1 H.H. Dalai Lama Commentary on Gyalwa Gyatso

First part of the Commentary on Gyalwa Gyatso given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a group of Westerners in His Audience Hall at Teckchen Choeling Palace at Dharamsala, India, on 1st September 1984 from 10-12 noon and 2-4 pm.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I do not have the actual lineage of the discourse on this teaching nor the lineage of the oral transmission of this but I shall give you a general introduction to this practice.

At the beginning it might be good to recite MANI, one hundred, I think that is better.

(Prayers, Mandala Offering, Manis follow.)

To distinguish ourselves from the followers of the distorted path we take refuge to distinguish ourselves from the lower motivations, from the Hinayana motivation, there is the development of Bodhicitta. We shall repeat the verses of Refuge and Bodhicitta…

Sang-gyae ch’o-d’ang tseg-kyi ch’og-nam-la
J’ang-ch’ub b’ar-d’u dag-ni kyab-su-ch’I
Dag-g’I jin-sog gyi-pai so-nam kyi
Dro-la p’an-ch’ir sang-gyae drug-bar-shog

How many of you understand Tibetan? A little?

As there is not much time I shall not go into a very detailed explanation. I also feel that you can read details regarding visualization, you can understand this through reading. I am going to emphasize, try to explain, those points which are important not only in this practice but as a general practice, Tantric practice, or basically Buddhist practice, then the Mahayana practice, within that Tantrayana practice, within that Maha-Anuttarayoga practice. I thought it might be better to explain these important points.

So, first of all, I think you all know that at the present moment the human population on this planet, as I usually say, consists of three categories: one that deliberately abandons all dharma, that is the minority; then another category that believes in some kind of dharma or religion; and then the majority, the third category, that just simply neglects any religion and is completely absorbed in money matters.

All members of these three categories have one thing in common, they all want happiness, want to overcome problems, suffering. The only difference is in the methods they follow in order to gain that object. We belong to the second category, to those who believe in dharma or spirituality. Now you see, within the thing that we want, happiness, there are different levels. Although all people of the three categories want happiness, within that there are different levels of happiness. Generally, people feel that happiness will come from external things, from the outside, for example from good accommodation, wealth, fame, that if you have these then happiness will come. By now it has become quite clear that material progress, development alone cannot provide satisfaction to us, and another way to gain happiness is through our own mental training, mental process. All the different religions actually train our minds and try to give more satisfaction, happiness through mental progress or mental training.

Buddhism and some other Indian religions accept not only this one life but limitless lives, past lives as well as future lives until we achieve Nirvana. You see, dharma helps not only in this life but also in future ones; but any good thing, any quality which is related to this physical body is only for one life-time; this physical body is of one life-time, and when this life ends then no more traces are left of it. Any good this life ends then no more traces are left of it. Any good thing or quality which is related to the mind, specially the subtle mind, subtle mental quality, will go to the next lives and therefore it will give you some help in future lives. As you know, Buddhism as well as Jain and some sections of Samkhya philosophies do not accept a creator as one force which creates all phenomena. These philosophies believe that ultimately things depend entirely on the mind.

Now the question of self, soul. Within that category Buddhism does not accept a permanent soul, the permanent kind of dag. Generally all Buddhist schools of thought accept selflessness, dagmepa. Now in any case, since there is no creator, there is no other force which creates these things than one’s own mind and therefore mental training is the most important thing in order to achieve our goal, permanent happiness or sounder, or more satisfactory happiness. And how to train our mind? Basically there are two sides, the upaya side and the prajna side, the method side and wisdom side. Without wisdom, method alone cannot achieve satisfaction, might not succeed, and without a good motivation wisdom is limited. The combination of wisdom and method or motivation, those go together, is the foundation.


