Friday, December 28, 2007

phung po lnga - The Five Aggregates

Next is the number of aggregates or skandhas, as well as a listing of each one of them.

phung po is skandha, aggregate, or heap, rnams is a plural marker so this is about skandhas or aggregates.

ni is again the emphatic particle that isolates the words from an expression or some other part. Here it isolates it from lnga, which is number five. You will encounter this particle quite a lot in texts such as this one that has definitions and listings.

ste is another important particle -- Stephen Hodge calls this the semi-final particle which is a very intriguing name for it. It is used to tie together smaller sentences, to introduce something as part of an earlier sentence (like here), or to coordinate together multiple smaller sentences. In this latter case you could just translate this particle with 'and' or 'and then.' Actually here I would use : as the next part will list the five skandhas.

This particle takes the form ste here as the last word's last letter was a vowel. You will also see it in forms of te and de. Expect to see those a lot!

Next, we we have talked about the five skandhas before, we will go through the text entry that lists all five. Yes, it's a big chunk of text, but should not be hard to translate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How many?

One of the special qualities of Abhidharma-Samuccaya is that it is constructed around a question and answer system. Each part in the compendium starts with a question or some questions and then they are answered. This is a very effective way to list data as the question itself frames the context of the answer.

This is the beginning of the section explaining shandhas, elements and spheres. We know from before that skandha is phung po, element is khams and sphere is skye mched.

The rnams means plural, thus phung po rnams is skandhas, khams rnams is elements and skye mched rnams is spheres.

ni is an emphasis particle, translate is here quickly as 'as for.' This emphasis particle is to isolate a word or a sentence. du is here 'how many.' Thus this is a question.

So, we have: how many skandhas are there, how many elements are there and how many spheres are there? Note the last sentence with she na, this is usually translated as 'if asked', 'if you ask', or something similar. Anyway, you could always leave this out and just translate this as: How many skandhas, elements and spheres are there?

So that's what we will do next, go through all the skandhas, elements and spheres!

phung po khams skye mched

I was thinking about going through the Tibetan translation of Abhidharma-Samuccaya line by line, but immediately in the beginning of the first chapter there's a summary of what this section will explain. So I think it will be better to skip certain parts. Also there's a long listing of various parts soon after. I was thinking about condensing all this, but then again it's good to see the sentences repeating, as seeing the patterns over and over will help anyone recognize similar patterns. Also, those listings have a lot of key words good to know.

Anyway, the beginning of the first chapter has to do with phung po (skandha, heaps), khams, dhatu, elements) and skye mched (ayatana, spheres). There will be a listing of all these parts, definitions, characteristics, as well as other interesting information related to these parts. Then these will be combined with other parts to see more connections and interesting relationships.

We will talk more about these then later, but just seeing the listing of what they consist of will give enough insight into these three important collections.

By the way, I have a revised ACIP edition of the Tibetan translation of Abhidharma-Samuccaya, but I don't want to publish it openly. However, if someone wants this text from me, send me email and I could provide it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Homage - Part 2

The beginning of the homage, in this Tibetan translation, and what the text pays homage to, is 'jam dpal gzhon nur gyur pa, Manjushri-kumara-bhuta. One English translation of this of many names of Manjushri is The Youthful Gentle Splendor.

'jam dpal is Manjushri, or Gentle Splendor. gzhon nur gyur pa is to become a youth, guyr pa is to become, gzhon nu is youthful, and the r in gzhon nur is a general subordination particle that organizes the right with the left. If there's something to be learned here is to always watch out for possible particles at the end of words, otherwise you will spend time trying to find words in a dictionary that are not present.

One way to interpret this homage is that Abhidharma is hard to understand, so paying homage to Manjushri is a way to pay homage to the highest wisdom ((see Jewel Ornament of Liberation Introduction.)

Another interesting interpretation is that when the texts where collected after the pari-nirvana of Buddha, Manjushri the bodhisattva recited the Abhidharma texts.

Also, in the classification system introduced by the Tibetan king Ralphachen, all Abhidharma texts should have this homage to classify them into the basket of Abhidharma.

Next, we will continue in the text, no worries, Abhidharma is not hard, it's actually fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Homage - Part 1

Next in the prologue is the homage section. We will break this to a couple of postings. We will also read this part backwards.

The ending is phyag 'tshal lo. The lo part indicates a proper sentence ending by adding this lo part to the end of the actual verb. phyag is to prostrate, or pay homage. phyag 'tshal is homage or salutation.

The la before this is a particle, oblique particle, or me as a programmer think of this particle as a pointer particle. It binds the right side with a construct to the left related to 'for what', or 'considering what.' Anyway, use the simple word 'to' just now.

