There are two kinds of pure attitude:
pure attitude related to oneself and
pure attitude related to others.
Each of these has two aspects.

Pure attitude related to oneself
The two aspects of pure attitude related to oneself are
(1) to dedicate the virtues – the causes – to unsurpassed enlightenment without hoping for their maturation in samsara and
(2) to accomplish these causes from the depths of one’s heart with earnest sincerity.

Pure attitude related to others
The two aspects of pure attitude related to others are
1) to give up jealously, rivalry, and contempt when you see others practicing the Dharma at a higher, equal, or lower level than you and to instead rejoice, and
(2) even if you are not capable of that, to think of it many times a day as the ideal way to act.


Pure application related to oneself
Pure application related to oneself consists in practicing virtue for a long time, continually, and intensively.

Pure application related to others
Pure application related to others consists in bringing those who are not correctly cultivating virtue to do so, and praising those who are cultivating virtue so that they take delight in it, causing them to continue without interruption and preventing them from abandoning it.


This is simply that both attitude and application are like a fields in that they produce plenty of good fruit.


This has two points: a general presentation, and in particular, how to purify bad actions by means of the four powers.

A General Presentation

Entering the Bodhisattva Way (2.63) says:

“Sufferings arise from non-virtue;
how can I surely be freed from it?”
It is appropriate, day and night,
always to contemplate nothing but this.

And (7.40):

The Sage taught that resolute faith
is the root of all virtues.
And the root of that is to meditate
continuously on fully ripened effects.

So, once you have come to understand virtuous and non-virtuous actions and their effects, you should meditate on this over and over again because it is extremely difficult to gain certainty about it, since it is very hidden.

The King of Concentrations Sutra says:  

Even if the moon and stars were to fall,
the earth were to collapse with its mountains and towns,
and the heavenly realms were to utterly change,
still no word you have spoken would be untrue.

You should thus develop conviction in the words of the Tathagata and maintain it. Unless you have gained uncontrived certainty about them, you will not gain the [89] certainty that pleases the victors about any Dharma teachings.

Some profess to have gained certainty about emptiness yet do not have certainty about actions and their effects, not even care about it. They have arrived at a mistaken understanding of emptiness, for if they understood emptiness, they would see it to be the meaning of dependent arising, which would be helpful for gaining certainty about actions and their effects.

From the same sutra:

Like an illusion, a bubble, a mirage, or lightning,
all phenomena are like the moon in water.
Sentient living beings who after death
pass to other lives are not perceived.

Yet the actions they have done are not non-existent,
for whether virtuous or non-virtuous,
they cause their effects to ripen accordingly.

This logically consistent approach is excellent,
though subtle and hard to see;
it is the Victor’s object of understanding.

Therefore you should generate certainty about cause and effect pertaining to both types of karma and cut yourself off from the lower rebirths by continuously examining the three doors day and night.

To start out with little understanding and no skill in differentiating these causes and effects and to remain carefree regarding the three doors only opens the door to the lower rebirths.

Questions of the Naga King Sagara Sutra (Sagararanagarajapariprcchasutra) says:

Lord of nagas, one Dharma of bodhisattvas cuts
off falling back down and being born in the
lower rebirths. What is that one Dharma? It is
to finely investigate with regard to virtuous qualities,
thinking, “How am I doing? Am I transgressing
or maintaining them day and night?”

Having thought about it in this way, one turns away from faulty conduct, as expressed in the Satyaka Chapter:

O king, do not commit the act of killing.
Life is very precious for every being.
Therefore those who wish to keep it long
should not contemplate killing even deep down.

Like this make a consistent habit of relying on the mind of restraint, your motivation not moving one bit toward misdeeds like the ten non-virtues.

Khamlungpa said to Phuchungwa, “Geshe Dromtonpa taught that only actions and their effects were of vital importance, [90] but nowadays explaining this, listening to it, and meditating on it are considered worthless. Is this just because it is difficult to practice?”

Phuchungwa said, “It is just so”.

Dromtompa said, “Followers of Atisa, recklessness is totally inappropriate;
this dependent arising is subtle”.

Phuchungwa said, “In my old age I am at last turning to the Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish (Damamukasutra)”.

And Sharawa said, “The Buddha taught that whatever errors and faults come about, they should not be blamed on an unauspicious place or on the construction of some building;
it is simply that ‘By doing this action in the past, I am born here now.”’


Even though you try to avoid being tainted by faulty conduct, some faults may occur under the influence of carelessness or a multitude of mental afflictions.

