When The Clouds Part The Uttaratantra And Its Meditative Tradition As A Bridge Between Sutra And Tantra

by Karl Brunnholzl

Author Karl Brunnholzl Isbn 978 1559394178 File size 42 8 MB Year 2015 Pages 1152 Language English File format PDF Category Philosophy KARL BRUNNH LZL was trained as a physician and presently works as a Tibetan translator and Buddhist teacher He studied Tibetology Buddhology and Sanskrit at Hamburg University and Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Marpa Institute for Translators in Kathmandu Currently he works as a translator and interpreter for the Tsadra Foundat

Publisher :

Author : Karl Brunnholzl

ISBN : 978 1559394178

Year : 2015

Language: English

File Size : 42.8 MB

Category : Philosophy



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published by Snow Lion, an imprint ofSham bhala Publications
Tsadra Foundation is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that contributes
to the ongoing development of wisdom and compassion in W estern minds
by advancing the combined study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.
Taking its inspiration from the nineteenth-century nonsectarian Tibetan
scholar and meditation m aster Jamgôn Kongtrül Lodrô Tayé, Tsadra Foun­
dation is nam ed after his hermitage in eastern Tibet, Tsadra Rinchen Drak.
The Foundation s various program areas reflect his values of excellence in
both scholarship and contemplative practice, and the recognition of their
m utual complementarity.
Tsadra Foundation envisions a flourishing com m unity of W estern con­
templatives and scholar-practitioners who are fully trained in the traditions
o f Tibetan Buddhism. It is our conviction that, grounded in wisdom and
compassion, these individuals will actively enrich the world through their
openness and excellence.
This publication is a part of the Tsadra Foundations Translation Pro­
gram, which aims to make authentic and authoritative texts from the Ti­
betan traditions available in English. The Foundation is honored to present
the work of its fellows and grantees, individuals o f confirmed contempla­
tive and intellectual integrity; however, their views do not necessarily reflect
those of the Foundation.
Tsadra Foundation is delighted to collaborate with Shambhala Publica­
tions in making these im portant texts available in the English language.

W

h en the

C

louds

P

art

The Uttaratantra
and Its Meditative Tradition
as a Bridge between Sütra and Tantra

TRANSLATED AND INTRODUCED BY

Karl Brunnhölzl

S n o w L io n
B o sto n & L ondon.
2014

S no w L ion
An im print of Shambhala Publications, Inc.
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Boston, Massachusetts 02115
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS C A T A L O G I N G -I N -P U B L IC A T IO N DATA

Ratnagotravibhaga. English.
W hen the clouds part: the U ttaratantra and its meditative tradition
as a bridge between sutra and tantra / translated and introduced by
Karl Brunnholzl.—First edition,
pages—cm.—(The Tsadra Foundation series)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
i s b n 978-1-55939-417-8 (hardback: alk. paper)
1. Ratnagotravibhaga—Criticism, interpretation, etc.—Early works to 1800.
I. Brunnholzl, Karl, translator. II. Title.
B Q3022.E 5B78 2 0 1 4
2 9 4 -3 8 5 — dc23
2014002345

Contents
A bbreviations
Preface
A cknow ledgm ents

ix
xi
xiii

T R A N SL A TO R ’S IN T R O D U C T IO N i
T he Sůtra Sources o f the Tathagatagarbha T eachings

3

D ifferent W ays o f E xplaining the M ean in g o f Tathagatagarbha

33

Explanations of Tathagatagarbha in Indian Texts
Tathagatagarbha as the Emptiness That Is a Nonimplicative
Negation
Tathagatagarbha as M inds Luminous Nature
Tathagatagarbha as the Alaya-Consciousness
Tathagatagarbha as a Sentient Being
Tathagatagarbha as the Dharmakàya, Suchness, the Disposition,
and Nonconceptuality
Tibetan Assertions on Tathagatagarbha

54

T h e H isto ry a n d T ran sm issio n o f “T he Five D harm as o f
M aitreya” fro m In d ia to T ibet
T he M ahàyânottaratantra (Ratnagotravibhaga) an d the
Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ
Texts and Authorships
The M eanings of the Titles Ratnagotravibhaga and
Mahâyânottaratantrasâstra

55
37
63
63
64
65

81

93
93
93

T he Uttaratantra a n d Its R elationship w ith Yogàcàra

103

T he M editative T ra d itio n o f th e Uttaratantra an d S hentong
The Two Approaches of Explaining the Uttaratantra
The Shentong Lineages and the Meditative Tradition of the
Uttaratantra in the Jonang, Kagyü, and Nyingma Schools

123

123
131

vi

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Indian Forerunners
of Shentong,
Early Tibetan
Shentongpas,

Contents

and Their Connection to the Uttaratantra
T he Uttaratantra an d M a h à m u d rà
Sütra M ahàmudrà, Tantra M ahàm udrà, and Essence
M ahàm udrà
The Sütra Sources of M ahàm udrà
Maitrlpa s M ahàm udrà of “Mental N onengagem ent”
Connections between Maitrlpa s M ahàm udrà and the
Uttaratantra
Other Indian N ontantric Treatises on M ahàm udrà
G am popas M ahàm udrà and the Uttaratantra
The Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje
The Eighth Karmapa, Mikyô Dorje
Tagpo Dashi Namgyal
Padma Karpo
The Eighth Situpa, Chôkyi Jungné
O ther Kagyü Masters on M ahàm udrà and the Uttaratantra
Go Lotsàwas Unique M ahàm udrà Interpretation of the
Uttaratantra
The Geden Kagyü Tradition of M ahàm udrà
O verview o f the In d ian an d T ibetan Texts Presented in This B ook
The Uttaratantra and Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ
The Indian Texts on the Uttaratantra
The Tibetan Commentaries
Instruction Manuals