So we are paying homage to something, and that's next.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

bang po dang po - First Section

Yes, in the prologue and sections of the Abhidharma-Samuccaya we will go through somewhat mundane parts, but it's good to learn those. If you see these patterns and learn them, then when you look at other Tibetan texts it will look familiar. And based on such pattern recognition you could suddenly very fluently read parts of translations.

bam po means section, a collection grouped together. dang po means first. So this is of course the first section. Just as a fun exercise, do a net search on "bam po dang po" . By the way, I found an old article I wrote for a now not so active Tibetan translator wiki system. I also found out if you do a net search, at least on Google, with "bam po" and Chandra Das you get a hit directly into the Chandra Das Tibetan Dictionary, PDF version, with the section hi-lighted, so that's very neat.

As I've mentioned before, most Buddhist texts are very much organized outlines with information. You need to just keep track of the sections along the way when you translate or read texts -- there's seldom any context of a table of contents, unless some other scholar has produced a specific commentary with such information.

Next, the homage section in the prologue.

Monday, December 17, 2007

chos mngon pa kun las btus pa - Tibetan Title

After the Sanskrit title, as this is a Tengyur text, is the Tibetan title for the text. We have already gone through the title, so it's more to learn the patterns in the prologues of Tibetan texts, where the titles are listed.

Here is the somewhat familiar phrase, pod skad du. skad du was as earlier in the language. bod is Tibet. So this phrase is: In Tibetan.

Next, we will continue in the text.

Friday, December 14, 2007

chos mngon pa kun las btus pa - Sanskrit Title 2

To continue with the Sanskrit title, the Tibetan translations use -- of course -- Tibetan letters to spell out the Sanskrit name itself. The actual Tibetan letters even were imported from India.

The second part spells out a bhi dha rma sa mu tsacha ya. Notice the way how some letters are stacked on top of each other. All together this is Abhidharmasamuccaya, Abhidharmasamuchaya, and variations on how it this is transliterated to English.

Sometimes you just need to see the patterns. Notice the dha rma section, the first D could as well be nga, but ngdha rma does not make sense.

Next, the Tibetan title in the prologue.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

chos mngon pa kun las btus pa - Sanskrit Title 1

The text then continues with this standard set of parts. If you learn these, you should be able to translate and understand most if not all of the Kangyur and Tengyur texts translated to tibetan.
The first part is rgya gar skad du. rgya gar is India but note later that there will be a twist to this! skad is voice or language. du is a general sub-ordination particle that will classify what is to the right with what is on the left. Use the word in here.

So the first pass on translating this is In the language of India. However, as the Mahayana Buddhist texts were written in Sanskrit, you might as well translate this as: In Sanskrit.

Next, how to learn how the Tibetans transcribed Sanskrit words using Tibetan letters.

chos mngon pa kun las btus pa - Title

This is the title that you would see if you would start on the first (pecha) page in this text. We have gone through the title before, so the only new part is the bzhugs so part. This is good to learn, as you will encounter the same pattern on most Tibetan texts, on the first page.

bzhugs usually means stay, remind, reside, contain, but here it's ended with the proper sentence ending -so, as in bzhugs so. The typical way to translate this something like 'herein is' , or 'this contains.' You could actually be very flexible, as long as it means something like this is the text xzy, or this contains ... and so on.

By the way, this text has been translated from hybrid Sanskrit/Tibetan to French by Walpola Rahula. The original Sanskrit version had sections missing. Then this French translation was translated to English by Sara Boin-Webb, ISBN: 0-89581-941-4, and you could order the book from Amazon and similar places. Unfortunately it seems like this book is very expensive...

Next, we continue in the Tibetan version of this text.

Monday, December 10, 2007

chos mngon pa kun las btus pa - Abhidharma-Samuccaya 2

The second part of the name of this text is kun las btus pa - Samuccaya.

kun las means from all, or all that. btus pa is collected, gathered, extracted.

In other words, this combination means compilation from all sources, or a compendium, in this particular case a compilation of Abhidharma material. You could see this Sanskrit and Tibetan term from time to time in various compilation texts, such as Dignaga's Pramana-Samuccaya, or Shantideva's Siksa-Samuccaya.

As for the word Abhidharma, chos mngon pa, there are all kinds of attempts to translate this to English: higher knowledge, metaphysics, and so on. I tend to be somewhat conservative and use the Sanskrit term; it's nice, and it forces someone to learn the meaning behind the word, and also avoids any misunderstandings -- for example meta-physics and the connection to new age material.

Next, the full title of the text as seen in the actual Tibetan text.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

chos mngon pa kun las btus pa - Abhidharma-Samuccaya 1

OK! We will start going through selected parts of Abhidharma-Samuccaya, or chos mngon pa kun las btus pa as it is known in Tibetan. Why? Because we are still on the third noble truth, learning more how suffering could be eliminated.

