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 3e.2a - The self-existing nirmanakaya

2.a.i) The place and teacher

The teachers of sambhogakaya are reflections that first appear to bodhisattvas. Like the self- appearances of sambhogakaya, these are not solid or real, like reflections in a mirror. From the explanation of the way of the five perfections, as for the teacher as self-existing nirmanakaya:

The teachers of the self-existing nirmanakaya
Exist as forms of the various buddhas of the five families,
Such as Vairochana, Akshobhya, and the rest,
In their five fields, Akanishta, Abhirati
Shrimat, Sukhavati, and also Karmaprasiddhi.
Their major and minor marks are blazing with rays of light.
By their rising in countless peaceful and wrathful forms,
Beings’ two benefits are spontaneously performed.

The pure bodhisattvas also are made to attain the five kayas and five wisdoms. Depending on their having purified the five kleshas, the teachers of the five families, the fields, the Dharma, and the retinue and so forth appear to them :

In the center, in Akanishta, the highest realm, is the teacher Vairochana.
In the east, in Abhirati, the realm of true joy, is Vajrasattva.[1]
In the south in Shrimat, the realm endowed with splendor, is Ratnasambhava.
In the west in Sukhavati,[2] the realm of great bliss, is Amitabha.
In the north is Karmaprasiddhi, the realm of supreme accomplishment of action, and Amoghasiddhi,

Their bodies, blazing with the major and minor marks, appear like the moon in water, as with the self- appearing sambhogakaya. The Uttaratantra says: #1068.3

Like the form of the moon in a cloudless sky,
Autumn rain-clouds in lakes are visible.
Like that, the form of the lord, and the host of the buddha children,
Are seen in the completely wakeful mandala.

As to how, the Abhisamayalankara says:

As for the thirty-two that are major marks,
As well as the eighty that are minor marks,
Because of enjoying the wealth of Mahayana,
Are said to be the Sage's enjoyment body.[3]

As for how from inner luminosity, the self-appearing sambhogakaya appears to the bodhisattvas, as a reflection like the moon in space, a second sambhogakaya satisfies those bodhisattvas.

The nirmanakayas, or emanation bodies, supported within completely pure space are called “far and near.” The Uttaratantra says:

These are the thirty-two qualities[4]
That satisfy when seen.
They depend on the two form bodies,
That of emanation
And perfect expression of Dharma[5]

For those near and far from purity,
Seeing this, there are two aspects,
In the world and the Conquerors' mandala.
Like the moon in the sky and in water.

The "two aspects" are the sambhogakaya of pure space seen on the level of buddhahood, and the reflected sambhogakaya seen by the bodhisattvas. Subsequently, the supreme nirmanakaya ornamented with similar major and minor marks is joined to the sight of individual beings etc..

2.a.ii) Wisdom

2.a.i.1) The short teaching

The sambhogakaya appearing to the bodhisattvas has the five natures of the five wisdoms: #1069.5

Each self-existing teacher has all of the five wisdoms.
This occurs by having the other four[6] as a retinue.
The five are the dharmadhatu and the mirror-like wisdoms,
Those of equality, and discriminating awareness,
And finally the wisdom that is all-accomplishing.
They are all of one taste, comprising a single state.

For the five teachers there are five sets of the five wisdoms. Twenty-five are possessed in all. They do not move from the continuity of the single nature. Thus Vairochana chiefly possesses the dharmadhatu

wisdom, Akshobhya the mirror-like wisdom, Ratnasambhava the wisdom of equality, Amitabha the discriminating awareness wisdom,[7] and Amoghasiddhi the all-accomplishing wisdom; but each also possesses the other four wisdoms as a retinue.

2.a.i.2) The extended explanation, #1070.1 From the five sections

2.a.i.2.a) The dharmadhatu wisdom

What are these wisdoms? As for the first:

By pacifying ignorance into space, there is simple, space-like wisdom.

Dharmadhatu wisdom is utterly motionless,
Transcending complex extremes of grasping and fixation.

The Sutra of the Levels of Buddhahood (sangs rgyas sa’i mdo) says:

As for the dharmadhatu wisdom, for example, if everything has gone into the form of space, though it exists in some sense, its nature is inexpressible. It is of one taste with no variety. Similarly in the dharmadhatu wisdom, all knowables exist inexpressibly without variety, in one taste.

2.a.i.2.b) The mirror-like wisdom

As for the second wisdom:

Mirror-like wisdom, as the luminous empty source,
Is the great place of arising of all the later wisdoms.