140
151
151
165
167
177
184
190
202
206
212
214
216
227
243
278
283
283
288
301
314

T R A N SL A T IO N S 329
Ratnagotravibhâga M ahâyânottaratantrasâstra— A n Analysis o f the
Jewel Disposition, A Treatise on the Ultimate C on tinu u m o f
the M ahâyàna
Chapter 1 : The Three Jewels and the Tathâgata Heart
Chapter 2 : Awakening
Chapter 3: The Buddha Qualities
Chapter 4: Buddha Activity
Chapter 5: The Benefit

331
337
415
429
437
455

Contents

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Pith Instructions
on “The
Treatise
the Ultimate C on tin u u m

o f the M a h a y a n a ” by Sajjana

vn

461

A C om m entary on the M e a n in g o f the Words o f the “U ttaratantra” 473
A C om m entary on “The Treatise on the Ultimate C on tin u um o f the
M ahayana, ” The H eart o f the L u m in o u s Sun by D ashi O ser
695
Instructions on “The Ultimate C ontinuum o f the M a h a y a n a ” b y
M o n lam T sultrim

777

The Repository o f W isdom by M o n lam Tsultrim

789

The H eart o f the M a tter o f L um in o sity by M onlam Tsultrim

797

Pith Instructions on the W isdom at the P oint o f Passing when about
to Die by M o n lam T sultrim
801
The Lam p That Excellently Elucidates the System o f the Proponents
o f S h en to n g M a d h y a m a k a by the Eighth K arm apa

803

G uiding Instructions on the View o f Great Shentong M a d h y a m a k a —
Light Rays o f the Stainless Vajra M oon by Jam gon K ongtrul
831
A p pen d ix 1 : Selected In d ian an d T ibetan C om m en ts on
Uttaratantra 1.27-28

855

A p pen d ix 2 : Selected In d ian an d Tibetan C o m m en ts on
Uttaratantra 1.154-55

901

A p p en d ix 3: In d ia n a n d T ib etan C om m en ts on
A bh isam ayalam kara V .21

943

A p p en d ix 4: T he E m ptiness E ndow ed w ith All Suprem e Aspects

953

A p pendix 5: T he G eneral E xplanation o f Tathagatagarbha in Yeshe
D orjes C o m m e n ta ry o n the Uttaratantra
963
Appendix 6 : The Presentation o f the Purpose of Teaching
Tathagatagarbha in Yeshe D orjes C om m entary on the Uttaratantra 969
A ppendix 7: C o m p ariso n o f the First Six Topics o f the F o u rth an d
Fifth Vajra Points in the Uttaratantra w ith the Same Six Topics in
the M ahayanasutralam kara a n d the M ahayanasam graha
979
A ppendix 8 : A Letter fr o m Stainless E xpanse a nd Awareness—
a Casual S u m m a ry o f the “U ttaratantra”

983

v iii

Contents

N otes
E n g lish -S an sk rit-T ib etan G lossary
T ib e ta n -S a n sk rit-E n g lish G lossary
Selected Bibliography
In dex

985
1227
1231
1235
1259

Abbreviations
BA

Go Lotsawas The Blue Annals (’Gos lo tsa ba gzhon nu dpal
1996)

c

Chinese version of the UttaratantralRGVV

CM W

A Commentary on the Meaning o f the Words o f the
“Uttaratantra” (anonymous)

D

Derge Tibetan Tripitaka

GC

Go Lotsawa s com m entary on the Uttaratantra (’Gos lo tsa ba
gzhon nu dpal 2003b)

GISM

Jamgon K ongtruls Guiding Instructions on the View o f Great
Shentong M adhyam aka (Kong sprul bio gros m tha yas 2008)

HLS

Dashi O sers com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Bkra shis ’od
zer 2006)

HML

The Heart o f the M atter o f Luminosity (Skyo ston smon lam
tshul khrim s 2007f)

IM

Instructions on the “Mahayanottaratantra” (Skyo ston sm on
lam tshul khrim s 2007a)

J

Johnston s Sanskrit edition of Ratnagotravibh^g^vyakhya

JAOS

Journal o f the American Oriental Society

JIABS

Journal o f the International Association o f Buddhist Studies

JIBS

Journal o f Indian and Buddhist Studies (Indogaku Bukkydgakku Kenkyu)

JIP

Journal o f Indian Philosophy

JKC

Jamgon K ongtruls com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Kong
sprul bio gros mtha* yas 2005b)

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Mikyô boo
Dorjes Lamp
Excellently Elucidates

Abbreviations

Lam p

the System o f the Proponents of Shentong M adhyam aka (Mi
bskyod rd o rje 1990)
LTWA

Library of Tibetan W orks and Archives

MA

Sanskrit m anuscript A of Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ

MB

Sanskrit m anuscript B of Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ

P

Peking Tibetan Tripitaka (Tokyo-Kyoto: Suzuki Research
Foundation, 1956)

PIW

Pith Instructions on the Wisdom at the Point o f Passing when
about to Die (Skyo ston sm on lam tshul khrim s 2007b)

RGW

Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ

R G W (D) Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ Derge Tengyur
R G W (P)

Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ Peking Tengyur

RW

The Repository o f Wisdom (Skyo ston smon lam tshul khrims
2007c)

RYC

Rinchen Yeshe s com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Rin chen
ye shes 2 0 1 0 )

