The Great Chariot

by Longchenpa | 268,580 words

A Commentary on Great Perfection: The Nature of Mind, Easer of Weariness In Sanskrit the title is ‘Mahāsandhi-cittā-visranta-vṛtti-mahāratha-nāma’. In Tibetan ‘rDzogs pa chen po sems nyid ngal gso’i shing rta chen po shes bya ba ’...

Part 10b.2) The six perfections: Discipline

2.a) Explanation of the nature and expression of praise

As for the explanation of the perfection of discipline, since the external is non-existent, the inner abides in enlightenment:

By the highest discipline we control ourselves.
Peace and mental happiness will be attained by that.
By prajña we will gain perfection of the two benefits.

2.b) The brief explanation of what is to be trained in and the instruction to guard it: Moreover,

The vows, accumulations of Dharma, and helping beings,
The Buddha’s children will always guard these three disciplines.

2.c) The divisions of individuals who keep discipline and the explanation of the root as bodhicitta: As for those who keep it:

Householders take the precepts of a lay disciple,
Along with the vows of aspiration and entering.
Renunciates take the vows of a monk, shramanera, or novice,
And discipline of guarding both the two bodhicittas

Here, in addition to whichever of the seven pratimoksha or self-liberation vows may be appropriate, there is the vow of bodhisattva discipline, including vows of arousing the two bodhicittas of aspiring and entering.

The single bodhisattva vow has no divisions corresponding with the seven families of personal enlightenment. Those seven families are the male and female genyens, getsuls, and gelongs, plus the lay disciples. Counting male and female observers of the one-day precepts there are nine families. On the side of householders, those with the vows of a genyen and the one day-precepts make two divisions. On the side of renunciates, there are novices (getsul and getsulma), candidate monks and nuns, shramaneras (genyen and gyenenma), and fully ordained monks and nuns, (gelong and gelongma). It is being said that in addition to the vows of these the vows of arousing the two bodhicittas are possessed. The Mahayanasutralankara says:

As for those who dwell on the side of renunciates,
They have an amount of virtue that is immeasurable.
Compared to householders industrious with their vows
They are more excellent than even those bodhisattvas.

That is talking about renunciate bodhisattvas. The sutras say:

...Together with householder and renunciate bodhisattvas,
who had the forms of boys and girls, tens of millions of billions, very many...

Of the two kinds of genyens, as for genyens who observe a few precepts, there are the “root four genyens,” who keep the four root precepts, or any four, and abandon wrong objects of sexual desire. Genyens of pure conduct, keep these basic four and also abandon impure conduct.[1]

As for the getsuls, the Radiant (’od ldan) says:

Renouncing cutting off life, taking the goods of others,
Impure acts, false speaking, alcohol and so forth,
Dances and garlands and such, with sitting on large high seats,
And receiving food, gold, or silver any time after noon.

These ten precepts are taken, and by that the mind is also guarded from the associated faults. For nun candidates (gelobma) there are also the twelve renunciation-producing antidotes of not touching anyone and so forth. Since women have greater kleshas, they are studied for two years to see if they can keep their vows and if they are stable.

For fully ordained monks (gelongs) there are four basic rules involving expulsion from the Sangha, the additional thirteen precepts, and the thirty of abandoning, which if they are broken one must abandon the object involved and so forth, 253 precepts in all. Gelongmas, fully ordained nuns, have 364 or more. This is according to sarvastivadins, mahasangikas, sthaviras and many others in the collections that they individually revere regarding training in their different disciplines. The Bhumi Collection says:

When in addition to what are called the precepts of renunciation, they have those of arousing the bodhicittas of aspiring and entering without corruption, this is said to be bodhisattva renunciation. These commitments are the discipline of refraining from wrongdoing, called the precepts of supreme discipline.

These are also the attitude of abandonment accompanied by the seeds of virtue. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Having attained the attitude of renunciation
Is what is explained as being perfection of discipline.

Refraining from wrongdoing within oneself, the aspect of restraining non-virtue, is the discipline of personal liberation. In samsara the gods must take human bodies to attain this goodness of the benefit for oneself. Not only not harming others, but accomplishing benefit for them, is only taught within the bodhisattva discipline. As for mantra discipline, in addition, the karma and kleshas involved in ordinary grasping are abandoned, and in the two stages of meditating in the stages of development and fulfillment, we are made into suitable vessels.

At the time of adherence to the actual discipline of personal liberation, the ten non-virtues are regarded as intrinsic moral evils, and there are no occasions when they are permitted. In the bodhisattva vow seven non-virtues may be committed to benefit others. Mantra depends on skillful means of non-abandoning. This cause of the arising of wisdom as fire arises from wood is produced by that particular profound path.

Within the continuum of a single being, the single essence exists with different aspects. If a choice must be made between objects, the higher ones are preferentially kept, since the lower aspects are

included within them. Though there seems to be complete contradiction with the lower part, the essence is not lost, and so there is no contradiction at all.