What is this text? It is a very important text in Tengyur written by Asanga. It is covering the Mahayana Abhidharma. Don't worry, things will be clear in the next postings. Why is this text so important? Because it has a very powerful question and answer format that describes a lot of terms, mind, skandhas (there was a request going more into those), elements, senses, and much, much more. For example, commentaries based on mind and mental functions sometimes use this root text for definitions.

Anyway, what is Abhidharma, or chos mngon pa? chos here means phenomena, dharma, all that exists, inner, outer and so on. mngon pa means to arise, to be visible, higher; in this case Tibetans translated abhi from Sanskrit as mngon pa. So it's meta-physics, or how things really work, or how they exist.

Note that there's also a lower abhidharma, how the non-Mahayana schools describe as things work. This higher abhidharma builds upon that. Usually monks and nuns first study Vasubandhu's Abhidharma-Kosha that covers the basics -- but we will jump into the highest level and learn along the way.

Next, the second part of this title.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

gzugs - form

The skandha associated with chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes is gzugs, form, rupa in Sanskrit.

More associations with this wisdom. Concerning the five elements it is space, with the five senses it is sight.

Next, we will continue on the third noble truth with a new theme!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

rnam par snang mdzad - Vairochana

The dhyani Buddha associated with chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes is rnam par snang mdzad - Vairochana.

rnam par is one of those expressions that are good to memorize, it shows up in texts here and there and it means completely, fully. The Sanskrit vi prefix is translated as rnam par in Tibetan texts.

snang is appearance, phenomena, it's an abbreviation of snang ba. mdzad is to perform, to make. However, this is a combinational world, snang mdzad, making things to appear, or illuminating.

There's something beautiful that Vairochana is the complete illuminator, dispelling any ignorance.

Vairochana is white in color, the element associated with Vairochana is earth. The mandala entrance, depending on the tradition, is usually in the center. The symbol of Vairochana is the dharma wheel (chos 'khor.)

Next, the skandha associated with Vairochana.

Monday, December 03, 2007

gti mug - Ignorance

The poison that is actually chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes in an impure form, is gti mug, ignorance! I would have not myself thought that the wisdom of the sphere of reality is in an impure form just plain ignorance. But it all fits together.

In Sanskrit, gti mug is moha.

Next, the dhyani Buddha associated with this wisdsom.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes - Dharmadhatu wisdom

The fifth of the five wisdoms, ye shes lnga, is chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes, dharmadhatu wisdom.

chos has so many interpretations and meanings, but here it's really part of a term, chos kyi dbyings. Anyway, for the time being think of this with the Sanskrit term, dharma, phenomena.

kyi is a genitive particle and binds the word to the right with the one to the left. dbyings also has many meanings: nature, realm, space, dhatu in Sanskrit... Anyway, here chos kyi dbyings is dharmadhatu. kyi is again a genitive particle, and ye shes is wisdom.

This is also sometimes written in short form: chos dbyings ye shes.

As for the term dharmadhatu, that would take a while, and I'm actually very tempted to look into more dharmadhatu terms after this section with the five wisdoms, as it's a very, very intriguing section, and I like to look at this myself from time to time, as it's mind expanding.

Anyway, let's think of dharmadhatu here as the realm, or sphere of phenomena, and is indirectly pointing at the potential of emptiness where anything is possible due to interdependence. So the wisdom has to do with this expansive realm, as it covers all phenomena. Different traditions have somewhat different interpretations about this wisdom. Anyway, one way to look at this is to think of the wisdom of the true nature of reality, and by leaving it by that I avoid getting stuck in all the different interpretations what it means -- from a valid lineage they are always true, just different interpretations.

Next, the somewhat astounding poison that is turned into this wisdom.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

tshor ba - Feeling

The skandha associated with mnyam pa nyid kyi ye shes is tshor ba, feeling. In this case, feeling means feeling levels of happiness and unhappiness.

More associations with this wisdom. Concerning the five elements it is earth, with the five senses it is smell.

Next, the fifth and final transcendental awareness.

Monday, November 26, 2007

rin chen 'byung gnas - Ratnasambhava

The dhyani buddha associated with mnyam pa nyid kyi ye shes is rin chen 'byung gnas, Ratnasambhava.

rin chen is jewel, ratna in Sanskrit. 'byung gnas is source, place of origin, sambhava in Sanskrit. Thus, padmasambhava might now make sense - Origin of Lotus, or Born from Lotus as this title of the second Buddha of Tibet is sometimes translated in English.

Ratnasambhava is yellow in color. The element associated with Ratnasambhava is earth.

The mandala entrance, or direction, is south. The symbol is of course a ratna, or jewel.

Next, the skandha associated with mnyam pa nyid kyi ye shes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

nga rgyal - Pride

The mental poison which is really mnyam pa nyid kyi ye shes in an impure form is nga rgyal. This term is actually easy to learn, as you will see.

nga is me. rgyal means king. Thus, nga rgyal is 'me king', or the word for pride. It's easy to see the connection between the single words and the actual term.

