Tegpa Chenpo Gyü Lamey Tanchö

The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra
as taught by Arya Maitreya, transcribed by Arya Asanga

a brief outline
according to commentaries given by Jamgon Kongtrul,
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche amd Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

Homage to the Lama

Based on the Dharani-raja sutra  as spoken by the Buddha to King Isvara, this was one of five teachings given by Maitreya to Asanga in Tushita heaven. Considered too profound to be passed on during Asanga's lifetime, the Gyü Lamaí  was concealed in a stupa and rediscovered by Maitripa, Marpa's guru. Maitreya appeared to Maitripa to clarify difficult points and Maitripa spread these teachings widely. Essentially, this teaching consists of:


 1. Buddha
 2. Dharma
 3. Sangha
 4. Buddha-nature
 5. Buddhahood
 6. Buddha Qualities
 7. Buddha Activities

Just as in autumn the form of the moon is seen
in a cloudless sky and in the deep blue water of a lake,
the form of the All-Embracing is seen by the Victor's heirs
in the perfect buddha-mandala [and in the world].

-Uttaratantra Shastra, BN p. 230

and the first Three Vajra Points
98-114=16  pages
301-327=26 pages KTGR (42)

I. Buddha

 Truly liberated from all the obscurations,
 You possess the knowledge that pervades all objects.
 Mighty one, the tamer of everyone in the world,
 I prostrate to you who are completely liberated. -Asanga

 enlightened or perfect in knowledge, sangye in Tibetan
 sang : purified, cleared away  gye : unfolded, fully developed

The 2 types of refuge

II. Dharma consisting of

1. The Dharma of statements

1. the tripitaka teachings given by the Buddha

  a. vinaya    focusing on morality
  b. sutra     focusing on meditation
  c. abhidharma    focusing on wisdom

2. commentaries, shastras [further classified into Tibetan & Indian masters]

  a. assemble scattered parts
  b. clarify hidden meanings
  c. reveal profound aspects not easily understood

2. The Dharma of realization
1. the truth of cessation  ~is brought about by prajna

 a. inconceivable- no thing, w/o substance, beyond the four conceptual extremes
 b. non-dual- freedom from karma and defilement, empty and luminous
 c. non-conceptual- pristine cognition, free from the limits of representational thinking

2. the truth of the path   ~has supreme value for others

 a. purity, stainless~ free of emotional and mental  obstacles as the sky and sun are unaffected by clouds
 b. clarity, brilliance~ the light of jnana illuminating both relative qualities and the true nature
 c. remedial power eliminating the three poisons~

III. Sangha  consisting of

  1. the sangha of causal refuge- fellow buddhists
  2. the sangha of fruition- the realized sangha

the following six qualify sangha members

 the first three benefit oneself and are aspects of knowledge;

 1. jnana of how it is ~ dharmakaya, the absolute truth
 2. jnana of variety ~ the relative truth of phenomena
 3. inner jnana (nang gi yeshe)~ the actual basis of 1 & 2 optimized

 the last three have value for others and are aspects of liberation

  4. free of emotional defilements
  5. free of conceptual dualism
  6. free of inferior views

The following four vajra topics are known as The Four Inconceivable Pointsbecause ordinary beings cannot understand them.

117-181=64 pages
327-358=31 pages KTGR (95)

IV. Buddha-nature

"The intention behind the following ten points is to determine the meaning of the dharmadhatu" -Jamgon Kongtrul

 1. the principle  the Buddha-nature is inherently pure like

space~changeless -suchness not changing into something else: dharmakaya

"He is known as the one like the sky, because he has obtained omnicient understanding and knowledge of the sphere of action of the Dharmadatu - without center and without limits - boundless sphere of wisdom." -Lalitavistara Sutra

"Because what is previous has no ending, it is indivisible.  Rid of all error of conditions, causes, and conceptualization, it is difficult to reflect upon.  Being the ultimate absolute, it can not be confused.  Like space, it is everywhere." -Lalitavistara Sutra

"He is called the one who dwells in complete deliverance and unhindered knowledge, because he has abandoned obscure teachings. He is called the one with the body which has completely entered the Dharmadhatu, because he has passed from sight and is the same as space." -Lalitavistara Sutra

gem~wielding powers, wish-fulfilling: sambhogakaya
"Having perfected renunciation according to the Way, he is called cintamani, the king of precious gems."  -Lalitavistara Sutra
water~a nature that has a moistening quality, compassion that pervades all beings: nirmanakaya
"He is known as the one like water, because he is free from all conceptions, spotless in body and mind, and clear of all defilements."  -Lalitavistara Sutra
 2. the cause ~ 4 causes that allow Buddha-nature to manifest
the four veils
enmity toward  dharma
as true purity
a view 
asserting self
as true self 
grasping at pleasure
as true happiness 
neglecting the welfare of beings
as true permanence

