The Six Paramitas – Phar-phyin-drug — His Eminence Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Six invaluable qualities unfold and manifest from within the minds of disciples of the Buddhadharma who pursue and practice the teachings that Lord Buddha presented with joy and diligence. The six invaluable qualities are known as “the six paramitas,” phar-phying-drug. The six paramitas in Tibetan and Sanskrit are: (1) sbyin-pa (dana, “generosity”), (2) tshul-khrims (shila, “ethics”), (3) bzod-pa (kshanti, “forbearance, acceptance, patience, forgiveness”), (4) brtsong-’grus (virya, “joyful endeavour, diligence, zeal”), (5) bsam-gtan (dyana, “meditative concentration”), and (6) shes-rab (prajna, “discriminating wisdom-awareness, insight”). Paramita is a Sanskrit term and means “perfection.” It is translated into Tibetan as pha-rol-tu-phyin-pa, which literally means “gone to the other shore.” The other shore in the context of the Buddhadharma means transcendence of mental fixations concerning a subject, objects, and actions.
Generosity – sByin-pa
The practice of generosity, the first paramita, is to give what is helpful and good and to give without selfishness. There are three ways to be liberal and generous (sbyin-pa-gsum): (1) giving material things, (2) giving loving protection, and (3) giving loving understanding. The teachings on the first form of generosity, zang-zing-gi-sbyin-pa, explain proper and improper charity. It is necessary to abandon improper giving and to know what is proper to give.
One’s motivation is very important when one is charitable. It is improper to give something to someone with the intention to harm, or with the intention to become famous, or out of fear of impending poverty. It is also necessary to consider what one gives. A bodhisattva should never give anything that can hurt others and should never give anything that is helpful with wicked thoughts in mind. It is also important to reflect the recipient of one’s generosity. It certainly is not beneficial to pamper those persons crazed with desire and filled with greed. Furthermore, a bodhisattva is never reluctant to be charitable and is never animus, disrespectful, or scornful when doing so. Proper generosity is giving whatever one possibly can and doing so with a pure motivation and enthusiasm. There are many very inspiring stories about great arhats and bodhisattvas who even gave their own flesh to feed animals that were on the verge of starving to death. So, one gives whatever one can to the needy.
It is important to practice generosity, especially towards representations of the Three Jewels, towards one’s parents, towards those who are sick and in need of protection, and particularly towards those one thinks are rivals or foes. One gives them whatever one can with joy, respect, compassion, and openly. It is more beneficial to use one’s own hands than to ask others to take one’s place, to choose the right time, and not to cause any harm whatsoever. The wise know that they cannot ever be generous too soon and never falter or wane.
The second form of generosity, mi-‘jigs-pa’i-sbyin-pa, is giving loving protection to all those who are fearful of others, who fear getting sick and dying, and who are afraid of natural catastrophes.
The third form of generosity, chos-kyi-sbyin-pa’i-sbyin-pa, is giving the priceless gift of Dharma to others, which does not mean speaking about it with just anyone. It means helping those who have respect for the precious Buddhadharma understand and appreciate its invaluable meaning. With a pure motivation, one should pass on the authentic teachings that one has received from an authentic scholar and master and that one has understood oneself. So that no distortions occur, it is important neither to mix the classical teachings with one’s personal opinion nor to share them out of self-centred aims. The truth of the Buddhadharma is precious and rare and should always be discussed in a pleasant environment and way. The Sutras explain how to give teachings in a traditional manner, and one should know better than to mix them with mundane concerns.1
So, these are the three basic forms of generosity, the first paramita that Lord Buddha taught. It is also the easiest paramita to understand. It can be practiced by everyone and is the foundation for the following five.
- Discipline – Tshul-khrims
The second paramita is tshul-khrims, “ethics, morality, moral discipline, ethical conduct, rule, order,” shila in Sanskrit. According to the Bodhisattva Vehicle, there are three categories of ethics (tshul-khrims-gsum): (1) to refrain from negative actions, (2) to accumulate what is positive, and (3) to help others.
To refrain from negative actions, nyes-spyod-sdom-pa’i-tshul-khrims, is the first aspect of the three kinds of discipline. It means avoiding misdeeds and wrongdoings, i.e., not doing that which hurts others and that which is selfish. In general, harmful actions are described as the ten non-virtues, which are (1) killing, (2) stealing, (3) sexual misconduct, (4) lying, (5) slander, (6) harsh speech, (7) useless speech, (8) covetousness, (9) ill-will, and (10) misguided beliefs. If one’s motivation is pure, however, then the first seven wrongdoings are permissible. If one’s motivation is impure, then one cannot be a bodhisattva. In order to have pure and skillful conduct, one needs to study and learn what is negative by training under the guidance of someone who really knows and has experienced the significance of virtue and vice.
Having seen which negative habits and actions are strongest and easiest to give up, a practitioner can take vows or commitments never to repeat them again. For example, if one is certain that one can stop killing, then one can take the vow not to kill. If one is certain that one can stop killing and stealing, then one can take both vows. Moral codes, tshul-khrims-srung-ba, and vows are supports that enable practitioners to reduce and eventually eliminate any wrongdoings.
The discipline of training in positive actions and developing virtuous qualities, dge-ba-chos-sdud-kyi-tshul-khrims, is the second aspect of tshul-krhims-gsum, “the three kinds of discipline.” Creating values of worth can be practiced at all times and in relation to everything. There is no situation or thing that cannot be the practice of a bodhisattva. It is said that there are as many practices as there are phenomena and that both positive and negative circumstances and situations present an opportunity for a bodhisattva to benefit living beings. Virtuous qualities are described as the six paramitas, but a person must be ready and willing to engage in these invaluable activities. The intention to do so is already an immense accumulation of virtue.
The Mahayana ways of dealing with mind poisons are very easy skilful methods. If one has desire, for example, then it may be necessary to exert effort in order to stop one’s craving. First it is necessary to understand the source and result of desire and craving and then it is necessary to learn to appreciate what it means to be content. While investigating both aspects, desire automatically decreases and contentment naturally increases. There is no need to sit down and work on decreasing desire and to later sit down and work on increasing contentment, seeing that winning an understanding of both practices simultaneously serves both purposes. In this way, various skilful methods can be developed and put into practice: generosity as an antidote for being stingy and mean, diligence as an antidote for laziness, meditation as an antidote for mental complexity, wisdom as an antidote for ignorance, and so forth. Mahayana Buddhism offers so many practices, and one starts by engaging in the easiest ones, until one can practice what needs to be done on a larger scale.
