3) Explanation of the Three Types of Mind
First, the greatly compassionate mind. Having awakened to the fact that one’s own mind is originally free of production and destruction, one consequently feels compassion for those in the six destinies who have wrongly sunken away in them. Although one has not yet realized bodhi oneself,1 still, one wishes that beings might be liberated.
Interlinear note: Going to the scriptures, it is said, “The bodhi mind is such that, although one has not gained liberation oneself, one nonetheless wishes to liberate those who have not yet gained liberation.”2
The Lao-zi states, “The sage places his own person last and thus his person becomes foremost.”3
The Confucian tradition states, “One who is endowed with humanity gives liberally to all, rescues the multitudes, places others first, and places himself last.” The three teaching traditions are all the same in this respect.
In this, one generates with vast scope the “identical-substance” great compassion. Then, even to the exhaustion of future time, one implements the four means of attraction4 to draw in those beings and cause them all to take refuge in what is true, so that they all alike perfect the path to buddhahood. This is precisely what is intended by the mind of great compassion.
Second, the mind of great wisdom. Having let flourish the great compassion,5 one vows to liberate the many categories of beings. Because the many categories of beings are so numerous, the respective faculties and potentials by which they might become “vessels” [for the retention of Dharma] are not all the same. Thus it becomes essential to undertake service to the Buddhas which is vast in its scope and which involves a vast study of the marvelous Dharma. One then gains realization and entry into each and every one [of those dharmas] and subsequently turns back again to engage in transforming [the minds of] beings. This is precisely what is intended by the mind of great wisdom.
Third, the mind established in great vows. Since one aspires to engage in liberating beings on a vast scale, one consequently lets flourish compassion and wisdom which are both vast in scope. However, even though the mind is fundamentally pure, it has nonetheless long been obscured by one’s toiling on amid the “dusts” of the sense objects. One’s habitual propensities, by their very nature, are difficult to suddenly melt away. A vessel [for the retention] of Dharma is such that one must refine it through polishing and tempering.6
One reflects upon the plight of those coursing in the destinies of cyclic existence and realizes that they have not encountered the superior conditions of the Buddha’s Dharma. Consequently one then generates great vows while also setting about comprehensively perfecting the cultivation of the myriad practices.7 The practices and the vows mutually aid each other in just the same way as do the [two] wheels of a chariot. Thus it is that one progresses along, does not retreat, and moves straight on through until one reaches bodhi. This is precisely what is intended by the mind established in great vows.
Interlinear note: The Floral Adornment Sutra states: The lamp of the bodhi mind takes the great compassion as its oil, takes great vows as its wick,8 and takes great wisdom as its illumination.
Thus, among these three minds, it is great vows which are primary. This is because they constantly support the compassion and wisdom whereby one liberates the many beings. Therefore, along with the initial generation of the [bodhi] mind, one must necessarily first bring forth vows.
In the Floral Adornment Sutra’s “Conduct and Vows” chapter, it states, “When a person approaches the end of life, at that very last
ksana, all of one’s faculties scatter into ruination. All of one’s relatives and retinue abandon one and leave. All of one’s power completely recedes and is lost....” As for all of one’s wealth and treasures: “None of them ever again accompany one. It is only these kings of vows which do not forsake one and depart. They always continue to lead one along straight on through...” until one reaches bodhi.... “Therefore you who hear of these kings of vows must not generate doubting thoughts about them.”9
Interlinear note: This is what is spoken by Samantabhadra at the very end of the
Floral Adornment [Sutra]. It is certainly not either false or erroneous. One should rely upon this in one’s cultivation of the practices.
4) Explanation of the Five Vows
First, beings are boundlessly many. I vow to liberate them all.
Second, merit and wisdom are boundless. I vow to accumulate them.
Third, the Dharma of the Buddha is boundless. I vow to study it.
Fourth, the Thus Come Ones are boundlessly many. I vow to serve them.
Fifth, I vow to realize the unsurpassed, right enlightenment.
One maintains these five vows, implementing them in one’s mind in thought after thought such that there is no interval in which they are not active. This constitutes complete implementation of the great mind of bodhi. This is what constitutes the upholding of the precepts of the bodhi mind. The three types of minds and the five vows are layered one upon the other in a way whereby they support each other.
From one buddha to the next, the path is the same. It does not go beyond this. It is precisely this which constitutes perfect generation of the
To be continued