Ultimate Bodhicitta According to Zhentong Madhyamika

These teachings were recorded at the Rimé Institute in Belgrave, Australia on May 14, 2015

So when we talking about the Bodhicitta, the primary divisions of Bodhicitta, the relative Bodhicitta, and the absolute Bodhicitta. So there’s so much details of relative Bodhicitta because this is something to do with human mind, human attitude and human intentions, or human aspiration. So that’s why we can talk a lot, the details.

But when we talk about the absolute Bodhicitta, then we don’t know how to talk really, sometimes. Because you talking about the ultimate level, the ultimate phenomenon. So we talking about the Buddhahood, we talking about the Buddha nature, we talking about the tathagatagarbha. So, that is beyond our imagination, beyond our capacity, you know, temporarily beyond our capacity. So even hard to imagine, so for this reason, sometimes there’s kind of like run out, what are you going to talk about?

So the brief meaning, the tathagatagarbha is, it is everything and it is something more than everything. Because when we say everything, that is fitting the structure in the mind, that is fitting the samsara. So actually is much more than everything. So it sounds, not understandable because when we say more than everything, that sounds like contradictory. But it is have to be contradictory in our samsaric mind, that’s’ why is go beyond in the samsaric mind. If it is sounds very much make sense in samsaric mind, that means not going beyond of samsara. So the tatatangarbah is have to be something perfection, non-contradictory for anything. That should be. That’s why we say emptiness possessing the totality of all possibility. So that’s why we call sublime emptiness and with union, immutable great bliss. That’s what we say, that is another name of the Buddha nature.

So the absolute Buddha Bodhicitta is one name of the Buddhahood, one name of this tathagatagarbha, this Buddha nature. So for this reason, we have to try to understand why we call Bodhicitta. Because the Bodhicitta is something samsaric, or you can say relative realm, name and words, sentence can describe. So that’s the only way we can describe. So for this reason we have to have some kind of match with the relative Bodhicitta and then makes sense. So basically, our relative Bodhicitta, we compare that, compare with…. relative Bodhicitta is something… not really measurement because the ultimate Bodhicitta is beyond measurements, but we try, we try to understand something immeasurable. Compare something with measurable.


So, tonight our topic is, how it is same, this sublime emptiness and the ultimate Bodhicitta and Buddha nature, how is same. That’s we talk tonight. Because last week we emphasise on what…how is same? The ultimate Bodhicitta and Buddha nature and Kalachakra. So today we talk about, of course the ultimate Bodhicitta, of course the ultimate truth, of course the tathagatagarbha, but we try to relate it with the emptiness, ok?

So how can the emptiness could be Bodhicitta, basically. And then we already know it is related to tathagatagarbha, Kalachakra, everything. It’s not really related, it is is, it is not contradictory, non contradiction. So first, first you have to know, the most of traditions, the most of sutra’s, Tantra’s, as common language, we call emptiness. The ultimate truth is emptiness, that’s common language. So now we have to know what is the Kalachakra system, Shentong system, language. Then you have to say this sublime emptiness, possessing the totality of all possibilities. What does mean? We talk later.

Ok, so, first we talk about two truth ok. Think about the two truth. In Tibetan we say…(@ 37.22 use Tib term). That is relative truth we usually say and then….(@ 37.29 uses Tib term). That we we call absolute truth. So first talk about the literal meaning. Ok so literal meaning….(@ 37.48 uses Tib term). …first part of term means everything. Second part of term means messy. So everything is messy basically, everything is messy. It is true, nothing’s not messy in our existence, in samsaric existence. The other one called…(@ 38.20 uses Tib term). Means true reality. True reality means not messy. Ok. That is the literal meaning.

