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Grounds and Paths of Buddhism Commentary by Geshe Tashi Tsering of Chenrezig Institute 2

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Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only

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Buddhist Studies Programme Subject: Grounds and Paths 2003 Teacher: Geshe Tashi Tsering Interpreter: Lozang Zopa Tape No: 5 Date of teaching: 11th
March 2003 
We talk about the thought to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings regularly. The supreme methods by which we can attain that state are the grounds and paths, so of course we are trying to develop these grounds and paths within our continuum. In order to do this, we need to become familiar with them through developing understanding. Thus the motivation that we should generate is that we are studying the grounds and paths in order that we may generate them in our continuum so that we may, in turn, attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. Geshela has also outlined a process by which we can make such progress. Of course our ultimate aim, our goal, is to attain buddhahood and it’s important that we develop an understanding of the qualities of that ultimate goal. This understanding leads to faith, which in turn leads to aspiration, which in turn leads to joyous effort. And it is through joyous effort that we can develop these grounds and paths. We should therefore regard the opportunity to study this material as being of a value beyond measure. Geshela really thinks this way! We should think of this as an opportunity that is quite priceless. For instance, if you suddenly came upon $10,000, or if you had the opportunity to do a couple of easy days’ work to get $10,000, you’d think things had really turned out well! You think it is really excellent $10,000 because you’re expecting that it will lead to happiness. Essentially that’s it, isn’t it. The expectation that money leads to happiness makes you think you’ve come upon a great opportunity but there’s actually no certainly about that $10,000 leading to happiness. There’s a great danger in fact, that it won’t. Any number of things can come into the picture, even loss of life, and then instead of the happiness you were hoping for, you encounter suffering as a result. However, assuming that you don’t have an improper or perverted motivation, studying this type of material is certain to lead to happiness as a result. So let us engage in our study with a sense of delight. Joyous effort is in fact delight. Let’s take this good opportunity that we have and develop a sense of delight in our good fortune. Geshela has already covered this section dealing with the hearer’s path of accumulation and the hearer’s path of preparation quite completely. He also spoke a little about the hearer’s path of seeing but it won’t hurt to return to some of this material. When moving from the supreme mundane dharma level of the hearer path of preparation to the hearer path of seeing, the individual moves from equipoise to equipoise. The object upon which he/she is in one-pointed equipoise is selflessness of persons. Regardless of the tenet school an individual subscribes to, all agree upon the fact that hearers take the selflessness of persons as their primary object of meditation ie that hearers emphasise selflessness of Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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persons in their meditation. The difference between the tenet schools is in the fact that those schools up to and including the middle way autonomist school, say that that selflessness of person is the person’s lack of being self-sufficient and substantially existent. How the person is empty of being self-sufficient and substantially existent has already been explained. We will go over the definition of the hearer’s path of seeing again now. It is found on the second page (of the section on Positing Our System). It reads: The definition of the hearer’s path of seeing is: a clear realisation of the truth of a hearer which arises after the completion of the path of preparation of a hearer which is its own cause and which is produced before the path of meditation of a hearer which is it’s own effect. This phrase about arising after the completion of a hearer path of preparation which is its own cause is included so as to make the definition pervasive. Including it excludes the application of this definition to more general things. Without going to far into elaborate details required to exclude unwanted possibilities, we can say that, in general, the cause of the hearer’s path of seeing is the hearer’s path of preparation and the effect of the hearer’s path of seeing is the hearer’s path of meditation. The hearer’s path of seeing thus comes in between the hearer’s path of preparation and the hearer’s path of meditation. After the definition of the hearer’s path of seeing, the text gives a division of that. Geshela is aware that westerners generally don’t like this kind of topical outlines. But without these outlines a person would have no basis for engaging in analytical meditations on the paths. If you don’t rely on outlines then basically you have to have memorised the entire thing. So perhaps we should pay attention to the outlines mentioned here because they give us an understanding of the presentation and progression with which we are dealing. They help us to gain an understanding of the overall structure. When the hearer path of seeing is divided we have: exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of the hearer’s path of seeing, the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a hearer’s path of seeing and the hearer’s path of seeing that is neither of those. The definition of the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer’s path of seeing is: A clear realisation of a hearer’s truth which is a meditative equipoise focused one-pointedly on selflessness which is its object. In order to be more precise, we can add something to this definition of the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer path of seeing. We would add the word ‘subtle’ so the definition would then read. A clear realisation of a hearer’s truth which is a meditative equipoise focused one-pointedly on the subtle selflessness which is its object. The reason it is a good idea to add this is that any established base is necessarily selfless. In Tibetan the term is very simple – da me - which can be translated as either selfless or selflessness. When translated in English as selflessness, you lose the ambiguity which makes the addition of ‘subtle’ perhaps more Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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important. The point, however, is that any established base is necessarily selfless and therefore to make this definition more precise we can make it: A clear realisation of a hearer’s truth which is a meditative equipoise focused one-pointedly on the subtle selflessness which is its object. This definition is acceptable even in light of the discussion we had last week, because emptiness and emptiness of duality can be considered subtle selflessnesses. By adding ‘subtle’ we are in fact donning armour to protect ourselves against objections that may be raised against a definition which does not include it. The autonomists, mind only and sutra school proponents all hold that the person being empty of being self-sufficient and substantially existent is the subtle selflessness of persons. The consequence presentation is quite different. According to them the subtle selflessness of persons and the subtle selflessness of phenomena have the same object of negation and the distinction between these two subtle selflessnesses is posited in terms of the subject which forms the basis for that emptiness. This will be dealt with in greater length later. When the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise is divided there are three: the uninterrupted path of a Hearer path of seeing, the path of release of a Hearer path of seeing and the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Hearer path of seeing which is neither of these. Now we go on to the definition of the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing which is: a clear realisation of the truth of a Hearer which is in meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the selflessness of persons and which serves as the actual antidote for the acquired afflictive obstructions which are the objects of abandonment which correspond to it. There are different parts to this definition. The first part which reads: “a clear realisation of the truth of a Hearer which is in meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the selflessness of persons” is quite clear but we need to think well about the second part which reads: “which serves as the actual antidote for the acquired afflictive obstructions which are the objects of abandonment which correspond to it” On a number of occasions, Geshela has indeed discussed this distinction between the uninterrupted path and the path of release, but we have not gone into it in any great detail. If something is the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing, it necessarily serves as the actual antidote for the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects of abandonment which correspond to it. It does not necessarily serve as the actual antidote to the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects of abandonment. Let’s look at this phrase ‘to serve as the actual antidote’, and what it means. What we are dealing with is an agent that causes harm and the object that is harmed. In this context, the object that is harmed is ‘the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects of abandonment that correspond to it’. The agent that does that harm is the actual antidote. Here that is the uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Thus the antidote is the agent that harms and the objects of abandonment are the objects which are harmed. It is similar to heat and cold or illumination and darkness. In each of these pairs there is something that causes harm and something which is harmed. Then consider the phrase, ‘the acquired afflictive obscurations that are the objects of abandonment that correspond to it’. What is an illustration of this type of acquired afflictive obscurations that correspond to it? The acquired misapprehension of self of persons. Once again, if something is an uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing, it necessarily serves as the direct antidote to the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects of abandonment that correspond to it, but does not necessary serve as the actual antidote to the acquired afflictive obscurations. There’s quite a nice illustration we can use, but it does create problems, quite a lot of problems in fact. This illustration is given as follows: the acquired misapprehension of true existence which is the effect of the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing…. Are there such effects of the interrupted path of the hearer path of seeing? There are, aren’t there. What is an example? [Students make suggestions but without success…] Is there an eye consciousness that is the effect of a vase? Does the eye consciousness that is the effect of vase exist? Student: yes Give an example. Student: The eye consciousness that is the effect of seeing a glass vase. You could just say ‘ the eye consciousness focused on vase? What is the focal condition for the eye consciousness focused on vase, which is an effect of vase? In dependence on what focal condition does an eye consciousness apprehending vase arise? Student: Vase That’s correct, the vase is the focal condition for the eye consciousness apprehending vase and the immediately preceding condition is the previous moment of eye consciousness. Those of you who have studied lorig, (awareness and knowledge) should know these things. There is an acquired misapprehension of true existence that is the effect of the uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing because the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing can act as the focal condition for such an acquired misapprehension of true existence. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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This is to say that there is a misapprehension of true existence which holds the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing to be truly existent and this is true because if something is an established base it is necessarily misapprehended to be truly existent by the misapprehension of true existence. And the reason we can use this argument is because there exists a misapprehension of self of persons in which the focal object is the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing. How is there a misapprehension of self of persons which, in focusing upon the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing, holds the person to be established? This is difficult for you because you are all thinking from a consequence perspective. When we say ‘grasping at the self of persons’ you are all thinking that the consciousness is focussed on a person. This thinking is predicated on the consequence position. You think that the grasping at the self of persons occurs only when focussing on the person and holding it to be substantially existent and self-sufficient. This point has not been dealt with extensively. When we speak about selflessness of persons we tend to refer to how the person is empty of being substantially existent and self-sufficient, but according to the autonomist position, there is a selflessness of persons that can be realised in relation to all phenomena including a pillar, a table, or a cup. It’s easier for us to comprehend how there is a selflessness of persons to be realised in relation to person. We say: ‘take the person as the subject, a person is not established as substantially existent and self-sufficient”. What’s more difficult to understand is that we can recognise selflessness of persons in relation to an object such as table. A table is not something partaken of by a substantially existent, self-sufficient person is it? Take the subject the table, it is not an object partaken of, or experienced by, or used by, a substantially existent, self sufficient person. We can also say that a table is not the object of use of a self-sufficient substantially existent person.
