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.5) The six perfections: Meditation

5.a) The cause establishing meditation

Whoever has the wish to cultivate meditation
Should abandon all preoccupation with distractions.
The objects of pleasure, like clouds within an autumn sky,
Ephemeral in their nature, are no more stable than lightning.
Enjoyments endure no more than illusory palaces.
They are untrustworthy, and we should abandon them.
Instead we should quickly rely on the peace of leafy forests.

All compounded things are impermanent. Wealth is fickle. Life is impermanent. Since all this is inevitably essenceless, we should try to meditate alone in peaceful forests. The Personal Liberation (so so thar pa) says:

Those who have heard much abide in leafy forests.
There they stay as their lives slip away in happiness.

The Talk of Solitude (dben pa’i gtam) says:

In the canopied clouds of enjoyment,
Displays like flashes of lightning.
Are destroyed by the winds of this life,
Like lotuses floating on water.

Quickly seeing the deceptions
Of youthful embodied beings,
The wise will therefore establish
Samadhi and meditation.

They will quickly turn to the practice
Of the ultimate yoga.

5.b) The opposing aspects:

The presence of desires will only produce destruction.
Seeking, collecting, and guarding their objects is suffering.
Arrogance, craving, and greed increase our stinginess.
We are led to the lower realms and kept from the higher ones.
Therefore be content, and let desires be few.

External amenities are the source of much unhappiness of seeking, guarding, endangering, unhappy mind, craving, arrogance, hypocrisy and so forth. Since they make us fall into the lower realms, they should be abandoned. Nagarjuna says:

By the suffering of seeking, collecting and guarding, Wealth should be known to be a limitless destroyer.

“Therefore be content, and let desires be few.” The Friendly Letter says:

Knowing how to be content amid all wealth,
Is said to be the best teaching of gods and human beings.
Let everyone be content. If they know that excellence,
Even possessing no wealth, they will be truly wealthy.

5.c) Things as a cause of suffering.

With many things there are also many sufferings. For example:

The more the body’s wounds, the more it is full of pain,
But the more riches we have, the pain grows even worse.
Those who cut down on possessions have limitless happiness.
There will be less danger of being persecuted.
There will be no fear of thieves and enemies.
Praised by all, they stay upon the noble path.
Duties will be few and mental karma less.
Let us always train in having few desires.

If our desires are few, we are praised by all. If we have no wealth, we do not have to guard it from enemies and thieves. With few actions and body and mind at ease, we can practice samadhi with little hypocrisy and so forth, but with many good qualities. The more the wealth, the more the suffering for those who possess it. As nagas[1]have many snake-like heads, they also have much suffering. The Friendly Letter says:

As many as our possessions are surely the sufferings.
However, those with few desires are not like that.
As many as the heads of supreme kings of the nagas,
So many sufferings arising from having possessions.

Great desire for external things produces much suffering.

Internally, the desires of sentient beings involve immeasurable faults. By contention, passion, and offenses against pure conduct, the lower realms arise. All concerned are degraded and so forth. Since these faults arise from grasping desire and craving as pure, it is right to abandon that. The Precious Garland says:

Mostly the object of desire for women
Is a pure woman’s form arising from the mind.
The bodies of women in reality
Are scarcely things that are so pure as that.

As for the mouth, it is full of rancid spit.
The teeth are shelves for storing filthy garbage.
The nose is a pot of dripping and hardened mucus,
The eye a container full of dusty tears.

In the belly are excrement and urine.
It is a bucket full of lungs and livers.
Stupid people who have not seen women
Are the ones who want their bodies most.

Like a person, not knowing what it is,
Craving a vase of filth as an ornament,
Such are the stupid ignorant ones of this world,
When it comes to their attitude to women.

Also it says:

Whether their bodies are good or they are bad,
And whether they are old or they are young,
Since the bodies of women are impure,
Why should a special desire rise in you?

Something impure may be of a good color,
And, though it is of good shape, quite secretly,
It is no worthy object of desire.
So it is also with the form of woman.

As for the nature of a rotting corpse,
Whose inner rot is covered by outer skin,
While it is really horrifying,
In terms of appearance, it is not seen like that.

Even the skin of such a thing is filthy.
It is like a cloak and nothing more.
The skin consisting of the unclean skandhas
Is also “clean” in such a way as that.

