Manual of Prajna Paramita - CLASS NOTES
Class One: Perfection of Wisdom; the Three Jewels
[Everything in this course is from the Svatantrika school)
GYE DRING DU SUM
long middle short three
The middle sutra has 20,000 verses
The short has 8,000 verses
The commentary was taught by Maitreya to Asanga (~350 A.D.). The commentary on the three books above by Asanga/Maitreya is called Ornament of Realizations (short GYEN in Tibetan). It’s 50 pages in a code, so we need a commentary on this commentary. That commentary is by Haribhadra (850 A.D.), called Clarification. That one is too hard also, as is
Arhant is anyone who has reached nirvana. After you perceive emptiness directly, it requires training and the application of that direct perception of emptiness to your thoughts to change the way you think and behave to reach nirvana and become an Arhant.
There are three levels of Perfection of Wisdom:
2.) Perfection of Wisdom of the result - One who has seen emptiness directly and sees all things simultaneously as both empty and deceptive reality. Sees all past, present, and future simultaneously. This person is a Buddha.
For refuge to be real, there must be:
2) in the hearts of people who have the paths/ideas in their mindstreams. The Dharma jewel is two parts: path: (idea) which leads you out of suffering, and cessation: which is stopping bad qualities within you.
YUL SHEN-LA RANG-TOB-KYI REWA CHAWAY SEMPA
Two kinds of refuge:
Three types of practitioner:
KYEBU CHUNG DRING CHENPO SUM
person small middle big/great three
1.) Small: Small scope is the minimum motivation you can have and still be Buddhist. Wanting to escape the three lower rebirths. If you work with this motivation, you will get all things you need in this life also, because the virtues necessary to avoid lower rebirth are the same ones that bring happiness now.
Why take refuge - In the short term (this life) there is no better protection. In the long term, you can achieve Buddhahood (because you must have refuge to practice tantra, which leads to Buddhahood.)
5.) Love - cares about all.
Class Three: Bodhicitta and Mind
SEMKYE PA NI SHEN DUN DU YANGDAY DZOKPAY JANGCHUB DU
they can hear and teach Mahayana, but don’t practice it.)
Each type of Buddhahood has five paths: accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation, and no more learning. Each set of paths has different realizations while on those paths; each track perceives a different type of emptiness. Both nirvanas and Buddhahood have eliminated all suffering, but only Buddhahood has omniscience of all things.
First, it is the main mental awareness belonging to the greater way, which is focussed on achieving total enlightenment for the benefit of others, and which is matched with a state of mind that is associated with it: the aspiration to achieve total enlightenment. Secondly, it is a knowledge belonging to the greater way, which acts as a door for entering the greater way (or is something of the type), and which is included into the activity side of the standard division into the two of “view” and “activity”.
Bodhichitta is the “main” mind: it holds the two thoughts of Bodhichitta – wanting to be a Buddha and wanting to help all sentient beings. Because the mind can’t hold two thoughts simultaneously, then Bodhichitta must be main mind; otherwise it would lose Bodhichitta when thinking of wanting to help all sentient beings.
The main mind can hold two complimentary thoughts simultaneously, but not two different thoughts. Main mind is awareness of an object – holding the object in the mind. Secondary mind is feeling good, bad, etc. about that object. Main mind focuses on the object and secondary mind follows after that.
It uses “belonging to the greater way” to signify that pre-bodhichitta (artificial or “sugar-cane” bodhichitta) – that bodhichitta which we try to force upon ourselves or try to get – isn’t what is meant. Rather, it means the feeling just comes without effort. That is the real and genuine bodhichitta, and the entry into Mahayana.
Class Four: Classifications of Bodhicitta
(The names don’t necessarily describe each path accurately.)
Accumulation: To get on the first path, one must generate renuciation (and bodhichitta for Mahayana). This primarily refers to renunciation, and not to the accumulation of merit, although we do accumulate merit with renunciation.
Habituation: Getting used to and practicing what you saw in emptiness and reorienting your perception of what you see around you daily to agree with the perception of emptiness. Getting rid of inborn habit of seeing things as self-existant. (This takes a long time to practice.)
