(As spoken to KUBLAI KHAN by the Sakya-pa Lama Chogyal Phakpa)
To the incomparable Enlightened One, who is endowed with the splendour
of fame in name and the splendour of wondrous virtues in actual fact, I
Although you, mighty emperor, know already the discourses on worldly
and spiritual science, still, as with the songs and music of musicians
to which you listen again and again even when you have heard them all
before, why shouldn't a poet repeat wise words?
All of the countless teachings of Dharma taught by the Sage for the
sake of countless disciples indeed are meant to be practised. But how
may this be done?
Just as a man bound by fear and shame would not disobey his king's
command but dwell in right conduct without harming others and, as a
result, would ever grow in good fortune and even earn the praises of
his king, so, too, with a person who accepts, in accordance
with his ability to accomplish them, thel rules of discipline
enjoined by the Sage to help beginners on the Hinayana and Mahayana
paths: if, after properly receiving vows from an abbot, that person
would then guard them because he is bound both by fear of seen and
unseen sufferings in worldly existence and by shame whenever he
reflects, 'The multitudes of Noble Ones who know the thoughts of other
beings will be shamed if I break my vows, . . .'
He, as a result, would become a foundation not only of seen and unseen
joys in worldly existence, but of the virtues of perfect liberation; he
would also become a worthy object of veneration for men and gods and
even receive the praises of Buddhas.
These three realms of existence, after all, are just suffering, while
Nirvana, too, is just peace. Looking with pity, therefore, on those who
wish either for worldly existence or Nirvana, it is the Buddha alone
who, Himself free from sorrow, removes sorrow, and who, having Himself
attained great Joy, bestows joy. And He has appeared from amongst
beings like ourselves.
The methods He used we can also use. Without timidity and laziness,
therefore, you should unwaveringly aspire to win highest enlightenment
and feel free to think, 'I must surely attain Buddhahood . '
Guard as your own life the vows you have made which, if violated, will
cause you to be burnt in hells and which, if preserved, will enable you
to experience truly wonderful results in proceeding from Joy to Joy
Since the three sets of vows--of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana
paths--are the foundation whereon all virtues may arise, remain and
grow within oneself and others, try from the very first to be firm in
Become certain that the Teaching, which is virtuous in its beginning,
middle and end, and whose words are quite flawless and not contra-
dictory to the two logical proofs of valid knowledge, is the unique
spiritual way among ways.
Know, too, that the Enlightened One who taught it is endowed with
unhindered wisdom and great compassion -- since He revealed (the truth)
without close-fistedness --and also with tremendous power.
Because they are His followers and a gathering of beings with virtues
similar to His, because also your own sphere of spiritual activity is
identical to theirs, know the noble Assembly of Bodhisattvas to be the
best field for increasing your merit.
Realising that it is your preceptor who points out and introduces you
to these Three Jewels, that he is endowed with the same virtues they
have, and that he sustains you with kindliness, always attend and
meditate upon him with unflagging faith.
Since they are like yourself in having the nature of being endowed with
the causes of pain and with a constant state of unsatisfactoriness, and
like yourself, moreover, in wishing themselves to be free from
unhappiness and its causes, you should unceasingly meditate great
compassion for all living beings.
Recalling the benefits of virtue which you will need in order to attain
highest enlightenment and to achieve others' good as well as your own
purposes, strive wholeheartedly with genuine devotion to acquire it.
In brief, since a mind endowed with faith, compassion and devotion is
the precursor of all spiritual accomplishments, perform every least
virtue with these three present.
Envision the Body of the Enlightened One either in front of you or as
your own body, and visualise that your dwelling place is a Buddhafield
wherein all beings are Conquerors surrounded by Bodhisattvas and
Disciples. Then worship yourself and others with oceans of offerings
consisting of the enjoyment of the five sense-objects.
Realise that your own virtuous preceptor and all the Conquerors are
truly equal and nondual in form, activity and essential nature. At all
times, you should envision him in front of you, or seated atop the
crown of your head, or within the lotus of your heart, and pray to him
or meditate upon him as being nondual with yourself.
Of virtue, nonvirtue, pleasure, pain and all the phenomena of Samsara
and Nirvana, mind is the substratum.
If you were to examine that mind thoroughly from every angle, you would
realise that it has neither colour nor shape, nor is it single or
manifold. It therefore has no nature; therefore it is not arisen,
neither does it remain nor cease. It is devoid of both centre and
periphery, and is thus away from all extremes. It has just the nature
Even so, cognition is not stopped. Hence mind has the nature of nondual
As one's own mind is, so, too, is the nature of all beings' minds.
Understand thoroughly that all phenomena are nondual
appearance-and-emptiness and place your mind in meditation without
Through meditating nondually on the two objects (one's preceptor and
the Enlightened One) and objectlessness (emptiness), you will attain
a superior meditative state of tranquil concentration (shamatha)
which cannot be disturbed by thoughts.
Joyfully remembering that every act of virtue or nonvirtue increases
the strength of one's virtuous or nonvirtuous inclinations, always
bring virtues to mind and strengthen them.
Especially should you recollect and analyse the support, form and
experience of your meditation whenever you have meditated upon an
object. Through examining further the interdependent origination of
their causes and conditions--however many they may be --you will attain
meditative insight (vidarshana) through realising the true state of
their suchness, i.e., that no support, form or experience whatsoever
Following the performance of virtues, you should gather together in one
all the merit acquired through that (meditation and the like), and
fully dedicate them to the attainment of perfect enlightenment by
yourself and all these countless beings.
Even though transferrable merit may not have been acquired at the time
you offer prayers, your wishes nonetheless will be fulfilled if you
pray for a great purpose to be achieved--for mind alone is chief.
