by Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche


Buddhist Himalaya VOL. V  NO. I & II  1993 


Copyright 1979 by Gakken Co. Ltd.



Qualities in terms of the kayas

The qualities of enlightenment will be expressed mostly in terms of the two kayas, There are two divisions-qualities that are of value for oneself corresponding to the absolute truth and the dharmakaya and qualities that are of value for others corresponding to relative truth and the two form kayas. The qualities for others ralate to the qualities of maturity.


The qualities of freedom can be compared to the sun appearing from behind the clouds. A full sun is only the result of freedom from clouds and isn't a fabrication of the clouds because once the clouds have removed, the sum becomes visible again. In the same way the twofold jnana of the Buddha is not a result of obscuration,. It is presently covered by the different cognitive and e3motional obscuration, but once it is free from impurities, it manifests in all it s fullness of how it is and manyness.


The other aspect of qualities are those of maturity. During the past, the bodhisattva must gather the two accumulations-the accumulation of virtue within a conceptual frame work and the accumulation of insight without any conceptual reference. Through the practice of these two accumulations on the path mature all the various qualities that give rise to the form kayas. The qualities of Buddhahood have 32 qualities of maturity and 32 qualities of freedom.


The ground for acquiring fulfillment for oneself is the ultimate kaya in which all thoughts have been eliminated and all the qualities are fully developed. If it were only a relative kaya there fore it would not provide a constant basis for the qualities. The ultimate kaya, however, doesn't change so it can provide the best possible basis for fulfillment for oneself and others. At is there fore said that symbol kayas of the great sages are the ground of the greatest possible good for beings. The "great sages" here is the name applied the Buddhas, It is a word which in Sanskrit is "rishis" meaning someone who is very straight forward. Very honest and who speaks. The truth only. It is a name sometimes used for non-buddhists or arhats or bodyhisattvas. In this context it is used for the Buddhas.


The Buddhas through their symbol kayas are the best possible ground for the benefit for others, symbol kayas meaninf that the Buddhas express themselves in symbolic from in relative reality for the best value for beings.


The first kaya, the dharmakaya, represents fulfillment for oneself and the two form kayas on the relative level represent the fulfillment for others. The dharmakaya has 32 qualities of freedom which cover the 10 powers, the four fearlessness, and the 18 distinctive qualities. The qualities of freedom are called this because the dharmakaya is fee from all obscurations. The two form kayas operated by the qualities of a perfect being. The Buddha manifests in the form kayas so he can be visible to other beings by adopting the best possible form with all 32 marks and 80 singns. These marks and singns are the fruition of all virtue that has been accumulated o the path when the Buddhas were bodhisattvas.


32.              qualities of freedom

The qualities of freedom are compared to different example. Within the qualities of freedom the ten power are compared to a vajra. A vajra cannot be destroyed or defeated by any thing else and in the same way the ten powers of the Buddha can defeat everything else by cutting through all ignorance. The four fearlessnesses of the Buddha are compared to a lion because a lion is naturally intrepid. A lion hasn't any fear because he knows he is the strongest animal in the forest and no other animal would even think of attacking him. In the same way the Buddha is not afraid of anything because he has seen the true nature of every thing and so will not make a mistake and does not fear that someone will prove him wrong. The 18 distinctive qualities of the Buddha are compared to space. On can mix the other elements characteristics different from any of the other elements. In the same way the attributes of the Buddha are distinctive and are not the same as those of other being.


Finally, the two kayas are compared to reflection of the moon in water. The Buddha is the dharmakaya and he manifests in the two from kayas to help other beings with no thought of doing so. In the same way the moon reflecting in the water doesn't think, "I must shine on the water" and the reflection doesn't think " I am here because the moon is shining." It is just the presence of the moon in the sky and the presence of water on the ground that makes a reflection possible. In the same way the two form kayas are not the result of the dharmakaya thinking, "I am crated by the dharmakaya.


The ten power (Skt. Dasabala)

The first power (Skt. Sthanasthana Jnanabala) of the Buddhas is perfect knowledge of the appropriate and inappropriate. When bodhisatvas make the commitment to reach enlightenment for the sake of all beings, 'they don't abandon this commitment. Ordinary people however make promises and after a time may break the and perhaps later keep them again. But the power behind the realization of the knowledge of the appropriateness becomes a very firm commitment that is never abandoned. This knowledge means that the Buddhas know the cause of any given situation or any action. The Buddha knows what should bring a particular result and what is due to such a cause. For instance, they know that every virtuous action will give rise to a pleasant result and that every unvirtuous action will eventually result in a painful result. In this way they know what is the suitable result of any ac5tion and the given course appropriate to it.