A jar that is full of filthy excrement,
Though bright outside, is inwardly defiled.
This body of unclean nature, full of filth,
How could it not also be defiled?

And more:

As many wounds are septic even after cleansing,
And the occurrence of this is obvious to perception;
If you can not tell that the body is unclean,
What good will come of explaining it to you verbally?

Those who, about this body that is so impure,
Make poetry that is elegantly beautiful
E ma, what ludicrous nonsense, E ma what foolishness!
E ma, how worthy it is of shame by everyone!

5.d) The faults of worldly people and companions:


Limitless evil comes from gladly suffering fools.
The increase of evil deeds is the source of unhappiness.
Good decreases, giving rise to strife and kleshas.
Our actions go unacknowledged, and joy is difficult.
With many projects and duties, preoccupations distract us.
As we would from fire or snakes and vicious beasts,
Let us give a wide berth to all the attentions of fools.

As for these sentient beings, because of what all their different thoughts are like, we cannot be joyful.

The Bodhicharyavatara says:

If even the Victorious One cannot rejoice
In all the various inclinations of sentient beings,
Why need to mention inferior persons like myself?

In particular, in the sentient beings of the present dark age, who were not tamed by the seven generations of previous buddhas and so forth, real savagery, evil deeds, and kleshas are increasing. Virtue and peace are being abandoned. They return benefit with harm. They pointlessly afflict others in body, speech and mind. They disparage holy Dharma and individuals associated with it. They have many schemes and many projects. With their many occupations and distractions, kleshas naturally arise. As if we were living among predatory beasts, blazing fires, or poisonous snakes, they are hard to deal with. The Entering into the Sphere of All the Tathagatas (de bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi yul la ‘jug pa) says:

As we will never be joyful
Among fierce ravenous beasts,
Likewise in dealing with fools,
There will never be happiness

The Bodhicharyavatara says:

If we act like[2] those who have the fortune of fools,
We will certainly have to go to the lower realms.
Letting ourselves be led by those of unequal fortune,
What will come of associating with such fools?

For a moment or two they may be our companions,
Then in just a moment they turn into enemies.
They become angry even when things are going well.
Ordinary people are difficult to please.

If we speak of their benefit, they get angry at that,
Then they go on to reverse our benefit as well.
When we do not go along with what they have to say,
Because they get angry, they wish we were in the lower realms.

They envy superiors and try to compete with equals.
They are proud with inferiors, and arrogant when praised.
If something is said they dislike, then they give way to anger.
What benefit could ever come from fools like these?

If one associates with them, it is impossible that passion, aggression, empty chatter and such bad things will not arise. The same text says:

We are fools, if we associate with fools.
They always praise themselves and denigrate anyone else.
With talk about the delights of samsara and such things,
Every kind of badness will certainly arise.

The desire and attachment, as well as the suffering, of those who so depend on their own partialities, becomes our burden. By such tight bondage as theirs, our minds are bound. By associating ourselves with their thoughts, our Dharma is damaged. When we are with them, there is no respect for each other. When we are separate, we are unhappy, and so there is immeasurable damaging torment. The same text says:

If to sentient beings we have produced attachment,
That which is genuine is utterly obscured,
Destroying even the thought of sadness in samsara.
In the end we shall surely know the pains of suffering.

Then, with thoughts that are concerned with only this,
This life will slip away in senseless futility.
By our association with impermanent friends
Even the eternal Dharma will be destroyed.

From the desires of foolish individual beings comes our own imperfection. The Dharma of holy liberation is not established because of depending on these beings. Instead, first staying alone in forest and mountain solitudes, not meeting with human beings, we should meditate. The same text says:

By these our benefit will never be accomplished.
Although for us there will never be any benefit,
For a long time we will be distracted by these fools.

That is how we should think about it. Moreover, even if the oral instructions have been heard from the holy gurus, if they are not kept familiarly in mind, we will not be liberated from samsara. Therefore it is important to become familiar with them.

5.e) The instruction of resorting to solitary places


As long as the mind has not attained stability,
So long will we be seduced by the wiles of external objects.
So let us stay in the joy of secluded forest places.

That is how mind and the oral instructions are mixed into one taste. Until stability is attained, beginners need to rely only on solitude free from occupations. The Basket of the Three Jewels Sutra (dkon mchog za ma tog) says:

Beginners, in order to fully pacify the mind and completely tame it, should stay in solitude.

