- Open Mind
- Cover Page
- Title Page
- Foreword by H. H. the Dalai Lama
- Translator’s Introduction
- The Vital Essence of Primordial Consciousness
- 1. The Treasure Text, Its Lineage, and Empowerment
- 2. Shared Preliminaries to Meditation
- 3. Unique Preliminaries to the Main Practice
- 4. The Generation Stage of the Guru and Cutting the Basis of Delusion
- 5. Original Purity
- 6. Spontaneous Actualization
- 7. Liberation in the Intermediate Period
- 8. Closing Advice
- Outline of The Vital Essence of Primordial Consciousness
- Selected Essays on Old and New Views of the Secret Mantrayāna
- Oral Instructions of the Vidyādhara Gurus
- An Ornament of the Enlightened View of Samantabhadra
- Oral Instructions of the Wise
- Heart Essence of the Vidyādhara Elders of the Early Translation School
- A Blazing Sun of Brilliant Faith That Dispels the Darkness of Misconceptions
- A Jeweled Mirror of Pure Appearances
- An Offering Cloud of Ambrosia on the Path of Reasoning
- About the Translator
- Take Online Courses with B. Alan Wallace
- Also by B. Alan Wallace
1.THE TREASURE TEXT, ITS LINEAGE, AND EMPOWERMENT
 Among the limitless modes of Dharma, both profound and vast, which belong to the mind, expanse, and pith instruction classes of the clear light Great Perfection, and which were held within the mind of the great master Vimalamitra, this sovereign of all pith instruction, the vessel of the vital essence that contains the unsurpassed, ultrasecret class of pith instruction, remained as a hidden treasure in the form of a textual tradition related to the profound accomplishments of Vimalamitra. That was bestowed on  Chetsun Senggé Wangchuk1 by a glorious guardian of the Mantrayāna. When he was practicing this in secret, the primordial consciousness embodiment of Mahāpaṇḍit Vimalamitra actually came to him, not as if in a dream or a vision. The master remained together with his disciple for a long time and granted the complete [empowerments of] ripening and liberation. By meditating in accordance with [Vimalamitra’s] instructions, Chetsun manifested the vajrakāya of the great transference rainbow body.4
The vajra words of his final testimony, consisting of these three units of letters of pith instruction,  were given to the ḍākinīs. Then once a vast number of pure realms of vīras and ḍākinīs were reverently invited to places such as the land of Orgyen,2 they rendered inconceivable service to myself and others, and continue to do so. Once again, this, which has been set forth by myself, Ösel Trulpé Dorjé,3 by way of recollection, is resulting in a variety of benefits for the world in accordance with the fortune of disciples. Now the excellent teaching for you also consists of three topics: (I) the introductory topic of the special title, together with the homage of the assembly of ḍākinīs, (II) the meaning of the text, namely, the three units of profound pith instructions, together with a song of realizations, the consignment to the treasure custodians, and prayers, and (III) the meaning of the conclusion, namely, the final ornament of vajra words, advice from the primordial consciousness ḍākinī.
I. The Introductory Topic of the Special Title, Together with the Homage of the Assembly of Ḍākinīs
Here there are two sections: (A) the meaning of the title, and (B) the homage.
A. The Meaning of the Title
Among the three distinctive features of the title, the first is “perfection.” Where is there perfection? There is primordial perfection, indivisible and 5of one taste, in the essential nature of the great, all-pervasive expanse of the absolute space of phenomena,4 which is free of all elaborations. What is perfected?  All phenomenal realities, without exception, included in saṃsāra, nirvāṇa, and the path, are perfected. In what manner are they perfected? How could it ever be the case that the “absolute space of phenomena” could be like a big empty container in which the many good and bad substances known as “phenomena”5 are inserted? Or how could it ever be that what are known as “phenomena” — as though they were individual substances — could have their own separate signs, as though each of them could be inserted into its corresponding actual nature,6 as if each were being put inside its own individual, empty container?
How is it, then, that they are perfected? To speak in terms of their ultimate, final mode of existence, everything that manifestly appears in the universe, including saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, the good and the bad, oneself and others, the physical world and its inhabitants, matter and consciousness, as well as every unimaginable, inexpressible, diverse variety of phenomena, is primordially and solely of the same taste and exists in the same manner as the absolute space of phenomena, free of elaborations. Apart from existing that way primordially, there has never been in the past, it is impossible for there to be now,  and in the future there will never be a place or a time when there will be even the tiniest particle that is different from that absolute space.
