-po shes-bya-ba 'grel-pa, the commen-
tary on the Heart Siitra attributed to Kamalasila.)
95. Buswell, Vajrasamifdhi, pp. 16-17.
96. That not even the Mahayana siitras were ever accepted as legitimate by
a majority of Indian Buddhists is, however, amply attested, for example in the
travel account composed by Hsiian-tsang. According to Hsiian-tsang's calcula-
tions, fewer than 50% of the Buddhist monks he encountered on his journey were
Mahayanists (this in the middle of the 7th century CE). For a convenient summary
. of his census figures see Etienne Lamotte, Histoire du bouddhisme indien
(Louvain: Institut Orientaliste, 1958; rpt. 1967), pp. 596-60l.
97. See for example Conze's translation of the Perfection of Wisdom in
8,000 Lines (Skt. A$tasahasrika-prajflaparamita-siitra), where in the very first
chapter there is an explicit defense of teachings produced by the Buddha's disciples
(rather than by the Buddha himself) as taking place "through the Buddha's might"
(buddhanubhavena) and thus not contradicting the true nature of the Dharma (p.
83). Clearly what is intended here is the defense of scriptures that could not
plausibly be attributed to the Buddha himself as representing, in some sense,
buddhavacana. Likewise in the Lotus Siitra (Saddharma-pU1}tjarika-siitra) the
opposition of many Buddhists to this "new teaching" is made explicit in the story
of five thousand monks, nuns and lay devotees who walk out of the assemblywhen
the Buddha is about to expound the Lotus Siitra (see H. Kern, trans.,
SaddharmapU1}(lar1ka or the Lotus of the True Law [1884; rpt. New York: Dover,
1963], p. 38ff.).
98. The assumption that the Buddha's teachings were homogeneous is, from
the perspective of the modem scholar, quite striking; this perception of homoge-
neity was subsequently abandoned, of necessity, in China and Tibet.
99. See Etienne Lamotte, "La critique de I' authenticire dans Ie bouddhisme,"
in India Antiqua (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1947), pp. 213-222. The notion that to be
legitimate a Buddhist scripture must have been "heard" from an authorized source
has, of course, intriguing parallels with the Hindu concept of sruti, parallels which
have not (to my knowledge) been fully explored to date. For a more recent
discussion of the issue of scriptural authenticity (including an examination
ofMahayana and Vajrayana perspectives on the issue) see Ronald M. Davidson,
218
nABS VOL. 15 NO, 2
"An Introduction to the Standards of Scriptural Authenticity in Indian Buddhism"
in Buswell, Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha, pp. 291-325. '
100. Even some (though by no means all) llmtric texts begin with this
fonnula; see for example the Hevajra Tantra, ed. and trans. by David Snellgrove
(London: Oxford University Press, 1959), vol. 1, p. 3.
101. Dozens of copies of a Tibetan ST recension, translated either directly
from the Chinese or from a Sanskrit ST text but with considerable input from a
Chinese version, have been found at Tun-huang. These manuscript copies, now
preserved primarily in the Stein (London) and Pelliot (paris) collections, are the
subject of a forthcoming study by John McRae and myself. Cf. above, n. l.
102. Commentaries attributed to Indian authors but preserved only in
Tibetan, and composed during or shortly after the Tibetan Imperial Period (possibly
at the request of the Tibetans themselves), include those of Vimalamitra (8th c.),
who - though of Indian origin - had studied in China and returned there after his
sojourn in Tibet, Kamalaila (8th c.), Atisa (11 th century) and Mahajana (lIth c.).
(The commentaries attributed to the latter two were definitely composed in Tibet,
and those of Vimalamitra and KamalasIla may have been written there as well,
though this is less certain; a fifth commentary, written by Vajrapalji [10th-11th
century], was composed according to its colophon in Nepal [Lopez, personal
communication, 1992].) Following these works there is an apparent hiatus in the
composition of commentaries on the siitra in Tibet, after which exegetical activity
was resumed in the Ch'ing period. (This statement is based on a personal
communication from Donald Lopez [1986], who has been engaged in an active
search for Tibetan commentaries on the text. Lopez points out, however, that there
may well have existed other commentaries that have not yet come to light [personal
communication, 1992].) For a complete listing of canonical references to
commentaries by Indian authors preserved in Tibetan see above, n. 94.
103. The passage from which this oft-cited line is taken occurs both in the
Vinaya (Cullavagga, X, 4) and in the AIiguttara-nikaya (IV, pp. 280-281), in the
context of a discussion between the Buddha and his foster-mother, MahapajapatI.
In response to a request by the latter for the "Dharma in a nutshell," the Buddha
offers a number of criteria for determining what should and should not be
considered his teaching. Each item is first stated negatively (i.e., in tenns of what
is not the Dharma), and then positively as follows:
[Of] whatever teachings (dhamme), 0 Gotami, you can assure yourself "these
teachings lead to dispassion (viraga), not to passion (sarliga); tofreedom from
bondage (visarpyoga), not to bondage (saIJ1yoga); to decrease [in possessions],
not to increase; to few desires, not to many; to contentment, not to discontent
to.solitude, not to socializing; to exertion, not to indolence; to ease in main-
taining oneself, not to difficulty" - indeed you may consider "this is the
Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the teaching of the Teacher (sasthusasana)."
THE HEART SUTRA
219
The Buddha's reply thus offers a set of general guidelines for evaluating anything.
that purports to be the Dharma, while simultaneously undercutting the all-too-
human tendency to grasp at a any particular formulation of the Dharma to the
exclusion of others (a move which, we might note, serves to counter the notion of
a "closed canon" of Buddhist teachings).
104. McRae, "Ch'an Commentaries," p. 87.
220 nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
LIST OF CHARACTERS
a.
lftar IiUht.1
al.
i;
b. !f,J:t am .. A:t'lti
c.
t
an.

d.
f1.
ao.
Ft
e.

ap.
i
f.
f:l"
aq.
lH!ti'
g.

ar.

h.

as.


at. t;fljq-
j.
l
au.

k.

avo
iii
I. aw.

m. ax.
1; I\,'!!
n.

ay.
#lJi/{
O.
#
az.
t
p.
*#Jt
ba.
1!t
1!11
bb.
li*-
q.
Jt.
r.

be.

S.
t,iL bd.

t
1::.H! be.

u.

bf.
tll
v.
:t bg.
JiIMt*1l1
W.
Jt:tt
bh.
#-t
X.
!=lit bi.
Y{ j(;1Jf
y.
it
bj. Imp'}{
z.

ble.
wA.
aa.
tiji
b/.

abo
bm. I\,' PEllE.
ae.
IiHritli#Jt-{ bn.
A:Jitl1M!'
ad.
#Jt boo
:(Ji l":I1Jt Iff.!!
ae.

bp.

af.
,ftor!*5!lt
bq.
*J1(.
ag.
Ji7\:AHH!
br. It
ah.
bs.
UJlJt
ai.
M:*i&:.lt
bl.
i:
aj.
Jt:t5f i
ak.

THE HEART SUTRA
APPENDIX:
The Core Passage of the Heart Sutra in the Gilgit and Nepalese
Manuscripts of the Sanskrit Large Siltra
(PaiIcaviIpSati-sahasrikff-prajMparamim-siltra)
221
Part of the evidence outlined above in support of the hypothesis that the Sanskrit
Heart Sutra is a back -translation from the Chinese is that the differences between
the core passage of the Sanskrit Heart Sutra and its counterpart in the Sanskrit
Large Sutra can more easily be explained by positing a Chinese intermediary
between the two than by positing intra-Indian textual evolution alone. In
considering the validity of this hypothesis we are fortunate to have manuscripts
of the Sanskrit Large SiitTa representing not one but two layers of the Indian
textual tradition: a Gilgit manuscript dating from perhaps the 6th century CE,
. and a group of very late Nepalese manuscripts dating from the 19th, century. The
Nepalese texts, of course, represents only one of many possible descendants of
the Gilgit text (or rather, of the original text on which both are ultimately based);
there could well have been other versions of the text that have not come down
to us in which we might have been able to observe other directions of textual
evolution. Nonetheless it is useful to observe that the Nepalese texts - when
compared with the much earlier Gilgit version of the same siitra - exhibit none
of the wholesale shifts in wording and parts of speech that we see in the Sanskrit
Heart Sutra. Rather, we see precisely what one would usually expect in a
Buddhist text dating from this period: a number of amplifications, derived
mainly from the reiteration or more detailed enumeration of items already
present in the earlier manuscript. (There are also certain amplifications found
in the Gilgit manuscript but not in the Nepalese texts, suggesting that these two
groups of texts represent separate lines of descent from a common, and somewhat
simpler, ancestor.) There is nota single case - and this is extremely important
to emphasize - in which we see any of the specific changes (from verbs to
adjectives, from singulars to plurals, or the substitution of one synonym for
another) that are reflected in the core of the Sanskrit Heart Sutra. Thus while
a comparison of the Gilgit manuscript of the Sanskrit Large Sutra with its
Nepalese counterpart is insufficient in and of itself prove our hypothesis, it
provides no evidence whatsoever to the contrary.
Gilgit Manuscript (c. 6th c. CE)
na hi Saradvatdiputra-
-anyad riipam anya sunyata
nanya sunyatanyad rupm11
[rii]pam eva sunyata
sunyat(ai)va riiparjl
evam na(ny)a vedananya sunyata
Nepalese Manuscript (c. 19th c. CE)
Sariputra
nanyadrupam anya sunyata
nanya sunyata anyadriipam
rupam eva sunyata
slinyataiva riipam
nanya vedana anya sunyata
222
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
nanya saI1ljiUi nanya sunyata: .
nanye saI1lsma anye sunyata
nanya vijiianam anya sunyata: .
nanyal). sunyata:nyad vijfianarp. .
vijiianam eva sunyata: sunyataiva
vijiianarp. .
ya saradvatiputra sunyata:
na sa utpadyate
na nirudhyate .
na sarp.klisyate
na vyavadayate .
na hiyate
na vardhate
natlta nanagata: na pratyutpanna
ya notpadyate na nirudhyate na
saq1ldisyate na vyavadayate
na hiyate na vardhate natlta
nanagata na pratyutpannal).
na tatra riiparp. na vedana
na saqljiian na saqlskarful na
vijiianaql
na na Srotrarp. na ghrfu.iaql
na jihva na kaye na mana!).
na riipaql na sabdo na gandho na rasa
na sparso na dharmaQ.
(na) tatra skandha na dhatavo
nayatanani
na tatra na riipadhatur
na
na (sro)tradhatu na sabdadhatur
na SrotravijiianadhatuQ.
na ghrfu)adhatur na gandhadhatur
na ghrfu:1avijnanadhatu
na jihvadhatur na rasadhatur
nanya sunyata anya vedana
vedanaiva sunyata sunyataiva
vedana '
nanya sarpjfta anya siinyata:
nanya sunyata anya saqljfl.a
nanye saqlskara anya sunyata
nanya sunyata anye saqlskaral)
nanyad vijfianam anya sfinyata
nanya sunyata: anyad vijfl.anam
vijnanameva sfinyata sfinyataiva
vijfianam
iti samudayasatyavavadal).
sfinyata Sariputra
notpadyate
na nirudhyate
na saqlklisyate
na vyavadayate
na hiyate
na vardhate
nafita nanagata: na pratyutpanna
ya ca i<4"S1
na tatra riipam na vedana
na saqljfl.a na saqlsma na
vijiianam
na priliividhatur nabdhatur
na tejodhatur na vayudhlUur
nakaSadhatui' na vijfianadhatur
na na riipadhatur
na
na srotradhatur na Sabdadhatur
na srotravijiianadhatuQ
na ghral}adhatur na gandhadhatur
na ghral}avijftanadhatuQ.
na jihvadhatur na rasadhatur
THE HEART SDTRA 223
na
na Icayadhatur na
. na kayavijfl.anadhatur
na rnanodhatur na. dharmadhatur
na manovijilana[dha]tu!:rr [sic]
na tatravidya
na safflslffiran na
. na vijilanarp. na vijilananirodhal)
. na namariipaITl na
na satvayatanaql na
satvayatananirodhal)
na sparw (na) sparSananirodhal)
na vedana na vedananirodhal)
na na
nopadanaffl nopadananircdhal)
na bhavo na bhavanirodhal)
na jati(r n)a jatinirodhal)
na jaramaral).arp.
na jaramaral).anirodhal)
na du1)kharp. na samudayo na nirodho
na margal)
na prapti nabhisarnayal).
na jihvavijfianadhawl}
na kayadMtur na
na kayavijfl.anadhatul}
na manodMtur na dhannadhatur
na manovijfianacthatul).
navidyotpado navidyanirodhal)
na saf!1skarotpado na sarpskaranirodha
na vijfianotpado na vijfiananirodha
na namariipotpado na namariipanirodha
na na