Now the motivation. One kind of motivation is mainly thinking of oneself, self-liberation, that is one thing. All Hinayana teachings are based on that motivation. Now the other motivation, not only thinking of oneself but that all sentient beings, just like oneself, want happiness, do not want suffering and therefore compare. Of course one’s own benefit is important, but compared to infinite sentient beings – they are more important than one-self. Therefore under those circumstances one should have more concern for the benefit of others than for one’s own. Compared to others one should ignore oneself completely. I used the word “compare” because not just neglect oneself, not that kind, in Mahayana teachings the interest in achieving Enlightenment and also the interest in others – my English is degenerating, now very difficult – that motivation is the motivation of Mahayana teachings, the basic thing. That wisdom side, I think you all know that within Buddhism there are four different schools of thought, so there are different explanations, but generally speaking they seek wisdom, or main wisdom, is the wisdom which understands the ultimate nature or emptiness, voidness. For achieving self-liberation or achieving Buddhahood, in both cases the main wisdom is the realization of shunyata, also the same wisdom goes towards achieving liberation or towards achieving omniscience. The same kind of wisdom, the same wisdom but one meant for self-liberation, one meant for Buddhahood because of different motivations. It is the same with weapons, one target due to motivation, not the weapon itself.


Now in order to practice or train in the motivation and wisdom we need a teacher. Within one Teaching the first Teacher was Buddha. For example, this is the period of the Fourth Buddha, Buddha Shakyamuni with certain specific, different features. He himself proclaimed ‘I am Enlightened’. Some people criticized, they said ‘Oh, that is nonsense, he praising himself like that’, and also Buddha Shakyamuni said ‘if someone criticizes me he will go to hell’, like that kind of thing, so you see people criticized. In any case, Buddha means the person who now appears as a Buddha. Now such people as Nagarjuna, or many others, actually in reality have already achieved Buddhahood, in reality they are Buddhas but they still appear as Bodhisattvas. So a Buddha’s own Teachings first should come from that kind of Buddha, so you see the ultimate teacher or the original teacher was the Buddha. Then the real protector is one’s own good motivation and wisdom or the combination of both, the path which combines method and wisdom, that is the ultimate protector, the ultimate refuge that is the Dharma.


In order to practice Dharma well we should have companions, Dharma companions, from them we can learn, get inspiration. I am quite sure of that even today. Buddha, or Nagarjuna who lived approximately a thousand years ago, we never saw. The people to whom we can talk, with whom we can exchange views and experiences are the real source of inspiration, and they are the Sangha. Sangha need not necessarily be monks. In Mahayana teachings, whether lay-man or monk, Sangha is basically someone who has had certain experiences or has certain qualities, him we call Sangha. So now, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. In order to train our mind in the right way or progressive way we need these three Refuges, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.


Now the question of basic motivation, the motivation that we want to achieve Buddhahood in order to serve or help all sentient beings, that we call Bodhicitta.

On the basis of the combination of method or motivation and wisdom, first the unique union of method and wisdom, that kind of special combination is necessary because the goal or result, Buddhahood, the Buddha’s Body and Mind, the two Kayas, at that stage appear as two but in reality are not established as two different things. One substance appearing as two. The method which achieves that kind of result should be that kind of thing, appearing as two, method and wisdom, but in reality just one. In Sutrayana, the wisdom is held by motivation and motivation is held by wisdom. That according to Sutrayana is the union, the meaning of union. Now that is not sufficient, like water and milk mixed but although mixed if you make a precise analysis, there are still two things. That is the real view of Sutrayana. That is not sufficient, and therefore in Tantrayana there is the wisdom which understands shunyata. This is very difficult, I have no actual experience, so it is difficult to express but it seems like this.

In Sutrayana, when we practice the realization of shunyata, there is not much concern about the object of which to think, to investigate the ultimate nature. In terms of the object we have the selflessness of the person and the selflessness of all things. In Sutrayana it may be easier to understand it as the user and what is used. The user means self, the thing which is used by that self are phenomena. First, generally speaking, investigate the ‘user’ or ‘I-self’ because of the existing nature of the way that is conventionally established. Because it is something unique or different, it is easier to understand on investigation the realization of selflessness or realization of emptiness on the self than on phenomena or other things, like the five Skandas. Except for these kind of differences, generally there is not much importance placed on the object.

