Vajra Verses on the Natural State

revealed by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa

Homage to the glorious Samantabhadra!

The natural state of the ground is free from complexity,

And ground-appearances are rigpa-dharmakāya.

The path has always been clear of effort, from the very beginning.

When this nature itself is realized, it is the great source of freedom.

The fruition is not something separate and set apart.

When the result itself is present as cause,

Settling completely is calm abiding (śamatha).

Any sudden rising is rigpa's own radiance,

And vivid awareness is insight (vipaśyanā).

Directly, upon fading, there's primordial experience.

Remaining genuinely is the dharmakāya,

Accompanying awareness is the sambhogakāya,

And the non-duality of stillness and movement is the nirmāṇakāya.

This is what we call the “three-kāya rigpa.”

While remaining at ease, there's no clinging to experience.

Vivid movements of mind are freed, ungraspable.

Liberated in vivid clarity, there's no post-meditative state of mind.

This is what we call the “spontaneously present three kāyas.”

Without any deliberate view, it is beyond dullness and agitation.

Without deliberate meditation, it is entering the original 'womb'.

Without deliberate conduct, it is free from rigid notions or ideas.

One who has mastered this is a “lord among yogis.”

If you are aware of a thought as it suddenly appears,

And can sustain the continuity of recognition,

That is insight (vipaśyanā) gone astray in character.

It can also be referred to as “post-meditation.”

But it's not the freeing of thoughts as dharmakāya,

And we must cut directly to the source.

Rigpa has always been free from conceptual elaboration.

Conventions such as 'view', 'meditation' or 'conduct' and

Any clinging to them is cleared, without basis or origin.

Without slipping into any such categorization, 1

Are freed upon arising, without any agent to make distinctions.

As long as awareness does not lose its own ground,

There is no need for anything more than this.

Even if you were to meet a hundred scholarly monks, a thousand siddhas,

Ten thousand translators and pandits, a hundred thousand instructions,

Or a billion treatises, still there'd be no call to clarify uncertainty or doubt.

Samaya. Let the signs be absorbed.

To my only son, Khyentse Özer, this was given by the Samantabhadra of awareness

in the manner of a transmission of blessings and realization. Do not show it to

anyone, but conceal it in your heart.

Thus, in the Akaniṣṭha cave on the twenty-sixth day of the Month of Miracles, at a

time when the ḍākinīs gathered during my dark retreat, I set this down on a side of

precious paper.

This profound aural transmission is sealed withatham.

Only this! Only this!

The contents are elaborated upon in The Words of the Omniscient One.


Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2015, at the request of Dza Kilung Rinpoche. The translator is indebted

to Sam van Schaik, whose excellent version of this text appears in Approaching the Great Perfection

(Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2004, pp. 170–171). Any significant differences in interpretation here

are based on our reading of Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol's commentary. Revised in 2019, with

the kind assistance of Khenpo Yeshi.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

https://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-masters/jigme-lingpa/vajra-verses-on-the-natural-state

commentary on the Vajra Verses on the Natural State

by Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol

Here, in this explanation of the Vajra Verses on the Natural State, a mind treasure of

the Omniscient Jigme Lingpa, there are three parts:

I. The virtuous beginning: the meaning of the introduction

II. The virtuous middle: the meaning of the main part

III. The virtuous end: the meaning of the conclusion

I. The Introduction

This has two parts: 1) the meaning of the title, and 2) the expression of homage.

  1. The title

This refers to the line: “The Vajra Verses on the Natural State.” All phenomena are

by nature emptiness, beyond arising, remaining and ceasing. In essence they are

primordially pure, like space. Not produced by conditions, they are uncompounded.

This has been elaborately explained as the so-called “element” or “buddha-nature”

(sugatagarbha) in the profound secret teachings of the Bliss-gone Teacher, such as

the sūtras revealing buddha-nature. The King of Samādhisays:

Pure, pristine, luminous,

Unwavering, and unconditioned,

This essence of the sugatas

Is the nature as it has always been.