na sparSotpado na sparSanirodha

na na
nopadanotpado nopadananirodha
na bhavotpado na bhavanirodha
na jaJyutpado na jatinirodha
na jaramaral).aSokaparidevadul}khadaur-
manasyopayasotpado
na jaramaral).aSokaparidevaduQkhadaur-
manasyopayasanirodhal)
na dul).kha na sarnudayo na nirodho
na margo
na praptir na abhisarnayo
Indian Altruism: A Study of the Terms
bodhicitta. and cittotpiida
by Gareth Sparham
The highest form of altruism in scholastic Mahayana Buddhism
is conveyed by the term cittotpada ("mind-production, lifting up the
heart").l In an earlier papef2 I dealt with the place of this altruism in
the AbhisamayaiaIilkara (=AA) and its commentaries. In those texts
cittotpiida enjoys pride of place as entrance into the Mahayana, the
first of seventy topics (Tib. don bdun bcu) under which the concealed
meaning (Tib. sbas don) of the Prajiia-paramita (=PP) sutras is
discussed. In this paper I shall attempt to identify the PP sutra from
which the cittotplfda doctrine originates a n ~ show how it differs, in
its origins, from bodhicitta.
Identification of the Original-Passage
The most important PP sutra we possess is the [Arya-]a$(a-sahasrika
Prajiiii-paramita (=A). As Conze remarks, it, or a now-lost precursor,
was the fIrst PP sutra. The later Indian and Tibetan PP tradition,
based on Haribhadra's (circa 800) AbhisamayiiiaIilkaraioka Prajiia-
paramitiI-vyiikhya (=AAA), traces the origin of the cittotpada doc-
trine to the opening lines of the AAA in accord with the AA's
elaborate schema of understanding. Though helpful for making sense
of the different PP sutras, as we shall show, this position is not
historically justifiable. The origin of cittotpada is rather to be found
in the following passage from a later part of the A (Wogihara's ed.
116.3-118).4 For convenience's sake I will refer to this throughout
as the Origin-Passage.
224
INDIAN ALTRUISM
[subhiiti:J nifham ifyu$man sifriputra ieehifmi bodhisattvam
mahifsattvam dU$kara-eifrikifiI earantam nifpi sa bodhisattvo
mahifsattvoyo dU$kara-samjiIifyif earati. tat kasya hetol}? na
hy ifyu$man sifriputra dU$kara-samjiIifm janayitvif sakyo
aprameyifnifm asamkhyeyifnifm sattvifnifm arthal}' kartum.
api tu sukha-samjiIifm eva krtvif sarva-sattvifnifm antike mift[-
samjiIifm, pi tr -sam j iIifril, putra -sam jiIifm, duhi tr -sam jiIifril lqtvif,
strI-puIU$e$v evam etam samjiIifm krtvif bodhisattvo
mahasattvo bodhisattva-earikifiI earati. tasmifn mift[-samjiIif,
pit[-samjiIif, putra-samjiIif, duhitr-samjiIif bodhisattvena
mahifsattvena sarvo-sattvifnifm antike yifvad iftma-
samjiIotpifdayitavyif. yathiftmif sarveI)a sarvam sarvathif
sarvam sarva-dul;khebhyo moeayitavyal} evam sarva-sattviflJ
sarveI)a sarvam sarvathif sarvaf!1, sarva-dul}khebhyo
moeayitavyif iti. evam ea sarva-sattve$u samjiIotpifdayitavyif.
mayaite sarva-sattvif na parityaktavyifl}. mayaite sarva-
sattvifl} parimoeayitavyif aparimifnto dul}kha-skandhift. na ea
mayaite$u eitta-prado$a utpiidayitavyo 'nasal; sataso 'pi
ehidyamifneneti. evam hi bodhisattvena mahifsattvena eittam
utpifdayitavyam. saeed evam-citto vihari$yati na dU$kara-
samjiII vihari$yati. punar aparam ifyu$man sifriputra
bodhisattvena mahifsattvenaivam cittam utpifdayitavyam yathif
sarveI)a sarvam sarva thif sarvam sarva-dharmif na samvidyan te
nopaiabhyante.
(I do not look for a bodhisattva who goes on the difficult
pilgrimage. In any case, one who courses in the perception
of difficulties is not a bodhisattva. because one who has
generated a perception of difficulties is unable to work the
weal of countless beings. On the contrary, he forms the notion
of ease, he forms the notion that all beings, whether men or
women, are his parents and children, and thus he goes on the
pilgrimage of a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva should therefore
identify all beings with his parents or children, yes, even with
his own self, like this: "As I myself want to be quite free from
all sufferings, just so all beings want to be quite free from all
225
226
JIABS VOL 15 NO.2
sufferings." In addition with regard to all beings he should
fonn the notion: "I ought not to desert all these beings. I
ought to set them free from the quite measureless heap of
sufferings! And I should not produce towards them a thought
of hate, even though I might be dismembered a hundred
times!" It is thus that a bodhisattva should lift up his he an.
When he dwells as one whose heart is such, then he will
neither course nor dwell as one who perceives difficulties.)
The context for this Origin-Passage is the response to an inquiry
(beginning with the phrase [W75] bodhisattva[sya] mahasattva[syaJ
mahasamnaha-sarimaddha[sya] mahayana-samprastita[syaJ
mahayana-samarfidh[sya]. .. "A bodhisattva, a great being, who is
armed with the great armor, who has set out in the great vehicle, who
has mounted on the great vehicle ... ") about the use of great in great
vehicle and great being. The A's response develops two lines of
thought: a) of aprameyatva ("immeasurability"), which is further
developed into b) the notion of samata ("self-identity" or "state of
being found equally everywhere"). Asked just "how great" (kiyatfi)
is the bodhisattva's armor the Lord says [W87) "A bodhisattva
thinks: immeasurable and beyond number (asarpkhyeya) are the
beings to be liberated by me ... and yet there are no beings liberated
by anyone ... for this is the ultimate reality of things (dharmatif), based
on the factthat ultimate reality is illusory (maya-dharmatifm upadaya) ...
It is just as if a magician (mayifkifra) who conjures up a host of
creatures then causes them to disappear again." We are told (W106-
7) that a great vehicle holds an infinite number of living beings, just
as there is room for an infinite number of living beings in space
(ifkasa). Such spaciousness is on account of the sameness (samatal
of space, i.e., its "self-identity" or "state of being found equally
everywhere." It is on account of this samatif that there is no
beginning, middle or end and that no vehicle sets out to a beyond. It
is also on account of this sameness that none of the constituent
aggregates of a bodhisattva, indeed, of any dharma whatsoever, has
a beginning (=utpada) or end (=nirodha).5 It is [WIll) "as with the
self (atman) which does not come forth on account of being
INDIAN ALTRUISM
227
completely beyond limits (atyantatayiibhinivrtta)." Hence duality is
not applicable to any dharma since every dharma is unproduced
(Wl14). At the point that a bodhisattva is equated with e v ~ r y other
dharma in the ultimate, uncreated and self-identical state,6 Sariputra
iasks the question to which the Origin-Passage is direct answer. His
question boils down to: how could this unity, this lack of duality, also
be an illusion? How could the universe really be such anothingness
as all that?
There are so many threads of meaning, introduced earlier in the
A, woven so intricately together in this Origin-Passage that it is hard
to conceive of a later writer interpolating it so skillfully.? The notions
of a)immeasurability, b) sameness, c) similarity with self and d) non-
duality are all woven together skillfully on .the basic fabric of
unfmdability. Furthermore, Lancaster's analysis of the earlier and
later Chinese translations of the A, dating from 179 to 985, enable a
reader to know in general what parts of the A are earlier and later. The
entire first parivarta (W1-128) is present, in the main, in the earliest
versions and there is no definite reason, based on Lancaster's work,
to preclude the entire Origin-Passage from the earliest version. In
particular, the presence in the earliest versions of the A of the Origin-
Passage is corroborated by the Ratna-gU1)a-samuccaya-gatha (=RGS).
The presence of lines in the RGS corresponding to a passage in the
A strongly suggests the A passage to have been in the original
version, even if we do not know, for sure, exactly where the passage
was situated,s and there are correspondences between verses of the
RGS and the sentiments expressed in the Origin-Passage.
Based on the Origin-Passage, cittotpada was originally an
attitude, constucted out of the willful manipUlation of ideas or
imagination, that welled up within the person
9
banishing negativism
and depression and inspiring further effort. In the earliest formula-
tion of cittotpada this uplifting of the heart was to be caused by
thinking about living beings in a certain fashion: (a) imagining them
to be relatives and (b) reflecting on the sameness of them and oneself.
Such thoughts or ideas were to make bearable the difficult work of
a bodhisattva. Although altruistic sentiments are clearly identifiable
in the Origin-Passage there is no unequivocal altruistic message, in
228
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
the sense of an exhortation urging the bodhisattva to make work for.
others his primary motivation.
Bodhlcitta and cittotpa:da in the original PP siitra
As mentioned at the outset the first of the AA's seventy topics
is cittotpada. In explaining it the AA first mentions its two aJambana
("objective supports"): (i) perfect enligh tenment (samyak -sambodhl)
and (ii) the needs of others (parartha) and then gives twenty-two
examples corresponding to stages on the bodhisattva's path and to the
stage of enlightenment. Of the many PP siitras, one, the Paiica-
vimsati-sahasrika Prajiia-paramita (=Parka) has sections which cor-
respond exactly to this presentation/o though in the Parka, unlike the
AA, the actual term [bodhiJ-cittotpada does not occur.l1
The older PP siitras do not contain a passage which corresponds
exactly to the AA's initial presentation of cittotpada. Whereas the
Pafica mentions both enlightenment and the great number of living
beings, conspicuous by its absence, not only from the A, but also from
the Sata-sahasrika Pra}iia-paramita (=Sata), is any passage which
corresponds to others and their needs, i.e., to pariirtha, the second of
the two objective supports for cittotpada spelt out in AA:1.18
cittotpadal} pararthaya samyak sambodhi-kamata. At the beginning
of the A there is no reference to a great number of living beings at
all. 12
The presence of a specific parartha ("others' needs") objective
support passage at the very beginning of the Parka suggests that this
later PP sutra was constructed by a person or persons with the AA's
developed notion of path (marga). The difference between the
opening lines of the Pafica and earlier PP siitras is best accounted for
by modifications introduced into the Pafica based on the basic
cittotpada doctrine set forth in the Origin-Passage, under the influ-
ence of a systematic understanding of a Mahayana path different from
a Sravaka-yana.
INDIAN ALTRUISM
229
Although there is no obvious correspondence between the
opening lines of the A and the AA's cittotpiida, Haribhadra, in his two
commentaries on the A (the AAA and AASp) and in his commentary
on the RGS13 attempts to show that the words of these two earlier
siitras also correspond equally to the AA's categories. An indication
of just how hard it is to find such correspondences is Harlbhadra' s
statement that he considered his insight that there is, in fact, a
correspondence to be divinely inspired.
14
Haribhadra says just the
opening line of the A contains the entire meaning of cittotpiida ..
Packed into it are the two objective supports and twenty-two
. examples explained in AA 1.18-19. The correspondence must appear
forced to any ordinary reader not blessed with Haribhadra's divine
insight. IS
Though there is no reference to the needs of others in the opening
lines of the A, the corresponding section of the RGS at first sight
presents a difficulty because its opening verses refers explicitly to
bodhicittaY If this bodhicitta is the bodhi-cittotpiida of later
scholasticism the RGS would corroborate the position of the AA that
the origin of the bodhi-cittotpiida doctrine is to be found in the A's
opening lines. It is clear, however, that the citta in the citta bodhel;
of RGS 7, as well as the citta in the entire opening section of the A
does not correspond to the citta in the cittotpiida of the Origin-
Passage. The citta in these former compounds is not a thought or
intention but something more fundamental. The A says of citta that
it is a-citta (absence of mind) because the fundamental nature of citta
is clear illumination (prakrtis citasya prabhiisvarfi). And it says of this
mind, which is an absence of mind, that it is avikiira (unmodified) and
avikalpa (without conceptualization). Since the cittotpada of the
Origin-Passage is described as requiring to be produced (utpiidayitavya)
and hence as arising (utpiida), and since it is caused to arise by a set
of notions (sarbjiifi) that others have been one's parents, etc., it can
hardly be the same as this fundamental citta which is taken here to
be the very locus of personality and existenceY
The first part of the compound bodhi-citta (synonymous with
bodhi-sattva in the early PP siltras?) should be understood not as
referring to a for-others state of enlightenment (a sarbbhoga-kiiya)
230
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
but to the the PrajiHi-paramita herself, beyond all conceptualization
and absorbed indivisibly with the ultimate. Rather than a dative tat-
puru$a, the compound is better construed as 'a curious Buddhist SOft
of bahuvnhi meaning (one whose) fundamental state of being Or
mind is perfect wisdom, i.e., the ultimate. It is a curious compound
because the Buddhist axiom which denies the existence of a person
beyond the five constituent-aggregates (skandha) leaves both com-
pounds without a clearly identifiable noun to qualify.
The cittotpada set forth in the Origin-Passage cannot, then, be
equated with bodhicitta (or bodhisattva) nor can it be thought of as
the outcome of a systematic understanding. Rather it was a notion
which would itself contribute, as an integral part of a revealed text
requiring explanation, to the development of Mahayana scholasticism's
systematic understanding of two truths. The early notion of
cittotpada would be transfonned, under the influence of later
systematization associated paticularly with Madhyamikas, into the
conventional or surface level (samvrtya) bodhi-cittotpada, i.e., one
concerned with conventional realities such as the needs of other
living beings and the attainment of enlightenment. This would be
unlike the ultimate bodhi-cittotpada which was none oth,er than the
original bodhicitta (i.e., the non-dual liberating vision and ultimate
reality called Prajfia-paramita) changed insofar as it was now a part
of an edifice of scholastic thought.
This explanation of the terms has the great benefit of explaining
what are, otherwise, confusing usages of bodhicitta, cittotpada and
bodhi-cittotpada. The two former terms were originally different in
meaning. Later, however, bodhicitta became even more popular, as
a shortened form of bodhi-cittotpada, than the original cittotpada
itself and it was used with this secondary sense by later writers in
contexts where it is historically inappropriate to do so.
The Sameness of Self and Other Lineage
In tracing the earliest developments of the bodhi-cittotpada
doctrine an important source is Santideva's Sik$a-samuccaya (=SSa).
This companion volume to the Bodhicaryavatiira (=BCA) contains
INDIAN ALTRUISM
231
passages from earlier siitras on which, Santideva tells us, his BCA
was based. Since the BCA is little more than a verse monograph on
bodhi-cittotpada the siitra passages Santideva quotes in his SSa
provide the best clues to the bodhi-cittotpada doctrine's early
.. developments.
Santideva (writing ca. 650) had no modern sense of history and
accepted as authentic works of the Buddha (buddha-vacana) those
which historically are quite late, in particular the Gagana-gaiija-siitra
... and the Tathagata-guhya-nirdesa, both of which can be seen as part
of a second wave of revelation (cp. the Paiica-viIiJ.sati-s{fhasrikif),
building on and systematizing the early proto-Mahayana doctrines
found in PP siitras like the A.II These second wave siitras, all
anonymous, contain the earliest known interpretations of the A's
Origin-Passage.
There are two bodhi-cittotpada traditions
l9
found in Tibetan
lineage lists (gsan yig). Of them, one tradition is traced back to
Santideva and then to the mythological figures Nagfujuna and
Mafijusn. This is called the "sameness of self with others" (paratma-
samataj tradition and it begins with the Tathagata-guhya-nirdesa's
interpretation of the Origin-Passage. The Tathagata-guhya-nirdesa,
a work on which Santideva draws heavily, is, in the main, a
reformulation of the A. In it we find a first stage in the systematization
of bodhi-cittotpada, based particularly on the equation.of narratmya
with dependent origination (pratltya-samutpada), and an emphasis on
the sameness of self and others (paratma-samatif) an idea that
Santideva would make a central pivot of his presentation.
The very first of the twenty-seven miila-kifrikas of the SSa is yada
mama pare$am ca bhayam dU$kham ca na priyam / tad-atmanal) ko
viSe$o yat tam rak$ami netaram / / (" Since I and my fellow man abhor
pain and fear alike, what distinction can I rightly make for self, that
I should preserve it and not other?")20 It contains a distinctive echo
of the cittotpada of the Origin-Passage.
21
There is hardly a mention
of the A in the entire SSa, however, and this echo might be an
interesting, but otherwise inconsequential footnote, were it not that
(i) in a long quotation from the Tathagata-guhya-nirdesan with which
Santideva brings the SSa to its conclusion this theme is developed at
232
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
length and (ii) the most important section in the BCA for understand.
ing Santideva's conception of bodhi-cittotpada, the so-called "changing
self into others meditation" (Tib. bdag gzhan mnyam brjes) (BCA.
8.96ff) has}he very same verse and is, in essence, an elaboration on
this same SSa karika 1.
The importance of the "sameness of self with others" passage
(BCA8.96ff) has already been recognized by La Vallee Poussin who
says of Sfu1tideva's fonnulation of the bodhi-cittotpada doctrine that
it is at once "orthodox and yet original."23 La Vallee Poussin notes
that the "nothingness of the ego does not warrant us in remaining
inactive; we find in it a reason for sacrificing ourselves for our
neighbour." He intimates that, tosome extent at least, Santideva's
explicit exhortation to the religiously minded to renounce personal
needs in favour of the needs of others is not so much a reinterpretation
of panrtma-samatabut a valid understanding of it: "This practice of
abnegation .. results ... in purging the mind of error; that is to say, since
every idea, as such is erroneous, abnegation 'purifies' the mind by
emptying it (moha=jiieyavaraI}a; suddha=sunya)."24
Elsewhere, in his translation of BCA 8.90,25 La Vallee Poussin
points us in the direction of two sources for Santideva's fonnulation
of bodhi-cittotpada. Dividing BCA 8.90 into two parts he translates
90a "Le [Bodhisattva] s'applique d'abord, avec diligence et scrupule,
a ne pas faire de difference entre Ie moi et Ie prochain, [de qui est de
l'essence de la pratique du futur BouddhaJ." This is the PP sutra's
notion of paratma-samata (interpreted in light of the Tathagata-
guhya-nirdesa) based on the progression of ideas from anutpada
through to advaya mentioned earlier. He then translates 90b "Ce qu'
est la joie pour moi, eHe l' est pour autrui; ce qu' est la douleur pour
moi, elle l'estpour autrui. Ie dois faire pour autrui ce quejefais pour
mois," citing Dhammapada 129 as the probable source. We thus find
here the fusion of two different observations: a) that self and other
are ultimately undifferentiable (the doctrine of the PP sutras) and b)
that empathy with the plight of others is natural because one shares
feelings of happiness and sorrow in common with them. This later
idea, enshrined in pre-Mahayana texts, is not distinctly Buddhist but
is also found associated with a universalist K r ~ 1 ) a , for instance in the
INDIAN ALTRUISM
233
reformulation of the notion of sacrifice and the body of the deity in
the Bhaga vad-gita. .
The Seven-point Lineage
Siintideva's formulation of bodhi-cittotpada developed from the
Origin-Passage's sameness of self and other (paratma-samati) inter-
preted along the lines of the Tathagata-guhya-nirdesa. Another
iIIlportant stream of development of the cittotpada doc tine takes as
its point of departure the Origin-Passage' s specific mention of family
IIlembers ("A bodhisattva should therefore identify all beings with
his parents or children, yes, even with his own self ... ") and developed
the idea of equalizing attachment, especially the equalization of
attachment to sons. This stream of development, systematized in
seven points (Tib. rgyu 'bras man ngag bdun) , is associated with the
names of Maitreya and Asm'lga in the Tibetan tradition and like the
paratma-samata developments associated with Siintideva its source
is an interpretation of the Origin-Passage. Together the two streams
provide an interesting example of parallel interpretations of a PP
siitra.
26
Although the ideas in the "sameness of self and other" and "seven
points" traditions are not fully developed in the Origin-Passage, and
are unlikely part of the original intention of the A, it was open to later
writers to interpret the A's statements about (i) sameness of self and
other and (ii) others as family members in such a way if only because
the inspired language of the early PP siitras lent itself to creative
interpretation.
Unlike the SSa which provides an explicit record of the sources
which Santideva used, in the so-called "seven points" stream of
intrepretation not only is there no record of any particular text, but
even a specific section in the texts attributed to Maitreya and AsaIiga
setting out a coherent way of producing. altruism is not readily
identifiable.
Thinking of all living beings as one's son is found in an different
and older form in the Udgradatta-panpTcchff.
27
There it says that a
234
nABS VOL. 15 NO.2
father should not be too attached to his own son and should think: aU
other beings are as dear as his son. This is a sentiment not far removed
from the much older, pre-Mahayana notion enshrined in the legend
of Prince Siddhiirtha, the Buddha-to-be, leaving Yasodhara and
Rahula to seek enlightenment. . As in older pre-Mahayana texts, the
relatively late Udgradatta-parip!ccha focuses on equalizing (i.e.,
making the same) (sama-lq) excess attachment to a son. There is also
evident, however, a shift in emphasis towards actually imagining
(saIiljiiotpada) that other people are one's son and calling up, thereby,
emotions of tenderness and concern.
Based on later explanations of bodhi-cittotpada attributed to
Asanga
28
the essential element in the seven point tradition is that the
uplifting of the heart comes about by reflecting on the relation
between oneself and one's close family members. In the Bodhisattva_
Miimi, which Tibetan writers consider to be a work of Asanga, and
which in its completed form presents a systematization of the path
(mfirga) at about the same stage of development as the Paiica and
AA29 there is a passage
30
that says one dimension of a bodhisattva's
sama-citta is his consideration that all beings are as beloved as a son.
In later Tibetan works the protective feeling of a child for his or her
parents is emphasized and the original notion of treating all as a son
is lost. This development is also, however, anticipated to some extent
in the Bodhisattva-bhiimi
31
where a bodhisattva is mentioned as
sometimes looking after living beings like a wife (kalatra-bhavena)
and sometimes as a head ofa household (svami-bhiita).
The earliest versions of the A were concerned with the question
of the person of the Buddha. The PP's great bodhisattva, of whom
no dharma can be found (so 'ham bhagavan bodhisattvam va
bodhisattva-dharmam vavindann anupalabhamano 'samanupasyan ...
W31) was, originally at least, the Buddha himself before final
nirvaI}a. The idea of a bodhisattva referring to all truly altruistic
persons who deny themselves nirvaI}a for the benefit of others is a
later development. 32 The reformulation of Bodhisattva Siddhilrtha's
setting out for nirvaIJa into an altruistic person setting out for full
enlightenment based on an empathy with others seen as oneself, or
on seeing all living beings as a son, was not, therefore, a part of the
INDIAN ALTRUISM
235
>original message of the A. They are interpretations that later fit in
well with the general tendency of proto- and early Mahayana writers
ctOredefine the meaning of buddha and enlightenment in more
universalist terms.
.. . Some final remarks about the place of altruism in Mahayana
Buddhism are in order. No group, theoretical orreal, has a monopoly
on kindness. Most religious faiths nevertheless reserve for their own
particular religion possession of a unique compassion. Mahayana
writers are not different in this regard. They say Mahayana
. Buddhism has a special altruism that distinguishes it from what they
.ca11 the earlier deficient (hina) Buddhism. While such statements
'retain little importance for understanding the rise and development
of Mahayana Buddhism, they remind the modern reader of a tension
that distinguishes much early Mahayana thought. In the course of
a more general discussion of a bodhisattva's (=altruistic person's)
two equipments (sari1bhara) La Vallee Poussin mentions these
tensions in Mahayana Buddhism which make the role of altruism, or
lack of it, problematic:
33
Buddhists ... endeavored to ... reconcile the serious
antinomy of the two dogmas: "Nothing exists," and "We
must work,_labour, suffer for our neighbour." It is certain,
says a Madhyamika philosopher, that our neighbour does not
exist, but the Bodhisattva cherishes within himself this
illusion (moha) that he must become a Buddha for the
salvation of creatures.
The mature attitude of Mahayana Buddhist writers, arrived at over the
course of developing a viable theory of bodhicittotpiida can be
compared with a theory of tragedy. What value, in an ultimate sense,
has the uplifting of the heart in a feeling of oneness and commisera-
tion when reflecting on a tragic actor's plight? Such tears, after all,
are shed for a hardship that was never experienced, and seen by a
rational person from behind the side of the curtain, as it were, we, the
audience, wallow in the enjoyment of a feeling of pity for a suffering
that was never there. Altruism, pity for others' hardship, has no place
beyond that, and the insistence that there should be a basis for pity
236
nABS VOL. 15 NO, 2
in "real" misery felt by "real" persons merely misses the point of the
entire drama.
NOTES
1. The meaning of the tenn cittotpada, (later, more fully bodhi-cittotpiida
reduced often simply to bodhicitta) is found in the AA and its later commentaries:
There, encapsulated in the statement cittotpadal) pararthaya samyak sambodJu.
kamata ("cittotpada is the state of wanting full enlightenment for the sake of
others") cittotpada is the altruistic desire (kama), intention (cetana at MSA:4.1
prlirthana at Bbh: 1.2) or thought (citta at AAA:22 and AA V:15) motivating
bodhisattva's religious activity.
2. "Background Material for the First of the Seventy Topics in Maitreya.
natha's AbhisamayaJamkara" JIABS 10.2 (1987):139-158.
3. pratibhatu te subhiite bodhisattvanaIiJ. mahasattvaniiIiJ. prajjffi.
paramitayam arabhya yatha bodhisattva mahaSattval;1 prajiia-paramitam niryayulJ.
Conze translates: "Make it clear now, Subhiiti, to the Bodhisattvas, the great
beings, starting from perfect wisdom, how the Bodhisattvas, the great beings go
forth into perfect wisdom."
4. In the corresponding section of the other PP siitras and in the
explanation of this passage in the AA V and AAA no special attention is paid to
it whatsoever. In Paiica 260.9ff (translated by Conze p. 196) the basic outline of
the Origin-Passage remains but there is an explicit reference to working for the
benefit of innumerable living beings (aprameyanam asan'lkhyeyanam sattviiniim
artham kartum) and it is said, explicitly, that it is for this purpose that one imagines
everyone to be one's parents and so forth. It is also interesting to note that the notion
of paralma-samata (sameness of self and other) which was to be picked up as the
central notion of cittotpiida by Santideva is absent from this part of the Paiica. It
says simply yatha alma almeti cocyate atyantatayanutpanna alma evam
samjflotpiidayitavyaJ.:1. Arya Vimuktisena (AA V
126) does no more than mention the existence of the passage in a list ( ...
caryanupapatty8) .
The corresponding passage is not in 1888-1900 edition of the
Sata. The fact that his ed. runs to three, not inconsiderably sized volumes, and that
he condensed the repetitious passages in the text by a variety of ingenious strategies
(unfortunately making the admittedly overwhelmingly wordy text unreadable in
the process) and yet still does not quite reach the corresponding section, points to
its incredible length. The originality of the notion of cittotpiida which comes across
so forcefully in the A is impossible in the Sata where the different themes of illusory
living beings (Vol 3 130ft), greatness (Vol 3, 228ft) space (Vol 3 294ft) and
immeasurability (Vol 3 313ft) are thrashed to death by repetition.
Since the rationale behind Haribhadra's comments in his AAA is, as
INDIAN ALTRUISM 237
mentioned earlier, rooted in the axiom that the message of each of the major PP
siItra
S
is one and the same it is not surprising that he adheres strictly to the AA
. SChema which lumps the Origin-Passage under the general rubric sarvakarajiiata-
nit'Yff1}a-pratipatti (on the place of which in the AA's scheme see Obermiller's
Analysis of the AA, Calcutta 1933-36, p. 189). Although arbitrary when taken as
aru
bric
under which to include the Origin-Passage, the Gagana-gaiija-siitra quoted
in the SSa (Bendaled. p. 117, trans. p. 115) gives a clear indication of how the part
of the A within which the Origin-Passage is embedded relates to the more general
context of being armed with great armor. "Just as the wind enters through a chink,
sO Mara takes his opportunity from any part where there is a chink in the heart."
Therefore the bodhisattva's heart must be whole and without chink. This is what
IS meant by whole-heartedness, namely full realization of the doctrine of the void,
which implies sarvlikarajiiata.
I have not been able to consult A. Wayman's "A Report on the
Ak$ayamatinirdeSa-siitra (Buddhist Doctrinal History, Study 2)," Studies in Indo-
Asian Art and Culture, Vol. 6, ed. by Lokesh Chandra (International Academy of
Indian Culture, New Delhi, Cot. 1980), pp. 211-232. In his recent Ethies of Tiret,
(Albany: SUNY, 1991), p. 9 Professor Wayman cites the Ak$ayamatinirdeSa-
siitta's reformulation of a Bodhisattva-pitaka-siitras a possible important source
for Asailga's formulation of the bodhi -cittotptida doctrine. See also Mark Tatz,
Asailga's Chapter on Ethics (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1986).
5. Thedifferent dimensions of samataare brought together in a description
of the ultimate eittotptida (paramarthika-cittotptida) at MSA 4.9: dharme$u ea
sattve$u ea ca buddhatve / sama-cittapaJambhat pramodya-
visi$tata tasya. This is explained (Levi's ed. 15.23-25) as follows: "There is sama-
. cittata in regards to dharmas because of understanding them as being devoid of .
reality (dharma-nairatmya); then sama-cittatain regard to living beings because of
realizing the sameness of self and others; sama-cittatain regard to what is to be done
for others because of others wanting, like oneself, to end their misery and there is
sama-cittata in respect of the state of awakening (buddhatva) because it and the
sphere of ultimate reality (dharma-dhatu) are, in their final nature (atmanl), seen
as undivided."
6. I take this to be the import of yadi caYU$man subhiite bodhisattvo 'py