Acting on behalf of sentient beings, sems-can-don-byed, is the third aspect of tshul-krhims-gsum. One does need to have achieved a certain level of realization that is based upon a pure mind of loving kindness and selfless compassion in order to be able to really benefit others effectively and reliably. However, it is possible to benefit others before one has fully realized perfection if one has the pure motivation.
There are four basic guidelines to act upon for the benefit of sentient beings if one has a pure motivation: (1) To give sentient beings whatever they need to fulfill their wishes and needs, provided one’s help does not harm anyone. (2) To say what others like to hear, provided what one says causes no harm. This means to speak nicely. Nevertheless, should it be necessary to use harsh words for someone’s sake and one is certain it will move them to stop harming themselves or others, then one just has to use harsh words. (3) If in any way it is possible to offer others even a slightest glimpse of the truth, then one is obliged to do so. (4) Regardless of one’s own spiritual level of advancement, regardless of whether it is a law or not, one should behave in accordance with accepted customs and norms.
Ultimately, one’s ability to help others is limited. It is limited as long as one has not developed sufficient confidence in wisdom-awareness, the sixth paramita, or realized it fully. It is also limited as long as one does not really understand circumstances and situations and is not totally sure that the help one gives others will not be impaired by disappointment or obscured by pride. And yet, one starts where one is, at one’s personal level of understanding, and acts for the welfare of others in whatever way possible and according to one’s understanding and capabilities.
- Patience – bZod-pa
There are three ways to practice patience (bzod-pa-gsum), that I wish to discuss with you: (1) to refrain from hurting those who have caused one grief and pain, (2) to deal with any suffering one experiences without fighting it uselessly or feeling intimidated, and (3) to have confidence in the ultimate truth.
The first type of patience is the patience of not being moved by harm-doers, gnod-byed-la-ji-mi-snyam-pa’i-bzod-pa. The teachings speak of the patience of not being offended when someone hurts or abuses one personally or those who are dear, ji-mi-snyam-pa’i-bzod-pa. Put simply, it means not retaliating when someone hits us because then they would have “really” managed to hit us, in other words, not being offended when hit or knocked around by somebody. One understands that their blow did not come out of the blue rather is based upon causes and conditions created in the past – causes and conditions that one created oneself. By accepting a blow, the cause of a particular situation is overcome and the blow itself is used as an exceptional opportunity to practice patience without feeling resentment. One sees it as a chance to turn what might seem negative into a beneficial practice without becoming angry, khro-med. Of course, easier said than done.
It was not common in the Tibetan tradition to deal with situations just described adequately and Tibetans used to look down on anyone who was not offended and who did not retaliate when hurt or harmed. As a result, a victim felt ashamed if he or she did not strike back when insulted or hurt. Once I saw a monk in Sikkim react differently, though, and I was amazed. The very nice monk had a good sense of humour, but one day he said something frivolous to a monk who was very short-tempered. Angered, the short-tempered monk kicked the nice monk and then hit him on the head with a piece of wood. The nice monk was not offended, remained as soft as cotton, and gently said to the short-tempered monk, “Thank you very much. If no one were ever angry with me, how could I develop patience? Thank you for having been angry with me.” He really meant what he said and was very grateful. When situations like this arise, one has to be prepared to deal with them in the same manner. How? One begins practicing when simple situations present themselves. For instance, if someone says something that seems slightly abusive or annoying, one just remarks, “Yes, yes. It’s so true.” One doesn’t really mean it, but one pretends in order to prevent an argument from escalating and turning into a battle. One understands that their nasty words are only words. By practicing patience and forbearance in the wake of irrelevant matters, one will eventually be able to master much more crucial situations and events.
The second type of patience is the patience of enduring any suffering one experiences without fighting it uselessly or feeling intimidated, sdug-bsngal-la-ji-mi-snyam-pa’i-bzod-pa. Although it might sound so, the patience of tolerating suffering does not mean one seeks suffering and pain and rejoices when one is in agony. Since time that has no beginning until the present every sentient being living in one of the six realms of existence has been suffering in one way or another. During the entire expanse of time it is a fact that everyone has endured billions of centuries of suffering in the hell realms, billions of centuries of suffering in the animal and in all other realms of our world system, which is therefore referred to as mi-mjed-kyi-‘jig-rten, “the Saha world of endurance.”2 In one way, all past suffering can be helpful in that one appreciates that one doesn’t suffer much at this point, yet in another way it hasn’t really helped much.
When sick, one often does suffer a lot and should take medicine. Similarly, when in trouble with others, one definitely should try to get out of harm’s way. However, one should not see nor think that those situations are negative. Suffering is like a broom that sweeps away suffering’s causes. If one understands this, then suffering diminishes. If one doesn’t understand this, then suffering is intensified twice, ten, or a hundred times over and over again. How does one develop understanding? By reflecting, “My suffering is the result of former karmic causes. Just as I do not want to suffer, nobody wants to suffer.” One prays, “May my present suffering be of true benefit in that it removes the suffering of all living beings.” This is how one imagines taking on the suffering and relieving the pain that all living beings unceasingly endure. If one’s aspiration and sincere intention do not help others because there is no karmic link, then it certainly enhances one’s own practice of mind training in that one imagines taking on the suffering of others and giving them all one’s happiness.
When one sits down to meditate, one has little to no patience and it often feels painful to sit in the right posture, to uphold the right attitude, and to recite the liturgy. Having patience to practice will really help oneself and others. Lord Buddha practiced intensively for six years along the banks of the Neranjara River before he attained enlightenment under the Bodhitree at Bodhgaya.3 The result of his great patience while practicing and reaching enlightenment has been lasting for more than 2500 years and will continue helping others until time ends, which won’t ever be the case. He not only benefited our planet earth but the myriad world systems, too. Therefore, one should not complain about petty difficulties one may have while meditating and, instead, practice fortitude.
The third type of patience is practiced by having confidence in the excellent qualities of the Three Jewels, chos-la-nges-sems-sam-mi-skye-ba’i-chos-la-bzod-pa. Confidence arises through taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and develops and increases through practicing the instructions that one receives. This is the patience of bearing hardships for the sake of the Dharma, chos-phyir-dka’-thub-bzod-pa’i-bzod-pa.
