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 ’...

A. The teaching of the establishment of the kayas and wisdoms, by completing the path

The details of the ground and path have been presented. Now the subject of the fruition established by them is to be taught. As just explained:

Thus having reached the goals of both upaya and prajña,
The kayas and wisdoms and buddha activity self-exist.

When the virtues of the path are complete, enlightenment or buddhahood, free from all defilements of the dhatu is attained. The luminous nature of mind, the sun after all obscuring clouds have faded away, is the kayas and wisdoms. These are not something acquired nor were they ever separated. "Attaining them" is manifestation of their self-existing power. The Uttaratantra says:

Here the "luminous nature" is like the sun and space,
Separate from the ominous host of obscuring clouds,
Incidental obscurations of kleshas and knowables.

Spotless buddhahood, possessing all good qualities,
The eternal enduring swastika of perfect Buddha,
Is attainable due to depending on discriminating wisdom.

At this time, as the benefit for oneself, within the primordial space of ultimate dharmakaya, by attaining trikaya with neither acquiring nor separation, realization that is not other from buddhahood exists as the support. The same text says:

Without beginning, middle, end, or discrimination,
Without a second or third, or defiling discursive thoughts,
By realizing dharmadhatu, which is the nature of things,
This is what is seen by the yoga of meditation.

More radiant than a million palaces of the gods,
Having unthinkable qualities, matchless and supreme;
As for this spotless space of the tathagatas,
It has abandoned all faults, and all their habitual patterns.

Within that space appears dharmakaya. From that sambhogakaya is produced, appearing from the viewpoint of those who are to be tamed, always abiding with neither increase or decrease like the moon in space. From that comes nirmanakaya, the ground of emanation. The same text says:

Apparent variety, kaya of light rays of Holy Dharma,
Strives to establish the benefit of freeing sentient beings.
Its deeds are like a king of wish-fulfilling gems.
Variety is real, but the nature of it is not.

Entering the world within the path to peace,
Such forms, the cause of ripening and scriptures being taught,
Always abide here in the element of space,
As if they really were of the element of form.

The Madhyamakavatara says:

The kaya of peace is luminous, like a wish-fulfilling tree.
Like a wish-fulfilling gem, it is inconceivable.
Till beings are liberated, it is always there
To benefit the world, appearing as simplicity.

This is realized only by the buddhas. It does not appear to those who are to be tamed. The three kayas of the space of the dhatu are of one taste with the solitary space of dharmakaya. Within that, they exist as the subtle wisdom of that space. From the blessing of that, and from the aspirations of those who are to be tamed, appear the two rupakayas . Here the pure buddha activity of wisdom arises as the appearance of an external other. These are like the moon in the sky and the moon in water. These days, when some proclaim trikaya as totally one, it follows that all the buddha qualities of the space of the dhatu would also be appearances for those who are to be tamed. That is because rupakayas of one nature with them would appear for those who are to be tamed. Having maintained trikaya as one, that is how the pure realm of the Buddha and so forth would have to be elucidated. Therefore, knowing these two as separate is very important.

Attaining the two ultimates, dharmakaya and rupakaya, is becoming the Buddha Bhagavat himself. Relating this buddhahood to the perfections of the Mahayana, at the end of the tenth bhumi, after all defilements have been abandoned, we become enlightened in Akanishta. Sambhogakaya, the appearances of a bodhisattva of the tenth bhumi, appears. Many emanations are shown within the realm of sentient beings, taming whatever needs to be tamed. So it is maintained.

Sometimes mantrayana says the same thing. In the Great Net of Illusion, buddhahood, the inexhaustible sphere of ornament of the Tathagata's body, speech, and mind, does not appear in the realization of others. If it does appear, they too are buddhas. From buddhahood, by the appearance of the great emanation, and the various emanations, benefits are produced for sentient beings.

The great emanation is sambhogakaya, as it appears to the bodhisattvas of the tenth bhumi. The various emanations are the supreme nirmanakaya and so forth, which appear to benefit sentient beings.

Both these traditions maintain that buddhahood is attained in the perfect place, Akanishta. The Gandavyuha Sutra says:

In the enlightenment of perfect buddhahood,
The one to be enlightened, in the highest place,
Akanishta Becomes a changeless buddha; and in the desire realm,
He does not perform the actions of a buddha.