anutpadal) kim bodhisattva dU$kara-carikan earati yani va tani sattvanam JqtaSo
du1}khany utsahate pratyanubhavitum?
7. The evam etat ("How right you are") refrain immediately following the
Origin-Passage (W119) (this is a refrain that recurs time and again in the PP siitras
where there is a direct, unanswerable question about the ultimate) may have been
the A's original response to Sariputra's question. In that case the Origin-Passage
would not have been part of the very earliest PP siitra, but an addition to an earlier
version of the text aimed at toning down the unyieldingly nihilistic tone in the
original.
8. As Conze has pointed out, we have no access to an edition of the RGS
238
nABS VOL 15 NO.2
earlier than Haribhadra' s version set forth in accord with the divisions of the AA.
and we have, therefore, no way of knowing what changes to the original order of
the verses of the RGS Haribhadra did or did not introduce.
9. The MSA appears to be attempting to recapture the original notion of
a welling up of feeling when cittotpiida is described as an intention (cetan) "that
is a full coming into being of citta" (citta-sambhava). This welling up is captured
in Conze's "It is thus that a Bodhisattva should lift up his heart."
10. Pafica 18 begins sarvakfIraJiJ sarva-dharman abhisambodhukiImena
bodhisattvena mahIisattvena prajfla-parami tayam yogalJkarar;iyaJ;. ("The bodhisattva
the great being, wanting to be completely, fully awakened to all dharrnas should
make a practice of perfect wisdom.") This corresponds to the [rrst aIambana set
out in the samyak-sambodhi kamataof AA 1.18. Immediately following this and
corresponding to the second aIambana is the statement daSa-dik$u pratyekam
gaflga-nadl-vaIukopame$u loka-dhJtu$u ye sattvas tan sarvan anupadhisesa_
nirvfiI}.a-dhatau parinivapayikukamena bodhisattvena mahasattvena prajfla-
pfIramitayam sik$itavyam. ("The bodhisattva, the great being, wanting to place in
the realm of non-residual nirvtiI)a all those beings who are in each of the ten
directions, in world-spheres like [in numbers] to sand-grains of the river Gat:lga
should learn perfect wisdom.")
The correspondence between the Pafica and the AA, at this point, both in
terms of the position assigned by the AA to the first occurence of the discussion
of cittotpiida, and in the general conception of cittotpiida presents us with further
evidence, were we to need it, that the AA was, in its origins, a commentary on,
or even a part of, the Pafica .. Arya Vimuktisena's AAV, the earliest extant
commentary on the AA treats it throughout as a commentary on the Paiica without
mentioning any of the shorter PP siitras.
11. The term cittotpfida is not found in the PaTica until some pages later
in a passage corresponding, according to the AA, to the cittotpfida exemplified by
a treasury (mahJ-nidhana). PaTica 21.18 says: matsariI}aJ; sattvan dane
prati$tapa yitukamena sarva -sravaka-pra tyekab uddhebh yo daniini dlyamaniini ekena
anumodana-sahagatena cittotpadena abhibhavitukamena bodhisattvena
mahasattvenaprajna-pfIramitayam sik$itavyam. "The bodhisattva, the great being,
wanting to foster charity in miserly beings, wanting to surpass the charity made by
every sravaka and pratyekabuddha with the single thought that arises (cjttotpada)
accompanied with rejoicing, should learn perfect wisdom."
Itis not irrelevant, perhaps, that this first explicit use of the term c i t t ~ t p a d a
in the Pafica is in the context of what has been called increased sectarianism
(perhaps "self awareness as distinct Mahayanists" would be a more apt description)
implicit in the denigration of the Sravaka vehicle, such denigrations being one of
the criteria Lancaster identified for ascertaining a PP siitra passage to be a later
addition to the text.
12. The absence of such a passage, even in the Sara is particularly
interesting as evidence that one should not understand the interminably long Sara
INDIAN ALTRUISM
239
a fm:ther expansion of the Patica, but rather as an expansion of the A along
. independent lines.
13 Also called SubodhinI.
E){tant only in Tibetan as Beam idan 'das yon tan tin po ehe sdud pa'i tshig su byas
pa'i diea' 'grelshes bya ba (P5190).
14S0, at least according to the Tibetan interpretation of the opening verses of his
;\ASp where he fIrst says "I make homage (nama!)) reverently (sadaram) to the PP
.by discriminating/sorting out/showing (viviJ) the verses (kfirika) ornamenting it
(tad-aIadlkr) which are an ornament of all (sarva/nikhilalamJq). (shes rab pha rai
phyin pa ill II de'i rgyan tshigs su 'gyur pa dag II kun gyi rgyan du 'gyur pa ill I
. Imam par dbye phyir dgus phyag 'tsha!) AASp2. His statement, in verses 6 and
7 (AASp 3) that it is astonishing and only through the grace of the Buddha that he
. fathomed the whole of the AA in this way, especially in view of the host of brilliant
scholar saints who had earlier written expanations of it, refers just to his insight,
mentioned in verse one, namely that the AA is an ornament (i.e., explanation) of
not just the Patica but of the A and Sata as well.
tlHaribhadra's main scriptural source for his opinion about the A is a verse from
the Prajna-paramitfi-piJ)Qfi[:tha (PPP) which describes the A as a condensed version
. of the other longer PP sutras, containing all their topics. The
verse is quoted by Haribhadra just a few pages earlier at W12 as well .. It is worth
mentioning here in passing that, so far as is known, no mention is made of the PPP
(a very brief work systematizing the Yogacara tri-svabhava doctrine) prior to
Haribhadra, and it is worth noting that Haribhadra makes a point each and every
time he cites the text to prefix the quotation with ahaearya-dignaga!). The verse
is clearly identified in this manner both times it is quoted, even though Haribhadra
style is usually to simply write iti, or it yap are, etc. when referring to other authors
from whose works he repeatedly quotes. Since the sanctity of the author of the PPP
becomes very important for Haribhadra's argument there is a certain self-interest
evident in this repeated insistence on Dignaga's name. At the very least some
people during Haribhadra's time required being told again and again that it was
indeed Dignaga's text, a circumstance Frauwallner does not mention when
accepting the PPP as one of Dignaga's authentic works.
While premature, in the absence of further documentation, to deny that
the Dignaga who wrote the PramfiI)a-samueeaya also wrote the PPP, it should be
noted that the question of its authorship does bear heavily on other issues: (i) the
extent to which it is correct to understand the logico-epistemological works of
Dignaga as being the output of a Vijtiapti-matrin, (ii) the period in Indian history
during which it was first felt necessary to reconcile the revelation contained in
differing versions of the PP sutras, and (iii) the person of Arya-Vimuktisena.
I acknowledge a series of conversations with Dr. A. Singh which
stimulated this line of thought.
16. RGS 7: citta [sic] bodheb.
17. Similarly, when immediately following (W41) Sariputra says it is for
240
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
this reason (etaS ca) that a bodhisattva is not reversible from bodhi, one shoUld
understand the reason for his statement not (as in Conze's translationp. 84) in terms
of his wish (kama) or intention (cetanfi) for enlightenment in order to be able to
workon others' behalf, characterizes bodhi-cittotpada _at the beginning
of the Pafica, but rather In terms of the ultImate truth (paramarthatalJ) that all
dharmas, including the bodhisattva's perfect wisdom are equally unproduced
(anutpanna) and are, therefore, equally free of defilement and to that extent
awakened or in a state of enlightenment.
Such an interpretation of bodhjcitta as equivalent to bodhisattva ("one
whose essence/mind/soul is perfect awareness/enlightenment") is further corrobo.
rated by a passage later in the A (W81-83), where, in answer to the question "Why
is a great being called a great being (mahasattva)?" Subhiiti answers that he is called
a great being if he remains unattached to, and uninvolved in the mind of
enlightenment (bodhicitta), the mind of all-knowledge, the undefiled mind, the
unequalled mind, the mind equal to the unequalled.
18. The dating of these texts based on translations into Chinese (most
recently in Akira Hirakawa A History of Indian Buddhism trans. and ed. by Paul
Groner, Asian Studies at Hawaii 36, University of Hawaii Press, 1990) would fit
with Conze's dating of the A and RGS to the first century BCE though Hirakawa
assigns the entire PP literature a slightly later date than Conze. The appearance
of the earliest versions of what I have called the second wave of PP revelation in
Chinese translation, texts like the Tathagata-guhya-nirdesa, would also appear to
predate the accepted dates of the works associated with the names of Asal).ga and
Maitreya, particularly the date assigned to the AA.
19. Two streams of interpretation of, or method to produce, byang chub
sems (=bodhi-cittotpada) are an accepted fact in popular Tibetan oral teaching.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, in Meaningful to Behold (London: Tharpa, 1985, p. 22)
talks of two unbroken lineages. Of these bdag gzhangnyam rjes sgo nas byang
chub sems bskyed tshul ("equalizing and changing yourself into others method")
can be traced back to BCA8.89ff. The rgyu 'bras man ngags bdun ... ("seven-fold
cause and effect method"), though anticipated in parts of both the Bbh and MSA,
and in the process of systematization in Kamalasl1a's Bhavana-krama and
Diparhkara Sri-jfiana's Bodhi-patha-pradipa, is not set forth clearly in any texts
earlier than those of the fully developed Tibetan lam rim and blo sbyong genre.
20. SSa p.xxxix; trans. p.3.
21. ... tasman mat[-samjrla, pit[-sarpjfla, putra-samjfla, duhit[-samjfliJ
bodhisattvena mahasattvena sarvo-sattvanam antike yavad atma-
sariljflotpadayitavya. yathatma sarvam sarvatha sarvam sarva-dulJkhebhyo
mocayitavyaJ; evam sarva-sattvalJ sarvam sarvatha sarvam sarva-
dul;khebhyo mocayitavya itL ("A bodhisattva should therefore identify all beings
with his parents or children, yes, even with his own self, like this: 'As I myself
want to be quite free from all sufferings, just so all beings want to be quite free from
all sufferings. '"
INDIAN ALTRUISM
241
22. The long quotation, which runs from 357.15-366.2 in Bendall's ed.;
<tralI
s
. pp. 315-320 is, in the main, a reformulation of the opening of the A. Itbegins
paratma-samatabhyasad bodhi-cittam drljhibhavet I apek$itvam paratmatvaIiI
paravaram yatha IT1[$a. II na svatal) pararh kim I
atrn
atvam
na svatel,1 slddham kim apek$ya paro bhavet? One must exerCIse
oneself in making no difference between other and self if bodhicitta is to become
strong. Self and other exist only relatively, just as the hither and further banks of
. the river, and are false. That bank is not of itself the other bank; then in relation
to what could this bank exist? Selfhood is not of itself realized, then in relation
to what should there be another?"
23. Louis de 1a Vallee Poussin, "Bodhisattva," Hastings Encyclopedia of
Religion and Ethics, Vol. 2, pp. 752-753.
24. Ibid., p. 752.
25. BCA trans. pp. 96-97.
26. A similar parallel interpretation is found in the Maitreya-pariP!ccha's
three nature (tri-riIpa) explanation and the Sarhdhi-nirmocana-siitra's three nature
((ri-svabhava) explanation and the Sarhdhi-nirmocana-siitra's three nature (tri-
. svabMva) explanation of the PP' s dharma-nairatmya doctrine. These two streams
of thought, like the profound and vast bodhi-cittotpada traditions are also
associated, more or less wilh Madhyamika and Yogacara thinkers.
27. Quoted SSa p.19; trans. p. 21.
28. Cf. Lam rim chen mo, in the skye bu chen po section.
29. See, for example, the order of the opening sections on gotra, cittotpada
and sva-parmha and the explicit mention of cittotpada's two aIambana.
30. Paiica: 194 sarva-sattve$v eka-putraka iva prema-sahagatena cittena
saroa-citto bha vati.
31. Bbh:249ff.
32. See, for example, Har Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist
Sanskrit Literature (London: Keegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1932).
33. La Vallee Poussin, ERE 2, p.741 note.
Abbreviations:
A [Arya-)8$ta-sahasrika Prajfia-piIramita. Ed. by Wogihara in AAA.
Translated by E. Conze. Bib1iotheca Indica, 284. Calcutta: Asiatic
Society, 1958; revised reprint ed., San Francisco: Four Seasons
Foundation, 1973.
AA AbhisamayaIarhkiIra-nama-prajii8-piIramitopadda-sastra-[kiIrika). Ed.
by Wogihara in AAA. The karikas of the first abhisamaya are numbered
in accordance with Obermiller's 1929 ed.; i.e., kiIrika 1 in Wogihara's
ed. is numbered as kiIrika 3 and so forth.
242
AAA
AASp
AAV
Bbh
BCA
MSA
Patica
PPP
RGS
Sata
SSa
JIABS VOL. 15 NO.2
AbhisamayalarhkiWlokiiPrajnii-paramita-vyakhya Ed. by U. Wogihara.
Tokyo: The Toyo Bunko, 1932-35; reprint ed. 1973.
AbhiSaIi1ayaJarhkffra-nama-prajnapfframi topadesa-sastra- vrttil;.. (ShOrt
Tib. title, 'greJ pa don gsal = Vrttib Sphu.tffrtM). Tib. text ed. by Bhiksu ..
Samdong Rinpoche. Bibliotheca Indo-Tibetica-2: Sarnath, 1977 ..
AbhisamayaJarhkffra-vrtti. (Arya Vimuktisena). Ed. by C. Pensa.
Rome: Is.M.E.O.,1967.
Bodhisattva-bhumi. Ed. by N. Dutl. Tibetan Skt Works Series, 7.
Patna: K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, 1966.
Bodhicaryavatffra. Ed. by V. Bhattacharya. Bibliotheca Indica, 280.
Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1960. Trans. by L. de la Vallee Poussin.
Bodhicaryavatffra: Introduction a 1a Practique des Futurs Bouddhas.
Paris: Librarie Blond et Cie., 1907.
Mahayana-Sutra1arhkffra. Ed. by Sylvan Levi. Bibliotheque de l'Ecole
des Hautes Etudes, 190. Paris: Champion, 1907-11.
PancaviIilsati-siihasrika Prajna-pfframita. Ed. by N. Dutt. Calcutta
Oriental Series, 28. London: Luzac, 1934. Trans. byE. Conze in The
Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom. Berkeley 1975; reprint ed., Delhi:
Motilal Banarsidass, 1979.
Prajna-pfframita-piI;r;Jartha-[saIilgrahaJ. Ed. by E. Frauwallner. WZKS
(1959) 3:140-144.
[Bhagavad-prajna-paramita-]ratnB-guna-saIilcaya-gatha. Ed. by E.
Obermiller. Bibliotheca Buddhica, 29. Leningrad, 1937; reprint ed.
by E. Conze. 'S-Gravenhage: Mouton and Co., 1960
Sata-siihasrika Prajna-paramita. Ed. by P. Ghosa. Calcutta: Baptist
Press, 1902.
Si.k$a-samuccaya. Ed. by C. Bendall. Bibliotheca Buddhica, 1. St
Petersburg, 1902. Trans. by C. Bendall and W.H.D. Rouse in S ~ a
samuccaya: A Compendium of Buddhist Doctrine; reprint ed. Delhi:
Motilal Banarsidass, 1971.
W U. Wogihara's ed. of the AAA.
II. Translation
A Twelfth-century Tibetan Classic of
Mahamudra, The Path of Ultimate Profun-
dity: The Great Seal Instructions of Zhang* .
. by Dan Martin
Introduction
Zhang Rin-po-che, often known as Zhang G.yu-brag-pa
Brtson-' grus-grags-pa, or simply Bla-ma Zhang,l is surely one of the
most interesting and enigmatic figures in the early history of the
Tibetan Buddhist order known as the Bka' -brgyud-pa, founded by
Mar-pa the Translator.
2
Mar-pa based his teachings on those he
received in India from his tantric masters, Naropa
3
andMaitrlpa
4
in
particular. These teachings combined the Six Dharmas especially
connected with the name of Naropa and the Mahamudra or "Great
Seal"s teachings connected with both Naropa and Maitrlpa. Among
Mar-pa's followers, the most celebrated by far was Mi -la-ras-pa.
6
It
was a disciple of Mi-Ia-ras-pa, Dwags-po Lha-Ije (Sgam-po-pa Zla-
'od-gzhon-nu, 1079-1153 A.D.) who made the yogic contemplative
teachings and practices of his predecessors enter the world of
monastic discipline by "joining the two streams" of Bka' -gdams-pa
teachings from Atisa with his spiritual inheritance from Mi-la-ras-
pa.
7
Although some purists would take issue with this "mixing," and
we think in particular of Sa-skya PaI)c;ii-ta, it may be more apropos
to question whether, taken singly, each of the three traditions (Six
Dharmas, Great Seal, and Bka' -gdams-pa as well as Great Perfec-
tion) is Buddhist. If so, then it is an unremarkable case of mixing
apples with apples, even, we might add, if some of the apples could
have come from Chinese Buddhism. In the case of Zhang Rin-po-
che, who is linked to the Bka' -brgyud lineage through Dwags-po
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Lha-rje's nephew S gom-tshul, the most immediate inspiration for his
work, as we will see, was an Orrisan Buddhist of the siddha-type,
one who had recently spent some time in China.
The later controversies are not of much concern to us here,.
and in fact there is a distinct danger of reading the early Bka' -brgyud_
pa literature, and particularly the literature of the Great Seal, through
the lenses of those controversies. If we nevertheless insist on
controversy, this should at least be postponed until we may justifia-
bly claim valid and well-founded insights into the tradition that
would be the object of contention. The very proper philological goal
of "tracing each tradition"9 must be accompanied by a more
phenomenological goal of "knowing each tradition." Ifwe were to
immediately take the critical approach of analyzing statements and
underlining perceived contradictions, we would risk setting up a
straw man opposition of our own making or, what is a more serious
matter, a closure in our ability to understand that would more than
likely be premature, particularly given the inherent problematics
involved in approaching a subject like Mahamudra which rebuffs in
no uncertain terms any such philological or phenomenological
advances on its citadel.
Therefore, in this brief discussion offered by way of introduc-
tion to a translation of a work by Zhang Rin-po-che, The Path of
Ultimate Profundity,1O we have chosen to underline certain points
that are emphasized within the primary work itself Our main
secondary work of reference will be a work of the same order
(although not the same genre) belonging to the same tradition, but
probably somewhat prior to the work by Zhang Rin-po-che, Sgam-
po-pa's Responses to the Questions of Lord Phag-mo-gru-pa (Rje
Phag-mo-gru-pa'i Zhus-lan, henceforth referred to as Phag-gru
Zhus-lan).ll
The title of Zhang Rin-po-che's work already indicates the
level of discourse that might be expected. The word "Ultimate"
(mthar thug) indicates the Goal. In the Phag-gru Zhus-lan (p. 29.4),
a distinction is made between Path Mahamudra and Ultimate
Mahamudra. The latter is designated as
PATII OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
245
a condition in which there is neither acceptance nor rejection, since the
Great Total Knowledge of the non-duality of sarpsara and nirvm;a has
been realized. Since this is the true intention of all buddhas, it is not to
be sought for in anything apart from Buddhahood itself."
. We might then presume that this ultimate viewpoint will be the one
consistently adopted in Zhang Rin-po-che's work as a whole.
However, in the very first line following the initial verse of
invocation, we are immediately forewarned that what we will find
there is "a mere peripheral indication" (zur mtshon tsam zhig).
That this "ultimate Mahamuddi" is characterized in the
preceding quote as a realization (rtogs pa) is a point of utmost
importance for our reading of the text as a whole. We should refine
our understanding of this "realization" by first recognizing that it is
. neither an "understanding" (go) nor an "experience" (nyams)Y So
let us begin with "understanding" even if, as we will quickly come
to discover, it does not get us very far in this context.
In the Dus-mkhyen Zhus-lan (pp. 124-5), Sgam-po-pa says,
Generally speaking, there are two styles at work in religion.
These two are the "philosophical" (mtshan nyid) which is effective for
knowing/perceiving, and the "realizational" (rtogs pa) which is effective
for attainment. The activities of learning and pondering in themselves
constitute a method, but this must not turn into [a method for] facilitating
afflictive emotions. This would be to cut off the goal of knowing, and at
bottom it is of no help. Even those who have not cultivated themselves
in the path of the insights (shes rab) that come through learning and
pondering may yet be enabled to give birth to realizations if, after
encountering a reliable Lama, they carry out that Lama's advice. I need
not repeat that this involves a pure renunciation of this-worldly thoughts.
One needs to forget all the technical terms of the treatises (bstan beos kyi
tha snyad). Those whose learning is extensive are acute in words, but
obtuse in meanings. Their talents turn into faults. I.
One's immediate reaction may be to discount Mahamudra as
something beyond understanding, thus effectively putting an end to
our phenomenological (but still, certainly, text-based) attempt at
. .
understanding. We must at least be precise and clear about the sort
246
JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
of understanding that Sgam-po-pa and Zhang Rin-po-che diSCOunt as
insufficient. It is, first of all, "textual" undersJanding - texts being
the "societies of words" (tshig tshogs, which I have more conserva ..
tively rendered "clumps of words" in the following translation)
pursued for their own sake without reference to any meaning Outside
themselves, but rather viewed exclusively along the lines of the
internal interrelationships of the terms and categories. Zhang Rin-
po-che says,
Uttering clumps of words such as these!5 does not touch on it.
Clumps of words, however acute and profound,
have been pronounced in many accounts,
but are incapable of touching the real condition of mind. '6
Naturally, Zhang Rin-po-che acknowledges his own text to be a
"society of words,"
Do not mull over these expressions of mine.
Understand that they are like the finger that points out the moon.
Knowing this, the clumps of conventional words
will not get in the way, will not veil understanding with verbal faults.
So, without giving up words and investigations,
take pride in the meaning and do not get attached.J1
He is not opposed to study,18 only to philological fixations
that end up in a pride (intellectual mastery or authority as an end in
itself) that obstructs further comprehensions,
Religious people in these bad times of the present
have little of the inner discipline that comes from study.
Even those who are learned in clumps of words
have not realized their significances.
In the future, their proud contentions will increase.
The revered Lamas of the accomplishment transmission
pursued meanings and became accomplished.
Permanently renouncing such things as pride,
understanding meanings was the only skill
in scriptural authority and reasonings they required."
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
247
In short, neither verbal expression (philology) nor mental investiga-
tion (philosophical theorizing, etc.) touch on the real condition. They
fall short of the mark, and
While falling short of the mark does not mean an end to development,
following what has not entered deep within will give rise to dis-ease.
Those contemplators who have mastered mind-made philosophies
will be invaded by the chronic disease of partiality.""
In fact, our English word "understanding" might serve as valid
translations for at least three different Tibetan words: go, meaning
philologically and philosophically derived understandings;. shes
meaning understandings or know ledges arrived q.t through mental
and perceptual faculties ("learning"), and rtogs which we have
rendered "realization." The main difference between realization and
other types of understandings is that, in the case of realization,
meditative experiences Cnyams, or, nyams myong) intervene. Medi-
tative experiences and realization both would tend to arise when
following a course of meditation practices. But there are crucial
differences between them. Meditative experiences are, although this
is not asserted to be a universally applicable "rule," preconditions for
the arising of realization, but in themselves meditative experiences
are compounded phenomena, and therefore temporary and unstable.
Zhang Rin-po-che speaks of "the dawning of realization from the
midst of meditative experiences."
Fortunately for us, Phag-mo-gru-pa placed the question to
Sgam-po-pa, "What is the difference between meditative experi-
ences and realization?" Sgam-po-pa answered that experiences do
not transcend certain mental aspects, that they are like the sun
through a crack in the clouds. Experiences are made up of three
independently variable factors; bliss, clarity and absence of troubling
thoughts.
21
Tending these experiences without attachment, mental
defilements ~ e refined away. Then the original realization dawns.
22
Zhang Rin-po-che says,
If it is a question of which is most important, realization or meditative
experiences,
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
then it is realization that is important, not meditative experiences.
No matter how fine the meditative experience,
in the absence of realization there can be no liberation."
And he also says,
All experiences are compounded things.
All compounded things are impermanent, will fall apart.
Therefore, without being attached to meditative experiences,
realize the non-dual Total Knowledge.
Complete nirviU;la is under the purview of realization exclusively.24
Zhang Rin-po-che has much to say about the importance (as well as
the insufficiency) of meditative experiences, but at a certain point in
the practice of meditation these experiences may constitute an
extremely difficult obstacle to overcome, a "honey trap" as we will
see.
The last major topic which we will attempt to explicate,
which seems to be an essential key to understanding, is the idea of
the Four Yogas (mal 'byOI bzhl),25 which are presented as different
points of time in meditative practice: On initial consideration, this
idea of Four Yogas may seem difficult to accommodate within an
"absolutist" system such as that promised in the title of Zhang Rin-
po-che's work, a system in which "by knowing the one thing,
everything is disentangled" (Gig shes kun grol), the idea of the "white
self-sufficient medicinal" which has been ably investigated else-
where.
26
A charge that such an "absolutist" system is untrue to itself
when any idea of "levels" or "stages" is mentioned would be
essentially unfair. This would be to demand more than is deemed
possible to deliver. Zhang Rin-po-che is doing his level best to
portray to his target audience (meaning his own disciples and later
followers of his tradition) what the ultimate standpoint must be like,
but heis also pointing out ways to get to that standpoint. Proponents
of "law and order" in religion (including students of religion who
insist on the same constituting the true core of religious phenomena)
may be troubled by the degree to which he (following the early Bka'-
brgyud-pa Great Seal tradition as a whole) relativizes the Paths and
PA TI-I OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
249
their stages (see the beginning of chapter 4).27 Yet, a great deal of
the text is devoted to the orderly unfolding of the stages of the Path
of those who are gradualists. The Four Y ogas themselves may
likewise be understood as stages, even if they are scarcely ever
referred to as such.2s What makes them more central to Zhang Rin-
po-che's work (and the Mahfunudra tradition of the early Bka'-
brgyud-pa in general) is that they describe a "bare bones" outline of
.... the unfoldment of the meditative life which, according to them,
.. culminates in the realization of the actual condition of mind, which
.is in itself sufficient. They in fact prefer the meditative to the
phenomenological approach, since the "phenomenological" Dharma
. Proper (Chos-n yid) is taken care of by the meditative realization of
Mind Proper (Sems-nyid). Phag-mo-gru-pa said,
The learned scholars cut away the veils [of words] with words and
establish the objects of knowing ... Make forests into pens, oceans into ink,
land into paper, and still there would be no end to their writing. Yogins
do not establish external objectivities; they establish the mind. The mind
established, its objects establish themselves.
'9
Sgam-po-pa says, in answer to a question about whether the Great
Seal teachings differentiate Dharma Proper and Mind Proper,
They are the same. The light of mind is Dharma Proper, so through
realization of Mind Proper, Dharma Proper realization is taken care of
(loosens its own bonds) ... Exclusive meditation on the substance of mind
is sufficient. 30
There will certainly be other Buddhists who will take issue
with this idea of the self-sufficiency of meditation, but I doubt that
any would deny its importance. The Four Yogas are simply the
preferred model for meditative developments used by the followers
of Mahfunudra. As such, they hold exceptional interest for all who
take an interest, of any sort, in meditation. We will now briefly
survey the Four Yogas, based on three passages in the Phag-gru
Zh us-Ian. 31
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1. ONE-POINlED YOGA (rtsegcigrnal 'byor): However
many mental effusions might at fIrst, take place in this yoga
the inner propulsions for troubling thoughts are lessened'
Their lessening makes Mind Proper progressively evident
and this wears away all the defilements. Fierce faith'
,
devotion and dedication are required at this point. The
practitioner must go for meditation like a thirsty man for
water. During this time, everyone has the experience of
thinking that they are not meditating,32 but they have to keep
trying.33
In this one must give birth to the certainty that
reflexive awareness is unmoved by troubling thoughts, not at
all worked on, and with nothing at all to think about-that this
is the King of Concentrations. This yoga occurs to some
people, but they do not perceive it to be so, thinking that this
meditation consists in having an object of concentration, or
in having spiritual experiences. Some even think they are
supposed to become like a corpse with troubling thoughts
stopped up and phenomenal things sinking away. That is not
how it is.
34
II. UNFISSURED INTEGRAL YOGA (spros bralmal 'byor):
There is an experience showing that perceptions have no
basis, that no basis can be found. The substance of awareness
has become free of fissures, as if peeled of peelings, as if one
has gotten to the kernel of reality. One thinks one has
discovered something unfound, or perceived something un-
known. One fInds a growing and unmitigated joy as if a poor
man who gets a treasure in his hand. The mind experiences
a clear joy, a clear happiness. Pursuing this further, confusing
thoughts are cleared up. The mind is freed of compulsive
practices and turns to unfissured integral awareness. This is
the Unfissured Integral Y oga.
3S
One must produce the special certainty that all dharmas
of sa1psara and niIY8I)a are purified on their own ground after
being assured that Mind Proper has no production, and that
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
251
all dharmas of sarpsara and nirvif1)a are projections of one's
own mind.
36
III. QUALITATIVE EQUIVALENCE YOGA (TO gcig mal
'byor): Even when one directs the mind toward phenomena,
it does not go out to them, but the phenomena are neither
obstructed nor fixated upon. All phenomena experienced [in
post-meditation]37 become unclassifiable.
38
Sustaining this
meditation is the dawning from within of the Qualitative
Equivalence yoga.
39
One needs certainty about Dharma Proper-that
mental phenomena are awareness' energy manifestations.
Even when all kinds of troubling thoughts are racing about,
one need not rely on anything other as an antidote. Since the
troubling thoughts themselves demonstrate that they cannot
be established in truth or permanency, in reality they have not
arisen.
40
IV. NON-MEDITATION YOGA (sgom med mal 'byor):
Upon the appearance of troubling thoughts, there is no need
for awareness to take action and make them more or less than
they are. Rather, they are all experienced as identical with
