The Essence of Semnyid Ngalso

The Oral Instruction of Mañjuvajra:
The Concise Topics of the Five Subsidiary Headings
of the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of Mind

Written by Tulku Dakpa Rinpoche.

Having prostrated faithfully with the indivisible three doors
to the all-knowing Guru, the nature of the three kāyas,
I shall explain the outline of the five subsidiary headings
of the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of Mind.

In general, either the specific term or the compound term may be applied to this term, mind itself [sems nyid, cittā].

In the first case [the specific term], the mind [sems, citta] and all mental factors [sems las byung, caitta], the cause of samsara, are concepts which reify the three realms. The Satyadvayavibhaṅga states:

The mind and mental factors which possess the aspect
of the reification of the three realms are concepts.

The Precious Introduction of Buddhahood Secret Tantra states:

Listen, Guhyapati, the mind and all mental factors are phenomena of samsara!

Therefore, since the actual nature of the concepts of mind and mental factors makes one wearied [dub] and fatigued [ngal] again and again in samsara, now, nonconceptual wisdom, the dharmadhātu, the prajñāparamita which pacifies all proliferation, is a resting place in which one can relax.

In the second case [the compound term], the assembly of concepts that have engaged for a long while in deluded appearances of the mind and are wearied by samsara are placed without fabrication in the state of the pacification of proliferation, a resting place for relaxing in the nature of the mind. This is similar to tired [thang chad] and wearied travelers resting their bodies, voices and minds after collapsing in a resting place and relaxing.

From the perspective of ease in understanding, when the specific term, “mind itself” [sems nyid], is used, it is the mind and all mental factors. “Relaxing” shows freedom from proliferation as the self-originated wisdom. When the compound term, the “nature of mind” [sems nyid] is used, it is naturally luminous and “relaxing” demonstrates the pacification of conceptual engagement.

Further, if it is asked, “What is the mind?,” [the mind] cannot persist for an instant or a single moment of time. If one tries grasp it, it cannot be held. If one tries suppress it, it cannot be pushed down. If one tries to bind it, it cannot be tied. It can wander in an instant, racing throughout all the world, mountains, valleys, India, China and so on. This is called “the mind.” This is the same mind that ascends to the stage of buddhahood and this is the same mind that descends into Avici Hell. Since the foundation of samsara and nirvana is encountered in this same mind and also, the foundation of all virtuous and nonvirtuous concepts is this same mind, it is called the “mind itself.”

Relaxation [ngal gso]:

“Fatigue” means tired, fatigued or wearied. In what way? This mind has wandered here on the great plain of samsara’s three realms without any beginning. Having been born in Avici hell, it is fatigued by the burden of the affliction of anger. Having been born as an animal, it is fatigued by the burden of ignorance. Having been born as a ghost, it is fatigued and wearied by the burden of desire. The example is a vast plain of sand without any boundary in an unknown place, a blazing pit of intense heat in which not even the name “moisture” and “cool shade” exist. No matter what direction one looks, one cannot estimate its size, like the boundary of space. One is alone, without a path or companions. The body is fatigued, weighed down with a very heavy burden. When traveling, the sun above oppresses and torments the body with hot rays of sunlight; below, the intense heat of the sand burns the body. Since there is suffering in the mind, one is depressed and fearful. When the loud sound of the breath of the one wearied by unbearable hardships seems to fill the universe, a person needs to relax after dropping their burden. In the same way, each of our minds has wandered in the place of limitless samsara oppressed by the burden of the three or five poisonous afflictions and has become fatigued. If it is asked, “How can it relax?,” temporarily, it can relax on the stage of gods and humans; thereafter, it can relax on the stage of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas; then it can relax it on the stage of the perfect buddhahood of the bodhisattvas; ultimately, it can relax on the stage of the result of unsurpassed perfect buddhahood. Since this text, Relaxing in the Nature of Mind, is a comprehensive clear explanation of the unmistaken method for that, the text is also given that name.