Alayavijñana is the ground of arising and proliferation of all the other consciousnesses. The wisdom of anger subsiding into space is the ground of arising of the remaining three. Without defilements of grasping and fixation, it is like the surface of a clean mirror. The same text says: #1070.6

As for the mirror-like wisdom, for example, although reflections of things appear in the surface of a mirror; those things do not really exist. This appearance is effortless, and such things are have no conditional formations at all.

Similarly, though the various reflections of omniscience arise within the mirror-like wisdom, they do not exist, are effortless, and are unconditioned.

The Mahayanasutralankara says:

The mirror-like wisdom is completely immovable.

The three wisdoms that come later all depend on it, The wisdoms of equality and discrimination,
And the wisdom that is all-accomplishing.

2.a.i.2.c) The wisdom of equality Third:

Within the equality wisdom all the dharmas are equal.
Here samsara and Nirvana are non-dual.
This is the equality of the great perfection.

By pride being pacified into space, the equality of self and other is known, and samsara and Nirvana are non-dual. The Sutra of the Levels of Buddhahood (sangs rgyas sa’i mdo) says:

In the wisdom of equality, all dharmas are apprehended as markless equality, so that pleasure and pain are of one taste. Therefore, they are established as equality/equanimity.

The former text says:

The wisdom of equality, as found in sentient beings,
Is maintained to be the purity of meditation.
As for non-dwelling, remaining in a state of peace,
This is maintained to be the wisdom of equality.

2.a.i.2.d) Discriminating wisdom


For discriminating wisdom objects are known distinctly.
The visions of nature and extent are completely pure.

By the subsiding of passion into space, discriminating awareness wisdom knows the empty nature of knowables as it is, and knows the extent of all the essences of various appearances, along with their causes and effects. The above sutra says:

As for discriminating awareness wisdom, for example, in the realm of the world, bodies of land, the sun, the moon, and so forth are discriminated. Similarly, discriminating awareness wisdom truly discriminates all the world-transcending perfections, with their causes and effects; and discriminates the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas.

The Mahayanasutralankara says:

As for the wisdom of discriminating awareness,
Perceptions of all knowables are not obstructed at all.
The occurrence of various samadhis and dharanis
Are like nothing else than having found a treasure.

As for this, within the mandala of samsara,
Because it teaches all the connections of everything,
Every kind of doubt is totally cut through.
There is a great descent of the excellent rain of Dharma.

2.a.i.2.e) All-accomplishing wisdom


All-accomplishing wisdom is perfect buddha activity. It is not obstructed by knowing everything all the time.

By the subsiding of envy into space, as for the wisdom that unremittingly acts to accomplish benefit for sentient beings, the same sutra says:

As for the all accomplishing wisdom, for example, the actions of body, speech and mind of sentient beings are accomplished. Likewise, as for the all-accomplishing wisdom, the purposes of body, speech and mind of sentient beings are spontaneously established.

The former text says: #1072.6

As for the wisdom that is all-accomplishing,
In all the variety of all the different realms,
By immeasurable emanations, beyond the scope of thought,
It accomplishes all the goals of sentient beings

2.a.iii) The Dharma and retinue


Beings on the ten bhumis are the retinue of students.
The Dharma is samadhi, with radiation of light.
When mind rises cleansed of the obscurations of these levels,
Miserliness and the rest, the victorious ones are seen.

When we can see the distinction of the purity of these teachers
And ourselves as we are now, that purifies obscuration.
Thus we establish ourselves in Universal Light.[8]
This is accomplished as if our wonderful reflection
Had been shown to us within a perfect mirror.

The perfect retinue are the bodhisattvas of the ten bhumis. The Small Commentary says:

Together with the bodhisattvas dwelling on the great bhumis they have the joy of enjoyment of the Mahayana Dharma and of faultlessness. Since they experience happiness without faults, therefore there is the body of enjoyment, the sambhogakaya, of the Buddha Bhagavat.

Moreover, the perfect Dharma is the Mahayana, made to appear by emanating rays of light. As by looking in a mirror we remove dirt from our faces, those bodhisattvas, by looking at the teacher of sambhogakaya, see the obscurations of their own level, and then gradually purify avarice and so forth. Having looked at the teacher and seen the teacher's superior purity, as dharmas marked by the symbols of understanding arise within them, they are blessed again.

By rays of light being emanated, their obscurations are cleared away. The Secret Essence says:

In the best, highest, place of Akanishta,
Kaya has the mode of Vairochana.
None of the bodhisattva retinue
Ever speak with speech so excellent.

