Dzogchen: Precious Garland | Longchenpa

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Dzogchen: Precious Garland | Longchenpa

Dzogchen:
The Four-Themed Precious Garland

Longchenpa
(1308–1364)

Prologue

I prostrate to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

(1) With a crown of a hundred-fold belief in what’s fact, I make offerings to you, O sun (like Buddhas) Gone to Bliss.

In the sphere of the space of your naturally (abiding) Dharmakāya (a Corpus Encompassing Everything), the maṇḍala-disc of your Corpus of Forms having 5 certainties spreads forth and causes the lotus (minds) of disciples to blossom through the rays of your Enlightening deeds.

(2) The cool shade of the precious wish-granting tree of the ways of the Triumphant One’s Dharma offers protection from all the torments of compulsive (Saṁsāra) existence and complacent (Nirvāṇa.

Therefore,) as a way for all beings with belief in what’s fact to enter (into its shade), step by step, I shall explain the massive tree of good qualities of the 4 aspects (of the Dharma). Listen well.

(1) Directing the Mind towards Dharma

1. Precious Human Rebirth

(3) What anyone who wishes to cross the boundless ocean of recurring Saṁsāra existence first must think is to make full effort, right now in this lifetime, to achieve the stilling and the blissful awareness that are the phenomenon- of Liberation.

(4) At (this) time when you have obtained the ship of a (human) body, with respites and enrichments, difficult to find and easily lost,

if you do not exert yourself, you will never liberate yourself from the ocean of compulsive existence or break the continuity of having many and varied (kinds of) sufferings.

(5) You will be tossed about in this unbearable, fearsome great ocean (of Saṁsāra), where an end to the current of birth and death is not evident,

where streaks of foam of sickness and old age thicken everywhere, and where the tides of disturbing emotions spread everywhere, up to the far reaches of the highest realm of compulsive existence.

(6) (But) whoever hears (the Dharma teachings) will be able to break the continuum of birth and death and will never be parted from a supremely great blissful awareness.

(Therefore,) with the excellent and precious ship (of a fully endowed human body), make efforts in the supreme Dharma,

(which brings) a stilling, in order to cross the repository of waters of the disturbing emotions of the 3 planes of existence.

(7) If this time around you have not practised toward actualizing a purified state with a pathway of mind (that leads) to Liberation,

in the future you will never even hear the name fortunate rebirth,

and, through endless unfortunate rebirths, one after the next, you will lack any methods for liberating yourself from eternally remaining in uncontrollably recurring Saṁsāra existence.

(8) Therefore, people with sense, having now attained a human body of respites and enrichments, practise to achieve (a state of) benefit and bliss, with great effort from your hearts, and by means of this, come to fulfil the aims of both yourself and others.

2. Death and Impermanence

(9) Even if you have attained the respites and enrichments, there is never any mental security:

As all things are unstable, ever-changing, without any essence, momentary, non-static, disintegrating phenomena, think from your hearts, “Soon I shall die, all of a sudden.”

(10) It is the same as well with the entire perishable world of your environment:

At the times of its disintegration through 7 fires, one flood, or wind, everything will become void, without even a remnant of a tip of a hair left: there will be only space.

(11) Its inhabitants, non-static wandering beings, ever are moving:

No matter how many limited beings there may be – divine (godly) beings, the would-be divine, humans, animals, clutching ghosts, or joyless realm beings

– when their time is up, they must plunge into the waters of death, transference and rebirth.

(12) Years, months, days, seasons and moments are impermanent, disintegrate and march on.

As you have sadness with the changing of the 4 seasons, think about how your own time, too, will be impermanent.

(13) There is no mental security: very soon your body and life-force will part (from each other. Therefore,) from today on, think with certitude,

It is uncertain which will occur first, tomorrow or the time when my life shall be spent.”

3. The Shortcomings of Saṁsāra

(14) The sufferings of rebirth are more frightening than those of death.

