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 5.13 (Commentary)

[Guhyagarbha-Tantra, Text section 5.13]

From skillful means emerges skillful means.
The unthinkable skillful means.
Not differentiated, it becomes differentiated
In the unthinkable inner and outer maṇḍalas.
This is a display of pristine cognition,
The supreme seal of fearless Samantabhadra.[13] ...


thabs-las thabs-byung thabs bsam-yas /
tha-dad min-las tha-dad-pa'i /
nang-dang nang-gi phyi-rol-gyi /
dkyil-'khor bsam-yas ye-shes rol /
'jigs-med kun-bzang phyag-rgya'i mchog / [13]


One's own mind-as-such appears as syllables of inner radiance. From (las) this natural appearance of skillful means (thabs), there emerges the skillful means (thabs-byung) through which syllables come forth from the points of the rays of light. Indeed, through countless emanations the skillful means (thabs) becomes unthinkable (bsam-yas) and immeasurable. This total transformation is not (min) actually differentiated (tha-dad) in an extraneous manner; but one intellectually meditates on oneself as a display of male and female deities, from which the display of mind then becomes differentiated (las tha-dad-pa'i) in the visualisation of the containing celestial palace and Buddha-field. During meditation therefore, there is an emanation & absorption of meditation in the countless unthinkable (bsam-yas) maṇḍalas (dkyil-'khor) arrayed by the mind among buddhas and sentient beings. These form the basis of Inner (nang) emanation and absorption where oneself appears as the deity and the syllables, and (dang) the outer (nang-gi phyi-rol-gyi) emanation and absorption of the celestial palace and Buddha-field created by the mind. However, this is a display (rol) in which self-manifesting pristine cognition (ye-shes) is itself arrayed. This nature of Buddha-hood is fearsome ('jigs) in all respects, inasmuch as it is mind-as-such pure from the beginning, and secured by the supreme seal of Samantabhadra (kun-bzang phyag-rgya'i mchog), the true abiding nature, who is primordially without (med) deeds and conflicting emotions. Since the creation stage is indeed spontaneously present in the perfection stage, without independent existence, one should become meditatively equipoised in this disposition and abide in the truth without conceptual elaboration.[1]

The latter, the exegesis on how phenomenal existence is secured by the seal of Samantabhadra (comments on the same verses as fol1ows: From the skillful means (thabs-las) of inner radiance or mind-as-such which appears as the syllables, there emerges the skillful means (thabs-byung) through which one’s own real nature appears as the object and the (subjective) mind. Indeed, the unthinkable skillful means (thabs bsam-yas) arises, through which phenomenal existence diversely appears. These means however are not differentiated (tha-dad-min) objectively. This appearance which becomes diversely differentiated (las tha-dad-pa'i) arises in unthinkable maṇḍalas (dkyil-'khor bsam-yas), namely, those of inner (nang) mind and (dang) of outer (nang-gi phyi-rol-gyi) phenomena of diverse flesh-coloured appearance. This is a display of pristine cognition (ye-shes rol), which is said to have been sealed by the supreme seal (phyag-rgya'i mchog) of primordial Buddha-hood, the fearless Samantabhadra ('jigs-med kun-bzang).

Furthermore, from the wheel of syllables which is skillful means, skillful means is emanated and absorbed, so that there is an unthinkable emanational skillful means associated with these syllables. But these are not differentiated from the mind. It is the intellect which fabricates phenomena, differentiating the source and object of their emanation. These (means) are the unthinkable maṇḍalas wherein all things of one's inner mind and the outer phenomena which appear to the mind are controlled by the emanation and absorption of syllables. Meditating on this display of pristine cognition, one connects with the meditation of the syllables called the supreme seal of fearless Samantabhadra.[2]

[iii. Synopsis of This Unique Meditative Equipoise (222.5-224.1):]

[Thirdly (see p. 603), there is the synopsis (of this unique meditative equipoise, which comments on Ch. 5.14):]

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Footnotes and references:


See NSTB, Book 1, Pt. 4 on the integration of utpattikrama and sampannakrama in the path of rdzogs-pa chen-po: also below. Ch. 13, PP. 1001-1044. The visualised maṇḍala of the perfection stage is said to become spontaneously present "in the manner of a fish leaping from the water.


The emphasis which kLong-chen Rab-'byams-pa places on the rdzogs-chen content of this chapter is not accepted by exponents of the bka'-ma lineage, especially gYung-ston-pa rDo-rje dPal who, in order to present the gradualist structure of the path, was responsible for altering the exegetical order of the root-verses. Lo-chen Dharmaśrī, gsang-bdag dgongs-rgyan. Ch. 5, pp. 167ff., differentiates three interpretations which recognise different structures in Chs. 1-9 from the respective standpoints of "the essence which is to be realised" (rtogs-bya'i ngo-bo), the "means of realising it" (rtogs-byed thabs), and the "conclusive result" (mthar-phyin-pa'i 'bras-bu). Among them he attributes the second to gYung-ston-pa.

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