By kaya dharmas are taught and evaluated,
As if they were being shown within a mirror.
All the evil color of things is cleared away,
Once the retinue so has looked at kaya.

The measureless obscurations of enlightenment
Appear in kaya as if they were in a mirror.
Then the ten bhumis are gradually purified.
True unsurpassable buddhahood is attained.

2.a.iv) The time


The time continues until all beings are liberated.
The field of sambhogakaya always presents itself.

The inexhaustible wheel of the ornament lasts for as long as there are bodhisattvas dwelling on the ten bhumis who have not attained enlightenment. It always continuously remains. The Madhyamakavatara says:

Until beings are liberated, it is always there...

The Uttaratantra says:

The Lord of Dharma has overcome the Mara of Death.
Since there is no nature, the world's eternal protector.

2.a.v) Distinguishing what is to be purified by the field and teacher

2.a.v.a) Vairochana:

As to how:

Though Students have a certain nature among the five families,
When their predominant ignorance has been removed,
The field is Akanishta and the teacher Vairochana.
The Dharma is dharmadhatu wisdom, completely pure.

As defilements of the five kleshas are purified in bodhisattvas by stages, the first-appearing of the five teachers and dharmas, at the time of abandoning the defilement of ignorance, is Vairochana, with the Dharma of dharmadhatu wisdom, which is heard in Akanishta.

2.a.v.b) Those of the other four families:

As to how:

Just so, by removing aggression, there is the field of Akshobhya.
By removal of pride, there is the field of Ratnasambhava.
By removing desire, there is the field of Amitabha.
By removing jealousy, the field of Amoghasiddhi.

For aggression, the Dharma of the mirror-like wisdom of Akshobhya is taught; for pride, the wisdom of equality of Ratnasambhava; for passion, the discriminating awareness wisdom of Amitabha. Jealousy is purified by teaching the all-accomplishing wisdom of Amoghasiddhi.

For those on the ten bhumis, it is taught that there are five transformations of the five dharmas of the five families. At the time of the path of seeing, the ignorance of imputed false conceptions is transformed into the dharmadhatu wisdom. Attaining the first bhumi, "supremely joyful," we see Vairochana.

On the three of the lesser path of meditation, transforming pride into the wisdom of equanimity, we see Ratnasambhava.

On three of the middle path of meditation, transforming all kinds of passion into discriminating awareness wisdom, we see Amitabha.

On the greater, the eighth bhumi, the seeds of aggression, the pain of conceptualization and alayavijñana are transformed into the mirror-like wisdom, so that we attain complete non-thought and see Akshobhya.

On the ninth and tenth bhumis, as we purify the seeds of jealousy, the fields of the five gates are purified by the four modes of genuine individual awareness.[9] Perfect buddha activity produces benefit for sentient beings. The all-accomplishing wisdom is attained. Seeing Amoghasiddhi, we are empowered by great light rays. This is perfection of the great deeds of the buddhas. The Miraculous Awakening (byang chub mngon byang) says: #1076.2

By mastery of the pure levels,
With perfection of the five teachers,
Their five dharmas and their five wisdoms,
We go to enlightenment.

The commentary describes what this is like. The actual field By the distinction between teacher and retinue there is half-emanation

By appearance for others of the fields of the five families and the appearance of the teacher, as for how benefit is produced for the bodhisattvas:

Since, regarding a teacher in the realm of sambhogakaya,
The retinue and such are other than the teacher,
For this reason, not everything is sambhogakaya.
Such “half emanation” is self-existing nirmanakaya.
This appears for sentient beings who are purified.
But for the noble ones who are dwelling on the bhumis,
Those who are to be tamed are not other than themselves.
So it is called a half-emanated nirmanakaya

The genuine field of sambhogakaya, by the perfection of being without good and bad, is always changeless. The reflected sambhogakaya appearing to the bodhisattvas, showing the major and minor marks and so forth, appears to be other than the field and retinue and so forth. Therefore it is included within the appearances of the ten bhumis, and is called a "half-emanated sambhogakaya." This is taught in the tantra, the Wedding of the Sun and Moon (nyi zla kha sbyor) and so forth.

It is also called half-emanation because the field does not appear to be other for the bodhisattvas of the ten bhumis. Though sambhogakaya appears, since really it is not other than self-appearance, its reflection is a half-appearing simulacrum, and so it is called “half-emanation.” By emanating with the nature of self-appearance, it is also called a “naturally-existing nirmanakaya.” The four peaceful fields

These fields are alike in their delightful palaces.
They are built on the seven precious substances.[10]
They emanate rays of light to all of the directions.
Countless buddha-children are born from lotus flowers.
Everything that is desired falls like rain.
Throughout the four times the sound of Dharma rings like sleigh-bells.[11]
These are the emanations of a peaceful nature.

