Nāgārjuna: In Praise of Dharmadhātu

Nāgārjuna: In Praise of Dharmadhātu

I pay homage to Youthful Mañjuśrī.

I bow to you, the dharmadhātu,

Who resides in every sentient being.

But if they aren’t aware of you,

They circle through this triple being. [1]

Due to just that being purified

What is such circling’s cause,

This very purity is then nirvāṇa.

Likewise, dharmakāya is just this. [2]

While it’s blended with the milk,

Butter’s essence appears not.

Likewise, in the afflictions’ mix,

Dharmadhātu is not seen. [3]

Once you’ve cleansed it from the milk,

Butter’s essence is without a stain.

Just so, with the afflictions purified,

The dharmadhātu lacks all stain. [4]

Just as a lamp that’s sitting in a vase

Does not illuminate at all,

While dwelling in the vase of the afflictions,

The dharmadhātu is not seen. [5]

From whichever of its sides

You punch some holes into this vase,

From just these various places then,

Its light rays will beam forth. [6]

Once the vajra of samādhi

Has completely smashed this vase,

To the very limits of all space,

It will shine just everywhere. [7]

Unarisen is the dharmadhātu,

And never cease it will.

At all times without afflictions,

Stainless through beginning, middle, end. [8]

A blue beryl, that precious gem,

Is luminous at any time,

But if confined within its ore,

Its shimmer does not gleam. [9]

Just so, the dharmadhātu free of stain,

While it’s obscured by the afflictions,

In saṃsāra doesn’t shine its light,

But in nirvāṇa, it will beam. [10]

If this element exists, through our work,

We will see the purest of all gold.

Without this element, despite our toil,

Nothing but misery we will produce. [11]

Just as grains, when covered by their husks,

Are not considered rice that can be eaten,

While being shrouded in afflictions,

It is not named “buddhahood.” [12]

Just as rice itself appears

When it is free from all its husks,

The dharmakāya clearly manifests,

Once it is free from the afflictions. [13]

Banana trees don’t have a pith”,

That’s used as an example in the world,

But their fruits, their very pith,

In all their sweetness we do eat.

[14] Just so, when saṃsāra without pith

Is released from the afflictions’ peel,

Its fruition, buddhahood itself,

Turns into nectar for all beings. [15]

Likewise, from all seeds there are,

Fruits are born that match their cause.

By which person could it then be proved

That there is a fruit without a seed? [16]

This basic element, which is the seed,

Is held to be the basis of all dharmas.

Through its purification step by step,

The state of buddhahood we will attain. [17]

Spotless are the sun and moon,

But obscured by fivefold stains:

These are clouds and smoke and mist,

Rahu’s face and dust as well. [18]

Similarly, mind so luminous

Is obscured by fivefold stains.

They’re desire, malice, laziness,

Agitation and doubt too. [19]

A garment that was purged by fire

May be soiled by various stains.

When it’s put into a blaze again,

The stains are burned, the garment not. [20]

Likewise, mind that is so luminous

Is soiled by stains of craving and so forth.

The afflictions burn in wisdom’s fire,

But its luminosity does not. [21]

The sūtras that teach emptiness,

However many spoken by the victors,

They all remove afflictions,

But never ruin this dhātu. [22]

Water dwelling deep within the earth

Remains untainted through and through.

Just so, wisdom in afflictions

Stays without a single stain. [23]

Since dharmadhātu’s not a self,

Neither woman nor a man,

Free from all that could be grasped,

How could it be labeled “self”? [24]

In all the dharma that’s without desire,

You see neither women nor a man.

Men” and “women” are just taught

For guiding those plagued by desire. [25]

Impermanence,” “suffering,” and “empty,”

These three, they purify the mind.

The dharma purifying mind the best

Is the lack of any nature. [26]

In a pregnant woman’s womb,

A child exists but is not seen.

Just so, dharmadhātu is not seen,

When it’s covered by afflictions. [27]

Through conceptions of a self and mine,

Discriminations of names, and reasons,

The four conceptions will arise,

Based on the elements and their outcome. [28]

Even the Buddhas’ aspiration prayers

Lack appearance and characteristics.

Immersed in their very own awareness,

Buddhas have the nature of permanence. [29]

Any horns there on a rabbit’s head

Are just imagined and do not exist.

Just so, all phenomena as well

Are just imagined and do not exist. [30]

Also the horns of an ox do not exist

As having the nature of particles.

Just as before, so it is after:

What’s to be imagined there? [31]

Since [things] dependently originate

And in dependence too will cease,

If not even one [of them] exists,

How can fools imagine them? [32]

How the dharmas of the Sugata

Are established as the very middle

Is through the ox and rabbit-horn examples. [33]

The forms of sun, moon, and the stars

Are seen as reflections upon water

Within a container that is pure,

Just so, the characteristics are complete. [34]

Virtuous throughout beginning, middle, end,

Undeceiving and so steady,

What’s like that is just the lack of self:

So how can you conceive it as a self and mine? [35]

About water at the time of spring,

What we say is that it’s “warm.”