SM

Sajjanas Mahàyânottaratantrasâstropadesa

Taishô

Taishô Shinshü Daizôkyô (The Chinese Buddhist Canon),
edited by J. Takakusu and K. W atanabe. Tokyo: Taishô
Shinshü Daizôkyô Kanko kai, 1970

TBRC

Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (www.tbrc.org)

TOK

Jamgôn Kongtrul Lodro Tayés Treasury o f Knowledge (Kong
sprul bio gros m tha’ yas 1982)

U t (D)

Uttaratantra Derge Tengyur

U t (P)

Uttaratantra Peking Tengyur

VT

Vai ro can araksi ta s M ahàyânotta ra ta n tra tippan ï

W ZKS

Wiener Zeitschrift fü r die Kunde Südasiens

YDC

Yeshé Dorjes com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Ye shes rdo
rje 2 0 1 0 )

Preface
One m ay well w onder why there needs to be another book about buddha
nature and the Uttaratantra. The reasons for this volume are to present
hitherto untranslated materials on this text (mainly its Indian com m entar­
ies and early Tibetan materials on it) and to shed new light on what is called
“the meditative tradition of the Maitreya texts” as well as the Uttaratantras
connections with M ahàm udrà and Shentong .1
Though there are a n um ber of translations of the verses of the Ut­
taratantra, the only two pioneering English renderings of its com m entary
Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ (RGVV), by Obermiller (from the Tibetan)
and Takasaki (from the Sanskrit and Chinese), are quite outdated at this
point. This volume contains a new translation of both the Uttaratantra and
R G W from the Sanskrit and Tibetan, which is further inform ed by Vairocanaraksitas (eleventh/twelfth century) brief com m entary (unavailable at
the time o f the earlier translations). The book also contains translations of
Sajjanas (eleventh century) Mahàyânottaratantropadesa (a versified syn­
opsis o f the Uttaratantra) and two never-translated Tibetan commentaries,
one by a student o f M arpa D opa Chokyi W angchug 2 (1042-1136) and the
other by D üm o Dashi Oser 3 (late fifteenth to sixteenth century; a student
of the Seventh Karmapa and principal teacher of the Eighth). The form er
com m entary (CMW ) is one of the earliest Tibetan commentaries on both
the Uttaratantra and R G W . The latter com m entary incorporates the to p ­
ical outline of the Uttaratantra by the Third Karmapa. In addition, this
volume includes translations o f several short texts that are based on the Ut­
taratantra and R G W , m ost of them of a contemplative nature—six works
by the Kadampa m aster Kyotôn M ônlam Tsültrim 4 (1219-1299), The Lam p
That Excellently Elucidates the System o f the Proponents o f Shentong M adhyamaka by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyô Dorje 5 (1507-1554), and Guiding
Instructions on the View o f Great Shentong Madhyamaka by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrô Tayé6 (1813-1899). These texts, as well as excerpts from others,
provide ample scriptural support for the meditative approach to the Ut­
taratantra (versus the exegetical or study approach) and also establish the

XI

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x ii

Preface

and the Shentong view.
The introduction provides a survey of the main sütra sources of the
tathâgatagarbha teachings and the great variety of explanations of the
m eaning of tathâgatagarbha in India and Tibet. It also investigates the his­
tory and transmission of the five works of Maitreya from India to Tibet as
well as the relationships between the Uttaratantra and Yogàcàra, Shentong,
and M ahàmudrà. Several appendices contain com ments by different Indian
and Tibetan authors on the crucial verses 1.27-28 and 1.154-55 of the Ut­
taratantra as well as Abhisamayâlamkâra V .21 (which is virtually identical
with Uttaratantra 1.154), explanations of the key term “the emptiness en­
dowed with all supreme aspects,” and some additional com ments on the
meaning and purpose of teaching tathâgatagarbha.
Given this wealth of materials, it is hard to believe that the original scope
o f this book was actually very m odest—simply translating the Uttaratantra,
RGVV, and Dashi Oser s com mentary, with only a very short introduction.
However, in the course of this work, the discovery of CM W 7 and the texts
by M ônlam Tsültrim (triggered by BAs m entioning one of them ),8 as well as
closer looks at the above-m entioned texts by Sajjana, the Eighth Karmapa,
and Jamgon Kongtrul, led to a fascinating journey. This journey included
looking at the different ways in which the Maitreya texts and the Uttaratan­
tra in particular were transm itted and interpreted in India and Tibet, how
the Uttaratantra came to be related with M ahàm udrà in both the Kagyii
and Kadampa traditions, how the Shentong view in these traditions (versus
the one of Dôlpopa) is very compatible with M ahàm udrà, and how the Ut­
taratantra is used as the basis of contemplative M ahàmudrà-style manuals.
In particular, for m any years I was always intrigued when I heard or saw
“the meditative tradition of the Maitreya texts” being m entioned, but it
seemed that not m uch inform ation about its contents, let alone possible
scriptural sources, was available. Now, this situation has definitely changed
through the study, research, and translation of the above works and other
materials. The rich findings on m y journey through the worlds of tathâga­
tagarbha, Yogàcàra, Shentong, and M ahàm udrà are presented here, and it
is m y hope that the reader will enjoy the m any scenic outlooks on the way
(externally as well as internally) as m uch as I did.
An asterisk (*) preceding a Sanskrit term or phrase indicates the most
probable Sanskrit that corresponds to a Tibetan term or phrase when the
original Sanskrit is unavailable or unattested. Superscripted circles (°) that
precede, follow, or enclose a Sanskrit term or phrase indicate that this term
or phrase is part of a longer compound.