As this says, the essence of the buddha-nature has always been pure since the very

beginning. Adventitious stains have never been part of its primordial condition, so it

is by nature pristine and clear, without any impurity. It is not a nihilistic void, but is

naturally luminous. As it does not fall into any ontological extreme, such as existing,

not existing, and so on, and is beyond any conceptual limitation, it is unwavering.

And as it is untainted by conditions, it is unconditioned. The sūtras of the middle

turning reveal its nature as the 'three gateways of liberation.' As The Sūtra Requested

by Brahmā says:

All phenomena have the nature of emptiness, beyond conceptual reference.

All phenomena have the nature of characterlessness, beyond conceptual

thought.

All phenomena have the nature of wishlessness, beyond acceptance and

rejection. 1

In the tantras of the uncommon Secret Mantra this is described as the original,

primordial ground, or the dharmakāya rigpa which is present as the ground, and so

on. The Precious Treasury of Philosophy says:

This original, primordial ground or naturally arising wisdom, which is

expansive and beyond limitation or bias, is empty in essence, like the sky. It is

clear by nature, like the sun or moon. And it is all-pervasive in its

compassionate energy, like rays of light. These three qualities have always

been essentially indivisible, as the nature of the three-kāya wisdom.

If we realize this naturally arising wisdom, which is referred to in various ways, then

it becomes the basis for nirvāṇa. If we fail to realize it [i.e.naturally arising wisdom],

then saṃsāra arises. Basic space has always been unconditioned; it is natural and

spontaneously present buddhahood. As all the qualities of buddhahood are complete

within it, it is the sugata-essence. It is obscured by stains, so it is the ultimate allground (ālaya). And in essence it is primordially pure, so it is the wisdom of clear

light. As it is beyond any form of limiting projection, such as 'existing' or 'not

existing', it is profound emptiness and the view of the Middle Way. As it is free from

all conceptual elaboration, it is the transcendent perfection of wisdom

(prajñāpāramitā). And as it has always been beyond transition or change, it is

suchness.

This original natural state of primordial purity, unaltered and ordinary awareness,

the open, unimpeded dharmakāya, or lucid quality of wisdom awareness, is taught to

have the nature of the seven vajra qualities. The Omniscient Rangjung Dorje said:

It isimpenetrable to the minds of intellectuals.

It is impervious to conventional reasoning.

It is true, as it accords with the natural state.

It is incorruptible, difficult for the unfortunate to fathom.

It is stable, its essence being beyond transition or change.

It is unimpeded, pervading throughout, and penetrating all, saṃsāra and

nirvāṇa.

It is invincible, as nothing whatsoever can hinder it.

The instructions for pointing out directly the nature of this great and universal

precursor to both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, the dharmakāya of the original dharmakāya

buddha Samantabhadra are contained here, in these forty lines of infallible vajra

speech.

2

  1. Expression of Homage

At the beginning of this instruction of the Clear Light Great Perfection, there is an

expression of homage to the extraordinary teacher, glorious Samantabhadra, the

guide who has no origin or conclusion. He is the all-accomplishing king of wisdom,

the Buddha who possesses the three qualities of self-origination: his buddhahood did

not originate in the ordinary mind, his instructions did not derive from scriptures,

and his fruition did not arise from a cause. To this glorious, original protector, the

author offers homage beyond any involvement with the conceptual mind.

II. The Main Part

This has seven sections: 1) identifying the ground, path and fruition, 2) describing

calm abiding and insight, 3) showing rigpa to be the three kāyas, 4) pointing out how

this is spontaneously present, 5) showing how view, meditation and action are

purified within basic space, 6) the pitfalls to be avoided, and 7) decisive resolution.

  1. Identifying the Ground, Path & Fruition

The natural state of the ground is free from complexity,

And ground-appearances are rigpa-dharmakāya.

The path has always been clear of effort, from the very beginning.

When this nature itself is made manifest, it is the great source of freedom.

The fruition is not something separate and set apart.

The natural state of the primordial ground is free from the four or eight conceptual

limitations. Anything can arise within the basic space of that intrinsic nature, or 'asit-isness', just as anything can appear in the immaculate surface of a mirror. How is

this? In the expanse of clear light, free from centre or circumference, whatever arises

dawns as the display of primordial wisdom, without falling into the limited

dimensions of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. The natural state of the primordial ground is

thus beyond all conceptual limitation.