For example, in the case of tantric practice, drinking is not a violation, even though drinking liquor is taught to be a downfall by the shravakas, and by the bodhisattvas said to be an associated fault. Nevertheless, there it is no fault. At the time of committing the fault the object, oneself, must be a monk or a bodhisattva, but also at that time because of visualizing the deities, things change. Things must become intoxicating liquor. By mantra, mudra, and samadhi, they are transformed into amrita, and it is taught that we should enjoy them. Perceptions of thoughts must become many other things. By their being transformed into perceptions of deities, mandalas, amrita and so forth, as well as being faultless, they are divine offerings, and so the accumulations are perfected. By their becoming accompaniments of the view and of meditating in samadhi, we likewise become possessors of exalted good qualities. All aspects of the precepts should be known to be similar.

In brief, in any tradition whatsoever, when faults are produced, actions are prohibited. If virtuous good qualities are produced, actions are permitted. Therefore, it is important to know the precepts for those who are great and intermediate with what they permit and hinder, as well as the general and particular cases. The Precious Garland says:

For the general, the particular;
As for all the shastras, they give it praise

In brief, guarding the mind from harmful behavior and its associated aspects for the benefit of others is the discipline of restraint. Gathered by the two accumulations and the six perfections, an assembly of good qualities which has not previously arisen is produced. Increasing the arising of these is the discipline of gathering good dharmas. They are chiefly gathered by discipline of mind. Those skilled in upaya, directly or indirectly, accomplish the benefit of sentient beings. By the four means of gathering,[2] others are made joyful. Incidentally they are uplifted, and good and virtuous seeds of

ultimate truth are planted. Such working for the happiness of others is the discipline of producing benefit for sentient beings.

By these three disciplines, the three disciplines of the path are accomplished. When we have perfected the two accumulations and are enlightened:

  1. By the discipline of restraint, we attain perfect abandonment of the two obscurations and their habitual patterns.
  2. By the discipline of gathering virtuous dharmas, perfect realization is attained of the nature and extent of dharmas and so forth.
  3. By the discipline of benefiting sentient beings, we attain perfect buddha activity, taming whatever needs to be tamed, along with the spontaneous arising of the two benefits.

The Jewel Heap Sutra says:

Kashyapa, this bodhisattva discipline has three aspects. There are the discipline of restraint, the discipline of gathering virtuous dharmas, and the discipline of accomplishing benefit for sentient beings.

By the discipline of restraint, the mind is guarded from what is bad. By the discipline of gathering virtuous dharmas, virtuous roots are established. By the discipline of accomplishing benefit for sentient beings, we devote ourselves to the benefit of others.

The Mahayanasutralankara says:

Six aspects accomplish peace because of our attitude:
The gift is given of life within the higher realms,
As well as a support and peace and fearlessness.
Also we shall possess the accumulation of merit.

We shall attain the nature of the symbolic signs.
Thus we have the topics contained within the vow. Having completely known a discipline like that,
Those who are capable will really establish it.

The essence has six aspects concerned with abiding in discipline. In being bound by the vow of personal enlightenment, there are the perfect procedure and the perfect sphere of experience. Even the subtlest faults are viewed as topics of fear. The topics of the precepts are genuinely received. They are trained in. So it is explained on the level of the shravakas.

  1. The cause makes us attain “peace,” nirvana.
  2. The fruition is existence in the “higher realms.”
  3. The action produces the “support” of all the good qualities.
  4. The kleshas are pacified, and we are made “fearless” about ourselves and others.
  5. As good qualities, we possess the “accumulation of merit.”
  6. In the divisions are that arising from receiving the “true symbol” and that attained by dharmata.

The first refers to personal liberation. In attaining dharmata, both samadhi and spotless karma arise. There is the mind of actual samadhi and the path of seeing and so forth, the undefiled level of the noble ones.

The Abhidharmakosha says:

This is called the vow of personal liberation
Spotlessness and samadhi arise as a result.

This discipline is inviolate. It is not mixed with the conceptual fixations of the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas. It is not defiled by downfalls. The sutras are not lacking, since they are part of the Mahayana. Having those four aspects, it should be produced as the support of good qualities. The Friendly Letter says:

Your inviolate discipline is indeed not lacking.
Not mixed, and unchangeable, it is a pure reliance.
Discipline, at the levels having cause or causeless
Is taught as the ground and support of all good qualities.

As for the virtues of such discipline, The Mahayanasutralankara says:

The buddha children always receive the three disciplines, which are of the
        nature of the vow and effort.
Though they have no craving for the celestial realms, they genuinely attain
        them, even though they produce no desire to do so,
By this very same discipline, all beings are also established within the three
By the wisdom of discipline being completely accomplished, they are
        inexhaustibly established in the realms of purity.

Footnotes and references:


They are chaste.


bsdu ba'i dngos po bzhi: the four means of magnetizing/ attraction/ conversion and gathering/ ways of winning devotees/ gathering beings/ positively influencing/ benefiting others samgrahavastu 1) generosity, giving, sbyin pa.  2) pleasing/affectionate speech, kind words, snyan par smra ba. 3) meaningful conduct, appropriate teachings, don spyod pa. 4) accordant meaning, consistency in behavior between words and actions, don mthun pa. Erik Schmidt.


Of the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas or bodhisattvas, as appropriate.

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