In the fields of the five families, on ground of the seven precious substances, divine palaces, brilliant with rays of light are adorned with garlands of jewels. From bells in palm trees Dharma sounds of emptiness, marklessness, and so forth, unheard before, arise by themselves and pacify harmful kleshas.

As pools of water adorned with the eight virtues[12] emanate like the play of fountains, the torments of the kleshas are cleared away. A rain of all that is desired falls from the sky and so forth. The power and

enlightenment of the buddhas is adorned by the immeasurable display that arises because of the wondrously arisen virtuous roots of the bodhisattvas.

This display of good qualities of the undisturbed fields, Sukhavati and so forth, is extensively explained in the sutras. As these qualities are nothing but the appearances of their own virtuous minds, those maintaining the conception that they are other are impure. When they try to cross over to somewhere else, they never get there. As from virtuous habitual patterns good dreams arise, the self- appearances of the bodhisattvas accord with the half-emanations of the buddhas. The Secret Essence says:

A wish-fulfilling tree or wishing gem,
And arising of everything that is desired
These do not exist substantially,
But supported by the merit of one's mind.

The wondrous miracle, wondrous marvelous Dharma.
Does not come from any other existence.
From prajña in dependence on upaya,
These arise like a fetus in the body. The celestial field

As the peaceful self-arising nirmanakaya appears to the bodhisattvas dwelling on the bhumis:

Likewise there are countless wrathful mandalas,
Celestial realms that emanate heaps of clouds of dakinis,
The field of the five families of glorious herukas.
They fully appear to those who accomplish secret mantra.
Nowadays this is called “the celestial realm of bliss.”
It is highly praised by the learned and accomplished.

The self-appearance of inner luminosity arises as the luminous mandalas of the wrathful ones of the five families. This is like the reflection of the moon appearing here. For individuals dwelling on the level of a vidyadhara of secret mantra with power over life, and for the insight holders of mahamudra, the five poisons are abandoned. Because of that, from the self-arising appearance of the five kayas and five wisdoms, when ignorance is tamed, the mandala of the wrathful one of the tathagata family, the Buddha heruka, appears in Akanishta. Having traveled there, dakas, dakinis, and lords of yogins who have the same fortune as other vidyadharas enjoy the feast within the abundance of the view and action of mantrayana.

Similarly, in the vajra field there is a display of the mandala and field of Vajra Heruka, in the ratna field of Ratna Heruka, in the padma field of Padma Heruka, and in the karma field of Karma Heruka realm,

There is the companionship of accomplished dakinis, beings of the celestial realm, of the earthly beings born in the pure fields and so forth who are of equal fortune with the assembly of Vajrayogini.

Giving assistance, in the field of the moment of death, the wrathful ones invite with heaps of clouds of parasols, victory banners, and music. These are seen by the vidyadhara gurus, and they are drawn in. The five places classified as those of the vidyadharas are called “the celestial realms of great bliss.” These vidyadharas are equal fortune with those who have attained the buddha fields by the bodhisattva-bhumis. Each field has realization of the perfect Dharma, teacher, retinue, view, and accomplishment of samadhi, from which no other is conceivable. The Precious Ocean says:

As they appear to those who are dwelling on the bhumis,
The fields of wrathful ones appear to vidyadharas,
With all the great feast of good qualities of the celestial realm.
They are then adorned by the marks of accomplishment.
The signs and marks of attaining the siddhis all appear.

The vajra gurus abide as vidyadharas training on this very path. So it is proclaimed.

Footnotes and references:


Akshobhya in the root verses.


Sometimes Padmakuta.


= Sambhogakaya.


The major marks.


Nirmanakaya and sambhogakaya.


Than those of his family.


kun rtog ye shes = so sor rtog pa’i ye shes.


kun tu ‘od, samantaprabha, the eleventh bhumi of constant illumination, one of the three levels of buddhahood, sangs rgyas kyi sa gsum.


so sor yang dag rang gi rig pa bzhi. Awareness of Dharma, meaning, definitions, and brilliant confidence, (chos, don, nges

tshig, spobs).


rin chen bdun : Seven precious substances. usually ruby, sapphire, lapis, emerald, diamond, pearl and coral. Sometimes the list includes gold, silver, and crystal.


gyer kha are little brass jingle bells from the little bangles on garments up to cowbell size.


These are abilities to cure different diseases.

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