So, if someone is very self-centric, the wisdom of equanimity is impure, if one is no longer self-centric, the wisdom of equanimity is shining.

Next, the dhyani Buddha associated with this wisdom.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Custom Dictionaries in Leopard (MacOSX 10.5)

MacOSX has had built-in dictionaries for selected languages since the early days, but no official way to build alternate dictionaries and install them.

I had a discussion with a college from the same team where I work and he told me that with Leopard (10.5) he could now create custom Japanese dictionaries and install them. The XCode 3.0 development tool has a template example how to create such dictionaries.

This means that anyone interested could create Tibetan dictionaries and install them on their Mac. The benefits is that you could do spell checking (provided the dictionary is big enough to catch most common words and phrases), as well as doing direct lookup of words similar to using a thesaurus.

Note that the Tibetan words and terms need to be in Unicode, so anyone who has a set of Wylie based dictionary material needs to first convert the Tibetan to Unicode, and then create the needed data files for such dictionaries. Otherwise, it should be easy to build these.

I've done some more testing with Unicode and Tibetan on my MacBookPro running Leopard, and it's so much fun to finally have everything in one single, uniformed, document, using Unicode.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

mnyam pa nyid kyi ye shes - Wisdom of Equanimity

The fourth of the five wisdoms, ye shes lnga, is mnyam pa nyid kyi ye shes, wisdom of equanimity.

mnyam pa is equal, to be alike. nyid is a very useful word to memorize, it is used in combination with other terms and words, and means just, the very same, exactly like that (and nothing else!). Thus, mnyam pa nyid means equality, the fundamental likeness, or sameness and nothing else.

kyi is a genitive particle, it takes this form as the last letter on the left is a da, and binds the words or expressions on the right to the left. ye shes is wisdom (or I like to think of it as transcendental awareness myself, nowadays, sounds more wide and expansive than just wisdom.)

As you could see, by just doing a simple translation of this wisdom term, you could get a deeper glimpse into the meaning itself compared with the English translation used. This means that this wisdom expresses that everything, all beings, are equal, have the same needs and the same future. It is said that the dharma is raining down on everyone equally. In other words, such a wisdom there are no distinctions, rather impartiality, as it really is; no distinction between important and not important, self and others. An enlightened being could still discriminate between all these states (remember the so sor rtog pa'i ye shes.)

Next about the poison that is this wisdom in an impure form. Our family is traveling in Southern California this week, so depending on the Wi-Fi connections the entries might show up now and then.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

'du byed - Mental Formation

The skandha associated with bya ba grub pa'i ye shes is 'du byed - mental formations. Another translation for this part of a being is impulses, or habitual tendencies -- samskara in Sanskrit.

More associations with this wisdom: concerning the five elements is is wind, concerning the five senses it is associated with tongue consciousness.

Next, the fourth wisdom of the ye shes lnga.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

don yod grub pa - Amoghasiddhi

The dhyani Buddha associated with bya ba grub pa'i ye she (all-accomplishing action wisdom) is don yod grub pa, Amoghasiddhi.

don is benefit, purpose, yod to exist, but don yod means meaningful, useful, purposeful. grub pa is accomplishment or accomplished, siddhi in Sanskrit.

Amoghasiddhi is green in color. The element associated with Amoghasiddhi is the wind.

The direction, or mandala entrance, is north. The symbol is a double-vajra, a very common symbol you could find in various places in Tibetan centers. This symbol is also used at the base of a statue to seal the prayers inside.

Next, the skandha associated with the all-accomplishing action wisdom.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

phrag dog - Jealousy

The dug lnga (one of the five poisons) that is actually bya ba grub pa'i ye she in an impure form is phrag dog, jealousy.

I don't personally know the full story behind the background of this Tibetan word for jealousy, but looking at each part gives one interesting scenario of why this word combination was selected; note this is just my own speculation. phrag means intermediate space, and dog means narrow, tight. So it's like the mind becoming very narrow, instead of being spacious.

Alex Berzin has more interesting information about this Tibetan word.

Why no ending sha (long line) here? Well, this word ends with the letter ga, and that long part is already considered to be useable as a separator marker in Tibetan.

Next, the dhyani Buddha associated with this wisdom of all-accomplishing action wisdom.

Monday, November 12, 2007

bya ba grub pa'i ye shes - all-accomplishing action wisdom

The next of the ye shes lnga (five wisdoms) we will go through is bya ba grub pa'i ye shes. This word actually has two separate words good to learn, as you will see those here and there in Tibetan Buddhist texts.

bya ba is action, from the verb bya, to do.

grub pa is accomplishment, from the verb grub, accomplish. And the 'i is the genitive particle that binds this from the right to the left, where to the right we have the word ye shes, wisdom.