Then another translation….(@ 38.38 uses Tib term), you know. The first one, some translations say delusions. It is delusion, because never exist at all, as we think exist, as we think, as we perceive, as we feel, as we feeling. Never ever exist, that’s why it is delusion. And some people say, some translation probably say illusory, illusory existence. And then if you not that cruel treat (? 39.32), a little bit try to apply and give name, then you call, probably deceptive truth. Deceptive truth. That means you are not completely delusion, not completely illusion but there’s something wrong with you, you know with humans, with this samsaric existence. So that’s why we call deceptive truth. And then if we try to make a little bit nicer, not deceptive, then we can say messy. The messy truth. Messy maybe a little bit lighter than deceptive, do you think? Ok. Then if we little bit more kinder, try to be kinder, then we can say ordinary or something, ordinary truth. Ok. And then if we try to make more nicer, then we can say relative truth. You not completely illusion, you relatively is true, you not absolutely true, but relatively true. So then we try to treat with a little bit nicer, call relative truth. And then if you want to say a similar, a little bit more, conventional truth, something like that. I don’t know which one is high, relative truth. Which one is more kind name, relative truth or conventional truth, whatever. You call this. Then if you want to make another name, we can say interdependent truth. Nothing is independently true, but only is true independently. So we can say interdependent truth. I don’t know this all words, is correct, in language wise, but hopefully ok.


So then if we think of this you know ultimate truth, we can say definitive truth, independent truth, ultimate truth, absolute truth. We can say more, more, more, more, more reality. And then you can say Buddha nature, short way. A long way you can say tathagatagarbha.

So this is the two truth ok. Two truth. So now we say two truth, seems like equal, but they are not equal we know, ok. So all Buddhists tradition, I’m talking about Mahayana Vajrayana, any tradition, they agree fundamental, there is two truth and one is absolute and one is not the truth. And one is something wrong there. That’s everybody agree. And everybody agree this, the first truth we have to get rid of. You cannot dominate by this truth. If you do then that means you never reach your full potential, which means Buddha nature. That’s everybody agree no problem, ok.

But what is disagree, sometimes. What is ultimate really is? That’s a little bit disagree. Ok. So, ok if you say very loose way, loosey way, what is the ultimate truth? Is Buddha nature, oh yer. I think everybody agrees no problem. It is tathagatagarbha? Yer, no problem. But then you say, what is Buddha nature really is? And then begin a problem.
So some say “oh emptiness, Buddha nature is emptiness, the ultimate truth is emptiness, Buddha nature is emptiness”. That’s one way of saying. And then some say “oh not just emptiness, the ultimate truth, the Buddha nature is not just emptiness, but free from all extremes”. Emptiness and empty of empty, empty of both, empty of all, not all, what you call, the other whatever you call. Called many, many other names. And sometimes say you have to be free from four extremes. Sometimes say “ oh you have to be free from eight extremes, four is not enough”. And then…that’s one, ok. One said emptiness, just say emptiness. One say four extremes, free from. One say eight extremes and ok one say “oh not just empty, but is luminosity”. Ok this Buddha nature is a union of this emptiness and luminosity. Now becomes four. Ok then somebody say, what you mean is luminosity? How union, the emptiness and the luminosity, and then more trouble. Then is start, begin problem, ok.


What is the problem? Some people don’t know how to describe the luminosity. Some people’s problem…then “oh ok, the union of two truth. What do you mean union of two truth?”. “Oh this you know this relative truth and ultimate truth, they are union”. Some people don’t believe they are can be union, some people believe there is union, they are should be union. I think there problem starts. Not from beginning, everything flow, good, good, good, everybody together. Mostly I think almost nobody have problem, we say emptiness, ok emptiness of what? Emptiness of all this samsaric existence no problem, everybody agree. But still sometime you arguing the words. Some people say “oh that is, you can’t say empty of everything existence in samsara, you now relative existence, you can’t say this because if you say this then you are nihilate the karma, cause and effect, reach enlightenment, everything” Some people concerned this, so that’s why “oh not is empty of all relative existence, but true relative existence”. They put true. You have to put in true otherwise you go another extreme. You are fall into nihilism. Some people say “no argue, now you have to, you have to nihilate the reality of the relative truth, you can’t say oh not the reality, the relative, but the truth, you can’t say that.” There is no reality exist beyond truth. So that’s another argue. Ok.

If you don’t understand this that’s ok, just sounds like, “oh ok, silly argument, arguing so much on the words, not the meaning. That’s good enough”. So don’t worry if you have headache, just don’t worry and just think, I don’t want to worry the arguments of the words. But important to know the meaning. The meaning is you…now you keep, thinking in the mind, keep in the mind say, is simple, it is common sense. Think that way. Not thinking “oh is something we never understand”. Don’t think that way. Ok.