Do not ignore it. You must make an effort to engage in the means for rectifying it as taught by the compassionate Teacher. Infractions against one’s vows should be rectified as is taught according to each of the three types of vows, while bad actions should be rectified by means of the four powers.


The first of the four powers is the power of remorse, which is to have great regret for the non-virtuous deeds one has done since beginningless time. For it to arise, one needs to meditate on how the three types of effects, such as fully ripened effects, are produced. When applying this power, use the two confessions: the confession in the Golden Light Sutra (Suvarnaprabhasasutra) and the confession to the thirty-five buddhas.


This has six points: relying on the profound sutras, believing in emptiness, relying on recitation, relying on images, relying on worship, and relying on names.

Relying on the profound sutras
The first is to hear the words of collections of sutras like the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, retain them, read them, and so forth.

Believing in emptiness
The second is to enter into selfless and luminous reality and to trust in primordial purity.
Relying on recitation
The third is to recite special dharanis like the hundred- syllable mantra in accordance with the appropriate rituals.

Questions of Subahu Tantra (Subahupariprcchatantra) says:

As when the flames of forest fires in spring,
uncontained, burn all the underbrush,
so the wind of ethical conduct fans the fires of recitation,
burning up bad deeds with flames of great joyous effort.

As when the sun’s rays strike the snow,
it cannot withstand the brilliance and melts,
so when the sunrays of ethical conduct and recitation [91]
strike the snows of negative actions, they evaporate.

As when lighting a butter lamp in pitch darkness
dispels all the darkness with none remaining,
so the darkness of bad deeds accumulated in a thousand lives
is quickly dispelled by the lamp of recitation.

You should continue this recitation practice until you see signs that your bad deeds have been purified.

In the Dharani of the Goddess Cunda (Cundadevidharani), the signs are said to be dreaming of vomiting black food; drinking and vomiting things like yoghurt or milk; seeing the sun and moon; flying in the sky; seeing a burning fire; subduing a buffalo or black-clothed people; seeing a sangha of fully ordained monks and nuns; climbing a tree from which milk emerges; seeing an elephant, a bull, a mountain, a lion throne, or a palace; and hearing the Dharma.

Relying on images
The fourth is to create images of the Buddha, having gained faith in him.

Relying on worship
The fifth is to make virtuous types of offerings to the Buddha and his stupas.

Relying on names
The sixth is to listen to and retain the names of the buddhas and the great bodhisattvas. These are the practices that are explicitly mentioned in the Compendium of Trainings, but there are many others.

The Power of Turning Away From Further Faults

The third of the four powers is the power of turning away from faults in the future, which is to completely resist committing the ten non-virtues. Sun Essence Sutra (Suryagarbhasutra) says that this destroys the karma of the three doors accumulated through killing and so on – everything you have done, caused others to do, or rejoiced in being done – as well as the afflictive obstructions and obstructions to the Dharma.

The Commentary on the Vinaya Sutra explains that the intention of the question “Wil you refrain from them in the future?” asked in the scriptural passage is that a confession without a sincere mind of restraint is nothing but words. Therefore the resolve to refrain from doing it in the future is crucial, though its development also depends on the first power.

The Power of Reliance

The fourth of the four powers is the power of reliance, which is to go for refuge and cultivate bodhicitta.

The Victor said that in general there are various ways for beginners to purify bad actions, though the fully complete antidote is the four powers operating together.

The Manner of Purification

The manner in which bad actions can be purified is as follows. The causes for the arising of great suffering in the lower rebirths are transformed into causes for the arising of minor suffering; or if one is reborn in the lower realms, one does not experience their sufferings; [92] or, having been purified, they result in a mere headache in one’s present life.

Likewise, something that would need to be experienced for a long time is transformed into something of short duration or that does not need to be experienced at all. There is no categorical certainty here because it also depends on whether the power of the person doing the purification is great or small, and on whether the four opponent powers are complete or incomplete, intense or not intense, of long or short duration, and so on.

The statement in the sutras and the Vinaya that “actions will never be lost even in a hundred eons” implies “if the antidotes of the four powers are not cultivated.” Also, Commentary on the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines (Astasahasrikaprajnaparamitavyakhyana) says that, if purified in accordance with the explanations, even karma certain to be experienced is purified through the antidote of the four powers.

Blaze of Reasoning (Tarkajvala) says that once you have thus weakened the potential to bring forth a fully ripened effect by means of confession and the resolve to exercise restraint and the like, the fully ripened effect will not come about even if other conditions are met. Conversely, wrong views and anger can similarly overpower the roots of virtue.