The second power (Skt. Karmavipaka Jnanabala) of the buddhas is knowing the fruition of actions which means knowing the workings of karma. This power is the result of having paid very great attention to the law of karma while practicing the path not only for themselves, but in trying to make others understand karma. So they lead other beings to pay heed to karma. For example, an arhat0 wouldn't know the cause of blue or the yellow on a peacock's feather but the Buddha would know exactly what action gave rise to that particular result. 


The third power (Skt. Nana adhimukti Jnanabala) is knowing the degree of intelligence of beings. This is a knowledge which comes through having done a certain practice on the path. On the path bodhisattvas taught beings according to their level of understanding. They could see that some beings had very great diligence, some not; some were very intelligent, other not. Accordingly, they gave them the teachings that were suitable. For example, with the slow witted, they knew not to give them very deep teachings, but easier teachings.


The fourth (Nanadhatu Jnanabala) is knowing the various temperaments of beings. Bodhisattvas on the path saw the different dispositions and temperaments of beings. They saw that some were mostly influenced by anger so they taught them the remedy for anger. Others had a major problem with desire, so they taught the remedy for desire. They perceived others were mostly obscured by ignorance so they taught them the remedy for ignorance. Some others were affected by all there poisons and received a different remedy and still others had too many thoughts and received yet another remedy. When bodhisattvas reached Buddhahood, they had the full knowledge of the temperaments of beings. 


The fifth power (Skt. Indriyaparaqpara Jnanabala) is the knowledge of the interests of beings. The bodhisattvas knew that some were attracted tot he Hinayana and others were more interested in the Mahayana. They knew that some were attracted to the practice of generosity. While other prefer to practice discipline, and still others preferred meditation. They knew exactly what each being preferred practising. Since they knew this on their own path of practice, when they became Buddhas they knew exactly the wishes and interests of all beings.


The sixth power (Skt. Sarvatragamipratipatha Jnanabala) is the knowledge of the path which leads every where. On the path as a bodhisattva the Buddha have become familiar with the practice of all levels of practice of all the yanas. As a result he or she can see the various paths that lead to the different states of samsara and nirvana: he or she can see the path that leads tot he higher states in samsara, the lower states of suffering, the path that leads to immediate happiness and the path of everlasting happiness. So this familiarity gained with all yanas during the practice of the path results in the Buddha's knowledge of the path that goes everywhere and that leads to all different aspects of samsara or nivana.


The seventh power (Skt. Sarvadhyana vimoksa samadhi samapatti samklesa vyavadana vyavasthana Jnanabala)  is knowing meditative stability without any defilement. The buddhas have perfect knowledge of what meditation is and whether the mediation has faults or not. They know what true meditation is and false meditation because while they were practising the path they put a very great emphasis on the practice of meditation and learned the correct way of meditating. They learned the mistakes that could arise and how to eliminate these mistakes. As the result they knew exactly what meditation is correct and incorrect.


The eighth power (Skt. Purvanivasanusmrti Jnanabali) is remembering former states. This means that they can remember ands see very clearly all the former states in samsara-not just one or two lifetimes, but all the lifetimes since beginningless samsara. This is a power that is a power that comes from their practice on the path. They always took every opportunity of practicing virtue and didn't think it was too small of a virtue to practice it, As a result it gave them the power of remembering former states.


The ninth power (Skt. Cyutyupaptti Jnanabala) is divine vision which provides knowledge of the future. This means that the Buddhas can see whatever is going to happen to any beings in the future. They can see which birth a person is going to take, what kind of state they're going to. This power is the result of having looked after all beings with great compassion while they them selves were practicing the path.


The tenth power (Skt. Asrava ksaya Jnanabala) is the knowledge of the pacification of all impurities. This is the path in which they know that impurities of any nature has been totally terminated. If somebody were to have this kind of feeling before he reached Buddhahod, it would be only an illusion because it is impossible for anyone except the Buddha to have eliminated all impurities and to know this with certainty. So these Buddhas know they have become free freedom all impurities. The arhats have only partial freedom from impurities so they could never have this knowledge of complete purity. This power of knowing that all impurities have been pacified is gained on the practice of the path through having thaught others the way to exhaust all impurities and for themselves is gained through having practiced meditation which makes it possible for all impurities to be removed. 