mind, and this in and of itself is sufficient. This [initially]
brings an increase of thought phenomena, but these are seen
as projections of mind, and finally they disappear of them-
selves.
41
Sustaining this for a length of time is the non-
meditation yoga, in which all phenomena dawI?- as clear light
Dharma Proper. In fact, no troubling thought of emotion,
passion, etc., can arise without clear light Dharma Proper
dawning simultaneously. This occurs whether one meditates
or not, there being no meditative equipoise or post-medita-
tion. It is also called the Yoga of the Great Meditative
Equipoise (mnyam gzhag chen po'i mal 'byor).42
All the troubling thoughts of the mind, experiences in
meditation, and insights of realization dissolve into the Realm
through the power of seeing their substance. Here one needs
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
to give open birth to the certainty of recognizing ordinary
perception, without working on it, as,Dharma ProperY
A further passage indicates what are the most crucial things for each
of the Four Yogas:
1. Giving up entertainments and being persistent.
2. Having the courage to view everything dispassionately.
3. The inner meditative experience itself, without getting
mixed up with the general aspects of the thing to be
understood.
4. Not getting stuck in the glue of meditative experience.44
The final aim of this meditative unfoldment is the "Great
Impression," or "Great Seal." Kong-sprul explains this in a very
succinct fashion, "Coupling (zung du 'jug pa) is the Seal, and
because all dharmas (all phenomena) are embraced in this coupling,
it is Great. Nothing is beyond it."45
The meditation centeredness of the Mahamudra view is no
liability from the viewpoint of its adherents, neither need it be
considered a liability by its students. Every view has something-
the structures of the human mind, social organization, words, syntax,
atoms, gods, kinship, illusions, gender, psychic unity, nothingness
- that everything in the system builds on and that then, in the end,
it all boils down to. If Mahamudra differs from other types of views
it would be in part at least because the something it bases itself on
does not seem to supply a very stable cornerstone for a monumental
structure of thought. The absence of troubling thought (mi rtog pa)
has no validity at the time of One-pointed Yoga, is part of the mix
that characterizes meditative experiences later on, and finally occurs
on its own in Non-meditation Yoga as an important way of
characterizing the Goal. Epistemologically speaking, meditation
brings significant shifts in perspective - modulations of the human
mind, transformations in the status of the knowing faculties vis a vis
the things known - which make it difficult for those with other
assumptions, assumptions on the autonomy and stability of the
PATI! OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
253
c' knowing subject, to pin it down within their systems. Those of us
who use philological, anthropological, philosophical and phenom-
etiological approaches can and should take heed of such alternative
!vo
ices
as those of the early Bka' -brgyud-pa and allow them to have
.... their say. This might prod us to ponderthe the possible insufficiency
of our approaches, to face with a more realistic humility the range
of possible knowables, and of possible ways to go about knowing
them.
Before bringing this introduction to a close, it may be helpful
to add a few words about Zhang Rinpoche's early life and the
circumstances leading up to the composition of this work. He was
born in 1122-3 in Central Tibet, not far to the east of Lhasa. While
he descended from the illustrious Sna-nam Zhang family, we cannot
know if his family was rich or poor. It seems that his mother was
a fonner nun who recognized the value of education. She, together
with an elder brother, taught him to read and write. from about age
nine through age eighteen, he studied various sfitras, tantras and
treatises with at least three different teachers. Something happened
to him at age eighteen, and he began a three-year period of
destructive ritual magic employing goat sacrifices. As he says in an
. autobiography, "I purchased a black goat and killed it in order to
work an evil spell. This in itself proved to be a truly evil curse, and
there was no magical result, but rather my parents died and, in my
dejection, I went wandering down to Khams."46
In his twenty-third year he took the vows of a Buddhist
layperson, including a vow of celibacy. Nevertheless, he indulged
once more in a "black magic" ritual. In his twenty-sixth year, while
reading sfitras at a funeral service, he felt a genuine aversion against
worldly life, and in the late spring of the year 1148 he took monastic
vows. Not long after this he met one of his more important spiritual
teachers, the translator of Rga. Rga conferred upon him the
initiations into the mandala of Cakrasarpvara. He stayed in retreat
doing yogic postures, breathing exercises and meditation in various
remote sites. His teachers were many, but most important both for
his spiritual advancement and later career was S gom-tshul, a nephew
of the more famous Sgam-po-pa. His meeting with Sgom-tshul in
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
about 1154 was accompanied with a flood of realization, and he
received the lineage of Eka' -brgyud soon becoming
both capable and authorized to teach in his own right. .
It was sometime during the next several years, perhaps in
about 1161 to 1164, that the Path of Ultimate Profundity Was
composed. This we know from the Rgyal-blon.:.ma, a biography
composed by one or more of his disciples, evidently not long after
his death in 1193. According to the Rgyal-blon-ma account, he went
to visit a great lama named 'Bhe' -ro to request Cakrasarp.vara
initiations, as well as precepts on the dohas, the often highly.
symbolic songs of realization sung by the Indian mahasiddhas.
Immediately thereafter, he went to Phyi-khungs (Spyi-khungs). He
was performing consecration rituals for a mchod-rten and protector
temple (mgon khang) there when a female patron named Gzungs-
sgron-ma asked to receive his blessing. Since he was keeping a vow
not to stay near (?) women, he fled into the mountains, going from
place to place until he reached TflUl-gyi Brag -sngon. He triedto keep
his presence there a secret, but soon he was joined by others, no doubt
including, even if the Rgyal-blon-ma does not say so, his disciple
Mar-pa who requested from him the Path of Ultimate Profundity.
This work and another entitled Lhan-cig-skyes-pa Don-gyi Stod-pa
were composed at Brag-sngonY The disciple Mar-pa is mentioned
a little later in the Rgyal-blon-ma (p. 288.1), where it says, "The
Sgom-pa Mar-pa instituted the teachings at Te'u-skyog."
From this we may at least conclude that the Path of Ultimate
Profundity, while it is one of his earlier compositions (and it seems
his first compositions date from shortly after 1150), follows the
Mahamudra realization and teaching authorizations which occurred
after his meeting with S gom-tshul. Perhaps most significant for our
understanding of the text, however, is the knowledge that it was
composed very soon after receiving teachings from 'Bhe' -ro on the
dohifsongs. It is certain that this 'Bhe-ro (also, Be-ro-ba) is identical
to theIndian Mahamudra teacher alias Vairocana-
vajra. Both the Red Annals and the Blue Annals support this
identification.
48
This very widely travelled and broadly learned
Indian master had spent some time in China where he was especially
PATII OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
255
famed as an alchemist (this being the reason his name is sometimes
; prefaced by dngul chu, "quicksilver") and he was also an expert in
: the dohff songs of the mahasiddhas. It is in the tradition of these
Indian Buddhist songs of non-dual realization that our text might best
... be located, and it may prove interesting to examine Zhang Rin-po-
che's reliance on the doha songs from both literary and doctrinal
perspectives in a future study.
Path of Ultimate Profundity: The Great Seal
Instructions of Zhang
Chapter One: On the View
Prostrations to the Venerable Lamas.
Paying reverence to the hosts of realized teachers
who have made to reach their aims all the lassos of empowerment,.
the most excellent among the compassionate activities
of all Buddhas without exception in all time,
I, with flawless joy, set down just a peripheral indication
of the Mind of all S ugatas transmitted by the yoga masters from mind to mind,
the highly refined nutritive essence of all supreme Vehicles of the Tantra Basket.
Although I have no strong and fully cultivated altruism,
at the urging of my disciple who with reverent
intelligence follows the Sacred Dharma,
I, Brtson-'grus-grags-pa, felt that
its benefits would not stop until the end of becoming.
This is-
The Mother that gave life to all the Victors and their Sons.
What those fortunate ones with prior cultivation will experience.
The spiritual safety-box for those with venerable lineages.
[51]
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
The nutritive essence of the Vehicles with all their scriptures, reasonings and
instructions.
The Dharma Body, the ultimate core of Buddha's uncompromised presentations.
The Realm of luminosity immaculate in its substantiality.
If the Victors of all time come or do not come, fine either way.
If the hosts of Saints are realized or not realized, fine either way. [52]
If the Sages have expressed it or not expressed it, fine either way.
If the Masters have disentangled their meanings in commentaries Or not, fine either
way.
This utterly integrated and luminous Dharma Body
has remained naturally arrived at from beginningless time without waxings or
wanings.
Within pure space the universe has formed and disintegrated,
and countless are the aeons that have been destroyed,
incinerated by fire, blown apart by wind,
while space itself remains unharmed, unaltered, with neither waxings nor wanings.
The ever-shining light of the sun may be totally eclipsed by clouds,
enveloping us in darkness. And when the clouds clear up
it becomes light again. Thus it appears to wax and wane.
But it is impossible for the sun itself to wax and wane.
This unaltering Dharma Body that remains in this way
is not some other thing apart from one's very mind.
It is to the very mind that the various things in sarp.sara and nirvaI)a appear. [53]
It is because one's very mind is troubled by lack of realization,
errors and misdirection, that the sufferings
of the animate and inanimate in sarp.sara appear.
It is to one's very mind that the definitive realization
of all the Total Knowledges beyond suffering
appears as Great Bliss.
Hence, since without exceptions these are radiations from one's very mind itself,
when one recognizes one's very mind as Dharma Proper
one will know the Dharma Proper of all sentient beings.
Knowing that, one knows all dharmas, n i r v ~ a and the rest.
Knowing entirely all dharmas, one will know the one thing beyond all the three
realms, .
and through this one will know all.
If one fells the roots, the leaves and branches will also be felled.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
lIence it is your very mind alone that will decide the issue.
so
1be real condition of one's very mind, the seed of everything,
has never differentiated from the Mind of all Victors and their Sons,
is identical to theunarticulated Dharma Body.
Not being inert matter, one's very awareness shines in due course.
257
It has not achieved thinghood, is void of color, shape and measure.
S1
[54]
. It is not a non-thing, it shows itself variously under differing conditions.
Void through its substantiality, it will not turn into something eternal.
Its substantiality intrinsically clear, it will not turn into something annihilated.
It does not form a "self' since, when examined, it has no essence.
It is not a non-self; it is an integral Great Selfhood.
s2
It does not form ends; it grasps at nothing at all.
It does not form a middle; it is divorced from all perspectives.
S3
Similes do not symbolize it; there is no symbolizable thing to recognize.
It is not impossible to make similes; it is like space.
It is not found in words; utterances do not explain it.
It is not free of words; it is the root of all utterances.
Existence, nonexistence, truth, falsity,
empty, not empty, quieted, disquieted,
fissured or unfissured integrity,
ponderable, imponderable,
comfortable, afflicted, having or not having objectives,
non-dual, not non-dual, beyond or not beyond thought,
true or untrue, achieved or unachieved,
pUre or impure, naturally arrived at or not...
Uttering clumps of words like these does not touch on it.
Clumps of words, however acute and profound, [55J
have been pronounced in many accounts,
but are incapable of touching the real condition of mind.
However scholarly and intellectual the analyses
over many aeons of pondering and analyzing,
the real nature is not an object for science,54
and so they cannot realize the real condition of mind.
As an analogy, the planets and stars that shine in the ocean
one may sift with the most finely-meshed cloth strainer
but since it is not a question of real stars and planets,
it is not possible to catch a single one.
As far as verbal expression is possible,
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to that extent, however fine the names, it is not the real condition.
As far as it withstands mental investigation,
to that extent, however profound the understanding, it is not the real condition.
In as far as the investigatOr and investigated are considered two,
realization of the non-dual real condition is impossible.
In sum, all this reification is the root of all attachments.
This root of all attachment keeps the vicious circle going.
The idea of thinking it is Voidness; thinking it is without signs,
thinking it is without wish,
thinking it is unrecognized, thinking it is utterly pure,
thinking it is unarticulated, thinking it is not goal-oriented,
thinking it has no nature, thinking it free of fissures in its integrity,
thinking it is not a venue for speech and thought,
thinking it is unmade and naturally arrived at
and the like ... All these conceptions no matter how profound and cynical ("empty")
are pretensions that have not broken free from signs.
Pursuing these as conceptual problems with sign-attachment, they fan short of the
mark.
While falling short of the mark does not mean an end to development,
following something that has not entered deep within will give rise to dis-ease.
Those contemplators who have mastered mind-made philosophies
will be invaded by the chronic disease of partiality.
Know it as an unequalled parallel production.
"Compromising presentations are simply exaggerations,
while this is the real condition uncompromisingly presented."
Such statements are not to be seen, even among those of the Sage.
55
Do not mull over these expressions of mine.
Understand that they are like the fmger that points out the moon.
Knowing this, the clumps of conventional words
56
[57]
will not get in the way, will not veil understanding with verbal faults.
So, without giving up words and investigations,
take pride in the meaning and do not get attached.
This "own mind as Dharma Body" of which we speak
embraces emotional problems, interfering thoughts,
perceptual mechanisms, elements, perceptual filters, etc.
It embraces all creatures in space, earth, stone, jungles, vegetation-
all the vital and non-vital universe.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
ilt embraces totally the ocean Qf Hearers, Self-Buddhas,
::Sodhisattvas and Sugatas.
:In sum, all subjective and objective
:tbings without exception are embraced in their entirety.
~ s u t this embracing has no duality of embracer and embraced.
:1bey are the miraculous projections of one Great Selfhood .
. > Although the ocean embraces all the planets and stars
;ftha
t
appear in the ocean, they cannot be divided into two.
;--."
:;rseing just water, all the rolling waves
<are embraced by water. So how can the waves be separated out?
:;. A moving fata morgana in the clear sky
'is totally. embraced by the sky and cannot be separated out.
'!be ornaments made from gold, while various,
are embraced by gold with no way to divide their substance.
Figures of the six types of beings made from brown sugar
are embraced by pure brown sugar and cannot be divided out.
'!be sky is not other than the rainbow.
, '!be rainbow is not other than the sky.
Rainbow is sky. Sky is rainbow.
'!bey cannot be classed, distinguished or severed.
In like manner, mind and the myriad things are inseparable.
Mind is not divisible from the Void.
Void and Great Bliss are'an inseparable sameness.
To the same extent, becoming and nirvID)a are inseparable.
This sort of Mind Proper is the Great Seal.
A void nature has no recognizable features.
While the awareness of sign-hood is a miracle that shows up' everywhere,
the inseparable substance of signs is the united Adamantine Entity;S7
the font of unlimited creative talents Precious Mind;
the Space Safety-box Mind from which no one can steal -
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[58]
inexhaustible, gaining and losing nothing; [59]
the clear crystal ball Stainless Mind;
the self-aware and self-illuminating Butterlamp Mind;
the luminous by nature Bodhi-heart Mind;
and, with nothing to disturb itS flow, the Stream-like Mind;
with no recognizable features, the Atmosphere-like Mind;
Total Knowledge that knows no in- or outside, the Passing-right-through Mind;
a mind that appears in various reflections according to predispositions,
as in a clean bronze basin filled with water,
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or like the polished surface of an untarnished mirror.
Chapter Two: On Delineating Sarpsara and NIrvana
One's very mind, in its ab-original condition as already set forth,
has been subjected to the reifications of self and ownership concepts.
Thereupon, misdirected attachments increased the hosts
of troubling emotions and interfering thoughts.
These accumulated karmic force and, as karmic result
borne on the tidal waves of sarpsara's endless waters,
the inexhaustible sufferings such as birth and death
pound without ceasing, tossing and turning.
The various propensities to wrongly see
the various phenomena of the six classes of beings
cram up the mind and increase interfering thoughts.
Through various counterproductive life-styles,
various intolerable and inextricable sufferings
are experienced one after the other without cease.
These experiences themselves promote a subsequent mental dullness.
Fainting from its dizziness, anger and pride, desire and
miserliness and the like disturb the mind again and again.
My, who would place their trust in this vicious circle?58
If one came to realize the ab-original nature of one's very mind,
the pitch darkness of wrong understandings would be illuminated.
[60]
If one is disentangled from attachment to the troubling emotions of the self concept,
then one will certainly be freed from all karma and affliction;
the ever-present Dharma Body will become evident,
and the force of past aspirations will effortlessly bring aid to others.
Blissful in its Cause, blissful in its Path and blissful in its Result,
the interdependent causations of nirvaIfa are sheer delight.
The sufferings of Cause, Path and Result,
the sufferings of sarpsara's three realms are entirely decimated.
Those who flee the quagmire of sarpsara
will certainly arrive at the dry ground of nirvaIfa.
Those who delight in nirvaIfic dharmas
[61]
PATII OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
will ftrst enter into the Dharma
and, as soon as they do,
their. faith will turn their minds in the direction of virtue.
Even if their appearance is bad, everyone will fmd them lovely.
(No reason to mention here the good-looking who enter the Dharma!)
. Although they gave up fame, their fame will be proclaimed by all. .
Although they have given up honor, everyone will honor them.
Although they have humbled themselves, everyone will carry them to high
positions.
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Though they suffer from their efforts, they will live out their lives in happiness.
Though they became poor, they will make use of riches
and food and clothes will come to them, incidentally, without trying to get them.
Though they fled alone, they will acquire a group of followers.
Though unexorcised, the misguiding and hindering spirits will flee. [62J
Though uninvoked, the deities and Dharma Protectors will gather around.
One may see in public life how those who make a living
mainly through lying, cheating and trickery
have some fragmentary virtuous practices such as learning, etc.,
and do not let them go to waste
but use what good qualities they have to get rich.
To their pride and equivalent afflictive emotions
they add a little learning and become "big men."
If even their fragmentary refractions of virtue
truly result in all these fragmentary good qualities,
then how much more so with those who practice the pure Holy Dharma
If there are such good qualities as soon as one enters the Dharma,
how much more the good qualities when one works hard at the practice?
They have so much freedom to live without pretensions
in the empty valleys and ownerless mountains.
Happiness among people without kindness is remarkably scarce .
. How much more pleasant to keep the company of the deer who do not repeat
criticism.
The clothes of pure discipline are warm and beautiful.
Desireless satisfaction is wealth that is not lost.
When wearing the hard and thick armor of patience, [63]
powerful galloping diligence makes an excellent horse.
From here on the precious Lama is an excellent refuge.
Experiencing the essentials of the Path of Method is the happiest emotion.
Bliss, clarity and the absence of troubling thoughts is the sweetest contemplation.
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The pure, void reflexive Awareness is the clearest of clear lights.
That that which has no basis for appearance does nevertheless appear is most
hilarious.
When whatever dawns remains unmoved from the Realm, it is the most comforting
thought.
59
Being quenched with the nectar of meditative experience is the greatest satiation.
When the uncompromised integrity dawns within, it is the purest of minds.
Knowing how thought is is the most decisive of events.
Owning the treasury of Awareness is the best kind of wealth ..
When all that is seen and heard is employed as Dharma Body, it is the greatest
happiness.
Controlling all that is seen and heard is the greatest power.
Converting the delusionary armies of wrong thoughts is the greatest ferocity.
Who empties the pit of the vicious circle is the strongest of persons.
Who strongly strives for the welfare of beings is the greatest philanthropist.
Who races over the plateau of Great Bliss is the fastest of couriers.
The host of good qualities that come from dedicating oneself to strivings such as
these could be told for an aeon without finishing.
Speech is insufficient.
If such are the good qualities that come from dedicated striving, [64]
then what about the good qualities that come from attaining the signs of heat?
If these good qualities, the miraculous powers, clairvoyance, and so forth,
were told for an aeon they would not be touched on.
If such are the good qualities that come from attaining the signs of heat,
then what about the good qualities that come from manifesting the Three Bodies?
If the good qualities of the Victor, imponderable and unsurpassable Total
Knowledge, etc.,
were told, it would not be possible to finish.
Chapter Three: On Giving Up Business
No matter how skilled in words sharp and astute,
until you have put them into practice and they dawn from within,
it is impossible to realize how things are through intellectual investigation.
Without your realizing how things are, the hidden propensities cannot be cleansed.
Therefore, do not be fond of verbal and philological insights,
but put the precepts of the Lama into practice.
If they are turned into the parroting Pakshi's song,60
it is possible that you and others will fall into unperceived pits.
Minds that put into practice the secret advice of the sages
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
263
will act without regard for life and limb.
1110ugh it be a simple matter to die in a famine, or from cold and hunger, [65]
they will pass it all off as a dream.
It matters nothing if everyone criticizes them or spreads damaging rumors;
they will work in their hearts to achieve humility.
Unfinished worldly business is a cause of sin.
Questioning the cold and hunger is answered by fear of death.
These slight good qualities of beggar-monk Zhang
are due to putting life and limb on the line.
61
One might renounce wealth down to the last needle and thread,
but when thoughts of making a living charge their taxes, there is no renunciation.
If they have not renounced the idea to avoid bad things
there will be no chance to give up worldly business.
If thoughts have not abandoned the world in its entirety,
one's deeds will be ineffective efforts and causes of sin.
If thoughts have not abandoned the world in its entirety,
then no matter what religious hardships one performs,
whatever courageous acts of giving, keeping disciplines,
offerings to the Lama, staying in solitude,
contemplative exertions, thinking of good meditative experiences,
great insight, sublime realization, and so forth,
will be ineffective efforts. [66]
If this giving up the world in the thoughts is not understood,
then consider that if one disregards even the happiness of human or divine rebirths,
then of course it is needless to mention considerations
on the happinesses and dissatisfactions of the present life.
So tong as the flow of anxious thoughts lasts
they cannot make arrangements for things to be done tommorrow or the day after.
Escape the trap and go to serve the Holy,
thoroughly master the treasury of their advice,
be impervious to the hosts of external and internal delusionary forces,
keep unhypocritical discipline and so on,
and, if capable of solitude, stay alone in a hermitage.
With an impartial altruistic mind free of entangling attachments
and with pure discipline that is not for outside show,
generate the idea to attain Awakening for the sake of animate beings.
Devote yourself purely to the practices without being too strict or too loose.
Do not take any thought for your own comfort or discomfort,
of cold, heat, hunger, thirst, or dangers to your life.
Do not waste yourself on issues of fame or possessions.
But, rather, put in practice the secret precepts as they are pronounced.
62
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Chapter Four: Teaching the Ambiguities of Gradualist Persons
and Paths
The ways of living of sentient beings are imponderably many;
The variations in their sensory faculties are unimaginably many.
The differences in their prior culti"ation are intangible.
The Vehicles of the Victor are endless.
Still, to simplify, there are three types of persons.
Through differences in their degrees of prior cultivation,
there are gradualist, simultanealist
63
and leaping persons.
The optimal Path for the gradualist
is counterproductive teaching for the simultanealist.
The optimal Path for the simultanealist
is counterproductive teaching for the gradualist.
Aconite is the optimal nourishment for the peacock.
If others eat it, they will die.
If the peacock renounces aconite, it will die.
64
Water is the optimal habitation for fish,
while humans and others suffocate in it and die.
If a fish is thrown up on dry land, it will die.
What is beneficial for feverish disorders
will be harmful for cold disorders.
What is beneficial for cold disorders
will be very harmful for feverish disorders.
The distinct Vehicles were taught because even a single person
may be benefitted by different Vehicles at different times.
What benefits them when they are at a low level
causes bondage when they are at a high level.
What benefits them when they are at a high level
will cause their downfall when they are at a low level.
As soon as a patient enters a certain level of feverish disease
administering cooling concoctions is beneficial.
But when the same patient is on the point of recovery
it can be\extremely harmful.
Hence, when the opportune moments, the hours,
and the levels of the faculties are known,
they will not criticize each other for their Paths.
[67]
[68]
PAlli OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
Gradualist persons first think
about the difficulty of obtaining the ideal conditions for practice.
They are saddened by fear of lower rebirth.
After contemplatirig the ideal conditions and impermanence,
they are swift to take the triple Refuge.
6S
After that, they take the eight precepts of temporary ordination.
Then they take the five permanent lay vows,
and the vows of the SramaI)era and the one after the other.
When they have divorced themselves from saI11sanc things,
they set their sights on nirvaDa,
and, following the rules of a renunciate order,
they study and Sautrantika philosophy.
Then they have an inferior Awakening, and in order to leave this behind,
they contemplate returning the kindnesses of animate beings.
Through cultivating love and compassion
they generate the aspiration for ultimate Awakening.
265
Then, with preparatory, actual, and subsequent phases of practice, [69]
they must practice the six Paramitas,
gather both of the accumulations,
and, uniting Voidness and Compassion,
cultivate peaceful abiding and transcending vision,
cleansing fully their own minds.
With altruism free of selfish desires,
they constantly exert themselves toward helping others.
A person who has trained in this manner will,
in order to achieve the seven-limbed Body,66
enter the gates of Vajrayana
and study the four sets of tantras in order.
When they have taken the Vase Empowerment
into the adamantine Supreme Yoga Tantra
and keep the commitments purely,
they will purify themselves in the stage of generation.
Then, through the Secret Empowerments
they will master breath-control of the channels and airs,
thereby doing the self-initiation.
Then they will contemplate the Void Bliss in the Third Empowerment
-------- ---- - - - - - ~ - - -
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and .get accustomed to the ultimate in the Fourth Empowerment.
This explains some aspects of the gradualist person.
The types of these persons are more than may be told.
Their Vehicles need to climb up from below.
It is sufficient to study it in a general way.
There are even those who do not need to study it. [70]
There are those who obtain Empowerments that were not conferred
and many are those who, while having them conferred, do not obtain them.
There are also types who will obtain them if they have been conferred,
and will not obtain them if they have not been conferred.
There are, as well, those who have always had Empowerment.
67
When one knows the types of vessels such as these,
one must do the practices that accord with one's vessel.
Chapter Five: On the Methods for Settling into Meditation
Simultanealist persons must
with life, limb and whatever possessions they have
please the Lama who has the transmission.
The one who has Empowerment or blessings,
well fortified with the thought of Enlightenment,
will, through deity yoga, contemplate from the very start
the uncompromisingly presented Great Seal.
The Lama with the nutritive essence of realization
will take the Total Knowledge that he has
and introduce it like a treasure in the palm of the hand.
68
While indeed there is no agent or object of meditation,
they will not waver from the continuity of non-meditation.
69
The inner intentions behind the many introductions and cleansings
only obscure the naturally arrived at Total Knowledge.
For meditating on the Great Seal
there is no need for precise directives on what to do.