Although through confession and the resolve to exercise restraint you may be able to purify karma so that none at all remains, there is still a big difference between the purity of not being tainted by faults from the beginning and the purity after confession.

For example, Bodhisattva Levels says that if a root downfall has occurred, it can be restored by taking the bodhisattva vow again, but it will be impossible to reach the first ground in this life.

Also, the Gathering All the Threads Sutra says that once the bad action of abandoning the Dharma, which is explained in that sutra, has occurred, if one confesses it three times ever day for seven years, the bad action will be purified, but still it will take ten eons even at the quickest to attain the level of forbearance on the path of preparation.

Therefore purification without remainder means that the production of unpleasant effect is purified without remainder. However, since the arising of realisations of the path and so forth will be much delayed, you should try not to be tainted from the beginning.

Also for that reason it say that aryas do not deliberately engage even in subtle bad actions or infractions even for the sake of their lives. If there were no different between purifying them through confession and their not arising from the beginning, there would be no need to act like that. In the mundane world, too, if a wounded arm, leg, and so forth heals again, still it will not be the same as if it had never been wounded to begin with. [93]

The Measure of That Attitude Having Arisen

Previously you had an uncontrived interest in this life only, and your interest in future lives was just a vague understanding elicited by the words of others. Once their ranking has been switched so that future lives have become the main interest and this life nothing but a by-product, the attitude of persons of lesser capacity has developed. As this nevertheless needs to be stabilised, you should strive to train in it even after it has arisen.

Clearing up misconceptions about that

The scriptures say that one must turn the mind away from all the advantages of cyclic existence. This has been the basis of some confusion. Some people may think it is improper to strive for a higher rebirth with an excellent body, wealth, and so forth because those are part of cyclic existence.

In terms of what one should stive for, there are both temporary and ultimate goals. Even those who strive for liberation need to temporarily strive for the good things within cyclic existence, such as an excellent body and so forth, since definite goodness is ultimately attained on the basis of a continuous succession of such lives.

Not everything that is an excellent body, wealth, and retinue of a higher state is included in cyclic existence, because the culmination of an excellent body and so forth is the form body of a buddha, the wealth of his field, and his retinue. It is with this intention that Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras says the first four perfections accomplish the excellent body, excellent wealth, excellent retinue, and excellent undertakings of a higher state. Many scriptures explain that they accomplish the form body.

This concludes the explanation of training the mind in the stages of the path shared in common with persons of lesser capacity.



Training the mind in the stages of the path shared in common with person of medium capacity

Thus, having recollected death and contemplated how you fall into the lower rebirths after death, you turn your mind away from this world and strive for fortunate rebirths. Then you give up bad actions through the common refuge practice and through ascertaining virtuous and non-virtuous actions and their effects.

By then putting effort into accomplishing virtue, you will indeed attain the state of the fortunate rebirths. However, that is not considered sufficient here. Rather, after you develop the attitude common to persons of lesser capacity, you develop the attitude common to persons of medium capacity, which counteracts adherence to cyclic existence as a whole. Based on that, you will develop bodhicitta and be led onto the path of persons of great capacity.

[94] Therefore train in the attitude common to persons of medium capacity. Even though you attain the state of a god or a human in this manner, you do not pass beyond compositional suffering. Therefore it is a mistake to consider that state to be naturally happy since in reality it is devoid of happiness, and in the end it is bad because you will certainly fall into the lower rebirths again.


Training the mind in stages of the path shared in common with persons of medium capacity has four points: the actual training in the attitude, the measure of its development, eliminating misconceptions, and determining the nature of the path leading to liberation.


This has two points: identifying the mind striving for liberation and the methods for generating it.


Liberation is freedom from bondage. Karma and the afflictions bind one in cyclic existence. Through the power of these two, the aggregates are reborn in one of the three realms such as the desire realm, as one of the five or six types of beings, such as gods, and in one of the four birthplaces, such as a womb. This is the meaning of bondage; therefore freedom from this is liberation. The wish to attain that is the mind striving for liberation.


Developing the wish to pacify the suffering of thirst, for instance, depends on seeing the torment of thirst as undesirable. Likewise, developing the wish to attain the liberation that is the thorough pacification of the suffering of the appropriated aggregates also depends on seeing the faults of the appropriated aggregates and that they have the nature of suffering.

Therefore, if you meditate on the faults of cyclic existence but do not produce the intention to reject them, the wish to attain the pacification of suffering will not arise either.

Four Hundred Stanzas (8.12) says:
How could one who is not disenchanted here
have any respect for peace?