 3. the fruition of Buddha-nature beyond samsara and nirvana, has qualities of-

  • true purity- counteracting karmic impurities
  • true self-   counteracts suffering in life
  • true happiness-  counters impermanent skandhas
  • true permanence- counters a belief in a separate self
  •  4. the function and influence of Buddha-nature: awakening beings
        a. as one develops a weariness of samsara
        b. one can see the benefits of nirvana
     5. the endowments of the Buddha-nature are
  • stainless jnana- heat of the lamp, primordial wisdom
  • indivisibility of clarity and purity; color free of pollutants, abandonment free of defilement
  •  6. the manifestation in approaching the Buddha-nature, suchness takes three forms  7. the phases of Buddha-nature are
  •   impure in ordinary beings- with faults, the two obscurations, corresponds to the tathagata in terms of the basis
  •   mixed in bodhisattvas-  with qualities, free of acquired sins, corresponds to the tathagata in terms of the path
  •   pure in the tathagatas-  with ultimate qualities, free of innate sins, corresponds to the tathagata in terms of the fruit
  •  8. all-pervasiveness of Buddha-nature is like space  9. changelessness
    ~in the example of ordinary beings:

    "Earth rests upon water and water upon wind. Wind rests fully on space. Space does not rest on any of the other elements of wind, water, or earth" -Uttaratantra Shastra

     10. indivisibility of Buddha-nature from its qualities manifest as
    Nine Examples of Buddha Nature
    as found in ordinary beings
    illustrating the fruition once cognitive obscurations have been removed
    the three dormant tendencies: the karma of immovability
    in a withering lotus
    fleshy petals are attachment
    buddha is 
    absolute dharmakaya
    covered by bees
    bees are aggression
    relative dharmakaya as teaching
    deep aspect, one taste of honey
    unhusked rice
    husk is ma-rigpa
    mixed grains, variety of teachings
    vast aspect, many flavors
    active /innate
    gold nugget 
    encrusted in filth
    slime of  the poisons 
    actively manifest as both 
    virtuous and nonvirtuous karma
    suchness is the gold
    treasure buried 
    under a pauper's floor
    dark soil is remaining imprints of 
    latent, innate ignorance
    buddha nature 
    lies there like a treasure, 
    the innate aspect of the causal ground 
    the last five [one above]
    relate to the causal ground: the disposition
    thick-skinned fruit
    fruit skin is acquired obscurations
    transcended on path of seeing 
    (via sprouting)
    accumulations in causal ground 
    mature buddha seed into a great tree
    precious rupa wrapped 
    in tattered rags
    rags are innate obstacles 
    removed on path of meditation
     superb rupa is svabhavikakaya
    of dharmakaya
    embryo of great king
    in a poor wretch 
    impurities of bhumis 1 - 7
    king is svabhavikakaya
    of sambhogakaya
    gold rupa covered in clay
    impurities bhumis 8 -10
    overcome by Vajra-like samadhi
    new rupa is svabhavikakaya
    of nirmanakaya

    182-217=35 pages
    358-385=27 pages KTGR (62)

    V. Enlightenment or Buddhahood

    "It is by nature clear light" -The Buddha

     1. nature, essence

    possessing the two types of purity

     four particularities by which enlightenment is free from incidental stains
  • lucid clarity like sun in the sky, the sun being essence of realization (yeshe) and sky being the nature, free of all obscurity (ka-dag)
  • purity: having relinquished all emotional and cognitive obscurations, the supreme goodness of uncreated clear light pervades
  • the possession of enlightened qualities is unchanged by incidental defilement: clouds
  • the possession of the causal condition of the absolute and relative jnanas
  • two kind of knowledge:  2. cause     the practice of morality, meditation & wisdom  3. fruition     freedom from all emotional and mental impurities  4. the function    spontaneous accomplishment of the two-fold benefit
  • untainted by defilement or mental imprints
  • all embracing in its knowledge
  • indestructible and uncreated
  •  5. endowments
    the primary quality which pervades all others
    1. inconceivable  not an object of study, knowable only by jnana itself
    the aspect of timelessness, endlessness
    2. permanent free of birth, unborn and becoming
    3. eternal free of aging, unconditionally present, steadfast, uncreated
    4. at peace free of sickness, undisturbed by existence
    5. changeless free of death, immutable, uncompounded
    the fulfillment of purification and realization
    6. perfectly at peace free of suffering, full of great bliss, cessation
    7. all embracing free of cognitive limitations, pervasive clarity, complete insight
    8. thought free not trapped by concepts, without ideation, correct understanding
    9. uninvolved veil of mental poisons abandoned, free of clinging and attachment
    10. unhindered veil of obstructions to knowledge destroyed, 
    free of cognitive obscurations
    11. free of coarse sensations veil of obstructions to meditative equipoise removed, 
    free of sinking and agitation
    the four qualities of purity
    12. invisible free from features of visibility and ordinary cognition, formless
    13. imperceptible free of solid characteristics, ungraspable by ordinary intellect
    14. pure being by nature pure, wholesomeness
    15. immaculate free of adventitious stains, unimpeded samadhi

     6. manifestation     as the three kayas

    dharmakaya qualities  ~ PROFOUND/ NATURE    (rang bzhin gyi rtag pa)

    the svabhavikakaya of the dharmakaya ~

    five intrinsic characteristics

       1. uncreated and totally indivisible
        2. free of excess and lack, no basis for nihilism or eternalism
        3. free of emotional, cognitive and subtle karmas which stain ordinary meditation
        4. free of all obscuration, not an object or field of experience for any thought or conceptualization
        5. clarity, field of experience of self-aware primordial wisdom

    five outward qualities

         1. immeasurable, unfathomable, beyond signs, images, names
         2. infinite, uncountable virtues, beyond number
         3. inconceivable, beyond intellect, reasoning and dialectics
         4. incomparable, peerless, unequalled, embraced by Buddhas alone
         5. ultimate purity, immaculate, best possible abandonment, space of the tathagatas

     sambhogakaya qualities     ~ VAST/ UNINTERRUPTED    (rgyun mi ' chad pa'i rtag pa)

      nirmanakaya qualities      ~ GREAT/ CONTINUITY    (rgyun gyi rtag pa)
    the twelve deeds of a tathagata

         1. remaining in Tushita
         2. descent and entry into a womb
         3. taking birth
         4. proficiency in the arts
         5. enjoyment of consorts
         6. renouncing the world
         7. practicing asceticism
         8. going to Bodhgaya
         9. vanquishing Mara
         10. attaining enlightenment
         11. turning the wheel
         12. passing into nirvana

    Enlightenment can be described in seven ways

        1. Spontaneously Present (rang byung)
        2. Omniscience (shes bya thams cad mkhyen pa)
        3. Buddhahood: perfect abandonment, perfect realization; correct and complete insight (sang rgyas nyid)
        4. Supreme Nirvana, beyond torment (mchog tu mnya ngan las 'das)
        5. Inconceivable (bsam du med pa)
        6. Foe-destroyer, arhat (bgra bcom pa)
        7. Self-cognizant Nature (so so rang gis rig pa'i bdag nyid)

     7. permanence

     reasons for the permanence of the rupa kayas

      1. endless conditions ~ due to accumulations of bodhisattvas
      2. infinite beings to liberate
      3. great compassion ~ the heart of bodhicitta
      4. miraculous cause ~ siddhi, the power to help
      5. equality of samsara and nirvana ~ great equanimity
      6. perfect happiness ~ the bliss of samadhi
      7. mastery of all qualities ~ having destroyed all fetters

     reasons for the permanence of the dharmakaya

      1. deathless ~ transcendent to karma
      2. unborn ~ at peace
      3. protects and pervades the world ~ ultimate refuge

     8. inconceivability ~ eight qualities

    The first five show how both Dharmakaya and enlightenment are subtle and beyond the reach of thought

       1. inconceivable, ineffable, beyond speech
       2. inexpressible, ultimate truth
       3. absolute, beyond the four extreme propositions
       4. incomparable, inscrutable, beyond symbolic indication
       5. peerless, unequalled, the highest of all
    The sixth shows how the Form kayas are inconceivable
        6. neither existence nor peace, not comprised of anything
    Two characteristics of Buddhahood, the last  mode of the Self-sprung Ones [rang-byung]
       7. non-abiding in the extremes
       8. without conceptions about the faults of samsara or peace as a quality

    218-237=19 pages
    385-386=1 page KTGR (20)

    VI. Enlightened Qualities freedoms of the ultimate kaya, of which there are 32

    Ten aspects of the power of knowledge             'Power is like a vajra against the veil of unknowing.'  -Uttaratantra Shastra

    These ten aspects of power vanquish everything that is to be abandoned, each in correspondence to its respective cause. Having directly revealed themselves, they overcome the Four Maras, or in other words, anything belonging to the part that is non-conducive to oneself and [all] others.
    -Jamgon Kongtrul, The Unassailable Lion's Roar, BN p. 221

     The ten powers are the quintessence of firmness, essentiality, steadfastness, and unchangeability. Since they possess these four qualities or properties, all ten powers of the Great Sages, of all perfect Buddhas, are similar to a vajra.