How you think that? As I often said, remember, we know this (I think Rinpoche holds up the singing bowl stick), we perceive, we know this is very unstable movements, every moment, moving and running and unstable and so much space between the particles. We all know that, and we all hundred percent believe that and yet we don’t perceive that way. We perceive solid and completely strong and there is no spaces between, nothing, completely solid. That is how we perceive. So what do we perceive is the relative truth. What is the reality, is the ultimate truth, the absolute truth. I’m not talking about only this (indicates stick), I’m talking about everything. Give that example and everything, what we perceive and what we feel and everything is relative truth, which means never exist as way we think. You know.


But…ok then what is absolute truth? That is the Buddha nature. Ok. Ok do we feel, do we perceive the Buddha nature? Do we feel the Buddha nature? Huh? That question saying, do we feel this all this small particles? Do you feel the electron, neutrons, what you call. Protons. Do we feel all this movements? Do we feel all this space between? (indicates stick). We never, never feel. But do we feel the Buddha nature? Almost same. But not 100% same, because this nobody feel this, almost nobody, almost we can guarantee nobody feel. But Buddha nature we cannot guarantee for everybody but of course majority, as long as you samsaric dominate person, yes, you don’t’ feel. Yes, you don’t feel the Buddha nature. If you may feel tiny little bit, that means you are extremely fortunate, extremely. But even you don’t feel it but you just believe, even that you are absolutely fortunate. So think of that.

So what the Shentong view, what the Kalachakra view, is good system, is telling you we not arguing this empty, you know. Empty of solid, this is empty of solid. Empty of non movements, empty of non space between particles, that’s all empty is not true. We see not space, solid, everything, same. Everything we see, everything we think, everything in this life, all this and all beautiful attractive, everything, what we see, but they never is true, never ever, from the beginning, in the end, is not true, all is completely, not 99.99, completely 100%, 1,000% if you can say (laughs), a million %, if you can say. It is not true. So empty of that, that is emptiness. So this emptiness have no argument in other Tibetan Buddhist schools ok. Probably more Mahayana or anybody have not really argues, only argues, if they argues, they only argues the words, not the meaning.

But, ok, what is the Buddha nature? Then arguments start. Some people thinking that just empty part. This one, this reality (indicates stick), is the movements all the time, so much, never stops, these particles moving around. Ideas (? 56.21) reaction each other, we don’t see anything at all. We don’t see it, we can’t feel it, we can’t hear, nothing, we never hear the movements. So because we are so stuck our five senses, whatever our five senses think this is the truth, but it is proof our five senses, you know. And also proof you can believe, you can believe something you don’t see, something you can’t feel. Still you can believe easily, as we believe this particles (laughs) so same thing, same way.

So same way you have to believe the Buddha nature. So this Buddha nature it is, it is Bodhicitta, ok. Why is Bodhicitta? Let’s say, remember Bodhicitta, how start from relative level. First we try to love ourselves, then love some your family, and then you love friends, then you try to love everybody, then you have compassion and then you have responsibility, generate in your mind. And then not only responsibly their happy life, but then take yourself responsibility the total best possibility. Which means enlightenment. So that is Bodhicitta, basically, attitude and aspiration. Just attitude and intention, that’s it. Made from attitude and intention. That’s it. How you strong this attitude and this intention, stronger and stronger and more stable and stable, that we call bodhisattva bhumi’s. But that’s all we talking about relative level, everything. Which means really is close truth. Close to the absolute reality, the Buddha nature, that’s all. This close process of this closest we call bhumi’s. Doesn’t matter we put this way, or we put this way or way we put this, this, this, close to us, doesn’t matter, whatever, the meaning is that.


So that means the reality of Bodhicitta is already there. (indicates microphone). This particles moving and everything, is already there. How we feel and we see, we need process. First we have to examine many things and however, I don’t know the process, how they develop the microscope. Those things we need. But the microscope is only good enough temporary analysis. Because from the microscope you can judge but is not the reality you seeing. You seeing only images, but you can understand by the images. That’s why what Buddha said things, what Buddha taught things we can analyse things, Buddhist can prove, we call proof. But scientist don’t call proof. But scientists…you see this particles, they call that proof, but actually reality is very similar. So if one is proof the other should be proof (laughs). Other one you should call proof, anyway. That is not my main point but…ok

So Bodhicitta, this already, already… so this ultimate truth is sublime emptiness, not emptiness, this is not…this is not microphone, it’s not that, this is empty from microphone. That is just we call, what you call, non affirming negative. Just nihilation. So the other schools saying the Buddha nature is emptiness, there problem is “ok, ok, that means your Buddha nature is just nihilation”. That’s the problem. And then they feel uncomfortable you know like, oh if you agree say Buddha nature is just nihilation, negative yer? Non affirming negative. And then feel uncomfortable. Is not nice to say, is not nice to hear. And then probably they have to jump around. Then you have to speak something different.