Acknowledgments
My deep gratitude and respect go to Khenchen Tsiiltrim Gyamtso Rinpoche
for all his profound and detailed teachings on the Uttaratantra and several
of its com mentaries over three decades, as well as for being such a living
example of buddha nature free from adventitious stains. I am also very
thankful to all the Indian, Tibetan, Bhutanese, Chinese, Japanese, A m eri­
can, English, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Polish, and Russian scholars
(too m any to nam e here) who have worked on the Uttaratantra and related
materials before me. Their efforts have supported me greatly in present­
ing several parts of this book. As always, I am particularly appreciative of,
and thankful for, the generous support by the Tsadra Foundation, which
has changed my life in a profound way and has made the translations and
research in this and other volumes possible. Big thanks also go to Michael
W akoff for his skilled and meticulous editing. I am also grateful to Steph­
anie Johnston for preparing the layout, as well as kindly listening to the
ramblings about m y latest discoveries on the journey of putting together
this book.
If there is anything in this volume that sounds good, makes sense, and
serves as an antidote to ignorance, confusion, and suffering, may it be rel­
ished as originating from realized masters and scholars truly vast in learn­
ing. Everything else, including all mistakes, can safely be said to be mine.
It is m y hope that this w ork may be a contributing cause for the buddha
heart of His Holiness the seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, swiftly em bracing all sentient beings in whatever ways suitable.
May it in particular be of assistance in transplanting and sustaining both
the scholarly and meditative traditions of the Karma Kagyii lineage in the
English-speaking world, as these were initiated and fostered by all the Karmapas and their followers as a means to enable suffering beings to penetrate
the thick clouds o f their adventitious obscurations and soar freely through
the sky of m in d s vast and lum inous expanse.

XIII

T r a n s l a t o r ’s I n t r o d u c t i o n

The Sütra Sources of the Tathagatagarbha Teachings
Possibly the first appearance of the term tathagatagarbha (though not in
the sense in which it is used in the tathagatagarbha sutras) has been traced
to the M ahasam ghika Ekottarikagama (the Chinese recension of the A h guttara Nikdya):
If someone devotes himself to the Ekottarikagama,
Then he has the tathagatagarbha.
Even if his body cannot exhaust defilements in this life,
In his next life he will attain supreme wisdom .9
The term is also used once in the Gandavyuhasutra (which is dated prior to
the Tathagatagarbhasutra) as an epithet of Sudhana, w ithout further expla­
nation .10 Furtherm ore, the Prajhapdramitasutra in One H undred Fifty Lines
(Adhyardhasatikdprajhaparamitasutra) contains the sentence “all sentient
beings possess the tathagata heart because their entire being is that o f the
great bodhisattva Sam antabhadra .” 11
The earliest m ahayana sutras that are based on and discuss the notion
of tathagatagarbha as the buddha potential that is innate in all sentient
beings began to appear in written form in the late second and early third
century .12 To m y knowledge, there is no Indian text that provides a list of
“tathagatagarbha sutras,” but the Uttaratantra and RGVV spell out their
sutra sources as follows.
The Uttaratantra (1.2 ) declares that its primary source is the Dharanisvararajasutra, which is said to contain all seven vajra points. R G W
adds the following sutras as alternative individual scriptural sources for
these vajra points—the Sthiradhyasayaparivartasutra (vajra points 1 to
3), the Anunatvapurnatvanirdesaparivarta (vajra points 4 and 6 ), the
Snmaladevisutra (vajra point 5), and the Tathagatagunajhandcintyavisayavataranirdesasutra (vajra p oint 7). In addition, Uttaratantra 111.27 refers
to the Ratnadarikasutra as the source o f the sixty-four buddha qualities.
R G W also m entions the Tathagatagarbhasutra as the basis for teaching

3

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4

Translators Introduction

Uttaratantra 1.143-52, m atching the dharm akaya and so on with the
nine examples in that sutra). Though the Sarvabuddhavisayavatarajndndlokalamkarasutra is not explicitly m entioned in the Uttaratantra, it is
clearly the source of the nine examples for enlightened activity used in the
Uttaratantra. In addition, R G W quotes this sutra several times.
Further im portant quotes in R G W related to the notion of tathagatagarbha are from the Buddhavatamsakasutra (the example of the universe
being painted on a huge canvas and then being inserted into a m inute par­
ticle, which illustrates tathagata wisdom pervading the m ind streams of all
sentient beings), as well as the Gaganaganjapariprcchdsutra and the Sagaramatipariprcchasutra (both about lum inous m ind and its adventitious
stains). A famous passage from the Culasunnatasutta 13 is silently incorpo­
rated in RGVVs comments on Uttaratantra 1.154-55. R G W also refers
to the passage “those with great desire have the nature of absolutely not
[attaining] parinirvana,” which is found in several sutras, among them the
Mahaparinirvanasutra ,14
It is obvious that the Uttaratantra's nine examples for the tathagata heart
being obscured by adventitious stains come from the Tathagatagarbhasutra,
b u t neither the Uttaratantra n or R G W explicitly acknowledge this. Like­
wise, the Uttaratantras example of the painters who draw a kings portrait
(1.88-92), which illustrates the emptiness endowed with all suprem e as­
pects, is unacknowledged as stem m ing from the Ratnacudapariprcchasutra.
Later, probably beginning with Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen 15 (1292-1361),
Tibetan authors began to use the term s utathagatagarbha sutras ” 16 and
“sutras of definitive meaning” and compiled lists of those types of sutras.
D olpopas “ten tathagatagarbha sutras” consist of the following:
1 . Tathagatagarbhasutra
2 . Avikalpapravesadharam
3. Srimaladevisutra
4. Mahabherisutra
5. Ahgulimaliyasutra
6 . Sunyatdnamamahasutra17
7. Tathagatamahakarundnirdesasutra (aka DharanJsvarardjasutra)
8 . Tathagatagunajnanacintyavisayavatdranirdesasutra
9. Mahameghasutra
10. Parinirvanasutra and Mahaparinirvanasutra (these two are
counted as one ) 18



W

hen

the

C

louds

P

art

T

he

T

sadra

F

oundation

S eries

published by Snow Lion, an imprint ofSham bhala Publications
Tsadra Foundation is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that contributes
to the ongoing development of wisdom and compassion in W estern minds
by advancing the combined study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.
Taking its inspiration from the nineteenth-century nonsectarian Tibetan
scholar and meditation m aster Jamgôn Kongtrül Lodrô Tayé, Tsadra Foun­
dation is nam ed after his hermitage in eastern Tibet, Tsadra Rinchen Drak.
The Foundation s various program areas reflect his values of excellence in
both scholarship and contemplative practice, and the recognition of their
m utual complementarity.
Tsadra Foundation envisions a flourishing com m unity of W estern con­
templatives and scholar-practitioners who are fully trained in the traditions
o f Tibetan Buddhism. It is our conviction that, grounded in wisdom and
compassion, these individuals will actively enrich the world through their
openness and excellence.
This publication is a part of the Tsadra Foundations Translation Pro­
gram, which aims to make authentic and authoritative texts from the Ti­
betan traditions available in English. The Foundation is honored to present
the work of its fellows and grantees, individuals o f confirmed contempla­
tive and intellectual integrity; however, their views do not necessarily reflect
those of the Foundation.
Tsadra Foundation is delighted to collaborate with Shambhala Publica­
tions in making these im portant texts available in the English language.

W

h en the

C

louds

P

art

The Uttaratantra
and Its Meditative Tradition
as a Bridge between Sütra and Tantra

TRANSLATED AND INTRODUCED BY

Karl Brunnhölzl

S n o w L io n
B o sto n & L ondon.
2014

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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS C A T A L O G I N G -I N -P U B L IC A T IO N DATA

Ratnagotravibhaga. English.
W hen the clouds part: the U ttaratantra and its meditative tradition
as a bridge between sutra and tantra / translated and introduced by
Karl Brunnholzl.—First edition,
pages—cm.—(The Tsadra Foundation series)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
i s b n 978-1-55939-417-8 (hardback: alk. paper)
1. Ratnagotravibhaga—Criticism, interpretation, etc.—Early works to 1800.
I. Brunnholzl, Karl, translator. II. Title.
B Q3022.E 5B78 2 0 1 4
2 9 4 -3 8 5 — dc23
2014002345

Contents
A bbreviations
Preface
A cknow ledgm ents

ix
xi
xiii

T R A N SL A TO R ’S IN T R O D U C T IO N i
T he Sůtra Sources o f the Tathagatagarbha T eachings

3

D ifferent W ays o f E xplaining the M ean in g o f Tathagatagarbha

33

Explanations of Tathagatagarbha in Indian Texts
Tathagatagarbha as the Emptiness That Is a Nonimplicative
Negation
Tathagatagarbha as M inds Luminous Nature
Tathagatagarbha as the Alaya-Consciousness
Tathagatagarbha as a Sentient Being
Tathagatagarbha as the Dharmakàya, Suchness, the Disposition,
and Nonconceptuality
Tibetan Assertions on Tathagatagarbha

54

T h e H isto ry a n d T ran sm issio n o f “T he Five D harm as o f
M aitreya” fro m In d ia to T ibet
T he M ahàyânottaratantra (Ratnagotravibhaga) an d the
Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ
Texts and Authorships
The M eanings of the Titles Ratnagotravibhaga and
Mahâyânottaratantrasâstra

55
37
63
63
64
65

81

93
93
93

T he Uttaratantra a n d Its R elationship w ith Yogàcàra

103

T he M editative T ra d itio n o f th e Uttaratantra an d S hentong
The Two Approaches of Explaining the Uttaratantra
The Shentong Lineages and the Meditative Tradition of the
Uttaratantra in the Jonang, Kagyü, and Nyingma Schools

123

123
131

vi

m
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Indian Forerunners
of Shentong,
Early Tibetan
Shentongpas,

Contents

and Their Connection to the Uttaratantra
T he Uttaratantra an d M a h à m u d rà
Sütra M ahàmudrà, Tantra M ahàm udrà, and Essence
M ahàm udrà
The Sütra Sources of M ahàm udrà
Maitrlpa s M ahàm udrà of “Mental N onengagem ent”
Connections between Maitrlpa s M ahàm udrà and the
Uttaratantra
Other Indian N ontantric Treatises on M ahàm udrà
G am popas M ahàm udrà and the Uttaratantra
The Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje
The Eighth Karmapa, Mikyô Dorje
Tagpo Dashi Namgyal
Padma Karpo
The Eighth Situpa, Chôkyi Jungné
O ther Kagyü Masters on M ahàm udrà and the Uttaratantra
Go Lotsàwas Unique M ahàm udrà Interpretation of the
Uttaratantra
The Geden Kagyü Tradition of M ahàm udrà
O verview o f the In d ian an d T ibetan Texts Presented in This B ook
The Uttaratantra and Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ
The Indian Texts on the Uttaratantra
The Tibetan Commentaries
Instruction Manuals

140
151
151
165
167
177
184
190
202
206
212
214
216
227
243
278
283
283
288
301
314

T R A N SL A T IO N S 329
Ratnagotravibhâga M ahâyânottaratantrasâstra— A n Analysis o f the
Jewel Disposition, A Treatise on the Ultimate C on tinu u m o f
the M ahâyàna
Chapter 1 : The Three Jewels and the Tathâgata Heart
Chapter 2 : Awakening
Chapter 3: The Buddha Qualities
Chapter 4: Buddha Activity
Chapter 5: The Benefit

331
337
415
429
437
455

Contents

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Pith Instructions
on “The
Treatise
the Ultimate C on tin u u m

o f the M a h a y a n a ” by Sajjana

vn

461

A C om m entary on the M e a n in g o f the Words o f the “U ttaratantra” 473
A C om m entary on “The Treatise on the Ultimate C on tin u um o f the
M ahayana, ” The H eart o f the L u m in o u s Sun by D ashi O ser
695
Instructions on “The Ultimate C ontinuum o f the M a h a y a n a ” b y
M o n lam T sultrim

777

The Repository o f W isdom by M o n lam Tsultrim

789

The H eart o f the M a tter o f L um in o sity by M onlam Tsultrim

797

Pith Instructions on the W isdom at the P oint o f Passing when about
to Die by M o n lam T sultrim
801
The Lam p That Excellently Elucidates the System o f the Proponents
o f S h en to n g M a d h y a m a k a by the Eighth K arm apa

803

G uiding Instructions on the View o f Great Shentong M a d h y a m a k a —
Light Rays o f the Stainless Vajra M oon by Jam gon K ongtrul
831
A p pen d ix 1 : Selected In d ian an d T ibetan C om m en ts on
Uttaratantra 1.27-28

855

A p pen d ix 2 : Selected In d ian an d Tibetan C o m m en ts on
Uttaratantra 1.154-55

901

A p p en d ix 3: In d ia n a n d T ib etan C om m en ts on
A bh isam ayalam kara V .21

943

A p p en d ix 4: T he E m ptiness E ndow ed w ith All Suprem e Aspects

953

A p pendix 5: T he G eneral E xplanation o f Tathagatagarbha in Yeshe
D orjes C o m m e n ta ry o n the Uttaratantra
963
Appendix 6 : The Presentation o f the Purpose of Teaching
Tathagatagarbha in Yeshe D orjes C om m entary on the Uttaratantra 969
A ppendix 7: C o m p ariso n o f the First Six Topics o f the F o u rth an d
Fifth Vajra Points in the Uttaratantra w ith the Same Six Topics in
the M ahayanasutralam kara a n d the M ahayanasam graha
979
A ppendix 8 : A Letter fr o m Stainless E xpanse a nd Awareness—
a Casual S u m m a ry o f the “U ttaratantra”

983

v iii

Contents

N otes
E n g lish -S an sk rit-T ib etan G lossary
T ib e ta n -S a n sk rit-E n g lish G lossary
Selected Bibliography
In dex

985
1227
1231
1235
1259

Abbreviations
BA

Go Lotsawas The Blue Annals (’Gos lo tsa ba gzhon nu dpal
1996)

c

Chinese version of the UttaratantralRGVV

CM W

A Commentary on the Meaning o f the Words o f the
“Uttaratantra” (anonymous)

D

Derge Tibetan Tripitaka

GC

Go Lotsawa s com m entary on the Uttaratantra (’Gos lo tsa ba
gzhon nu dpal 2003b)

GISM

Jamgon K ongtruls Guiding Instructions on the View o f Great
Shentong M adhyam aka (Kong sprul bio gros m tha yas 2008)

HLS

Dashi O sers com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Bkra shis ’od
zer 2006)

HML

The Heart o f the M atter o f Luminosity (Skyo ston smon lam
tshul khrim s 2007f)

IM

Instructions on the “Mahayanottaratantra” (Skyo ston sm on
lam tshul khrim s 2007a)

J

Johnston s Sanskrit edition of Ratnagotravibh^g^vyakhya

JAOS

Journal o f the American Oriental Society

JIABS

Journal o f the International Association o f Buddhist Studies

JIBS

Journal o f Indian and Buddhist Studies (Indogaku Bukkydgakku Kenkyu)

JIP

Journal o f Indian Philosophy

JKC

Jamgon K ongtruls com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Kong
sprul bio gros mtha* yas 2005b)

x

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Karmapa
Mikyô boo
Dorjes Lamp
Excellently Elucidates

Abbreviations

Lam p

the System o f the Proponents of Shentong M adhyam aka (Mi
bskyod rd o rje 1990)
LTWA

Library of Tibetan W orks and Archives

MA

Sanskrit m anuscript A of Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ

MB

Sanskrit m anuscript B of Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ

P

Peking Tibetan Tripitaka (Tokyo-Kyoto: Suzuki Research
Foundation, 1956)

PIW

Pith Instructions on the Wisdom at the Point o f Passing when
about to Die (Skyo ston sm on lam tshul khrim s 2007b)

RGW

Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ

R G W (D) Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ Derge Tengyur
R G W (P)

Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ Peking Tengyur

RW

The Repository o f Wisdom (Skyo ston smon lam tshul khrims
2007c)

RYC

Rinchen Yeshe s com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Rin chen
ye shes 2 0 1 0 )

SM

Sajjanas Mahàyânottaratantrasâstropadesa

Taishô

Taishô Shinshü Daizôkyô (The Chinese Buddhist Canon),
edited by J. Takakusu and K. W atanabe. Tokyo: Taishô
Shinshü Daizôkyô Kanko kai, 1970

TBRC

Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (www.tbrc.org)

TOK

Jamgôn Kongtrul Lodro Tayés Treasury o f Knowledge (Kong
sprul bio gros m tha’ yas 1982)

U t (D)

Uttaratantra Derge Tengyur

U t (P)

Uttaratantra Peking Tengyur

VT

Vai ro can araksi ta s M ahàyânotta ra ta n tra tippan ï

W ZKS

Wiener Zeitschrift fü r die Kunde Südasiens

YDC

Yeshé Dorjes com m entary on the Uttaratantra (Ye shes rdo
rje 2 0 1 0 )

Preface
One m ay well w onder why there needs to be another book about buddha
nature and the Uttaratantra. The reasons for this volume are to present
hitherto untranslated materials on this text (mainly its Indian com m entar­
ies and early Tibetan materials on it) and to shed new light on what is called
“the meditative tradition of the Maitreya texts” as well as the Uttaratantras
connections with M ahàm udrà and Shentong .1
Though there are a n um ber of translations of the verses of the Ut­
taratantra, the only two pioneering English renderings of its com m entary
Ratnagotravibhâgavyâkhyâ (RGVV), by Obermiller (from the Tibetan)
and Takasaki (from the Sanskrit and Chinese), are quite outdated at this
point. This volume contains a new translation of both the Uttaratantra and
R G W from the Sanskrit and Tibetan, which is further inform ed by Vairocanaraksitas (eleventh/twelfth century) brief com m entary (unavailable at
the time o f the earlier translations). The book also contains translations of
Sajjanas (eleventh century) Mahàyânottaratantropadesa (a versified syn­
opsis o f the Uttaratantra) and two never-translated Tibetan commentaries,
one by a student o f M arpa D opa Chokyi W angchug 2 (1042-1136) and the
other by D üm o Dashi Oser 3 (late fifteenth to sixteenth century; a student
of the Seventh Karmapa and principal teacher of the Eighth). The form er
com m entary (CMW ) is one of the earliest Tibetan commentaries on both
the Uttaratantra and R G W . The latter com m entary incorporates the to p ­
ical outline of the Uttaratantra by the Third Karmapa. In addition, this
volume includes translations o f several short texts that are based on the Ut­
taratantra and R G W , m ost of them of a contemplative nature—six works
by the Kadampa m aster Kyotôn M ônlam Tsültrim 4 (1219-1299), The Lam p
That Excellently Elucidates the System o f the Proponents o f Shentong M adhyamaka by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyô Dorje 5 (1507-1554), and Guiding
Instructions on the View o f Great Shentong Madhyamaka by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrô Tayé6 (1813-1899). These texts, as well as excerpts from others,
provide ample scriptural support for the meditative approach to the Ut­
taratantra (versus the exegetical or study approach) and also establish the

XI

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x ii

Preface

and the Shentong view.
The introduction provides a survey of the main sütra sources of the
tathâgatagarbha teachings and the great variety of explanations of the
m eaning of tathâgatagarbha in India and Tibet. It also investigates the his­
tory and transmission of the five works of Maitreya from India to Tibet as
well as the relationships between the Uttaratantra and Yogàcàra, Shentong,
and M ahàmudrà. Several appendices contain com ments by different Indian
and Tibetan authors on the crucial verses 1.27-28 and 1.154-55 of the Ut­
taratantra as well as Abhisamayâlamkâra V .21 (which is virtually identical
with Uttaratantra 1.154), explanations of the key term “the emptiness en­
dowed with all supreme aspects,” and some additional com ments on the
meaning and purpose of teaching tathâgatagarbha.
Given this wealth of materials, it is hard to believe that the original scope
o f this book was actually very m odest—simply translating the Uttaratantra,
RGVV, and Dashi Oser s com mentary, with only a very short introduction.
However, in the course of this work, the discovery of CM W 7 and the texts
by M ônlam Tsültrim (triggered by BAs m entioning one of them ),8 as well as
closer looks at the above-m entioned texts by Sajjana, the Eighth Karmapa,
and Jamgon Kongtrul, led to a fascinating journey. This journey included
looking at the different ways in which the Maitreya texts and the Uttaratan­
tra in particular were transm itted and interpreted in India and Tibet, how
the Uttaratantra came to be related with M ahàm udrà in both the Kagyii
and Kadampa traditions, how the Shentong view in these traditions (versus
the one of Dôlpopa) is very compatible with M ahàm udrà, and how the Ut­
taratantra is used as the basis of contemplative M ahàmudrà-style manuals.
In particular, for m any years I was always intrigued when I heard or saw
“the meditative tradition of the Maitreya texts” being m entioned, but it
seemed that not m uch inform ation about its contents, let alone possible
scriptural sources, was available. Now, this situation has definitely changed
through the study, research, and translation of the above works and other
materials. The rich findings on m y journey through the worlds of tathâga­
tagarbha, Yogàcàra, Shentong, and M ahàm udrà are presented here, and it
is m y hope that the reader will enjoy the m any scenic outlooks on the way
(externally as well as internally) as m uch as I did.
An asterisk (*) preceding a Sanskrit term or phrase indicates the most
probable Sanskrit that corresponds to a Tibetan term or phrase when the
original Sanskrit is unavailable or unattested. Superscripted circles (°) that
precede, follow, or enclose a Sanskrit term or phrase indicate that this term
or phrase is part of a longer compound.

Acknowledgments
My deep gratitude and respect go to Khenchen Tsiiltrim Gyamtso Rinpoche
for all his profound and detailed teachings on the Uttaratantra and several
of its com mentaries over three decades, as well as for being such a living
example of buddha nature free from adventitious stains. I am also very
thankful to all the Indian, Tibetan, Bhutanese, Chinese, Japanese, A m eri­
can, English, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Polish, and Russian scholars
(too m any to nam e here) who have worked on the Uttaratantra and related
materials before me. Their efforts have supported me greatly in present­
ing several parts of this book. As always, I am particularly appreciative of,
and thankful for, the generous support by the Tsadra Foundation, which
has changed my life in a profound way and has made the translations and
research in this and other volumes possible. Big thanks also go to Michael
W akoff for his skilled and meticulous editing. I am also grateful to Steph­
anie Johnston for preparing the layout, as well as kindly listening to the
ramblings about m y latest discoveries on the journey of putting together
this book.
If there is anything in this volume that sounds good, makes sense, and
serves as an antidote to ignorance, confusion, and suffering, may it be rel­
ished as originating from realized masters and scholars truly vast in learn­
ing. Everything else, including all mistakes, can safely be said to be mine.
It is m y hope that this w ork may be a contributing cause for the buddha
heart of His Holiness the seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, swiftly em bracing all sentient beings in whatever ways suitable.
May it in particular be of assistance in transplanting and sustaining both
the scholarly and meditative traditions of the Karma Kagyii lineage in the
English-speaking world, as these were initiated and fostered by all the Karmapas and their followers as a means to enable suffering beings to penetrate
the thick clouds o f their adventitious obscurations and soar freely through
the sky of m in d s vast and lum inous expanse.

XIII

T r a n s l a t o r ’s I n t r o d u c t i o n

The Sütra Sources of the Tathagatagarbha Teachings
Possibly the first appearance of the term tathagatagarbha (though not in
the sense in which it is used in the tathagatagarbha sutras) has been traced
to the M ahasam ghika Ekottarikagama (the Chinese recension of the A h guttara Nikdya):
If someone devotes himself to the Ekottarikagama,
Then he has the tathagatagarbha.
Even if his body cannot exhaust defilements in this life,
In his next life he will attain supreme wisdom .9
The term is also used once in the Gandavyuhasutra (which is dated prior to
the Tathagatagarbhasutra) as an epithet of Sudhana, w ithout further expla­
nation .10 Furtherm ore, the Prajhapdramitasutra in One H undred Fifty Lines
(Adhyardhasatikdprajhaparamitasutra) contains the sentence “all sentient
beings possess the tathagata heart because their entire being is that o f the
great bodhisattva Sam antabhadra .” 11
The earliest m ahayana sutras that are based on and discuss the notion
of tathagatagarbha as the buddha potential that is innate in all sentient
beings began to appear in written form in the late second and early third
century .12 To m y knowledge, there is no Indian text that provides a list of
“tathagatagarbha sutras,” but the Uttaratantra and RGVV spell out their
sutra sources as follows.
The Uttaratantra (1.2 ) declares that its primary source is the Dharanisvararajasutra, which is said to contain all seven vajra points. R G W
adds the following sutras as alternative individual scriptural sources for
these vajra points—the Sthiradhyasayaparivartasutra (vajra points 1 to
3), the Anunatvapurnatvanirdesaparivarta (vajra points 4 and 6 ), the
Snmaladevisutra (vajra point 5), and the Tathagatagunajhandcintyavisayavataranirdesasutra (vajra p oint 7). In addition, Uttaratantra 111.27 refers
to the Ratnadarikasutra as the source o f the sixty-four buddha qualities.
R G W also m entions the Tathagatagarbhasutra as the basis for teaching

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4

Translators Introduction

Uttaratantra 1.143-52, m atching the dharm akaya and so on with the
nine examples in that sutra). Though the Sarvabuddhavisayavatarajndndlokalamkarasutra is not explicitly m entioned in the Uttaratantra, it is
clearly the source of the nine examples for enlightened activity used in the
Uttaratantra. In addition, R G W quotes this sutra several times.
Further im portant quotes in R G W related to the notion of tathagatagarbha are from the Buddhavatamsakasutra (the example of the universe
being painted on a huge canvas and then being inserted into a m inute par­
ticle, which illustrates tathagata wisdom pervading the m ind streams of all
sentient beings), as well as the Gaganaganjapariprcchdsutra and the Sagaramatipariprcchasutra (both about lum inous m ind and its adventitious
stains). A famous passage from the Culasunnatasutta 13 is silently incorpo­
rated in RGVVs comments on Uttaratantra 1.154-55. R G W also refers
to the passage “those with great desire have the nature of absolutely not
[attaining] parinirvana,” which is found in several sutras, among them the
Mahaparinirvanasutra ,14
It is obvious that the Uttaratantra's nine examples for the tathagata heart
being obscured by adventitious stains come from the Tathagatagarbhasutra,
b u t neither the Uttaratantra n or R G W explicitly acknowledge this. Like­
wise, the Uttaratantras example of the painters who draw a kings portrait
(1.88-92), which illustrates the emptiness endowed with all suprem e as­
pects, is unacknowledged as stem m ing from the Ratnacudapariprcchasutra.
Later, probably beginning with Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen 15 (1292-1361),
Tibetan authors began to use the term s utathagatagarbha sutras ” 16 and
“sutras of definitive meaning” and compiled lists of those types of sutras.
D olpopas “ten tathagatagarbha sutras” consist of the following:
1 . Tathagatagarbhasutra
2 . Avikalpapravesadharam
3. Srimaladevisutra
4. Mahabherisutra
5. Ahgulimaliyasutra
6 . Sunyatdnamamahasutra17
7. Tathagatamahakarundnirdesasutra (aka DharanJsvarardjasutra)
8 . Tathagatagunajnanacintyavisayavatdranirdesasutra
9. Mahameghasutra
10. Parinirvanasutra and Mahaparinirvanasutra (these two are
counted as one ) 18

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