This has two points: contemplating the faults of cyclic existence, the truth of suffering; and contemplating the stages of involvement in cyclic existence, the origins.


This has two points: showing why the truth of suffering is taught as the first of the four truths and the actual meditation on suffering.


Someone might ask, “Since origins are causes and the truth of suffering is their effect, origins are earlier and sufferings are later. So why is it that the Blessed One, [95] contrary to that sequence, taught: ‘Monks, this is the noble truth of suffering. This is the noble truth of origins’?”

There is no fault in that because the fact that the Teacher stated the cause and the effect in reverse order has great significance for practice.

Someone might reply, “How so?” If the unerring desire for liberation from cyclic existence has not initially arisen in the disciple himself [herself], how should he [she] be guided to liberation while lacking its root? In fact, disciples are initially shrouded in darkness of ignorance and deceived by the error that apprehends as happiness the advantages of cyclic existence, which are suffering.

Four Hundred Stanzas (7.1) says:
Child, if this ocean of suffering
has not limits in any respect,
why are you who are drowning in it
not experiencing fear?

In the same way, many aspects of suffering were taught by saying, “This, in reality, is not happiness but rather suffering”. Thus the truth of suffering was taught first because one must develop disenchantment. Then, when you see that you have fallen onto the ocean of suffering and want to be liberated from it, you will see the need to counter suffering.

When you understand that you will not counter suffering unless you counteract its cause, you come to understand the truth of origins and wonder, “What is the cause?” That is why the truth of origins was taught next.

You see that the suffering of cyclic existence is produced by mental afflictions, and that the root of the latter is the apprehension of a self.

Then, once such an understanding of the truth of origins has arisen and you see that the apprehension of a self can be countered, you vow to actualise the cessation that puts a stop to suffering. This is why the truth of cessation was taught next.

Someone might think, “Well then, as the wish for liberation arises when the truth of suffering is presented, it would make sense to present the truth of cessation after the truth of suffering”.

However, there is no fault.

Even though at that point the wish for liberation is present in the form of the thought “If only I had achieved cessation, the pacification of suffering…,” you have not identified the cause of suffering and do not see that the cause can be countered.

Therefore you do not apprehend liberation as something to be attained or think, “I should actualise cessation”.

In that manner, once you apprehend liberation and think, “I should actualise cessation,” you will engage in the truth of the path and wonder, “What is the path leading there?” [96] That is why the truth of the path was stated at the end.

The four truths are taught in this way many times throughout the Mahayana and Hinayana. They are extremely important for achieving liberation because the Buddha condensed in them the crucial points of entry into cyclic existence and reversal from it.

Since it is a major threshold for practice, students need to be guided in this order. If you do not reflect on the truth of suffering and you this lack any genuine revulsion for cyclic existence, the wish to achieve liberation will become mere words, because whatever you do will become an origin of new suffering.

If you do not reflect on the origins and come to a good understanding of karma and the afflictions as the root of cyclic existence, you will miss the crucial point of the path like someone shooting an arrow who does not see the target.

You will perceive as the path that which is not the path to freedom from existence, whereupon your hardships will be fruitless. And, if you do not know suffering along with its origins as that which should be abandoned, you will not identify the liberation that is their thorough pacification, whereby your striving for liberation will also end up as nothing but an arrogant presumption.


This has two points: contemplating the suffering of cyclic existence in general and contemplating the sufferings of the individual realms.


This has two points: contemplating the eight types of suffering and contemplating the six types of suffering.


With regard to practicing the entire cycle of meditations common to persons of medium capacity, here you should also take up the common points explained in the context of persons of lesser capacity. With regard to practicing the ones that are not common to both, if you have the mental strength, you should practice them in meditation as explained here.

If your mental strength is small, you should disregard the scriptural citations and just practice the essential meaning of what is described in a given context.

Although these are analytical meditations, you should cease all agitation and so forth, focusing the mind of the object of meditation without allowing it to wander off to other objects, whether virtuous, non-virtuous, or unspecified.

Meditate continuously from within a state of extreme clarity and lucidity, without allowing your mind to fall under the influence of drowsiness or laxity, for it was taught that virtuous activities have minimal results if the mind is distracted towards other things.

As Entering the Bodhisattva Way (5.16) says:

Reciting, austerities, and the like
the Seer taught as meaningless
if done with the mind distracted elsewhere,
even if practiced for a long time. [97]

The Sutra of Cultivating Faith in the Mahayana (Mahayanaprasadaprabhavanasutra) says:

Child of the lineage, this enumeration shows
that, in this manner, bodhisattvas’ faith in the
Mahayana and anything that springs from the
Mahayana spring from reflecting correctly about
the meaning and the Dharma with a mind that is
utterly undistracted.