The three phases-preparatory, actual, and subsequent- [71]
have no fixed order and no set number.1
There is no need to count the number, time, hours and days.
They unfold at the time they come to mind ..
There is no beginning, middle or end.
The mind itself is unproduced and continuous.
The muddy turbulence of its waves
become clear and unmuddy when left alone.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
The mind itself, obscured and defiled by troubled thought,
when left alone and unprocessed, clears into Dharma Body.
Do not work on it:; leave it alone.
Do not rein in perceptions; let them range freely.
Do not make plans for the future; be lackadaisical.
Do not build up mental objects for meditation; let them pass (?).
Without many things to do, stay at play.
Do not look for a place to settle the mind,
but leave it unsupported, as if dangling in the atmosphere.
Do not think about past, present or future;
but let perceptions rest in the mind.
Whether troubled thoughts multiply or not, fme.
Do not meditate for their sake; stay relaxed.
In short, without meditating on anything at all,
leave perceptions alone and let them go their way.
No need to weary yourself for their sake.
Die first rather than move from the continuity of Dharma Body.
When perceptions are let loose
there is an experience of non-discursive clarity
that remains as if in the center of pure space.
This is the clear light Dharma Body.
From the very continuity of leaving things like they are,
some interfering thoughts pass through.
But do not think that they are something other
than luminous Dharma Body itself.1
1
Just as out of a clear and calm ocean
are tossed the roiling waves
which are not something other than the clear ocean,
likewise the basis for troubled thoughts is the mind.
Mind is defined by its clarity and awareness.
The nature of this clear awareness is the Void.
The substance of this Void is Great Bliss.
Since the darkness of this night is not permanent,
the nature of mind is given the name "Clear Light."
Since awareness and the Void are indivisible,
it is given the name "Coupling."
The selfhood of all dharmas
is the substance of reflexively aware mind.
This substance of reflexively aware mind
is devoid of a body with identifiable characteristics.
This unembodied body is the best of all bodies.
Because its body is the unembodied Dharma Proper,
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[72]
[73]
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it is. given the name "Dharma Body."
Hence the intelfering thoughts that project through
are Voidness projecting Voidness,
Dharma Body projecting Dharma Body,
Clear Light projecting Clear Light,
Great Bliss projecting Great Bliss,
Coupling projecting Coupling,72
Dharma Realm projecting Dharma Realm,
Immaculacy projecting Immaculacy,
Vajrasattva projecting Vajrasattva,
Awakening projecting Awakening.
Persons in whom pure lineage precepts have not .taken hold,
who are deluded, lacking the results of prior cultivation,
want to make two entities of the projected and unprojected,
of thought and non-thought, of mind and Dharma Body.
Thinking interfering thoughts at fault, they block them.
Desiring non-thought, they work for it
Wanting to sweep away the waves,
they are tossed to and fro.
Non-thought that comes from blocking thought
is itself a delusion of troubled thoughts,
a great darkness veiling the Dharma Body.
Whoever is adverse to the flow of thought
is desiring to live without thought.
The enchantment ghost of desires for the future enters deep inside [74]
depleting their ab-original treasury.
Contemplatives who block interfering thoughts
are like people who chum water hoping for butter.
They may meditate for aeons without glimpsing their goal.
Hence, blocking interfering thoughts is not called for.
If it is present, there is no need to move toward it.
Although projected, it is Dharma Body. Although present,
it has not moved away from Dharma Bo.dy.
When a reliable Lama has taken charge,
you will be disentangled whether you stay or move.
If a reliable Lama has not taken charge,
you will be entangled whether you stay or move.
Therefore allow the oral precepts to take hold
and these things will definitely tum out to be friends.
Without a lot of hurried investigations
let them relax and remain undisturbed.
Without following after the counterproductive thoughts,
let the perceptions range where they will. Let them go.
PA1H OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
Do not focus on external objects .
. Do not focus, either, on your own mind.
Objectivities are Void. Mind is Void.
No need to make yourself wom,out or intimidated.
Identifying things with one's own thoughts
is a way to plant the seeds of attachment to objectives.
When conceited thoughts sprout up,
the tree of saJTlsara will grow.
The luminosity of primordially pure Mind Proper
must not be veiled by the darkness of contemplation.
This will only disperse the fruits that need not be striven for.
Do not stir up the muddiness of desire
in the clear ocean of Mind Proper.
This will only defile the jewel of Dharma Body.
Do not smear the stains of meditative absorption
on the untarnished mirror of Mind Proper ..
Then one will not notice the reflection of Total Knowledge.
Do not pack this precious jewel of Mind Proper
in the mud of conceptual signs.
This will only prevent the required goal.
In sum, remain without the existence concept.
But remain also without the nonexistence concept.
Existence concept is mind. Nonexistence concept is mind.
These two concepts are trapped in their mutual regard.
If there is no being whatsoever,
there is no non-being whatsoever.
Utterly abandon these concepts to their pure equivalency.
Have no thought to settle down or not settle down into meditation ..
Have no thought to dismiss or not dismiss what prevents meditation.
Have no thought to think or not think.
No matter whether you walk, sit or get up,
no matter whether you meditate, sleep or eat,
whether you tell or listen to gossip and so forth;
. what matters is to be seized by the ab-original mind.
Chapter Six: On Meditative Experiences
This, one's very mind as naturally arrived at Dharma Body,
will certainly make its appearance in distinctive meditative experiences
269
[75]
[76]
by settling into meditation without manipulation, allowing the thoughts to do as
they will.
We hold that the manners of this appearance are three
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according to whether one is a gradualist, a leaper, or simultanealist.
The manner of appearance for the gradualist is as follows:
At rust it occurs as a mere sense of abiding.
Then meditative experiences proper arise.
Mterward, realization arises in abundance.
At the time the initial sense of abiding occurs,
interfering thoughts come up one after the other
as if they were rolling down a steep mountainside.
The thought occurs that perhaps this is no meditative experience at all,
but this sensing of the amount of interfering thoughts that occur
means that the perceptions have somewhat settled down.
Before, when there was no settling down at all,
the interfering thoughts erupted as they pleased
and even the fact that they run on was not recognized.
Then, like a slowly descending stream,
the perceptions slow down and the troubled thoughts become few.
Finally, like the depths of the ocean,
the perception stabilizes and remains immobile.
73
Then the meditative experiences occur. [77]
One experiences a bliss, untroubled by thoughts and clear
74
like the center of unbroken space.
Like a butterlamp that does not flicker in the wind,
one's own clarity, one's own awareness, is undistracted.
Like a beautiful flower in a rainfall
it stands out with a shining clear presence against the ground.
Like the sun shining in a cloudless sky,
nothing comes in the way of its smooth transparency.
It is, like a bronze bowl fuH of water,
transparent within and without.
There will never be a word for such an experience.
It dawns without reason like a dream.
One sees like one sees a rainbow, though it is not a thing.
It dawns like a moon in the water that cannot be grasped.
Like desirable objects that appear in the sky,
one enjoys it in the absence of anything to enjoy.7S
Since all enjoyments are lost and go away,
that which is not enjoyed is the supreme enjoyment.
In that which is not enjoyed, there is nothing to lose.
Chapter Seven: On Non-dual Realization
When one has had such meditative experiences,
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
realizational Total Knowledge dawns in force.
Ifrealizational Total Knowledge has not dawned,
no. matter how fine the meditative experiences,
it is like not going to the root when chopping a tree-
later on, psychological problems and sufferings will increase.
Hence, the dawning of realization is most important.
It does not dawn through wishing for it.
, It does not come through skill in analytical reasoning.
It is not perceived through extensive study.
It falls outside the purview of the philologist 76
Non-thought resulting from the stoppage of thought,
no matter how thorough or intense,
is a great veil over the production of Total Knowledge.
This powerful realizational Total Knowledge does not at all dawn
because of such things as wishing for it, adding to it,
skill in analytical reasonings, or lack of such skill,
learning whether narrow or extensive,
insightfulness or deluded thoughts,
meditative experiences whether good or bad,
or strivings weak or strong.
It will be experienced through one's own merit in combination
with reliance on the interventional methods of the Lama."
''Reliance on the interventional methods ofthe Lama" means
the powerful experiences of blessings that dawn
when serving a realized Lama.
"One's own merit" means it occurs
271
[78]
to those who have the results of prior cultivation. [79]
Hence, this realizational Total Knowledge
is something for those who have the necessary faith
~ o remain on the Path of blessings.
It dawns to those who have reverence.
It is realized by those with prior cultivation.
The friend of them all is assiduity.
It is seen by those fortunate ones with superior faculties.
In the thoughts of word-masters, there is not any room for it.
This dawning of non-dual realization
to such fortunate personages
through the blessings of the Sacred Lama is
the dawning of Dharma Body from the midst of realization,
the dawning of non-duality from the midst of Mind Proper,
the dawning of Total Knowledge from the midst of psychological complexes,
the dawning of realization from the midst of meditative experiences.
Awakening from dualistic confusion
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is lilce a sleeping person waking up.
Non-dual Total Knowledge instantly awakes.
This is such a shock one thinks that
an unprecedented understanding has entered in.
The non-dual Total Kn9wledge is such a joy, .
while the practices of the past are such a shame.
Now one breaches the boundary between saI!1sara and nirviUJa
which is called "realization and non-realization."
In the past, prior to realization, byway of illustration:
A man while having a sleeping dream
dreams he is floating aimlessly on the ocean of saI!1sara.
He dreams he suffers in the hells and other realms.
Fed up with this, he dreams he finds a Lama.
He dreams he puts the Lama's precepts into practice.
He dreams that meditative experiences occur.
He dreams the clear light Dharma Body dawns.
He dreams the darkness of troubled thoughts are cleared up.
He dreams there is no difference between meditation and post-meditation.
Then he dreams that realization dawns.
He dreams he has impartial compassion
{or sentient beings who have no realization.
He dreams that, after attaining the supreme Great Seal,
he naturally achieves benefits for beings with Form Bodies.
Immediately upon awakening from his sleep,
there is no experiencing the suffering of s ~ s a r a .
There is no getting fed up and finding a Lama.
There is no putting his precepts into practice.
There is no dawning of meditative experiences and Total Knowledge.
There is no dawning of clear light Dharma Body.
There is no dearing up the darkness of troubled thoughts.
There is no abiding in non-thought.
There is no dawning of Total Knowledge realization.
There are neither sentient beings nor compassion for them.
There is no Enlightenment and no obtaining it either.
[80]
There are no animate beings and and no benefitting them. [81]
There is no truth, and no falsehood either.
They are gone like a mere appearance in a dream.
This dream-dreaming saI!1s3ra-
Where did it come from? Where did it go?
This nirviiQa that does away with saI!1sara-
Where did it come from? Where did it go?
These and all other dream dharmas-
Where did they come from? Where did they go?
PA1H OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY 273
By way of illustration, an illustrious king,
without ever leaving his throne for a moment,
saddles up a phantom steed,
crosses many and valleys,
and has all sorts of pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
1bough many months and years may have passed in this way,
the king has not moved from his throne,
and not even the morning has passed.
1brough realization such as this
a moment of Great Insight grants mastery
. of the nature of all dharmas,
but there is no pride of thinking, "I mastered it."
The non-dual Total Knowledge has become evident,
but there is no pride of thinking, "It is evident."
One is freed from the three realms and lower Vehicles,
but there is no pride of thinking, "I am freed."
A moment of non-dual realizati9n,
and all visual and auditory phenomena are established as mind, [82]
. so that classificatory philosophy becomes clear (V
When they are established to be clear Mind Proper,
all non-classificatory philosophy becomes clear (Sautrantika).
When the illusion-like reflexive awareness is perceived,
then philosophy that claims things as illusory is completed (Viji'ianavada).
When the illusory nature is perceived as Void,
then the non-establishing philosophies are completed (Madhyamaka).'8
When the Void arises as Bliss,
the non-dual Coupling view is completed.
When this Coupling is not something made in the mind,
the Great Seal becomes clear,
there being no idea to even think it has so become.
Such a realizational Total Knowledge as this
did not come from anywhere,
does not go anywhere,
and does not reside anywhere.
Both that which is realizable and the Total Knowledge of realizables
dissolve in the non-discursive Dharma Realm.
There is no pride of concepts about the Realm.
It remains in non-differentiation, like space.
All speech and thought is cause for its dissolution.
Toward immaculacy itself one requires an immaculate perspective.
79
It may be that the children
have grown tired of my playing.
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
If $0, they should serve a venerable Lama.
If not, they should place their perceptions at rest.
These considerations were for gradualist persons.
The ways things occur to leaping persons
are basically three: settlings, meditative experiences and realization.
In the beginning, exceptional realization occurs,
although this realization is unstable like waves.
Then some of them have meditative experiences,
while others have settlings. There is no rule.
They gain facility in experiences both high and low. 80
Simultanealist persons,
either as soon as they examine the mind
or as soon as a Lama with the riutritive essence of realization
teaches them the precepts,
the meditative experiences, realization and settlings, all three,
occur at once without taking time to meditate.
Although their meditative experiences wax and wane,
their realization remains firm and unchanging.
Although the monkeys and apes race up and down,
the tree remains without changing.
Whether the rainbow dissolves or not,
this brings no change in the realm of the sky.
Whether the waves are calmed or not,
this has no impact on the depths of the ocean.
How will you isolate meditative experiences
within the naturally arrived at Dharma Body of your very mind?
[83]
It wipes out the afflictions of experience. [84]
However, if realization is not accompanied by meditative experiences,
the beginner will be overcome
like a butterlamp left out in a storm.
But, for a contemplative who has achieved stability
all experiences, good or bad, will be of help.
Beginners should not be alarmed at this,
but when a lamp is small,
even the tiniest bit of moisture will harm it.
When a great forest fIre is raging
all the storms there are will only help it.
Contemplatives who have not achieved stability,sl
even when some shadowy realization has occurred,
need to feed tlle torch of realization
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
.. with the dry wood of meditative experiences.
Too much wet wood will put it out.
No matter how lofty the realization,
if they have not with settlings and meditative experiences,
they will not attain mastery of their minds
but instead will be caught up in inimical mental complexes.
Just so, a well esteemed person:
when captured by enemies and shackled in a dungeon,
may well know the way to his own home,
but has no power to go.
Therefore, when one has not attained mastery of the mind
through stable meditative experiences,82
one will lose the treasures of realization.
I do not have the mouth for a big piece of speech.
Be wary, all you contemplatives:
Mouths are at variance with experience.
Chapter Eight: On Action
The yoga practitioner of the Great Seal
brings out the luster of meditative experience
in the wish-granting jewel of realization
and fulfIls all needs and desires through the power of practice.
As soon as the gradualist persons
engage in the Path of Secret Mantra,
they distance from non-virtuous thoughts
and expunge sarpsaric dharmas from their minds.
When they have set their minds on Great Awakening,
they generate the thought of benefitting beings
with intentions free of selfish interests.
Keeping always their pride of divine status,
they do mantra repetitions, mandala offerings,
torma rites, worship offerings and the other seven limbs of offering.
They do torma rites for feeding the hungry ghosts .
and water offerings for feeding the water spirits.
They perform services for the Lama if they have one,
feasts and communion circles for monks,
and give to beggars without holding back.
275
[85]
They must do inner and outer fire offerings. [86]
They construct tsha tsha,83 chortens and images.
They protect the lives of animals. They read scriptures.
In short, they fill their time between practice sessions
- - - ~ - - - -
~ - ~ - - - -
~ - - - ~ - - - -
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
wi$ nothing but virtuous activities
motivated by great compassion.
They have no time for irreligious activities,
let alone non-virtuous actions.
They must purify all inner and outer obscurations
and strive to accumulate merit
in accordance with the virtuous dharmas of all levels of beings
through conscientious and restrained conduct
like that of a new bride
or of an extremely observant mollk.
Concealing their good qualities, these increase in privacy.
Those who belittle karma and karmic results
will have contempt for conventional methods.
Like a bird without wings, they will surely fall
into the chasm of low rebirths.
Hence, they must give up the most minor non-virtues
and work for the most minor virtues.
Such virtuous preparation will give them
a diligence that never rests,
and after achieving some solidity,
their practices divide into the external and internal.
Their social practice accords with those of the people,
while their inner practice, their meditative concentration, grows in isolation.
When meditative experience of the inner practice has grown, [87]
without being detected by beginners,
they engage in actions that accord with that experience,
doing that which advances their contemplative absorption and realization.
They must make use of the half-ten deathless
84
and also rely on the five strengths.
8S
Without denying the half-ten sensory qualities,86
they have given up attachment to them and take them as friends [on the Path].
When the farmer's wheat shoots
have been watered and manured, they grow.
When the yogi's Total Knowledge sprouts
make use of sensory qualities, they grow.
Because they never separated from unproduced meditative experience,
they use them with no attachment whatsoever.
When this freedom of the six heaps to act on their own
8
'
takes over with non-dual realization,
they must lead life as they will
without do's and don'ts.
With meditative experience of non-dual reaiization,
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
there is no "wear this" and "don't wear that."
Whether good or bad, they wear their clothes.
There is no "eat this" and "don't eat that." .
Whether clean OI: dirty, they must eat it.
'Ibis makes non-discursive Total Knowledge increase.
There is no "say this" and "don't say that."
They must speak as if they were sleep-talking.
They must not make themselves conform to anything
but relax and remain as they happen to be.
They must not be separated from the experience of Dharma Body.
They must not be attached to anything.
Whether their own acquaintances or others
say good or bad things about them,
they must not make trouble even for a moment,
but remain impassive as a lifeless object.
They must never ever do things that harm the mind.
Just as deer flee from the presence of people,
so must they constantly flee the presence of people.
They must not make distinctions like "he is good" or
"he is bad" towards others, with pride in their own goodness.
Just as a swindler conceals his crimes
they must always hide tlieir own good qualities.
They must not be puffed-up "big men"
but always keep an inferior place.
Though they have realized the absence of high and low,
they must constantly worship the Lama and sky-goers.
In short, they must give up all
selfish interests, trickery and affectations.
277
[88]
For as long as the meditative equipoise and subsequent experiences are two things,
they must check if the perceptions in meditation are stable or unstable.
If their perceptions in meditation are not stable,
theirs is a fool's meditation that consists in wrapping their heads up and murmuring,
misunderstanding what meditation is all about.
They must work for physical and verbal virtues, [89]
being motivated by love and compassion.
If they have stability in meditative equipoise,
it is still easy for physical and verbal virtuous actions to be broken off.
Nevertheless they must apply themselves exclusively to meditative equipoise.
This post-meditative experience of which we speak
has nothing to do with sitting or standing.
For the beginner, meditative equipoise means
to stabilize the mind one-pointedly and unwaveringly
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
on an appropriate virtuous object of concentration.
If they have done this, it is equipoise whether they walk or sit
If, not remaining in one-pointed concentration,
the mental whirligigs88 begin to run wild,
even if they are seated on the meditation cushion, it is post-meditation.
The meditative equipoise of realizing their very minds
is to be known through the levels of the Four YogaS.
When the one-pointed yoga arises,
they understand the nature of their very minds.
Like the center of uninterrupted space,89
it is a void clarity, unobstructed, without middles or extremes.
This remaining very sharp and distinct,
it is the contemplative equipoise of the first yoga.
The vacillating thoughts that pour out from it
are, even if they are seated on the meditation cushion, the post-meditation.
90
If the very sharp and distinct void clarity remains,
then even if they are conversing, walking, or sitting,
they remain in the continuum of meditative equipoise. [90]
When the yoga of the unfissured integral arises,91
one realizes the substance of one's very mind.
Awareness is an un fissured integral with no break: in its flow.
One's very mind remains as Dharma Body
without production or prevention, without acceptance or rejection.
This is the meditative equipoise of the second yoga.
If they remain in this meditative equipoise,
they remain in its continuity even when walking and talking.
If signs of fissuring cause disturbance,
then even if they are seated on the meditation cushion, it is post-meditation.
When the yoga of qualitative equivalence arises,92
one realizes the classificatory marks of one's very mind.
One understands how, out of the unfissured integral Dharma Body of one's very
mind,
the manifold of sarpsara and nirvurya arises.
In all the various mental complexes, non-discursiveness,
appearances, non-appearance, abidings, non-abiding,
voidnesses, non-voidness, clarity, non-clarity,
because of their qualitative equiValence as clear light Dharma Body,
they see no phenomenon that is not Dharma Body.
They see no signs that are not Clear Light.
PA1H OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY 279
'The hour in which realization of such qualitative equivalence takes hold
... is the meditative equipoise of the third yoga.
' W h ~ n the original mind takes hold, [91]
.. whether they jump, run or have conversations,
they remain in the continuity of this meditative equipoise.
: When they separate from the original mind,
.. even if they are seated on the meditation cushion, it is post-meditation.
When the yoga of non-meditation arises,93
'the substance of awareness having no underpinnings,
the yogis have nothing to meditate with.
Without anyone to do the meditation, they are adrift.
It is said that in them are completed the Buddhas
who have the Three Bodies and the five Total Knowledges.94
They perceive absolutely that it is just so.
This accomplishment of the Great Seal
thoroughly establishes that it is just so.
They have no haughty thought that they have attained
an accomplishment that was there all along.
Of recollection that has taken hold or not taken hold there is none.
Of mental activity or inactivity there is none.
Of qualitative equivalence or non-equivalence there is none.
In the self-preservation of non-dual perception
there are no gradations of meditative equipoise and post-meditation.
In the uninterrupted flow of void awareness
there is neither production nor cessation.
Like the garu<;la bird which has already completed
its special powers inside the shell, and so, when free of its shell, cuts through
the heights and depths of the sky,
the qualities of the Three Bodies are already completed in mind. [92]
Free of physical confinement, benefits for others dawn.95
1n this way, the occurrence of non-meditation
has no meditative equipoise or post-meditation stages.
No matter how lofty the realization,
for as long as one is in training,
meditative equipoise and post-meditation are two.
There is recollection that has or has not taken hold.
There is distraction and non-distraction.
But when it arises as nothing to be trained,
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
this is what we call non-meditation.
96
In it there is neither meditative equipoise nor post-meditation
because one remains exclusively and constantly in meditative equipoise.
Walking, sitting and even lying down do not make any difference.
Sleeping or having dreams make no difference.
Holding conversations and even eating make no difference.
These activities are entirely embraced by the mind of ab-original realization.
They are all nothing besides meditative equipoise.
Jewels, whatever is needed or desired, are theirs to make use of.
The rays of the sun are theirs to make use of.
All are within the yogi's constant meditative equipoise.
We call this "non-duality realized."
Post-meditation in the time of single-pointed yoga
views these things as persistent materializations
that must be visualized as illusions which nevertheless appear.
Post-meditation in the lime of the unfissured integral yoga
views these things sometimes as illusory appearances
and sometimes as only persistent materializations.
Either way they must be visualized as Dharma Body.
Post-meditation in the time of qualitative equivalence yoga
[93]
views these things as dawnings as Dharma Body when recollection has taken hold.
When recollection has not taken hold, they view them as only fuzzy persistent
materializations.
In the non-meditation yoga, meditative equipoise
and post-meditation are simply Dharma Body.
I do not have the mouth for a great deal of talk.
I do not have the mouth for swallowing dry tsampa.
97
Do not wrap up your own head.
In the time of non-meditation,
it remains evident whether one sleeps or not.
If you want to analyze it, fine. If not, fine.
If recollection takes hold, fine. If not, fine.
It remains evident as Dharma Body, beyond self and others.
Through exerting themselves in impartial compassion
it dawns forcibly and without doubts.
Until such an occasion occurs,
those contemplatives who are fond of blanking oue
s
are only fooling themselves.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
Such fortunate contemplatives must,
until they reach the level of non-meditation,
"serve the Lama and accumulate merit
,If they have not been fooled by blanking out,
.' the accumulation of merit will not mislead them.
This is the heart talk of the realized ones.
The difference between the social and individual
. is lost on the Total Knowledges of Dharma Body .
. When free of dualistic attachments,
nothing is lost on the eight worldly dharmas,99
so, although wandering in society,
they are in seclusion.
When, with dualistic attachments,
they concern their minds with happiness and sorrow,
even if they stay alone, they are socializing.
Therefore isolation is fine and socializing is fine.
What is most important is not to be attached to anything,
and not to concern the mind with happiness and sorrow,
without ever lacking in non-dual realization.
Distinctions ,between individual and social,
distinctions betWeen meditative equipoise and post-meditation,
were taught with the intention of guiding
people who are beginners.
In uncompromising presentations, there is no twoness
of social and individual, of meditative equipoise and post-meditation.
If one asks why, it is because the mind itself
is parallel production of Dharma Body.
Appearances are the light of Dharma Body's parallel productions
like the flame and the light of the flame.
Since in the substance of Dharma Body, awareness,
there can be no waxing or waning in its constant flow,
how can there be meditative equipoises and post-meditations?
That a contemplative who has gained stability in this realization
has no meditative equipoise and post-meditation, no one would dispute.
For these reasons, one standard does not work for all persons.
281
[94]
[95]
If it is a question of which is most important, realization or meditative experience,
then it is realization that is important, nor meditative experience.
lOO
No matter how fine the meditative experience,
in the absence of realization there can be no liberation.
No matter how lofty the realization,
in the absence of compassion, iUs the Path of Hearers.
---------
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
One may have tasted the contemplative absorptions
of the four dhyanas
lOI
and so forth,
but with the great fault of non-realization
the experiences will fade and finally
one will fall into lower rebirths and the like, .
and then there will be unfading sufferings. Consider this carefully.
All experiences are compounded things.
All compounded things are impermanent, will fall apart.
Therefore, without being attached to meditative experiences,
realize the non-dual Total Knowledge.
Complete nirvaQa
lO2
is under the purview
of realization exclusively.
Mind-made non-duality is realized through extensive learning. [96]
But this non-duality of which we speak dawns from within .
.. It is due to the Lama's blessings alone.
Reverence for the Lama with faith
grows realizational Total Knowledge from within.
What does it have to do with philosophical analyzers?
Even I would make the claim that it can be perceived in words.
103
But when realization has dawned in the mind,