Every virtue which is adorned by this kind of recollection, dedication
and noble prayer will increase unceasingly and eventually become the
cause of great good for oneself and others.
Everything that is experienced and all other conditioned things
(samskrtadharma) i.e., the five aggregates, the senses, sense-objects
and sense consciousnesses) are devoid of any nature of their own
because they all depend upon causes and conditions.
You should know, therefore, that these external objects also, which
appear in various forms to, and are experienced by, mind that is
stained by mental impressions, are not real; they are like magical
shows which appear due to a variety of causes they are also like
dreams that occur during sleep.
The (so-called) 'unconditioned dharmas' (asamskrtadharma) are simply
ascriptions. A person would have to be mad to wish to propose
meaningless names for them, or to indulge in thoughts about them and
thereby accept them as 'conditioned dharmas'
Never scorn the connexion between deeds and their results, for (the
teachings on) the interdependent origination of cause-and-result as it
operates in the sphere of relative truth are not deceptive. You will
experience the ripening results of your actions.
There are 'eternalists' in whose view the substantiality of phenomena
is accepted. However, no object whatsoever exists which is devoid of
(both) direction (i.e., dimension) and time (i.e., consciousness): if
you were to analyse the forms of direction and space, you could not
possibly find a single entity (which is not reducible to its component
parts). And if a 'single entity' does not exist, whence could 'many'
appear? As there is no existence other than these, the
conceptualisation of 'existence' (itself) is an inferior one.
Just as there is no length without shortness, how could a nature of
'nonexistence' be apprehended when even a nature of 'existence' is not
Know, intelligent one, that the Real also does not consist of 'both'
(existence and nonexistence)
because this possibility has been removed by the rejection (of each
individually); nor does it consist of being 'neither' of the two,
because there is no logical proof for this possibility and, in any
case, there is no possible 'bothness' to which it could be
But if we were to conclude that 'Mind alone is real since it is
formless and thus has no directions', (we would have to admit that)
it also becomes plural and false if subject and object are identical,
(the latter being manifold).
If, however, subject and object are different to one another, how then
do objects become objectified and mind subjectified? If the two arise
dually, in what way (e.g, simultaneously or otherwise,) do they appear?
Finally, what kind of liberation is achieved merely by rejecting
illusory external appearances?
Since the object is not established as real by nature, the subject,
too, is not established as real. The claim that there exists somehow a
pure consciousness apart from these two, is as extremely wrong as the
(Sankhya philosophers' notion of a) 'Self' (purusha) distinct from the
transformations of primal nature (prakrter vikara).
Be free from supports, knowing that all phenomena from the first, are
unarisen, natureless, away from extremes and like space.
Marvellous and much more wondrous than any wonder is this knowledge
which does not relinquish the emptiness of all dharmas nor yet stop the
process of interdependent origination!
Realise that objects are the nonduality of appearance-and-emptiness,
that mind is the nonduality of knowledge-and-emptiness, and that the
paths to liberation are the nonduality of methods and wisdom.
Finally, act (in accord with this insight).
The stages of cause, path and result should be understood thus: the
interdependent origination of the relative sphere is like illusion; in
the ultimate, the nature of dharmas is emptiness; finally, both are
nondual without differentiation.
Thus, if the foundation (morality), preparation (reflection),
meditation, conclusion (dedication of merit and recollection) and the
process of practice taken as a whole each be multiplied by three (in
correspondence to the three stages of cause, path and result), all the
paths of virtue are gathered together in fifteen factors.
Whoever strives to perfect these (fifteen) factors in each performance
of virtue enjoys the happiness of fortunate states and accumulates
oceans of the Two Collections (merit and transcendent wisdom).
Through the clarity of his meditation, he becomes joined with the Noble
Path and increases in transcendent wisdom as a result of his meditation
and noble conduct. Then, attaining the goal (of Buddhahood) through
coursing along the final stages of the Path, he puts an end to all
thought constructions by realising the nature of mind to be pure from
the very beginning. (His mind) becomes one flavour with the
Dharmadhatu and is transformed into the Svabhavikakaya which is the
transcendent wisdom of Dharmadhatu and the knowledge of the perfection
For him, the dharmas of worldly existence become transformed through
the practice of the path so that his body becomes the Body (of an
Enlightened One) adorned by (112) marks and signs of perfection His
voice becomes (the Voice of the Buddha) endowed with sixty tones; his
mind is transformed into Transcendent Wisdom and is also endowed with
omniscience. Passions are transformed into the boundless virtues of the
Conqueror and constitute the Sambhogakaya. His deeds are transformed
into the 'Task-Accomplishing Wisdom' and the countless kinds of
enlightened activity which form the Nirmanakaya.
These five wisdoms constitute the perfect realisation of the
Enlightened One and, inasmuch as He is also endowed with spiritual
power, they are unending and uninterrupted. May you also, O emperor,
become like Him!
Through the merit of offering this gift of Dharma which summarises the
deep sense of the noble path, may all living beings with you, O king,
as their chief, quickly attain the highest stage of enlightenment.
My own mind, too, has become encouraged by composing these lines as a
gift of doctrine and so I shall speak further of another matter:
undistractedly hear it, O Lord among Beings!
The time when you should make efforts is now: make firm the good
fortune you have, ensure long life and the success of your lineage and
practise right methods to gain liberation.
It is right to make efforts without distraction. At a time when Dharma
has not yet set like a sun and a religious king like yourself sits on
the throne, how can your mind remain indifferent to the plight of those
who wear saffron robes?
Though I am not old, the strength of my body is slight and my mind
inclines to be lazy; therefore I wish to be excused for awhile that I
may seek Dharma's meaning in solitude.