The Secret Moon Bindu Tantra (zla gsang thig le’i rgyud) says:

In the supreme, delightful place called Akanishta,
There the actual buddha gains enlightenment.

The Avatamsaka Sutra (sangs rgyas phal po che) says: #1036.5

These inconceivable numbers of world realms, the World Realm of Fortitude and so forth being included is called “the ground and essence being adorned by flowers.” The place where these inconceivable things are included is called the world-realm “Ocean.”

It exists in the palm of the hand of the tathagata Vairochana Great Full Ocean.

The place where the Bhagavan Vairochana and his retinue dwell is called the buddha field of Gandavyuha. This is the place of sambhogakaya. All the fragmentary things existing within that are nirmanakaya.

Where do these things that are explained exist? They are within the inseparable space and wisdom where Buddhism is attained, because all incidental stains have been abandoned. That is Akanishta. Its oneness is unbroken. There dharmas are like a dream coming into the single situation of sleep. The Praise of Dharmadhatu (Dharmadhatustotra, chos kyi dbyings su bstod pa) says:

That which is the highest place of Maheshvara,
Akanishta itself, is completely beautiful.
The unification of the three awarenesses,
Mixing together as one, is said to be its nature.

The Summary of the Vehicles (theg pa bsdus) says:

Because of being without any ego-grasping,
A difference of places does not exist.
Subsequent to this former situation,
By labeling they are differentiated.

"The teacher Shākyamuni went there at the time of attaining enlightenment." Don't think that way! The Tantra of the Display of Wisdom (ye shes rol pa’i rgyud) says:

In the pure time without beginning and end,
I am enlightened fully and completely.

At this time, in the Saha Realm, the Realm of Fortitude where lives are about a hundred years, it is taught, regarding the time of the Buddha's enlightenment, that first he was primordially enlightened in pure Akanishta, and then he appeared as the Buddha in Jambuling. The Sutra of the Manifestation of Enlightenment of Vairochana (rnam par snang mdzad mngon par byang chub pa’i rgyud) says:

Within the realms of desire and formlessness,
You Buddha did not gain complete awakening.
In Akanishta in the realm of form,
Free from desire, you were enlightened there.
Having abandoned all the other pure lands
The one called Akanishta was enjoyed.
The actual Buddha was enlightened there.
An emanation was enlightened here.

He appeared equally in all the array of Realms of Fortitude.[1] This is like one moon in the sky appearing in a hundred times ten million vessels at the same time. Just this is the characteristic. He manifested at the same time in the twelve individual abodes of sentient beings,[2] and so forth, throughout limitless space, and there he benefited many different sentient beings. That is how the enlightened one appears from the viewpoint of those to be tamed.

Since the nature of the Bhagavan is beyond the three realms, he does not abide in the form realm, with habitual patterns of confused appearance of those to be tamed. He is beyond all habitual patterns. He always abides in the pure self-appearance of Akanishta beyond the three realms, the immeasurable display of the palace of wisdom.

Regarding Gandavyuha, and Buddha’s appearance and arising, the true meaning Avatamsaka Sutra says:

The formless, desire and form realms
Without their perception, like that,
Transcending place the Buddha's power abides
In the Gandavyuha mandala.


It is stable, dense,[3] and uncompounded.

How is enlightenment attained? It is attained after we are free from all defilements. What is excluded or separated? Nothing at all. The Mahayanasutralankara says:

Without distinctions of earlier and later,
Without the stains of any defilements
Suchness is maintained to be buddhahood.

All incidental extremes are abandoned. The same text says:

Where the seeds of the obscurations of the kleshas and knowables have always been possessed for a long time, there they will always be utterly overcome by this supremely vast abandonment. Attainment of the good qualities supremely excellent transformed white dharmas is buddhahood. The great object, completely pure non-thought, totally and supremely pure, is attained by the path of wisdom.