But the Shentong tradition, we never saying this (indicates microphone) emptiness, that’s why we call sublime emptiness. Possessing the totality, all possibilities. Why? Because we talking about Buddha nature. Buddha nature is empty, yes empty. Empty of what? Empty of all this samsaric existence of course, but not just that, and all possessing, all totality of all the possibilities. That’s why it is sublime emptiness. Sublime emptiness ok. In the future we just call sublime emptiness.

So the other emptiness just nihilated. All nihilated ok. There is all samsaric, all this deceptive existence not there, that’s it, nothing else. But even you can’t say not there, because there is no there. So this schools sometimes say there, not “there”. They don’t say this because they say “oh there also empty. Everything is empty, empty, empty, empty of empty, empty of, empty of, empty of, empty of” maybe then is you know, is endless. That is unnecessary nihilist I call. So you have to just, ok of course there’s all samsaric existence or you call this deceptive existence or you can say this relative existence, because I said this many translations today because depending what you using for. Depending what context (Rinpoche says contact but I think means context) using, I think you using different is better. We always call relative truth, relative truth. That relative truth good for something but then you use different subject, different context you should use different…yer, different names, translations.


So, so jonangpa saying, shentongpa, oh, this Buddha nature emptiness is not just negation of, not just negation. Not just nihilation, not just this non affirming negative. It is affirming negative. Nihilate all this deception existence, but everything is there, that’s why I said before, more than everything. Because everything is something, samsaric existence language. So you cannot compare. That’s why totality, possibility. If that case, the Bodhicitta there? Of course, more than Bodhicitta, you know the relative Bodhicitta, more than that. Remember relative Bodhicitta is just perfect attitude and perfect aspiration, that’s all. But here, more than that, isn’t it. In the Buddha nature, more than perfect attitude and perfect aspiration, because reality there. The goal, the goal of Bodhicitta there and Bodhicitta itself. Why? Because is possibility, the possessing this sublime emptiness, possessing all possibilities, the totality of all possibilities, that’s why.

Does that mean this relative Bodhicitta reality also there? Ultimate reality there? Yes that’s why we call ultimate Bodhicitta. Then people think “ok that means relative Bodhicitta there”. No. Not relative Bodhicitta there. Ultimate Bodhicitta there. Which means the nature of the…the ultimate nature of the relative Bodhicitta. You now that’s why the relative Bodhicitta itself, again, relative remember, relative truth. But here is ultimate truth. That’s why your reality is not same as you. In this reality, remember, this reality (indicates stick) the particles everything, the subtle level, that is the more reality. It is not like what we see. Same, Bodhicitta is this (indicates stick), but the ultimate is this reality what the science see, ok? Science discovered. We have no problem to believe that science. Anybody have problem? No. Do you know why? (laughs). We never saying, even scientist never saying naked eyes. Only they see images. Yes? But still we have no doubt. (laughs) ok.

1.10.03 Student – …….(can’t hear) I understand from scientist hypothesis, ……they do works and manifest…..

Yes, that’s why we using telephone every day. We use internet every day. And we using television every day. Actually these things incredible, unbelievable, but we just forgot. We have no appreciation of this science, anything at all. We just forget, do you know why? That’s just human nature, no mindfulness, no gratitude, take everything guaranteed and still not happy. That is human nature. But actually, they done a lot good things. I mean if you can use bad way and you only use for destruction you know, how you call, you can use many ways. But if you use good way, is good because we have no doubt of this particles (indicates stick), particles we have no doubt because television, because mobile phone, because internet, because of those, aeroplane, everything, otherwise we don’t believe them. See! That is the same thing.