    -Jamgon Kongtrul, The Unassailable Lion's Roar, BN -p. 223
    six powers vanquish cognitive obscurations

       1. knowing what is appropriate and worthless
       2. knowing how actions will ripen
       3. knowing the faculties of sentient beings
       4. knowing their dispositions, temperaments
       5. knowing the inclinations, aspirations and wishes of beings
       6. knowing where the various paths lead

    three powers destroy meditative obscurations

       7. knowing meditative stability, the concentrations
       8. recollecting former states
       9. superknowledge of the divine eye

    one power  destroys fine subconscious traces

     10. knowing peace, the extinction of defilements

    Four types of Fearlessness   'Fearlessness acts like a lion amidst [any] assembly.' -Uttaratantra Shastra

    the first two relate to self, the latter to others

     1. in proclaiming mastery of perfect abandonment
     2. in proclaiming mastery of perfect realization
     3. in showing the path
     4. in revealing hindrances on the path

    Eighteen qualities unique to Buddhas      'Like space are the unmixed features of the Tathagata.' -Uttaratantra Shastra


      1. perfection of physical behavior
      2. perfection of speech
      3. presence of mind is unimpaired
      4. always abiding in meditative equanimity
      5. beyond clinging to ideas
      6. freedom from indifference or carelessness


      7. unwavering intention
      8. unflagging exertion
      9. unfailing intelligence and memory
      10. no decline in understanding
      11. no change in liberation
      12. perfect jnana


      13. physical actions preceded and followed by jnana
      14. speech preceded and followed by jnana
      15. mental events preceded and followed by jnana
      16. perceives the past exactly as it was
      17. perceives the future exactly as it will be
      18. perceives the present exactly as it is

    Such are the eighteen features; in addition to these there are further ones: His physical body is beyond measure and [the height of] his ushnisha cannot be perceived. At first sight and merely through being seen he pacifies the faults of sentient beings.
    -Jamgon Kongtrul, The Unassailable Lion's Roar, BN p. 225
    In the shastra, this enumeration of the qualities of the Dharmakaya
    is followed by a listing of the traditional 32 marks possessed by the Supreme Nirmanakaya of a Buddha.

    238-282=44 pages
    386-387=1 page KTGR (45)

    VII. Enlightened Activity

    The Buddha's regent Maitreya says in the Abhisamayalankara: Whoever has the authentic truth, has the omniscience of the sages and can teach all their different kinds of teaching.
     the pathways of Buddha-activity are described in six ways

     1. release from samsara: consists of mastery on the ten bhumis, symbolized by an ocean full of jewels
     2. freedom through the practice of the two accumulations: symbolized by the sun which is vital for spiritual life
     3. the fruition of this freedom in Buddhahood: the vast and profound, symbolized by space
     4. that all beings can achieve this fruition by transcending the dual obstructions: symbolized by a buried treasure
     5. the achievement of this fruition is enlightenment: like clouds, obscurations are not a permanent feature of the sky
     6. that the Buddha provides all things necessary to destroy obscurations: just as great wind drives away all clouds

    Nine examples of Buddha activity

    1. body:  like Indra who is always present but the perception of his reflection in the lapis lazuli of the mind determines the quality of his influence
    2. speech:  like the drum of the gods, spontaneously sounding words such as impermanence, sufferng, no-self, and peace without anyone being there
    3. mind:  like monsoon clouds which bring the rain of the teachings allowing beings to transcend themselves
    4. emanation:  like Brahma who never leaves the first rupadevaloka but is perceived in all  other realms, the Buddha manifests in many ways without leaving the dharmakaya
    5. wisdom:  like the sun which shines without thinking, the Buddhas radiate the light of Dharma on the minds of beings, some of whom grow while others wither or hide in the shade... the sun cannot be blamed
    6. the mystery of Buddha's mind: like a wish-fulfilling gem spontaneously fulfilling the needs of various beings
    7. the mystery of Buddha's speech: like an echo, empty in itself and dependent on the mind who hears it, abiding neither outside nor inside
    8. the mystery of Buddha's form: like space, without substance it accomodates and liberates all beings
    9. like the earth, Buddha activities are full of wisdom and virtues providing the basis for all growth and spiritual freedom

    Five reasons why teachings on the enlightened essence were given to sentient beings:

     1. to counteract discouragement or faintness of heart
     2. to counteract the idea that we might already be great bodhisattvas
     3. to counteract more limited views
     4. to dispel faults which arise from failing to understand the entire scope of the Dharma
     5. to vanquish self-cherishing

    283-298=15 pages
    388-389=1 page KTGR (16)

    these notes were based on

    A Treatise on Buddha Nature, A Commentary on The Uttaratantra Shastra of Asanga by The Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1994
    Buddha Nature  Ten Teachings on the Uttaratantra Shastra by Thrangu Rinpoche, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Kathmandu, 1993
    Buddha Nature    The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra with Commentary  Arya Maitreya, transcribed by Arya Asanga with commentaries by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Snowlion, 2000