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 9 - The way of meditating on all dharmas as the nature of the mandala

Now as for the teaching that all dharmas, as the complete perfection of buddhahood, have the nature of three mandalas:


Since we and all other beings are primordially enlightened,
The style of meditation involved in the two stages
Sees all such dharmas as skandhas, dhatus, and ayatanas
As being the luminosity of a single mandala.

All dharmas should be known to be of the nature of three mandalas of primordial buddhahood. Within the mandala of the nature of the ground as spontaneous presence, there is resolution of the view. Within the mandala of the path as profound samadhi, there is practice of meditation. Within the mandala of the fruition as supreme enlightenment, the two benefits are taught to be perfected.

Within the first there are two divisions. These are the pure ground, the natural state, and the impure ground, the way of confusion. The first is the primordially empty nature of mind, the essence of dharmakaya. Its way of arising as the luminous nature of sambhogakaya is the source of nirmanakaya. It is open and accommodating like the sky. It is luminous like the sun and moon. As with a wish-fulfilling gem, all that is desired is self-arising. The five kinds of body/kaya, speech, mind, quality, and action exist primordially as the intrinsic qualities of buddhahood. The Secret Essence says:

Empty selfless primal knowledge is self-aware mind.
With neither conceiver nor concept memory is transformed.
Wondrous body and speech and the field of qualities
Are not other than this. Its nature is like that.

Also the All-Creating King of Bodhicitta (byang chub kyi sems kun byed rgyal po) says:

Kye! listen to me mahasattva:
The nature of me, the doer of all, enlightenment
Is a self-existing nature that does not need to be sought.
This is trikaya, the essence of all the victorious ones.

My uncreated nature exists as dharmakaya.
My uncreated essence is sambhogakaya.
My manifested compassion is nirmanakaya.
No fruition established by seeking has been taught.
Primordial self existence, it does not need to be sought.

Above, what is referred to by such passages was called the dhatu or essence. This exists primordially with the spontaneous presence of the buddha qualities. The impure ground, the way of confusion, is as already described. The Secret Essence says:

E Ma’o, from out of sugatagarbha
Comes the confusion of karma, our discursive thoughts.
Variety, and the body, and action and enjoyment,
Existing, suffering and other such things as that

Are grasped as individuals, the “me” and “mine.” Also:

From thoughts of self rise the defects that are the root of samsara.
The six kinds of causes, birth and destruction, body and action,
The machinery of existence, suffering, and the rest
Is nothing whatsoever except for a misconception.

From the individual rounds of beings within the six lokas, in particular for human beings, at the beginning of their confusion, when they are grasped by existence in a womb, at first the two eyes and the knot of nadis at the root of the navel develop. Then those of the body are produced, and from those that will become the pure faculties, exist as the three nadis. Within those nadis are said to be the three syllables OM AH HUM. Externally these produce the three supports of body, speech, and mind. Internally, they produce the three supports of passion, aggression, and ignorance. Secretly they produce the supports of enlightened body, speech, and mind.

The central channel reaches above to the aperture of Brahma, and below to the secret place. The white roma nadi and red kyangma nadi are to right and left of the light blue central channel.

Mutually and continuously they have twenty-one knots. In enlightened body, speech, and mind these three exist in accord with the great bliss. These are the chakras of nadis: The navel emanation chakra has sixty-four nadi petals. The throat enjoyment chakra has sixteen. The heart Dharmachakra has eight nadi petals. If they are joined with the four kayas and the different wisdoms, in addition to these, at the crown of the head, there is the chakra of great bliss with thirty-two nadi petals. From the viewpoint of the five self- existing kayas, in addition to these, in the secret place, is the chakra of guarding bliss with seventy- two nadi petals, which has the powers of the pure elements occurring.

If the six chakras are listed in order, the secret center is the chakra of wisdom. The throat center is the chakra of enjoyment-activity. The central channel is the chakra of great bliss. The crown of the head is the chakra of the realm of space. The heart is the Dharmachakra. The navel is the chakra of emanation.

According to The Net of Illusion, these six are the basis of purifying the six seeds of purifying the impure six kinds of sentient beings. The purifiers are the six sages of the six realms. When they are purified by natures of the six perfections, the six wisdoms, the five wisdoms plus the inconceivable wisdom, are attained.

Each chakra with the knot between each one makes twelve. Completing these at the end, pure prana as a thirteenth is maintained to complete the bhumi of the great wisdom.