The final syllable of “perfection”7 signifies that the absolute space of phenomena, which is free of all partiality or bias and is pervasive, unchanging, and sublime, should not be sought anywhere else — as it is totally subsumed in the essential nature of a single instant of the actual nature of your own mind,8 naked awareness. So there is no need to discover any absolute space or primordial consciousness different in their essential nature from awareness.6
There are many ways of explaining the meaning of “perfection.” However, in this context it is explained as signifying that all kinds of specific phenomena, including appearances and consciousness, kāyas and facets of primordial consciousness, are subsumed in one taste within the essential nature of absolute space; and since that absolute space never consists of anything beyond awareness, all crucial points are subsumed in awareness.
“Great” signifies there is nothing else to be realized or to be revealed that is higher than this indivisibility of absolute space and awareness, the ultimate mode of existence of all phenomena. Thus the jinas and jinaputras of all directions and times see nothing and reveal nothing that is superior to this.
Thus what has been primordially present, without contrivance, is the basis. Realizing one’s own awareness directly, free of the intellect,  and familiarizing oneself with it, is the path. Taking possession of the everlasting kingdom of one’s own awareness, once one is completely purified of defilements, is the ultimate fruition. Everything is perfected in the essential nature of absolute space and awareness, and this is the great indivisibility in which one’s own nature is free of increase and decrease.
The supremely distinguished avenue on which disciples with faculties that are superior, [middling,] and so on may realize and actualize this method consists of the three classes of the Great Perfection. Among those, the foremost is the secret class of pith instruction, and within this there are the outer cycle, the inner cycle, the secret cycle, and the unsurpassed, ultrasecret cycle. Among those four, this here is the unsurpassed, ultrasecret one.
“Pith instruction” refers to amazing methods, difficult to evaluate with the intellect, through which great goals can be easily and swiftly accomplished with few causes and little hardship.
“Class” signifies something of great value that is manifold and extensive, beyond anything meager or small. These eighteen classes are as follows:
1.The Root Tantra on the Reverberation of Sound is the sovereign pinnacle atop the totality of the precious teachings of the Jina, 7and it is like the door and the key to all the essential, clear light tantras of the supreme vehicle.
2.The tantra that is like a river is the Self-Arisen Perfection [of Empowerment]. 
3.The tantra that is like the king of mountains is Without Letters.
4.The tantra that is like the ocean is the Self-Arisen Pristine Awareness.
5.The tantra that is like the sun is the Heart Mirror of Vajrasattva.
6.The tantra that is like the great garuḍa is the Six Expanses [of Samantabhadra].
7.The tantra that is like a lion is the Lion’s Perfected Power.
8.The tantra that is like a king’s treasure is the Mound of Jewels.
9.The tantra that is like a wheel is Beautiful Auspiciousness.
10.The tantra that is like a sword is the Mind Mirror [of Samantabhadra].
11.The tantra that is like molten gold is Studded Jewels.
12.The tantra that is like a garland of ornaments is the Pearl Garland.
13.The tantra that is like a charming damsel displayed in a mirror is Adorned with [the Jewels of] Identification.
14.The tantra that is like jewels blazing with light is the Blazing Lamp.
15.The tantra that is like a knotted snake unraveling itself is the Self-Liberating Pristine Awareness.
16.The tantra that is like a child coming onto its mother’s lap is the Union of the Sun and Moon.
17.The tantra that is like a king holding onto his territory is Flaming Relics. This makes seventeen.
18.The eighteenth, the tantra of the Wrathful Protectoress of Mantra, is like a razor.98
The commentarial literature that explicates these properly, as well as the extremely profound and extensive pith instructions, were composed by many great vidyādharas, including the master Pramodavajra.10 These texts now remain, without limit, in the ḍākinī realms. Some of them, as appropriate, also exist in the form of profound hidden treasures.  In Tibet, too, the heart quintessence11 of the glorious, great Orgyen12 and the Mahāpaṇḍit Vimalamitra, which had arrived earlier, is still present now. There are also numerous superior individuals who preserve this teaching, who possess outstanding quintessential views and meditation. They are beyond compare with most spiritual people. One after the other, such individuals have appeared in the past, are still present now, and will come in the future as well. Without exception they arise from the pith instruction of the guru. Therefore, beginning with the glorious Samantabhadra, the progenitor of all the jinas, the precious teachings have appeared due to the kindness of the Teacher, and all the classes of those who hold the Teaching have appeared due to the kindness of the Teaching, and this is the only way it will continue to be.