 
Then, take the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing. It is an object used by a person, because a person meditates upon it and in dependence upon it. is released. It is not however, an object used by a substantially existent self-sufficient person is it. So do you now understand clearly how to explain this term ‘non-established person’ in relation to the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing? When you take as the subject some phenomena other than persons eg table, how do you relate that to a person not being an established self. What is the subject for that selflessness? Essentially one is focusing on an object like table and this object can be held mistakenly to be an object used by a substantially existent self-sufficient person. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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This cup is a cup from which Geshela drinks water, but it is not a cup from which a self-sufficient, substantially existent Geshe drinks water is it. If in focusing upon the cup you were to misapprehend that a self sufficient substantially existent Geshe drinks water from it, that would be a misapprehension of the self of persons. In that example the focal condition for the misapprehension of the self of persons is the cup. Now if you were to focus upon the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing, and apprehend it to be an object of use by a substantially existent self-sufficient person, that would also be grasping at the established self of person. The type of person are you holding to be an established self is the person that is on the uninterrupted path of the hearer’s path of seeing. The focal object in this case is the uninterrupted path of the hearer’s path of seeing and it acts as the focal condition for this type of acquired misapprehension of self. The uninterrupted path of a hearer’s path of seeing does not serve as the antidote for the acquired misapprehension of true existence that has as its focus the uninterrupted path of the hearer’s path of seeing as the object of use by a self-sufficient substantially existent person. If you take a person who misapprehends the uninterrupted path of the hearer’s path of seeing to be the object of use by this type of established self, that hearer’s path of seeing is not the actual antidote to that misapprehension of self. It follows that it is not because they are cause and effect; they are the agent which benefits and the recipient of that benefit. If two things are cause and effect then they are necessarily an agent of benefit and a recipient of benefit. If something is a direct antidote it is necessarily an agent of damage that causes damage or harm to an object of that damage or harm – the recipient of harm. That is clear. The reason for including this phrase ‘which are the objects of abandonment which correspond to it’, is in order to exclude that uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing which is the cause of acquired afflictive obscurations. That is enough for now – you will go home and study and think about all of this. The uninterrupted path of a hearer’s path of seeing has eight forbearances. Geshela will talk more about these later, they’re not difficult. The definition of a path of release of a hearer path of seeing is: A clear realisation of the truth of a hearer in meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the selflessness of person which is actually released from the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects to be abandoned corresponding to the uninterrupted path which induces it. Do you understand the relationship between the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing and the path of release of the hearer path of seeing, how one progresses to the other? The uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing and the path of release of a hearer path of seeing are generated in a single equipoise. The uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing acts as the direct antidote to the corresponding level of the acquired afflictive obscurations and the path of release of a Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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hearer path of seeing is actually released from that (corresponding level of the acquired afflictive obscurations). In order to be actually released from something you need to apply the antidote to that, don’t you? If it’s extremely cold in the temple, in order to be released from the cold, you need to apply the antidote to it; you need to raise the temperature, put a heater on. If you do this, after some time the entire temple would become warm. There would be no cold left. It is similar when you attain the uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing that serves as the actual antidote to the corresponding acquired misapprehensions of self but unlike this uninterrupted path, when we get rid of the cold from the temple, it is still possible for it to return if you no longer have a heater on. On the uninterrupted path, you eventually develop the capacity by which the corresponding acquired misapprehensions of self are no longer able to arise again. At this point you attain the path of release of a hearer’s path of seeing. This capacity has developed through the application of the actual antidote to the corresponding acquired misapprehension of self together with its seeds. At that point at which you attain the path of release, together with that you attain what is known as true cessation. Unlike the consequence school, the autonomist school does not say that the true cessation is an emptiness of inherent existence. For them a true cessation is a state of freedom of having been freed from the corresponding level of obscurations. In attaining the uninterrupted path of a hearer path of seeing you attain true path. In attaining the path of release of a hearer path of seeing you attain true cessation. The ultimate Dharma Jewel is posited as true paths and true cessations. What is it that the true path that is the uninterrupted path of a hearer’s path of seeing actually afford one refuge from? The corresponding acquired afflictive obscurations. Because the uninterrupted path serves as the actual antidote to the corresponding acquired misapprehension of self together with its seeds and abandons them, it is impossible for the effect of that to ever arise again. Therefore the actual refuge from suffering begins with the uninterrupted path. Do you now understand true paths and true cessations – the Dharma jewel which is the actual refuge? It’s perhaps strange to go for refuge to the Three Jewels without having done any study and gained some understanding. The three divisions of the hearer path of seeing are: the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer path of seeing, the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of the hearer path of seeing and the hearer path of seeing which is neither of those. There is also the division of the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer path of seeing: the uninterrupted path, the path of release and that which is neither of those two. It’s possible for the hearer on the hearer path of seeing to have realised that form and the valid cogniser apprehending form are empty of being different substances, in other words to have realised the emptiness of duality. It’s also Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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possible for that hearer on the hearer path of seeing to have realised emptiness. From time to time that individual might engage in a one-pointed meditative equipoise upon emptiness or upon the emptiness of duality. Either meditative equipoise would be an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer path of seeing but would be neither the uninterrupted path nor the path of release of the hearer path of seeing. If we return to the first division, the hearer’s path of seeing can be divided into the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise, the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment and that which is neither of those. Let’s focus on the second, which is the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of the hearer’s path of seeing. The definition of an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a hearer path of seeing is: A clear realisation of the truth of a hearer who has arisen from the path of release of the path of seeing of a hearer and which is manifest in the continuum of a person who possesses that in her continuum. The first part of the definition, ‘a clear realisation of the truth of a hearer who has arisen from the uninterrupted path of seeing of a hearer’, is quite clear. The second part of the definition refers to with the fact that this realisation must have arisen to become manifest. There are other consciousnesses which might be latent in this person’s continuum. An exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment is not a latent consciousness but a manifest one. The next line contains the phrase ‘ two roots’. The roots refer to the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise and the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment. The third possibility of the hearer’s path of seeing which is neither of those refers to eg the four immeasurables in the continuum of a person on the uninterrupted path of the hearer path of seeing, or the four immeasurables in the continuum of someone on the hearer’s path of release of the hearer’s path of seeing, or alternatively an awareness which seeks liberation on the continuum of a person on the uninterrupted path of seeing or the awareness which seeks liberation in the continuum of a person on the path of release of the hearer path of seeing. On the uninterrupted path and the path of release of the hearer path of seeing, the individual is in one-pointed meditative equipoise on selflessness of persons and nothing else. Therefore the only manifest awareness is the exalted wisdom realising selflessness of persons. Yet the four immeasurables are in that person’s continuum. Similarly, there is also the intention definitely to emerge in that person’s continuum. If the intention to definitely emerge is not in their continuum, then their awarenesses, these valid states of mind, do not qualify as paths. The intention to definitely emerge is however not manifest in that person’s continuum and since it is not manifest it is neither the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise nor the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment. Student: Is the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment necessarily a manifest realisation of the selflessness of persons? Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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No. It is not necessarily that. There are many types of awarenesses which can be manifest in the continuum of a person who has arisen from the path of release of the hearer path of seeing eg the intention to definitely emerge, or various other types of manifest realisations and so forth. For this third type of a hearer path of seeing which is neither an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise nor an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment we first posit non-manifest awarenesses that exist in the continuum of a person who is on the uninterrupted path or the path of release of the hearer’s path of seeing, and we posit eg the intention to definitely emerge or the four immeasurables etc We can also posit non-manifest awarenesses in relation to the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment. It’s possible for a person with the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment manifest to also have in their continuums an unmanifest exalted knower which perceptually realises emptiness or an unmanifest exalted knower which perceptually realises emptiness of duality. It is possible for these realisations to exist in the continuum of a being in the state of subsequent attainment yet not be manifest. In brief, any non-manifest or latent path in the continuum of a being in the state of subsequent attainment or the state of meditative equipoise is a path of seeing that is neither an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise or an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment. These paths cannot be an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise or an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment because they are not manifest. The most important thing to focus on from today’s class is the way to posit a realisation of the subtle selflessness of person in relation to all phenomena, according to those systems that hold that the person’s being empty of substantial existence or self sufficiency is subtle selflessness of persons. A question was asked earlier about the two Tibetan terms ye she and ken pa Now the term ye she. We are translating this as exalted wisdom and ken pa is being translated as exalted knower. During Jampa Ignyen’s time here it became apparent that many western translators were translating the term, ye she, as wisdom. The same term wisdom was also used to translate the Tibetan term shes rab. Geshela pointed out that this is problematic because if something is ye she it is not necessarily shes rab ie if something is an exalted wisdom it is not necessarily wisdom. Geshela also pointed out that ye she or exalted wisdom should be understood as being a path. If something is an exalted wisdom it is necessarily a path. If the term wisdom is necessarily shes rab then it is best not to use the same term wisdom in translating ye she, because shes rab is necessarily a mental factor. Geshela uses a scriptural citation to defend his position in relation to the definition for ‘all-knowingness’. The term nam ken means ‘all-knowingness, which is very close to omniscience. The definition of nam ken, all knowing, is ‘the consummate exalted wisdom that knows all phenomena’. This ‘all knowing’ can refer to the mind of a buddha and is not limited to the mental factors of a buddha. Because this term which is defined by using the term ye she can refer to mind and not just mental factors shows that it must be differentiated from shes rab. Ye she can be used in a broader way than the shes rab can and if we use the term ‘wisdom’ to mean shes rab then wisdom is not an appropriate word to translate ye she. Exalted wisdom (ye she) and exalted knower (ken pa) are mutually inclusive. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Buddhist Studies Programme Subject: Grounds and Paths Teacher: Geshe Tashi Tsering Interpreter: Lozang Zopa (Bob Miller) Tape 2 12 March 2003 When the hearer’s path of seeing is divided, there are: the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer’s path of seeing the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a hearer’s path of seeing and the hearer’s path of seeing which is neither of those. And the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a hearer’s path of seeing could be:
  an uninterrupted path  
a path of release or an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise that is neither of those. The uninterrupted path is understood to be the actual antidote to a corresponding level of disturbing emotions. The path of release occurs simultaneously with a true cessation which is the state of having been actually released from that corresponding level of disturbing emotions. So the path of release and true cessations come about at the same time. The first of the true paths is attained at the path of seeing and after that comes the first true cessation. This is the ultimate dharma jewel. Student: Are all acquired afflictive obscurations of the meditator abandoned on the path of seeing’s uninterrupted path? Geshela: All acquired afflictive obscurations that correspond to that person, are abandoned. Not all acquired afflictive obscurations are abandoned, because there are those that exist in the continuums of other beings. In addition to the uninterrupted path and the path of release of the hearer’s path of seeing, there is this third type of exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Hearer’s path of seeing, that which is neither (of the first two). What could we posit as an instance of that? Let’s say that the person in question has realised emptiness. In that case their meditative equipoise on emptiness would be and instance of this third type. If it were a person who had realised the emptiness of duality, then their meditative equipoise on emptiness of duality would be an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Hearer’s path of seeing but would be neither the Hearer’s path of seeing uninterrupted path, nor the path of release of a Hearer’s path of seeing. Thus for the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Hearer’s path of seeing we have three: the uninterrupted path, the path of release and that exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise which is neither of those two. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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The exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a Hearer path of seeing is that which is manifest in the continuum of the being who is in the state of subsequent attainment of a Hearer’s path of seeing. We have returned to the first division of the hearer’s path of seeing, into the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment and that which is neither an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise nor a subsequent attainment? As instances of the third we could posit the four immeasurables, the intention to definitely emerge, the mind which strives for liberation, in the continuum of a being who is on the uninterrupted path, or on the path of release of a Hearer’s path of seeing. Those instances can be posited as this third type because the person would be in meditative equipoise on the main object of meditation, nothing but the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise would be manifest for the person, and therefore these other awarenesses would be unmanifest at that time.