1. MUPA CHUPAY SEMKYE
Person acting out of belief that things aren’t self-existant - has enlightened wish to help all sentient beings, and hasn’t seen emptiness. Want to help sentient beings and wants to become Buddha to do so. Realizes that they see things as deceptive reality and has belief that emptiness exists. Thinks things are self-existant, sees things as self-existant, and believes that things are not self-existant. (This kind of bodhichitta occurs on paths of accumulation and preparation.)
2. HLAKSAM DAKPAY SEMKYE
Someone who has experienced emptiness directly and sees things as they really are, so that bodhichitta is more intelligent and stronger. Has given up intellectual belief in self-existance as a result of seeing emptiness. Knows things are not self-existant, but is forced to see them that way outside of emptiness meditation. Has inate belief/view of self-existance. Sees things as empty in meditation and self-existant out of meditation. Person who permanently no longer has any belief in self-existance because of having seen emptiness directly. Doesn’t believe in self-existance, but still sees things as deceptive reality and has the seeds to see things as deceptive. (Occurs on paths of seeing and habituation.)
3. NAMPAR MINPAY SEMKYE
Someone who looks at sentient beings and wants to help. When looking at sentient beings, doesn’t see them as self-existant, but still has seeds to see them as self-existant. Has given up inate belief of self-existance; no longer sees self as self-existent. Outside of meditation, sees everything as empty. Has given up the inborn habit of seeing things as self-existant. Can never again see things as self-existant, although still has the seeds to see things that way. Not a Buddha yet, because there are still karmic seeds in the mind to see things as self-existant.
Doesn’t think things are self-existant, doesn’t see things as self-existant, but has the seeds to see things as self-existant. (The path of habituation has this kind of bodhichitta. Bhumis eight through ten occur here.)
4. DRIPPA PAKPAY SEMKYE
obscurations eliminated bochichitta
This person doesn’t think things are self-existant and doesn’t see them as self-existant.
1. GYALPO TABUI SEMKYE
2. DZIBU TABUI SEMKYE
shepherd – like bodhichitta
“I’ll make sure others achieve enlightenment and then I’ll do it.”
3. NYENPA TABUI SEMKYE
ferryman – like bodhichitta
“I want to reach enlightemnent at the same time as all sentient beings. We’ll go together.”
1. MUNPA SEMKYE
2. JUKPA SEMKYE
The wish for enlightenment that directly depends on taking the vow and actually engaging in the bodhisattva deeds. (When you take a vow to do or not to do something, then the action is much more powerful; breaking the vow is much more detrimental.)
Class Five: Definitions of Nirvana
What is Nirvana?
NYUN-DRIP MA-LU-PA PANG PAY SO SOR TAK-GOG NYANG-DE
mental affliction entirety
Nyun-drip means the mental afflictions (bad thoughts) and bak-chaks (potentials for bad thoughts, seeds, mental stains and predispositions to behave similarly again) that block or stop you from nirvana. A seed is a potential (to get angry, for instance) which will be triggered by events in the future.
Nirvana is a cessation which comes from the individual analysis, and which consists of having eliminated the mental-affliction obstacles (and bak-chaks) in their entirety from your mental stream. Here, individual analysis refers to realizing the Four Arya Truths one-by-one after seeing emptiness directly.
Cessations can be divided into two types: those you get before seeing emptiness (you have these on the first two paths) and those you get from seeing emptiness directly (on the third path – the path of seeing).
The Four Noble Truths should be translated as the Four Arya Truths, because you see each of the four truths after becoming an arya (seeing emptiness), as you come down from the direct perception of emptiness. You see that life is suffering, and the cause (your own bad thoughts),cessation (and you see how many lives you have until you are finished), and the cause of cessation (the path).
A bak-chak is an energetic potential or seed which arises when conditions are right. Once you see emptiness directly, you stop creating new causes for suffering, but you still have past seeds to experience. The process of death practice largely involves going through death without activating our bak-chaks. They’re there, but by not watering or activating them, they can’t cause our lower rebirth.
Class Six: Divisions of Nirvana
Four Types of Nirvana: (there are more, but we’re doing only four)
1.) RANG-SHIN NYANG-DE
Natural nirvana. This is ultimate reality. It’s been like this forever, it occurs naturally. (This is a misnomer, because it’s not a real nirvana. It’s grouped with nirvana because it can never cause mental afflictions.) (continued in class six)
2.) HLAK – CHE NYANG-DE
something having nirvana
3.) HLAK – ME NYANG-DE
nothing left over nirvana
4.) MI-NE-PAY NYANG-DE SI – TA SHI – TA
Nirvana which does not stay in the extreme of samsara or in the extreme of peace (i.e. lower nirvana). Means the nirvana of a Buddha. Some lower schools say that when you reach nirvana with nothing left over, there is no longer a body or mind to the person; there is a person existing some way in cessation.