Now in Tantrayana the object becomes important. In Sutrayana though shunyata is there, because of the object it is in one case easier to understand than in the other, so the object does make a difference. On that basis now, in Tantrayana the object is not the ordinary object or, in other words, the object which actually exists, it is another object which does not exist in the ordinary sense but exists mentally, like visualizations of the mandala or the deities, which in the ordinary sense do not exist but because of our strong imagination at that moment come into existence.

Within form, there is the form which is within the dharma source or the source of all things, just in the category of all general things, the meaning is ordinary colour, shape etc. which the eye-consciousness can grasp, can perceive. There is another kind of form which the eye-consciousness cannot perceive, and within that category there are five different kinds of form. One of them mentioned is, I think, fine atoms. Within the five kinds of form there are two kinds which are actually created by the mind itself, due to strong imagination. They are kuntagpai zug and wangjorwai zug. I cannot translate these into English, totally imaginary forms, no, not imaginary, like a dream-body, I think may be special dreams, may be, or ordinary, there I am still not very clear, certain forms which appear in dreams, I think that kind is kuntagpai zug. Then, due to Samadhi, the concentration for depleting the elements, actual fire and water are produced, not from ordinary cause or source but it actually works as fire, that is wangjorwai zug.


Now the object, such as the visualization of a mandala or a deity’s body. It is very difficult at the beginning to actually create certain things that actually work or act as elements, but it becomes easier. At the beginning kuntagpai zug is possible. In any case, the visualization of a mandala, for example, is the special object, a unique creation of the mind. On that object the realization of shunyata is, due to the object, easier to understand. There are different explanations, but according to some explanations when we realize shunyata of the solid object, then at that moment the appearance of that object will diminish. Because of different objects, very subtle objects, the appearance of the object may not disappear during the realization of shunyata or emptiness on that object. Therefore now the wisdom which realizes the ultimate nature, the shunyata nature on the object of the deity which is a creation of our own mind, at that moment is one mind, one consciousness; since it realizes the ultimate nature it is wisdom. In the meantime, perceiving the deity’s form it becomes method. This moment, the real method, upaya, and wisdom combine within one mind, one mind itself acting as method and wisdom. This is the basis of Tantrayana teachings. Now within Tantrayana teachings, the Maha-anuttara Tantrayana, this combination of motivation or method and wisdom, that kind of union, is not sufficient, because that nature remains still on the grosser level of consciousness. This is not sufficient. What we need is the subtle consciousness in the nature of union of that kind. That is the perfect cause of the Buddha’s mind, because the grosser mind passes, is fleeting, temporary, I don’t know, and also do the three appearances. If you are not free from these three subtle appearances then you cannot eliminate the obstacles that prevent omniscience. It seems now, I am not very sure, that the appearance of true existence is somehow related with grosser consciousness. In order to eliminate that kind of obscuration it is not sufficient just to have bare direct perception of voidness but one needs to have this in the nature of the subtler consciousness. In Maha-anuttara Tantrayoga there is a special technique or emphasis on the method to reduce the grosser consciousness. In order to create this unique combination of wisdom, which by nature is innermost subtle consciousness, the practice of control of breathing, all the yoga exercises, the practices which involve chakras, drops and inner airs, are necessary. This practice, the control of breathing and inner movements, drop movements or inner air can only be done through Samadhi, mental power, it cannot be done by operation or something like that, the only way is mental power. Therefore our consciousness must be one-pointed, and not only that, there must also be a kind of special preparation for the practice of the next stage.

Now kyerim is involved, generation stage, development stage and the completing stage. First in the practice of kyerim all the basic preparations for the next stage are included and also while your are preparing the next stage, temporary accomplishments of activities related to peace, wrath and power, etc. Concerning the kind of preparation for the next stage I think there are some differences here according to Kalachakra. I think on this level there are some differences according to Nyingma tradition, I think mainly Dzog-chen tradition and within Sarma, the Kalachakra, Guhyasamaja and Heruka Tantric teachings. There are some differences in the way of emphasis. In some cases, e.g. Dzog-chen, emphasis is only on consciousness, the subtle consciousness, not on winds or inner energy. In Kalachakra it is also something like that, there is more emphasis on the consciousness itself and not on the winds. The wind practice is included there, but it is not actually emphasized because the Dharmakaya and Rupakaya both are accomplished (drubpa) on the basis of the mind itself, both in Dzog-chen and Kalachakra. Now in Guhyasamaja and Heruka Tantrayana and many Maha-anuttara Tantrayanas two kayas (bodies) are accomplished on the basis of the combination of inner air and consciousness. All of them are the same in the practices to make manifest the extremely subtle Clear Light. The text which I am going to explain belongs to the Guhyasamaja group, at least I think so, but I am not sure. I think these deities and mandalas, the mandala itself, come not necessarily due to the mandalas but mainly due to the disposition of the practitioner. Therefore in the Heruka mandala, Heruka Tantrayana, one mandala is practiced in different ways. According to one practice, the Heruka Tantrayana is practiced in the same way as the Kalachakra teaches. The Hevajra is the same. The fact that there are different traditions of practice is not totally dependent on the fact that there are different tantras and different mandalas but due to different practitioners; then there can be different ways of practising different specific mandalas.

Just a moment ago I said, I think this belongs to the Guhyasamaja group, that means it is possible to practice the Gyalwa Gyatso deity according to Kalachakra or Dzog-chen, due to the mental disposition of the practitioner. This generally belongs to the Guhyasamaja group. Within that we have Mother Tantra and Father Tantra. Since there is a Father Tantra and a Mother Tantra there must be a Son Tantra, without son we cannot speak of father and mother, can we?

Now you see, Guhyasamaja belongs to Father Tantra, Heruka to Mother Tantra, and some aspects of this belong also to Mother Tantra. Within that we have different methods. The Guhyasamaja method puts emphasis on subtle consciousness and subtle inner winds or inner energy. For this there is the practice of the three Kayas: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. On the Buddha stage there are three kayas and therefore on the second stage, the Dzong-rim stage, we must produce the three kayas of the path, the three kayas of Buddha-hood, the three kayas of basis. What are the three kayas of basis? Deep sleep, without dream, that is the Dharmakaya of basis, and a special dream body, that is the Sambhogakaya of basis, then during the period of being awake, that is the Nirmanakaya of basis. That means there are differences of subtle and grosser levels. Nagarjuna said the three kayas of basis transform into Buddha’s three kayas through he three kayas of the path. The Dharmakaya of Basis, deep sleep, has itself by nature some similarities with the nature of the Dharmakaya, so utilize that similar nature. It takes on the ultimate source of Dharmakaya so therefore, for that reason, Nagarjuna purposely called that stage of mind the Dharmakaya of basis. Now the dream-body has actually departed from the rough physical body, is quite independent, that is the special dream-body. This body (His Holiness points to His body), but its subtle nature, without these solid things, is quite similar to Buddha’s Sambhogakaya, and therefore Nagarjuna called it the Sambhogakaya of basis. Likewise, that dream-body enters the rough physical body and awakens. That is the manifestation of Sambhogakaya. A person like Shakyamuni Buddha, now this is called Nirmanakaya. So there are similarities but more people can touch, can see, can talk to the Nirmanakaya, so from that viewpoint it is grosser. In substance it is its own nature but somehow it appears grosser.

This Teaching was requested by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in connection with the Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso Initiation given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Temple at Dharamsala on 21st and 22nd August, 1984. His Holiness spoke mostly in English and was assisted by Alex Berzin and Sharpa Rinpoche.