 
In other words you could posit any non-manifest Hearer paths in the continuum of a being on the Hearer path of seeing as this third one in the classification of three. It is important to say ‘the non-manifest hearer paths’ because not all non-manifest consciousnesses in the continuum of a hearer on the path of seeing would be considered paths. For instance the misapprehension of true existence which might occur in an unmanifest state in the continuum of a being on the hearer path of seeing would not be a path of any kind. Probably the easiest way to speak about that third type of Hearer’s path of seeing which is neither an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise nor an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment is to say the non-manifest Hearer paths in the continuum of a being on the Hearer path of seeing. What do you understand from that? Well you understand that exalted wisdoms of meditative equipoise and exalted wisdoms of subsequent attainment of a Hearer path of seeing must necessarily be manifest awarenesses. Now the definition of the uninterrupted path of a Hearer’s path of seeing is given on page three, it reads… A clear realisation of the truth of a Hearer which is in meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the selflessness of persons and which serves as an actual antidote for the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects of abandonment that correspond to it. Now, there are eight forbearances in relation to that. Now the definition of the path of release of a Hearer’s path of seeing is given below as: a clear realisation of the truth of a Hearer in meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the selflessness of persons and which is actually released from the acquired afflictive obscurations which are the objects to be abandoned corresponding to the uninterrupted path which induces it And in relation to that there are 8 knowledges. The definition for the path of meditation is given on the next page where it reads… Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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a subsequent clear realisation which arises following the completion of a path of seeing of a Hearer, which is its cause and which is produced before the path of no more learning of a Hearer which is its effect. Hearer trainees mainly meditate on the 16 aspects of the four truths and the reason for this is that most disturbing emotions arise due to the erroneous engagement or apprehension of the different aspects of the four noble truths. This erroneous engagement may be explicit or direct but it may also be indirect erroneous engagement of the four truths or some aspect of them. The various disturbing emotions can be subsumed under a category of ten. These ten are known as the five views and the five that are not views. In the root text of the Abhidharma, the Abhidharmakosa, they speak about five, plus view. That refers to desirous attachment, anger, pride, ignorance, afflicted doubt, and view. This sixth one, view, can be in turn divided into five, and thus we have five related to view, and five that are not views. The five related to view are: the view of the transitory aggregates, the view that grasps at extremes, wrong views, holding views to be supreme, holding ethics and conduct (discipline) to be supreme. These ten are enumerated in the section of this text related to the Mahayana but they aren’t actually given in the section related to the Hinayana. Remember, we are speaking about that which is abandoned on the path of seeing. We can identify that which is abandoned on the path of seeing in relation to suffering, in relation to origins, in relation to cessations, and in relation to paths. There are the erroneous engagements related to the truth of suffering abandoned on the path of seeing, the erroneous engagements related to true origins abandoned on the path of seeing, those erroneous engagements related to true cessations abandoned on the path of seeing and the erroneous engagements related to true paths abandoned on the path of seeing. Note that the order of the four truths presented here is in order of effect and then cause – thus you have true sufferings first and the true cause and true cessations followed by true paths (although it cannot be strictly said that true cessations can be posited as the effect or result of true paths) We can divide it further, speaking about: that which is abandoned on the path of seeing in relation to suffering that is included within the grounds of the desire realm, that which is abandoned on the path of seeing in relation to suffering that is included within the grounds of the form realm, and that which is abandoned on the path of seeing in relation to suffering that is included within the grounds of the formless realm.. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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The order in which these are abandoned is as follows; First you abandon the abandonments of the path of seeing in relation to suffering that is included within the grounds of the desire realm. Then you abandon the abandonments of the path of seeing in relation to suffering that are included within the grounds of the form and formless realms (the higher realms) at the same time. There is thus an uninterrupted path which acts as the direct antidote to the path of seeing’s abandonments in relation to suffering that are included within the grounds of the desire realm, and corresponding to that path is a subsequent forbearance (patience) of suffering. In relation to the path of release that corresponds to that uninterrupted path, there is a corresponding subsequent knowledge of suffering. Thus pairing occurs; the first pairing is the subsequent forbearance related to the uninterrupted path and then the subsequent knowledge related to the corresponding path of release. To enumerate the 8 forbearances: 1. The subsequent forbearance of suffering included within the grounds of the desire realm. 2. The subsequent forbearance of origins included within the grounds of the desire realm. 3. The subsequent forbearance of cessation included within the grounds of the desire realm. 4. The subsequent forbearance of paths included within the grounds of the desire realm. These are the four forbearances which relate to the grounds of the desire realm. The four forbearances related to the grounds of the higher realms are: 1. The doctrinal forbearance of suffering included within the grounds of the higher realms. 2. The doctrinal forbearance of origins included within the grounds of the higher realms. 3. The doctrinal forbearance of cessations included within the grounds of the higher realms. 4. The doctrinal forbearance of paths included within the grounds of the higher realms. These are the eight forbearances and there are eight uninterrupted paths which correspond to those. The eight knowledges: 1. The subsequent knowledge of suffering included within the grounds of the desire realm. 2. The subsequent knowledge of origins included within the grounds of the desire realm. 3. The subsequent knowledge of cessations included within the grounds of the desire realm. 4. The subsequent knowledge of paths included within the grounds of the desire realm. These are the four knowledges which relate to the grounds of the desire realm. The four knowledges related to the grounds of the higher realms are: 1. The doctrinal knowledge of suffering included within the grounds of the higher realms. 2. The doctrinal knowledge of origins included within the grounds of the higher realms. 3. The doctrinal knowledge of cessations included within the grounds of the higher realms. 4. The doctrinal knowledge of paths included within the grounds of the higher realms. [Note: the order of these was questioned and checked and later changed – see teaching no 10 page 1.] Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Here we have listed the eight forbearances together, and then eight knowledges together, correct? They are actually attained in a staggered fashion, for the forbearances are linked to uninterrupted paths, and the knowledges are linked to the paths of release. Thus in attaining a uninterrupted path and then a path of release, uninterrupted path, then path of release, likewise you are attaining a forbearance then a knowledge, a forbearance then a knowledge. The disturbing emotions such as anger, pride, attachment, and so forth, have many levels of subtlety, eg you can speak about the anger, pride, and attachment that arise in dependence upon this misapprehension of self which holds the person to be self-sufficient and substantially existent. Similarly, there is a level of those disturbing emotions that arises in dependence upon the misapprehension that holds form and the valid cognizer apprehending form to be different substances. And there is also a level that arises in dependence upon the misapprehension that holds all phenomena to be truly existent. Thus, you have a different level of the disturbing emotions arising in relation to the basic misapprehension which induces them. In the case of desirous attachment, for instance, there is level of desirous attachment that is abandoned on the path of seeing, and level abandoned on the path of meditation. In relation to the instances of desirous attachment abandoned on the path of meditation, then there is also an internal division of them. Some are more coarse, others more subtle in accord with the level of subtlety of that misapprehension which induces them. This will come up in greater detail when we discuss the Mahayana paths. The hearer path of meditation is divided into: the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment, and the path of meditation which is neither of these two. This is exactly the same as we had in the hearer path of seeing and just as we had before, when the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Hearer path of meditation is divided, there are: the uninterrupted path, the path of release, and the exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise that is neither of those. The definitions of the uninterrupted path and the path of release of a hearer’s path of seeing made mention of ‘the acquired afflictive obscurations that correspond to it’ and now, since we are talking about the path of meditation, then there is mention of ‘the innate afflictive obscurations which correspond to it’. For instance, the definition of the path of release of a hearer’s path of meditation would include the phrase ‘which is actually released from the innate afflictive obscurations which correspond to it’. An example of an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise belonging to a Hearer’s path of meditation which is neither an uninterrupted path nor a path of release would be, for instance, an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise on emptiness, or an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise on the emptiness of duality. It is similar to the path of seeing. We just place it in the context of the path of meditation. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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So we can posit that the definition of the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a hearer’s path of meditation would be: (the text does not give this definition, it is extrapolated) a subsequent clear realization of a hearer, who has arisen from the path of release of a hearer’s path of meditation, and which is manifest in the continuum of the person who possesses that in her continuum There are again two parts of the definition; the subsequent clear realization of a hearer who has arisen from the path of release of a hearer’s path of meditation, and which has arisen to become manifest in the continuum of the person who possesses that in her continuum The non-manifest hearer path in the continuum of the being on the Hearer path of meditation would be an example of the hearer path of meditation which is neither an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise nor an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment. The definition of a hearer path of no-more-learning is: a clear realization of a Hearer which is at the end of the progression of the paths of a Hearer It is a clear realization of a Hearer which is at the end of the progression of the paths of a hearer, not at the end of the progression of paths in general. What is this hearer path of no-more-learning? Geshela offers a possible alternative definition for this. We could say that a definition of a hearer path of no-more-learning is the exalted knower of a hearer who has abandoned all afflictive obscurations without exception We are speaking about a hearer arhat. A solitary realizer arhat has also abandoned all afflictive obscurations without exception but his path of no-more-learning cannot be an instance of a hearer path; it is not an exalted knower of a Hearer. Moving on to the solitary realizer grounds - the definition of the ground of a solitary realizer is: a clear realization of one who has entered the path of a solitary realizer which serves as the basis for the many good qualities which are its effect. When this is divided there are grounds of solitary realizer ordinary beings and grounds of solitary realizer aryas. This definition of the grounds of a solitary realizer ordinary being is very similar to that of the hearer ordinary being. If we want to give quite easy definitions, we can say that the definition of the hearer path of accumulation is the clear realization of the doctrine of a hearer. a clear realization of meaning of a solitary realizer is the definition of a solitary realizer path of preparation. The definition of a ground of an solitary realizer arya is: Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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a clear realization of a solitary realizer arya which serves as the basis of the many good qualities which are its effect. When this is divided there are the three, the path of seeing and so forth [i.e., the paths of meditation and no more learning of a solitary realizer superior]. The definition of a solitary realizer path of seeing is almost exactly the same as the definition of a hearer path of seeing. a clear realization of the truth of a solitary realizer which arises after completing the path of preparation of a solitary realizer which is its cause and which is produced before the path of meditation of a solitary realizer which is its effect. When divided there are the three: the meditative equipoise of a solitary realizer path of seeing, the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a solitary realizer path of seeing, and a solitary realizer path of seeing which is neither of these two. The exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Solitary Realizer path of seeing also includes this phrase ‘the selflessness which is its object’, the same as before. So the definition in full is: a clear realization of the truth of a solitary realizer which is a meditative stabilization one-pointedly on the selflessness which is its own object. The ‘meditative stabilization’ is equipoise, so this is a clear realization of the truth of a solitary realizer which is a meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the selflessness which is its object. When divided there are three: the uninterrupted path of a solitary realizer path of seeing, the path of release of a solitary realizer path of seeing, and a solitary realizer path of seeing which is neither of these two. The definition of the uninterrupted path of a solitary realizer path of seeing is: a clear realization of the truth of a solitary realizer which is a meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the emptiness of duality and which serves as the actual antidote to the acquired conception that apprehends form to be external objects, which is the object of abandonment corresponding to it. The wording in Tibetan is quite condensed, simply reading gzugs phyi rol don ‘dzin gyi rtog pa but Geshela says that this refers to the conception which apprehends form to be external objects. From this we can tell that we are dealing with the middle way yogic autonomists. Of the middle way autonomists, there are the sutra practitioners and the yogic practitioners and this assertion is one of the middle way yogic autonomists. The view of the middle way yogic autonomists is somewhat similar to that of the mind-only school. They say that the external object, form, and the valid cognizer that apprehends that, are a single entity; they are not distinct substances. According to this system then, that consciousness which misapprehends form to be a distinct substance from the valid cognizer that apprehends it, is a misapprehension of the self of phenomena, a coarse misapprehension of the self of phenomena. According to the middle way autonomists the subtle misapprehension of a self of phenomena would be that misapprehension that holds form and other phenomena to be truly established. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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The mind-only school says that external functioning things such as house, mountain, etc, are established from the substance of internal consciousness, ie they are not distinct substances from internal consciousness. Therefore, they say that there is nothing that is established as an external object, so any object of a valid eye consciousness for instance, has the same substantial cause as the valid eye consciousness itself. That substantial cause is the awakened imprint of internal consciousness. Various things appear to us as good and bad, positive and negative. This appearance of such things occurs due to the power of an imprint of internal consciousness being awakened. Mind only proponents say that there is no external object that does not depend on the awakening of such imprints of internal consciousness. They say that such objects which appear to us, the good external objects, the bad external objects, do not exist, but this phrase, ‘do not exist’, has to be understood in relation to the other qualifications which were just made. In general it is said that this mind-only perspective is quite helpful in relation to our understanding of karmic cause and effect. A mind-only proponent would point out that when ten people look at this temple, not every single one of those ten people would think, ‘oh what a nice temple!’. Some among the ten might not think this. Thus a mind only proponent would say that a single temple which appears to be good to some and bad to others is a sign that an external temple does not exist but rather that it is dependent upon the awakening of the imprints of internal consciousness. The awakening of a negative imprint on that person’s internal consciousness will cause a bad temple to appear to that person, etc. Thus they hold that there is nothing that is established as an external object. Yet all objects appear to the sense consciousnesses to be established as external objects and that is their reason for positing that all sense consciousnesses are mistaken consciousnesses. We have to be careful however when we say that mind only proponents posit that external objects do not exist. We might run the risk of falling into an extreme view. It conveys the mind-only view better to say that they posit that no external object exists that does not depend on the imprints of internal consciousness. Of course the mind-only school might say that external objects do not exist, but that’s different from saying that a house doesn’t exist, that mountains do not exist, etc. It is important to explain it to others by saying that they posit that there is no external object that does not depend upon the influence of the awakening of imprints of internal consciousness. The definition of the uninterrupted path of a solitary realizer path of seeing includes this phrase ‘which serves as the actual antidote to the acquired conception apprehending external form objects which is the object of abandonment corresponding to it’. This refers to the acquired conception which apprehends form to be external objects. When this is divided there are eight forbearances. The definition of the path of release of a solitary realizer path of seeing is: Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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a clear realization of the truth of a solitary realizer which is in meditative equipoise one-pointedly on the emptiness of duality and which has actually abandoned the object of abandonment which corresponds to the uninterrupted path which induces it. When divided there are the eight knowledges of the path of seeing. The other definitions and divisions are of similar type to those of the hearer paths. As we saw in the hearer paths, we also have that exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise that is neither an uninterrupted path nor a path of release. We also have a definition for the exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment of a solitary realizer path of seeing given in a similar way as it was before, and we also have an instance of a solitary realizer path of seeing which is neither an exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise nor an exalted wisdom of subsequent attainment. Geshela has discussed the issues he will deal with now during the BSP on Tenets but some of you did not attend that course. The primary object of meditation, the emphasis in meditation, for a hearer is, of course, the subtle selflessness of persons, and the primary objects to be abandoned on the hearer path of seeing and the hearer path of meditation are the misapprehensions of this self of persons, the misapprehension that holds the self to be substantially existent and self-sufficient. The primary object abandoned by solitary realizers, could be expressed in one of two ways; we could state it as the misconception which apprehends form as external objects, or as the misapprehension which holds the form and the valid cognizer apprehending form to be different substances. What is the primary object of meditation for a hearer? What’s the hearer’s emphasis in meditation? Student: subtle selflessness of person? Yes. It’s the person being empty of self-sufficiency and substantial existence. Now what is the primary object of meditation for solitary realizers? Student: Coarse selflessness of phenomena. This is correct. Their primary object of meditation is the coarse selflessness of phenomena, form and the valid cognizer apprehending form being empty of being different substances. So, the solitary realizer does not take the misapprehension of selflessness of persons as their primary object of abandonment, do they? Student: No. Geshela: So what is their primary object of abandonment? Is it the coarse misapprehension of a self of phenomena? Student: Yes Geshela: They don’t take the misapprehension of a self of persons as their primary object of abandonment do they? Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Student: No Geshela: So when they attain the fruit of an arhat, do they not abandon the misapprehension of a self of persons? Student: Yes, but it’s not their primary object of abandonment. Geshela: So they don’t act to primarily attain liberation do they? Student: I didn’t say that Geshela: Are they acting mainly to obtain liberation? Student: Yes. Geshela: And do they take the afflictive obscurations as their primary object of abandonment? Student: Yes they do. Geshela: Oh good! So is the misapprehension that holds form to be an external object an afflictive obscuration? Student: Yes Geshela: (laughs) So, that person who attains the fruit of a hearer arhat has not abandoned afflictive obscurations have they? Student: unheard… Geshela: This is a big problem and we need to consider it. The misapprehension which holds form to be external objects is a coarse misapprehension of a self of phenomena, not a misapprehension of a self of persons. It is not an afflictive obscuration, but an obscuration to knowledge. If the misapprehension which holds form to be an external object were an afflictive obscuration, that would mean that hearer arhats would have had to have abandoned that. The alternate definition given for a hearer path of no-more-learning was ‘an exalted knower of a hearer which has abandoned all afflictive obscurations without exception’. This is important in relation to this issue. The hearer path of no-more-learning and the solitary realizer path of no-more-learning are similar in that they are both the resultant state of arhat. Furthermore, they are similar in that they are states in which the person has abandoned all afflictive obscurations without exception. So consider again… what do solitary realisers take as their primary object of meditation?
 
If you look at the definition of the uninterrupted path of the solitary realiser path of seeing, it seems you would have to say they take the emptiness of duality as their primary object of meditation. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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So it appears that they do not take the selflessness of persons as their primary object of meditation, their emphasis lies on the emptiness of duality. It might appear that this does not serve as an actual antidote to misapprehension of self of persons. If that’s the case, then it appears that they are not acting primarily to attain liberation. In order to be considered a person that is acting mainly to attain liberation, you have to take the afflictive obscurations as the primary object of abandonment, for the primary obstacles to attaining liberation are afflictive obscurations. In order to attain buddhahood, one has to take the obscurations to knowledge as one’s primary object of abandonment. This is, in general, how things go… so let’s think more about the solitary realisers and leave it for today.

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Buddhist Studies Programme Subject: Grounds and Paths 2003 Teacher: Geshe Tashi Tsering Interpreter: Lozang Zopa Tape No’s: 7(a) and 7(b) Date of teaching: 13th March 2003 Every morning we recite this verse of refuge and bodhicitta which is roughly translated into English as I go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Assembly until I attain enlightenment. By the merit of my listening to dharma or alternatively performing generosity and the like, may all sentient beings attain Buddhahood, may I attain Buddhahood for their sake. This is a verse that we recite before our sessions so as to give rise to the motivation of bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment. If we consider what is contained in that verse, we go for refuge to the Buddha since it is the state of a Buddha that we are aspiring to. In order to benefit all beings, we aspire to attain the state of a Buddha. We go for refuge to the Dharma since it is the practice of the Dharma which allows us to attain that state and we go for refuge to the Sangha for the Sangha are those people who are the in the process of applying the practice and who are examples for us to look up to. They are in a sense our role models and hence we take refuge in them. We take refuge in them until we attain enlightenment, until we attain our final aim, the goal of Buddhahood. In accord with these words of refuge and bodhicitta that we recite every morning before our sessions we should try and think that this also is a motivation for studying grounds and paths. Here we are studying grounds and paths, going for refuge to the Three Jewels so that we may attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings. As for these grounds and paths that we are studying, we are not studying those to clarify something which we already have. We are studying so as to gain a better understanding of that which we have not yet generated but can indeed generate in the future. As Geshe-la was saying last week, I believe it was on Friday, that there are beings who possess these grounds and paths in their continuum, that there are beings who have already accomplished these and developed them to their utmost extent is not just some fairytale, it is not just a story. In fact there are indeed beings who are in the process of developing them and who have indeed developed them to their utmost extent. So in our studies we are trying to gain an understanding of the qualities that come along with developing these grounds and paths and with that understanding comes faith because after all faith is essentially a state of mind which understands the qualities that those Buddhas or those other beings possess, isn’t it, that is essentially what it is. So that in developing the wisdom that understands the qualities possessed by these beings, naturally there is faith for that is how we understand the word faith and that faith in turn leads to this aspiration whereby you want to attain that yourself and from that aspiration comes in turn joyous effort. Let us not forget the purpose for studying the grounds and paths and let us not forget this process by which it occurs. Having for the most part covered the grounds of the Hinayana, we will move on now to the grounds of the Mahayana. Although we haven’t necessarily delved into the Hinayana grounds in all the detail that we could, Geshe-la feels that it is best if we move on to the Mahayana grounds, for in moving on to the Mahayana grounds the Hinayana grounds we have already covered will probably become more and more clear. In fact Geshe-la would say that if we were to just stick with the material that we have already covered, trying to clarify solely with the information that we already have it would be difficult to really gain that clarity. That clarity is more likely to be encountered if we keep going, keep moving, Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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so we are going on to keep moving rolling on through the Hinayana paths into the Mahayana grounds. This is where we are on page 5 of the translation. It is like if you climb to the very top of the pass, you have a view that commands everything, you can see all, but if you sit at the foot of the pass and try to look around, you can’t see very much can you. On page 5 it reads Mahayana Grounds. The explanation of Mahayana Grounds has five parts: definitions, classification, method from moving from ground to ground, distinguishing features, and the meaning of the words. As Geshe-la mentioned before it is very important that you try and ascertain the definitions and the outline of this text for typically when examining the student on this material, then questions related to the definitions and the outlines are the emphasis. That is really what people are examined on in general. These two elements, definitions and the order or the structure/outline of the text are very helpful in gaining an overall understanding of the material. Understanding the lines of reasoning and the material in a very deep manner is another thing entirely. Just in terms of gaining a gross understanding of the material, the definitions and outlines should be emphasised. So please, Geshe-la says, pay attention to this. Now the definition of a Mahayana Ground is almost exactly the same as the definition of a Hinayana Ground or Hearer Ground which you guys have already gotten down pretty well. So it says a clear realisation of one who has entered the path of a Mahayana which is a support for the many qualities which are its effect. That is the definition right. So Geshe-la is going to ask a question. Is Mahayana Ground the definition for the clear realisation of one who has entered the path of the Mahayana which is the support for the many qualities which are its effect. Student: No. Geshela: Why? Student: Because Mahayana Ground is not a definition. Geshela: Take a Mahayana Ground, it is not a definition because… Student: It is not suitable to be a definition. This is good, isn’t it. Geshe-la thought that there might be a need to ask this question. Geshela (to another student):You said it is the definition, didn’t you? Other student: Yes. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Geshela: You are saying basically that one is the definition of the other and other is the definition of that. The definition facilitates understanding. The definition we are dealing here facilitates the understanding of Mahayana Ground. More literally, Geshe-la is using a word which means like the agent of understanding. So to say ‘facilitates understanding’ doesn’t quite get at it. The point is that it is what makes you understand what is being defined. So this definition that they have given in the text facilitates understanding of the term Mahayana Ground, right. For instance, capable of performing a function is the definition of functioning thing. But you don’t say that functioning thing is the definition of capable of performing a function, do you? It doesn’t matter what tenet school you fall into, you can understand the phrase capable of performing a function. We can all understand how the temple is capable of performing a function, clothes are capable of performing a function. We can all understand how functioning things, that is impermanent phenomena, are capable of performing functions, right. The word functioning thing is ngo bo. Ngo bo or functioning thing is just a term which then has to be explained. Although you can use the term in order to understand what that term is getting at you have to explain that it means capable of performing a function which then we can all understand. ‘Oh, I understand - functioning thing.’ So you have to understand functioning thing in dependence upon ‘capable of performing a function.’ Lozang Zopa: Is there a better translation for ngo bo. Bill Magee: We say functioning thing. Stuart Moore: I just think thing would be better because by putting in functioning therefore you are kind of mixing up what Geshe-la is saying, functioning thing actually means thing that functions so you are actually bringing the definition into the term. Lozang Zopa: True - there is that problem. We could say capable of performing a purpose. The point is functioning thing could be shortened to thing as long as understand that to refer to impermanent phenomena. Bill Magee : The term in Sanskrit refers to both permanent and impermanent phenomena. Lozang Zopa: Also, in Tibetan ngo bo can be used in the wider context as well. So may it is better just to say thing. So we are now translating ngo bo as thing which is defined as capable of performing a function. So thing is the object is which is being understood and capable of performing a function is that which facilitates that understanding. Now, similarly the “Mahayana Ground’ is the object that is understood Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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and “a clear realisation of one who has entered into the Mahayana paths which serves as the support for the many qualities which are its effect’ is the agent that facilitates that understanding. If you have realised Mahayana Ground, you have necessarily realised ‘a clear realisation of one who has entered the path of a Mahayana which is the support for the many qualities which are its effect’ but just because a person realises ‘a clear realisation of one who has entered a path of the Mahayana which is the support for the many good qualities which are its effect’ doesn’t mean that that person has realised Mahayana Ground. In other words, if you realise the definition, you don’t necessarily realise the definiendum. If we were to take a syllogism, a logical proof, we could say, Take the Mahayana path of accumulation, it follows it is a Mahayana Ground, why? because it is a clear realisation of one who has entered the path of a Mahayana which is the support for the many good qualities which are its effect. That would be a correct reason, it is a correct sign. Now if you were to say Take the Mahayana path of accumulation, it follows it is a clear realisation of one who has entered the path of the Mahayana which is a support for the many good qualities which are its effect why? because it is a Mahayana Ground, you would be making a pervasive statement but the reason would be a pseudo reason, a false reason, because there is no person that you could state this to in order to evoke that understanding. There is no person to whom you need to posit it in this way. The reason there is no such person is because if an individual realises a Mahayana Ground they have necessarily realised a clear realisation of one who has entered the path of a Mahayana which is a support for the many good qualities which are its effect. When you are dealing with a definition and a definiendum the definition must be easier to understand than the definiendum. That is the reason for needing to posit definitions in the first place. That is enough for the definition of Mahayana Ground. When this is divided there are: Bodhisattva grounds and the Buddha ground. Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are mutually exclusive. That they are different is clearly illustrated by this statement that if it is divided there are the grounds of a Bodhisattva and the ground of a Buddha. There was a man from Dergye which is a major area from Kham who had been in India from near the very beginning of the Tibetan diaspera. Since the early days he was also involved helping out with the Tibetan Government in Exile and so forth and he is quite old now although still in Dharamsala these days. He had a very good brain; he was known as somebody who had an understanding of the Dharma and also was a very educated person known for his intellect. Every once in a while, His Holiness would come and address the people and the government and so on and so forth. When they had a Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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conference or discussion about a major issue His Holiness would often times make an appearance and say his piece or give his advice and so forth. Having come into contact with His Holiness on such occasions this man from Dergye had a lot of faith in His Holiness. One time at a major assembly for all the people, this guy says: ‘oh the Conqueror, Yeshe Norbu, the Wish Fulfilling Jewel (an epithet for His Holiness), of course he is a Buddha, but we can also be quite certain that he is a Bodhisattva as well’. What he did was to put Bodhisattvas on a status higher than that of a Buddha, completely turning things on its head. You hear all sorts of discussions and praises about how Bodhisattvas are always working for the benefit of sentient beings and constantly active whereas the implication is that Buddhas, they don’t really don’t do much for the sake of sentient beings, but just sit there in equipoise. So in seeing all that His Holiness was doing on behalf of his people, this guy says of course he is a Buddha but we can also be quite certain that he is a Bodhisattva as well. The fact is that Bodhisattvas are still sentient beings. Buddhas have developed the abandonments and the realisations to their utmost extent, so the status of a Buddha is actually higher than that of a Bodhisattva. We should understand how Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are mutually exclusive and it is the Buddhas, not the Bodhisattvas who have developed ultimate abandonment and realisations. The definition of a Bodhisattva ground is: a clear realisation of a Bodhisattva which serves as the basis for the many good qualities which are its effect When a Bodhisattva ground is divided there are the grounds of Bodhisattva ordinary beings and the grounds of Bodhisattva Superiors (Arya Bodhisattvas). The definition of a ground of a Bodhisattva ordinary being is a clear realisation of an ordinary Bodhisattva which serves as the basis for the many good qualities which are its effect. When this is divided there are two, the path of accumulation and the path of preparation. Just as we had with the Hearers. Now the way the definition for the Bodhisattva path of accumulation is given is just as we found with Hearers and Solitary Realisers. For the definition of a Bodhisattva path of accumulation is a clear realisation of doctrine of a Bodhisattva. When divided there are three: small, middling and great. Just as before. The definition of a Bodhisattva path of preparation is a clear realisation of the meaning of a Bodhisattva. When divided there are four: Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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heat, peak, forbearance and supreme mundane qualities. Geshela: What is the definition of path? Student: An exalted knower that is conjoined with the uncontrived intention to definitely emerge. You must take measures not to forget that. When a person develops that, they have necessarily attained a path, be it a path of a Mahayana, that is a Bodhisattva, a path of Hearer or a path of a Realiser. Those are the only three types of paths there are to attain. Geshela: So what special thing is required to attain a Mahayana path? Student: Uncontrived bodhicitta ? Geshela: So then the moment a person initially develops the uncontrived mind of enlightenment is the moment that person first attains a Mahayana path of accumulation. According to this logic then the person who attains a Mahayana path from the very outset attains the uncontrived mind of enlightenment and an uncontrived intention to definitely emerge at the same time. Because if you were to attain for instance the uncontrived intention to definitely emerge before the uncontrived bodhicitta you would be not be attaining the Mahayana path from the very outset and you can’t attain a path without that development of uncontrived intention to definitely emerge, can you. So if a person were to have developed the uncontrived mind of enlightenment without developing an uncontrived intention to definitely emerge, you would have to posit that that person had attained a Mahayana path without attaining a path - but you can’t posit that can you? This isn’t possible. If a person were to attain uncontrived intention to definitely emerge without attaining uncontrived mind of enlightenment then you would have a person who has attained a path yet who still has some time before they attain the Mahayana path. Would you say this person has attained a path, but that path hasn’t yet become a Hearer or a Solitary Realiser or a Mahayana path? This is not possible. You can only attain one of those three types of paths. So it is clear then that for the person who attains a Mahayana path from the outset, they have to attain the uncontrived intention to definitely emerge and uncontrived mind of enlightenment at the same time. Geshela: Does the intention to definitely emerge exist in the continuum of a Bodhisattva on the path of accumulation? Student: Yes because they have both the intention to definitely emerge and the mind of enlightenment in their continuum. Geshela: What is the difference between these two? Student: The intention to definitely emerge is for the sake of one’s own liberation and the mind of enlightenment is for the sake of other’s liberation – you want to attain Buddhahood for the sake of others. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Geshela: What liberation are you seeking for yourself, the Hearer’s liberation, the Solitary Realiser’s liberation, the Mahayana liberation? The person on the Bodhisattva paths, what liberation are they seeking? It is the Mahayana liberation which means that they are striving to attain Buddhahood. But that is the mind of enlightenment because the mind of enlightenment is striving for Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings. So does it follow that those two are the same? The intention to definitely emerge and the mind of enlightenment. S: No. G: What is different? Student: They are not the same because the intention to definitely emerge is in this case is striving to attain Buddhahood solely for oneself and the mind of enlightenment……. Geshela: Be careful you are going to posit that there is self-cherishing in the continuum of a Bodhisattva. So would you like to try again. You are speaking about striving solely for oneself. Tis is what Geshe-la is asking. He said it follows that the intention to definitely emerge and the mind of enlightenment in the continuum of a bodhisattva on the path of accumulation are the same? Do you agree? Student: Reason not established? Geshela: You are calling out reason not established when I haven’t even given a reason yet. Student: So in this case in the continuum of a Bodhisattva on the path of accumulation then the mind of enlightenment has a two fold aspiration which is essentially to attain Buddhahood and then lead all sentient beings to that state whereas the intention to definitely emerge in that person’s continuum is merely striving to attain Buddhahood. Geshela: This is quite close. The mind of enlightenment has two aspirations, one of which is the aspiration that wishes for all sentient beings to be free from suffering. This aspiration is known as the aspiration that strives for the sake of others. The second aspiration is the aspiration to attain enlightenment. This is known as the aspiration that strives for the sake of enlightenment. So it would seem that the intention to definitely emerge in the continuum of the Bodhisattva on the path of accumulation is this second aspiration which strives for the sake of enlightenment. The intention to definitely emerge in the continuum of the Bodhisattva for instance on the path of accumulation seems to be a special type, a different kind. In general the intention to definitely emerge is understood as that aspiration or wish, the state of mind that is not attached to the pleasures of cyclic existence but rather strives to attain a liberated state that is free from that. Now the intention to definitely emerge in the continuum of the Bodhisattva is not attached to the pleasures of cyclic existence, but that is not all, it also has the assistance of this wish or desire to see other sentient beings freed from that as well. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Geshe-la says if you want to answer clearly you would say that the aspiration that strives for enlightenment is the intention to definitely emerge in the continuum of the Bodhisattva. Jamyang was sort of in the right direction but when she included this phrase striving only for oneself then that is tantamount to self-cherishing which then equates basically a Bodhisattva with a Hearer so you don’t want to do that. In short, if you were to respond to the question Geshe-la asked earlier by saying ‘take the subject, the aspiration that strives for enlightenment in the continuum of a Bodhisattva’, that would be fine. The aspiration that strives for enlightenment is not the mind of enlightenment is it? Student: It’s not because the mind of enlightenment has two aspirations. Geshela: Not good enough. Student: Because the mind of enlightenment is a mind Geshela: That’s correct. The mind of enlightenment has to be a mind. Yet the aspiration that strives for enlightenment is a mental factor, isn’t it. If something is mind of enlightenment, does it necessarily need to be a mind? Student: Yes. That is part of the definition that is given. Geshela: The definition of the mind of enlightenment is quite long. [This definition is inserted from the text of 70 Topics: The definition of the conventional mind of enlightenment (relative bodhicitta) is: The exalted mahayana main mental cognition, differentiated by type as the path which is the entry to the mahayana path, and concordant with the aspiration focussing on complete enlightenment for the purpose of others as its aid. The basic point is that it must necessarily be a mind and it is identified as a mind which has the two aspirations, one aspiration being related to aspiring for the sake of others, one being aspiring for enlightenment. Also, you have to belong to a certain class, and it has to be an entrance gate to the Mahayana and so on and so forth, there are many different aspects to it. As you develop the mind of enlightenment in an uncontrived manner then the two aspirations that assist that also become uncontrived, correct, the aspiration which strives for the sake of others and the aspiration that strives for enlightenment become uncontrived as well. And vice versa and that happens at the same time, so think about it. The definition of a Bodhisattva path of accumulation is a clear realisation of doctrine of a Bodhisattva. When that is divided there are three: small, middling and great. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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These three levels are related to the mind of enlightenment or mind generation. So you have the earth like mind generation, the gold-like mind generation and the waxing moon-like mind generation. The names of these respective divisions are linked to the analogies used to explain them. The Mahayana path of accumulation is like the ground or basis/support for the development of the unique Mahayana qualities. In so far as it acts as a ground for these unique Mahayana qualities, it is earth like. There are instances in which a person can fall from the small level of the Mahayana path of accumulation into Hinayana paths. It is not that the path of that Bodhisattva declines. Rather what declines is the mind generation, the awakening mind of enlightenment. The middling level is called the gold-like level or gold-like mind generation because you attain a mind generation from which it is impossible to decline. In other words, once you reach that level the mind of awakening will not deteriorate. Just as gold can be placed under ground or remains under ground for years and years without ever becoming something that is not gold. So this mind is likened to gold which doesn’t deteriorate when it is put under ground because having reached the middling level of the Mahayana path of accumulation the mind generation, the awakening mind does not deteriorate, it is impossible for it to. It becomes stable. It is no longer possible for it to decline. The third great level of the Mahayana path of accumulation is likened to the waxing or crescent moon because once you begin to see the first part of the moon (crescent moon) then for the next two weeks at least, the moon continues to increase until it becomes full. In that regard having reached the third level of the Mahayana path of accumulation, mind generation continues to increase just as the moon continues to wax. Geshe-la is mixing explanations of the mind of enlightenment together with the explanations of the levels of the path of accumulation so as to facilitate your understanding of it. The definition of a Bodhisattva path of preparation is a clear realisation of the meaning of a Bodhisattva. When they are divided there are four: heat, peak, forbearance, supreme mundane qualities. Each of these has three divisions: small, middling and great, making twelve. The Hearer path of preparation is also divided into heat, peak, forbearance, and supreme mundane quality but the supreme mundane quality of a Hearer’s path of preparation is not divided into three whereas the first three are. So heat, peak and forbearance have three levels, making nine plus the one level of the supreme mundane quality making ten. That was how it was in a Hearer path of preparation. Here all four levels are divided into three making twelve. The moment a person attains an uncontrived mind of enlightenment they attain the Mahayana path of accumulation. That person takes as their primary object of meditation the emptiness which understood in this context to be the lack of true existence. Remember that we are speaking about the Autonomists here. When a person develops the integration or union of calm abiding and insight focused upon that emptiness, they attain the Mahayana path of preparation. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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There are some that say that it is almost always the case that a person who has attained the Mahayana path of accumulation has already realised emptiness but they acknowledge the possibility that there are those who have not done so - for instance due to the tenets that they hold. So you could point to a proponent of Mind Only Tenets who has developed uncontrived bodhicitta yet, due to their tenets, has not yet realised emptiness and only does so after having attained the Mahayana path of accumulation. The view that understands emptiness as the lack of true existence is not found within the Mind Only view. The most subtle view posited in the Mind Only system is that form and the valid cogniser apprehending form are empty of being different substances, correct. So if you take the Autonomist Tenets as the basis, then a proponent of the Mind Only School has necessarily not realised emptiness. For instance, the precious lord Atisha himself was a Middle Way Consequentialist. His teacher, Serlingpa or Suvarnapadvipa, the lama from the golden isle, held the Mind Only view. Yet Atisha did not go wrong in the manner in which he relied upon the spiritual teacher. Atisha had something like over 130 gurus, lamas, but Serlingpa, the lama from the golden isle, was his primary one. It should be clear from this story that the way in which one relies upon the spiritual teacher doesn’t depend upon things from the lama’s side but rather it depends on the way in which you rely upon the spiritual teacher. Nowhere in the Lam Rim does it say that a lama necessarily has to be a Buddha does it, but it does speak a great deal about the need, the purpose and the possibility or the potential for seeing the lama as a Buddha, correct. If a lama must necessarily be a Buddha that means that Bodhisattvas cannot display the aspect of a lama and in that capacity work on behalf of sentient beings. Bodhisattvas are not Buddhas yet they still have the capacity to send forth emanations in the aspect of a lama and in that role, in that capacity, accomplish the well being of others. So if a lama has to be a Buddha, that means that Bodhisattvas cannot emanate in the aspect of lamas to accomplish the well being of others. If you read the section on relying upon a spiritual teacher from Lama Tsong Khapa’s Greater Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, you will find that it does not say that a lama has to be a Buddha. You will, however, find the statement that the lama should be viewed or you have to view the lama as a Buddha which leads one to the conclusion that there is some special significance or meaning to that statement, seeing the lama as a Buddha. It seems that through familiarity and acquaintance we can develop to the point that when the name of the lama who is kind in three ways is uttered, that we think of the Buddha and when the Buddha’s name is uttered, we are mindful of the lama who is kind in three ways. In short, viewing the lama as Buddha involves seeing the lama and Buddha to be an indivisible entity. It seems that we definitely can develop that so that hearing the name of one makes you mindful of the other, so we need to definitely train ourselves until we reach that point. Once again, if you read through the section in the Greater Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, you see that there is a need to arrest those thoughts focused upon the faulty side of the lama who is kind in the three ways and that there is a need to think solely of the positive qualities side of that lama, so there is a definite need to do this as clearly illustrated in Lama Tsong Khapa’s text. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Geshe-la thinks it might be in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, but he seems to recall this statement that even if the lama who is kind in three ways has faulty limbs then do not entertain thoughts of that in your mind. Stop those and think solely of his qualities. The meaning that is to be drawn from this advice is that you must see the lama as a Buddha and you must really entertain thoughts only of the lama’s positive side. Even if thoughts of the lama’s faulty side were to occur, you should stop those, prevent them from arising. The reason for this is that the more you can see the positive side of the lama, the more benefit there is for you, and that the more you are considering the faulty side of the lama who is kind in three ways, the more detriment there will be for you. It is not because it benefits the lama. We’ll wait until the next session to speak about the path of seeing because the path of seeing can in fact be quite problematic. Student: Exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise of a Hearer and Solitary Realiser can be divided into three categories, there is the uninterrupted path, the path of release and that which is neither of those. The question is in regards to this third, which is neither the uninterrupted path nor the path of release. The example the text gave was of a clear realisation of truth of a Hearer that is in one-pointed equipoise upon emptiness. How is it that they could realise emptiness and wouldn’t they be led out of the path of a Hearer if they realised emptiness? Geshela: Gyaltsab Rinpoche in his text, Ornament to the Essential Presentation, gives an illustration or an example of a person who had perceptual realisation of emptiness yet is on the Hearer path. He says, take for instance that person who first enters into the Mahayana paths, perceptually realising emptiness but then as his mind of enlightenment decline or deteriorate and then enters into the path of a Hearer. That is example of someone on the Hearer path who would have a perceptual realisation of emptiness. The person could have this perceptual realisation of emptiness yet because they do not take emptiness as their primary object of meditation and because they are striving to attain the Hearer liberation, are on the Hearer paths and are not drawn away from that path. Consider a person who had a realisation of emptiness before they even entered into the Hearer paths. Then in entering the Hearer path of accumulation, they might still meditate on emptiness even if they do not take that emptiness as their primary object of meditation. Then they eventually move on to the path of preparation, continuing to deepen their familiarity with their realisation of emptiness. Finally, through their familiarity with that, eventually they perceptually realise that emptiness as they attain the path of seeing even though that isn’t the primary object of meditation, so they have a perceptual realisation of emptiness. For the sake of clarity the example Gyaltsab Rinpoche gives is one who has realised emptiness, enters into the Mahayana paths and then has the bodhicitta decline then he enters into the Hearer paths and as Geshe-la explains, although that individual does not have to take emptiness as their primary object of meditation they can continue to familiarise themselves with that meditation, through the path of accumulation, the path of preparation until it becomes a perceptual realisation on the path of seeing. Now the doubt or the qualm that arises in relation to this is, when that person attains the state of a Hearer Arhat, don’t they abandon the misapprehensions of true existence because after all what they have been familiarising themselves with is the person’s lack of true existence. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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They say that although that person was indeed familiarising themselves with the person’s lack of true existence, because they did not take that as their primary object of meditation, they cannot abandon the misapprehensions of true existence. Furthermore, according to the Middle Way Autonomists, the misapprehensions of true existence are subtle obscuration to knowledge and they say that without the assistance of the mind of enlightenment, they cannot be abandoned. Student: Geshe-la when you talked about the Hearer path of accumulation, the three levels of that path, you mentioned that the intention to definitely emerge on the first level was unstable in the same way that the mind of enlightenment was unstable on the first level of Great Vehicle path of accumulation, is it possible for a being at that level of the path of accumulation of a Hearer path to lose their intention definitely to emerge and fall from the path? Geshela: The small, middling and great levels of the Hearer path of accumulation were explained in the following way:- The intention to definitely emerge is developed and developed until eventually it becomes stable at which point you attain the second level and then in that period when you are developing that intention to definitely emerge, to reach that second level you are still on the small. So the middle level occurs when you attain the stability and then the great level occurs when you just on the verge of moving from the path of accumulation to the path of preparation. Although we explained it in those terms once you have developed an uncontrived intention to definitely emerge, it is not possible for it to completely decline. So the question then arises that if the intention definitely to emerge cannot decline then wouldn’t that mean that the mind of enlightenment couldn’t decline also. Basically the intention to definitely emerge does not decline because it is uncontrived but then wouldn’t it follow that the mind of enlightenment also does not decline because it is uncontrived. It is important to state questions clearly so that they are of benefit to others who are listening. The way in which the mind of enlightenment declines or degenerates is similar to what happens when western monks and nuns give back their vows. So western monks and nuns, first they get ordained and then later they develop this feeling that it is just too much to have these vows, they don’t want them any more so they are just going to give them back. They always come up with some kind of reason – ‘oh because this isn’t right, or that is not right,’ without ever really saying that they just don’t want to guard the vows any more. Similar to that, it is not that the Bodhisattva on the path of accumulation is unable to meditate and sustain the mind of enlightenment. Rather, they find it too difficult or they have problems or for other reasons and so they forsake it. They give it up. The declining or the degeneration of the mind of enlightenment is not something that comes through a failure to maintain. It is not a decline in that sense but is a giving away, a forsaking of the mind of enlightenment, in the same way that western monks and nuns sometimes forsake the vows. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Here in the context of the Bodhisattva, a similar situation occurs in that the person that is troubled by the thought of how much work it is going to take to continue to progress and how difficult it is etc and they think that they will therefore to pursue the path of for instance a Hearer, the Hinayana paths This they forsake the path of enlightenment.