The “vessel of its vital essence” is so named because the refined, vital quintessence of the classes of Dharma just mentioned have an extraordinary distinction that makes them so profound, namely, that they may be sown easily, joyfully, and swiftly within the mindstreams of students.9
“Pith instruction,” as it appears the first time in the title,13 indicates the supreme methods by which the profound points — regarding the sensory gateways, their objects, the vital energies,14 and awareness — are very easy to implement and can be followed with joy. The ability to establish with direct perception that the kāyas and primordial consciousness exist right where you are is not something that can be fathomed  through argumentation or the intellect.
The phrase “sovereign of all” means this. The greater and lesser causal vehicles that work with philosophical definitions, as well as all the outer and inner tantras, the oral transmissions, and the pith instructions of the resultant vehicle of secret mantra, whether directly or indirectly, are none other than methods that take you toward omniscience alone. So each one does have its distinctive pith instructions. Nevertheless, this one here surpasses the others. As an analogy, no matter how many aristocrats a royal province might have, and no matter how much military strength and influence it may wield, it cannot in any way contend with the single eminent presence of a wheel-turning world emperor. In the same way, whatever methods of practicing Dharma might come below this one — even the two profound stages [of generation and completion] — cannot contend with just this unit of pith instructions belonging to the supreme vehicle of the Great Perfection; for there is nothing like this swift and joyful path to omniscience.
The “five expanses” indicate a classification of absolute space in terms of the five facets of primordial consciousness that apprehend characteristics. This includes the realm that is the primordial consciousness of the absolute space of phenomena and so on.
Their “letters” are the six seed-syllables of the six types of expanse and liberation — this being the way in which the ḍākinīs assembled the final vajra testimony of Chetsun [Senggé Wangchuk]: (1) the short a is 10subsumed under a, so  (2) a is mirror-like primordial consciousness, (3) sha is the primordial consciousness of the absolute space of phenomena, (4) sa is the primordial consciousness of equality, (5) ma is the primordial consciousness of discernment, and (6) ha is the primordial consciousness of accomplishment. The [short a that is subsumed under a] is itself held to be the absolute space of the five expanses of primordial consciousness.
Later on, when I was twenty-four years old and the contributing circumstances of the place, time, and virtue came together, a trillion ḍākinīs of the emanated entourage of the noble Pelgyi Lodröma15 revealed their smiling faces. I was enchanted by the reverberations of the lovely melody of the six vajra letters, which are the intrinsic sound of the indestructible nāda. Thus aroused, there occurred in me a spontaneous, accurate memory of a past life. Therefore, although previously it had been sufficient to present the six vajra letters in symbolic form, out of necessity I made them into Tibetan letters and wrote them down, as was appropriate, within the first unit.
Here is a brief explanation of the reason for the fivefold classification of expanses. At the time of the ground and the path there are numerous sets of five, such as the five elements of the physical world, the five aggregates of its inhabitants, and the five sensory objects. At the time of the fruition, there are the five families [of buddhas], the five kāyas, the five facets of primordial consciousness, and the five buddha fields and so on.  In accordance with their individual characteristics and different functions, they appear without partiality or bias. From the very moment they appear they do not depart from the nature of the immovable, utterly supreme absolute space of phenomena, the great, vast, joyful expanse. Thus, in accordance with the mode in which the distinct, manifold phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa appear, there is the fivefold classification of expanses.
Concerning their letters: For the most part it seems as if the miracles of the methods of Secret Mantrayāna, including the forms and sounds of 11letters, arise solely because of temporary causes and conditions. However, in reality, they are simply specific emanations of supreme, immutable, great bliss taking on those forms. Thus the essential nature of all that is recalled in the mind, all that is presented in form, and all that is expressed in spoken words with respect to the sequence of letters included within the three units is nothing other than the great indivisibility of absolute space and primordial consciousness appearing in those ways.
“The three units” signify their division into separate sections.