The Kalachakra Tantra has six chakras and six between them. These have twelve kinds of changes of prana, associated with the twelve nidanas. The power of not ejecting bindu, turning it back above to the secret wisdom chakra, is said to be a sign of the first bhumi. One kind of change of prana is stopped. One nidana is purified. Similarly, between that and the space element chakra twelve levels are traversed.

Twelve kinds of change of prana are stopped. Twelve nidanas are purified. By the bindu reaching the space element chakra, it is maintained that we are enlightened.

According to the Root tantra of Miracle (sgyu ‘phrul rtsa ba’i rgyud) there are two chakras. These are the peaceful heart chakra and the wrathful crown chakra. Within these the coarse nadis are equal to the number of deities. These are 42 and 58, 100 altogether. The fine nadis are countless. The Great Illusion (sgyu ‘phrul chen po) says:

Roma, Kyangma, and Kundarma
Are between the chakras like pillars.
The branching petals are countless.
As for elements and pranas,

The descending wisdom nadis
Are a thousand in number.
As the square of seventy two,
There are twenty thousand

With 600,000 pranas.
These have been maintained
To be the great moving ones.
There are 84,000 others.

The Five Hundred Thousand (‘bum lnga) says:

The associated nadis
Spread and fill the body
These 72,000 nadis.
In the body are goddesses.


Of the 72,000 nadis,
The different kinds are explained.

In one day there are said to be 21,600 motions of prana.[1] They make up a “horse” for the 84,000 small moving ones, whose number is equal to that of the false conceptions and kleshas. When kleshas are moving about, it is maintained that an equal number of these pranas are moving about. By nature the male prana, “moving upward,” dwells above, and the female prana, “downward voiding,” dwells below. As for the mother, the I prana “equally-abiding” co-exists with these. by that their three existences are explained.

In the nadis there are the following pranas:

  1. life-holder,
  2. equalizer,
  3. fire,
  4. upward moving,
  5. downward voiding.

As said above, their actions are:

  1. maintaining life,
  2. bodily existence,
  3. making heat,
  4. the exhaling and inhaling of the breath,
  5. going, staying and casting off impurities.

These are called the ordinary pranas and the five external pranas.

The five internal pranas are the five pranas of the five elements. These are:

  1. the yellow earth prana,
  2. the red fire prana,
  3. the white water prana,
  4. the green air prana,
  5. the blue space prana.

As for their functions, they exist as a support for the inner skandhas, dhatus, and ayatanas. When impure they are the ground of proliferation of the five poisons, and when pure of the five wisdoms.

The five secret pranas, known as the five wisdoms, have no coarse forms.

The great essential elements are two, the white and the red. Coming from roma and kyangma they abide in the petals of the individual nadis. For women, left and right are said to be reversed. In particular, the moon, roma, descends from above at the crown of the head. The sun, kyangma, rises from the A below in the secret place.

In a man’s kyangma and woman’s roma at the bottom there is a knot, so that the red and white elements do not drip. As the knots in the nadis are released, the virtues of the paths and bhumis are perfected. As the knots in the central channel are released, two by two, each of the ten bhumis are perfected. In attaining the good qualities of those, each of the essential elements and prana elements seem to enter them.

For example, as the first two nadi knots are released, the two essences enter into the central channel. When the four great nadis of the navel emanation chakra are released, the qualities of the first bhumi appear to arise. When the nadis of the four chakras are released, the four kayas are attained and the four wisdoms manifest.

Now, in the ordinary nadi knots, the red and white essences exist as the embrace of the hero and heroine.[2] The nadis are like water pipes, and the elements like the water inside them. Prana is like pressure. Their going and coming when moved by that, constitute the vajra body. This is the support of the great wisdom.

In particular in the tradition of the Mahamaya Tantra (sgyu ‘phrul chen po), in the empty center of the heart, the essences go into eight subtle nadis as if they were being licked up. There are three dharmata nadis, one wisdom nadi, three individual existence nadis, and one quality nadi. The Secret Drop of Vimala (bi ma la’i gsang thig) says:

The way that they exist is known to be as eight.

The commentary says:

How do they exist? In the empty center of the heart, the essence in the nadis goes into the eight subtle nadis as if they were being licked up. There are three dharmata nadis, one wisdom nadi, three individual existence nadis, and one quality nadi. These eight should be known like that.