Of the very same [thing], when it’s chilly,

We just say that it is “cold.” [36]

Covered by the web of the afflictions,

It is called a “sentient being.”

Once it’s free from the afflictions,

It should be expressed as “Buddha.” [37]

In dependence upon eye and form,

Appearances without a stain occur.

From being unborn and unceasing,

The dharmadhātu will be known. [38]

In dependence upon sound and ear,

Pure consciousness [comes forth],

All three dharmadhātu without signs.

Linked with thought, this will be hearing. [39]

Smelling in dependence upon nose and smell

Is an example for the lack of form.

Likewise, it’s the nose’s consciousness

That conceptualizes dharmadhātu. [40]

The nature of the tongue is emptiness,

And the dhātu of the taste is void,

Being of the dharmadhātu’s nature,

Consciousness is nonabiding. [41]

From the nature of a body pure

And the characteristics of the tangible conditions,

What is free from such conditions

Is to be expressed as “dharmadhātu.” [42]

Once conception and its concepts are relinquished

With regard to phenomena whose principal is mind,

It’s the very lack of nature of phenomena

That you should cultivate as dharmadhātu. [43]

What you see and hear and smell,

What you taste and touch, phenomena as well,

Once yogins realize them in this way,

The characteristics are complete. [44]

Eyes and ears and also nose,

Tongue and body and the mind as well,

The six āyatanas fully pure.

This is true reality’s own mark. [45]

Mind as such is seen as two:

Worldly and beyond the world.

Clinging [to it] as a self, it is saṃsāra—

In your very own awareness, true reality. [46]

Since desire is extinguished, it is nirvāṇa.

Hatred and ignorance are extinguished [too].

Since these have ceased, it’s buddhahood itself,

The very refuge for all beings. [47]

Due to realization and its lack,

All is in this very body.

Through our own conceptions, we are bound,

But when knowing our nature, we are free. [48]

Enlightenment is neither far nor near,

And neither does it come nor go.

It’s whether it is seen or not

Right in the midst of our afflictions. [49]

By dwelling in the lamp of prajñā,

It turns into peace supreme.

So the collection of the sūtras says:

By exploring your self, you should rest!” [50]

Children blessed by tenfold powers’ force,

[See them] like the crescent of the moon,

But those beings with afflictions

Do not see Tathāgatas at all. [51]

Just as ghosts with thirst and hunger

See the ocean to be dry,

Those obscured by ignorance

Think that Buddhas don’t exist. [52]

What’s the Bhagavat supposed to do

For inferiors and those whose merit’s low?

It’s just like the supreme of jewels

Put in the hand of one who’s blind. [53]

But for beings who acquired merit,

The Buddha dwells before their eyes,

With the thirty-two marks shining bright

In their luminous and glorious light. [54]

Though the protector’s rūpakāya

May remain for many eons,

For guiding those in need of guidance,

It is just this dhātu that is different. [55]

Ascertaining the object of the mind,

Consciousness will engage in it.

Once your very own awareness becomes pure,

You will dwell right in the bhūmis’ nature. [56]

The great and mighty ones’ supreme abode,

Akaniṣṭha that’s so beautiful,

And consciousness, all three of them,

Fuse into a single one, I say. [57]

As for knowing all among the childish,

The diversity among the noble,

And the great and mighty, infinite in time:

What’s the cause of time in eons? [58]

For sustaining the duration,

During eons truly infinite,

Of [all] beings’ outer realms

And for creatures’ life-force to remain,

This is what’s the inexhaustive cause. [59]

In that whose fruition’s inexhaustible,

Through the special trait of nonappearance,

Engage in full for prajñā’s sake. [60]

Don’t think enlightenment is far away,

And don’t conceive it as close by.

With the sixfold objects not appearing,

It’s awareness of reality just as it is. [61]

Just as from a mix of milk and water

That is present in a vessel,

Geese just sip the milk but not the water,

Which remains just as it is. [62]

Just so, being covered by afflictions,

Wisdom dwells within this body, one [with them].

But yogins just extract the wisdom

And leave the ignorance behind. [63]

As long as we still cling to “self” and “mine,”

We will conceive of outer [things] through this.

But once we see the double lack of self,

The seeds of our existence find their end. [64]

Since it is the ground for buddhahood, nirvāṇa,

Purity, permanence, and virtue too,

And because the childish think of two,

In the yoga of their nonduality, please rest. [65]

Generosity’s multiple hardships,

Ethics gathering beings’ good,

And patience benefitting beings:

Through these three, the dhātu blooms. [66]

Enthusiastic vigor for all dharmas,

Mind that enters meditative poise,

Prajñā as your permanent resort:

These too make enlightenment unfold. [67]

Prajñā that is joined with means,

Aspiration prayers very pure,

A firm stand in power, wisdom too:

These four dharmas make the dhātu flourish. [68]

To bodhicitta, I pay no homage”:

Saying such is evil speech.

Where there are no bodhisattvas,

There will be no dharmakāya. [69]

Some dislike the seeds of sugar cane

But still wish to relish sugar.