Here is the meaning of the first16 part of the title: It is not as if this extraordinary final testimony given just before the nirvāṇa of Chetsun Senggé Wanchuk, who attained the vajrakāya of the great transference, is solely something self-revealed, which arose all of a sudden.  Rather, it is the ultimate, distilled, exceptionally profound, essential core that synthesizes the 119 profound pith instructions and so on, which were beautifully explained by the great master Vimalamitra, the crown jewel of 500 paṇḍits and siddhas. These pith instructions in turn explain the vajra words and their meanings that have come down without break from the dharmakāya Teacher, the glorious Samantabhadra.
B. The Homage
When this Teaching, given as [Chetsun Senggé Wangchuk] passed into nirvāṇa, was first assembled, the primordial consciousness ḍākinīs made reverent homage.17 Here is the meaning: The actual nature of the mind of all superior, inferior, and middling beings throughout all time and space is primordially pure, without reliance upon any other causes or conditions. Its nature is spontaneous; it is the great, all-pervading, self-emergent, connate 12clear light, never wavering from the essential nature of all the myriad threefold kāyas of the jinas. The infinite purity that forms the basis of the phenomenal world arises of its own accord in the manner of limitless circles of the maṇḍalas of primordial consciousness deities. All these are indivisible from the essential nature of a single instant of one’s own pristine awareness. This all-encompassing realization, depicted as the “sole bindu,” does not objectify even a trace of  a sign of a difference between the object to be realized and the subject that realizes. And they bow in the manner of knowing their “own face” as the nature of existence, directly perceived, without error, just as it is.
II. The Meaning of the Text, Explained according to the Tradition of Giving Guidance in the Profound Pith Instructions
Here there are three sections: (A) giving rise to confident belief in the Dharma and guru through an account of the lineage, (B) ripening the unripened mindstreams of disciples who are suitable vessels through the supreme, profound empowerment, and (C) liberating those who have already been ripened by means of the unique and extraordinary pith instructions.
A. Giving Rise to Confident Belief in the Dharma and Guru through an Account of the Lineage
Here there are two sections: (1) the way it appeared in the past, and (2) the prophecy about how it will appear later.
1. The Way It Appeared in the Past
The dharmakāya Teacher, the original Buddha, the glorious Samantabhadra, dwells in the great abode of Akaniṣṭha in the limitless absolute space of phenomena. From within his nonconceptual, profoundly clear, 13originally pure mind — the vajra of space,18 great suchness — he makes manifest the immaculate awareness and vital energies of self-appearing primordial consciousness, which dawn of their own accord. And he does so by means of that same pristine awareness, primordial consciousness. Thus he has always been pure, never having had to eliminate the many “adventitious defilements” so that they never arise again. The primordial consciousness of the dharmakāya, empty in its essential nature, never wavers  from perfect power as the pervasive lord of all families [of buddhas].
At the same time, the primordial consciousness of the sambhogakāya, whose manifest nature is luminosity, lights up spontaneously as the self-appearing, self-illuminating kāyas and as limitless oceans of pure realms. These then appear spontaneously to the bodhisattvas of the tenth ground, as limitless arrays of kāyas and pure realms, again and again, in an everlasting, continuous cycle.
The primordial consciousness of the nirmāṇakāya, which is all-pervasive compassion, reveals itself in every possible way, in a vast, unbroken stream of countless, immeasurable nirmāṇakāyas, in order to train everyone in limitless numbers of pure and impure realms, thereby fulfilling the various needs of disciples forever, pervasively and spontaneously.
To the sambhogakāya Teacher, the glorious Vajrasattva, the supreme family of the mind-vajra, the Teacher Samantabhadra himself directly revealed the inconceivable Dharma of the Great Perfection in the pure abode of Akaniṣṭha, such that the Teacher and the audience, their perspective and their behavior, were made indivisible.
Vajrasattva bestowed this upon the supreme nirmāṇakāya, the Vidyādhara Pramodavajra. His birthplace was the Land of Orgyen in the west, and he did not have a human father. Rather,  Vajrapāṇi himself came in the form of a yellow goose, and he placed the awareness of the devaputra Adhicitta, in the form of a red-and-white-colored syllable hūṃ, 14in the center of the mother’s heart, and from this he was born. Thus he is counted as a son of the glorious Vajrapāṇi.19
Pramodavajra granted the definitive secret of the complete ripening and liberation of the Great Perfection, together with the “Three Words That Strike the Crucial Points,”20 practical instructions that were given at his passing to Ācārya Mañjuśrīmitra, a son of the Siṃhala21 brahman class.