At that time, the kleshas are transformed, and, by the power of their true nature, they are said to appear as the qualities. However, that the cause, the kleshas, is transformed into the fruition the buddha qualities, and that the impure becomes pure, is not maintained. That the cause or essence of evil deeds, the kleshas, becomes completely pure is not possible. Rather, depending on the power of separating separable defilements, the buddha qualities become directly visible. When this is called "transformation," the five poisons may properly be said to be transformed into the five wisdoms, alaya to be transformed into the wisdom of dharmadhatu, alayavijñana to be transformed into the mirror-like wisdom etc.. The Sutra of Entering into Trikaya (sku gsum la ‘jug pa’i mdo) says:

The subsiding of Alayavijñana into space is the mirror-like wisdom. Likewise, regarding the remaining three, the same text says:

The subsiding of the mind consciousness into space is the wisdom of equality. The subsiding of the klesha-having mind into space is discriminating awareness wisdom. The subsiding of the consciousnesses of the five gates into space is the all- accomplishing wisdom.

At that time, external appearance is transformed into the buddha fields. The inner skandhas are transformed into the bodies of the deities. The secret eight consciousnesses being transformed into wisdom. By that we are enlightened forever. As for the cause, the essence, and the primordial dhatu primordially possessing the buddha qualities, that gotra, is a second thing. The Uttaratantra says:

By the primordial kaya there is the first of these.
By the second, later, come the other two.[4]

There and so forth it is explained. Svabhavikakaya is the spotless nature of the other three kayas . dharmakaya is the ultimate source of the powers of buddhahood and so forth, Sambhogakaya is replete with the major and minor marks. Nirmanakaya performs limitless benefits for beings. These four are taught. Their good qualities are sixty-four. The Uttaratantra commentary says:

The Tathagata's ten powers and four fearlessnesses, and the eighteen distinct dharmas of a buddha, and the thirty-two marks of a great being, collected into one, make sixty-four.

Some sutras say that trikaya is one with its wisdoms. The Holy Golden Light (gser ’od dam pa) says:

All the tathagatas possess trikaya. These three kayas are dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. dharmakaya is the existence just of true wisdom itself. Second kayas are just imputations. dharmakaya is truth. It is the ground of the secondary kayas . Why so? Aside from the suchness of dharmas and the wisdom of complete non-thought, no buddhadharma exists.

It was asked, “How does the wisdom of suchness while it is complete non-thought attain mastery of buddha activity?”

The Buddha spoke, saying,

"For example, it is like the sun and moon being reflected in water or a mirror, although these are impermanent. The wisdom of suchness too, by the force of aspiration, performs benefits for impermanent beings.

Nirmanakaya possesses the skandhas. This is nirvana with residue. Sambhogakaya is

nirvana without residue. dharmakaya is non-dwelling nirvana. The Mahayanasutralankara says: #1042.3

If we categorize the kayas of the buddhas,
There is the kaya of the nature of perfect enjoyment[5]

And also nirmanakaya, the first supporting the second. Also:

There are three pure kayas , those that should be known
To be included within the bodies of buddhahood.
These, as the self-existing objects of trikaya,
Are those that are taught to be there, together with their support.

The Uttaratantra and Abhisamayalankara, as said before, teach four kayas. The Uttaratantra says:

Since it is pure by nature,
Dharmadhatu is luminous;
Ineffable, countless, unthinkable,
True svabhavikakaya
Has these matchless, ultimate qualities.


The first is dharmakaya.
Forms exist as space.
In this first the later exist.

Some texts in the secret mantra say that the mahasukhakaya is a fourth with these great three.

The Two Segments (brtag pa gnyis pa) says:

In completely knowing trikaya,
It is the sphere of great bliss.

The Net of Miracles of Mañjushri presents five kayas, with these words:

he kaya of the buddhas has five natures.
These are the five of all-pervading wisdom.

The mere totality of all these kinds and qualities is in reality without difference from them.

The way of the dharmas the level of buddhahood being included within that is through their single essence of being merely individual. So it should be explained.

Footnotes and references:


Of the different world realms.


The continents and sub-continents.


Dense: stug po, typically found in stug po bkod pa. Literally elaborately ornamented. Depicted by the symbolism of this iconography is the density of structure expressed by saying that all the worlds are inside an atom, all eternity is in every moment etc.





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