It is important to continuously learn about and recall the qualities of the Three Jewels so that one is inspired to patiently seek to understand and realize the absolute and relative truths. Karma, i.e., cause and effect, is valid and effective in the relative world and therefore one should do good and avoid evil actions and ways. The absolute truth is that everything is like an illusion and therefore virtue and vice are also illusory. It is not easy for most people to acknowledge and appreciate the simultaneity of the two levels of truth, so it is important to practice the patience of not fearing the profound meaning of the Dharma, zab-mo’i-don-la-mi-skrag-pa’i-bzod-pa. How? One begins reflecting from a very basic, down-to-earth level.
It is a fact that we have all attained a precious human existence and we certainly appreciate how good our life is, because we are free to do as we please. So many possibilities to do good and benefit others are at our disposal. It would be a tremendous pity to waste the wonderful abilities and possibilities one has by ignoring and not using them. For example, as long as a hundred kilos of gold remain buried beneath the house of a poverty-stricken family, it will be of no use to anyone. Similarly, a precious human existence is invaluable but wasted if not used properly. Life is impermanent and passes quickly. The third type of patience is developed and increased by really learning to understand more fully that it would be a pity to waste one’s life and therefore important to practice patience of taking responsibility, khur-bzod-pa
- Joyful Endeavour – brTson-‘grus
The fourth paramita, joyful endeavour, is also translated as “effort, exertion, and perseverance.” There are five kinds of joyful endeavour: (1) armour-like diligence (go-cha’i-brtson-‘grus), (2) zeal of application (sbyor-ba’i-brtson-‘grus), (3) relentless exertion (zhum-med-kyi-brtson-‘grus), (4) the zeal of not turning back (mi–ldog-pa’i-brtson-‘grus), and (5) insatiable perseverance (chog-par-mi-‘dzin-pa’i-brtson-‘grus). I wish to speak about armour-like diligence, zeal of application, and insatiable perseverance.
1) Armour-like diligence – Go-cha’i-brtson-‘grus
Armour-like diligence presupposes having given rise to the aspiration and commitment to work for the benefit of others, which is bodhicitta of aspiration, smon-pa’i-byang-chub-kyi-sems. A sincere disciple has the wish to benefit others, yet he or she does not really know the best ways to go about this. A disciple therefore first develops and increases the heart-felt intention, which is concisely formulated in the prayer of a bodhisattva and reads, “From this very moment on I will use this precious human existence to attain realization of the ultimate truth for the sake of all living beings, so that I may lead them away from suffering and its causes.” This heart-felt intention is the foundation of armour-like diligence.
Just as armour protects us from wounds inflicted by sharp weapons, diligence is a strength that protects us from being dominated by laziness. Laziness pulls one back, impedes and disrupts one’s intentions, and stops one from realizing the four qualities that are accomplished by perfecting the paramita of diligence. The four qualities that will be attained by developing and increasing joyful endeavour are: (1) overcoming adverse factors such as laziness (le-lo-sogs-mi-mthun-phyogs-nyams-pa),4 (2) realizing the non-conceptual state of non-self of phenomena (chos-kyi-bdag-mjed-rtogs-pa’i-mi-rtog-pa), (3) perfecting what is desired (‘dod-pa-rdzogs-par-byed-pa), and (4) bringing the three potentials of practitioners to maturation (rigs-can-gsum-smin-par-byed-pa).5 Perfection of diligence is transcendent exertion, brtson-‘grus–kyi-pha-rol-tu-phyin-pa.
It is first necessary to know what one wants to do before one begins. One needs to clearly understand the purpose of practice and win certainty in the teachings so that one’s confidence and devotion are stable and firm. Then one can successfully engage in the practices with one-pointed concentration and hold the samadhi of diligence, brtson-‘grus-kyi-ting-nge-‘dzin.
2) Zeal of application – sByor-ba’i-brtson-‘grus
When someone knows how to give unfailing help and support to those who are suffering and in need, he or she is able to engage in reliable methods to truly benefit himself or herself as well as many others. This, then, is bodhicitta of application, ‘jug-pa’i-byang-chub-kyi-sems. So, relative bodhicitta has two aspects: bodhicitta of aspiration and bodhicitta of application.6 There are many ways to diligently practice the teachings on a relative, day-to-day basis.
The first stage of integrating what one has understood into one’s everyday life is rousing the will to overcome painful activities that have already arisen and avoiding and steering away from any harmful and disrupting influences that impede and distort one’s intention to lead a meaningful life. The second stage is rousing the will to develop and increase wholesome activities by stirring the energy to do good and making virtue a living part of one’s life. The third stage of practicing joyful endeavour is rousing the will to maintain any virtue that has arisen, not allowing the good to decrease or vanish, and exerting great effort to increase beneficial qualities by helping others in the short-run and long-run, i.e., relatively and ultimately. Of course, a disciple practices and proceeds from the level where he or she is and does what is possible. It is easy, for instance, never to hurt anyone7 and then to progress according to one’s capabilities, until one is able to effortlessly render unfailing help to others in the long-run, too, which is great perseverance, brtson-‘grus-chen-po.
3) Insatiable perseverance – Chog-par-mi-‘dzin-pa’i-brtson-‘grus
Insatiable perseverance is based upon truly being fed up and disgusted with non-virtuous ways.8 All too often one’s efforts are sporadic, i.e., one tries one’s best for a short while and then falls back into inconsiderate behaviour for a longer period of time. If progress is to be sustained and increased, it must be steady and consistent. When a practitioner is thoroughly disenchanted and disheartened with the workings of delusiveness and seriously feels disgust, skyo-ba,9 he or she never stops longing to improve by engaging in unwavering perseverance, brtson-‘grus-nyams-pa-med-pa. Then a practitioner progresses by carrying out beneficial activities for the welfare of others. The teachings state, “Even if you were to die tomorrow morning, you should still learn more. Even if you have helped everybody, you should help them again and again.” A billion or trillion friends are not too many and one enemy is one too many for a sincere practitioner of the Buddhadharma.