The author who composed the text

He was born in the vicinity of Glorious Samye in the earth male monkey year of the fifth [60 year] cycle of the Tibetan calendar (1308 CE). He was the sovereign of the teaching of the Great Perfection’s three series, the second Samantabhadra arriving in the world. He trained perfectly in the stages of hearing, reflection and meditation. He reached the pinnacle of scholarship and accomplishment. He crossed to the other shore of the ocean of non-Buddhist and Buddhist textual systems. He mastered explanation, debate and composition. He was adorned with the sublime qualities of view, realization and samadhi. He attained illumination in the subjects of scripture, reasoning and intimate instructions. His vast intelligence was perfectly trained in the true meaning. He was enriched by hearing many discourses of the Sugata. He comprehended the principles of Hinayāna and Mahāyāna. He perfectly realized the nature of the Tripitika belonging to the Cause Vehicle of Characteristics and the four or six divisions of the tantras of the Result Vehicle of Secret Mantra. He spontaneously comprehended the precious teachings of the Victor. He trained in the profound and vast topics, and entered the path of the essence of awakening. He realized the truth of the essence of luminosity and was learned in the principle of empty nonarising. He was blessed by the self-originated guru and received a prediction of achieving great buddhahood in a single life. Since the blessings of great compassion entered his continuum, he destroyed the mountain of deluded realism and emanated light rays of activities benefitting others. He donned the armor of diligence in benefitting himself and others with compassion. His qualities of abandonment and realization were immeasurable. He reached the absolute culmination of the yoga of the four visions of natural perfection [lhun grub] through the path of the Luminous Great Perfection. The one who went to the stage of original dharmatā [chos nyid] in a single lifetime, Gyalwa Longchen Rabjam, [will in the future be] the Bhagavan Sugata *Sumerudīpadhvaja.

His scriptural sources

He extracted the quintessence of all the teachings of the perfect Buddha from the discourses of the sūtras and tantras of the Cause Vehicle of Characteristics of the Śrāvakas, Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Result Vehicle of Secret Mantra of Kriya, Carya and Yoga Tantra, as well as Mahā, Anu and Ati, and compiled them together.

The division to which Relaxing the Mind-Essence belongs

Relaxing the Mind-Essence is included in the division of Atiyoga, the unsurpassed intimate instruction of the Great Perfection.

There are three main cycles in the compositions of the All-Knowing Dharma King, Gyalwa Longchen Rabjampa: the cycle of the Cause Vehicle of Characteristics, the cycle of the Result Vehicle of Secret Mantra and the cycle of the Natural Great Perfection. This text [Relaxing in the Nature of Mind is included within the cycle of the Natural Great Perfection.

Within the cycle of the Natural Great Perfection, there is the vast paṇḍita cycle, the Seven Treasuries, which include: Precious Treasury of Tenets, Precious Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Wishfulling Precious Treasury, Precious Treasury of Intimate Instructions, Precious Treasury of Words and Meanings, Precious Treasury of the Dharmadhātu and Precious Treasury of Reality. Since they correspond with and totally unravel the intention of the tantras of the vast whole reality of the Natural Great Perfection with citations, reasoning and intimate instructions, it is the vast paṇḍita cycle.

The so-called “profound kusuli cycle” is the profound Quintessence [yang tig] Trilogy: Guru Quintessence, Ḍākinī Quintessence and Profound Quintessence.

The Trilogy of Relaxation gathers all of the profound and vast stages of the path into one textual system, demonstrating the profound and vast path completely and unerringly, said to be the cycle of the gradual path of intimate instructions of the Great Perfection.

In general, this is a so-called “intimate instruction” [upadeśa]. Though we do indeed say Tantra Mahāyoga, Agama Anuyoga and Upadeśa Atiyoga, in this context, “intimate instruction” has the following meaning: “Tantra” means the seventeen tantras of the definitive great secret. “Agama” means the texts that clearly delineate the intimate instructions that unravel the intention of the meaning of the tantras composed by Nirmanakāya Garab Dorje, Guhyapati Vajradharma, Vidyādhara Śrī Siṃha, the All-knowing Longchenpa and so on.

In terms of “Upadeśa”, there are written intimate instructions and unwritten intimate instructions. Further, so-called “intimate instructions” are the one hundred and nineteen different intimate instructions that condense the critical points found within the seventeen tantras of the definitive great secret. So-called “intimate instructions” unravel the meaning of the tantras with both the tantras and the intimate instructions. Further, intimate instructions clarify everything that is hidden, concealed, scattered, shuffled and so on within the body of a tantra. As it is said in the Guhyagarbha Tantra:

Take out the concealed hidden meaning
that exists in the Teacher’s mind vajra…

Here, [intimate instruction] primarily [means], as the tantra of the definitive great secret, Union of the Sun and Moon, states:

…encountered in the guru’s instructions…

The text that outlines all the uncommon intimate instructions that have been passed down in an oral lineage from the original protector Samantabhadra up to the glorious root guru, our own sublime supreme guide, the text that condenses all the stages of practice of the essentials of the path from the vehicle of gods and men (for a higher state in the world) up to the vehicle of the Natural Great Perfection, the perfect wishfulling text of the great stages of the path of the intimate instructions which show clearly how one person on one seat methodically traverses the entire path without error is the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of the Mind

To whom it is beneficial

This book is beneficial to those of gradual or sudden capacity who wish for easy realization through the stages of hearing, reflection and meditation in all the discourses of the Sugata, those who seek the best method to accomplish the two benefits, both temporary and ultimate, those who clearly aspire for the state of sublime liberation based on that, those who possess the motivation that the teaching of the Sugata remains for a long time, and all of those fortunate persons who have activated the power of the aspiration to spread and develop the Dharmas of the Natural Great Perfection in the world have the same destination, ultimate buddhahood.

