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The Jewel Ship

By Longchenpa

The Anthem

Naturally serene, seamless like space,
Embodying wholeness, the unity of ever-fresh awareness and its field,
Unchanging, impartial, not biased toward being or nonbeing,
I salute the supreme universal creativity.



Here I have elucidated for the sake of future generations the meaning of the supreme way of life.
This approach to life, which comes from the spontaneously perfect universal creativity,
Is the way to directly experience the pure fact of awareness that is at the very heart of all experiences.
This approach is not a gradual process of self-development, with it, you actually wake up to what is, right now.



Out of compassion, the truly and completely Awakened One, with his skillful knowledge, enunciated a myriad of lifestyles and approaches to the teachings. In these cases he taught according to the inclinations and abilities of those to be trained. What he taught to the majority of people had only indirect, provisional significance.
He did not speak even once about the direct, real meaning.

Although the teacher, through the three dimensions of his existence, (22) taught about reality in various ways, those teachings were indirect and provisional. (23)


To lead beings to a path that was pleasing to them,
During the first revolution the teacher, through the three
Dimensions of his existence,
Taught the existence of separate, graduated paths.
As a way of leading narrow minded people to the real meaning,
"I" (24) have been understood in the limited terms of provisional scriptures.


...  although the teacher contrived,
The teaching in this way and taught validly,
Those scriptures are just provisional, not direct.

Therefore the approaches,---ranging from those who are content with listening and preaching to those who practice the supreme method of transformation---are merely a means for approaching the gateway to self-refreshing awareness, the pure fact of being aware.
Aside from that they do not, in fact, thoroughly comprehend that Awareness because they do not transcend the fundamental pitfalls and obstacles.

   Oh listen Great Beings (25)
   The three revolutions announced by the three teachers (26)
   Of the three times have pitfalls and obstacles.
   You may wonder how that could be?
   The six approaches (27) which lead to definite attainments
   Are pitfalls to the state of total completeness.

Even though you may familiarize yourself with the point of the lower approaches in this life, you will not see the reality of that which fashions everything, the pure fact of awareness, which those approaches contradict.

   Listen! Those who do not thoroughly understand me---
      universal creativity---
   Are attracted to the diverse teachings,
   And involve themselves in what the teacher, through the three
      dimensions, intended.
   They very much contradict what I, universal creativity, intend.

Therefore the scriptures of the real teacher, a direct teaching which was not taught by the buddhas of the three times during the three times, have been spoken by the teacher, universal creativity.

   Listen! I am the teacher, universal creativity.
   These scriptures, which are the heart of the teaching and the root of spiritual pursuits,
   Were not talked about very much by the teachers of the three times.
   This unborn primordial state of the teacher
   Was not spoken of previously by the buddhas of the three times,
   It was not spoken of later, and is not spoken of now.
   The unchanging creativity of the universe
   Communicated it previously, will speak of it in the future,
   And speaks of it now.
   The creativity of the universe teaches you fortunate ones
   This direct teaching, this scripture about the freedom that you do not need to strive for,
   This oral transmission of the elevated teaching
   Which gets at the core of reality, neither exaggerating nor understating.

This universal creativity sums up the unique reality which is the
core of all spiritual pursuits and teachings.

   Listen! The teacher of the teacher, the creativity of the universe,
   In the midst of his uncontrived audience,
   According to this inner source of all uncontrived, quintessential teachings,
   Describes how everything appears.
   When you have understood the unified frame of reference of this core teaching,
   All other frames of reference will be reflected within this creativity that makes everything else possible.
   Thus, if you know me--the intelligence of the universe-
   You will know the inconceivable truth.
   If you know me---the majestic creativity within everything---
   You will know and be at peace with the reality of everything else.

It is the source in which the inner truth of all approaches to the teachings are united.

   I, the creativity of the universe, pure and total presence,
   Am the real heart of all spiritual pursuits.
   The three approaches with their three teachers
   Do not exist apart from this one definitive approach.
   This is the level of the creative energy of the universe, pure and total presence.
   It is the source of all spiritual pursuits.


List of Subjects

This quintessential instruction in the primordial approach to the teaching, concerning the creative energy of the universe-the ongoing
absolute perfection which is at the very summit of the eight vehicles--- has three main parts: the spiritual advisor who teaches it, the student who follows the teaching, and the teaching to be learned.


The Spiritual Advisor

Having himself mastered the true import of the state of total completeness and knowing the philosophical tenets and spiritual teachings of both the non-buddhists and the buddhists, the teacher can generate a direct understanding of the heart of the matter in the student's mind. He knows how to show the sublime path which leads the student to realize that quintessence. The student should rely on a person who is not tainted by the distractions of worldly concerns or mere semantic distinctions. Such a worthy mentor is to be pleased by all sorts of gifts.

   This precious treasury, the authentic master
   Who paints black alum on gold to purify it, (29)
   entices because of his limitless value.

Contrasted to such a true mentor is one who is confused about the meaning of the spiritual teachings and philosophical tenets of the buddhists and non-buddhists. Craving goods and semantic distinctions, delighting in distractions and entertainments, he breaks his vows and commitments. One who leads people who are faithful yet lack guidance down a dead-end path and who pursues material gain through religion moves outside of the true meaning of the primordial reality.
Thus he teaches to others mere words, as if they were somehow spiritual. He even lacks the fortune to understand for himself. It stands to reason that this monkey show should be abandoned.

   Innocents, through deception, are seduced to a path that is just an idea,
   With neither time for setting out nor time for realization---
   How will they be able to seek reality on its own terms?
   When following the teachings of a monkey-like master (30) which have no logical basis,
   You end up believing in a false path.


The Student

In general, the aspirant must have commitment, an enduring self-confidence, a strong love for all life, steadfast trust, and a great capacity for generosity.

   This message, which really opens up one's primordial condition,
   Is beyond all foundations or bases; it is the core reality of pure and total presence.
   It should be transmitted by those who have fathomed it,
   To those who are very trusting, vigorous, and committed;
   Who are sympathetically compassionate and do not change their minds;
   And who would offer their body, offspring, spouse, and wealth
   Trustingly and joyfully, yet without desire.
   Such students are characterized by their trust and commitment.

Students who wish to understand this teaching revere the master without pride or self-importance and act without deviating from the oral explanation. Able to serve without holding back either body or life, having forsaken preoccupation with this life, they can accomplish their intention. While alive, students will accomplish their aims according to the mentor's instructions and will be able to persevere in their commitment.

   One who abandons fame, who is free from pride,
   And who acts for the sake of the inner meaning without concern for body or life,
   Is marked as one who does not transgress the word of the mentor.
   Such students are given the teaching of the unborn, the innermost truth.
   When you have obtained the essential teachings,
   How can worldly distractions affect you?
   When the teachings have been obtained, such a student is called one who has achieved according to the word of the guide.
   With commitments properly maintained, such students are given this oral explanation.
   After swearing an oath to proceed following the spiritual advisor's word
   As long as student and teacher are alive,
   The student is given the epitome of the teachings: the creativity of the universe.

Thus, being mentally unattached, all wealth should be offered to the teacher. The teacher, to complete the accumulation of merit, accepts without desire what was offered and offers it to the three jewels.

   ... in short, even body and life should be offered,
   All the more so food, objects, and animals.
   Even if they are not needed,
   A worthy person will accept them, offering them to the three jewels.


The Teaching

The teaching has three phases: the spiritual heritage, which establishes this teaching as believable and trustworthy; the main subject matter, which arises from that transmission; and the proscription to preserve the teaching by not broadcasting it.

The Spiritual Heritage

   Listen Great Being!
   The history of the teaching is given
   Because initial confidence arises from it.

   The historical unfolding of the teaching reveals three ways by which it's meaning is transmitted:

o Through natural self-authentication,
o Through the medium being the message and the form being the content,
o Through literary composition.

The meaning of this is as follows:
(1) Out of the total field of experience, the non-localizable realm of genuine reality that is a vast expansiveness free from all fabrications, the supreme ordering principal of the universe, manifests reflecting the deep structure of what is. In this realm, which is an immense palace terraced with light he communicates by activating an indestructible cognitive responsiveness out of the ever-fresh awareness, which is his own primordial state and that of the five buddhas. This process then proceeds into the dimension of the full richness of being which communicates its message through its own medium (2) to dga-rab rdo-rje, in the material
dimension. He spoke correctly and grammatically (via language) (3) to the great master Manjusrimitra. He nondually communicated the dynamic meaning to the great master Sri Simha. He communicated the very secret heart of the matter to the miraculous translator Vairocana. (32) He communicated the great nondual pristine awareness to the prince g-Yu-gra snying-po. He communicated the effortless field of reality to ICog-ro skyes-bzang legs-smin. He communicated the unchanging ground to rBa rgyal-ba'i dbang-po. He communicated the sky simile to mtshur-mchog-gi bla-ma. He communicated the great settling into the natural condition to Drung ye-shes dbang- po. He communicated the nondual nature to Zur-ston rin-chen grags-pa. He communicated the primordially pure fact of being to ICe dga'-ba'i dbang-po. He communicated the unique fact of awareness that is without affirmation or negation to snyan rin-chen rtse- mo. He communicated the actual state of things that is totally beyond the intellect to Chos-oe kun-dga' don-grub. He communicated what is uncontrived, unstained, and self-arising to slob-dpon gzhon-nu don-grub. (33) He communicated the primordial freedom beyond cause and effect to Klong-chen rab-'byams-pa, (34) the practitioner of the natural state of total completeness. He communicated this to'jam-dbyangs kun-dga'rgyal-mtshan. He communicated this to mtshugs-med chos-oe rin-po-che rdja.

The Main Subject Matter

The second phase, the actual teaching transmitted by the foregoing lineage, has three parts: the foundation, guruyoga; the real subject matter, setting forth the teaching; and how to integrate experiences after meditation.


The necessary foundation for recognizing for oneself the reality of pristine awareness, which is what mind is all about, is the phase of yogic meditation on the guru. (35)

   Swiftly moving pristine awareness, free of all mentation,
   Is like a precious jewel which comes from all spiritual friends.
   Not objectifiable, not dependent on transformation,
   It naturally satisfies all wishes.
   While if analyzed it doesn't exist, when you find yourself in that state it really does arise.
   Concretely it isn't apparent, yet in its aspect of arising it can be shown to all.
   The precious treasury, the wise sage who is free of bias toward self or other,
   Teaches by means of selflessness and compassion, and is called 'That which accomplishes everything.'

The Visualization and Guruyoga:

Now sit down on a comfortable seat. After taking refuge, generating compassion which is not limited to any specific object, and recalling the ultimate content of what you are, which is atemporal and does not come into being, you should visualize a deep blue Hum emanating light rays.

These symbolize the non-duality of the nature of one's own mind and body. This light, through its vast matrix of rays, purifies all that presents itself internally or externally within the subject-object dichotomy. Thereby all that presents itself is seen as the gods and goddesses in the highest realm.

In that realm visualize yourself as a deep blue Vajra-being with one mouth and two hands, bedecked with silks and jewels, and seated in the heroic posture of such a being. In your right hand is a vajra held against the heart; your left hand is at your side, holding a bell. Imagine a matrix of light rays spreading like rainbows from your heart to the ten directions. On the crown of your head visualize a lotus stalk where a jewel-encrusted lion sits. Seated on this lion is the master who gives you your basic inspiration as the embodiment (36) of the creativity of the universe. His body is blue, he has one mouth, and his two hands form the gesture of meditative equanimity.(37) He is the dimension of totality, ornamented by the symbol of freedom from any fabrications and thus appearing without clothes, seated in the vajra posture,(38) entirely essenceless.

Now imagine the masters of the lineage (39) appearing as a mass of light in the forms of the countless buddhas of the five families, each one fully ornamented in their own fashion, and entirely essenceless. On the tips of light rays spreading from those buddha bodies to the ten directions of the world imagine the dimension of the full richness of being and the forms of the six sages, who are the magical dimension appearing for the benefit of the world. (40)

While vajra breathing recite the mantra Om Ah Hum for as long as you are able. (41) Then everything vanishes into the supreme ordering principle of the universe; while residing in the realm that is essenceless, recite Ah countless times. After that, having said "May all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana be liberated into the primordial sphere," you may rise. This is a highly esoteric and most excellent exercise.

By training in this visualization for a fortnight, from the realm which realizes random appearances to be like a dream or a mirage, there emerges the self-arising compassion which focuses on sentient beings as well as the realization that all phenomena lack identity.

Thereafter, no mental state will arise which is caught up in the distractions of this life or the eight worldly concerns. (42) Firm disgust for samsara and the determination to get out of it arise as well. These all emerge as the self-manifestation of the primordial state of creativity.

The Real Subject Matter

The real subject matter, the way the teaching is set forth, has four parts:
(1) becoming certain through the perspective of the teaching;
(2) transcending limitations through accustoming yourself to this perspective;
(3) overcoming obstacles through the way you conduct your life;
(4) abandoning hope and fear-the result.


Becoming Certain through the Perspective

Becoming certain has two parts.

(1) Certainty that what appears is the play of experience itself;
(2) Determining that experience itself is open.

The Play of Experience

All experiences and life forms cannot be proven to exist independently of their being a presence before your mind, just like a lucid dream.

All that is has me--universal creativity, pure and total presence, as its root.
How things appear is my being.
How things arise is my manifestation.
Sounds and words heard are my messages expressed in sounds and words.
All the capacities, forms, and pristine awareness's of the Buddha's;
The bodies of sentient beings, their habituations, and so forth,
All environments and their inhabitants, life forms, and experiences,
Are the primordial state of pure and total presence.

Not realizing that everything is nothing other than the manifestation of one's mind is called samsara.

Without understanding me, the creativity of the universe,
But investigating the phenomena that I manifest,
You perceive everything dualistically due to your attachment and longing.
Impermanent, apparitional things will fade away.
They are aimless, like a blind man.

Accustom yourself to this nondual reality where the duality of mind
and that, which appears before mind, is like a dream.

All that is experienced and your own mind is the unique primary reality.
They cannot be conceptualized according to the cause and effect systems of thought.
Investigate your mind's real nature
So that your pure and total presence will actually shine forth.

The concrete states of matter, solids, liquids, and so forth---should be examined in this way. Remaining for ten days where no otherness can be found, you will realize that not even an atom's worth of anything exists that is separate from pure and total presence. Realizing that, you will certainly be free from all fabricated obsession with the otherness of objects. Moreover, the very being of what is experienced externally, in being an essenseless, open dimension, is shown to be
the state of pure and total presence. In being the variety of unceasing experience, it is shown to be the play of pure and total presence. This is not the same as claiming that whatever you experience is mental because what you experience is not a mental event but arises as the play of the state of pure and total presence." That claim does not distinguish between mind and the state of pure and total presence. The state of pure and total presence is the clear light, the pure fact of awareness, non-conceptual ever-fresh awareness; whereas mind is the motivating factor of samsara: pervasive conceptualization.

As The Two Truths" says:

Mind and mental events are concepts, mere postulations within the three realms of samsara.

Whenever the state of pure and total presence is recognized, mind and mental events cease. Mind is objectification; pure and total presence does not objectify. Therefore, even the subject who is held to be mental is also seen to be the originally pure state of being.


Experience is Open-Dimensional

Because we are unagitated within, there is no object to seek within. Since there is no attachment to an object, there is no object to seek as a support. With the compassion which does not arise, does not cease, and is selfless, Being-for-others is always available. It does not need to be brought about.

Therefore, examine this present mindful awareness internally, externally, and in between. First, where does it come from? Where does it rest now? Finally, where does it go? Can you determine its color or shape? Wherever this awareness is present, is it an object, which appears externally? Is it one of the psychological constituents of a person? Does it exist? Somewhere in between? Since you have not found this awareness by examining and analyzing what appears externally or internally, you ought to conclude that even the ten essential aspects of tantra" are also not found upon inquiry. When you investigate whether perspective, meditation, commitment, charismatic activity, mandala, empowerment, stages of cultivation, paths

To traverse, obstacles to purify, pristine awareness's, or Buddha Activity exist in their own right or are founded on something else and do not find any of these to exist in reality, this is known as "The great transcendent non-meditation, the real significance of the ten primordially pure aspects of tantra."

[Because my creativity is beyond all affirmation and negation], (46)

I determine all events and meanings. