THE TIBETAN BOOK

OF THE GREAT LIBERATION

Condensed Version

tibetan book of great liberation
- OR -

“THE METHOD OF REALIZING NIRVANNA
THROUGH KNOWING THE MIND”


These teachings were formulated by Padma-Sambhava (8th century CE).

     

Part I - The Introductory Preliminaries


     Here follows the Yoga, Of Knowing The Mind, The Seeing Of Reality, called Self Liberation, from "The Profound Doctrine Of Self-liberation By Meditation Upon The Peaceful And Wrathful Deities."

     All hail to the One Mind that embraces the whole Sangsara and Nirvana, that eternally is as it is, yet is unknown, and although ever clear and ever existing, is not visible, that, although radiant and unobscured, is not recognized.

     The Teachings Supplement Those Of The Buddha

     The Conquerors [Buddhas] have not elsewhere disclosed anything concerning the One Mind. All though as vast as the illimitable sky, the Sacred Scriptures contain but a few words relating to knowledge of the mind. This, the true explanation of the eternal teachings of the Conquerors, constitutes the correct method of their practical application.

     The Result Of Not Knowing The One Mind Knowledge of that which is vulgarly called the mind is widespread. Inasmuch as the One Mind is unknown, thought of erroneously, or known one-sidedly without being thoroughly known as it is, desire for the teachings will be immeasurable. They will also be sought after by ordinary individuals, who not knowing the One Mind, do not know themselves.

     They wander hither and thither. Such is the result of their error of not having attained understanding of their mind. Because their suffering is in every way overpowering, even self control is lacking to them. Thus, although one may wish to know the mind as it is, one fails.



The Results Of Desires

     Others, in accordance with their own personal faith and practice, having become fettered by desires, cannot perceive the Clear Light. They are overwhelmed by suffering and are in darkness because of their suffering.

     Although the Middle Path contains the Twofold Truth, because of all desires it finally becomes obscured. Desires likewise obscure even the greatest and most sublime states of mind.


The Transcendent At-One-Ment

     There being really no duality, pluralism is untrue. Until duality is transcended and at-one-ment realized, Enlightenment cannot be attained. The whole Sangsara and Nirvana, as an inseparable unity, are one's mind.


The Great Self Liberation

     Owing to worldly beliefs, which he is free to accept or reject, man wanders in the Sangsara. Therefore, practicing the Dharma, freed from every attachment, grasp the whole essence of these teachings expounded in this yoga of Self-Liberation by Knowing the Mind in it's Real Nature.


The Nature Of The Mind

     That which is commonly called the mind is of intuitive Wisdom. Although the One Mind is, it has no existence. Being the Source of all the bliss of Nirvana and of all the sorrow of the Sangsara, it is cherished like the Eleven Yanas.


The Names Given To The Mind

     The various names given to it are innumerable. Some call it "The Mental Self". Some heretics call it "The Ego." The Hinayanaists called it "The Essentiality of Doctrines." By the Yogachara it is called "Wisdom." Some call it "The Means of Attaining the Other Shore of Wisdom." Some call it "The Buddha Essence." Some call it "The Great Symbol." Some call it "The Sole Seed." Some call it "The Potentiality of Truth" or "The All Foundation." Other names in ordinary language are also given to it.


The Timelessness Of Mind

     If one knows how to apply in a threefold manner this knowing of the mind, all past knowledge lost to memory becomes perfectly clear, and also knowledge of the future, thought of as unborn and unconnected. In the present, when the mind remains as it is naturally it is ordinarily comprehended by its own time.


Mind In Its True State

     When one seeks one's mind in its true state, it is found to be quite intelligible although invisible. In its true state, mind is naked, immaculate; not made of anything, being of the Voidances; clear, vacuous, without duality, transparent, timeless, uncompounded, unimpeded, colorless, not realizable as a separate thing, but as the unity of all things, yet not composed of them; of one taste, and transcendent over all differentiation.

     

Part II - The Practical Application



     Nor is one's own mind separable from other minds. To realize the quintessential being of the One Mind is to realize the immutable at-one-ment. If the yogic application of this Wisdom be thorough, one will comprehend that which has just been set forth above.


Mind Is Non Created

     Mind in its true nature being non-created and self-radiant, how can one, without knowing the mind, assert that mind is created? There being in this yoga nothing objective upon which to meditate, how can one, without ascertaining the true nature of mind by meditation, ascertain that mind is created? Mind in its true state being Reality, how can one, without having discovered one's own mind, assert that mind is created?

     Mind in its true state being undoubtedly ever-existing, how can one, without having seen the mind face to face, assert that mind is created? The thinking principle being the very essence of mind, how can one, without having sought and found it, assert that mind is created?

     Mind being transcendent over creation, and thus partaking of the Uncreated, how can one assert that mind is created? Mind being in its primordial, unmodified naturalness non-created, as it should be taken to be, and without form, how can one assert that is created?

     Inasmuch as mind can also be taken to be devoid of quality, how can one venture to assert that it is created? The self-born, qualityless mind, being like the Three Voids, undifferentiated, unmodified, how can one assert that mind is created.


The Yoga Of Introspection

     The One Mind being verily of the Voidness and without any foundation, one's mind is, likewise, as vacuous as the sky. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own mind. Being of the Voidness, and thus not to be conceived as having beginning or end, Self-Born Wisdom has in reality been shining forever, like the Sun's essentiality, itself unborn. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own mind.

     Divine Wisdom is undoubtedly indestructible, unbreakable, like the ever flowing current of a river. To know whether this be so or not look within thine own mind. Being merely a flux of instability like the air of the firmament, objective appearances are without power to fascinate and fetter. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own mind.

     All appearances are verily one's own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own mind.

     Arising of themselves and being naturally free like the clouds in the sky, all external appearances verily fade away into their own respective places. To known whether this be so or not look within thine own mind.


The Dharma Within

     The Dharma being nowhere save in the mind, there is no other place of meditation than the mind. The Dharma being nowhere save in the mind, there is no other doctrine to be taught or practiced elsewhere.

     The Dharma being nowhere save in the mind, there is no other place of truth for the observance of a vow. The Dharma being nowhere save in the mind, there is no Dharma elsewhere whereby Liberation may be attained. Again and again look within thine own mind.

     When looking outward into the vacuity of space, there is no place to be found where the mind is shining. When looking inward into one's own mind in search of the shining, there is to be found no thing that shines. One's own mind is transparent, without quality.

     Being of the Clear Light of the Voidness, one's own mind is of the Dharma-Kaya; and being void of quality, it is comparable to a cloudless sky. It is not a multiplicity and is omniscient. Very great, indeed, is the difference between knowing and not knowing the import of these teachings.


The Wondrousness Of These Teachings

     This self-originated Clear Light, eternally unborn is a parentless babe of Wisdom. Wondrous is this. Being non-created, it is Natural Wisdom. Wondrous is this. Not having known birth, it knows not death. Wondrous is this.

     Although it is Total Reality, there is no perceiver of it. Wondrous is this. Although wandering in the Sangsara, it remains undefiled by evil. Wondrous is this. Although seeing the Buddha, it remains unallied to good. Wondrous is this.

     Although possessed by all beings, it is not recognized. Wondrous is this. Those not knowing the fruit of this yoga seek other fruit. Wondrous is this. Although the Clear Light of Reality shines within ones own mind, the multitude look for it elsewhere. Wondrous is this.


The Fourfold Great Path

     All hail to this Wisdom here set forth, concerning the invisible, immaculate Mind! This teaching is the most excellent of teachings. This meditation, devoid of mental concentration, all embracing, free from every imperfection, is the most excellent of meditations.

     This practice concerning the Uncreated State, when rightly comprehended is the most excellent of practices. This fruit of the yoga of the Eternally Unsought, naturally produced, is the most excellent of fruits.


The Doctrine Of The Three Times

     The essence of the doctrine concerning the Three Times in at-one-ment will now be expounded. The yoga concerning past and future not being practiced, memory of the past remains latent. The future, not being welcomed, is completely severed by the mind from the present. The present, not being fixable, remains in the state of the Voidness.


The Yoga Of The Nirvanic Path

     There being no thing upon which to meditate, no meditation is there whatsoever. There being no thing to go astray, no going astray is there if one be guided by memory. Without meditating, without going astray, look into the True State, wherein self cognition, self knowledge, self illumination shine resplendently. These, so shining, are called the Bodhisattvic Mind.

     In the Realm of Wisdom, transcendent over all meditation, naturally illuminative, where there is no going astray, the vacuous concepts, the self-liberation, and the primordial Voidness are of the Dharma-Kaya. Without realization of this, the Goal of the Nirvanic Path is unattainable.

     Simultaneously with its realization the Vajra-Sattva state is realized. These teachings are exhaustive of all knowledge, exceedingly deep and immeasurable. Although they are to be contemplated in a variety of ways, to this Mind of self-cognition and self originated Wisdom, there are no two such things as contemplation and contemplator.

     When exhaustively contemplated, these teachings merge in at-one-ment with the scholarly seeker who has sought them, although the seeker himself when sought can not be found. Thereupon is attained the goal of seeking, and also the end of the search itself.

     Then nothing more is there to be sought; nor is there need to seek anything. This beginningless, vacuous, unconfused Clear Wisdom of self-cognition is the very same as that set forth in the Doctrine of the Great Perfection.

     Although there are no two such things as knowing and not knowing, there are profound and innumerable sorts of meditation; surpassingly excellent it is in the end to know one's mind.

     There being no two such things as object of meditation and meditator, if by those who practice or do not practice meditation the meditator of meditation be sought and not found, thereupon the goal of the meditation is reached and also the end of the meditation itself.

     There being not two such things as meditation and object of meditation, there is no need to fall under the sway of deeply obscuring Ignorance; for, as the result of meditation upon the unmodified quiescence of mind, the non-created Wisdom instantaneously shines forth clearly.

     Although there is an innumerable variety of profound practices, to one's mind in its true state they are non-existent; for there are no two such things as existence and non-existence. There being no two such things as practice and practitioner, if by those who practice or do not practice the practitioner of practice be sought and not found, thereupon the goal of practice is reached and also the end of practice itself.

     Inasmuch as from eternity there is nothing whatsoever to be practiced, there is no need to fall under the sway of errant propensities. The non-created, self-radiant Wisdom here set forth, being actionless, immaculate, transcendent over acceptance or rejection, is itself the perfect practice.

     There being no two such things as action and no performer of action, if one seeks the performer of action and no performer of action be found anywhere, thereupon the goal of all fruit-obtaining is reached and also the final consummation itself. There being no other method whatsoever of obtaining the fruit, there is no need to fall under the sway of the dualities of accepting and rejecting, trusting and distrusting these teachings.

     This Wisdom delivers one from the eternally transitory Eight Aims. Inasmuch as it does not fall under the sway of any extreme, it is called "The Middle Path." It is called "Wisdom" because of its unbroken continuity of memory. Being the essence of the vacuity of mind, it is called "The Essence of the Buddha's."

     The impatient ordinary person when dwelling in his fleshly body calls this very clear Wisdom "common intelligence." Regardless of whatever elegant and varied names be given to this Wisdom as the result of thorough study, what Wisdom other than it, as here revealed, can one really desire? To desire more than this Wisdom is to be like one who seeks an elephant by following the footprints when the elephant itself has been found.


The Yoga of The Thatness

     Quite impossible it, even though one seek throughout the Three Regions, to find the Buddha elsewhere than in the mind. Although he that is ignorant of this may seek externally or outside the mind to know himself, how is it possible to find oneself when seeking others rather than oneself? He that thus seeks to know himself is like a fool giving a performance in the midst of a crowd and forgetting who he is and then seeking everywhere to find himself. This simile applies to one's erring in other ways.

     Unless one knows or sees the natural state of substances [or things] and recognises the Light in the mind, release from the Sangsara is unattainable. Unless one sees the Buddha in one's mind, Nirvana is obscured. Although the Wisdom of Nirvana and the Ignorance of the Sangsara illusorily appear to be two things, they cannot be truly differentiated. It is an error to conceive them otherwise than as one. Erring and non-erring are intrinsically, also a unity. By not taking the mind to be naturally a duality, and allowing it as the primordial consciousness, to abide in its own place, beings attain deliverance. The error of doing otherwise than this arises not from Ignorance in the mind itself, but from not having sought to know the Thatness. Seek with thine own self-illuminated, self-originated mind whence, firstly, all such concepts arise, secondly, where they exist, and, lastly whither they vanish.

     This realization is likened to that of a crow which, although already in possession of a pond, flies off elsewhere to quench its thirst, and finding no other drinking-place returns to the one pond. Similarly, the radiance which emanates from the One Mind, by emanating from one's own mind, emancipates the mind. The One Mind, omniscient, vacuous, immaculate, eternally, the Unobscured Voidness, void of quality as the sky, self originated Wisdom, shining clearly, imperishable, is Itself the Thatness. The whole visible Universe also symbolises the One Mind.