4) Other Factors - everything not included in the other four heaps.
1.) DAK – ME TOK-PAY SHE-RAB KYI LAP-PA
2.) LAP-PA DAN-PO NYI-KYI SIN-PA
training first two of under influence
3.) TOK – SIN GOM – PA
Four results of the Buddhist path:
Class Seven: Proof of Emptiness; Understanding the Gak-ja
Identifying the object that we deny:
GAK – JA
to deny or refute object to be
If you don’t know what emptiness is empty of, you can’t study emptiness. If you don’t understand what exists, you can’t refute its existance (ex. if you don’t know what a vase is, you can’t prove there isn’t one on the table.) You must have good understanding of what a self-existant thing is.
The gak-ja does not really exist. If it did exist, it would have to exist in a way opposite to the way in which things really do exist (conventionally or deceptively). You can’t have a negative emotion unless you are focused on a gak-ja - a thing which doesn’t even exist.
LO NU – ME LA NANG-WAY WANG – GI SHAK – TSAM
1.) the thing being out there (ex. flowers), and
The gak-ja is anything which appears without one of the two factors above being present. If something existed out there on its own without depending on me perceiving it or it appearing to me, that’s a gak-ja.
Example: The Magic Show
The magician in a crowd takes a stick, casts a spell, and turns it into a horse. The crowd sees a horse. The magician sees a horse, but believes it’s a stick. The spell requires a stick and a perceiver.
If there were no stick, then everything you look at would appear as a horse. The first component is important – something out there must appear as a stick or a horse (must have some stickness or horseness), or everything I see would appear as a stick or horse. If there were no spell, the crowd wouldn’t see the horse; they need the state of mind to see the horse.
Someone who comes up to the crowd after the spell just sees a stick there.
1.) Someone who has not seen emptiness directly sees things as self-existant and believes they are self-existant.
Class Eight: Five Different Proofs of Emptiness
Five ways to prove emptiness: (elaborations for each follow in the next section.)
1.) CHIK – DU DREL
one many empty
2.) DORJE SEKMA
3.) YU – ME KYE – GOK
exist not to arise to deny
4.) MU – SHI KYE – GOK
possibilities four to arise to deny
The denial that things could arise through any of the four possibilities. Denying that multiple results come from multiple causes, denying that single results come from multiple causes, denying that multiple results come from single causes, denying that single results come from single causes.
5.) TEN – DREL GYI – RIKPA (also called RIK-PAY GYALPO)
Things are not self-existant because they depend upon other things.
How to prove a logical statement:
Example of the first argument, the emptiness of one or many:
Consider the three knowledges:
c.) Knowledge of all things.
Proof of one or many:
If you prove that something doesn’t exist as one or as many, then you’ve proved it doesn’t exist at all, because there are no other options except not existing. One and many encompass all possible things.
Three relationships have to be there for a proof to be valid:
2.) The relationship between the reason and the characteristic it proves must be sound. Therefore, here it must be true that if 3 is true, then 2 occurs, i.e. if something is yellow, then it cannot simultaneously be blue.
3.) The relationship between the characteristic to be proven and its reason must be such that if you negate the characteristic to be proven and you negate the reason, their relationship is still true. Therefore, if you negate 2, 3 is also negated, as shown by the example: if the sun is not not blue (i.e. is blue), then it is not yellow. The person you’re proving it to must see and accept that the sun is yellow. He or she must accept that it can’t be yellow and blue sumultaneously, and that if it’s blue, it can’t be yellow.
All of these elements must already be present in their mind. The proof ties them all together, and points to the correct conclusion. Before, he had seen the sun, known what yellow is, and known that if something is yellow, it can’t be blue. He had thought the sun was blue because he had never tied the elements together before.
1.) Consider the three knowledges (see last week’s notes). They do not exist really because they don’t really exist as one or many. If you leave out “really”, then they do exist (as many). “Really” qualifies them, meaning that they exist dependent upon someone’s perception.
