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Michael John Smith

Aspiring To Enlightenment

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The Three Principal Aspects of the Path by Je Tsong Kha pa


I will explain as well as I can

The essential meaning of all the Conqueror's scriptures,

The path praised by the excellent Conqueror children,

The port for the fortunate wishing liberation.


Whoever are not attached to the pleasures of mundane existence,

Whoever strive in order to make leisure and fortune worthwhile,

Whoever are inclined to the path pleasing the Conqueror Buddha,

Those fortunate ones should listen with a clear mind.


Without a complete thought definitely to leave cyclic existence

There is no way to stop seeking pleasurable effects in the ocean of existence.

Also, craving cyclic existence thoroughly binds the embodied.

Therefore, in the beginning determination to leave cyclic existence should be sought.


Leisure and fortune are difficult to find

And life has no duration.

Through familiarity with this,

Emphasis on the appearances of this life is reversed.


If you think again and again

About deeds and their inevitable effects

And the sufferings of cyclic existence,

The emphasis on the appearances

Of future lives will be reversed.


If, having meditated thus, you do not generate admiration

Even for an instant for the prosperity of cyclic existence,

And if an attitude seeking liberation arises day and night,

Then the thought definitely to leave cyclic existence has been generated.


Also, if this thought definitely to leave cyclic existence

Is not conjoined with generation of a complete aspiration to highest enlightenment,

It does not become a cause of the marvellous bliss of unsurpassed enlightenment.

Thus, the intelligent should generate the supreme altruistic intention to become enlightened.


All ordinary beings are carried by the continuum of the four powerful currents,

Are tied with the tight bonds of actions difficult to oppose,

Have entered into the iron cage of apprehending self (inherent existence),

Are completely beclouded with the thick darkness of ignorance,

Are born into cyclic existence limitlessly, and in their births

Are tortured ceaselessly by the three sufferings.

Thinking thus of the condition of mothers who have come to such a state,

Generate the supreme altruistic intention to become enlightened.


If you do not have the wisdom realising the way things are,

Even though you have developed the thought definitely to leave cyclic existence

And the altruistic intention, the root of cyclic existence cannot be cut.

Therefore work at the means of realising dependent-arising.


Whoever, seeing the cause and effect of all phenomena

Of cyclic existence and nirvana infallible,

Thoroughly destroys the mode of misapprehension of those objects [as inherently existent]

Has entered on a path that is pleasing to Buddha.


As long as the two, realisation of appearances -

the infallibility of dependent-arising - and the realisation of emptiness -

The non-assertion [of inherent existence] -

Seem to be separate, there is still no realisation

Of the thought of Shakyamuni Buddha.


When [the two realisations exist] simultaneously without alternation

And when from only seeing dependent-arising as infallible,

Definite knowledge entirely destroys the mode of apprehension

[of the conception of inherent existence],

then the analysis of the view [of reality] is complete.


Further, the extreme of [inherent] existence is excluded

[by knowledge of the nature] of appearances

[existing only as nominal designations],

And the extreme of [total] non-existence is excluded

[by knowledge of the nature] of emptiness

[as the complete absence of inherent existence and not the absence of nominal existence].


If within emptiness the appearance of cause and effect is known

You will not be captivated by extreme views.

When you have realised thus just as they are

The essentials of the three principal aspects of the path,

Resort to solitude and generate the power of effort.

Accomplish quickly your final aim, my child.





[extracted from Kindness Clarity and Insight, Dalai Lama XIV, 1981, Snow Lion, USA; translated by Jeffrey Hopkins, University of Virginia.]

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