Here, “a mind that is utterly undistracted” is a mind that does not stray toward something other than its virtuous object. “The meaning and the Dharma” refers to the meaning and the words. “Reflecting correctly” is to reflect having analysed with a finely investigating awareness.

This shows that both non-distraction and investigation are necessary for every accomplishment of excellent qualities.

Therefore it was taught that for every accomplishment of excellent qualities in the three vehicles, two things are necessary:

(1) actual samatha – a single-pointed mind that abides on a virtuous observed object without being distracted – or a similitude of that, and

(2) actual special insight, which individually analyses a virtuous observed object and differentiates the ultimate mode of being from things in their variety, or a similitude of that.

In accordance with that, the Unraveling the Intent Sutra (Samdhinirmocanasutra) says:

Maitreya, you should know that all virtuous phenomena
are the result of samatha and special insight, whether
mundane or supramundane and whether of sravakas,
bodhisattvas, or tathagatas.

Samatha and special insight must include both actual and a similitude, for it is not certain that all excellent qualities of the three vehicles are effects of actual samatha and special insight.


Here, contemplating the suffering of birth, the first of eight types of suffering, has five points.

Birth is suffering because it is painful. Hell beings, perpetually suffering hungry ghosts, [98] beings born from wombs, and beings born from eggs are born with a lot of visceral sensations of pain.

Birth is associated with negative tendencies. Because it is connected with the seeds that produce, sustain, and increase mental afflictions, birth is unsuited to the service of virtue, and it is unsuited to being controlled at will.

Birth is the origin of suffering. The suffering of aging, illness, death, and so forth develop from taking birth in the three realms.

Birth is the origin of the afflictions. Once you have been born into cyclic existence, the three poisons of attachment, hatred, and confusion arise towards objects. Again, because of that, the body and mind are thoroughly unpacified, suffer, and consequently do not abide in happiness. Thus body and mind are tormented in various ways by the mental afflictions.

Birth is suffering because it is in the nature of unwanted separation. It cannot be avoided that the end of all birth is death. This is undesirable and causes beings to experience only suffering.

Think about these points again and again.


Contemplation of the suffering of aging has five points.

Your attractive body completely deteriorates such that your spine becomes curved like a bow, your head becomes white like edelweiss, your forehead becomes covered in wrinkles like a cutting board, and so on. Thereby your youth deteriorates and you become ugly.

Power and strength deteriorate such that when you sit down, you look like a sack of soil when the rope holding it is cut. When you get up, you look like tree roots being uprooted. When you speak, you babble incoherently. And when you walk, you hobble, and so on.

The faculties deteriorate such that your eyes and so forth do not clearly perceive forms and so forth any more, and the strength of your memory and so forth diminish as you grow forgetful and so forth.

The enjoyment of sense objects declines. Food and drink become difficult to digest, and you can no longer enjoy other pleasures.

When the lifespan deteriorates completely, you suffer because, your lifespan largely spent, you face death.

Think about these points again and again. Chenngawa said, “The suffering of death is vicious but brief. This aging process is just vicious”. Kamapa said “It is good that old age comes gradually. If it came all at one, it would be unbearable”. [99]


Contemplation of the suffering of illness has five points.

The nature of the body changes in that the flesh becomes loose, the skin dries up, and so forth.

Suffering and mental unhappiness increase such that you dwell in them most of the time. The bodily constituents, water and so forth, becomes unbalanced and fluctuate wildly in strength, producing pain in the body. That in turn causes unhappiness in the mind both day and night.

You lack the wish to enjoy pleasant things. You are told that pleasant things are harmful when you are ill, so you are not free to indulge in them as you wish. Thus you cannot do whatever you want.

You must undergo the unpleasant against your will. You must ingest unpleasant medicine, food, drink, and so forth. Likewise, you must rely on rough tests and treatments such as being burned with fire, pierced with sharp instruments, and the like.

You will lose your life. You suffer on seeing that the illness is incurable.

Think about these points in detail.


Contemplation of the suffering of death has five points. You are separated from your beloved and excellent possessions, relatives, companions, and body, and at the time of death you experience suffering and intense mental unhappiness.

Think about these types of suffering again and again until they produce disenchantment. The way in which the first four become suffering is that you suffer seeing that you will be separated from them.