One should never be satisfied about having accomplished positive qualities but earnestly feel that one is beginning anew with every tiny step one takes and slightest assistance one can give others. Whenever one sees the possibility to help someone, one should not hesitate but be grateful and happy about the opportunity to be a friend. Whenever one sees the possibility to stop someone from harming others, one should not hesitate but be grateful for the opportunity to stop the evildoer. Avoiding such issues by thinking it does not matter if someone is helped or harmed is certainly not correct. For example, if one spots a glass splitter lying on the ground, it is so easy to just pick it up and throw it into the trashcan. It would surely not be right to think, “Oh well, thousands of people pass by here and do not go to the trouble of throwing the glass that someone can step on away, so why should I bother?” All of us have responsibilities. If we think one drop of water is worth nothing, then the ocean is worth nothing in our minds either. After all, oceans consist of drops of water. If, however, we accumulate one drop after another, drop-by-drop, we may be able to one day gather accumulation as vast as an entire ocean and become someone who has reached the goal through insatiable perseverance, brtson-‘grus-kyi-mthar-gyis-pa.
- Meditative Concentration – bSam-gtan
There are three ways to train in meditative concentration (bsam-gtan-bstan-pa-gsum) that I wish to discuss with you.
1) It is impossible to perfect the other five paramitas without awareness, therefore it is important to practice the first meditative concentration, byis-pa-nyer-spyod-kyi-bsam-gtan, which is a beginner’s level of training to develop inner awareness. At this early stage of practice, a meditator learns to hold stable attention through shamata meditation, which is deeper and more meaningful than the superficial ways of remaining involved with mental obscurations. Shamata meditation makes the mind tranquil and allows a practitioner to one-pointedly abide in his or her mind’s innate qualities, free from disturbing emotions, rtse-gcig-nyon-mongs-med. By engaging in shamata meditation, one cultivates awareness and recognizes what arises in one’s mind. One’s body, speech, and mind rest naturally in the present moment, free from obscurations (such as desire, anger, ignorance, miserliness, jealousy, and pride) that only delude and hurt oneself and others.
2) The second stage of meditative concentration is discerning the real, don-rab-byed-pa’i-bsam-gtan. It is divided into two kinds: common and special. The first, bsam-gtan-dang-po’i-dngos-gzhi-tsam-po-ba, concerns the ordinary mind in that one learns to stop the mind from following after needless thoughts that arise and from wandering off as a result. Sitting meditation, shamata, is not carried out in order to make the mind blank and shut it off, rather the purpose of practicing shamata is to learn to recognize thoughts when they arise and to be aware of one’s own mind’s clear and radiant nature, eventually coming to see that mind recognizes mind itself.
The second kind of practice, the special, bsam-gtan-dang-po’i-dngos-gzhi-khyad-par-can, includes the first and takes bodhicitta a step further. A meditator learns to become free from the veils of clinging to a self, to objects, and to actions. Seeking an answer, he or she reflects and contemplates questions such as, “Who is meditating? What is being meditated upon and how?” Practicing in this way, a sincere disciple eventually transcends imputations and mental fixations that are biased, divided, and partial.
3) The third stage of practice carried out in order to perfect meditative concentration is upholding the first two with a pure motivation and increasing one’s openness of loving kindness and compassion for all sentient beings without exception. Realizing shamata that delights the Tathagatas, de-bzhin-gshegs-dge’i-bsam-gtan, is Mahayana, i.e., realization of emptiness. It means a practitioner abides in impartiality by having perfected shamata and is free of erroneous beliefs by having perfected insight. Based upon the pure motivation, complete perfection of meditative concentration means that a Mahayana practitioner is richly adorned with awareness of his or her mind’s inherent and radiant qualities and therefore he or she spontaneously and effortlessly engages in activities that always benefit others.
In summary: One’s mind first needs to be pacified and cultivated through calm-abiding practice that is integrated into daily life. By perfecting calm-abiding, one’s mind does become quite calm and passive, so it is necessary to engage in insight meditation concerning the way things are and the way things appear. It is also necessary to practice calm-abiding and insight with the right motivation, which is the wish to help others. Uniting all three aspects in practice is full meditation. Someone who hopes to be practicing Vajrayana would simply embark on a selfish trip if he or she was to practice meditation without the enlightened motivation of bodhicitta, and then there would be no benefit for anyone.
- Prajna – Shes-rab
There are three types of wisdom-awareness (shes-rab-gsum), which can be translated as “ordinary knowledge, lesser transcendent awareness, and highest wisdom-awareness.” They are that which is born of receiving instructions through hearing (thos-pa-las-byung-ba’i-shes-rab), that which is born of reflection (bsam-pa-las-byung-ba’i-shes-rab), and that which is born of meditation (bsgoms-pa-las-byung-ba’i-shes-rab).
There are ten branches of knowledge (rig-pa’i-gnas-bcu) that are studied diligently in the Tibetan tradition so that disciples of the Buddhadharma can eventually and unmistakably realize all three types of prajna. They are (1) rhetorics, (2) astronomy and astrology, (3) grammar, (4) performing arts, (5) semantics, (6) mechanical arts and handicrafts, (7) medicine, (8) phonetics, (9) dynamics, and (10) Buddhist philosophy. We used to refer to them as “the ten arts.” Nowadays they are called “sciences.”10 They are divided into five minor (rig-gnas-chung-ba-lnga) and five major disciplines (rig-gnas-che-ba-lnga). I want to give a brief explanation of the five minor disciplines of study first.
1) Rhetorics (sgra’i-sbyor-ba) is a branch of linguistics that is studied so that students learn to respect and observe a constant order when formulating their feelings and thoughts in an appropriate way to arouse a similar understanding and appreciation of things with those who are not in the same situation themselves.
2) Astronomy and astrology (skar-rtsis-rig-pa) is a combined field of study in the Tibetan tradition and was derived from Indian sources. Astronomy is the science that investigates the outer universe, the cosmos. It is the study of the celestial bodies, their magnitudes, motions, constitution, and so forth. The earth belongs to the inner universe and is called Jambudvipa in Sanskrit, ‘dzam-bu-gling in Tibetan.11 Living beings are a reflection of appearances and therefore Tibetan astrological charts will always address the correlation between the elements that dominated in the cosmos when someone was born.12 The relative locations of planets, the constellations,13 and other celestial bodies are indicators of the daily rhythms of our global and personal lives. An astrologer (skar-byed-pa-po) can even describe a client’s father and mother precisely and undeniably.