it needs to be considered whether bad circumstances have an effect on it or not.
On your right stands somebody chopping with an axe
saying all sorts of cruel things.
On your left stands another making offerings of sandalwood incense,
respectfully proclaiming all kinds of nice things.
In times of undergoing such good and bad things,
if they can, without getting distressed on their account,
accept them without pleasure or displeasure,
then even if they do crazy things in public, it is fme.
However, if they do not have facility in the powers
to transform bad faith and so forth,
then performing the secret activities in groups
will be the ruin of themselves and others.
When the different kinds of clairvoyances
of knowing whether they will help others, etc., arise
and they have gained facility in these powers,
there is no difference between their public and private actions.
The Revered Mi-Ia-ras-pa said something about this:
"The ten virtues are not actions to be taken up.
The ten sins are not actions to be given up.
Stay as you are, relaxed, without affectations."
[97]
PA1H OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
Did not Revered Lo-ras
lO4
also say,
. ''The Three Precious are not
something high and awe-inspiring to be worshipped.
They are complete in the awareness continuum.
You will never find a place to take Refuge."
To me, the beggar-monk Zhang,
and to you my realized Vajra Brother[s] as well,
. these thoughts of the Revered Ones,
are as clear as a flame in a glass.
If I tell them and they have trouble understanding,
it is because these things dawn on their own
to those who, with faith, please the Lama
and whose hearts the Lama's blessings pierce.
The "actions that conquer the universe" and
the "activities of Great Meditative Equipoise"
are not mentioned here for fear of verbosity.
One must look in the oceanic Supreme Tantras.IOS
I do not have the mouth to tell much here .
. Without babbling nonsense,
they will engage in the activities at the right time,
will make efforts without being too tight or too loose.
Their views will be free of partial perspectives.
Their conduct will be free of affectation.
Their compassion will be impartial.
Their meditation will be undistracted.
Good qualities will emerge without ending.
They will achieve benefits for beings without end.
Even though non-dual realization has not taken hold,
some talk nonsense about forceful methods for fixing people,
"Enemies and friends, gold and dirt clods, are the same,"
they say without bothering to even fix their style into a high style.
If this brought liberation, then little children would be liberated.
If, when non-dual realization has not taken hold,
they think that the absence of give and take brings liberation,
we would have to say that every lunatic would be liberated.
If, when non-dual realization has not taken hold,
283
[98]
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
the nonexistence of clean and dirty brought liberation,
then dogs and pigs would be liberated.
If, when non-dual realization has not taken hold,
skill in action led to liberation,
then brides would also be liberated.
If, when non-dual realization has not taken hold,
being loose and spontaneous led to liberation,
then every fool would be liberated.
When non-dual realization has taken hold,
then whether their behavior is coarse or refined,
either way they will be liberated.
When the non-dual realization has not taken hold,
actions, whether coarse or refined, are entangling.
When filled with impartial compassion,
whatever way they act is the Supreme Path.
When impartial compassion has not taken hold,
no matter how they act, it is an inferior path.
Chapter Nine: On Commitments
If you would like to know how to keep the commitments,
at the time of being a beginner
the vows of appropriate disengagement106 and the other vows,
as well as the Word of the Sugatas and Lamas, must not be broken.
At the time of meditating on [the subtle body's] channels and winds,
they must avoid everything that might detract from bliss and heat.
When the non-discursive experiences dawn,
[99]
they must avoid anything that prevents or endangers contemplative absorption.l07
After they have seen the substance of their very minds,
they must avoid everything that is injurious to the mind.
When the non-dual realization dawns,
they must give up all ambitions.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
;tInall of this their very minds must be the witnesses.
\'After they have realized the meaning of not transcending the Realm,
'fithere is no vow to keep. This is the supreme commitment,
:(, what we call the White Self-sufficient Medicine.
IOB
. Q1apter Ten: On the Goal
c ~ e view is not counterproductive.
'!be precepts .are not given to closed or unsuitable vessels.
'!be contemplation is unerring-not too tight or too loose.
'!be practice is free of attachment, without faults.
In keeping commitments, there is no need to fear the blame of deities .
. '!be goal inevitably brings about everything needed and desired
As illustration, it is like a medicinal plant.
If the interdependent connections between the field,
the seed, the season, irrigation and fertilizer are not closed off, [it sprouts].
If even the sprout can cure sickness, then all of the other parts as well-
the stalk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits -
have potencies which are individually suited
to curing partiCUlar sicknesses.
If incorrect interdependent conditions
result in suffering,
there is no need to mention that correct and favorable
interdependent conditions
bring good and favorable results.
If even dualistically conceived compounded things may,
through their interdependent connections, bring about
good and bad results,
285
[100]
there is no need to mention that a timeless and unbounded disregard for dualities
may bring unbounded Total Knowledge. [101]
If virtuous acts, even those done out of materialistic motives,
may gain one the happiness of paradises,
there is no need to mention that unbounded
virtuous acts done without partiality
may lead to Complete Enlightenment.
If bliss, clarity and absence of troubling thoughts,
when accompanied by attachment, may bring about
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
divine status in the three realms,
there is no need to mention that the same free of attachments
may bring the Three Bodies of a Victor.
If the experience of Voidness in the absence of method and insight
may gain one the bliss of the Arhat and Pratyekabuddha,
there is no need to mention that Voidness and Compassion in indivisible union
may result in unplaceable
109
bliss.
When the beginning yoga practitioners
are not closed off from the meditative stabilizations
and post-meditations of the generation stage,
the best among them materialize the unified Complete Assets BodyJlO
in this very lifetime,
or in the intermediate state,
or, if not then, in a later life they will at least obtain
the perfect conditions of divine embodiment,
and thereby materialize the unified Complete Assets Body.
Still others will attain it after going through
seven rebirths as humans.
When the intermediate grade practitioner has the experiences
that go with the Completion Stage with signs,11I [102]
in an instant, their accumulated sins are
washed away, and they are blessed by the Skygoers.
When these experiences made of bliss, clarity and absence of troubling thoughts
have become a habit, realization will surely dawn,
leading without doubt to the materialization of the Three Bodies,
in some cases in the intermediate state.
Extremely diligent yoga practitioners may,
when the profound instructions have taken hold,
even in the absence of non-dual realization, through their efforts to
inject their consciousness into the [bodily] habitation of another person
or to transfer consciousness to a higher state,112
accomplish the True Transference.
Or, if this is not possible, it will happen in the intermediate state.
The best of these materialize the Clear Light.
The intermediate ones achieve the unified Illusory Body.
The least of them at least acquire the power to choose their own rebirth
in the habitation
ll3
of a favorable womb,
their later attainment of the Three Bodies assured.
134
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
When the yoga practitioners of the Great Seal
loosen and relax their perceptions,
they have an experience of clarity and absence of troubling thoughts
which arises like the center of undifferentiated space.
At the same time as this experience arises,
incalculable sins and obscurations are utterly voided and,
287
although they may not yet be assured of it, [103]
they have encountered the Dharma Body.
When the exceptional realization of non-dual parallelled production occurs,
C in that very moment, no matter how much sin
they have accumulated from beginningless time,
it is all utterly overcome.
The Great Seal overcomes all in one fell swoop
just like lighting a lamp in a dark room.
The confused people err when they assess it in terms of the stages of the Path,
. but still, in order to please those confused people who believe they apply even here,
it will b ~ assessed in terms of these stages of the philosophical Vehicle.
114
The dawning of the just mentioned exceptional realization
is the Extremely Joyful Level equivalent to the Stage of Seeing.
Becoming accustomed to this realization of substantial levelness is the Stage of
Cultivation.
When there is no more cultivation, it is the Ultimate Stage.1IS
Suffering is not immediately done away with
upon the non-dual realization,
but no one would assert that it is not the Stage of Seeing
just because the good qualities and abilities have not been developed.
The sun is not able immediately to melt the ice
as soon as it rises in the morning.
But; even if the soil and rocks have not become warmed,
no one would assert that it is not the sun.
1I6
[104]
The Sage taught all these differentiations between
signs of warmth and stages of the Path
in elastic expressions in order to accomodate
those potential aspirants who are gradualists,
though confused people get attached to minor aspects of these teachings.
The higher and lower grades of aspirants are beyond reckoning.
The sermons of the Buddha are beyond reckoning.
Even if some are in conflict with one's own preferred scriptures,
one must not criticise and reject them,
but rather make an aspiration prayer to one day understand them.117
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
The all-at-once Great Seal
is like the fruit of the jack tree. m
Cause and result are simultaneous
and the signs are disentangled on their own ground.
'Monkeys climb up the tree from below and pick the fruit,
while hawks pick it only by alighting on the top of the tree.
The hawks do not even see the lower branches
but, needless to say, they do pick the fruit
Likewise needless to say the simultanealist person does,
even without seeing the stages and signs of warmth,
see the Dharma Body.
These persons are distinguished by their prior cultivation and abilities.
In a moment of ab-original realization,
they attain dominion over the realm beyond suffering.
The pure and unattainable Mind Proper [l05]
has always been perceived to be the goal,
but is not realized through such perceptions;
it is beyond conceptualizations.
It discloses itself without any meditative stabilization or post-meditation,
without production or cessation.
It discloses itself as Great Vajra Holder
of the naturally arrived at Five Bodies,l19
Such a state of Total Knowledge is said to be attained
by force of cleansing the two defilements
and completing the two accumulations.
In this case also the two accumulations are completed
and the two defilements are forcibly cleansed.
In a moment of non-dual realization
the great accumulation of merit is completed
because all the Lamas and Buddhas are pleased.
The seeds of the defilements of troubling emotions
such as stinginess are permanently expunged.
While one is becoming accustomed to this realization
there may remain some minor perceptual defilements,
but at the moment of no-more-to-meditate-on,l20
the great accumulation of Total Knowledge is complete.
The seeds of the defilements due to knowables
pertaining to subject, verbal action and object
PATII OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
are pennanently expunged.
This is what is called Complete Awakening.
It is the accomplishment of the Great Seal. .
My goodness, sur;h an amazing and miraculous teaching!
Complete Buddhahood in a single moment!
Chapter Eleven: On Sameness
In the preceding parts we have set forth the true character of the view.
This and all the dhannas of meditation, action,
commitments and Goal
are magical productions of one's very mind.
In the continuity of Mind Proper's clear reflexive awareness,
the clearness in itself signifies the Void.
Like space, it has no division into parts,
no sides, and no recognition of center and extreme.
Since such a Mind Proper.
has no duality of viewer and viewed,
there is no view; neither is there any realization.
Since meditator and meditative object are non-dual,.
there is no meditation; meditative experiences are precluded.
289
[106]
Since the one who gets accustomed and that to which one becomes accustomed
are not two, there is neither habituation nor non-habituation.
Since distractions and the one who is distracted are not two,
there is no absence of distraction, nor is there any distraction.
The activities and the actor are not two;
so there is neither activity nor actor.
Attainment and attainer are not two;
so there is neither striver nor attainment.
Like the center of empty space,
there is no duality of cause and goal; [107]
so there is no generating and no maturation.
On the Mind Proper, void from beginningless time,
there is no staining and no cleansing.
Since dynamic
121
Awareness and Voidness are not two,
there is neither Total Knowledge nor not knowing.
The contemplative who perceives the sameness
of all views; meditations, actions,
commitments and Goal
290
JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
in the substance of clear light Mind Proper
has no attachment to viewer or viewed.
This non-attachment is the King of Views.
They have no attachment to meditation or meditator.
This non-attachment is the King of Contemplations.
They have no attachment to activity or actor.
This non-attachment is the King of Action.
They have no attachment to attainment or attainer.
This non-attachment is the King of Goals.
Chapter Twelve: On the White Self-sufficient Medicinal
In a moment of realizing one's very mind
all the good qualities of white virtue
are, without striving for them, completed at once.
l22
In the atmosphere-like Mind Proper
the Three Bodies are already naturally arrived at.
By this the Buddha Precious is completed. [l08]
Mind Proper is an unfissured integrity free of desire.
By this the Holy Dharma Precious is completed.
Its nature unproduced and not turning back,
the different kinds of interfering thoughts arise as friends.
In this the Fellowship Precious is completed.
If, in this way, the Three Precious
are completed in the awareness of one's very mind,
one need not go elsewhere for Refuge.
By this the uncompromisingly presented Refuges are completed.
In this unfissured integral Mind Proper
there is no basis for self-serving desires.
Therefore in this the Bodhisattva aspiration is completed.
By one's understanding everything as error,
impartial compassion arises.
By one's naturally arriving at benefit for others,
the Bodhisattva engagement is completed.
Since the atmosphere-like Mind Proper
is free of the delusions of grasping attachment,
the Perfection of giving is completed.
Because it is free of the stains of defining marks,
the Perfection of discipline is completed.
Because it is not intimidated by Voidness
and has overcome the seeds of anger,
the Perfection of steadfast patience is completed. [109]
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
Because the Void Awareness is an unbroken stream,
the Perfection of diligence is completed.
Because its one-pointed concentration is already naturally arrived at,
. the Perfection of meditation is completed.
291
Because the defming marks of counterproductive perspectives have disentangled
themselves,
the Perfection of insight is completed.
123
Since whatever phenomenon that occurs arises as friend,
through this Great Method, the Great Accumulation of Merit is completed.
Through realizing the meaning of non-duality
the Great Accumulation of Total Knowledge is completed.
Since in the atmosphere-like Mind Proper
bodily defilements do not remain,
the Great Empowerment of the Vase is completed.
Since verbal defilements are already cleansed,
the Great Empowerment of the Secret is completed.
Since there is no place for mental defilements,
the Insight Total Knowledge [Empowerment] is completed.
Since there is no place for defilements that equally pertain [to all three],
the Supreme Empowerment of the Fourth is completed.
In whatever colors and emblems that appear
through unobstructed understanding of implicitly radiant reflexive awareness,
in them the ends of the Generation Stage are completed.
Through its unidentifiable clear radiance
the Completion Stage is completed. [110]
The exceptional realization of the non-duality
of one's very mind and Clear Light
is the Path of Seeing.
The uninterrupted continuation of this is the Path of Cultivation.
This, free of pushing and striving, is the Ultimate Path.
Total lack of obstruction is the best sign of warmth.
In this the Paths, Stages and signs of warmth are completed.
Not at all an existent is the Dharma Body.
Whatever appears is Manifestation Body.
Since whatever appears has its Assets in Dharma Body,
the Goal of the Three Bodies is thereby completed.
Atmosphere-like reflexive awareness,
being free of partial perspectives, is the completion of the view.
Being free of attachment to objectives, it is the completion of meditation.
Being free of do's and don'ts, it is the completion of conduct.
Being free of breakage, it is the completion of commitment.
Being naturally arrived at, it is the completion of the Goal.
In the Void clear light Mind Proper
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
there are no classifications of prior and subsequent,
of past, preserit and future.
For so long as the self concept persists, however,
we have view, meditation, conduct, goal and commitment;
we have karma and the ripening of karma, and
to renounce sin and aCcumulate merit is important.
Chapter Thirteen: On Aspirations
I, the mendicant monk of Zhang, [Ill] .
was utged by my disciple Chos-kyi-blo-gros.l24
So, in order to guide a few aspirants
to the never-reified and never-deconstructed
l25
actual condition of Mind Proper,
I have reified it and put it down in letters.
But since it in any case appears under the right conditions
and because I have written with love, there is nothing wrong with this.
May the good virtue of this and all other virtues
combine into one and lead to the realization of non-dual Dharma Body
for the sake of beings extending out to the ends of space.
Through unattached and un focussed compassion
may the form bodies fill the ends of space,
bring benefit to beings without trying to do so,
and display themselves to those who are capable of benefitting.
Beginning with this moment and extending into all time,
may beings attain bodies that are perfectly endowed.
l26
Then, with insight and compassion together with faith,
may they do nothing but virtuous practices with great strength.
Mayall those who are suitable vessels for the supreme Vajra Vehicle
obtain the best sort of Lama, one who possesses both the oral precepts
and the compassionate blessings of their own realization,
and serve the Lama always. [112]
Mayall-of us see the good qualities of the Lama
and never see even a single fault,
but see the Lama always as identical to Vajraholder.
127
May our faith and veneration flow without ceasing.
Through the cultivation of unfocussed Great Compassion
which has none of bad motivations' pollution
may we ourselves corne to have every good quality
of all Lamas and B iIddhas.
PA 1H OF UL11MA TE PROFUNDITY
May we obtain the utmost through
immaculately impartial views'untouched
by the four extremes of positivism and nihilism,l28
through radiant bliss unattached and not mind-made,
and through the practices for realizing sameness.
129
May we always strive to attain and protect
the commitments to avoid the censure of the skygoers,
commitments free of the stains of mental complexes,
and not put them on to fool other people.
While keeping in permanent retreat,
may fears, regrets and impediments never arise.
May we attain the miraculous powers of good qualities-
meditative experiences, realization, signs of warmth and the rest.
May whatever course of conduct we pursue
be beautiful in the eyes of all
the Lamas, Vajra Brothers and other sentient beings.
293
May our triune body, speech and mind; [113]
our place, our clothes, our name and clan;
our seeing, hearing, remembering, touching, etc.,
and whatever else is desired be complete.
May our minds be untroubled, stable, happy,
undistracted, learned and realized.
May our minds be immaculately disciplined
free from such faults as hopes and desires,
renouncing without attachments all things.
By attaining stability in the generation and completion stages,
may we reach the ultimate coupling with Clear Light
and through our naturally arrived at blessings
fulfill the hopes of all beings.
May we, with the limitless miraculous powers
that come from unfocussed compassion,
pacify all the violent powers
such as deities, nagas, y a k ~ a s , and maras.
When the opportunity to thereby help others arises,
may we happily, fully and ungrudgingly give up
our heads, limbs, flesh, blood, life-force and breath.
May we without pride help others with whatever they need
and whatever sort of wealth they desire, whether food, drink, wealth, horses or
whatnot.
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
May. our powers and.splendor come to the rescue
doing whatever is needed to counter the opponents and possessing spirits,I30[I14] .
doing whatever is needed to counter such sufferings as sickness and famine.
Beginning from the present moment and extending to all time,
may we do only what benefits others.
May we never give birth to troubled thoughts
no matter what wrongs others have done,
but do what is needed to help them.
May we do what is needed to help every being
without being touched by such non-virtuous stains
as condescension, pride, envy,
self-interest, social distance or partisanship.
Not being pleased by the praises of others
or displeased by their criticisms,
but through undriven equanimity and compassion
may we remain untouched by the taints of the passions.
May the compassion of Avalokitesvara,
the insight of
and the powers of VajrapiU)i
all be completed in us.
May the learning of Nagarjunagarbha,
the realization of Saraha
and the magical powers of Virfipa
all be attained by us.
May we know the use of all mantras and tantras. [115]
May we achieve without hardship all the combined ritual objectives.
May we be made masters of unlimited oral instructions.
May we please all the skygoers.
May our stable and definitive realization
of the meaning of sameness-sameness in which
the dharmas do not come from anywhere,
do not go anywhere,
and do not abide anywhere-benefit others.
Mayall of. our unprejudiced learnings-
in the arts, treatises, poetry and so forth- .
be for the benefit of others and free of hidden motivations
so that they will not be subject to contention.
May we not be deprived of the range of helpful conditions
such as family, talents, leisure,
insight into the correct meanings or words,
the use of magical powers, and so forth.
l3I
* * *
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
Religious people in these bad times of the present
have little of the inner discipline that comes from study.
Even those who are learned in clumps of words
have not realized their significances.
In the future, their proud contentions will increase.
The revered Lamas of the accomplishment transmission132
pursued meanings and became accomplished.
Permanently renouncing such things as pride,
understanding meanings was the only skill
in scriptural authority and reasonings they required.
Tilopa did not preach even a single word to Naropa,133
but nevertheless all the scriptural authority, reasonings,
and oral instructions were completed in Naropa's heart.
Therefore, this man's chatter:-
all the faults of expression, the contradictory accounts,
and the statements of little profit-
are nonsense off the top of my head.
I have written this with the idea
that it would work for my own followers.
Of those that will not be benefitted
there will be no end until the end of becoming.
If there is a single word that conflicts with
scriptural authority, reasoning or oral precepts,
my head will split open.
These realizations of mendicant monk Zhang
were written down at the urging of his disciple Mar-pa
at Brag-sngon of Sbar-bu Thul.
l34
If it is later shown to people, it will be a sin.
I have told as much as I have myself realized,
as wen as using scriptures, treatises
and the thoughts of the Lamas.
* * *
295
[116]
296
JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
E-ma-ho.
These deep and naturally arrived at bral instructions
were completed in the heart before being put in words,
and banded down to disciples who were worthy vessels for them.
I bow to the precious Lama Zhang.
May the lovely spring shoots of discipline grow
on the golden ground of faith
in the universe of attained merit. [117]
Entwining about the tree of Bodhisattva compassion,
the mantra flowers of the knowledge-holders appear
and the fruit of inherently radiant awareness ripens
creating a wealth of naked visions of Clear Light.
Reverent prostrations to Zhang Rin-po-che
who has attained mastery over unarticulated space.
May this Profound Oral Instructions on the Path of Great Seal
bring great benefit to limitless beings.
13s
Notes
Dedicated to my long-time teacher Thubten J. Norbu, formerly a professor of
Tibetan Studies at Indiana University. I benefitted considerably from reading a not-
yet published article by Dr. David Jackson on the "self-sufficient white simple"
(dkar po chig thub), and have incorporated several changes which he s u g g e s ~ d
through correspondence; my thanks to him and to others who read and commented
on drafts of the translation. Readers of the following work will notice several
references to a text edition. Unfortunately, space limitations made it impossible
to reproduce this Tibetan-script edition here. The Arabic page numbers, from the
reprint edition of the Rtsib-ri Par-ma, vol. 4, pp. 49-117 (I have also made use of
a microfilm version of the woodblock print from the Nepal National Archives
[called text NJ, which contains 32 variant readings, evidently due to retracing,
rather than to alterations of the woodblocks), have been supplied in the translation
to facilitate cross-references with that text. I have based my translation almost
entirely on the Rtsib-ri Par-ma version, which is certainly preferable to the edition
in Kong-sprul, ed., Gdams-ngag Mdzod, vol. 5, pp. 744-777 (called text G), which
does nevertheless have many interesting variants, some of them noted below.
Those who require the text edition should correspond with me directly. Manuscript
preparation was made possible during my tenure as fellow at The Harry S. Truman
Institute for the Advancement of Peace, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and
I am grateful for their support.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
297
1. His dates were 1122/3 to 1193. I have dealt with his life, based on his
autobiography and other sources, in a paper delivered at the Midwest Conference
on Asian Affairs, November 1990, at Bloomington, Indiana, entitled, "Zhang Rin-
pO-che and the Emergence of Sectarian Polity in Twelfth Century Tibet." I do not
intend to deal in detail with his biography or his political involvements in the
present work. Since the Path of Ultimate Profundity was composed prior to his
more controversial activities, they are not especially relevant here. Many of the
particulars of his biography may be known from David Jackson's article, "Sa-skya
PlWc;lita the Polemicist Ancient Debates and Modem Interpretations" (see the
bibliography; henceforth referred to as "Jackson"), pp. 102-104. This very
important contribution should by all means be consulted by readers of the present
work.
2. For a very good translation of one of his biographies, see Tsang Nyon
Heruka, Life of Marpa. See also Martin, "Review."
3. One of his biographies has been translated; see Guenther, Life and
Teaching of Naropa, but note that this sixteenth-century biography does not, as the
introduction to that work states, belong to the late twelfth century. There are indeed
late twelfth-century biographies ofNaropa available, including one by Zhang Rin-
po-che (Zhang, Writings, pp. 312.4-326.7).
4. For his life, see Tatz, "Life of the Siddha-Philosopher Maitrlgupta."
5. We recommend the following two books on the subject of Maharnudra:
. Wang-ch'ug-dor-je (=Karma-pa IX Dbang-phyug-rdo-rje), MahiImudra: Eliminat-
ing the Darkness ofIgnorance (Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala
1981), tr. by Alexander Berzin; and Takpo TashiNamgyal (=Dwags-po Bkra-shis-
mam-rgyal), MahiImudra: The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation (Shambhala,
Boston 1986), tr. by Lobsang P. Lhalungpa. Note also Guenther, "Mahamudra,"
a brief article on the subject. Perhaps the most accessible and sympathetic
statement on Mahamudra is still the 1952 assessment found in Guenther,
Yuganaddha,pp.128-138.
6. The best translation of a biography of Mi-Ia-ras-pa is that by Lhalungpa,
Life of Milar epa, which should by all rights take the place of the still-popular
rendering by Kazi Dawa Samdup and W.Y. Evans-Wentz. As I have indicated
elsewhere, there are a great number of biographies of Mi-Ia-ras-pa, many of them
much earlier than this work of Gtsang-smyon He-ru-ka, and the serious historical
study of these biographies still has a long way to go (see Martin, "Early
Education").
7. One of Dwags-po Lha-rje's works has long been available in English
translation: Guenther (tr.), Jewel Ornament. This work very clearly betrays his
reliance on the Bka' -gdams-pa Bstan-rim literature, which emphasizes the stages
of the path based on the AbhisamayaJ8J[1kara (it is certainly not the case, as Tucci,
Minor Buddhist Texts, vol. 2, p. 102, stated, that Dwags-po Lha-rje "ignores" the
AbhisamayaJ8J[1kara; he in fact cites it at least a dozen times). On Bstan-rim, see .
Doboom Rinpoche, "Bstan-rim Chen-mo'i Ngo-sprod," and an article devoted to
298
nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
the subject by David Jackson forthcoming in Jose Cabez6n and Roger Jack<,;on
(eds.) Tibetan Literature (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion).
8. See Jackson for a masterful overview of these controversies. Both
Zhang Rin-po-che and Hwa-shang MO-ho-yen have been faulted by some Tibetan
critics for advocating the effectiveness of "not thinking" (mi rtogpa) in the absence
of prior cultivation. Even a superficial reading of the following translated text will
demonstrate that Zhang Rin-po-che's position on this matter is quite the contrary,
emphasizing both the futility of "blanking out" and the importance of prior
cultivation. One statement in the Bka'-thang Sde Lnga seems to clearly ascribe
"not thinking" advocacy to Mo-ho-yen:
The meditation master (bsam gtan gyi mkhan po) Mo-ho-yen (Ma-ha-
yan) said, "Settle the unthinkable Dharma Proper in non-thought (mi rtog
pa). Even those without prior cultivation are able to use this [method]."
(Based on text in Tucci, Minor Buddhist Texts, vol. 2, p. 71, line 12;
compare Tucci's translation on p. 86.)
This would seem to settle the issue with regard to Mo-ho-yen. However, as we