The suffering of meeting with the unpleasant has five points. As soon as you meet an enemy, for example, suffering and mental unhappiness arise. You are beset with fear of being punished by him [or her], fear of harsh words, and fear of dying miserably. You also suspect and fear going to a lower rebirth after death because of transgressing the Dharma. Think about these types of suffering.


The suffering of separation from the pleasant has five points. When you separated, for example, from a dear relative, sorrow arises in your mind, there is lamentation in your speech, your body is harmed, your mind is tormented by the memory of and desire for the excellent qualities of the object, and you miss the pleasure of it. Think about these types of suffering. [100]


The suffering of seeking what you desire and not getting it has five points that are similar to those associated with separation from the pleasant. Seeking what you desire but not getting it means not getting what you have been hoping for despite your efforts in seeking it, such as doing farm work but not reaping a harvest and doing business but no accruing a profit. This is the suffering of disappointment.


Contemplating the meaning of the statement “In brief, the five appropriated aggregates are suffering” has five points.
They are a vessel of suffering yet to come;
they are a vessel of the suffering already arisen;
they are a vessel for the suffering of suffering;
they are a vessel for the suffering of change;
and they are in the nature of the suffering of conditioning.

Think about these points again and again.

Here, the first point is that the sufferings of the next rebirth onward are induced in dependence upon the appropriation of the aggregates.

Second, the present aggregates become the basis of illness, aging, and so forth, which depend on them.

The aggregates give rise to both the third and fourth types of suffering due to their relationship with the negative tendencies of each.

Fifth, by their mere existence, the appropriated aggregates arise in the nature of the suffering of conditioning, because all volitional formations under the control of something other – namely, previous karma and mental afflictions – are the suffering of conditioning.

If no genuine disenchantment develops toward cyclic existence, which is of the nature of the appropriated aggregates, there is no way a genuine mind striving for liberation will develop, and great compassion for the sentient being wandering in cyclic existence cannot develop either.

Therefore these contemplations are extremely important whichever vehicle you enter, the Mahayana or Hinayana.


Letter to a Friend [in verses 65-76] states the six faults of cyclic existence as lacking certainty, lacking satisfaction, having to discard one’s body again and again, being reborn again and again, and lacking companions. Summarised into three, they are

(1) there is nothing reliable in cyclic existence,
(2) there is no final point of satisfaction no matter how much of its happiness you enjoy, and
(3) you have been in it since beginningless time.

The first has four points:

(1) It is inappropriate to rely on the body you have attained; you will discard your body again and again,
(2) It is inappropriate to rely on benefit and harm done to you; there is no certainty as to whether your father will becomes your son, your mother your wife, and enemy someone very dear to you, and the like.
(3) It is inappropriate to rely on the excellences you have achieved; [101] you fall from high places to low ones. And
(4) it is inappropriate to rely on companions; you have to go on without them in the end.

The third one is that you are reborn again and again; there seems to be no end to the continuity of births. Reflect in this manner again and again.

Furthermore, most of the present happy feelings that increase our attachment are happy mental states that arise with respect to a relief of suffering.

There is no intrinsic happiness that is unrelated to the elimination of suffering.

For instance, if you suffer because you have walked too much, a happy mind arises due to sitting down; happiness appears to arise gradually, while the great previous suffering gradually ceases.

However, it is not intrinsic happiness, for if you sit too much, again that will produce suffering as before.

Just as suffering increases to the same extent as you are subject to the causes of suffering, so too should walking, sitting, lying, eating and drinking, sun and shade, and the like increase your happiness to the same extent that you indulge in them, if those were causes of intrinsic happiness.

However, it appears that if these are extended long term, only more suffering is produced.

These points are also set forth in the Descent into the Womb Sutra and the root text of Four Hundred Stanzas and its commentary.


This has four points: the suffering of the three lower rebirths, the suffering of humans, the suffering of demigods, and the suffering of gods.


This has already been explained.


This consists in the sufferings of hunger and thirst, the unpleasant contact with heat and cold, frantic activity, and fatigue. In addition, you should understand the seven types of suffering, birth, aging, illness, death, and so forth by means of the previous explanations. Furthermore, the Discourse on the Collections (Sambharaparikatha) says:

All the suffering of lower rebirths
also appear to exist for humans.
They are troubled by suffering like beings in hell,
are subjects of Yama by their poverty,
and also have the suffering of animals:
powerful ones oppress the weak
by force, inflicting harm on them.
They are just like raging rivers.

And in Four Hundred Stanzas (2.8):

Higher ones have mental suffering,
lower ones have physical pain.
This world is overwhelmed by these
two types of suffering every day. [102]

Reflect in accordance with these statements.