Astrology is the field of study that calculates the cosmos in conjunction with the human body and the subtle energy forces within the body. So, next to the outer physical world, there is the outer, physical human body as we know it and the inner body that consists of subtle energies. Living beings also have a mind that is taken into consideration when a horoscope is made. These many aspects are interconnected and influence each other.14 Astrology is the field of study that enables researchers to calculate and enumerate these quite complex connections that constitute life.
A Tibetan calendar sometimes divides a year into 12 months, sometimes into 13. Sometimes there are only 28 days in a month, often there are 30 days in a month. Why? Our calendar is based upon the moon’s cycles that determine the four seasons. Our summer months are always summer and our winter months are always winter. Eclipses are also calculated by astrologists and marked in our calendars.15
There are several systems of astrology, some are called “white” and others are called “black.” These two general connotations have nothing to do with white or black magic nor do they imply anything that could be considered good or bad. Black astrology is much more complex and involves more mathematical skill than white astrology.16
3) sGra’i-rnam-par-rig-pa, “grammar,” is the study of classes of words, their inflections and syntactical relations, and their functions. Once we had seven treatises translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan. They explained the principles of grammar, poetics, metrics, lexicography, and etymology, but five were lost. Nevertheless, the two texts that are sgra’i-bstan-bcos (“treatises on grammar”) that were not lost are very good and concise.
4) Performing arts and dramaturgy include the study of many topics. It is the art of learning to vividly recount tales, historical facts, personal stories, or those born from a play-writer’s imagination. Theatrical performances are representations of events and their background and of persons who were decisive in the lives of many people. Such performances enable an audience to learn about and appreciate foreign cultures and offer the opportunity to empathize with people living in other parts of the world. Actors need to know how to speak clearly, dance, sing, and act in ways that move an audience to reflect other times and places as well as other people’s lives.
5) Semantics is the branch of linguistics that investigates the origin and meaning of words (sgra-don). Many words are explicit, i.e., perfectly clear in meaning (sgra-ji-bzhin), others are implicit and can only be fairly understood though not expressed (sgra-ji-bzhin-pa-yin). For instance, the Sanskrit term for Buddha was translated into Tibetan as Sangs-rgyas, which is an explicit rendering of the original, i.e., it is a literal translation of the original Sanskrit. Sangs means “awakened from the sleep of ignorance” and rgyas means “full blossoming of all qualities and knowledge.”17 The word “house,” on the other hand, is implicit. There is a Tibetan dictionary with implicit translations of hundreds of explicit words. The dictionary states that the word “flower,” for instance, can be called “that which drinks through its feet” or “that which has fine petals.”18
The five minor branches of study deal with less difficult topics. The five major disciplines that I wish to speak about now are more important. They are mechanical arts and crafts, medicine, phonetics, dynamics, and Buddhist philosophy.
6) The first field of major study is mechanical arts and handicrafts (bzo-ba’i-rig-pa in Tibetan, bzo-ba meaning “to build, put up”). The entire universe is comprised of five elements. Five substances or principles are needed and support each other so that things can exist. It is even possible to learn what material things consist of without the help of a teacher. A potter certainly knows that he needs clay (the principle of solidity) when he wants to make a pot. He also knows that he needs water (the principle of moisture) and wind in the space in which he turns his potter’s wheel before the pot he made is burned in a furnace. And so, a potter naturally knows about the five elements (earth, water, wind, fire, and space). The study of mechanical arts includes becoming skilled in metalwork, carving, painting, weaving, and a host of other creative crafts.
7) The second higher field of study at the greater universities of the Tibetan tradition is gso-ba’i-rig-pa, “the science of healing, medicine.” The general meaning of gso-ba is “to mend, to feed, to nourish, to enhance.” While studying the first art of higher education, we learn how things are made. Medical training is the study of how living bodies function. When the physical body doesn’t function, we diagnose and treat a patient with medicine. There are many ways of diagnosing a sickness and disease. If a Tibetan doctor is not able to immediately find the cause of an illness, he will test ten remedies that he could prescribe after having diagnosed a sickness. He makes a diagnosis by adding a sample of one of each ten possible remedies to each sample of urine that a patient filled into ten separate jars. A physician will then carefully observe what happens in each jar, will then be able to recommend a medicine and treat his patients effectively.19 The organs of the human body correspond to specific herbs, which grow on mountain slopes or meadows. Our medicine is biological and non-invasive.20
8) The third higher field of study is phonetics (sgra’i-rig-pa), the science that investigates the formation of sounds by the speech organs and apprehension by the ear so that individuals understand the art of speech as well as the application to the understanding and speaking of languages. Phonetics is often thought to be the study of the Sanskrit alphabet, but it is much more – it is an ornament, sgra’i-rgyan, that adorns someone who has become open and flexible through communicating with others fairly. Phonetics is the study of all the elements, movements, feelings, environment, and sounds that can be heard. The thorough study of sgra-ba enables a sincere student to understand what animals are saying when they make sounds that express their sensations and feelings. It is a higher branch of study that also enables us to know what a breeze, a fire burning in the oven, or a stream are telling us.21
9) Dynamics is the branch of science that studies movements and vibrations, which make sounds. One aspect of knowledge won through the study of dynamics is electronics, a field of physics that studies how televisions, radios, and telephones are made and function. Another branch of physics is kinetics, which enables us to watch someone we are speaking with over the phone and who is at the earth’s other side, as though that person were in the same room. Dynamics and electronics are the study of vibrations occurring in an environment and the physical properties of sounds.22
10) Buddhist philosophy is often described as the study of logic (pramana in Sanskrit, tshad-ma’i-rig-pa in Tibetan). Logic is the very complicated study of the two levels of truth (bden-gnyis) that are nominally distinct, i.e., ultimate truth (don-dam-bden-pa) and relative truth (kun-rdzob-kyi-bden-pa).23 It takes 10 to 15 years of determination and rigorous study on the side of a student to master the higher science of pramana correctly.24
We learn how everything is made, how things function, and the interconnectedness of all things. Mastering the minor and major fields of study is the way a practitioner wins outer knowledge, rig-gnas-kyi-phyogs.