The central three are the support of the unchanging dharmata of trikaya. In front the nadi of mirror-like wisdom produces the support of the four wisdoms. Behind and to the right are the nadis of qualities, producing the support of the arising of the buddha fields, palaces and so forth. To the left, by the three poisons individual existence nadi, confused appearance of the individuating characteristics of the three realms is produced.

Moreover, in the sheath of the dharmata nadi, in the midst of a circle of yellow light, the letters of the ground of purification, SU and TRI, are the seeds of asuras and animals. The purifier OM is the essence of the kayas and wisdoms. The intrinsic light of the syllables is like a brocade tent.

In the square sheath of the blue wisdom nadi, is the purifier HUM and the ground of purification the seeds of gods and human beings A and NRI.[3] They have pink and blue light.

In the red semi-circular sheath of the individual existence syllables the purifier is AAH and the ground of purification is the seeds of the hungry ghosts and Hell beings PRE and DU.

Also at the time of impurity, habitual patterns produced by karma and kleshas are collected above the six syllables. The retinue created by anger, resentment, and so on are collected above the DU; by desire above the PRE; by pride above A and NRI; by envy above SU; and those created by ignorance are collected above the TRI.

At the time of realization, the virtues of the intrinsically-existing power of wisdom are collected above the three syllables of body, speech, and mind.

Meditations on forms of the deities and so on connected with body are placed above OM. Those involving mantra recitation and so on are above AH. Meditation on non-thought and so on are above HUM. The letters that are the ground of purification and all the habitual patterns above them are purified. Regarding these, the same text says:

“As to what these are like, they are of a “quasi-mixed” nature.” That is, in the dharmata nadis a yellow light dwells. As to what it is like, The shape is circular. It is like flowing mercury. The essence is OM. The seeds are SU and TRI. The colors of these three are like a brocade tent.

Within the wisdom nadi is a blue light. Its shape is square. It is like a noose or coiled snake. It is like a lump of violet amethyst crystals. The essence is HUM. The seeds are A and NRI.

In the individual existence nadis is a red light. Its shape is a red semi-circle. The style is of illusory refreshing-cleansing water like the brilliant arising of dawn. The color is the red of molten copper. The essence is AH. The seeds are PRE and DU.

At the time of non-realization, with A NRI and so forth, it is the cause of samsara. At the time of realization, there are wisdom, OM and so forth. Mixing these two is called “quasi-mixing,” since bodhicitta is as before.”

In this group of four nadis are the natural state of the consciousnesses. The same text says:

“The four aspects, and six particulars, in the middle of eight...”

Four refers to the dharmata, wisdom, individual existence, and quality nadis. As for the particulars, there is yellow light existing as alaya consciousness, blue light existing as the mind consciousness, red light existing as klesha-mind, and dark red light existing as the five sense-consciousnesses.

The yellow light is the cause of the essence of the nadis like white silk cords. The blue light is the cause of the essence of the breath. The red light is the cause of the essence of the blood. The dark red light is the cause of the nadis of the five gates.

At the side of the yellow light are OM SU, and TRI. Covered by the blue light are HUM A and NRI. Covered by the red light are AH PRE and DU. As for the dark red light, there are the faults and virtues of these.

A and NRI cause corruption of the breath. SU and TRI cause corruption of the nadis. PRE and DU cause corruption of the blood.

As for the arising of gods and human beings, by producing the mind consciousness, the seeds A and NRI are embodied.

As for the arising of animals and asuras, by producing alayavijñana, the seeds SU and TRI are embodied.

As for the arising of the pretas and Hell beings, from producing the five consciousnesses and klesha mind, the seeds PRE and DU are embodied.

Thus all the sentient beings of the six lokas individually exist.

In the center of the eight nadis in the heart center, is the pure essence of the nadis, like white silk cords, in thickness like ten single hairs cut from a horse’s tail. ??? Within them the mixed essence of blood and breath, is very subtle, consisting of dharmakaya bodhicitta having light of the five colors, the luminosity of dharmata. The Description of the Marks (mtshan brjod) says:

The splendid knot of eternity of excellent blazing light.

In the Dharma palace in the heart center, the field of Akanishta, the Bhagavan, the buddha of the five families, Samantabhadra, remains continuously for all time.