There is never any happiness no matter where you are reborn, for the functional nature of recurring Saṁsāra is like that of a pit of fire.

(Therefore,) seek a method to liberate yourself from it right now.

(15) Joyless realm beings suffer from heat and cold, clutching ghosts from hunger and thirst, and animals by devouring each other, stupidity and being muddleheaded.

Humans are tormented by the 3 and the 8 faults, the would-be divine by fighting and quarrelling, and divine beings by death, transference, and falling (to lower rebirths).

(16) The happiness (of the divine beings) may change into grief and their affective suffering abounds. After their lives transfer from the pleasures associated with the divine realms, they may once again enter the fires of a joyless realm.

- Having thought like this, work to pass beyond compulsive existence.

(17) The appearances of this life are like a dream just as you are about to wake up. They are changing and impermanent. Because you must go on, after having left them behind, what can retinue, wealth and such do for you?

- Make effort in the Dharma right now!

4. Developing a Stilled and Settled State of Śamatha

(18) Desire is like poison, weapons, or fire. Tormented (by it), there is never a chance for happiness:

There is suffering through accumulating, protecting and increasing (what you desire, and consequently) you are always bound by arrogance, greed and stinginess.

Having quarrels with everyone, the taints of your disturbing emotions increase. You have mental wandering with busy-work and it threatens your body and life.

(19) Having your aims and activities be too numerous and contradictory to the Dharma is always scorned by the highly realized Āryas. (But) for those whose desires are few, constructive (activities and qualities) automatically increase.

Therefore, those (of you) who would enter into a pathway of mind (that leads) to Liberation, which is a stilled state, make your desires be few and have contentment.

(20) It is said that if you exhaust your desires, you are a real Ārya; and if your desires are few, you are of the Ārya type.

Just as suffering and disturbing emotions increase for those with desire, what is constructive naturally increases for those whose desires are few.

Therefore, by following in the footsteps of the hallowed beings of the past, be always content and make your possessions be few.

(21) The faults of associating with people are indeed without limit.
There is far too much useless distraction and activities:

Anger, arguments and fighting increase, and attraction and repulsion arise. You always become infected with suffering and that’s pointless.

(22) No matter what you have done, there is never a time when you can please (others). No matter how you try to teach them (the Dharma), the chances to benefit (them) are slim.

Likewise, even when you listen (to them), it’s never the excellent Dharma. Even if you are close (to them) as friends, in the end you will have to part.

(23) Therefore, rid yourself completely of close relationships of dependency on followers, friends or relatives, and make a definite effort, from today on, to practise the hallowed Dharma, alone in isolation.

(24) Supreme hallowed beings of the past have said that from living in isolation, they found the nectar (of Dharma experience). Therefore, (resolve that) I too shall live alone in isolation in a forest in order to actualize a state of being stilled.

(25) Living in isolation has been praised by the Triumphant (Buddhas). With no one unruly (around you), you increase your absorbed concentration on what is profound:

You naturally practise the Dharma and develop sombre thoughts of impermanence. You put material possessions aside and have no busy-work or distractions.

(26) Your bountiful stores of belief in what’s fact, renunciation and good qualities enlarge and, not having close relationships, automatically your activities decrease.

Therefore, without (concern for) the 8 transitory things in life, or for keeping the minds of others (happy) or saving face, pass your days and nights with the Dharma in the bliss associated with being under your own control.

(27) Making your respites and enrichments have meaning and taking the essence of your attainment (of them) – as words cannot encompass those and more benefits,

practise absorbed concentration on the profound (Dharma) for your entire life, alone, in the middle of a totally isolated forest.

(28) May the cooling rain of the Dharma, well spoken like that, after stilling (all) disturbing emotions and tormenting conceptual thoughts,

fill the pond of lotuses, which are constructive masses of absorbed concentrations, and (thus) spread an endowment of a stilled state.

This (concludes) the first chapter of A Precious Garland for the Four Themes, “Having the Mind Go toward the Dharma.