The outline of the text from beginning to end

Having condensed all of the topics of the Tripitika and the four divisions of tantra into one, the complete teaching of the Bhagavan Buddha is combined into a single graduated path.

Chapter one through chapter ten extensively explain the nature of the basis, starting from the difficulty of acquiring freedom and endowments.

The next two chapters, chapters eleven and twelve, the so-called “chapters of the great naturally perfected meditation,” extensively analyze the stages of the path by principally explaining the yogas of śamatha and vipaśyāna.

Chapter thirteen extensively presents the result, clearly demonstrating the Natural Great Perfection, the ultimate result.

To begin with, the path of the common vehicles, such as the difficulty in attaining leisure and endowment (the vehicle of gods and humans for the higher states), death and impermanence, the faults of samsara, the benefits of liberation, the way to rely on the virtuous mentor, going for refuge, generating the mind of supreme bodhicitta are demonstrated with eight chapters. Chapter nine explains in great detail critical points of creation and completion, the stages of the path of general secret mantra. Chapter ten explains the common path of the Natural Great Perfection (from among the mind, space and intimate instruction series) primarily according to the intention of the mind series in accordance with the intention of the All-Creating King Tantra and so on, combining into one the two aspects of the basis and the view of the Natural Great Perfection. Both chapter eleven and twelve explain the meditation and conduct of the Great Perfection. Chapter thirteen demonstrates in detail the presentation of the result of the Natural Great Perfection. As such, the clear explanation of the Cause Vehicle of Characteristics, Result Vehicle of Secret Mantra and the Vehicle of the Natural Great Perfection in thirteen chapters is the outline that encompasses the text from beginning to end.

Additionally, there are fifteen Dharmas that arise as branches which spread from the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of the Mind.

The root text is the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of the Mind. The outline is the Garland of Jasmine. The commentary is the Great Chariot. The outline of the Great Chariot commentary is the Garland of White Lotuses. The practice manual is the Excellent Path of Awakening.

The root text is the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in Concentration. The outline of that is the Garland of Puṇḍarikas. The commentary is the Pure Chariot. The practice manual is the Condensed Elixir.

The root text is the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in Illusion. The outline is the Garland of Mandarava. The commentary is the Excellent Chariot. The practice manual is the Wishfulfilling Gem. The general meaning of the Dharma history of those texts is the Ocean of Eloquent Explanations. The index is the Thousand-Petalled Lotus. When combined there are fifteen Dharmas. The All-Knowing One himself states in the Thousand-Petalled Lotus:

The Trilogy of Rest, Trilogy of Chariots, Trilogy of Garlands, Trilogy of Instruction, Ocean of Eloquent Explanations, White Lotus and the index make fifteen divisions.

Thus, since all fifteen Dharmas within the Trilogy of Relaxation are Dharma sections of one text, Relaxing in the Nature of the Mind the subject of the gradual path of the intimate instructions of the Great Perfection is in reality the subject here which must be understood.

Therefore, the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of the Mind is a vast text, inclusive of the complete intended meaning of sūtra and tantra. For example, if one looks from the peak of Sumeru, one can see the four continents all at once. Likewise, all the essentials of the sūtras, tantras and treatises are clearly and extensively explained by this text of intimate instructions of the Great Perfection. Likewise, the All-Knowing One himself extensively praises the Trilogy of Relaxation in the Ocean of Eloquent Explanations:

The Dharma that combines the essentials of all vehicles together,
the unmistaken path of the texts of the cause and result,
the elevating instruction for those of all capacities,
the parts of the path without need to depend on others —
by hearing it, the darkness of ignorance is removed,
by reflecting upon it, the meaning of reality is realized,
by meditating upon it, one is liberated into the expanse of dharmatā,
by explaining it, one’s own and other’s wisdom is increased,
by listening to it, the lotus of intelligence blossoms,
by seeing it, the misdeeds and obscurations of affliction are exhausted,
and by examining it, the awakening of the path of liberation is attained —
a himalayan lake perfectly adorned with a great collection of immeasurable qualities,
the Trilogy of Relaxation is a treatise of intimate instructions on the Mahāyāna…

As such, this brief exposition of the general topics of the text by means of the five subsidiary headings of the great treatise called the Great Perfection’s Relaxing in the Nature of the Mind was composed on the virtuous day, the 15th day of the month of Viśākhā (June 2nd) in the general year, 2015, by a Dharma teacher of the final age, the totally confused wanderer called Tulku Dakpa. May it be very auspicious!

Translated by Ācarya Malcolm Smith (Loppon Kunga Namdrol) on 6/25/15. Edited by Osa Karen Manell.