These ten qualities are called powers because they're extremely powerful and they're compared to three examples. They're compared to a vajra which can pierce the armor of an opponent; it can pierce the armor of ignorance. A vajra can destroy the wall of ignorance and fell the trees of ignorance. So ignorance representing the three kinds of obscurations is compared to an armor or a solid wall or a very thick forest.


Four fearlessnesses

There are four fearlessenss. First, (Skt. Abhisambodhiu vaisaradyam) the Buddhas are fearless in stating their own perfect purification and knowledge of all phenomena. They can say that they have reached perfect purification because they have nothing more to purify. They can say they have perfect knowledge because they see all phenomena just as they can state this without any fear and are never afraid of contradiction because they know everything without exception. The cause to this fearlesness is that on the path the Buddha was always ready to give teaching whoever wanted it and didn't cling to what he knew. He had the same loving consideration for all beings


The second fearlessness (skt. Asravaksayajnana vaisaradyam) is related to teaching other beings. This fearlessness shows beings that there are some obsurations that are stopping them from reaching enlightenment and in doing so the Buddha has no fear that he may be contradicted by anyone. No one could ever prove the Buddha to be wrong when he shows the obstacles on the path. This second fearlessness shows other beings how to eliminate hindrances on their path to realization adn the Buddha has no fear of being contradicted by anyone. 


The third fearlessness (Skt. Antarayika dharma nhanyathatyva Nscita vyakartana Vaisaaradyam) is that when the Buddha teaches beings how they can actually put into practice this theoretical need to remove impurities through the Five Levels of Practice or complete the 37 factors of enlightenment, the Buddha is perfectly sure that the path can lead to enlightenment. The Buddha is not worried that anyone might contradict him because he knows that the path he's teaching is the path that is complete, that can provide for complete enlightenment.


The second and third fearlessness are for the benefit of other beings. These are acquired during the practice of the path before the Buddha actually becomes enlightened. On the path the bodhisattvas will practice as much virtue as they can and will not disregard the accomplishment of even a small virtue thinking it not wroth while. They strive continuously to act virtuously in all ways possible and to eliminate even ver4y small impurities. As a result of the continuous effort to eliminate impurities and practice virtue, they develop the two kinds of fearlessness to teach beings how to relinquish their obscuration and to teach them the path to their enlightenment.


The fourth fearlessness (Skt. Nairvanika margavatarana vaisaradyam) is with respect to the Buddha's own perfect purity. The Buddha can state that he has eliminated all impurities and has reached perfect cessation of all impurities. He can do this without any fear because that is actually the case. He can afford to claim having reached perfect cessation without being worried of anyone contradicting him because during the practice of the path he never had any pride he was teaching other beings.  


Next is an explanation of the function of the fearlessness. Since the Buddhas know everything, they help other know exactly the same. Secondly, the Buddhas have resorted to the path and helped other beings do the same. Thirdly, the Buddhas have achieved their goal of unsurpassable and perfect enlightenment and helped others to do like wise. Finally, they tell others truthfully the meaning of what they themselves have realized because great sages are not hindered when they give their teachings.


There are examples fore the different fearlessenesses. A lion in the forest is never afraid because i t knows it is the strongest and is never worried about meeting other wild animals. In the same way wherever or among whatever being the Buddha finds himself, he will always remain fearless and his skills will always remain the same because at no point will he ever have any doubts about his ability to teach because he knows exactly what he says is true. The will also never be disturbed by feelings of hope or fear about disciples.


The 18 distincitive qualities.

The 18 qualities are divided into three groups-qualities related to behavior, those related to understanding, and those related to activity. The qualities related to behavior include the first six qualities which are concerned about the physical aspect of a Buddha's behavior.


1.                  (Skt. Nasti Tathagatasya skhalitam)

It is one that is completely free from any mistake. Whenever the Buddha is doing something, it is impossible for it to be adulterated by a mistake. Most of the time the arhars will act very correctly but sometimes they make a mistake. So this is why correctness is a distinct quality of the Buddha not shared by anyone else.


2.                  (Skt. Nasti Ravitam)

The second distinctive quality is related to speech. The Buddha so no speak in meaningless and useless way. 


3.                  (Skt. Nasti Musita smrtitam)

The third distinctive qualities is related to mind, their mindfulness or their memory never decreases. Ordinary beings and even arhats will forget from time to time. It is totally impossible for the Buddha to every forget anything.


4.                  (Skt. nasti Asamahita cittam)

The fourth distinctive quality also concerns the mind and is that the mind is resting in meditation all the time.


5.                  (Skt. Nasti Nanatva samjna)_

The fifth quality is that they're not thinking all the time about all kind s of different things. They don't have thoughts of deceiving others, they don't have an absence of compassion towards others. All the time they're in a loving disposition, a very truthful disposition without being encumbered by all kind s of thoughts.


6.                  (Skt. Nasti  Apratisamkhyayopiksa)

The sixth quality of a Buddha is that he never acts casually without first examining very carefully how to act so they are never non-deliberate in their actions. The next six qualities are qualities of understanding.


7.                  (Skt.Nasti Chanda parihanih)

The seventh quaqli6ty is that Buddha do not suffer any diminution of their aspiration to benefit beings. This aspiration is always present, it never decreases.


8.                  (Skt. Nasti viry parihanih)

The eighth is that there is never any decrease of their diligence.


9.                   (Skt.Nasti smrti parihanih)

Ninth, there is never any decrease of their memory.


10.              (Skt. Nasti Samsdhi parihanih)

Tenth, there is never any degradation of their concentration.


11.              (Skt.Nasti prajna parihanin)

Eleventh, there is never any degradation of their understanding. 


12.              (Skt. Nasti Vimuktiu parihanih)

Twelfth, there is never any change in their perfect liberation, It isn't as though sometimes they were perfectly free from impurities and them at some other impurities would come back again.


13.              (Skt. Nasti Vimukta jnanadarsana parihanih)

Thirteenth, they never lose their perception of perfect jnana, The third group of qualities are the qualities of actions or deeds. These deeds are again divided into three qualities of jnana.


14.              (Skt. Sarva kaya karma jnana purvamgama jnananu parivrittih)

Buddha activity means that whenever a Buddha acts his physical actions are preceded and followed by jnana.


15.              (Skt. Sarva vak karma jnana purvamgama jnananu parivritih)

His speech likewise is always preceded and followed by jnana.


16.              (Skt. Sarva Manas karma jnana purvamgama jnananu parivrittih)

Whatever he does with his mind is also preceded and followed by jnana. None of the actions of the Buddhas is done without, great care and without very precise examination of the situation before the Buddha acts.


17.              (Skt. atite 'dhvanya sangama pratihata jnana dersanam)

With is jnana before he acts he will see the outcome of the action and will perform the action knowingly.


18.               (Skt. Pratyutpanne 'dhvanya sangama pratihata jnanadarsanam)

After the action has been accomplished, he will follow it, he will accompany it still with his jnana to make sure that it is completed properly, So these are the three distinctive qualities of activity. The qualities of jnana of the Buddha are completely unhindered by past, present and future. This means that when the Buddha is looking into past, present, and future he is not hindered by anything. There is no emotional or cognitive obscuration that could hinder his jnana. It's completely free and fluid and it can know everything without hindrance.


Function of 18 qualities

For the great sages there are six qualities of behavior-making no mistakes, no chatter, no forgetfulness, mental agitation, various thoughts and ideas, and no casual action. There are the six qualities of realization-no lessening of aspiration, diligence, memory, perfectly pure prajna, perfect liberation which sees all aspects of the knowable, The six qualities of their deeds have three pertaining to their activity and three pertaining to their jnana. So all of there kinds of actions, three kinds of actions are preceded by the accompanying by jnana and the perfect knowledge constantly and 4extendsively embraces the three times without hindrance.


The Buddhas realize these 18 qualities which makes it possible for them to turn the wheel of dharma, have great compassion, and overcome all defilements. Because of all of this they can achieve the perfect and fearless turning of the wheel of dharma.


These 18 qualities are compared to space. The elements of earth, water, fore, and air have their own characteristics. Earth is solid, water fluid, air moving, and fire hot and burning, These qualities of the elements are not like those of space because the property of space is to allow for things to be open and take place in it.  


In the same way the 18 distinctive qualities are possessed only by the Buddha and ordinary beings do not have the special distinctive qualities of a Buddha no more than he Buddha would have the faults of any ordinary beings.