Lesser transcendent awareness is won by investigating the two truths from one angle only, the relative, and therefore it is a one-sided approach. It is marked by realization of the ten virtuous actions.25 A disciple who has attained a very good understanding of transcendent awareness knows that non-virtuous actions cause suffering and virtuous actions lead to happiness, but such understanding is still dualistic since the ultimate is still seen as the other side of a coin, a goal that a practitioner aspires to achieve. A practitioner who has lesser transcendent awareness has transcended samsara but has not attained the supreme dharmakaya that is the inseparable two truths, bden-gnyis-dbyer-med-lhag-pa’i-chos-sku-che. Highest wisdom-awareness is realization of freedom from dualistic fixations of any kind. It is ineffable since it is beyond a subject-object dichotomy.
Knowing how things function is the first stage of practice, knowing how they really are is the second stage, and realizing the indivisibility of the relative and absolute truths is the third stage that sincere disciples of Mahayana and Vajrayana eventually realize. Wisdom-awareness can only be roughly described through language usage, while in truth it can only be experienced. Everyone has to taste it for himself or herself.
The Path and Results
When treading the path of a bodhisattva, one engages in the six paramitas. Each paramita consists of lesser, intermediate, and advanced stages, making 18 in all. By accomplishing each stage, a higher level of the five paths of a bodhisattva is accomplished. The five paths a bodhisattva practices before reaching the highest stage of perfection are: (1) the path of accumulation, (2) the path of practice or unification, (3) the path of seeing, (4) the path of meditation, and (5) the path of no more learning (tshogs-lam, sbyor-lam, mthong-lam, sgo-lam, and mi-slob-pa’i-lam). When the ultimate degree of the first path has been realized, it becomes the relative degree of the second path of practice. And when the ultimate degree of the second path has been realized, it becomes the relative degree of the third path of practice, and so on. A bodhisattva reaches the first ground of accomplishment, called bhumi in Sanskrit, when he or she realizes the third path.
There are ten bhumis in all, sa-bcu in Tibetan, which are ten grounds a bodhisattva treads to accomplish full enlightenment. On each stage more subtle defilements are purified and more enlightened qualities manifest. The ten bhumis are: the joyous, the stainless, the radiant, the brilliant, the hard to conquer, the realized, the reaching far, the unshakable, the good intelligence, and the cloud of Dharma.26 We have heard on many occasions that the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya manifest through having realized freedom from divided fixations. On the final level of the last bhumi, a bodhisattva becomes a master of the tenth bhumi and is called sa-bcu’i-dbang-phyug, “rich with power” – a great bodhisattva. A great bodhisattva who has realized the tenth bhumi does not conceptualise the three spheres of subject, object, and actions anymore because he or she has perfectly realized transcendent, ultimate truth, “just as it is.” The non-dual wisdom that a great bodhisattva has realized is vajra-like samadhi, rdo-rje-lta-bu’i-ting-nge-‘dzin – non-obscured, indestructible, timeless, primordial wisdom (ye-shes) that is perfect fulfilment or buddhahood.
It is important to understand the fundamental principles of Mahayana, which are bodhicitta, loving kindness and compassion, and beneficial qualities and to appreciate that ultimate realization, Buddha nature, abides within every single living being without exception. Based upon having realized the sixth paramita of wisdom-awareness and practicing the first five, immense loving kindness and compassion unfold in the minds of sincere disciples of Lord Buddha’s teachings. An earnest practitioner who realizes and manifests these principles is truly a noble and great regent, a buddha.
May virtue increase !
Based on online transcripts of instructions that most Venerable Tai Situ Rinpoche,
compiled and edited by Gaby Hollmann.
1 The Tibetan-English Dictionary states that Pawo Tsukla Threngwa (the Second Pawo Rinpoche, 1504-1566 A.D.) said in his biography of Vairochana that the texts and commentaries should be given to those who are faithful, gentle, soft-tempered, and steadfast. The complete teachings should be given completely and openly to those who are noble and long-standing. They should be entrusted earnestly to those who faithfully request them and with enthusiasm to those who have faith and a little discriminating awareness.
2 The Saha world is the three-thousandfold universe, the world system of Mount Sumeru and the four continents multiplied a thousand times a thousand times a thousand, adding up to one billion, stong-gsum-gyi-‘jig-rten-gyi-khams. It is also said to be undivided because karma and disturbing emotions, i.e., causes and effects, are not differentiated and therefore it is a world of sufferance.
3 The Neranjara River, today called the Lilajan River, is now a wide sandy expanse with no water. In Lord Buddha’s time it would have flowed much closer to the Bodhitree. King Asoka erected a Vajrasana, a polished sandstone throne, to represent Lord Buddha’s seat at Bodhgaya.
4 Le-lo (“laziness, indolence, sloth”) is one the five shortcomings or faults that impede calm abiding and equanimity as well as one of the twenty secondary defilements that impede insight. The five faults that disrupt calm and ease are laziness, forgetting the instructions, stupor and agitation, under-application, and over-application. The twenty secondary defilements that impede insight are wrath, resentment, concealment, spite, jealousy, avarice, deceit, dishonesty, self-importance, harmfulness, non-shame, non-embarrassment, lethargy, agitation, non-faith, laziness, non-conscientiousness, forgetfulness, distraction, and non-introspection. See Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, The Practice of Tranquillity and Insight, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 1993.
5 The potential that is present by nature in all living beings without exception is the dharmakaya; the potential of perfect accomplishment is the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. Those persons with enlightened potential can be categorized into five groups: the cut-off potential, the uncertain potential, the shravaka potential, the pratyekabuddha potential, and the Mahayana potential. See Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Je Gampopa’s “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation,” Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, Co., and Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Trust Publications, Auckland, N.Z., 2003, specifically pages 14-24.
6 Absolute bodhicitta means seeing emptiness of all phenomena, i.e., emptiness of an individual self and emptiness of all appearances. Seeing emptiness does not imply a negation of appearances or an absence in phenomena of an ability to perform a function.
7 See Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Buddhist Conduct: The Ten Virtuous Actions, Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, Co., and Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Trust Publications, Auckland, N.Z., 2001. See also Ven. Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, The Benevolent Mind. A Manual in Mind Training, Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Publ., Auckland, N.Z., 2003.
8 In note 5 above we saw the potentials that abide within every living being. Those persons belonging to the first group of persons with the cut-off potential (rigs-chad-kyi-rigs) are without the slightest weariness of samsara (skyo-ba). Furthermore, they have no confidence or interest (dad-pa) in virtuous deeds, are not embarrassed (khrel-ba) when they hurt others, feel no shame (no-tsa) when they do harm, do not have the slightest loving kindness and compassion (sning-rje), nor feel remorse (‘gyod-pa). See Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Je Gampopa’s “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation,” ibid., specifically pages 14-17.
9 sKyo-ba means “sad, disenchanted, grieved, worried, weary, disillusioned, distressed, depressed, sorrowful, disgusted, discouraged, vexed, fed up, disheartened,” etc.
10 rdZob-rtogs-pa’i-shes-rab means “understanding the conventional.” ‘Jig-rten-legs-par-byed-pa’i-chos, “the dharmas that make the world excellent” were studied at all great monastic universities in Tibet. Due to the immense generosity and kindness of the governments and people of India and bordering Himalayan countries after the exodus of the Tibetan people, the ten arts are the curriculum being offered to students at the traditional universities that have been built in India as well as in other countries of the world.
11 Jambu is the name of our known world because it is adorned with the jambubriksha, “the rose apple tree.” When the fruit of the legendary Eugenia jambolana tree fell to the ground, it sounded like “jambu,” which became the name Jambudvipa of the southern continent of Indian mythological. It is sometimes identified with the Indian subcontinent. In Buddhist cosmology, it is said to be the continent that is situated south of Mount Meru, which is defined as the centre of the world. See Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, Myriad Worlds, translated and edited by the International Translation Committee founded by the V.V. Kalu Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 1995.
12 The primary means for determining the auspiciousness of the day for specific events is to calculate the combination of elements that govern the day. Both combined result in ten possible element combinations which give clues to the energy of the day. The pair of elements changes as the lunar mansion changes. The meaning: Earth (sa) combined with earth favours the accomplishment of one’s wishes, e.g., for laying foundations. Water (chu) with water favours personal activities which help prolong life. Water with earth favours joyous activities. Fire (me) with fire brings benefits that favour material support; it is a good time for communication, which includes such activities as planting seeds and being generous. Wind (rlung) with wind favours religious practice and travel. Earth and wind means that positive activities will be impeded and portends poverty and failure. Water and wind points to dividedness and disagreement. Earth and fire indicate that the day will be with displeasure and strife. The combined fire and water elements bring death, even of slightest daily activities. Nitharta.org/calendar, online. See also Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery, Tibetan Buddhist Diary for the Year of the Fire Sow, Rokpa, August 2006, pages 11-12.
13 sKar-khyim-bcu-gnyis are “the twelve star mansions of the zodiac.” They are (1) bum-pa, “vase,” (2) nya, “fish,” (3) lug, “ram,” (4) glang, “bull,” (5) ‘khrig-pa, “twins,” (6) sbal-pa, “archer,” (7) seng-ge, “lion,” (8) bu-mo, “Virgo,” (9) srang, “Libra,” (10) sdig-pa, “scorpion,” (11) gzhu, “archer,” and (12) chu-srin, “Capricorn.”
14 For a detailed description of the subtle energies, see Ven. Tarab Tulku Rinpoche, Geshe Lharampa & Dr. phil., Unity-in-Duality – The Ground of Everywhere in this site.
15 Nitharta tells us that the primary system is called “the ten element combinations.” The secondary is the occurrence of 15 great conjunctures. The third is the 28 great conjunctions. These systems are derived from calculations of the lunar mansion, i.e., the celestial location, based on the fixed stars, that the moon passes through each day, and the planetary ruler for each day of the week. The element combination associates the daily ruling planet’s element with that of the current lunar mansion. The 28 great conjunctions associate the daily ruling planet’s characteristics with those of the lunar mansion of the day. Accordingly, each day is associated with a particular element combination and one of the 28 great conjunctions. See Nitharta.org/calendar, online, and footnote 12 above.
16 The official calendar of Tibet, the Phuklug system, was developed by Phukpa Lhundrub Gyatso, a great astrologer who composed an astrological treatise in 1447 A.D. called The Oral Teachings of Pundarika (Pad-dkar-zhal-lung). The Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) composed a treatise on astrology called The Compendium of Astrology (rTsis-kun-bsdus-pa). The seat of the Gyalwa Karmapa Lineage is Tsurphu, so the other tradition of astrology that continues today developed from the Karmapas and is known as Tsurlug. For a historical account of the development of the calendar see Nitharta.org/calendar, online.
17 Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye the Great offered an explicit and literal definition of Sangs-rgyas and wrote, Sangs-pa-dang-rgyas-pa-gnyis-ka-la-‘jug-pas-sangs-rgyas-zhes-brjod-pa, which means “One, such as Shakyamuni, who has purified obscurations (sangs) and developed pristine cognition (rgyas),” i.e., the state of having eradicated all obscurations, endowed with the wisdom of seeing the nature of things as it is, and with the wisdom of perceiving all that exists. See the Rangjung Yeshe Tibetan-English Online Dictionary.
18 In the introduction to the Tibetan-English Dictionary, Sarat Chandra Das quotes H.A. Jaeschke, who had also written a Tibetan-English dictionary in 1881: “His (Thonmi Sambhota’s) invention of the Tibetan alphabet gave two-fold impulses: for several centuries the wisdom of India and the ingenuity of Tibet laboured in unison and with the greatest industry and enthusiasm at the work of translation. The tribute due to real genius must be accorded to these early pioneers of Tibetan grammar. They had to grapple with infinite wealth and refinement of Sanskrit; they had to save the independence of their own tongue, while they strove to subject it to the rule of scientific principles, and it is most remarkable how they managed to produce translations at once literal and faithful to the spirit of the original.” H.A. Jaeschke, in: Sarat Chandra Das, A Tibetan-English Dictionary with Sanskrit Synonyms, The Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, Calcutta, 1902; 7th reprinted edition by Rinsen Book Co., Japan, 1985, pages vii-viii.
19 Peter Roberts tells us about “Medicine drubchen (sman-gyi-sgrub-chen). sMan-sgrub, ‘medicine,’ is made of eight primary and a thousand secondary ingredients. Medicine here is another name for amrita, specifically the kind manufactured from one thousand and eight ingredients.” The Rangjung Yeshe Tibetan-English Online Dictionary.