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Buddhist Studies Programme Subject : Grounds and Paths Teacher : Geshe Tashi Tsering Interpreter : Lozang Zopa Number of tape… 8 Date of teaching… Friday 14th
March 2003 
In order to attain buddhahood, we need the integration of the accumulations of both merit and exalted wisdom. One way we may gather the accumulations of merit is through understanding the qualities possessed by those persons who have entered into the paths. Through understanding these qualities, we can rejoice in them and develop faith and joyous effort. Let’s not just merely leave it at understanding these qualities. Let’s try also to familiarize ourselves with these qualities to the best of our ability. We are studying neither to become famous, nor to accumulate material gain or honour. As neither ourselves nor others wishes to experience suffering, we are trying to eliminate the causes of that suffering and accomplish those causes that lead to happiness for ourselves and others. This is why we make effort in studying. Some, before taking ordination, plead with Geshe-la to ordain them saying they want to study. After ordination however, they go off to work. At this time we have only six weeks to study. It’s important therefore, that we really do all that we can in this time to study. This module is followed by a month or two of break. You can work then. Geshe-la feels that such an approach will most likely help us to avoid falling into either of the extremes. Let’s keep that in mind. A question has arisen about the order of the doctrinal forbearances, and knowledges and the subsequent forbearances and knowledges. It has been many years since Geshe-la has studied this, and it is therefore quite possible that he reversed their order. This is not however a matter of primary importance and we will not address it now but will return to it at a later time. This text is presented from the perspective of the Middle Way Yogic-Autonomists and therefore states that Hearers and Solitary Realisers have different primary objects of meditation. According to Yogic-Autonomists, form and the valid cognizer apprehending form being empty of being different substances is the coarse selflessness of phenomenon. This means that the misapprehension that holds form and the valid cognizer apprehending form to be established as different substances is a coarse misapprehension of the self of phenomenon. Geshe-la raised a qualm the other day which he feels is important to consider. It seems that Solitary Realisers take the coarse misapprehension of a self of phenomenon as their primary object of abandonment. This would mean that they take a coarse obscuration to knowledge as their primary object of abandonment. What then of the afflictive obscurations? It could be said that they are abandoned ancillary to, or as a by product of, the abandonment of the coarse obscurations to knowledge. That explanation would be similar to that given in regard to the Mahayana Grounds. It seems Solitary Realisers act primarily to attain liberation yet take a coarse misapprehension of selflessness of phenomenon as their primary object of abandonment. This kind of wording leaves us a little uncomfortable, it doesn’t quite add up. Geshe-la has consulted Kunchok Jigmey Wangpo’s text on tenets and it does indeed state that Solitary Realisers take the misapprehension that holds form and the Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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valid cognizer apprehending form to be their primary object of meditation, and that they go on to attain the fruit of a Solitary Realiser Arhat. It doesn’t seem acceptable that they take both the coarse obscurations to knowledge and afflictive obscurations as their primary objects of abandonment. That would in effect mean that they take both the emptiness of duality and the subtle selflessness of persons as their primary objects of meditation. This isn’t really possible as both would have to be meditated on when the entity known as the uninterrupted path becomes manifest. That’s not possible, is it? There is form and the valid cognizer apprehends form being empty of being different substances, which is, of course, the coarse selflessness of phenomenon, but then you have this other object of meditation which is the subtle selflessness of persons. Subtle selflessness of person is considered a relative truth by the Autonomist School. If both of these are taken as the primary object of meditation on the uninterrupted path, that would mean that both would have to appear. Yet only one of these could appear together with the subsiding of dualistic appearances. If a person enters a one-pointed meditative equipoise upon emptiness of duality, it would not be possible for the meditative object of selflessness of persons to arise because there is a great difference in their respective degrees of subtlety. The basic issue is that both objects of meditation can’t appear in the state of meditative equipoise in which all dualistic appearances are said to subside. At that time only the object of meditation appears. How could you say that two objects of meditation of differing degrees of subtlety appear together! Is it possible that a person enters the paths of a Solitary Realiser after having attained the fruit of a Hearer Arhat? The Solitary Realiser meditates on emptiness of duality, seeing form and the valid cognizer apprehending form as empty of being different substances. In this way the Solitary Realiser abandons the coarse misapprehensions of selflessness of phenomenon. Yet the person who follows the Hearer paths to attain the fruit of the Hearer Arhat does not meditate on and abandon those, do they? The Solitary Realiser is higher. Given that understanding, Geshe-la asks again, “Is it possible to enter the paths of a Solitary Realiser after having attained the fruit of a Hearer Arhat?” Student: There is no reason for them to do so as they have already attained liberation. Geshe-la: Yes, since she has already attained the goal of liberation, there’s a lack of motivation. That’s exactly correct. That hits it on the head. The goal that both Hearers and Solitary Realisers are aiming for is the same, that of liberation. The Hearer has already attained that so has nothing to gain that would require them to enter the Solitary Realiser paths. This person might enter the Mahayana paths, and, in fact, will do so because this Yogic-Autonomist presentation asserts that there is only one final vehicle. Hearers and Solitary Realizers must therefore inevitably enter the Mahayana paths and thereby come to abandon the subtle misapprehension of the selfless of phenomenon. While still on the Hearer paths of accumulation and preparation, there is still the possibility that the individual ‘swerves’ and enters the Solitary Realiser paths. Once an individual attains a path of seeing, however, they attain a certainty or definiteness in their own path. That applies equally to Bodhisattvas, Solitary Realisers and Hearers. Once an individual attains their respective path of seeing, they have attained their respective arya path, and are certain to continue on in those paths until they attain the fruit of an Arhat. Please understand this clearly. Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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Moving on to the Mahayana path of seeing, on page 6, the definition of the ground of an arya bodhisattva, is given as: A clear realization of an arya bodhisattva that is governed by great compassion and the wisdom that directly realizes emptiness. It mentions that this is influenced or governed by this great compassion and wisdom that directly realises emptiness. Do you understand what great compassion is? Great compassion is developed in dependence upon a sequence. This includes: the development of equanimity, the recognition that all sentient beings have been one’s mother, becoming mindful of their kindness, seeking to repay that kindness, developing a sense of great empathy (love) towards them, and then developing great compassion. According to the textbooks of Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen, Hearers and Solitary Realisers do not have great compassion within their continuums. Jangkya Rolpay Dorje, in his great text on tenets, a text which Geshe-la holds in very high esteem, also asserts this. Although Jangkya Rolpay Dorje was from Drepung Gomang college, the primary textbook author of that college; Jamyang Shayba, states in his work on tenets, that great compassion does exist in the continuums of Hearers and Solitary Realisers. It may therefore seem that these monks of Drepung Gomang do not accept Jangkya Rolpay Dorje’s textbooks Some say that Jangkya Rolpay Dorje is the rebirth of Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen, the Sera Je master. It is said that he was born in an area quite close to Lhasa.. At that time, an oracle predicted to the monks of Drepung Gomang via a medium that unless they quickly ordained this child as a monk of Drepung Gomang, in future he would refute all of their textbooks. Better then to make him a monk quickly because if in future he were to go, for instance, to Sera Je, that’s what he would do. Being very clever, those in charge at Drepung Gomang secured the child and made him a monk at Drepung Gomang. That child later became known as Jangkya Rolpay Dorje. Jangkya Rolpay Dorje became quite learned and eventually studied under Jamyang Shayba at Drepung Gomang. He became so learned in fact that he began composing his own texts including this great text on tenets in which he makes reference to this issue of whether or not great compassion exists in the continuums of Hearers and Solitary Realisers. In asserting that great compassion exists in the continuum of Hearer and Solitary Realisers Jangkya Rolpay Dorje didn’t say Jamyang Shayba was wrong or mistaken, he merely said that Jamyang Shayba was referring to the greatness of their compassion in general. Usually when ‘great compassion’, is referred to, the ‘greatness’ spoken of is not a general greatness, but a specific manner of greatness. [This word; che lugs is literally translated as “the manner of greatness]. It’s important to make this distinction. Basically Jangkya Rolpay Dorje says that in order to be considered [an actual] great compassion, the manner in which compassion is great is that it must possess a great aim; that of being both concerned with all sentient beings, and being directed toward buddhahood. Hence this ‘greatness’ has the connotation of assuming this great responsibility that can only be fully accomplished within Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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buddhahood. The great compassion mentioned in the context of the seven fold instructions on cause and effect is therefore the great compassion that is referred to here. The textbooks of Drepung Gomang say that while great compassion exists in the continuum of Hearers and Solitary Realisers, the compassion of the highest intention does not. They therefore do make a distinction between those and Bodhisattvas, but it’s not a great difference. In fact, great compassion and highest intention are ‘neighbors’ in the sequence of the seven fold instructions on cause and effect. First you attain great compassion, then you attain the highest intention. Once you have attained great compassion, you are certain to go on and attain the highest intention. Geshe-la has brought this up in order that we gain a clear understanding of this term “great compassion.” It’s important that we do understand this, especially in light of the sequence that Geshe-la has just alluded. Please retain that information. When divided there are ten: the first ground “Very Joyful,” the second ground “Stainless,” the third ground “Radiant,” the fourth ground “Shining,” the fifth ground “Difficult to Tame,” the sixth ground “Manifest,” the seventh ground “Gone Afar,” the eighth ground “Immovable,” the ninth ground “Good Intelligence,” and the tenth ground, “Cloud of Dharma.”