“Ground-appearances” here refers to the time at which the yogi directly perceives

the ground that is superior in its essence to the indeterminate all-ground of impure

saṃsāric experience. At that time, all clinging and fixation connected with delusory

thought is naturally freed, without being rejected, and this is what we call

“primordially pure rigpa.” Then, when the vajra chains of awareness, which appear

as the unceasing radiance of spontaneous presence, are seen directly as objects of

sensory perception, that is “seeing the dharmakāya”. A Dzogchen tantra says, “Child

of noble family, if you wish to look into the face of dharmakāya, become familiar

with the vajra chains that are rigpa's radiance.”

The line “The path has always...etc.” refers to the fact that this ground and its

ground-appearances are unconditioned. They are not dependent on other

3

conditioned factors. The line shows that on the path, within the basic space that is

free from effort and striving, the very consciousness that would eliminate or

cultivate temporary risings has always been pure, from the very beginning.

When the primordially pure rigpa of the path stage is realized directly and freedom

becomes extensive, there is awakening within the expanse of great primordial purity,

the basic space that is the ultimate source of freedom.

These qualities of ground, path and fruition are not isolated from one another like

separate tent dwellings. As the Uttaratantra puts it:

As it was before, so it is thereafter,

For it is, by its very nature, changeless.

  1. Calm Abiding & Insight

When the fruition itself is present as cause,

Settling completely is calm abiding (śamatha).

Any sudden rising is rigpa's own radiance,

And vivid awareness is insight (vipaśyanā).

Directly, upon fading, there's primordial experience.

When the ultimate fruition is not yet manifest, but is present as a cause, the stillness

that comes from allowing any rising thoughts to settle completely is calm abiding

(śamatha). This is likened to an ocean free from waves. Any thought which arises all

of a sudden through the radiance or expressive power of the real nature is the

radiance of rigpa. When we are vividly aware of this, that is what we call “naturally

arising wisdom”, or the “wisdom of clear insight” (vipaśyanā). As all thoughts are

nakedly freed, and fade into the basic space of the dharmadhātu, this brings about

primordial experience, in which we remain.

  1. How Rigpa is the Three Kāyas

Remaining genuinely is the dharmakāya,

Accompanying awareness is the sambhogakāya,

Stillness and movement, non-dual, is the nirmāṇakāya.

This is what we call the “three-kāya rigpa.”

The first line refers to remaining genuinely in the uncontrived wisdom mind of

primordial purity, in which phenomena dissolve, the natural state of the ground,

beyond confinement and liberation. When this 'ordinary' state of awareness is

recognized just as it is, without 'changing its fur' or 'altering its colour', then, as it is

untainted by apparent objects externally and unspoilt by the clinging mind within,

that is direct realization of the wisdom of dharmakāya, rigpa-emptiness. The fact

that the spontaneous radiance, which is unceasing and the ground out of which

4

saṃsāra and nirvāṇa unfold, is not blocked, but arises, while we are aware of it, is

what we call the sambhogakāya. Even though the expressive power (rtsal) of

compassionate energy arises as objects, if thoughts vanish without trace, so that

there is no opportunity for habitual tendencies to form, and arising and liberation

occur simultaneously, then we come to master the great wisdom in which there is no

division between stillness and movement. The ceaseless arising of the display from

the king-like dharmakāya beyond transference is said to be the nirmāṇakāya. The

“three-kāya rigpa” is what we call the inseparability of these qualities.

  1. How this is spontaneously present

While remaining at ease, there's no clinging to experience.

Vivid movements of mind are freed, ungraspable.

Liberated in vivid clarity, there's no post-meditative state of mind.

This is what we call the “spontaneously present three kāyas.”

When the mind's 'knot' of dualistic grasping is released and undone the essence of

the primordially pure ground is beyond labelling or identification. It is unfathomable

by the conceptual mind and inexpressible by words. It is beyond any objective

reference that could be described, and the one who might describe it is no longer

present. Even if one were to remain in this experience of all-penetrating, unimpeded

dharmakāya, the wisdom that is beyond the limiting confines of hope and fear,

uninterruptedly day and night, still it would not feature the slightest thought of

attachment to itself. The Omniscient Longchenpa put it like this:

When perfecting realization of genuine primordial purity,

There is no one who wishes for such realization,

And in the realization itself, there is no conceit.