He [Mañjuśrīmitra] granted the complete ripening and liberation [empowerments] of the sovereign supreme vehicle, together with pith instructions on the “Six Meditative Experiences,”22 given at his passing to the Vidyādhara Śrī Siṃha,23 a son of the Chinese24 householder class. To Jñānasūtra, a son of the Chinese25 peasant class, together with the Mahāpaṇḍit Vimalamitra,26 a son of the Kashmiri householder class, he [Śrī Siṃha] granted the Great Perfection up to and including the secret cycle, at which point Vimalamitra traveled to another region. Thereafter he [Śrī Siṃha] gave the complete, unsurpassed, ultrasecret ripening and liberation, together with the “Seven Spikes,”27 pith instructions given at his passing, to Jñānasūtra. It is said that Vimalamitra later heard the complete, unsurpassed, ultrasecret [cycle] from Jñānasūtra, together with  the teachings given at [Jñānasūtra’s] passing, known as “Four Methods of Resting [in Equipoise].”28 If this is so, Jñānasūtra must also be in this lineage. Since Vimalamitra’s vajrakāya rainbow body is still present now, there were no teachings given at his passing.15
Vimalamitra concealed many Great Perfection Dharma treasures in Tibet, and the Nyang Kadampa Tingdzin Zangpo,29 Néten Dangma Lhün-gyal,30 Trulku Gyalwa Zhangtön,31 and others have already brought some of them to light. But there is no need to list this lineage here. Vimalamitra gave [the teachings] directly to Chetsun [Senggé Wangchuk].
The Teachers Samantabhadra and Vajrasattva constitute the actual “lineage of the enlightened view of the jinas.” Vajrasattva transmitted to Pramodavajra the “meaning lineage blessed by the enlightened view.” Then from Vimalamitra onward there is the “symbolic lineage of the vidyādharas.” The manner in which he gave it to Chetsun [Senggé Wangchuk] is as explained before. Chetsun’s pith instructions given at his passing, which were solicited by the ḍākinīs, are even clearer than the Great Heart Essence.32 So, fortunate ones, this is something to believe in.
There exists an authentic account of Ācārya Padma33 and Vimalamitra hearing the unsurpassed, ultrasecret [cycle] directly from Śrī Siṃha on another occasion.  If this is so, it accords with the lineage prayer composed by our lord, the Gentle Protector Guru.34
Furthermore, this is the reason why, in the Complete Secrets of the Quintessence,35 no other lineage of gurus is mentioned other than the one that goes from Samantabhadra to Vimalamitra. The kāya of primordial consciousness that unifies (1) the King of Form, Vairocana, (2) the King of Feeling, Ratnasambhava, (3) the King of Discernment, Amitābha, (4) the King of Mental Formations, Amoghasiddhi, and (5) the King of 16Consciousness, Akṣobhya — as these belong to all the sugatas, subsumed under the three kāyas, along with their countless dances as wrathful beings, female deities, and entourages — is none other than the pervasive Lord, the sixth family, the glorious Samantabhadra. It is permissible, indeed there is a purpose, in not listing other gurus prior to the birth of the Lord of Contemplatives, Siṃheśvara,36 as he is the supreme Heruka himself, the great exalted one who already attained the sublime state of Samantabhadra.
2. The Prophecy about How It Will Appear Later
Now is the time indicated by the prophecy that comes at the end of the first unit.  As [Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo] explained: “In this era, which is more degenerate than the dregs, even to an individual more ordinary than the ordinary, who obviously has a multitude of faults of all kinds and only feeble virtues of any sort — to an individual like myself — the time of the Jina’s activity has not passed, but is extremely powerful. Thus, at a time when the ḍākinīs’ symbolic words aroused my mindstream from its depths, this inferior mind and lowly appearances were purified in their natural abode and transformed. Not even a trace remained, but everything vanished of itself. In their place there was a magnificent orb of the light of precious primordial consciousness, such that one could never tire of gazing upon it. There, a single instant of this present-moment awareness experienced itself in every way as the body, speech, and mind-vajra of the great Chetsun. Then a wonderful event occurred: The complete [empowerments of] ripening and liberation were revealed with great clarity, in a very brief time, to an ocean-like assembly of primordial consciousness ḍākinīs, karmic ḍākinīs, and mundane ḍākinīs. There was no contamination at all, whether from error in the meaning or else through missing or superfluous words. During the period after the meditative experience,  I wrote down letters that were like an illusion...
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