5.f) The instruction to remain in solitude all one’s life

Moreover, we are urged to stay always in a solitary place where no one else is, isolated from all beings and fears.

Until this body is hoisted by four pallbearers,
And turns to smoke upon a crackling funeral pyre,
Strictly keeping to peaceful places of meditation,
Quell the foe, preoccupations of body and mind.

Thinking of the impermanent nature of life, practice samadhi in a peaceful place. The Talk on Solitude (dben pa’i gtam) says:

Until, by four persons, this body
Is lifted upon a litter,
So long in strict solitude,
I should practice the peace of samadhi.

This is also taught in the Bodhicharyavatara[3]

5.g) The praise of forest solitudes.

Now the virtues of the forests are explained:

In forests clear water, flowers, and fruits are plentiful,
With excellent housing in mountain caves and sheltering rocks.
In solitudes graced by the shade of overhanging branches,
Many birds and deer dance by the river banks,
Exquisite with colorful flowers and the songs of bees.

Forest solitudes are most excellent. Adorned by the shade of trees, the ground is covered with lush green grass, adorned with a myriad of flowers. Such places are full of sounds of cool waterfalls and humming bees. In the faces of rock mountains, under sheltering rocks, are many fine natural houses. Clean water adorned by flowers and leaves is sufficient food. Accompanied by birds and wild animals, we have happy companions. Living with them in those places of samadhi, our aspirations from the beginningless past will be joyfully fulfilled. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

Trees and birds, as well as wild animals,
Who dwell within the forest make no unpleasant talk.
There is happiness, when they are our companions.
May we always stay together with such friends.

When we are staying in caves or in empty temples,
Or we make our dwelling by staying under trees,
May we never look behind us, but instead,
May we always cultivate passionless detachment.

In places on the earth that are not grasped as “mine,”
Which are by their nature wide and unconstrained,
We will act autonomously without desire.
May we always stay in places such as these.


Therefore in forests that are most enjoyable,
We will be happy and our difficulties few.
All our agitations will be pacified.

Therefore, may we always remain in solitude. Also:

Within the forest, where there is peace and tranquility,
In places that are empty of contention and the kleshas

In fortunate persons, cooled by moonlight and sandalwood trees,
Whose fine and joyful mansions are tremendous slabs of rock,
Fanned by the soundless motion of the forest wind,
The wish to help other beings is naturally engendered.

The Friendly Letter says:

Ornamented by the waxing circle of the moon
Great rain clouds pile up, as if buckled at the waist.
By seeing mountain top forests there is passionlessness.
The nature moves like wind, touching our lives with great fortune.
Attended by herds of the capering animals seen in the forest
With all things good and delightful, we are full of joy.
In forests where we do just as we like, let us live
in rock shelters imbued with goddesses’ secret power

5.h) How in solitude impermanence arises.

In those places fragrant with juniper trees and various kinds of sandalwood, with the scents of grass and flowers arising, with the aroma of natural incense and medicinal herbs:

Meditation naturally grows in pleasant solitudes.
Sweet with the fragrances of incenses and herbs.
By enjoying the four seasons, as they turn in a lotus pond,
The heat of summer, the fall, the winter and the spring,
Our sadness at impermanence grows with the gradual change.

In such places, filled with the fragrance of incense and medicinal herbs, pleasantly scented like ponds of great lotuses, fresh pleasant breezes softly rise. By the example of the changing seasons, strong sadness with impermanence arises in our being. As we customarily relate to no one, there is neither passion and aggression. There is no need to focus our attention. Where we live, no other people are viewed, and their faces need not be looked on. We need have nothing to do with the struggles of existence. Without desire or discouragement arising from others, our happiness is autonomous.

Even the king of the gods does not attain this. The Bodhicharyavatara says:

In empty houses, under trees, and in natural caves,
Abiding in such places where and when we like,
We leave behind all tribulations of grasping and guarding,
Without dependency, and acting as we will.

Without desire, because of acting autonomously,
Without the least relationship with anyone,
Knowing the contentment of such a happy life,
For even Indra attaining this is difficult.

The Letter to a student says:

On the shores of forest streams of pristine water, our blissful solitude is full of happiness,
As if the daughters of the gods were there, swaying fragrant censors of aromatic
Bearing as adornments continuous wreaths that are braided from woven flowers,
In their beauty they are overpowering, as is the usual manner of the gods.