This wisdom is usually translated as all-accomplishing wisdom, but I think a more clear term is all-accomplishing action wisdom, or wisdom accomplishing actions. It means that with this wisdom, all wishes are naturally and effortlessly accomplished. This means that the ultimate wish sentient beings have, be free from suffering, reach liberation and ultimately full enlightenment could effortlessly be provided by those who have this wisdom in their mind stream. Just need to get the other end to listen and be attentive, and it usually takes all kinds of skillful teaching tricks.

Next, the mental poison that is this wisdom in an impure form.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

'du shes - Perception

The skandha associated with so sor rtog pa'i ye shes, discriminating wisdom, is 'du shes - perception, or distinguishing (recognizing objects). On the bigger level, Amitabha represents speech.

More associations with this wisdom: within the five elements it is fire, concerning the five types of consciousnesses it is associated with the nose consciousness.

Next, the third wisdom of ye shes lnga.

Tibetan Input in Leopard - MacOSX 10.5

Ok, here's more info, if you go into the preferences in Leopard (MaxOSX 10.5), and select the International/Input part, and scroll down, you will notice that there are three new input methods, Tibetan - Otani, Tibetan - QWERTY and Tibetan - Wylie.

If you enable those, you will get new input methods. Those could be enabled/disabled at the small icon next to the volume icon in the top-right corner.

What this all means that it's now very, very easy to type Unicode Tibetan on a Mac system! I have not tried out the Sanskrit level stacking which is usually tricky, as Wylie does not really cover it all, but general Tibetan works just fine, and the new built-in font also looks very nice. The default size is usually small, so you need to adjust this if you type documents and entries with Tibetan fonts.

Friday, November 09, 2007

'od dpag med - Amitabha

The dhyani buddha associated with discriminating wisdom, so sor rtog pa'i ye shes, is 'od dpag med, Amitabha.

'od is light. dpag is to to measure, med negotiates this, so dpag med is limitless or boundless. In other words, one straight translation how Tibetans translated Amitabha is Boundless Light.

Amitabha is red in color, as red is considered the color of love, compassion, and desire. Think of red sports cars! The element associated with Amitabha is fire, which makes sense, symbolically.

The direction, or mandala location, is west. The symbol is a lotus, padma, this is also usually the word Tibetans used in their translations.

Some more notes: as many of you know, Amitabha is maybe the most known dhyani buddha, the Pure Land tradition is focused on this Buddha practice. The pure land of Amitabha is called Sukhavati in Sanskrit, or bde ba can (Dewachen) in Tibetan. It's one of the easiest pure lands to achieve, but even that takes single-pointed determination. Je Tsongkhapa wrote a very famous prayer for being reborn into Sukhavati. The Panchen Lamas are considered emanations of Amitabha.

Next, the skandha associated with discriminating wisdom.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

'dod chags - desire based on attachment

The poison of the so called dug lnga that is transmuted into so sor rtag pa'i ye shes is 'dod chags, desire (based on attachment).

The reason I like to remind that it's desire based on attachment is that there's desire, and desire. Desire to become enlightened is not polluted, desire to own a better car than the neighbor is polluted.

It kind of makes sense that discriminating wisdom, when impure, is desire. I think these kinds of combinations are best explored with private contemplation; let's say having a nice cup of coffee, sitting in the sofa back home and thinking about the connection between knowing the uniqueness and sameness of all things, versus having an impure passionate view on objects. You might get a very strong insight, and that could then be strengthened with meditation on this object.

Next, the dhyani buddha associated with this wisdom, maybe the best known dhyani buddha out there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

so sor rtog pa'i ye shes - Discriminating Wisdom

The second wisdom we will now look at it so sor rtog pa'i ye shes - discriminating wisdom.

so sor is a very good expression or word to learn, it bubbles up here and there in the texts. It means separately, individually, for each part. rtog pa is in Sanskrit vitarka, it means thought, concept, mental projects in general.

so sor rtog pa is actually a term, individual analysis, discrimination.

The 'i at the end is a genitive particle -- you should now recognize those in your sleep! This binds the word to the right with the left. ye shes is wisdom.

So if we look at the Tibetan words, and the typical translation, discriminating wisdom, is that there's individual analysis of things, and the wisdom, or really transcendental awareness, is to notice each one individually, or discriminate with such things, or working with the wisdom of individuality.

More clearly, an enlightened being could see the uniqueness of every thing, as well as the sameness, at the same time. This also has an interesting side issue, when someone becomes enlightened, does this being become like all the other enlightened beings, like this cloud of enlightenment? Well, there's both the uniqueness and sameness!

Anyway, this has nothing to do with realizing a self-existent nature, rather the interesting world of emptiness with manifestations, forms, and still lack of self-existence. You could read more about various terms related to this wisdom here in the article.