The yogi of illusion is thus beyond compare.

When movement of mind, which arises vividly through the expressive power of

spontaneous presence, is freed by itself, it is beyond identification. As the Thalgyur

says:

Free from the beginning, there is no basis for repetition.

Freed by itself, there is no antidote.

Nakedly free, it vanishes as it is seen.

As this says, in 'naked freedom' whatever thoughts arise, whether subtle or more

apparent, are liberated with mere recognition, through the crucial point of their

absence of any real essence. This is compared to meeting an old acquaintance. 'Selffreedom' means that, based on the crucial point of the absence of any antidote,

whatever thoughts arise come into being automatically and are freed automatically,

like a snake unwinding its own knots. 'Primordial freedom' means remaining in the

primordial nature. Based on the crucial point of the absence of any basis for

5

repetition, the naturally abiding ground has nothing to lose and nothing to gain. This

freedom which is beyond benefit and harm is illustrated by a thief entering an empty

house. Furthermore, it is also said, “Freed upon arising, there is no before and no

after.” As this indicates, when whatever arises in the mind is clearly freed within the

space of the dharmadhātu, it is like the example of writing on water. Just as writing

and its disappearance occur at the same time, arising and liberation occur

simultaneously for whatever thoughts appear. And, according to the Omniscient

King of Dharma, this uninterrupted process of spontaneous arising and spontaneous

liberation is a special feature of the Natural Great Perfection.

From the perspective of meditative equipoise, in which one does not waver from this

natural essence of primordial purity, one is freed from the five aggregates, and even

in the post-meditation of the unceasing radiance of spontaneous presence one is

untainted by the eight ordinary modes of consciousness. With no distinction

between meditation and post-meditation, the name 'post-meditative state' does not

apply. Like a traveller arriving at the fabled island of jewels who might search for

ordinary earth and stones but will never find them, once we reach a point at which

all that rises in the mind becomes the display of primordial wisdom, even though we

might search for instances of ordinary delusion we will not find them. At this stage,

all phenomena based upon dualistic perception are freed by themselves, even

without being rejected. Like last night's darkness, which vanishes spontaneously and

without trace in the light of the rising sun, dualistic perception disappears, even if

we can not say where it is that it goes. As the vajra ḍākinī said, “For the yogi free

from limitation, like the dawning of the sun, this is the experience of dharmakāya.

Emaho!” Indeed, if you realize this, it is what we call “the spontaneously present,

unaltered yoga in which the three kāyas are experienced on the path.”

  1. How view, meditation and conduct are purified within basic space

Without any deliberate view, it is beyond dullness and agitation.

Without deliberate meditation, it is entering the original 'womb'.

Without deliberate conduct, it is free from rigid notions or ideas.

One who has mastered this is a “lord among yogis.”

When gaining this kind of realization, there is no dualistic division into an object to

be viewed and the mindfulness that is the viewer. Moreover, it is free from dullness

caused by the diminishing of awareness's clarity and the agitation of thoughts

directed towards objects. The fact that meditative concentration with a particular

focus does not lead to enlightenment is explained in The Lion's Perfect Power:

Practising meditative concentration you will not see the meaning of

dharmatā.

Naturally present absorption (samādhi) is free from any deliberative position.

Free from conceptual mind, the natural state is equal to the limits of space. 6

There is no thought through which objects of reference might be perceived.

As this indicates, there is not the tiniest speck of meditation to be cultivated, and this

is known as “entering the original womb.”

When this kind of realization unfolds, it is free of something to meditate on and one

who settles in meditation. It is also beyond any particular form of conduct related to

post-meditation, as one is beyond all fixed notions or ideas about rejecting or

cultivating the phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.

Anyone who masters the wisdom of rigpa in the genuine state

1 of the ultimate

nature and who consequently gains power over all the phenomena of saṃsāra and

nirvāṇa in their equalness, is what we would call a great lord among siddhas.