Moreover, the Two Segments (brtags pa gnyis pa) says:

In the body great wisdom has its dwelling.
It completely abandons all conceptions.
That which is the pervader of all things.
Abides in the body but does not rise from the body

This is also great sugatagarbha. The Uttaratantra says:

Because the perfect buddha kaya radiates
Because of being inseparable from suchness,
And because of having the gotra, all embodied beings,
Always have the essence of buddhahood.

The Dohakosha says:

Some things that are somewhere in a certain place,
Are not seen there in that place where they exist.
It is explained by the treatises of all capable ones,
That buddhahood in the body is not realized.

That is the meaning. This refers to the wisdom nadi. When all the essences of prana and mind are gathered together there, the field of nirvana, spontaneous brilliance, the house of light, the wisdom- lamp of the bardo, arises. This is the completely pure field of Akanishta called Gandavyuha. If yogins make an effort, all the essences of prana and mind will be perfected there. Then the aspect of appearance, the five lights, and the aspect of emptiness, dharmakaya, will be mixed in one taste. By that the two accumulations of the path will be completed. By the manifestation of the two kayas we are “enlightened in Akanishta,” as is said.

The wisdom light nadi that is said to exist in the central channel is one with this, because they are one in the sense that the nature of mind is the support of luminosity. How is this explained? From the central channel, in the center of the heart, comes very subtle light like ten separately divided single hairs of a horse’s tail transparently existing, ??? connecting the pranas.

If it is made into a support, some masters say that this is the true central channel, so that the three nadis need not be combined in the central channel. Though they say that, since, as all the pranas enter the central channel, the essence of the prana of the central channel must enter into the wisdom nadi, it is suitable for them to be connected.

At the time of death, all the essences and pranas collect in the central channel. The pranas and essences of the central channel are gathered into the ultimate essence, and from that luminosity is maintained to arise. The kayas and fields of the five families are taught to arise due to the essence of this during five days of dhyana in the bardo. Therefore this essence is the very secret great ultimate secret. The Commentary of the Secret Drop (gsang thig) says:

“In the center of the eight,”

They are therefore one. Thus the essences of the nadis go into the eight subtle nadis as if they were being licked up. Their shape is said to be like eight twisted cords.

The eight main essences, the ultimate nadi essences, are like white silk cords, with a shape like twisted cords. In size, they are like ten hairs separated from a horse’s tail. ???Within these, which are like white silk cords, goes the blood essence of a vibrant vermilion like the mother’s essence. Within that the essence of breath, like bright, pure gold in a brocade, curls like steam. Within that

breath essence is light of various colors. The interior of that light is called the center. “Na,” “in,” has the meaning here that these lights abide within it.

In the center of that light abides the great bindu, bodhicitta. It is like precious jewel anthers in a pipe of molten gold or filled full of the precious stone kekeru. cats eye??? It abides there with a color like the rising sun. Since that is the essence of Dharmadhatu, the cause of the absolute and relative, it is said “I prostrate to that.”

Since this luminous nature of mind is all-pervading, all beings are primordially enlightened. Even when they are wandering in samsara, that mind does not move and is not harmed or degraded. By their being enlightened it is no better than it was before. The Uttaratantra says:

Later as before,
Changeless dharmata.

It is as taught there. The Fierce Lightning says:

Clouds of bodhicitta spread and pervade everywhere, as oil pervades sesame seeds.

Then also this is taught:

E Ma’o, Primordial Dharma that is completely pure.
Though it appears as variety, conceptually it is secret.
This is because its essence is inexpressible.
It is hard to teach to those who are not vessels.

E Ma’o. In the primordial purity of the three-fold world,
By the defect conceptions of ego, the root of samsara,
Beings who have wandered long grasp as individuals
Inappropriate objects of their joy and sorrow.
By the power of their misunderstanding, though there are false conceptions,
The nature itself has no corruption whatsoever.

E MA’o. Beings who have been deluded for a long time
Though indeed they are primordial ultimate buddhahood
Because of delusion, they wander in the cycles of samsara.
Unreal wrong conception is actually bodhicitta.
That mechanism is also its inexhaustible ornament.

The five degenerations are clearly places of happiness.
The five skandhas are completely perfected as the kayas .
The defective conceptualizations that are the root of samsara,
Are clarified as the essence of enlightenment.
The outer and inner vessel and contents of the world

Are thus the father and the mother of the enlightened state By that it is taught that all dharmas exist as bodhicitta.

With that the teaching of the way of confusion of impure sentient beings is completed. Now there is the teaching that all is primordially enlightened.

The five skandhas, though apparently impure, have the enlightened nature of the five fathers. The five elements have the enlightened natures of their five consorts. All concepts are enlightened in the mandala of bodhicitta, and there is not even an atom of dharmas other than that. The Secret Essence says:

E Ma’o,
As for the five-fold limbs of the vajra skandhas,
They are known as the five perfected buddhas.
The many dhatus and ayatanas
Are the various bodhisattvas appearing in person.

Earth and water are Locana and Mamaki.
Fire and air Pandaravasini and Tara.
The space of sky is the consort of the Lord.[4]

Everything in the three realms is the Dharma.
Without remainder this is the buddha field.
Dharmas that are other than buddhahood
By buddhahood are never to be found.

In particular, buddhahood is the luminous nature of mind. The All-creating King says:

As for there being a buddha who is other than the mind,
This has never been taught by the King, the Doer of All.
It will not be taught later, and it is not taught now.
Therefore we should know that mind is buddhahood.

The Secret Assembly says:

External to the preciousness of mind,
There are no buddhas, and there are no sentient beings.

The Establishment of Wisdom says:

Ultimate luminosity of mind,
Total purity of buddhahood,
Self-arising, unmade by anyone,
Having existed from all eternity.

In brief, all appearances are the mandala of body. All sounds are the mandala of speech. All thoughts and apprehensions are the mandala of mind. These three should be known. The All- creating King says:

Kye! the teacher of teachers! The doer of all, the King,
Makes a display of the essence mandala of body.

Thus all the dharmas of appearance and existence
Have been displayed as the unborn state of Dharmadhatu.
Their inmost meaning has nothing to accept or reject.
This too is displayed by me, the doer of all, the King.

Kye! the teacher of teachers! The doer of all, the King,
Makes a display of the essence mandala of speech.
Thus are all the dharmas that exist as sound,
Revealed to be the spoken word of unborn space.
They embody the inexpressible heart of speech.
This too is my display, as the doer of all, the King.

Kye! the teacher of teachers! The doer of all, the King,
Makes a display of the essence mandala of insight.
All concepts involved with knowing and remembering
Are seen as myself, the unborn, the doer of everything.
The body, speech, and mind of me, the doer of all,
Are mandalas resting in uncreated naturalness.[5]

Having realized the meaning of this state
Perfected in a moment, without any need for arrangement,
One enters the essential heart of the self-existing.

Thus the appearance of variety is produced. Since it is natureless, it is exhausted.[6]

The mandala of the fundamental meaning should be known to be without producer or produced. Regarding the nature of that mandala, the same text says:

as for the mandala of me the Doer of All,
It is taught as a perfect self-arising mandala.
As all is the perfect essence, things are neither born or diminished.
Realize the unmade mandala perfect all at once.

in the center without error, essence of the meaning,
Samsara is perfected as the bliss of samsara/nirvana.
That is the mandala that is the root of all essences.
Realize that all mandalas are included in that.

the mandala of me the King, the Doer of All,
Is the perfect mandala of all without remainder.
By whomever perfects it, that will be realized.
Learn the meaning of the uncreated mandala.

Of me the teacher of teachers, the Doer of All the king,
As for the unborn mandala of bodhicitta,
It is All-pervading, without any coming and any going,
By realizing that one enters the meaning of the unborn.

Therefore, vajra beings, you as well as I,
Should realize the meaning that does not exist in words.
Anyone who realizes that will be empowered
As the meaning of the King, who is the Doer of All.

All the skandhas, dhatus, ayatanas and so forth, the viewpoint of everything that appears, are enlightened as the nature of the deities.

Therefore, there are no good and evil, or accepting and rejecting. For those, from the viewpoint of empty dharmata, complexities of existence and non-existence are completely pacified. This is the fundamental mandala of the spontaneously present nature. By realizing that, all the dharmas of the phenomenal world of samsara and nirvana are known as the mandala. Whatever appears is protected in its being wisdom. The Secret Essence says:

By the yogin who realizes the great perfection,

The origin of suffering is experienced as the great mandala. By these the teaching of first resolving the view is completed.

Footnotes and references:


Breaths, or corellated with them.


dpa’a bo dpa’a mo: this also means daka and dakini


with backwards kiku.


Lord of the mandala, Vairochana and his consort Akashadhatvishvari.


...Three mandalas.


rdzogs can also mean perfection. The exhaustion of samsara is the perfection of enlightened reality

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