Guhyagarbha Tantra (with Commentary)

by Gyurme Dorje | 1987 | 304,894 words

The English translation of the Guhyagarbha Tantra, including Longchenpa's commentary from the 14th century. The whole work is presented as a critical investigation into the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, of which the Guhyagarbhatantra is it's principle text. It contains twenty-two chapters teaching the essence and practice of Mahayoga, which s...

Text 5.8 (Commentary)

[Guhyagarbha-Tantra, Text section 5.8]

To persevere in making offerings to the teacher,
To have clear realisation.
To keep the commitments, (recite) the mantras,
And to know the seals without defect—
One who possesses these requisites will become accomplished.
One who lacks them will be unsuccessful and lost. [8] ...


ston-pa mchod-brtson rtogs-pa gsal /
dam-tshig sngags-dang phyag-rgya-rnams /
ma-nyams shes-shing yo-byad-ldan /
'grub-'gyur mi-ldan don-med brlag / [8]


The first branch for accomplishing the syllables is to persevere in making; offerings (mchod-brtson) to the teacher (ston-pa), the master of indestructible reality and the deities of the maṇḍala, (who have revealed) the path to liberation dependent on some extraordinary object (i.e. their own gurus). Now the guru is the supreme genuine being of the (buddha-)field.

As is said in the Sūtra Which Gathers All Intentions (T. 829):

One should know the guru to be more awesome
Than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons;
For the buddhas of those aeons emerge
Dependent on their gurus.
I have not explained that a buddha emerges
Who has previously not had a guru.


Even though one is Ignorant and unrealised
With respect to all doctrines,
When one has greatly served a genuine guru with veneration,
The ocean of saṃsāra will be traversed.
For seeds vastly multiply when planted in excellent fields,
And even a sesame seed in an excellent field of genuine merit
Is not dispersed, but will multiply and ripen.

And in the Vows of the Magical Net (dra-ba sdom-pa):[1]

The Guru is the central deity of all maṇḍalas.
When offerings have been made with veneration.
All maṇḍalas are delighted.
It goes without saying that (offerings are made)
To the maṇḍala which is at hand!

The second (branch for accomplishing the syllables) is to have clear (gsal) unwavering realisation (rtogs-pa gsal) of the meditition associated with the deities and syllables.

Accordingly, the Introduction to the Conduct of a Bodhisattva (T. 3871) says:

All the recitations and austerities
Of one who has practised
With a mind which deviates extraneously
Are correctly said to be pointless.

The third (branch for accomplishing the syllables) is to keep the basic and ancillary commitments (dam-tshig).

Accordingly, the Cakrasaṃvara (T. 363) says:

Keeping the commitments, all mantras will be accomplished.

The fourth branch (for accomplishing the syllables) is to recite the secret mantras (sngags) purely—not too swiftly or slowly, without omissions or additions, and not too loudly or too quietly.[2] Accordingly, it Bays in the Supreme Commitment (dam-tshig mchog):

Mantra will indeed be verbally accomplished
By one endowed with its six aspects.

The Fifth branch (for accomplishing the syllables) is to know (shes-shing) the seals (phyag-rgya-rnams), i.e. those of doctrine, action, commitment, and the great seal, and to know and secure their branches without defect (ma-nyams), in accordance with the truth.[3]

Accordingly it says in the Supreme Conqueror (rgyal-mchog):

Accomplishment will be attained
By one who possesses the four seals.

One who possesses (ldan) these five, with their subsidiary branches—the (appropriate) place, time and requisites (yo-byad) for attainment,[4] will become accomplished ('grub-'gyur) in these (syllables). But It is said that the individual who lacks them (mi-ldan) will be lost (brlag) because, even though he would attain these (syllables), he would be unsuccessful (don-med). and, moreover, roasted in evil existences.

Accordingly, the Secret Seminal Point (thig-le gsang-ba) says:

One who does not venerate the guru,
Who has not obtained empowerment.
Who is without commitments and devoid of mantras.
And whose supreme branches of attainment are defective.
Will assuredly have no accomplishment in this world.
That one will be roasted in future evil existences.

[The latter, concerning the essence which is attained, (comments on Ch. 5.9):]

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Footnotes and references:


This quotation is a slight variant on Ch. 9. section 19, and the dra-ba sdom-pa corresponds to that very chapter of our text.


For a longer account of the recitation of mantras relating to this tradition, see Mi-pham rNam-rgyal, spyi-don 'od-gsal snying-po, pp. 252-259.


On these four seals and their subdivisions, see Ch. 8, pp. 711-745.


On these requisites, see below, pp. 850-852.

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