Sometimes this term is also translated as 'timeless awareness', you will see later how it's related to this wisdom. By the way, this term is sometimes shortened to sor rtog.

Next, what poison is manifesting this wisdom in an impure form.

Monday, November 05, 2007

rnam shes - Consciousness

The aggregate, or heap, associated with me long lta bu'i ye shes is rnam shes - consciousness, vijnana in Sanskrit. This is according to the Guhyasamaja system. On the broadest level Akshobhya represents mind.

Furthermore, more associations with this wisdom is: concerning the five senses it is associated with sound, with the five elements it is associated with space, and with the five types of consciousnesses it associated with the body consciousness. As you see the number five plays an intriguing role when drawing connections between various parts.

Next, the following wisdom.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

mi bskyod pa - Akshobhya

The specific dhyani Buddha that represents me long lta bu'i ye shes is mi bskyod pa, Akshobhya. This name itself has symbolism that presents the mirror-like wisdom itself.

bskyod is to move, agitate. In Tibetan you use pa to make words from verbs, so bskyod pa is movement. mi is a negation particle, so mi bskyod pa is immovable. This name is also sometimes shortened to mi bskyod.

Akshobhya is blue in color (sngo); blue is like water, and water is immovable, and vast, and acts like a mirror, as things really are. Water is also the element associated with Akshobhya.

Usually in a mandala Akshobhya is placed in the east, the entrance port. The family symbol for Akshobhya is a vajra (rdo rje).

There are many good images of Akshobhya on the net, so do a net search in case you want to see an image.

Next, the skandha associated with me long lta bu'i ye shes. Yes, there's even a connection between the five skandhas and the five wisdoms. Five is an important number in Buddhism.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jamnyang Khyentse Wangpo Mini-Site

I just saw that the excellent LotsawaHouse web site created a special Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo mini-site. It has all kinds of translations, and also one short Tibetan text, byang chub lam bzang. This has also been translated in the translations section.

I won't give any clues, but you should be easily able to find it by opening up both the Tibetan text and the translation in separate windows, and learn by investigating how this two-page text was translated. A nice Sunday morning hobby!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

zhe sdang - Anger

From now I will use the Tibetan terms used earlier in order to get you to remember them, if you don't remember them, or are new, just find the terms used earlier in this blog.

The one of the dug lnga that will be transformed to me long lta bu'i ye shes is zhe sdang - anger.

Anger is really a delusion, and by transforming it, it will become mirror-like wisdom. It is really fascinating to realize that when we notice anger, we are actually perceiving mirror-like wisdom, but in an impure form! Anger is a very destructive force, but by purifying this it becomes the wisdom of knowing everything as it really is.

Next about the so called Dhyani Buddha that represents mirror-like wisdom.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

me long lta bu'i ye shes - Mirror-like Wisdom

The first of the ye shes lnga (five wisdoms) we will go through is me long lta bu'i ye shes.

me long is a mirror. lta bu is like that, similar -- this is a very common term, good to learn inside out. The ending 'i is a genitive particle that binds the right to the left. ye shes is wisdom.

So the most common translation for this wisdom is mirror-like wisdom. This is the deep, deep wisdom of the whole sphere reality. It is called mirror-like as phenomena appear to the mind in the same way as in a clean mirror - totally accurate with no distortions. Pleasant objects do not stick to the mirror, and unpleasant objects are not repulsive in the mirror. Mirrors reflect things as they are, whether it is a smoking machine gun or a beautiful rose. This includes no separation of self and other phenomena, everything is experienced in full harmony, as it is.

Next what needs to be transmuted in order to get to this wisdom state.

Monday, October 29, 2007

phung po lnga - Five Aggregates

ye shes lnga, the five wisdoms, are also associated with phung po lnga, the five aggregates.

phung is actually heap, skandha in Sanskrit. phung po is usually here in west translated as aggregate. It's somewhat odd term, as the heap or collection concept is easier to understand, it's really about taking a bunch of what a person consist of, and placing them in five distinctive collections, or five heaps; lnga is five.

There's plenty of good material out there on the web concerning the five aggregates, here's a good one by Alex Berzin. As we will see, it's interesting to notice the connection between the collections and the wisdoms -- again the raw material is there, it's a matter of purifying it.

There are even more things associated with the five wisdoms, and we will pick them up along the way, but these four sections times five is twenty postings, so that should be a mouthful during the next month or so. But the end result is that you would easily recognize how each important part plays together, in dependent origination, so that will be fun.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

dug lnga - Five Poisons

The raw material for ye shes lnga, the five wisdoms, is actually dug lnga, the five poisons.

dug is poison. These are like mental poisons, bothering the mind.

lnga is number five.