Having covered the definition of the grounds of an arya bodhisattva, we move onto the divisions of that and see that there are ten grounds of an arya bodhisattva. This paragraph merely gives the names of the ten grounds. These we will deal with in due course. It should be clear from this that all ten grounds are grounds of sentient beings. Tibetans have a manner of speaking whereby they refer to ‘buddhas who have attained the tenth ground’. The assumption of course is that once you have attained the tenth ground, you attain buddhahood. Actually, on the tenth ground, you are still a Bodhisattva, therefore still a sentient being and have yet to actually attain buddhahood. It is understandable that this mistake is sometimes made as these terms are often abbreviated and if you’re not careful in the way you expressed this, you might make this mistake. This is merely a manner of speaking common among Tibetans, and is actually not accurate. The following paragraph mentions a qualm or debate which is raised. From this qualm you can tell that we’re dealing with the Middle Way Autonomist position. It reads: If someone says, “the definition of the first ground is: an exalted wisdom of the first ground that is governed by the higher perfection of generosity”, this is incorrect because such an exalted wisdom of the first ground does not exist. According to the Middle Way Autonomist system, the six or ten perfections do not exist on the grounds of a bodhisattva. Only the ‘higher practices’ of those perfections exists on those grounds. Although the perfections themselves don’t exist on those grounds, they say, ‘the higher practices of the perfections do. Therefore they say that you have to make the distinction by saying not that “it is governed by the perfection of generosity,” but that it has “attained the higher practice of the perfection of generosity.” the opponent, the “someone” in this context, is probably a Consequentialist since Consequentialists say that the perfections do exist on those grounds. So then the definition of the first ground which is known as the Very Joyful, is: Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only

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An exalted wisdom of the 1st
ground which has not attained the higher practice of the perfection of 
ethics and above but which has attained the higher practice of the perfection of generosity from within the ten perfections. This phrase “which has not attained the higher practice of the perfection of ethics and above” is important to include as this higher practice of generosity has been attained not just on the 1st
but on all 
subsequent grounds as well. By including this phrase “has not attained the higher practice of the perfection of ethics and above,” you exclude those higher grounds and the definition is thereby made to accord only with the first ground. With regards to the ten perfections, the first six are those taught as the six perfections. Geshe-la suggests that you record the ten for reference. The order as given in this text is as follows: 1.The perfection of generosity 2.The perfection of ethics 3.The perfection of patience (or forbearance) 4.The perfection of joyous effort 5.The perfection of concentration 6.The perfection of wisdom 7.The perfection of method or means 8.The perfection of aspirational prayers 9.The perfection of power (or strength) (stobs) 10.The perfection of exalted wisdom These are the ten perfections the higher practices of which are obtained as one progresses through the ten grounds. The definition of the subsequent grounds can be formulated, using the definition of the 1st
ground as a 
basis. In this way, the definition of the 2nd
ground, the Stainless, would read: 
An exalted wisdom of the 2nd
ground which has not attained the higher practice of the perfection 
of patience and above but which has attained the higher practice of the perfection of ethics from within the ten perfections. For the definition of the 9th
ground: Good Intelligence, you would say: 
An exalted wisdom of the 9th
ground which has not attained the higher practice of the perfection of 
exalted wisdom, but has attained the higher practice of the perfection of power from within the ten perfections. In defining the 10th
ground, you wouldn’t include this phrase “which has not attained the higher 
practice of the perfection of –.and above” because the perfection of exalted wisdom is the highest perfection. The definition of the 10th
ground would therefore read something like: 
An exalted wisdom of the 10th
ground which has attained the higher practice of the perfection of exalted 
wisdom. With reference to something said yesterday, [and to make problems, one problem at least], Geshe-la said that a definition must be easier to realize than its definiendum: that which is being defined. This is because the definiendum is realized in dependence upon the definition. Look then at the definition of the 1st
ground: ‘Very Joyful’. It includes this phrase “the exalted wisdom 
of the 1st
ground.” Clearly, the exalted wisdom of the 1st
ground has already been understood. It is the  
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‘Very Joyful’ which is yet to be understood. This is an instance in which the individual who has to understand [a term, in this case], the 1st
ground  ‘Very Joyful’, has not yet obtained the terminology but 
has already understood the basic meaning. This is something that we will encounter. There are occasions in which a person has understood the meaning but has not yet obtained the terminology. It’s a little similar to a small child who can speak but has not yet learned the word for “water.” You could say “water” but the child would not understand. The child could be sitting there drinking a glass of water and has already understood, wet and moist. (Wet and moist is the definition of water). Having already having realized wet and moist, you then have to teach the child the word for it: “water.” In a similar vein, you could say that cows have not realized water but they have realized wet and moist. It’s a little strange, isn’t it? Similarly, the definition of wind is light and moving. So if we consider the New Age definition of emotions that Doug has so kindly offered us; “energy in motion”, it seems that emotions must be winds. (ho-ho-ho) Geshe-la thought to give us the definitions of afflictive obscurations and obscurations to knowledge today. The definition of the afflictive obscurations is: Those obscurations which primarily obstruct the attainment of liberation. Afflictive obscurations are not necessarily disturbing emotions. Usually we speak of them as if they were equivalent, but properly speaking, an afflictive obscuration is not necessarily a disturbing emotion. Take the subject seeds which are afflictive obscurations. The seeds of afflictive obscurations, are not disturbing emotions, are they? To be a disturbing emotion, the thing in question needs to be a consciousness or an awareness, doesn’t it? Seeds are not consciousnesses. So what then is the seed of a disturbing emotion? It is that which has the capacity to generate a disturbing emotion in the future. There is a question concerning the fully ripened aggregates in the unpleasant migrations. The question is “Are the fully ripened aggregates in the unpleasant migrations afflictive obscurations?” we know that the fully ripened aggregates of the unpleasant migrations are neither disturbing emotions nor are they the seeds of disturbing emotions, yet they are objects that need to be abandoned for they obstruct the attainment of liberation, don’t they? The definition of the obscurations to knowledge would be: Those obscurations which primarily obstruct the attainment of buddhahood. [Ven. Lozang Zopa mishears ‘buddhahood’ as ‘omniscience’] Omniscience is usually understood to refer to buddhahood, but if you equate these two terms then you open yourself up to a debate. This issue is difficult to translate into English because of the phrasing in Tibetan which lacks articles and doesn’t distinguish between singular anbd plural. The Tibetan word for omniscient literally translates as ‘all knowing’, or ‘knowing all’. In debate a respondent could therefore say; “Ah, it follows that bodhisattvas are not omniscient (do not know all).” In general, is there a single thing that is not realized by bodhisattvas? No. Bodhisattvas are in the millions. They are numberless so there is not a single phenomenon that is not realized by them.. In this debate, you either say that there are phenomena that are not realized by bodhisattvas, or you say that Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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bodhisattvas are omniscient (know all). If you say that bodhisattvas are omniscient, they can then go on throwing further unwanted consequences at you This is not just a problem in English. The term tam che kyen pa (thams cad mkhyen pa) can be read as a noun but it can also be turned into a verb whereby it would mean “know all.” Because of the structure of the language, the way in which it is expressed means that while bodhisattvas do indeed know all, an individual bodhisattva is not all knowing. Student: I don’t think Bodhisattvas know everything. Geshe-la: Give an example of an object of knowledge that is not known by bodhisattvas. Student: the inexpressible ground of a buddha. Geshe-la: What are you talking about? Inexpressible ground? You’re studying dzog chen, aren’t you? We don’t know what you’re talking about but take this subject you have given us; ‘the inexpressible ground of a buddha’. Is it something that was expressed in the sutras of the Bhagavan Shakyamuni Buddha? Student: La, namaste (i.e., I surrender’). Geshe-la: If something is an established base, it is necessarily an object expressed in the sutras of the Bhagavan because that which is expressed in the sutras of the Bhagavan were taught for specific disciples. Is there a phenomenon not realized by valid cognition? Student: No. Geshe-la: Take valid cognition. It follows that it is the knower of all aspects (since all phenomena are known by valid cognition). Take valid cognition. It follows that it is not found in the continuum of sentient beings because it is an exalted knower of all aspects. In the 70 topics, where do they posit the boundary line of the exalted knower of all aspects? Remember that exalted knower of all aspects (rnam mkhyen or kun mkhyen) is a synonym for omniscience (thams cad mkhyen pa). Does it exist solely in the continuum of Buddhas? If yes then: take the subject; valid cognition. It follows that it is only found in the continuum of buddhas. Then it follows that it is not in the continuum of sentient beings. The initial question that Geshe-la asked was “is there a phenomenon not realized by valid cognition?” Valid cognitions exist in the continuum of all sentient beings (and valid cognitions {collectively} do indeed ‘know all aspects’) Student: Do bodhisattvas know the exalted knower of all aspects? Geshe-la: Of course they know it. If the bodhisattvas didn’t know the exalted knower of all aspects, they wouldn’t strive to attain it. Bodhisattvas are of very sharp faculties. They don’t just chase something merely through having heard its name. Geshe-la mentioned before, that when a person Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only
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develops the mind of enlightenment, they recognize not only the purpose and need for developing that, but also the capacity, or potential, to attain buddhahood. Student: But they don’t know the mind of a buddha. Geshe-la: They do indeed know it. Whether through clairvoyance (mngon shes), [perhaps better translated literally as ‘higher knowledge’], or through logic, they do indeed know the mind of a buddha. I think this must be sufficient on the definition of the obscurations to knowledge: the obscurations that obstruct primarily the attainment of buddhahood The way in which the individual schools of tenets posit obscurations to knowledge differs. The Consequence School asserts that only the imprints of the disturbing emotions, and those mistaken parts of dualistic appearance are obscurations to knowledge. Autonomists say that grasping at the selflessness of phenomenon is the obscurations to knowledge. The afflictive obscurations, they say, are the misapprehension of selflessness of person and the disturbing emotions such as anger, pride, attachment, envy, that that engenders. An Autonomist would say that the misapprehension that grasps at the person, the “I,” as being truly established is not a disturbing emotion [and is not an afflictive obscuration]. In the ‘Eight Difficult Points of the Middle Way Consequence School’, as recently taught by Geshe-la, one of the eight unique features of the Consequence School is taught to be that grasping of the selflessness of phenomenon is held to be an afflictive obscuration. Those teachings on the Eight Difficult Points are something worthy of rejoicing in. Geshe-la rejoices that he had the opportunity to teach on it and we should rejoice that we had the opportunity to listen. We definitely accumulated a lot of merit, even if we have forgotten them! Edited transcripts are available. Hopefully, we can get a book together. It is very important that we understand what these afflictive obscurations and obscurations to knowledge are. You’ll find mention of them in the different texts you read such as the Lam-Rim, but if you don’t understand the meaning of these terms, then you will just read the names ‘afflictive obscurations’ and ‘obscurations to knowledge’ without them having any impact on you.


The first point we covered today was this unique situation whereby Solitary Realisers take emptiness of duality as their primary object of meditation yet are acting primarily to attain liberation. Although Autonomists assert this, they do not say there are any who attain the fruit of a Hearer Arhat and who then go on to enter the paths of a Solitary Realiser. There are those who have attained a Hearer path of Accumulation, or Preparation and who then enter the paths of a Solitary Realiser but no one who has attained a Hearer path of seeing then goes on to enter Solitary Realizer paths.. Autonomists do say however, that one who has attained the fruit of a Hearer or Solitary Realiser Arhat is “suitable to enter the Mahayana paths”, which is to say that they will indeed [eventually] do so. It is good if you can understand these details. Student: Did Geshe-la say that a person who achieves the Hearer path of seeing or the Solitary Realiser path of seeing will not, or is unable to, enter the Mahayana paths until they attain the fruit of an Arhat? Geshe-la: You heard correctly. Such a person has reached that path of seeing through a lot of effort Chenrezig Institute BSP – Grounds and Paths 2003 – lightly edited transcripts for the use of course participants only

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exerted on their paths of accumulation and preparation, a lot of effort exerted in which he or she took the afflictive obscurations as their primary object of abandonment. Having expended all that effort on those first two path,s and reached the path of seeing, they are not going to discard their endeavours and enter another path until they complete the task that they set out to achieve. Student: (question partly inaudible) It’s not just that they don’t want to have wasted all that time on the path of accumulation and path of preparation. In fact, aren’t they certain to continue? Geshe-la: Yes, that’s a nice way to think about it. That’s right; it is said that in having attained one’s respective path of seeing, one becomes certain or definite in that path. We will speak more on the Mahayana path of seeing in the coming days but one thing I should mention now is that, according to the Autonomist School, once a person attains the Mahayana path of seeing they begin to abandon both the afflictive obscurations and the obscurations to knowledge simultaneously. This is an Autonomist assertion that the Consequence School does not share. The Consequence School asserts that the individual does not start abandoning obscurations to knowledge until they reach the 8th
Bodhisattva ground. 
Student: Do Solitary Realisers also abandon the afflictive obscurations and obscurations to knowledge simultaneously once they attain the path of seeing? Geshe-la: You should be more precise. You could say that they abandon the afflictive obscurations and the coarse obscurations to knowledge simultaneously, but it’s important to include the word “coarse”. All obscurations to knowledge are not abandoned completely until buddhahood. Today, Geshe-la also introduced us to the 10 perfections. Each of the 10 grounds has its own name and these are given in the text on page 6. It’s important that you retain that information as then the definitions for each of the 10 ground will be clear.

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