20 An article in Men-Tsee-Khang states: “The historical Buddha taught the medical text Vimalagotra (Dri-med-Rig, Eng.: Immaculate Lineage) simultaneously with the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma at Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths. At that time of the teaching on Jagoe Phungpo’i Ri (Vulture’s Peak), the Buddha taught gSo-dpyad–‘bum-pa (One Hundred Thousand Verses of Healing). He also taught gCer-mthong-rig-pa’i-rGyud (The Tantra of Bare Vision) to the Avalokiteshvara, Brahma, Shariputra, and other Mahayana disciples at Beta Groves. Some believe (that both) are the same text with two different names.
“During the Third Turning of the Wheel, the Buddha taught the gSer-‘od-dam-pa’i-mdo (Supreme Rays Sutra), which contains a chapter entitled ‘Nad-thams-ca-zhi-bar-byed-pa’i-rGyud (The Ways of Completely Curing Diseases). Buddha also expounded the Gawo-mngal-jug-gi-mdo (Sutra of Gawo Entering the Womb in Konchok Tsekpas). Although ‘Dul-ba-lung (Vinaya Shastra) is a teaching on moral discipline, it contains medical teachings also. In it, Gautama Buddha taught the Sangha how to cope with the miscellaneous disorders they faced during their three-month summer retreats.” Website of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Men-Tsee-Khang, Jan. 18, 2006, pages 1-2.
Determined to establish an excellent medical system, the first king of Tibet, Trisong Detsen (742-798 A.D.) invited famous physicians from India, China, Persia, East Turkestan, and Nepal to codify the science of medicine at Samye Monastery in Tibet. It is said that the personal physician of the king, the Elder Yuthog Yonten Gampo, supervised the conference. He had established the first medical institute, Tanadug at Kongpo Manlung in 763 A.D. In the site of Tibet Centre it is noted that Yuthok Yonten Gonpo had synthesized “the essence of various Asian medical systems and wrote the rGyud-bzhi.” A Brief History of Tibetan Medicine, online: TIBETcenter, 2006. Tara Rokpa wrote that “with the unveiling of the Fourfold Treatise, all stands of wisdom would be drawn together under a great and unifying light benefiting from the rigour of Buddhist logic and the already 1,300-year old psychological and psychiatric knowledge developed through Buddhism’s thorough analysis of mind, body and their interrelation, not to mention its direct investigation of these through meditation. The king had a number of intelligent men trained in the techniques embodied in these translations. Nine of them became most learned and were appointed court physicians. Of particular note was the first gYu.Thog.Tan.Gon.po, probably the most famous Tibetan physician of all.” Tara Rokpa also tells us that “Lotsawa Vairocana, mastered the Fourfold Medical Treatise (rGyud-bzhi), the extensive presentation of the Indian Buddhist medical system.” Traditional Tibetan Medicine, part 1, in the website: Tararokpa.org/history, 2006, pages 2-3. Vairocana was the great and unequalled translator during the reign of King Trisong Detsen. Among the first seven Tibetan monks, he was sent to India to study with Shri Singha. Along with Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra, he was one of the three main masters to bring the Buddhist teachings to Tibet.
21 The sound element (sgra’i-khams) is one of the eighteen elements (khams-bco-brgyad), which are the six collections of consciousness, the six senses, and the six sense objects. sGra’i-rdul-phran is the Tibetan term for “sound particle.” Gaston Bachelard, the acclaimed French philosopher (1884-1962) wrote: “Instead of saying that a spiritual spirit is a material spirit – or more simply that a spirit is spiritual – we should say that an elemental spirit has become an element. We progress from qualities to a substance. Conversely, when we yield completely to material imagination, the material dreamed in its elemental power will rise to become a spirit, a will.” Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams – An Essay on the Imagination of Matter, translated from French by Edith R. Farrell, 3rd printing, Dallas, 1999, page 144.
22 The Drag-po-rang-byung-rang-shar-gyi-rtsa-ba´i-rgyud-chen-po states: “The first stage of evolution is all-ground (kun-gzhi), which has three characteristics: darkness, density, and non-thing-ness. At a certain point, density increases to the extent that vibrations set in. The vibrations become stronger and stronger; then sound arises. Sound grows louder and louder until light rays break forth.” The Manjurian Prince (17th century text), in the Kheng-ze-chin-yang-Collection, now part of the Tibetan Collection of the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen. The original text is a terma, which was found by Tertön Rig-‘dzin-rgod-kyi-ldem-‘phru-chen in the 13th century. See Ven. Tarab Tulku Rinpoche, Unity-in-Duality – The Ground of Everywhere in this site.
23 There are 16 aspects of authentic and valid truths (bden-chung-bcu-drug). They are the truth of suffering (sdug-bsngal), the truth of impermanence (mi-rtag-pa), the truth of emptiness (stong-pa), the truth of selflessness (bdag-med-pa), the truth of the origin of suffering (kun-‘byung-ba), the truth of production (rab-tu-skye-ba), the truth of causal basis (rgyu), the truth of condition (rkyen), the truth of cessation (‘gog-pa), the truth of quiescence (zhi-ba), the truth of excellence (gya-nom-pa), facts leading to disillusionment with samsara (nges-par-‘byung-ba), the truth of the path (lam), the truth of reason (rigs-pa), the truth of attainment (sgrub-pa), and the act of becoming disillusioned with samsara (nges-par-‘byin-ba).
24 The study of dialectics, i.e., logic, is tshad-ma’i-rig-pa in Tibetan. Tshad-ma means “true, proven, genuine, valid cognition, authentic.” There are three kinds of valid cognition, tshad-ma: direct perception (mngon-sum), indirect inference (rjes-su-dpag-pa), and trustworthy testimony (yid-ches-pa’i-lung) that are realized through the study of pramana. Sometimes three pramanas are discussed: direct (mngon-gyur), hidden (lkog-gyur), and very hidden (shin-tu-lkog-gyur). Very hidden pramana is only known and realized through the Buddha’s teachings.
25 See Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Buddhist Conduct: The Ten Virtuous Actions, Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, Co., 2001.
26 The ten bhumis in Tibetan are: (1) rab-tu-dga’-ba, (2) dri-ma-med-pa, (3) ‘od-byed-pa, (4) ‘od-‘phro-ba, (5) sbyang-dka’-ba, (6) mngon-du-gyur-ba, (7) ring-du-song-ba, (8) mi-g’yo-ba, (9) legs-pa’i-blo-gros, and (10) chos-kyi-sprin.