Guhyagarbha Tantra (with Commentary)

by Gyurme Dorje | 1987 | 6,373 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 5.12 (Commentary)

[Guhyagarbha-Tantra, Text section 5.12]

Mind-as-such, groundless and baseless.
Is neither male, nor female, nor neuter.
It is not signless, nor is it classified in families.
It is colourless and shapeless.
It is not an abode, nor is it anything at all.
This pristine cognition of the real expanse
Is the causal basis for all seals of skillful means. [12] ...


gzhi-rtsa med-pa'i sems-nyid-ni /
pho-mo ma-yin ma-ning-min /
mtshan-med ma-yin rigs-rgyud min /
kha-dog ma-yin dbyibs ma-yin /
gnas-su ma-yin gang-yang-min /
de-bzhin-nyid dbyings ye-shes-te /
thabs-kyis phyag-rgya kun-gyi rgyu / [12]


[The detailed exegesis of non-dual pristine cognition:]

Mind-as-auch (sems-nyid-ni), primordially groundleaa and baseless (gzhi-rtsa med-pa'i) like space does not exist as any substance or sign. This is the ease because it is neither (ma-yin) called male (pho), nor female (mo), nor (min) is it referred to as neuter (ma-ning). Mind-as-such exists from the present moment without saṃsāra or nirvāṇa, good or evil. This nature is not (ma-yin) even referred to as signless (mtshan-med) because it transcends extremes of being and non-being. Nor, in this respect, is (min) mind-as-such classified (rgyud) into the different spiritual families (rigs) of buddhas and sentient beings, or social families (rigs) of Kṣatriyas, Caṇḍālas and so forth, it is colourless (kha-dog ma-yin) in terms of white and so forth, and shapeless (dbyibs ma-yin) in terms of square and so forth, because it is essentially empty and signless. Furthermore, mind-as-such is not (ma-yin) existant as a Buddha-field or as an abode (gnas-su) of sentient beings. Nor is it (min) existant as anything at all (gang-yang) which can be positively identified.

The Sūtra of the King Contemplation (T. 127) accordingly says:

Mind, essentially non-referential, is not within thought.
Naturally pure and essentially empty,
It is the primordial, selfless, profound reality,
Profound, quiescent, and unelaborate as space.

This mind-as-such is reality, the pure pristine cognition (ye-shes-te) of the real expanse (de-bzhin-nyid dbyings). Through its abiding nature, it is the causal basis for (rgyu) accomplishing all the seals of skillful means (thabs-kyi phyag-rgya) and it is the causal basis for all (kun-gyi rgyu) discriminative awareness. It brings about auspicious connections and all genuine results associated with the expanse where all excellencies are accomplished. This is because there are no divergent doctrines which have a ground, path and result extraneous to the truth of naturally pure mind-as-such.

The latter (218.6-222.5) is the contemplation which is a meditation on skillful means, the buddha-body of form or the apparitional nature. It includes an overview and interlinear commentary.

i. The overview concerns both the attainment of the wheel of syllables and the attainment of their ritual feast-offerings. As to the former: After one has meditated in the above manner on the emanation and absorption from the syllable A, preceded by the three kinds of contemplation,[1] then the essence of discriminative awareness is meditative equipoise (which persists) until stability has been obtained in the disposition of the baseless mind-as-such, free from conceptual elaboration despite that emanation and absorption of the syllables. Then, one meditates on the maṇḍala of deities, refining the mind in a display of the four rites and supreme contemplation which are attained by means of the light-rays of the garland of mantras. Subsequently the merit should be dedicated. Signs of accomplishment emerge when this (visualisation) is stable and when thirty-one million one-hundred-thousand recitations (of mantra) have been accumulated.[2]

As to the attainment of ritual feast-offerings: By means of the cloud-mass of syllables, oneself is transformed into the deity, with the result that the rays of light and the deity's emanation & absorption pacify ailments and malign spirits, they enrich or Increase the lifespan and one's experience of rapture, they subjugate, and they perform (wrathful rites of) expulsion, killing, paralysis, bondage, and so forth. These rites will be accomplished within seven days and so forth through the emanation and absorption of diverse contemplations.[3]

Then in a similar manner, oneself is clearly visualised as Vairocana, and one meditates that (extending) from his heart-centre into space there is a stairway and terrain of indestructible reality. Thereupon, the contemplation of the earth element will be obtained, one will not sink in water, and one will be seated in space in a meditative posture.

Then one visualises that in the heart-centre of oneself in the form of Amitābha, there is a syllable RAṂ from which fire emerges, burning all phenomenal existence and pacifying the fires of hell. Thereby the contemplation of the fire element will be accomplished, causing a rain of fire to descend.

Then one meditates that in the heart-centre of oneself in the form of Ratnasambhava there is a syllable KHAṂ, from which there is a cascade of pristine cognition, filling the world. Thereby the contemplation of the water element will be accomplished, causing outer phenomena to pour down to earth and the fires of evil existences to be quenched.

Then one meditates that in the heart-centre of oneself in the form of Amoghasiddhi there is a syllable YAṂ from which a blast of air emerges, dispersing the coarse substances of the world.

Then one meditates that in the heart-centre of oneself in the form of Akṣobhya, there is a syllable E with which space becomes united. Therupon, all appearances will be emptied and one will accomplish the rite whereby the sun and moon are eclipsed and collapse.

Similarly, one meditates on the colours of all these apparitions—white, yellow, red, green and dark blue—whereby one will accomplish the identity of the five great light rays and their apparitions.[4]

All this is merely illustrative because there are countless other emanational rites on which one meditates in the course of this contemplation of all that the mind desires. All these (apparitions) that emerge in this way are included in the genuine net of contemplation.[5]

ii. The interlinear commentary includes a teaching on the contemplation of the deity according to the creation and perfection stages and an exegesis of phenomenal existence as the seal of Samantabhadra.

[The former (comments on Ch. 5.13):]

[Read next page]

Footnotes and references:


On the three kinds of contemplation, i.e. those of reality (de-kho-na-nyid), universal appearance (kun-tu snang-ba), and causal basis (rgyu) according to utpattikrama. see also PP. 679, 771. and 851.


Cf. below. Ch. 9. P. 782.


"paralysis" (rengs-pa). On these four rites of pacification, enrichment, subjugation and wrath, see below, pp. 783-786, 1258-1264.


See above, Ch. 1, pp. 373-4, note 50, for the association between the five colours and the five elements; also below, pp. 1022-1044.


Cf. Chs 11-13 below.

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