The Yogic Science of Mental Concepts

     The various concepts, too, being illusory, and none of them real, fade away accordingly. Thus, for example, everything postulated of the Whole, the Sangsara and Nirvana, arises from nothing more than mental concepts. Changes in one's train of thought [or one's association of ideas] produce corresponding changes in one's conception of the external world. Therefore, the various views concerning things are merely different mental concepts.

     The six classes of beings respectively conceive ideas in different ways. The unenlightened externally see the externally-transitory dually. The various doctrines are seen in accordance with one's own mental concepts. As a thing is viewed so it appears. To see things as a multiplicity, and so too cleave unto separateness, is to err. Now follows the yoga of knowing all mental concepts. The seeing of the Radiance [of this Wisdom or Mind], which shines without being perceived, is Buddhahood.

     Mistake not, by not controlling one's thoughts, one errs. By controlling and understanding the thought-process in one's mind, emancipation is attained, automatically gained. In general, all things mentally perceived are concepts. The bodily forms in which the world of appearances is contained are also concepts of the mind. "The quintessence of the six classes of beings" is also a mental concept. "The happiness of the gods in heaven-worlds and of men" is another mental concept. "The three unhappy states of suffering," too, are concepts of the mind. "Ignorance, miseries, and the Five Poisons" are likewise, mental concepts. "Self-originated Divine Wisdom" is also a concept of the mind. "The full realization of passing away into Nirvana" is also a concept of mind. "Misfortunes caused by demons and evil spirits" is also a concept of mind. "Gods and good fortune" are also concepts of mind. "Likewise the various perfections" are mental concepts. "Unconscious one-pointedness" is also a mental concept.

     The color of any objective thing is also a mental concept. "The Qualityless and the Formless" is also a mental concept "The One and the Many in at-one-ment" is also a mental concept. "Existence and non-existence," as well as "the Non-Created," are concepts of mind.


The Realization and The Great Liberation

     Nothing save mind is conceivable. Mind when uninhibited conceives everything that comes into existence. That which comes into existence is like the wave of an ocean. The state of mind transcendent over all dualities brings Liberation.

     It matters not what name may carelessly be applied to mind; truly mind is one, and apart from mind there is naught else. That unique One Mind is foundationless and rootless. There is nothing else to be realized.


The Non-Created is the Non-Visible

     By knowing the invisible Voidness and the Clear Light through not seeing them separately, there being no multiplicity in the Voidness--one's own clear mind may be known, yet the Thatness is not knowable.

     Mind is beyond nature, but is experienced in bodily forms. The realization of the One Mind constitutes the “All Deliverance.” Without the mastery of the mental processes there can be no realization. Similarly, although sesamum seed is the source of oil, and milk the source of butter, not until the seed is pressed and the milk churned do oil and butter appear.

     Although sentient beings are of the Buddha essence itself, not until they realize this can they attain Nirvana. Even a cowherd [or an illiterate person] may by realization attain Liberation.



Part III - The Concluding Sections



The General Conclusion


     Though lacking in the power of expression, the author has here made a faithful record [of his own yogic experiences]. To one who has tasted honey, it is superfluous for those who have not tasted it to offer an explanation of its taste.

     Not knowing the One Mind, even pandits go astray, despite their cleverness in expounding the many different doctrinal systems. To give ear to the reports of one who has neither approached nor seen the Buddha even for a moment is like harkening to flying rumours concerning a distant place one has never visited.

     Simultaneously with the knowing of the Mind comes release from good and evil. If the mind is not known, all practice of good and evil results in nothing more than Heaven, or Hell, or the Sangsara. As soon as one's mind is known to be of the Wisdom of the Voidness, concepts like good and evil Karma cease to exist.

     Even as in the empty sky there seems to be, but is not, a fountain of water, so the Voidness is neither good nor evil. When one's mind is thus known in its nakedness, this Doctrine of Seeing the Mind Naked, this Self-Liberation, is seen to be exceedingly profound.

     Seek therefore thine own Wisdom within thee. It is the Vast Deep.

 

The Final Good Wishes

     All Hail! This is the Knowing of the Mind, the Seeing of Reality, Self-Liberation. For the sake of future generations who shall be born during the Age of Darkness, these essential aphorisms, necessarily brief and concise, herein set forth, were written down in accordance with Tantric teachings.

     Although taught during the present Epoch, the text of them was hidden away amidst a cache of precious things. May this book be read by those blessed devotees of the future.

     

--The translation from Tibetan to English of which this epitome is the fruit, was completed on the twenty-first day of January 1936.


 


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