become aware that this part of the Bka' -thang Sde Lnga is merely a verse
paraphrase of passages from the Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron (See Karmay, Great
Perfection, p. 90 ff.), then we will have to consider the passage as it appears in the
Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron as more authentic. This passage reads simply,
"Settle, without thinking, into unthinkable Dharma Proper." (chos nyid
bsam du med 1a mi rtog par bzhag go; see Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron, p. 58,
line 6).
Not only is the statement on the non-necessity of prior cultivation absent here, we
find that its necessity is clearly affirmed in Mo-ho-yen's words found in the first
of the two alternative versions (the more authentifiable one) of the Bsam-yas debate
found in the more detailed version of the Sba Bzhed (Sba Gsal-snang, Sba Bzhed,
p. 68): "For those who have cultivated their minds in the past, for those who have
sharp faculties, virtue and sins are equally obscuring just as clouds whether white
or black equally obscure the sun."
9. Citation of M. Broido in Jackson, p. 59. I use the word "philological"
in an older and larger sense of the term that is still not entirely obsolete, meaning
the field of literary study, language study, etymology, and history. Of course,
"tracing traditions" might mean drawing delegitimating etymologies for motives
of personal interest or partisanship.
10. The Tibetan title is Phyag-rgya-chen-po Lam Zab Mthar-thug Zhang-
gi Man-ngag (or, in text G: Skye-med Zhang Rin-po-ches Mdzad-pa'i Phyag-rgya-
chen-po'j Lam Mchog Mthar-thug). It seems that the original title may have been
Lam Mchog Mthar-thug, "Ultimate Supreme Path," since this is how the work is
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
299
called in another text by Zhang Rin-po-che himself (Zhang, Writings, p. 600.4),
although it is called Lam Mthar-thugs, "Ultimate Path," in the Rgyal-b1on-ma
biography (Zhang, Writings, p. 284.7). My objective in this introduction is, by the
way, primarily tQ "introduce," if only partially, the content of the translation, and
not to close around the translation until it is forced to articulate its concerns within
the bounds of my own author-ity (what is often called "placing the text in its.
context" as a cover for the practical intention, which is to place the text in our
contexts). On the contrary, my concern is to ascertain how my own professed
approach might be objectified through a careful and responsive reading of the text.
There is not much use in a critical scholarship (which could be, translated, "a hostile
stance for protecting or furthering the cultural hegemony of the academy") that
forgetS how to listen patiently, incapable of self-criticism. I see my main task as
one of making the translation say in English what the text conveys in Tibetan, and
problematic as the task surely is, it is upon. this basis that the results will be
meaningfully criticised. Those who are looking for textual deconstructions are
capable of carrying them out on their own, and they might be able to take some
pointers from Zhang Rin-po-che himself, assuming they are able to tone down their
text-hostility temporarily. If the goal of deconstruction is to directly confront the
truth of things free of the mediation of socia-cultural "texts," then a common
purpose might very well be negotiated.
11. See the bibliography. Both Zhang's work and the Phag-gru Zhus-1an
represent "oral advice" or "instructions" (man ngag) given by meditation teachers
to their students. Sgam-po-pa's words in the Phag-gru Zhus-1an were intended for
the benefit of one particular student, Phag-mo-gru-pa (even if Phag-mo-gru-pa
hunself might have put the advice in writing for the sake of posterity; it should also .
be noted that in one of the sections the questioner was not Phag-mo-gru-pa, but
another student of S gam-po-pa named Chos-g.yung), while the work of Zhang Rin-
po-che was intended for the broader, if still quite restricted, group of his own
spiritual descendents. Both are "secret," i.e., not intended to be read by the majority
of us. While man ngag were intended for the use of individual students at a
particular point in their development (and this has considerable consequences for
the way we must read them), Zhang Rin-po-che's work is, unlike the Phag-gru
Zhus-1an, written up into a versified treatise-like form, presumably supplying in
general, the sorts of things he might have said to his various students at various
times.
12. phyag rgya chen po 1a yang lam 1a gnas pa 'i dus na / lam phyag rgya
chen po zer ba yin / 'khor 'das gnyis su med pa 'i ye shes chen por rtogs nas b1ang
dordang bral ba'i dus/mthar thug gi phyag rgya chen po bya ba yin/ de dus gsum
gyi sangs rgyas kyi dgongs pa phyin ci ma log pa de yin pas / sangs rgyas logs nas
btsal du mi myed de /. My use of capital letters for certain nouns and phrases is,
by the way, meant to signal their greater weight within the context, and is not
necessarily intended as personification or hypostasization. The fashionable
rejection of capitals in some Buddhological circles (intended as a polemical
300
JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
prophylactic against theistic interpretation?) is, ironically, a\'1 admission of an
expressive potential which would be relinquished at a loss, in my opinion.
Buddhists rejected deities, but then went on to employ them. Buddhists rejected
essentialism, and then went on to employ essentialist tenus.
13. According to Kong-sprul, Shes-bya Kun Khyab, vol. 3, p. 385
realization is beyond the sphere of the three types of insight (shes rab): 1)
understandings (go yuI) that come from learning, 2) experiences (myong ba) that
come from pondering (bsam pa), and 3) experiences (nyams snang) that come from
meditating. This standpoint on the ultimate inadequacies of learning, pondering
and meditative experiences is supported in the following citation from Sgam-po-
pa. (Sa-skya PaI)<;li-ta however disagrees with the distinction, arguing that go and
rtogsare [or should be] synonyms, since employed by Tibetan translators to render
identical words in Indian languages; see Sa-skya PaI!<;li-ta, Sdom Gsum Rang
Mchan, p. 122.1).
14. pyirchos 1a byed lugs gnyis yin te / mtshan nyid shes par byed pa dang
/ rtogs pa thob par byed pa gnyis yin / thos bsam byed pa yang thabs yin / nyan
mongs pa'i grogs su ma song ba zhig dgos / shes pa' i 'bras bu 'chad pa yin te /
gting nas phan par mi 'dug gsungs / thos bsam gyi shes rab kyis lam ma sbyangs
kyang b1a ma dam pa gcig dang phrad nas / de 'j gdams ngag sgrub pa yin! rgyud
1a rtogs pa bskyed par nus pa yin / sgrub pa byed pa 'j dus su / 'jig rten pa'i rtog
pa spong ba dag a eang ehes te / bstan beos kyi tha snyad thams cad kyang brjed
dgos pa yin / thos pa rgya che ba yang tshig 1a rno ste / don 1a brtul ba yin I yon
tan skyon du 'gyur ba yin/.
15. See the context, in the translation below, to know what the "these"
refers to.
16. These words are located at the beginning of p. [55], in the translation
given below. Note that the page numbers in square brackets, intended to facilitate
cross-referencing the translation with the text, are the Arabic page numbers
supplied in the reprint of the Rtsib-n Spar-ma.
17. See the following translation, the end of p. [56] and beginning of p.
[57].
18. In fact, he has quite a few good words to say about learning.
19. See the end of p. [115] in the translation below.
20. P. [56], below.
21. This triad of bde, gsa1, and mi rtog pa occurs four times in Zhang Rin-
po-che's work. In Kong-sprul, Shes-bya Kun-khyab, vol. 3, p. 385, they are listed
as the three contributing factors (rkyen) of meditative experience (nyams; and note
on the following page a further discussion by the Eighth Karma-pa). See Guenther,
Royal Song; p. 35: "As a warning against becoming fettered by the experience of
staticness in clinging to this felt unit of cognition, by 'transcendence' the radiance
and. nothingness, devoid of the operations of the intellect, are indicated as
Mahamudra." One may detect in this translation, based on a passage from Karma-
'phrin-las-pa (1456-1539), the presence of the same terms being discussed here.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
301
I prefer the translation "clarity" (for gsal ba) to Guenther's "radiance," since it
refers to a direct or unmediated quality of experience (see McDermott, "Yogic
Direct Awareness," p. 150ff.).
22. The Tibetan text for the passage paraphrased here (Phag-gru Zhus-
lan, p. 27.1 ff,) is as follows: nyams ni blo'i cha las ma 'das pa yin te / dperna
sprin gseb kyi nyi ma dang' dra / bde gsal mi rtog pa gsum / res mtho res dma' Ia
gnas pa 'ong ba yin bas / 'di Ia rna zhen par bskyangs pas blo'i dri ma dwangs
nas nogs pa gdod 'char gsung /. A fuller rendering of this passage has been made
by H. Guenther, "nyams does not pass beyond the working of the intellect; it is like
the sun concealed behind the clouds. Sometimes the triad of radiance (gsal-ba),
bliss (bde-ba), and nondiscursiveness (mi-rtog-pa) is of high intensity; sometimes
it is of a low one and is coming and going. Rtogs-pa is an understanding when the
impurity of intellection has been removed because then this understanding is .
preserved in its integrity without there being any desire connected with it." (See
Guenther, Royal Song, p. 117, note 42.) Sgam-po-pa later (p. 37.5) compares the
onset of these meditative experiences to a man drunk on beer, a maiden having an
orgasm, and even a strong hatred, in the sense that one is completely absorbed in
the experience, unable to speak or think.
23. See p. [95], in the translation to follow.
24. See the end of p. [95], below.
25. On scriptural and commentarial sources for the Four Yogas, see Kong-
sprul, Shes-bya Kun Khyab, vol. 3, pp. 385-6; and Takpo Tashi Namgyal,
Mahlfmudra, pp. 354-8. Zhang Rin-po-che composed several brief works on the
subject of the Four Yogas for his disciple Khams-pa Mgon-ston, contained in
Zhang, Writings, pp. 499.5-531.1.
26. JackSon, p. 26 ff. For another early use of the phrase cig shes kun grai,
see the song in Karma-pa I, Selected Writings, vol. 1, p. 315.6 (note also the
scriptural citations stating that one single teaching, in this case compassion, is
sufficient on pp. 295-296). A later use of the phrase is found in Karma-'phrin-las-
pa, Songs of Esoteric Practice, p. 138.4.
27. It certainly does make everything simpler if everyone is required to
follow the same disciplines and undergo the same stages in their development. The
student is then completely predictable, and theteacheris absolved from the difficult
responsibility of reading the student's mind. See Phag-gru Zhus-Ian, p. 30, where
Sgam-po-pa says that, without clairvoyance, one cannot assess the minds of others
to know which teachings will be appropriate for them.
28. See Zhang, Writings, p. 509.7, where it is directly stated that the
distinctions among the Four Yogas were designed with "gradualists" (rims kyis
pa) in mind.
29. These words, attributed to Phag-mo-gru-pa, appear in 'Jig-rten-
mgon-po, Works, vol. 4, p. 408.
30. Phag-gru Zhus-Ian, p. 51: serns nyid dang chos nyid gcig gam tha dad
zhus pas / sems nyid dang chos nyid gnyis gcig yin te / sems kyi'od chos nyid yin
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pas I seIIiS nyid rtogs pas cb.os nyid sgrog rang brdal du 'gro ste I ... sems kyi ngo
bo '00' zhig bsgoms pas chog gsung /.See also Zhang Rin-po-che's text, "a
moment of Great Insight grants mastery of the nature of all dharmas" (p. [81],
below).
31. These passages are found on pp. 33-34,37-40,41-45.
32. This initial depression of thinking one is a failure at meditation is also
mentioned in Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 41.4.
33. Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 33.2-6: de la brtson 'grus bskyed nas bsgorns
pas dang por sems 'phro ba tsug 'dug kyang I rtog pa 'i bag chags je chung du 'grO
bayin Irtogpa chungdusong bas sems nyidje dangsje dangsla 'gro bayinldes
sgribs thams cad 'dzad pa yin I dus de tsam na bya ba !hams cad btad la bla rna
dang I yi dam la sogs pa la gsol ba 'debs pa dang I mos gus drag po byed pa dang
Ibya 00 btangnas bsgompala brtsonpaskompa chu 'thung ba' 'dra bazhigdgos
pa yin no II dus de tsam na nga (pa?) bsgom mi 'ong snyam pa kun la yang I nan
tan byas pas 'ong gin 'dug /.
34. Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 39.4-6: . rang gi rig pa 'di roam rtog gis rna
bskyod par crr yang ma bcos gang la yang mi sems par gzhag pa ste I ling nge 'dzin
gyi rgyal po yin pas nges pa 'i shes pa skye dgos I kha cig de ltar skyes kyang /
yin parma shes pas I sgom de dmigs gtad can nam / nyams myong can nam I yang
na roam rtog 'gags snang ba nub nas ro bzhin du 'dod 'jug ste I de min gsung /.
35. Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 34.1-4: shes pa rten med pa gang la yang mi
red (myed?) par I spros pa thams cad dang bra} ba rig pa'i ngo bo shun pa bshus
pa 'dra ba'am I ngo bo la snying po bcug pa lta bu zhig 'ong ste I de tsam na rna
myed pa myed ngo ma shes pa shes / dbul po 'i lag tu gter myed pa lta bur zag pa
med pa'i dga' ba rgyas pa 'ong ste / sems spro sing nge dga' sing nge ba zhig yong
ba yin no II de la nan tan bskyed nas bsgoms pas 'khrul pa'i rtog pa mams sangs
I ruol sgrub kyi nyams len dang bral nas I rig pa spros med du song bas spros bra}
gyi mal 'byor zhes bya ste /.
36.Phag-gruZhus-lan,p.40.1-2: 'khor 'daskyi chos thamscadrang sems
kyi roam 'phrul yin te I sems nyid skye ba med pa rtsad chod nas 'khor 'das kyi
chos thams cad rang sar dag pa'j nges pa'i shes pa lhangs kyis skye dgos /.
37. This clarification is supplied in Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 43.3.
38. "Unclassifiable" translates lung du ma bstan. This might be compared
to the usage of lung dumi ston in the statements of Hwa-shang Mo-ho-yen (G6mez,
''The Direct and the Gradual," p. 112, p. 160 note 40).
39. Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 34.4-5: snang ba la blo btang yang mi 'gro bar
snang ba dgag sgrub dang bral ba ste / snang ba thams cad lung ma bstan du 'gro
ba yin no II de la bsgoms pas yun ring du gnas pas du ma ro gcig gi mal 'byor zhes
bya 00 nang nas 'char te /.
40. Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 40.3-40.5: sems kyi snang ba rig pa 'i rtsal mam
tog sna tshogs su'gyus kyang gnyen po gzhan rten mi dgos par sems kyi mam rtog
nyid la bden pa dang rtag par ma grub bar ngo bo nyid kyis ma skyes te /.
PATII OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
303
41. The yoga leading up to Non-meditation is called the Ceaseless Flow
Yoga (chu bo rgyun gyi mal 'byor), a favored term in the songs of Mi-Ia-ras-pa.
42. This is only a partial translation of the following passage from Phag-
gru Zhus-lan, pp. 34.5-36.6: mam rtog gi snang ba la rig pas sgro 'dogs gcod mi
dgos par I thams cad sems su thag chod pa zhig 'ong ba yin no II de tsam na rang
rkya thub pa zhig 'ong ba yin I de yang bl0 yar ldan du 'ong ste I snang ba' di sems
kyi mam 'phrul yin par shes pa zhig skye ste I bsgom mi dgos par snang ba 'di res
sgyu mar mthong I res stong par mthong Ires rtog pa 'phro btsug byed I rig pa dang
stong pa ngo sprad pa 'i gnad kas ngo bo la blo lhan gyis bzhag tsa nal rtog pa thams
cad gar song cha med la 'gro ba yin I de la yun ring du sing nge gnas pas bsgom
du med pa'i mal 'byor zhes bya ba skye ste I snang ba thams cad chos nyid 'ad
gsal du 'char roll 'dod chags la sogs pa nyon mongs pa dang mam rtog skyes pa
dang I chos nyid 'od gsal du lhag gis shar ba dang gnyis dus gcig tu lhangs lhangs
shar ba yin no II de ci'i phyir zhe na I snang ba dang rtog pa chos nyid rang yin
pa 'j phyir ro II rig pa dang chos sku rdo rus phrad pa 'i gnad kas I bsgom mi dgos
par chos skur lhangs lhangs 'char ra II de tsam na mnyam gzhag dang ryes thob med
payin telbsgomskyang 'ong 1a ma bsgomkyang 'ong ba'oll 'gro 'chagnyal 'dug
ci byas kyang chos nyid 'od gsa1 rgyun chad med par gnas so II de 'j dus rig stong
gi ngo bo 1a nges pa 'i shes pas nang du bltas pa 'i dus su I ngo bo'i don de la gang
gis kyang ma phog pa yin I pha ral tu phyin pa 'i smra bsam brjod med kyis kyang
mapong (Phog) I dbu mapa'i ngobo nyid kyis skye ma myong byaspas kyang
ma phog I ma M mu dras bIo las 'das pa yin byas pas kyang ma phog I sems tsam
pa'i Ita ba rang rig rang gsal yin byas pas kyang ma phog II nga 'j tshig gis brjod
pa de mams kyis yang e mi phog I de nges pa 'j shes pa kha phyir b1tas pa 'j dus
su tshig tsam du mtshon na demams gang dang yang mj 'gal bayinlde ci'iphyir
zhe na I rig pa dang snang ba bkag pas mi khegs I de nyidkyi don stong pa nyid
de bsgrubs pas mi 'grub I de tsam na tshig dang tha snyad rtog pa 'j spyod yu1 min
I phyogs re nas mtshon na gang dang yang m thun I de 'i dus su mnyam gzhag chen
po'i mal 'byor zhes kyang bya'o I/,
43. Phag-gru Zhus-lan, pp. 40.5-41.1: sems kyi mam rtog dang bsgoms
pa'j nyams dang rtogs pa'i shes Tab mams ngo bo mthong ba'j mthus dbyiJlgs su
yal te I tha mal gyi shes pa ma beos pa ehos nyid du ngos 'dzin pa nges pa 'i shes
pa lhangs kyis skye dgos I.
44. Another source suggests that the word for "glue" (rtsJ) should be
interpreted as "honey" (sbrang rtsJ), with the simile being that one should not be
like the bee that gets stuck in its own honey (see the words of Tilopa to Naropa
contained in Dpa'-bo, Mkhas-pa'i Dga'-ston, vol. 1, p. 770). The text for the list
of "crucial things" reads as follows (Phag-gruZhus-1an,p. 45.2-5): 1ardangportse
geig gi mal 'byor gyi dus su I 'du 'dzi spangs shing bTtson 'grus bskyed pa gal che
I de nas spros bral gyi mal 'byor gyi dus su gtang snyoms 1a ma 1us par shes pa
ngar dang bcas pa gal che I du ma TO geig gi mal 'bYOT gyi dus su go yuI spyi 'i mam
pa dang ma 'dres par nang du nyams su myong ba gal che I bsgom du med pa'i
mal 'byor gyi dus su nyams myong gi rtsi la ma 'byar ba gal che gsung ngo II nyams
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
la ma zhen pa zhig dgos gsung /.
45. Kong-sprul, Shes-bya Kun Khyab, vol. 3, p. 379. It may not be
immediately transparent that a "seal" requires both something to make, as well as
something to receive, the impress. These two things, metaphors for the knowing
. faculties and the universe of knowables, are thoroughly united in the Great Seal.
It is a universal embrace that "has no duality of embracer and embraced" (p. [57]).
46. This passage, from the Sher-grub-ma autobiography (dating from
1166), is contained in Zhang, Writings, p. 13.
47. We also have a collection of songs composed at Brag-sngon (which
was in the high part of a valley above Bsam-yas Monastery), contained in Zhang,
Writings, pp. 601-627. Two of these songs supply the Bird year date, which must
be 1165.
48. See Roerich, tr., Blue Annals, pp. 844-846; Tshal-pa, Deb-ther Dmar-
po, p. 127. See also Dpa'-bo, Mkhas-pa'j Dga'-ston, vol. I, p. 513, where he is
called Bai-ro-tsa-na-badzra (i.e., Vairocanavajra). Unfortunately, the biography of
Vairocanavajra composed by Zhang Rin-po-che is not available in Zhang,
Writings. This biography was entitled Bm-TO 'j Rnam-thar BJa-ma Rnal- 'byor-pa.
Still, we are able to glean some information about him from other writings by
Zhang Rin-po-che. In one place (Zhang, Writings, p. 429.4), he is called a yogic
practitioner of the royal clan Tsa-he (?) in the city So-na-tha-pu-ri (modern
Sonetpur?)in the Indian region of South Ko-sa-la, or present day western Orissa.
Zhang Rin-po-che also names the authors of the Dohas that Vairocanavajra taught
him - those of Saraha, Ka-kha, Tilopa, and Virupa (Bhir-ba-ba).
Vairocanavajra (Bla-ma Bai-ro) was also a teacher of Dus-gsum-mkhyen-pa
(Karma-pa I, Selected Writings, p. 71.1). It is perhaps important to point out that
Vairocanavajra was a holder of Indian lineages stemming from Tilopa and Naropa,
making him, for all practical purposes, a member of an "Indian sister-branch" of
the Bka' -brgyud-pa (for the lineages, see Zhang, Writings, pp. 442.3-444.4).
49. There
is a rather direct allusion here to Amoghapasa (Don-yod-zhags-pa), "Lasso that
Reaches its Aim," a form of Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva of compassion.
50. This
and the nine preceding lines have been translated in Jackson, p. 28.
51.Com-
pare this and the preceding four lines to the citation in Thu'u-bkwan, Grub-mtha',
p.146.
52. Great Se1fhood (bdag nyid che) is a typical Buddhist usage of an
"essentialist" or "substantivist" term. Zhang Rin-po-che is not unique in
employing it. It is to be found in the songs of the Indian Mahasiddhas and in the
Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron, etc. Buddhist thinkers are quite systematic in denying the
"essentialist" usage of these terms, another example of such a term being
"substantiality" (ngo bo nyid). One is often asked to recognize that the "absence
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
305
of essence" is what is referred to as "essence." The same holds for "reality"
concepts.
53. These two lines allude to two kinds of philosophy (grub mtha): 1)
non-Buddhist philosophy which is to the Buddhist mind "extremist," and 2)
Buddhist philosophy conceived as the "middle way" between extremes.
54. "Object of science" translates brtag pa 'i yul, "subject for investigation
(or, analysis)." Rtog dpyod ("pondering and analysis'') acts as a compound word
to refer to any investigation of something with a view to ascertain its causes.
55. What is being said here is that the real condition cannot really be
.. "presented," as the statement in quote marks implies, let alone uncompromisingly
presented. "The Sage" here means SakyamuniBuddha.
56. For another use of the same phrase, tha snyad tshig tshogs, see Karma-
'phrin-Ias-pa, Songs of Esoteric Practice, p. 138.2 (and see also p. 23.7).
57. Vajrasattva (Rdo-rje-sems-dpa').
58. This line is echoed in Karma- 'phrin-Ias-pa, Songs of Esoteric Practice,
p.35.4: 'khor ba 'di 1a su zhig yid smon byed, "Who would place their hopes in
this vicious circle?"
59. This and the seven lines preceding find clear parallels of both
substance and wording in Karma-pa I, Selected Writings, vol. 1, p. 324.
60. Pakshi (here spelled dpag sm) most generally represents a Tibetan
loanword from Mongolian, meaning "a monk" (and if so it might wrongly lead us
to suspicions about its presence in a pre-Mongolian period composition). This must
rather be an earlier borrowing from Chinese which means "a Chinese storyteller"
(see Chang, Dictionary, p. 1607) or an itinerant singer/storyteller/juggler. This
seems the most likely explanation, especially given the mention of "song." It is
still not impossible that this could be a pre-Mongolic borrowing of a similar-
sounding Uighur word (in tum borrowed from Chinese) meaning "scholar,"
"learned person." In any case, this small detail might help us to argue for Zhang
Rin-po-che's connections (even at this early date?) with the northeast, where
Tibetan-Chinese-Uighur contacts were most strong, in particular with the kingdom
of the Tanguts. I must acknowledge and thank Dr. Elliot Sperling (Bloomington)
for his letter on the subject (August 14, 1991).
6l:Literally, "set life and limb up as a target." The same phrase occurs
in Zhang, Writings, p. 641.4.
62. It may be of interest to note that the first three chapters of the Tibetan
text are in ll-syllable verse, while all the chapters which remain are in 7-syllable
verse. It may be that the first three chapters were originally meant to form an
autonomous work.
63. This rather awkward-sounding term is borrowed from Jackson, since
the Tibetan term (cig char) refers not to tfie swiftness of Enlightenment but to the
accomplishment of many aims "all at once" (although in fact, as Zhang himself
says, the full results of this simultaneous accomplishment may take some time to
become as distinguished from the gradualist's accomplishment of one
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JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
thing at a time.
64. This particular usage of the peacock metaphor is found in Indian
compositions that may have served as direct sources for these statements (although
I think it was more generally "in the air"), especially in two works of Dharmaraksita
a teacher of Ati.sa, to be found in the Blo-sbyong Brgya-rtsa anthology (for
in English translation, see Dharmaralqita, Wheel of Sharp Weapons). '
65. For the "ideal conditions," see Sgam-po-pa's words in Guenther (rr.),
Jewel Omament, chapter 2; for impermanence, see chapter 4; and for Refuge, see
chapter 8.
66. For this, I refer the in teres ted reader to the discussion in Gyatso, Clear
Light, pp. 222-223.
67. The same ideas (and in a form that might convince us that Sa-skya
PaI:JQ.i-ta was familiar with Zhang Rin-po-che's work) are found in the Sdom Gsum
Rab-dbye of Sa-skya PaI:JQ.i-ta; see Jackson, p. 107, note 111. The text available
to me (Sa-skya PaI:JQ.i-ta, Sdom Gsum Rang Mchan, p. 73.6) reads:
dbang bskur byas kyang ma thob dang II
ma byas kyang ni thob pa dang II
byas na thob 1a ma byas na II
mi thob pa dang mam bzhir 'dod II
It is claimed that there are four classes:
[There are those who] did not obtain empowerments even though they
were done,
[who] although not done obtained them,
[who] will obtain them if done,
and [those who] will not obtain them if done.
Sa-skya adds that this is nowhere taught [in thetantras] and is simply a
pretext for stirring up (or disturbing) the teachings. This does not do justice to Sa-
skya PaI:JQ.i-ta's arguments, but to do so would require a detailed study of his work
as a whole. He argues quite vigorously for the necessity of empowerment for those
who practice tantra, and admits of no exceptions (see especially pp. 65 and 68 of
the above-mentioned work).
68. As a simile for clear and unmediated experience, this is reminiscent
of DharmakIrti's simile for the Stage of Seeing, "As clear [or vivid] as if one were
gazing at an amalaka [fruit] on the palm of one's hand." (McDermott, "Yogic
Direct Awareness," p. 152.)
69. The chapter up to this point has been translated in Jackson, p. 64.
70. This and the three preceding lines translated in Takpo Tashi Namgyal,
Mahmudra, p. 328.
71. This and the three lines preceding are cited in Thu'u-bkwan, Grub-
mtha', p. 148.
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
307
72. This and the six lines preceding are cited, in a partial fashion, in Thu'u-
bkwan, Grub-mtha', p. 148.
73. The preceding metaphors of the water down a steep mountainside (Ii
gzar), the slow river and the ocean are found in earlier sources, notably in the Bsam-
gtan Mig SgIOn, p. 162.1. See also Karma-'phrin-Ias-pa, Songs of Esoteric
Practice, p. 36.2.
74. As noted in the introduction, these are the three variable components
of meditative experiences.
75. "Enjoy" (myong). Also, "to undergo [an experience]," as in nyams
myong, "experience," which is the subject of the chapter. The word itself also
implies an "aesthetic" (nyams, =Skt. rasa) experience, in the sense of a shared
emotion (as conveyed through literary, dramatic or the plastic arts).
76. Philologist" translates rtog ge ba, although the term covers much
philosophical endeavor as well (note Jackson, p. 95, where it is translated
"dialectician"). I believe that, in Zhang Rin-po-che's use of the term, it refers to
all those who have an excessively text-based (or logocentric) approach to life or
who are overly fond of philological insights.
77. This is an unacknowledged quotation from the Hevajra Tantra, but we
are supposed to know this. He cites this same verse by title in Zhang, Writings,
pp. 697.3, 708.4. Compare Snellgrove, tr., Hevajra Tantra, Lviii.36. The passage
which immediately follows this verse is considered a very important source-text
for the Bka'-brgyud-pa understanding of MahamudrlI, since (directly and indi-
rectly) it mentions the Four Yogas.
78. These are the four main types of Buddhist philosophies recognized by
Tibetan Buddhists, who almost invariably claim to follow the fourth, the
Madhyamaka. Here the Buddhist philosophies are seen as entirely matters for
meditative realization, not as the logical positivist sorts of constructionism that
philosophy, when limited to its own preferred devices, ends up in. If the
Madhyamika philosopher Candrakirti takes the yogic experience of directly seeing
the world as it is as the basis for his philosophizing (Huntington, "System of the
Two Truths," p. 81; McDermott, "Yogic Direct Perception"), it is difficult to justify
a simple reversal of priorities holding that philosophy must necessarily precede
the experience.
79. Text G adds a line here which translates, "Who sees immaculacy itself
is entirely disentangled."
80. Text G has an interesting variant reading of skas ka 'i ("of [a] ladder")
in place of gnyis ka ("both"), which might result in a translation, "on a scaie from
high to low."
81. I read brtan forthe bstan of the text. For the simile of the small1amp
and the forest fire, see also Zhang, Writings, p. 539.3.
82. Text G inserts a line here that translates, "It is important to tend the
lamp of realization [or] .... "
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nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
. 83. Tsha tshas are small clay plaques with Buddha and Chorten images
the letters of a dharaI)i on them, or they may be miniature chortens (mchod rten/
All the devotional practices listed here have, at least since the time of AtiSa and
many of them certainly before, been done by Tibetan laypersons (except the fIre
offerings, which are usually done by high Lamas). I hope to return to this subject
of Tibet's popular religious practices, and their history, in another place.
84. This is a slightly elusive reference to the five elixirs of Highest Yoga
Tantras: excrement, urine, white badhicitta (semen), red badhicitta (menstrual
blood), and bone marrow (or, in other lists, human flesh).
85. This most likely means the most usual "five strengths" (a different list
is known to the Mind Training tradition of the Bka' -gdams-pa school): power of
faith, power of perseverence, power of memory, power of meditative concentra-
tion, and power of insight.
86. These are the five sensory qualities: form, sound, taste, smell, and
touch.
87. The six heaps (or, aggregates) are the sensory consciousnesses of the
eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.
88. This is perhaps the best translation for mam nag (Skt vikalpa). Rnam
rtog is the stream of mental conflicts and concerns that rule the mind in ordinary
life, and constitute the main obstacle to meditation until sufficient detachment has
been developed, whereupon, at last, they can be simply left alone to foHow their
own course (or "play themselves out"). Elsewhere, I have just used the translation
"interfering thoughts" for mam rtag, and what is, in this context, its near synonym,
rtogpa.
89. This metaphor is common to the early Bka' -hrgyud-pa tradition, and
the words can be traced in the works of Sgam-po-pa and others.
90. The intent of the statement is that meditation and post-meditation are
defined by the state of the mind, regardless whether one is in meditation posture
or engaged in everyday activities. For alternative translations of this passage, see
Takpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra, pp. 262, 359.
91. An alternative translation of the following passage is located in Takpo
Tashi Na.mgyal, Mahamudra, p. 360 (note there the translation of spros bral by
"nondiscriminatory"). "Un fissured integral" is my currently favored translation of
spros bral (Sanskrit, ni$prapaiica) , which signifies going beyond attempts to inject
or subtract things into or out of reality because under the influences of mental
structures, systems of thought, or emotional reactions. A fIssured integral (spros)
has thread-like tentacles that reach out and tuck the reality concept safely into
experience, . making sure the resulting "reality" satisfies rational and irrational
demands on it. Note Huntington's ("System of the Two Truths," p. 82) translation