It is said that the demigods are mentally tormented by jealously that cannot bear the wealth of the gods. When, based on that, they fight with the gods, they experience many sufferings of having their bodies chopped up, split, and the like. Although they possess intelligence, they have fully ripen obstructions and consequently cannot see the truth while in that body.


This has two points: the suffering of desire-realm gods and the suffering of gods of the uppermost realms.


This has three points; the sufferings of dying, transmigrating, and falling; the suffering of jealously; and the sufferings of being chopped up, split, killed, and banished.


This has two points: the suffering of dying and transmigrating, and the suffering of falling to a lower abode.


At the time of dying and transmigrating, when a god has see the five signs of death, the suffering that springs from this is far greater than the happiness that previously arose from enjoying the delights of gods.

The five signs of death as a hideous complexion, dislike for one’s seat, wilting of one’s flower garlands, one’s clothes becomes smelly, and sweat, which until then did not exist, appearing on one’s body.


In the same way, Letter to a Friend (v. 101) says:

As they transmigrate from the world of the gods,
in the event that nothing virtuous remains,
they veer without control into the plights
of animals, hungry ghosts, and beings of hell.


For the gods with extensive heaps of merit, the most exquisite sense pleasures arise. When the offspring of the gods with little merit see that, they envy them and experience acute suffering and mental unhappiness.


When the gods fight with the demigods, they experience the suffering of having their limbs and minor body parts chopped off, the suffering of their bodies being split, and the suffering of being killed. If their heads are chopped off, they die, but the remaining limbs and minor body parts that are chopped off or split grow back, and they survive.

As for banishment, when there is conflict, the more powerful gods drive the weaker offspring of the gods out of their abodes.


Although gods in the two uppermost realms do not have the suffering of suffering, [103] they have mental afflictions and obstructions, and they lack control over their death, their transmigration, and their next state, which is why they suffer through negative tendencies. Furthermore the Discourse on the Collections says:

One in the form or formless realms,
having transcended the suffering of suffering,
a master of the bliss of concentration
who stays immovable for eons,
is still not certainly freed at all;
he will still fall from there again.

If he emerges and seems to abide
beyond the whirlpool of pain or lower rebirths,
he won’s last long there even with effort.
Like a bird in flight high up,
like an arrow shot by a child,
he also ends up falling;
like butter lamps that blaze for long
while actually perishing moment by moment,
he is completely oppressed by the suffering
called “compositional, thoroughly changing”.



This has three points: how the mental afflictions arise, how karma is thereby accumulated, and how you die, transmigrate, and take rebirth.


Although both karma and mental afflictions are necessary as causes that establish cyclic existence, the mental afflictions are primary. This is because if there are no mental afflictions, even though there is karma beyond counting accumulated previously, since the cooperative conditions for karma are absent, the sprout of suffering is not established – just as a sprout is not established from a seed that lacks humidity, soil, and so forth. It is also because if mental afflictions are present, even without any previously accumulated karma, karma is immediately accumulated anew, and future aggregates will be appropriated.

That is also how it is set forth in the Commentary on Compendium of Valid Cognition (Pramanavarttika, 2. 105-6):

For those who have passed beyond craving for existences,
karma cannot impel any more rebirths,
because the cooperating factors have been exhausted.

And (2.276)

For if craving is present, they will recur.

Therefore it is crucial that you rely on the antidotes to the mental afflictions, and that depends on knowing the mental afflictions, which is why you should become conversant with them.

This has three points: the actual identification of the mental afflictions, the stages by which they arise, and the faults of the mental afflictions.


This has ten points. The first of those, desire, observes an attractive, pleasant, external or internal object [104] and is subsequently attached to it. To illustrate: just as oil that had penetrated into cloth is hard to remove, it is also difficult to separate desire from its object, as it clings to it and intensifies.

Anger is a hostile attitude. It is an unruly mind that, upon observing a basis of suffering such as sentient beings, suffering, weapons, thorns, and so forth, intends to inflict harm on those objects.

Pride is a puffed-up mind based on the view of the transitory collection. It observes one’s external or internal level or qualities and engages them with an aspect of superiority.

Ignorance is afflicted non-knowing owing to a mind that is unclear with regard to the nature of the four truths, actions and their effects, and the Three Jewels.

Doubt is to observe those three objects – the four truths and so forth – and think, “Do they exist or do they not exist? Are they a certain way or are they not?”

The view of the transitory collection is an afflicted intelligence that observes the appropriated aggregates and views them as a self or belonging to a self thinking, “I” or “mine”.