  1. Pitfalls to be Avoided

If you are aware of a thought as it suddenly appears,

And can sustain the continuity of recognition,

That is insight (vipaśyanā) gone astray in character.

It can also be referred to as “post-meditation.”

But it's not the freeing of thoughts as dharmakāya,

And we must cut directly to the source.

While the mind remains in empty clarity, if you are aware of a thought suddenly

appearing and you sustain that continuity, this is the insight that errs in terms of

character. It is not genuine insight. It would be fine to label it with the term 'postmeditation'. It is not a state in which whatever thoughts arise are freed as

dharmakāya. Rather, whatever mental afflictions occur first arise as an object, are

then noticed with pure awareness or mindfulness, and are finally left to settle in

their own place. But this is merely the approach of purifying movement so that

thoughts become objectless and without root. What is needed is to cut directly to the

source, so that, through the crucial point of freedom in the dharmatā nature itself,

whatever afflictions and thoughts arise do not hold firm, but disintegrate, freed by

their very nature in simultaneous arising and liberation.

  1. Decisive Resolution

Rigpa has always been free from conceptual elaboration.

Conventions such as 'view', 'meditation' or 'conduct' and

Any clinging to them is cleared, without basis or origin.

Good thoughts, bad thoughts, and those in between,

Without slipping into any such categorization,

Are freed upon arising, without any agent to make distinctions.

As long as awareness does not lose its own ground,

There is no need for anything more than this. 7

In order to show how this 'ordinary' rigpa has always been free from conceptual

elaboration from the very beginning, the text points out how the conventions of

'view', 'meditation' and 'conduct' are like mere impressions. No matter how the

unobstructed radiance of rigpa arises, delusory perception is cleared by itself,

without any basis or foundation for clinging to it. When it arises as positive thoughts

they arise spontaneously and are freed spontaneously. And when it arises as

negative thoughts they become the vast expanse free from all limitations. When

remaining in the same state, even neutral thoughts vanish by themselves. Not falling

into any position related to existence or non-existence, and without considering

there to be an agent separate from freedom upon arising, maintain unaltered

'ordinary' consciousness, the inexpressible state of awareness and emptiness. If this

does not lose its own ground, there is no need for any further, supposedly greater

form of view or meditation.

III. Conclusion

  1. How it is Unnecessary to Clarify Doubts by Consulting Others

Even if you were to meet a hundred scholarly monks, a thousand siddhas,

Ten thousand translators and pandits, a hundred thousand instructions,

Or a billion treatises, still there'd be no call to clarify uncertainty or doubt.

This pith instruction is the concentrated essence of many hundreds of thousands of

canonical sources, treatises, tantras, commentaries and pith instructions, from

hundreds of scholars, who are skilled in explanation, debate and composition, and

monks, who are supreme among all those maintaining the vinaya; as well as

thousands of siddhas with knowledge, love and power; tens of thousands of lotsāwas,

who translated the teachings from Indian languages into Tibetan; and paṇḍitas,

learned in the five sciences. Even if you were to encounter many millions or even

billions of other treatises, still there would be no need to clarify uncertainty or

doubt, as this is the final, definitive statement.

  1. Colophon

Samaya. Let the signs be absorbed.

To my only son, Khyentse Özer, this was given by the Samantabhadra of awareness in

the manner of a transmission of blessings and realization. Do not show it to anyone, but

conceal it in your heart.

Thus, in the Akaniṣṭha cave on the twenty-sixth day of the Month of Miracles, at a time

when the ḍākinīs gathered during my dark retreat, I set this down on a side of precious

paper.

This profound aural transmission is sealed with 'atham'. 8

Only this! Only this!

The contents are elaborated upon in The Words of the Omniscient One.


Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2015, at the request of Dza Kilung Rinpoche.

  1. Here Yukhok Chatralwa makes reference to the literal meaning of the term for

“yoga” in Tibetan, naljor (rnal 'byor), and its individual syllables “nal” (rnal),

meaning “genuine state”, and “jor” ('byor) meaning “to unite with”. ↩

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