Possessing trees that are perfect in root and fruit and leaves of green.
In the forest, this place of independence where there is no desire,
        fall cooling mountain streams.
At the side of wide rivers adorned by falling fruits and flowers
With endless delightful thoughts we are not seduced by a Hell hole house.

In wide mountain valleys at ease without any people, very happy,
With vast experience of waving garlands of verdant forest growth,
At the waterside, where the pleasant sound of cascading waterfalls sounds like a
        rolling drum,
There is no place for our kleshas, as travelers have proclaimed.

By victory over desires and wealth, and the three worlds altogether,
All these are revealed as illusion, mirage, the moon in water, or waves.

5.i) In such places how the mind becomes workable:

In some of those peaceful places:

Seeing how bones are strewn about in a charnel ground,
Think how our bodies will soon be scattered in that way.
As we see the futile compounds of samsara,
Any joy we feel in it vanishes into the distance.
Always at peace, because there are no strife and kleshas,
Our minds attain a well-being that is workable.

Here are limitless good qualities such as sadness about samsara, and turmoil and kleshas being completely pacified. The Request of Gongpo (Gong pos Zhupa) says:

By devotion to places of mountains and forests,
The source of good qualities will be increased.
By our resorting to solitary places,
Attachment to the five desires is abandoned.

Therefore, by being without preoccupation,
Possession of good dharmas will not diminish,
Because no mutual visits and inquiries
And speaking of words are performed in such a case.

Isolation in peaceful empty solitude
Is very highly praised by all the buddhas.
Therefore let aspiring bodhisattvas
Always put their trust in solitude.

Do not produce attachment in the cities.

5.j) The virtues of relying on solitude

As for these groves of excellent qualities:

Victorious ones have praised such forest groves as these.
Saddened by samsara, they keep to strict solitude.
The merits of making just seven steps in their direction
Are such that the heap of merit that we would accumulate
By our having made offerings for an entire kalpa,
To buddhas as many as all the grains of sands in the Ganges,
Would never equal a hundred-thousandth part of them.
Therefore let us keep to these forest places of peace.

Though someone were to make offerings to the buddhas with material things for a kalpa, if, with an attitude of sadness, we take even seven steps to go forth into the solitude of forests, charnel grounds and so forth, that has much greater merit. The Shri Samadhiraja Sutra says:

If one person offers flowers, incense, food, and all the articles related to happiness to all the buddhas for a kalpa, and another, completely saddened, takes only seven steps in the direction of solitude, the heap of merit of the latter is immeasurably greater.

Completely abandoning any concern with body and life,
To meditate in the highest peace of emptiness,
The mind possessing exertion and supreme exertion
Like a wild beast should stay in solitude.

5.k) The divisions of how to meditate, together with the qualities

Now as for the explanation of how to meditate. In the forest:

Then, having taken a cross-legged posture on our seats,
We meditate with a one-pointed mind in motionlessness.
Practice the attitude of a child’s enjoyment;
Then there will be discrimination of the meaning;
And the good, true meditation of the tathagatas.[4]

We should know the names of these three kinds of samadhi:
That of the ones who have yet to enter upon the path,
With its four-fold dhyanas as well as the four-fold formless attainments;
That of those who have entered; and that of the noble ones.

By those the mind that delights in desirable things is abandoned.
Insight, samadhi, and higher perceptions will manifest.
There will be the five eyes and the four legs of miracle.
The mind will be transformed, becoming autonomous.

The essence of dhyana is that the mind one-pointedly grasps a good object, whatever it may be. The Light of the Path (lam sgron) says:

On a suitable object
The mind should be well placed.

Sit on a seat. When the mind is placed in motionless meditative equipoise, the complexities of appearance subside so that they are of one taste with dharmata, as they would be if the eyes were closed. However, objects are not unseen, but rather appearances of objects become ungrasped phenomena. Thus, at the time that is done, apparent objects are seen as when the eyes are open, and so those two aspects[5] exist with one nature at one time

Like a person when the eyes are closed,
That is like the mind of meditation.
Like a person when the eyes are open,
The awareness of post-meditation is like that.

Meditation on the single nature is shamatha.

Post-meditation is vipashyana. These two are in one mind, with one essence, one time, and one object, and are one in their action of abandoning obscuration. The Small Commentary says:

The world of purity, having the aspect of complete non-attachment to grasping and fixation, includes the subsequent mind as a fruition in accord with itself, reversing perception of form and so on.

