Jigten Sumgön’s Teaching of Bodhicitta

This year, I have published much less on this blog because I have been very busy with a wonderful project at a Consortium of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg called “Fate, Freedom and Prognostication: Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe.” (http://www.ikgf.uni-erlangen.de/) In this project, I have studied Central and East Asian divination texts and worked together with Solvej Hyveled Nielsen on a dice divination text of Achi Chökyi Dölma. Solvej has also contributed a translation of a mala divination text of Tara that is ascribed to Atisha. We hope that we will soon be able to present our book Divining with Achi and Tara, which will include a comparative study of dice divination, detailed interviews with Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lho Ontul Rinpoche, appendices on the specialised Tibetan terminology of divination and more.

This blog will now undergo a small transformation. Instead of being solely devoted to Jigten Sumgön’s “Single Intention” (dGongs gcig), it will from now on be concerned with his teachings in general. I will, therefore, soon migrate a few articles from my other blog, “The World of Jigten Sumgön,” to this blog. In truth, whichever teaching of Jigten Sumgön we study, we will find that it always reflects the central idea that the teachings of all Buddhas have only one single intention.

The blog entry of today is concerned with Jigten Sumgön’s teaching of the two resolves for awakening (bodhicitta). In agreement with the idea of the unity of all teachings, he maintains that the “two bodhicittas” are actually “of a single taste like sesame and sesame oil.” Moreover, ultimately speaking, bodhicitta is not different from the absolute nature of reality, or Buddha nature, which is also the thing to be dedicated.

The teaching is brief but very profound.

Bestowing the pith instructions of cultivating the two resolves for awakening on Yeshe Tseg

Om swasti! Respectfully I pay homage with my body to the feet of glorious Phagmodrupa, protector of the three worlds, and essence of the gnosis of body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas of the three times. With a pure mind, I take refuge.

In general, to achieve supreme, completely awakened Buddhahood, there is nothing but the resolve for awakening whereby complete awakening can be obtained. If [the resolve] is lacking, that is a certain cause [for awakening] not to arise. This resolve for awakening has two aspects. From the point of view of cultivating the conventional resolve for awakening, when you engage in the cultivation of the root of immeasurably vast virtue – or, respectively, in the first morning session – you bless the three longer and shorter periods of time, thinking from the depth of your heart and the marrow of your bones:

May all sentient beings – my mothers who are as infinite as space – have happiness, be free from suffering, and obtain the precious, supreme, and complete awakening. To achieve that, I will bind body, speech, and mind to virtue until I have obtained Buddhahood, I will bind body, speech, and mind to virtue until I die, and I will bind body, speech, and mind to virtue from today until tomorrow.

Then, for the practice, you should train all the roots of virtue of body, speech, and mind in terms of that intention. Moreover, having cultivated the resolve for awakening in the morning or when you are at ease to do so, you must take the roots of virtue of body, speech, and mind that implement that [intention] as an example and dedicate the virtue that is accumulated by you and all others in the three times and the root of the virtue of true reality to complete awakening. That is the conventional resolve for awakening, the intention of all masters of skill – the Buddhas of the three times – and the great treasure that will accomplish all temporary and ultimate qualities. Therefore, you should cultivate the conventional resolve for awakening.

Now, how is the ultimate resolve for awakening practised? The ultimate resolve for awakening is exactly that same conventional resolve for awakening, but free from the extremes of all proliferations of arising, ceasing, and abiding, the true reality. Similarly, Acarya Arya [Nagarjuna], too, says:

Samsara and nirvana
are not two.
Understanding the nature of samsara
is called nirvana.

And the precious guru [Phagmodrupa], too, says:

Complete pacification of proliferation is the absolute resolve for awakening.
[That and] conventional preliminary resolve and its actualisation thoroughly moistened with compassion
are of a single taste like sesame and sesame oil.

Therefore, [relative and absolute resolve] are to be known as inseparable. And with that regard, even though there are systems of practicing [the absolute] as an emptiness where all things are discerned by way of atoms and divisions of parts of atoms, we maintain that it is realised only by way of devotion to the excellent guru, since that is what has been maintained by our precious guru [Phagmodrupa]. Similarly, the Exalted One has taught it in the Shri Hevajra Tantra:

That, which is not expressed by others, the inborn,
which one cannot find anywhere,
one must know through the ultimate guru sacrifice
and through one’s merit.

Therefore, we assert the essence of the nature of the mind to be without interruption when the meaning that is beyond expression and thought and that is not the object of theoreticians – the inborn gnosis that is free from proliferation – has arisen as something that arises naturally through the devotion to the excellent guru and by the gathering of the accumulation of merit that precedes that. How is that practised? First, sit well on a comfortable seat in the cross-legged position and remain with the five limbs of concentration. Then, first, cultivate the resolve for supreme awakening and cultivate the body as the deity of Mantra. Then, meditate the excellent guru on the top of your head or in your heart and remain in a state of an unfabricated mind.

Do not grasp [the mind] as existing – that would be eternalism.
Do not meditate it as non-existent – that would be annihilism.
Do not meditate it “without grasping” – that would be “fabricated by the mind.”
Leave [the mind] fresh, unfabricated, and unbound.
From making supplications [to the guru in this state] and habituating [to that],
you and others, whatever exists – all of samsara and nirvana –
become one mind, spontaneously present, single,
free from something to be meditated and meditating,
without the hopes and fears of losing and obtaining results,
free from “I,” “mine,” “subject and object,”
and without [merely] imagining to be separate [from that] or not.
You are, without interruption,
the spontaneously present svabhavikakaya.
Dedicate the merit afterwards
and also at other occasions for [the obtaining of] great awakening.
The way to make the dedication is this:
“May all beings achieve in every possible way the excellence
of whatever virtue exists of all beings,
which has been achieved, will be achieved, and is being achieved
on the stages of that excellence.”
Thus, you must dedicate the root of virtue.
This pith instruction of the Precious One
has been written requested by an excellent being.
May all beings obtain supreme awakening
by the merit arising from that.

[This text, which] has been requested by Gompa Yeshe Tseg from the precious Guru, the Glorious Drigungpa, is complete.

Byang chub sems gnyis nyams su blang ba’i gdams ngag ye shes rtsegs la gnang ba
‘Jig-rten-mgon-po’i gSung ‘bum, vol. kha, pp. 275-280.

Notes
1 Tib. dge ba, lit. “existing virtue.” The Kagyüpas maintain the existence of virtue within the nature of reality, which is the Buddha nature, and which can be dedicated to awakening. The Drugpa Kagyüpa use the term “inherent virtue” (gnas pa’i dge ba ) and the Taklung Kagyüpas “natural virtue” (rang bzhin gyi dge ba ).

2 Yuktishastika 6; P vol. 95, p. 11/2/8. The actual quote has some variants: srid pa dang ni mya ngan ‘das// gnyis po ‘di ni yod ma yin// srid pa yongs su shes pa nyid// mya ngan ‘das zhes bya bar brjod//. “Existence and nirvana,// these two do not exist.// Thoroughly knowing existence// is called ‘nirvana.’//”

3 My translation of bla ma’i dus mtha’ bsten pa as “ultimate guru sacrifice” reflects Jigten Sumgön’s teaching of ultimate guru devotion as seeing the guru as the dharmakaya.

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