Sometimes this expression is also dug lnga 'khrugs pa, where 'khrugs pa means distraction, disturbance.

So the really cool idea is to take the poisons, and turn them into the pure form, which is wisdom. The five poisons are: desire, anger, delusion, pride and envy. For most sentient beings, those are present every day, so there's plenty of raw material to work with.

Friday, October 26, 2007

MacOSX 10.5 Leopard and Tibetan Fonts

Ok, Leopard is out so we could finally talk about the new features and fixes in this MacOSX release. See this image, it's from the Wikipedia Skandha page. Yes, finally decent default Tibetan Unicode fonts in MacOSX, and they properly stack, too.

I have not tested out all the possible variations yet, but finally MacOSX has good Tibetan font rendering support. That and with Microsoft Vista, we are finally, finally at a point where web sites could include real Tibetan Unicode strings.

I will still use the image approach in this blog, as it will take a while before everyone has the latest versions of the platform OS systems. But from the point of getting decent Tibetan font support, this is the time to upgrade.

... I still remember ten years back in time when it was just a matter of a few years before the platforms would have Tibetan Unicode support...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

rgyal ba rigs lnga - Five Buddha Families

Something that will play an important role in going through the ye shes lnga -- five wisdoms - is rgyal ba rigs lnga, the five Buddha families.

rgyal is king or royal, rgyal ba is the translation for Sanskrit jina, victorious one, or a Buddha. The victory refers to conquering the four maras.

rigs is an interesting word, means lineage, family or clan, especially concerning a spiritual lineage or spiritual family. lnga is number five.

These five Buddha families in the highest yoga practices correspond to the five Wisdoms. You could encounter these Buddha aspects in many places, such as in paintings, images of enlightened beings, practice texts, and so on. The highest yoga deities have all five incorporated, sometimes very obviously as five parts in the head ornament, sometimes in a more subtle way. And when you do do various practices, one of the Buddha families play an important role in the practice, and there's always a reason why.

Ultimately, they are inborn factors present in every sentient beings' mental continuum that makes it possible to become enlightened, the only difference being that in an enlightened mind, they are pure, and not mixed with ignorance as in the ordinary mind stream of a normal being.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ye shes lnga - Five Wisdoms

The enlightened mind operates with five wisdoms - ye shes lnga. These are five aspects of pristine awareness. As mentioned earlier, ye shes, wisdom, is transcendental wisdom, the awareness of an enlightened being. lnga is number five.

Well, to get there, certain ordinary parts and consciousnesses have to be purified. When that's done, they actually operate with transcendental wisdom, that's all. That's why again the Sakya presentation of Samsara and Nirvana being of the same taste is interesting, as it points out that all the material is available, it's just a matter of transforming it.

We will go through the ye shes lnga, one at a time, and for each also show the connection to various other parts, such as mental poisons, aggregates, Buddha families, symbolism, and so on. So this will take a while, but as part of that you will learn a lot of Tibetan Buddhist terminology, as well as see the deep interdependent connections all kinds of parts you didn't even expect. And next time you look at a Buddhist picture, you would know what various parts represent, it's all encoded in there, and you learn to decipher it!

Anyway, I hope by taking the ye shes lnga as the anchor point this will be a somewhat different kind of presentation.

mngon par byang chub pa'i sku - abhisambodhikaya

The last of the sku lnga parts of a Buddha is mngon par byang chub pa'i sku - abhisambodhikaya.

mgon pa is manifest, the r is a sub-ordination particle, it classifies the right side to the left. Tibetans translated the Sanskrit term abhi, towards, higher, supreme, as mngon par, so you should see this here and there in the texts.

byang chub is enlightenment, the 'i is a genitive particle that binds right to left. sku is body.

One way to translate this is the body of manifest enlightenment.

The short form of this is mngon byang gi sku.

One way to describe this is that the four other kayas spontaneously complete within the awareness wisdom, so this is the body of true perfected purity. It is the embodiment of buddha's enlightened qualities.

It is said that to describe the qualities of an enlightened being is like a bird taking off over an ocean, and turning back after flying one day. To make it more modern, we could fill every web page available on Internet with descriptions, and never finish the job. Anyway, it's auspicious to talk about it, so next there will be a short series of how ordinary parts of a sentient beings will turn into enlightened parts, which ones, and what is the end result.

Monday, October 22, 2007

mi 'gyur rdo rje'i sku - changeless vajrakaya

Well, in some presentations there are actually five parts to buddhahood, sku lnga. In this case there's dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, and two new parts.

The first is mi 'gyur rdo rje'i sku - changeless vajrakaya.

Let's go through this term backwards. sku is body, the 'i is a genitive that binds right to what's follows to the left. rdo rje is vajra.

'gyur is to become, and the mi in front negates this, so it does not become, or changeless.

The short form of this is rdo rje'i sku.