According to what is said there regarding the appearances of meditation, objects are not blocked, but they are pure of concepts. Appearances of rocks and so on, the ordinary objects of the five senses, are worldly and are so labeled. But, since at that time they are without the aspects of grasping and fixation, they are also non-conceptual mind. The very apprehension of appearance at that time, labeling appearance and emptiness in meditation and post-meditation, is included in the subsequent mind. Meditation and the entity which is mind are one, so meditation naturally abandons grasping and fixation. Accordingly, the post-meditation that is of one nature with this meditation also abandons perception attached to the dharmas of form, feeling and so forth in terms of grasping and fixation. That is what is being taught. Post-meditation purified by meditation is called “letting loose” attachments of grasping and fixation and so on.

As for meditation and post-meditation being of one nature, these two exist in all occasions of meditating in samadhi. Until the seventh bhumi they exist in an uncombined manner. After that they exist with a single essence, and not as individuals. The Uttaratantra says:

Mind always accomplishing
lazes up like fire,
Peaceful absorption and dhyana
Are always equalized.

There are three divisions in the extensive explanation.

The samadhis of the dhyanas and formless attainments in the continuum of someone who has not entered the path, are called “the samadhi of a child’s enjoyment.”

For those abiding on the path, the samadhis of the paths of accumulation and preparation produce the path of liberation. Completely opening the way to the meaning, this is called “the samadhi of completely opening the way to the meaning.”

From the first bhumi onward, the samadhis of the noble ones are called “the spotless samadhi” or “the joyful samadhi of the tathagatas.”

The Lankavatara Sutra says:

The samadhi of child’s enjoyment,
Opening to the meaning
And samadhi of the tathagatas.

The demarcation of classes is as in that passage. As for the fruition, the Prajñaparamitasañcayagatha says:

By dhyana, the lesser qualities of the pleasures of sense are rejected.
Insight, higher perception and samadhi are established.

As for the meaning of these, the Mahayanasutralankara says:

Mind abides internally at rest.
There is dependence on mindfulness and exertion.
In addition to that there is the production of bliss.
We are empowered with existence of higher perception.

Thus, regarding these principal ones of dharmas
These exist, and they are three in number.[6]
Having completely known this kind of samadhi,
Skillful ones will truly establish it.

The essence is internally grasping the mind. The cause is continuous mindfulness and exertion. The same text says:

Having quickly realized that one is distracted,
This should be brought back again immediately.

The action is production of bliss. This produces the support of establishing miraculous ability. The fruition is establishment of the higher perceptions, miraculous abilities and so forth. Among the divisions are the three samadhis of abiding in happiness within this very life,[7] the establishment of all good qualities, and performing benefits for sentient beings.

As for the first dhyana (bsam gtan), as good qualities arise from inner dhyana, we attain joy and bliss. In the stage of access and on having barely attained the main part there are conceptual thoughts and sustained scrutiny.[8] The main body in particular has no conceptual thoughts, but only sustained scrutiny.

The main parts of the second, third, and fourth dhyanas, have mental apprehension with neither conceptual thoughts or sustained scrutiny. These dhyanas, of which the earlier ones are preparations for the later, are explained in the Bhumi-Collection.

The dhyana that establishes all good qualities, when the six pure perfections and so forth are established, is the dhyana of one-pointed mind.

The dhyana that establishes benefit for sentient beings focuses one-pointedly on the benefit of beings. From the main body of this dhyana, we produce the benefits and so forth, according to what beings desire and what they are interested in.

As for the good qualities, the Mahayanasutralankara says:

The children of the Victorious One have many samadhis, establishing all the dhyanas. These dhyanas exist by increasing bliss, and because of compassion they support lesser beings. By those very dhyanas all sentient beings are established in the three enlightenments. By the wisdom of dhyana, when this has been completely accomplished, they are inexhaustibly established in the pure realms.

Footnotes and references:


Nagas are said to be very wealthy.


Also “associate with...”




See Longchenpa’s commentary below.


The two aspects of being seen as if with closed and open eyes. Also meditation and post-meditation, though described as separate in the following quote, are combined with a single nature.


Referring to the three lines immediately preceding.


mthong ba’i chos la bde bar gnas pa’i bsam gtan. Erik Schmidt. sder gnas read bder gnas


dpyod pa. Rtog dpyod: conception and discernment, ideas and scrutiny.

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