3.) For they do not exist really as one or really as many. If you can prove that a thing can not exist as one, then it can not exist as many, either. Here, many means a collection of the one(s), not many different things, but many of the one. For example, if you can prove that a Martian does not exist, then you don’t need to prove that 100 Martians don’t exist. We will prove that something (in this instance the three knowledges) doesn’t exist as one, really.
The three relationships must hold true:
a) 3 connects to 1 accurately.
b) If 3 is true, then 2 is true,
c) If 2 is negated, then 3 is negated.
How to prove that if they have parts they do not really exist as one (if 3, then 2):
Example: a pen – When you look at a pen, you cannot see the pen. You see the parts of the pen, for example the top, bottom, etc. It’s impossible to see the pen without looking at the parts of the pen. While you’re looking at the parts of the pen, it’s impossible to see the pen. You are seeing the top and then the bottom, then the back, etc. not the pen. You see various parts and clues, and then paint a complete picture in your mind of a pen for the thing which is out there, and believe it’s out there as a “pen”, rather than as a mental construct. If you perceive the parts, you can’t perceive the whole (one). If you weren’t perceiving the parts, you couldn’t see the object as existing at all.
Even when you focus on one part, you can’t see it. When you look at the top, it has parts too – the top of it, the bottom of it, etc. Ad infinitum, as above. So where does anything come from; how do we perceive it if we can’t even see one complete part of it? Your mind fills in the image in a certain way caused by your past mental karma/seeds/mental functions. For this reason, even though I want my mind to fill everything in as pleasure, it doesn’t. For example, I want to perceive every meal as tasty, but that doesn’t happen.
How to prove that the three knowledges have parts (that 3 is true of 1)
Take the approach that if we prove that everything has parts, this will also apply to the three knowledges. All things can be classified as changing and unchanging. Changing things are classified as either physical or mental. Physical things can be classified as gross or subtle.
To prove that all things have parts, we must prove that each subdivision
Gross physical things:
1.) If you cover part of a physical thing, another part is still there, so there must be parts. Covering two fingers leaves three fingers, so fingers are parts. Otherwise when you cover two fingers, none would be left.
2.) If you didn’t have parts, when you moved one arm then the other would move, if it weren’t a separate part.
Consider an atom. Do atoms touch, combine, or blend into each other, or do they occupy each other’s space so that every part of one atom is touched by the atom next to it? (O vs. OO) If they touch each other then there must be sides to it, which means it has parts (top, left, etc.).
If they existed in a way where every surface and point of an atom touched every surface and point of all others, then there would only be one atom in existance, and we wouldn’t have discrete objects like food, etc.
Direct means happening right after the event, ex. Nina’s visual awareness of him. The direct cause is her visual awareness of him the moment before. Her eye, his skin, etc. are contributing factors, not a direct cause. Her perceiving him is the direct result. The direct cause flip-flops into the direct result without any time lapse. Like snapping fingers twice fast, with no space in between.
Remote means happening a moment or more after an event, with some pause between the events. For example, snap the fingers and pause before snapping a second time. The first snap is a remote cause of perceiving the second snap because you perceived the pause in between. Because mental things stream so that there are direct and remote causes for them (based upon time elapsed), they have parts. One mental event is composed of direct and remote causes – these are its parts, and to have them time must have elapsed. If there weren’t parts, then every prior mental event which leads to the next one would have to occur simultaneously and there would be one moment in time where everything occurred.
Cessations include mental afflictions and their seeds. As an absence of something, their nature is unchanging. You don’t get more or less free of afflictions, you’re just free, so it’s unchanging in that its nature is constant. The parts are: cessation of intellectual belief in selfexistance, and cessation of inate or inborn belief in self-existence.
Class Ten: Who is Maitreya?
In Tibetan: JAM-PA
The teacher is the only connection to the Buddha. Without the teacher, you can’t learn the wisdom of enlightenment. He is the only window to the information, so you should treat him well. Even if he isn’t a Buddha, you should treat him as one anyway, because of this. As a Buddha, Maitreya still has the desire to fulfill his own needs.
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - Reading One: The Three Kinds of Refuge
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - Reading Two: The Wish for Enlightenment
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - Reading Three: What is Nirvana?
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - Reading Four: The Object We Deny
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - Reading Five: The Proofs for Emptiness
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - Reading Six: Who is Maitreya?
- Manual of Prajna Paramita - CLASS NOTES