For example, vajrakaya is the body in which Jetsun Milarepa arose from his funeral pyre to give one final teaching to his disciples. It is basically the immutable or unchanging nature of the four other Buddha parts.

This is also sometimes translated as diamond body, as vajra is translated as diamond when using this expression, and rdo rje is king of stones, an indestructible stone. Another translation I've seen is body of indestructible reality.

I think to get more in-depth teachings on this topic, it's best to consult with your teachers, especially the Nyingma tradition would have beautiful explanations about this term.

Next, the last part in the sku lnga presentation.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

ngo bo nyid kyi sku - svabhavikakaya

The parts of a Buddha are also divided into four parts, sku bzhi. In this case the two form parts are the same, but the non-form parts are two. We went through ye shes chos sku before. The second part is ngo bo nyid kyi sku - svabhavikakaya.

ngo bo is essence, svabhava in Sanskrit; one of those words good to recognize, as you could see it used in various other terms in the scriptures.

nyid means itself, the very one, exactly.

The term ngo bo nyid is the very essence, the essential nature of something.

kyi is a genitive particle, binding the right side to the left, sku is body. Thus the rough translation the body of essence, or the Essence Body as this has usually been translated in English.

So what is this essence body? Depending on the tradition you get different answers. One is that this is the emptiness of the three other bodies. Thus, the three bodies are united in the form of them lacking self-existence, and appearing due to dependent origination. Sometimes this is described as the essential nature of being itself, something that is totally pure in nature. It is the ultimate buddha part, the wisdom aspect is dharmakaya, and the form is rupakaya, where pure beings perceive sambhogakaya, and impure beings perceive nirmanakaya.

But wait, there's also a fifth part, that's next!

Friday, October 19, 2007

longs spyod rdzogs pa'i sku - sambhogakaya

The second form part in the system of three parts of a Buddha is longs spyod rdzogs pa'i sku, sambhogakaya in Sanskrit, and usually translated with the intriguing title enjoyment body.

longs spyod is enjoyment, rzdogs pa is perfect. The 'i is a genitive particle, binding the right side to the left. sku is body.

This term is also sometimes shortened to be longs sku.

So what is this form? It is the form an enlightened being takes for ten level bodhisattvas, as a representation as a teacher. This has five perfected parts: perfect teacher, perfect retinue, place, teaching, and time that is only perceptible to bodhisattvas on the tenth (last) ground.

If you attend a teaching, and you sit close to a teacher, it is an approximation of what will happen later along the path, when you are a tenth level bodhisattva. You might maybe even have this teacher in the enlightened, sambhogakaya form. Or maybe that is already the case, and we don't yet perceive it??

And why is this an enjoyment body? The buddha is in a constant state of bliss, hence the name.

Now, a case that might map to this is the story how Asanga was taken to the realm of Maitreya and receive the five texts. Now, according to the Tantric system Maitreya is already enlightened, but in the scope of this story, the Sutra tradition, Maitreya is not yet enlightened, and is on the tenth stage Bodhisattva level, just about to become enlightened. Anyway, there are many other examples of practitioners reaching up to this level and receiving teachings directly from a sambhogakaya form, and these are also described for various enlightened beings in the scriptures. This includes the so called 32 minor and 80 minor marks of an enlightened being.

As a final note, these three parts are also associated with a Buddha's body, speech, and mind, nirmanakaya is the body aspect, sambhogakaya is the speech aspect, and dharmakaya is the mind aspect.

Next, there's actually another, four-part description of an enlightened being.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

sprul pa'i sku - nirmanakaya

Next, in scriptures sometimes the parts of a buddha are defined having three parts, or sku gsum as the term is called. In this case chos sku is still counted as the mental and ultimate part, but the form part has two sections.

Here is the first, sprul pa'i sku, nirmanakaya in Sanskrit, or Emanation body.

sprul is to emanate, manifest. sprul pa is emanation. Note again how the pa construct is to build words from verbs.

The 'i is a genitive particle, binding from right to left. And sku is again body.

This term could also be shortened to sprul sku. The pronunciation is trulku, so that should sound familiar, as it is a honorific title sometimes given to various teachers, hinting at the possibilities.

Now, I usually think of this term in plural, emanation bodies, rather than emanation body. A Buddha is capable of emanating countless forms, not just one at a time. It is said that a Buddha spontaneously emanates any form suitable for particular sentient beings at particular times. It could be a person, an animal, but also forms such as wind, bridges, clouds, sounds from the sky. If we want to be more contemporary, it could be TV series, web sites, MP3 music, chat sessions, podcasts, blogs and so on. There's no limit concerning the ways emanation forms could manifest.

Depending on the student, the emanation forms could take more obvious forms such as a special teacher and so forth. Anyway, worth thinking about this capability and what the possibilities are.

Next, the other form part.