of prapanca as "conceptual diffusion." Note also one modern Tibetan meditation
teacher's (or his translator'S?) use of the translation "simplicity" for spros bral
(Thrangu Rinpoche, Buddha Nature, p. 114).
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
309
92. "Qualitative equivalence" translates TO snyoms , the name of the third
yoga. See Takpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra, p. 360, for another translation of
the passage following.
93. See T;licpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra, pp. 361 and 394, for two
different translations of the passage that follows. The preceding lines are also
translated in the same work, p. 367.
94. The five Total Knowledges are Mirror-like, Equality, Particularized
Understanding, Deed Accomplishing, and Dharma Realm. Together with the
Three Bodies, these are especially used to charactarize the Goal (see Guenther,
Jewel Ornament,chapter 20).
95. The last 4 lines translated in Jackson, p. 76.
96. The preceding lines translated in Takpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra,
p.367.
97. Tsampa is the staple of Tibetan culinary arts, a flour made from dry-
roasted barley. The most usual way to eat it is by first adding butter and hot tea.
Any attempt to swallow it dry would certainly result in choking, hence the very apt
metaphorical usage.
98. Literally, "empty chamber" (khang stong). Sometimes the troubling
thoughts that break through the meditative stability are conceived as robbers in an
empty chamber. Since they have no way to carry out their intended actions, they
naturally subside. However, here the metaphor serves for those who believe that
creating a blank slate, free of troubling thoughts, is the way to Buddhahood, a
position with which the early Bka' -brgyud-pa teachers in particular had no
sympathy. Text G reads kha Ita yug pa instead of khang stong yug po. The former
might be translated, "stuck to the surface" (?).
99. These eight worldly dharmas include concerns for gaining profit,
comfort, acclaim and good reputation; as well as concerns to avoid loss, discomfort,
criticism and damaged reputation.
100. This line, which reads: nyams myong mi gees rtogs pa gees, is quite
parallel to a citation from aRnying-ma tantra, the Kun-tu-bzang-po Che-balaRang
Gnas-pa, found in Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron, p. 51.5: bsgomspa mi gtsortogspagtso,
"It is realization that is the main thing, not meditation."
101. For a discussion of the four dhyanas (paIi, jhlina), see Sole-Leris,
Tranquillity and Insight, pp. 56-72.
102. Mi gnas myang 'das. This means the utter nirv3I}a that is not
placeable (mi gnas) in either nirvliI}a or sa1J1sara, in the Mahayana system.
103. In this line, Zhang Rin-po-che seems to allude to the idea that words,
as the conceptual furnishings of language, are locked in a system of mutual regard
in the same manner as the objective furnishings of the world of quotidian
experience. Hence, knowing the interdependent "net" of words would be to know
"relativity," "voidness," Dharma Proper, Dharma Body, the very mind, substan-
tiality, the actual condition, etc. (See Huntington, "System of the Two Truths," pp.
100-101.)
310
JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
. 104. Lo-rascpa Dbang-phyug-brtson- 'grus was a disciple of Rgya-ras-pa
(?). One source gives him the birth date 1187 (making him too late to be quoted
in a work of Zhang Rin-po-che!). However, here Lo-ras (but note text G's LO-ro'i
and text N' s Lo-ros) is most likely a contraction of Lo-ra Ras-pa, a frequent name
for Ras-chung-pa (the disciple of Mi-Ia-ras-pa) who spent much of his later life in
Lo-ro (in the eastern part of Dbus, inside the Brahmaputra bend). For another
"ultimate" interpretation of Refuge taking, see Phag-gru Zhus-lan, p. 60.5.
105. The two kinds of activities referred to are, in Tibetan, phyogs las
mam rgyal spyod pa and mnyam gzhag chen po'j spyod pa. Zhang Rin-po-che
implies, perhaps with tongue in cheek, that the tantras are clear about the phases
of "tantric activity," although this is one of the points on which they are most
opaque and double-meaning. See, for example, part one, chapter six of the Hevajra
Tantra. One may also refer to Kong -sprul' s chapter on action in the Shes-bya Kun
Khyab (vol. 3, pp. 533-566).
106. Many translators in the past took so sor thar pa (Sanskrit,pratimok$a
to mean "individual liberation "without carefull y considering who the "individual(s)"
might be. The code of the Vinaya enumerates quite specific things that should
simply be dismissed from the realm of the possible, resulting in a great sense of
relief for those who choose to dedicate themselves to the most typically Buddhist
lifestyle, that of the renunciate.
107. The first eight lines here may be compared to the translation of
Jackson, p. 78, while the remainder of the chapter is translated in Jackson, p. 31.
108. This is the first mention of this metaphor, which has been the subject
of much controversy among Tibetan Buddhists and Tibetan Buddhologists. See
Jackson and references supplied there, and especially his own forthcoming works
on the subject.
109. Here, as elsewhere noted, "unplaceable" (mi gnas) means that it
cannot be "placed" in either nirvm;a or saJ[1sfira.
llO. For the characteristics of the Complete Assets Body CLongs-spyod
Rdzogs-pa'i Sku, Sambhoga-kaya), see the passage in Gyatso, Clear Light, pp.
222-223, mentioned above.
111. "With signs" means employing visualizations of letters, disks,
deities, etc.; and, in the Completion Stage, the "winds" and "drops" of the subtle
body. Some believe this kind of contemplation to be essential for the later
materialization of divine forms (the Three Bodies) subsequent to Enlightenment.
Zhang Rin-po-che suggests that the three factors of meditative experience are the
true basis for the ultimate "materialization" of the Three Bodies.
'112. These two types of consciousness transference ('pho ba and grong
'jug) are among the Six Y ogas of Naropa. As implied here, they may have still
greater ends than the more evident ones (to project one's own or another's
consciousness to a high level, or to inject ones own consciousness into another
bodily vehicle).
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
311
113. Literally, "village" (grong khyer).
114. This refers to the Praji'iaparamita and its traditional exegesis, and
1110st specifically to the Stages of the Path outlined in the Abhisamaylilarpkara The
word mtsl1an nyid, here translated "philosophical," is actually quite difficult to
render in an English tenn. The apparent literal meaning of the word comes closer
to the literal meaning of the word "semiotics" than to "philosophy." A possible
translation would be "signification." This and preceding lines are quoted in Thu 'u-
bkwan, Grub-mtha', p. 149.
114. As pointed outby Thu'u-bkwan, Grub-mtha',p. 149, this correlation
of the five "Stages" (lam gyi rim pa) with the Four Yogas is quite similar to the
correlation (later) made by Rgod-tshang-pa (1189-1258), who says that the first
Yoga corresponds to the "acting in faith" (mos spyod) stage [which corresponds
to both the Stage of Accumulation, tsl10gs lam, and the Stage of Preparation, sbyor
lam], the second Yoga corresponds to the Stage of Seeing (mtl1ong lam), the third
Yoga is the second through seventh Levels (sa) [which in their totality are
equivalent to the fIrst Levels of the Stage of Cultivation (bsgom Jam)], while the
fourth Yoga corresponds to the three pure Levels [the eighth through tenth] of the
Stage of Cultivation. Sa-skyaPaI,lc;li-ta (see his Sdom Gsum Rang Mchan, p. 122.5)
cites a quite different correlation between the four Yo gas and the five Stages. See
still another explanation in Thrangu Rinpoche, Buddha Nature, p. 114.
115. These lines are also translated in Takpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra,
p.407.
117. The preceding three lines are translated in Jackson, p. 92, while the
following four lines are translated in Jackson, p. 76.
118. The jack tree (pa na se, Sanskrit panas) has what are perhaps the
largest and heaviest fruits of any tree, and the fruits grow along, rather than at the
ends of the limbs. Sometimes, which seems most significant for the present
metaphor, they are said to grow on the roots themselves. One must be aware in
this and the following statements, that "goal," "result" and "fruit" are the same
word in Tibetan ('bras bu, but also the Sanskrit word phala).
119. The "Five Bodies" (sku 1nga) are the usual Three Bodies 1) Dharma
Body, 2) Complete Assets Body, 3) Emanation Body, with the addition of 4)
Substantiality Body and 5) Unchanging Adamant Body.
120. In other words, "non-meditation."
121. Literally, "not inert matter" (bems min).
122. The preceding three lines translated in Jackson, p. 29.
123. Compare the Six Perfections according to Mo-ho-yen (Gomez, "The
Direct and the Gradual," pp. 121-123). Compare also the citation from Dpal-
brtsegs found in Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron, p. 132.2 ff. These two lists, as well as the
list of Zhang, represent "ultimate" and meditation-based interpretations of the Six
(or Ten) Perfections. (The source for these references is Jackson, pp. 104-5, note
105, where the citation from the Bsam-gtan Mig Sgron is given in full).
312
JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
124. Later on, this Chos-kyi-blo-gros (a rather common name in Tibetan
history) is called, in our main text, Bar-pa. However, a work of the Dalai Lama
V (Gsan-yjg, vol. 2, p. 185.6) calls him the "disciple" (nye gnas) Mar-pa, as does
our text G. Now, Mar-pa Chos-kyi-blo-gros is the most usual name for the famous
teacher of Mi-la-ras-pa, but it appears that this disciple of Zhang Rin-po-che Was
simply the namesake of the more famous master, albeit someone belonging to the
same clan. Lists of Zhang Rin-po-che's disciples do include an image-maker
named Mar-pa Lha-dkar, although this may not be the same Mar-pa who requested
him to compose this work (the latter called, in the Rgyal-blon-ma biography,
Sgom-pa Mar-pa).
125. "Never-reified and never-deconstructed" translates sgro bskur ye
med, which in general terms means "never from beginningless time made out to
be more or less than it actually is."
126. These "perfect endowments" (dal 'byor) are discussed in great detail
in the Stages of the Path (Lam-rim) literature. See, for example, Guenther, tr.,
Jewel Omament, chapter 2.
. 127. Rdor-'dzin is a short form of Rdo-rje-'dzin-pa, which is an epithet
for Vajradhara, Vajrapfu:1i, and also, by extention, for tantric teachers.
128. These four sets of extreme positions may be understood so: 1.
creationist positivism/ cessationist nihilism 2. etemalist positivism/ apocalyptic
nihilism 3. existence positivism/ nonexistence nihilism. 4. phenomenal positiv-
ism/ emptiness nihilism.
129. The word for "sameness" here is ro snyoms, qualitative equivalence.
130. The possessing spirits in question here, the gdon spirits, are
especially held accountable in Tibetan medicine for psychiatric disorders, includ-
ing some specific to children.
131. This is the end of chapter 13. The following section (until the next
triple asterisk) is Zhang Rin-po-che's own colophon to his work.
132. Sgrub brgyud, "accomplishment transmission," is sometimes distin-
guished from don brgyud, "meaning transmission."
133. Compare Dpa' -bo, 1'v1khas-pa 'j Dga' -ston, vol. 1, p. 769: te los tshig
gcig ma gsungs 1a / na ros tshig gcig rna nyan te / byin r1abs rtogs pa 'phos pas gro1
/ - "Tilopa did not teach one word, and Naropa did not hear one word, but was
liberated by the transference of realization through blessings."
134. Our main text reads Bar-pa, but text Greads Mar-pa. Also, the record
of teachings received by the Dalai Lama V (Gsan-yig, vol. 2, pp. 185-186) says
that his work was written at the urging of the disciple Mar-pa at Chos-bu'i Rgang-
po Brag. According to the same source, the work should end with the words,
"Spoken by the Rin-po-che himself' (rin po che nyid gsung ngo), although these
words do riot occur in our text.
135. This last enconium to Zhang Rin-po-che was probably written by La-
dwags Khri-dpon Padma-chos-rgyal (1876-1958), who also wrote the "printer's
colophon" (par byang) which is not included here (although it is included in the
PATH OF ULTIMATE PROFUNDITY
313
text edition). It was the La-dwags Khri-dpon who compiled the thirty volume
collection of Great Perfection and Great Seal teachings from which this text is
taken, the so-called Tsibri Prints (Rtsib-ri Par-rna). For a photograph of the La-
dwags Khri-dpon, who spent the later years of his life near the northern border of
Nepal, see Aziz, Tibetan Frontier Families.
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III. REVIEWS
Mind Only: A Philosophical and Doctrinal Analysis of the Vijiifinavfida,
by Thomas E. Wood. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991.
Monographs of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy,
vol. 9. xiv + 290 pages, notes, appendices, bibliography, index.
The goal of this book is well expressed in its title. Wood wants to engage in a
properly philosophical analysis of the texts of the classical Indian Vijfianavada, and
in so doing to show that they contain unresolved conceptual tensions, and even at
times outright contradictions. Briefly, Wood sees the Vijfianavada as defending the
following claims: (1) that only individual minds exist-a kind of pluralistic
idealism; (2) that the illusion of a shared experience of publicly available
extramental things is explicable causally by the fact of immediate telepathic contact
among these minds-a kind of collective hallucinationism; and (3) that Buddha is
omniscient, and that all Buddha's awareness is nondual-or, more generally, that
there is a single universal nondual consciousness. He then argues that these three
claims cannot coherently be held together, and that the Vijfianavada thinkers
uneasily realized this and hovered between two resolutions, neither of which was
fully acceptable to them because of other doctrinal commitments. The first was
solipsism, which involves the denial of the existence of other minds, and so also
the rejection of both (1) and (2). And the second was monistic idealism, the doctrine
that there is an "infinite and omniscient mind of one sort or another" (p. 190), and
that this is all there is. This second resolution also entails the denial of (1) and (2),
although it strongly affirms (3) - and indeed may be said to grow out of it.
These are strong and controversial claims. One might take issue with
them exegetically, by arguing that the texts of the classical Indian Vijfianavada do
not express the views attributed to them by Wood. Or one might question them
historically, by arguing that Wood, as a result of choosing an artificially delimited
range of texts upon which to base his exegesis, does not consider a broader
intellectual context that will make sense of the conceptual tensions he finds. Or,
finally, one might argue with them philosophically, by trying to show that Wood's
320
REVIEWS
321
claims as to the i n c o ~ e r e n c e of (1), (2): and. (3) ru:e not defensible. Doing anyone
of these would requITe a long essay; m thIS reVIew I shall attempt only a brief
summary of Wood's historical, exegetical, and philosophical positions, together
with even briefer suggestions as to how they might be improved. I disagree
profoundly with a great deal of what Wood says: I think he is exegetically often
wrong, that he has artificially limited the range of textual materials he draws upon
in such a way as to call his conclusions into question, and that even philosophically
he is only sometimes right; but I applaud his attempt to take these texts with
philosophical seriousness and to promote philosophical discussion of them, and I
judge that if his work gets the response it deserves we will all learn something of
philosophical interest about Vijfianavada. Those who are stimulatingly wrong
often, in the end, produce more knowledge than those who are safely but boringly
right.
After a brief introduction (pp. ix-xiv) in which the central themes of the
book are foreshadowed, the first three chapters (pp. 1-60) deal with the trisvabhava
doctrine. Here Wood uses the Madhyantavibhaga (MV), the Trisvabhavanirdesa
(TSN), and the Trirpsika (Trif]1s), as the basis for his discussion, providing a
transliterated Sanskrit text and translation of MV i.1-22, as well as a complete text
and translation of TSN and Trif]1s. In the fourth chapter (pp. 63-89) he discusses
the question of Nirvana and B uddhahood, once again basing most of what he says
upon Triqls and TSN. In chapters 5-8 (pp. 93-159) he analyzes what is for him the
central philosophical question: that of holding together claims about the existence
of other minds with claims about Buddha's omniscience. Here he draws upon
the Virpsatika (Vif]1s), providing a complete text and translation, as well as the
Santanantarasiddhi (SS), the Tattvasarigraha (Ts) and its paiIjika (Tsp), and the
SantanantaradiiaIJa (SD). And in the two concluding chapters (pp. 163-190) he
provides an analysis and critique of the doctrine of collective hallucination,
drawing mainly upon Vif]1s and upon the French and English renderings (by La
Vallee Poussin and Wei Tat) of the Chinese versions of some of its commentaries.
Four appendices provide information of a historical kind about the texts used; a
"free rendering" of SS (pp. 207-218) based only upon a comparison of the two
extant English versions (by H. C. Gupta, via Th. Stcherbatsky's free Russian
rendering of the Tibetan version, and by Hidenori Kitagawa); an argument to the
effect that Ts-p should be classified as a Vijfianavada text (pp. 219-221); and a free
rendering of SD, based upon the sole edition of the Sanskrit text and upon Yuichi
Kajiyama's free rendering into English.
Many points of detail, historical, exegetical, and philosophical, arise in the
course of Wood's discussion of all this material. I cannot discuss them all here.
Instead, I shall try to follow the main lines of the argument, and to suggest other
possibilities as I do so. I shall say most about Wood's analysis of the trisvabhava
doctrine, since his discussion of this provides the best illustration of his method and
its limitations.
Wood offers a detailed critique of the prima facie contradictions in the
322 nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
definitions of the three svabhava-s as these are given in MY, TSN, and Triq1s; he
thinks that, in these texts at least, there is a confusion of predicates among the three
svabhava-s which cannot be resolved. So, for example,'Wood claims that it is
incoherent to suggest that which is described as pure (suddha and
approximate synonyms), can also be identical with paratantra,
since this is (sometimes) said to be impure, and nothing can be both pure and
impure. The logical point is, of course, correct, but Wood's exegesis is insuffi-
ciently sensitive to the broader intellectual context in which such claims are made.
Briefly , Wood assumes that the three svabhava-s are things that possess properties,
and that the predications of them made in the texts can be considered as if they all
operated on the same logical level. This is a little like someone claiming that the
fact that there are prima facie contradictions among the predications made of the
three persons of the trinity demonstrates that the theory is incoherent; matters are
more subtle and complicated than that.
In the case of the trisvabhava the proper position (or at least a possible
position) is that parikaJpita is paratantra understood wrongly, while
is paratantra understood properly. The absence of duality (dvayabhava, etc.) is just
a state of affairs which, since it is the true state of affairs, can properly be said to
apply to all three svabhava-s understood properly, even though it remains entirely
proper to say that to the deluded paratantra appears as parikalpita, and is thus
different from So to say that parikaJpita, here understood as the
duality that is imagined to exist, is really nondual (that it is characterised as
advayatvasvabhava, as in TSN 19), is thus only like saying that the five falsely
imagined to be the sum of two-plus-two is really not different from the four that
is really the sum of two-plus-two: rhetorically arresting, certainly, but not, as Wood
suggests, simply incoherent.
Also, it is perfectly possible, pace Wood (p. 42), to say what
is without lapsing into incoherence. TSN 3 says it in much the same terms that I've
already used: "The eternal nonexistence of what appears [i.e., paratantra] as it
appears [i.e., parikaJpita] should be understood as this is
because it doesn't change" (tasya khyatur yathakhyanaIp. ya sadavidyamanatii/
jfleyal} sa svabhavo "nanyathatvatal)/f). That parini$panna and
parikaJpita are past passive participles while paratantra is a simple nominal item
isn't accidental: paratantra is what there is, while parikalpita denotes both what is
(wrongly) imagined by the mind to exist (and, sometimes, the activity of so
imagining), and denotes the result of having removed such imagina-
tive activity from the mental life.
Having this interpretive perspective in mind will help in dealing with the
prima facie contradictions that Wood points out. I don't claim that the trisvabhava
theory as stated in the texts Wood uses is free from conceptual problems, nor that
they can all be resolved. But it is clear that the simple prima facie confusions of
predication that Wood indicates can be dealt with relatively easily, and that analysis
must go deeper if more decisive arguments are to be offered.
REVIEWS
323
Another example of Wood' s procedure may be of use. He suggests (p. 51)
that there is a prima facie contradiction to be derived from Triqls 21, 24, and 25,
since these verses seem to indicate both that mind is impermanent-it arises and
perishes-and that it is identical with suchness (lathatfi), which does not change.
Leaving aside purely technical problems with Wood's exegesis here, the problem
can easily be resolved: the unchangeability of tathatfi just is the fact that all things
change, and mind is identified with tathatfi only in so far as everything is really
representation (vijiiaptimatra, a kind of mental event). These representations
change, but the fact of their changing is itself changeless, and so there is a sense
in which mind-if understood as the totality of transient mental events-does not
change.
Wood's arguments about Nirv.Qa and Buddhahood are more convincing.
He correctly points out that conceptual problems were posed for Buddhist theorists
by their attempts to hold together assertions about Buddha's radical purity with
Buddha's continued involvement in the world, just as there are problems involved
in their attempt to give an account of Buddha's omniscience which does not end
in monism. Wood also rightly recognizes that the developed kaya-theories of
scholastic buddhalogy (my term for systematic theorising about the nature of
Buddha) are the place to look for attempted resolutions of these problems, but
makes no attempt to say anything about such theories. Like Wood, I am skeptical
that these theories succeed; but they deserve a fair and full hearing, and since they
were developed as part of the same intellectual program evidenced by the texts that
Wood does criticize, it is odd that he ignores them. This is a case, then, in which
it would have been useful to consult a broader intellectual context. I cannot see that
it is possible to criticize the theoretical presentations of the trisvabhava found in
Triqls and MV without also considering the buddhalogy found in such texts as the
Mahayanasangraha-corpus and the MahayanasiitraIankara-corpus.
Perhaps the strongest arguments in the book are those centering around .
SS and SD. Here Wood suggests that the epistemological framework developed by
Dignaga and Dharmaklrti (and presupposed and deployed by RatnakIrti) issues in
the conclusion that other minds are real. This is so because inferential arguments
to the existence of other minds are deployed in these texts, and such inferences give
us, by definition, access to real things. And yet these same texts want to claim that
Buddha's awareness (jiiana) is universal and nondual, (agrahyagrahaka). That is,
as Wood puts it, these texts propound both epistemic monism and idealistic
pluralism - and you can't have both. This is a suggestive argument, and Wood
backs it up in chapter 8 with an analysis of what is said in Ts-p about Buddha's
sarvajiiatva in which he attempts to show that this account too is given its best
chance of coherence if interpreted as a kind of monistic idealism.
In sum, the argument in these final chapters is that the kind of idealism
propounded by the classical Indian Vijfianavada is incompatible with the principle
that there are many finite minds; that these theorists should have been monistic
idealists; and that it was only their doctrinal commitments to the pluralism of the
324 nABS VOL. 15, NO.2
earlier intellectual tradition that prevented them from being so. It might be added
(though Wood does not) that at least some Buddhist intellectuals of the period that
he considers did take this step: it might be possible, fof instance, to interpret the
Ratnagotravibhagain this way, and to explain early tathIigatagarbhailieory in tenns
of such arguments. But this is a task for the future .
. In conclusion, it should be pointed out that there are many specific
technical points on which Wood is in error. They are too numerous to list. Many
of them result from his apparent lack of familiarity with basic tools for those
working in Buddhist S tudies. For instance, he claims (p. 200) that the AbhidhannakoSa
was the only abhidharma text to be translated in its entirety into Tibetan. Even if,
as is apparently the case, he cannot read Tibetan, a glance at the Tohoku catalogue's
list of texts found in the Mngon-pa (abhidharma) section of the Bstan-' gyur would
have shown him that this claim is dramatically false. Errors of this kind, though
of concern to buddhologists, usually don't call Wood's philosophical arguments
into question. But the same can't always be said of his translations. These are .
almost always wooden to the point of being incomprehensible, and are often
straightfowardly in error. The errors (and a good deal of the incomprehensibility)
often result from his apparent desire to understand and translate cryptic verse texts
li.1ce Tril!1S or Vil!1s without proper consultation of the commentaries that provide
their proper context of meaning. One example will have to suffice to illustrate
Wood's method and its problems.
Wood translates Tril!1s 3ab (asarpviditakopadisthanavijiiaptikarp ca tat)
as: "[The store consciousness] is the perception, abiding in, and grasping of what
is unperceived," so apparently understanding upadisthanayijiiaptikarpas a dvandva,
and asmpyiditaka- as the object of these three things. This completely ignores both
common sense and the gloss in the bhfi.$ya by Sthiramati (of which Wood makes
almost no use), which reads: asarpviditaka upadir yasmin asmpviditaka ca
sthanavijiiaptir yasmin tad aIayavijiianam asarpviditak:opadisthanavijiiaptikam.
The verse is thus better translated "That [store consciousness] comprises represen-
tations of place and acts of appropriation which are not brought to awareness." The
general lesson is that mnemonic aids such as the verses of Vil!lS, Tril!1s, MV, etc.,
were not meant to be read alone; and that even for those whose interests are mainly
philosophical rather than philological, consultation of the commentaries is always
essential and often illuminating.
Paul J. Griffiths
REVIEWS 325
Yukti$a${ikii-vrtti: Commentaire ala saixante sur 1eraisonnement au
Du wm enseignemen t de 1a ca usalite par 1e Maitre indien CandrakIrti,
by C r i s ~ i n a Anna Scherrer-Schaub. Bruxelles: Institut BeIge des
Hautes Etudes Chinoises, 1991. Melanges Chinois et Bouddhiques,
vol.XXv. Paper: 2000 FB
Not since the work of Etienne Lamotte and Louis de La Vallee Poussin has
Melanges Chinois et Bouddhiques published a work of such pivotal importance to
the field of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Scherer-Schaub's critical edition
and annotated translation of CandrakIrti's commentary (Van) to Nagarjuna's
Yukti$8$/ikakarika (Sixty Verses on Reasoning) is a fabulous work, both philol-
ogically and philosophically, reminding us nostalgically of earlier days in French-
language buddhological scholarship. The preface to the work touches on some of
the important issues raised by CandrakIrti, but the bulk of the introductory
philosophical material is actually found in a section of the introduction called
"Profile of the Text" (pp.xxxiii-xlvii), which is preceded by shorter sections on the
root text and commentary and on CandrakIrti, the author of the Vrtti. It is clear,
however, that the Introduction is not meant to be anything more than an
impressionistic discussion of some key issues in Indian Madhyamaka thought. The
more extensive discussions on Buddhist doctrine are instead found in the notes to
the translation. Some of these, such as the six-page note 492 that discusses the
Yogacara-Madhyamaka synthesis, are short essays in their own right, not only
surveying the literature on a given topic, but also discussing historical and
philosophical questions as well. Other important discussions are to be found in note
99, on dngos por lta ba (seeing things as real), and in note 462, where we find an
excursus on the notions of upadaya and pratltya, to name just two examples. The
annotations also serve the useful purpose of contextualizing the Vail within the
corpus of CandrakIrti's other writings, especially the PrasannapadfI.
The translation itself is accurate, readable and straightforward, evincing
Scherrer-Schaub's clear conceptual mastery of the materiaL For the most part,
following the Madhyamikas' own dictum, she mercifully abides by the translation
equivalents that have come to be accepted in the discipline, making it unnecessary
for the reader to retranslate from some new and unknown buddhologicese. There
is only one case in which a translation choice seems to me less than elegant, and
this has to do with the rendering of kun rdzob bden pa (S8J!lvrtisatya) as
"enveloping/covering truth" (verite d'enveloppement) rather than by the more
common "conventional truth." It is clear that this choice must have been motivated
in part by the fact that "conventional" was reserved as a translation for another term
(e.g., in loka vyavahfira, which she renders "appellation conventionelle mon-
daine"). Despite this, and despite the fact that etymologically the word S8J!lvrti
does convey the sense of "covering" or "obscuring," I believe that precedence
should still prevail as a criterion, and therefore favor rendering S8J!lvrti as
"conventional." This, however, is largely a matter of personal taste, and Scherrer-
326 JIABS VOL. 15, NO.2
Schaub can certainly not be faulted for this. It is clear throughout her work that she
has given a great deal of thought to her choice of translation terms, and that in every
case they are at the very least defensible. '
The critical edition of the Tibetan texts are based not only on aU of .the
available recensions of the texts found in the various editions ofbsTan 'gyur, but
on two Dunhuang documerits (p.T. 795 and 796) previously studied by Scherrer-
Schaub herself (Proceedings of the Csoma de Koros Symposium, Viregrad, 1984).
Finally, there is an extremely valuable and detailed Tibetan-Sanskrit-French
glossary/index, and a seperate subject index (mostly of Sanskrit terms and proper
names).
For those of us who work in the field of Indo-Tibetan Madhyamaka
philosophy Scherrer-Schaub's book is bound to become the standard reference
work on the and its Vrtti. It is, without a doubt, one of the most
important contributions to the field that we have seen in recent years.
Jose Ignacio Cabez6n
327
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