Here transitory means impermanent and collection means multiple, so the object that it views is a mere impermanent and manifold phenomenon. It is given the name view of the transitory collection to indicate that there is no permanent unitary person.

The view holding to an extreme is an afflicted intelligence that observes the self as it is apprehended by the view of the transitory collections and views it either as permanent and eternal or as being annihilated without being reborn from this existence to a future one.

The view holding a bad view to be best is an afflicted intelligence that observes any of these three – the view of the transitory collection, the view holding to an extreme, or a wrong view – and the aggregates of the person holding the view based on which the view arises, and holds that view to be best.

The view holding ethics and ascetic practices to be best is an afflicted intelligence that observes ethics of giving up immorality and ascetic practices that set a certain dress code, manners, and bodily or verbal comportment as well as the aggregates through which the view arises and views them as sufficient for purifying bad actions, liberating from the mental afflictions, and releasing one from cyclic existence.

A wrong view is an afflicted intelligence that makes denials, like saying the past and future lives, actions and their effects, and the like do not exist, or that superimposes the apprehension of Isvara, a fundamental nature, and the like as the cause of sentient beings. [105]

These are the mental afflictions as identified from the perspective that is common to both the higher and lower tenet systems. The Pransangika Madhyamaka system will be explained below.


If the view of the transitory collection and ignorance are posited as distinct, the stages of how the mental afflictions arise must be understood in the following manner.

For instance, once darkness has fallen on a coiled rope, the mind will apprehend it as a snake if the state of the rope is not clear. Likewise, because the darkness of ignorance obscures the clear state of the aggregates, the delusion regarding the aggregates as a self arises, and from that the other mental afflictions arise.

If those two are posited as the same, the view of the transitory collection itself is the root of mental afflictions. In fact, when the view of the transitory collection apprehends a self, a distinction is made between self and other. Once that is made, attachment to one’s own side and hatred for the other side arises.

Also, conceit arises upon observing that self. That very self is then held to be permanent or subject to annihilation and is viewed as the self and so forth. Then the bad activities connected with it are upheld as supreme. Likewise, wrong views are generated that think, “The Teacher who taught selflessness, the actions and effects he taught, the four truths, the Three Jewels, and so forth do not exist”. Or, alternatively, the doubt is generated that thinks, “Do they exist or not? Are they a certain way or are they not?” The Commentary on Compendium of Valid Cognition (2.221-22) says:

When there’s a self, there’s awareness of other.
Dividing between them brings grasping and anger.
Every fault comes into being
closely connected with those two.


Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras (27.25-26) says:

Then mental afflictions destroy you, destroy sentient
beings, and destroy your ethics.
You become lax and poor; guardians and teachers
revile you.
There will be nasty disputes; you will take rebirth
elsewhere in unfree states.
Through the loss of what you had attained or had
hoped to attain, there is great mental suffering.

Entering the Bodhisattva Way (4.28-33) says:

Enemies such as hated and craving,
do not have arms, legs, and so on.
They have no valor either, so why is it
that they have reduced me to servitude?

While abiding in my mind
they happily inflict harm on me. [106]
The patience that does not get angry at them
is unsuitable blameworthy patience.

Even if the gods and demigods
were all to rise as enemies against me,
they could not lead or put me into
the fires of the Avici hell.

The mental afflictions, these powerful foes,
throw me into it in one instant,
where nothing met with, not even Mount Meru,
is left behind – not even ashes.

Compared to my foes, the mental afflictions –
protracted, with neither beginning nor end –
not one of all my other enemies
could possibly endure so long.

While everyone helps you and make you happy
when you act harmoniously and with reverence,
if you attend to mental afflictions,
they inflict suffering and harm in return.

Reflect on the faults stated here. Gonpawa said:

To eliminate the mental afflictions, you must
know their faults, their definitions, their antidotes,
and the causes for their arising. Once you
have understood their faults, you should see them
as faults and apprehend them as enemies. If
you do not understand their faults, you will not
understand them to be enemies. Therefore you
should contemplate them along the lines of the
statements from Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras
and Entering the Bodhisattva Way.


In order to know the definitions of the mental
afflictions, you should also study the Abhidharma,
at least Explanation of the Five Aggregates
(Pancaskandhaprakarana). Once you have become
acquainted with the root and secondary afflictions,
you will identify attachment, anger, and so
forth, whatever it is, as soon as they arise in your
mindstream, thinking, “This is that. Oh no! It has
arisen,” and you will then fight the mental

This kind of understanding is necessary.

(to be continued…)