We believe the Buddha, karma we don’t see but we still believe. Why? Because…we can’t see the karma direct, we can’t smell the karma, that’s impossible and nobody see in the world, but still we could believe. Why? Because the Buddha, we see things Buddha said also true. Huh! We can analyse things Buddha said is so true. And many things Buddha said so true, that’s why we be believe. You didn’t thought about this maybe, this means you didn’t thought consciously, but unconsciously you believe. Unconsciously you know that, that’s why you believe. Same thing.

So that’s why Bodhicitta, ultimate Bodhicitta, the perfect Bodhicitta is ultimate Bodhicitta. It is already there. So our using relative Bodhicitta is just only to get there. Only to reach there. It is not really there, only to reach our own potential. It is just process. That’s why is emptiness, Bodhicitta, Buddha nature, great bliss, everything is non contradictory. In our world, there is so many thing contradiction, you know contradiction means, I don’t know in English, in Tibetan say…(@ 1.13.42 uses Tib term). Means contradiction. Contradiction means maybe different meaning, which means. This one (indicates bell) can’t be this (I think indicates dorje), this one can’t be this, this we call contradiction. You don’t call contradiction huh? What you call.

Student – mutually exclusive.

Oh, mutually exclusive. In this samsara, so many things mutually exclusive. In the ultimate truth, none of that, what you call, non mutual exclusive

1.14.25 Student – (can’t hear)

Yes, so here black can’t be white, white can’t be black. In ultimate truth, non contradictory. Here we have superior, inferior a little bit better, all like this. There, no. Everything is perfect, everything is not mutually inclusive. Student – exclusive. Exclusive sorry. Inclusive then. Ok. We call contradiction. There is nothing contradiction….(@ 1.15.03 uses Tib term). All perfect quality there and nothing’s contradict, nothing’s exclusive.

That’s why….that’s you can call fullness, you can call fullness. We don’t use that word much, but you can call, you can use if you like. If you understand doesn’t matter what you use, you know. But Buddhist don’t use those things much, fullness and these things. And mainly they use all the time emptiness, emptiness. Why do you know? Because we are so attached and dominated but not empty. For this reason Buddhist teaching emphasise empty, empty, empty, empty, empty, emptiness. Selflessness, selflessness, selflessness. Everything you know like, everything against what normal sentient beings, how are born. Normal sentient beings born as self focus. Self is central and everything else, not important as myself. That is all sentient beings born, and all sentient beings born…everything we have, everything we like then we attached. That is just normal sentient being.

So that’s why all Buddhist practice, to antidote all of them. That’s why first, you know love everyone, kind everyone, care everyone, non bias, and then Bodhicitta, take responsibility. Also, sentient beings nature is lazy. So that’s why Bodhicitta. You know this incredible inspiration, perseverance, diligent, we call discipline, ethical discipline, everything. Why? Because we need contradict, sorry, we need antidotes. That’s why. But this ultimate truth, ultimate Bodhicitta, that is the most important. Why? If you attached then you can guarantee you can have suffer from.

Student (?)

No. If anything you are attached, anything you have attachment, you have a guaranteed suffering from it. That’s what I’m saying. So there’s no attachment at all, possibility, only realise emptiness, selflessness. Otherwise impossible (laughs). Impossible. Even you have renunciation, you renounce something but you have something hanging on. You have to have….so easy. Think about, we going to die now. How you attached? Or you die in two months, you have guarantee you die in two months. Or we have earthquake now, we all falling in here, big hole here ok. So that time only we realise how we are lucky and lazy (laughs). Kind of that we realise. What does help that time, have no problem at all? Only emptiness, nothing else. Nothing else help totally, I mean a little bit help you know if you believe the Buddha, and you can prayer to Buddha and you think of “I am going to die what should I do” or whatever, you know something. Or you have incredible pain but then you just thinking Tonglen and you know, wishing all sentient beings suffering replace my suffering, or what ever you can do those things. A little bit help, a little bit, but what makes total help? Realizing emptiness. Nothing else. Why? Because, you know, realise emptiness means all our existence what we see, what we feel, everything is absolutely not true, we realise that. Absolutely illusion. You just wake up from the nightmare. So, you know, if you are incredible nightmare, absolutely frightening, then what does help completely? You have to wake up. When you wake up, you are completely relieved. Same thing. Until we realise emptiness, nothing helps totally. Only little bit. But when we realise emptiness, then everything perfect, perfect. Doesn’t matter you fall into this earthquake, whatever. That is illusion. You just dreaming, “oh ok I was just dreaming that, ok”. Like that.


So that is why is better to realise ultimate Bodhicitta. That should be our inspiration, but how does the process, multiple methods, we have to use, where are you from. So is human nature I think I realise, human nature always forget the most important things, and always looking for secondary methods. Even how you live the life in the samsara, people do that all the time. That’s why make everybody busy and stressed, but your wish, your goal wasn’t stress, wasn’t stress and depress. Even not worry and anxiety. You wish if I do this it makes better. Isn’t it? Whatever our life we do, whatever we do, everything we wishing for something better. Whatever makes you situation difficult, horrible, whatever. We didn’t wishing for that, we not doing work for that.

But still there, push there, why? One you can say karma, previous, previous you already done the karma and you contributing everyday this karma to ripen. But second your decisions, your reality of decisions. You forgot the primary, you know just be happier life and every moment of happiness feel, forget that and “ohh maybe I am happier if I , this make me happy if I, me, me, me, me”, like this. “maybe more, more maybe more, maybe more” and then you forgot the primary (laughs). That’s just everybody, almost 99.99% of people forgot that. Sometime I just feels we are so silly. Really I feels everybody is so silly, the whole world. And still we call “oh this person is very intelligent, oh these people is soooo educated and intelligent”. We call those things (laughs), but what for? You just can’t makes yourself even happy so what that intelligent for, it’s like you know, yer.

But remember still Bodhicitta, relative Bodhicitta is important. Why? Is human nature self centred. So that’s why couples cannot be together, they have to fight after two years. Why? Because the selfishness come up. The selfish nature come out. So whoever person, you know like, less selfish, get along easily. If you have to share one week….one week you have to share room more easier the less selfish person. And then more kind person, more easier the longer, and then we call “oh, is kind” we call. And then we call if better, “oh lovely”. Then, which means less, a little bit less selfish, less self focus actually, you know this nature. Which means is a little bit more, one degree closer to Buddha nature. And then you know like, is really good, and then we “oh wonderful person, I really want to spend time with them, so enjoyable”. Why? Because not…less focussing. Less focussing makes everything, makes more tolerance, easy going, and more considering, thoughtful, everything.

But that means not that the person who get along, not that, but the person him or herself, much easier life. Because you are not so uptight, yer? Much easier. So what I’m saying, we try to practise, “ok I’m not naturally very thoughtful but I try. I’m not very, a little bit neurotic and self focus but I try to focus others”. That is good, good you can try, at least you have encourage, at least you have the courage to try. But if you are naturally a little bit like that, is hundred thousand times easier. So which means you already done in the previous lives. So that means you are much more fortunate isn’t it. Because the same situation, you are much happier to do those things, and you make happier the other people. So which means really, closer to, a few steps closer to the Buddha nature. So that’s why if somebody already have that nature, is far more fortunate than somebody have really big wealth but don’t have this quality. Why? Because that wealth you use, develops more selfishness. Why? Because you don’t have to rely with anybody, so of course, this make encourage you more selfish and once you are more selfish then you are more miserable. Somebody looking for, working ten years work hard to achieve something and quite happy to process to this achievement, and this person already have, already have ten times more, but still not happy. So isn’t that obvious to you know which one is more fortunate, this quality or this external conditions. You have both then fantastic. You know (laughs). But that is not normal you know, not normal have both. More often, got the conditions, they don’t have the primary good quality, you know, ok any way.


I don’t know, is relative today, Bodhicitta? Hopefully. Tonight’s topics is emptiness. We try to, I didn’t know how did go but I try to, what I tried, is the relative truth, how is not really true, and then the ultimate truth is how really absolute true. And then with the science and everything. And then, but the schools unfortunately they not sometimes not go very directly the meaning and instead arguing the words and as my karma, my fortune, with Shentong, and Kalachakra, seems for me is much more, what you call, straight points. Straight forward to the points. So that’s why you know. That is one point tonight. The other points is, this emptiness is ultimate Bodhicitta, this emptiness is Buddha nature. And how important to reach this. And how is that is everything and more than everything ok. That is the conclusion. Hopefully you got that, if not then you think about, back, and then you will get ok. (laughs).