Without seeds of sugar cane,

There will be no sugar. [70]

When these seeds of sugar cane

Are well guarded, fostered, and refined,

Molassis, sugar, candy too

Will then come forth from them. [71]

With bodhicitta, it is just the same:

When it’s guarded, fostered, and refined,

Arhats, conditioned realizers, Buddhas too

Will then arise and spring from it. [72]

Just as farmers guarding

Seeds of rice and others,

Thus, the leaders guard all those

Who’re aspiring to the supreme yāna. [73]

Just as, on the fourteenth day of waning,

Just a little bit of moon is seen,

Those aspiring to the supreme yāna

Will see a tiny bit of buddhakāya. [74]

Just as when the waxing moon

Is seen more in every moment,

Those who’ve entered on the bhūmis,

See its increase step by step. [75]

On the fifteenth day of waxing,

Eventually, the moon is full.

Just so, when the bhūmis’ end is reached,

The dharmakāya’s full and clear. [76]

Having generated this mind truly

Through continuous firm aspiration

For the Buddha, dharma, and the saṅgha,

Irreversibility shows time and again. [77]

Through the ground of darkness all relinquished

And the ground of brightness firmly seized,

It is ascertained right at this point.

Therefore, it is designated “Joy.” [78]

What’s been tainted through all times

By the stains of passion and so forth

And is pure [now], without stains,

That is called “The Stainless One.” [79]

Once the afflictions’ web pulls back,

Stainless prajñā brightly shines.

This dispels all boundless darkness,

And thus is The Illuminating. [80]

It always gleams with light so pure

And is engulfed by wisdom’s shine,

With [all] bustle being fully dropped.

Hence, this bhūmi’s held to be

The Radiant. [81]

It triumphs in science, sports, and arts and crafts,

The full variety of samādhi’s range,

And over afflictions very hard to master.

Thus, it is considered

Difficult to Master. [82]

The three kinds of enlightenment,

The gathering of all that’s excellent,

Arising, ceasing too exhausted:

This bhūmi’s held to be The Facing. [83]

Since it’s ever playing with a web of light

That’s configurated in a circle

And has crossed saṃsāra’s swampy pond,

This is labeled “Gone Afar.” [84]

Being cared for by the Buddhas,

Having entered into wisdom’s ocean,

Being without effort and spontaneous:

By the hordes of māras, it’s Immovable. [85]

Since those yogins have completed

Their discourses teaching dharma

In all awarenesses discriminating perfectly,

This bhūmi is considered

Excellent Insight. [86]

The kāya with this wisdom’s nature,

Which is stainless, equal to the sky,

Holds [the dharma] of the Buddhas.

From it, the “Cloud of Dharma” forms. [87]

The abode of buddhadharmas

Fully bears the fruit of practice.

This fundamental change of state

Is called the “dharmakāya.” [88]

Free from latent tendencies, you’re inconceivable.

Saṃsāra’s latent tendencies, they can be conceived.

You’re completely inconceivable:

Through what could you be realized? [89]

Beyond the entire sphere of speech,

Outside the range of any senses,

To be realized by mental knowing:

I bow to and praise whatever’s suitable. [90]

In this manner of gradual engagement,

The highly renowned children of the Buddhas,

Through the wisdom of the cloud of dharma,

See phenomena’s empty nature. [91]

Once their minds are cleansed completely,

They have gone beyond saṃsāra’s depths.

They rest calmly on a throne,

Whose nature is a giant lotus. [92]

Everywhere they are surrounded

By lotuses that number billions,

In their many jeweled petals’ light,

And with anthers of enthralling beauty. [93]

They overflow with tenfold power,

Immersed within their fearlessness,

Never straying from the inconceivable

Buddhadharmas without reference point. [94]

Through all their actions of outstanding conduct,

Their merit and their wisdom are complete,

This full moon’s surrounded everywhere

By the stars that are its retinue. [95]

In the sun that is the Buddhas’ hands,

Stainless jewels shine their light.

Through empowering their eldest children,

They bestow empowerment on them. [96]

Abiding in this yoga that’s so great,

With divine eyes, they behold

Worldly beings debased by ignorance,

Distraught and terrified by suffering. [97]

From their bodies, without effort,

Light rays are beaming forth,

And open wide the gates for those

Who are engulfed in ignorance’s gloom. [98]

It’s held that those in the nirvāṇa with remainder

Into the nirvāṇa without remainder pass.

But here, the actual nirvāṇa

Is mind that’s free from any stain. [99]

The nonbeing of all beings:

This nature is its sphere.

The mighty bodhicitta seeing it

Is fully stainless dharmakāya. [100]

In the stainless dharmakāya,

The sea of wisdom finds its place.

Like with variegated jewels,

Beings’ welfare is fulfilled from it. [101]

This completes In Praise of Dharmadhātu composed by the great Ācārya Nāgārjuna. It was translated by the Indian Upādhyāya Kṛṣṇa Paṇḍita and the [Tibetan] translator Tsültrim Gyalwa. Translated into English by Karl Brunnholz, extracted from Snow Lion Publications, 2007, ISBN 978-1559392860 https://shantidevanyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/In-Praise-of-Dharmadhatu.pdf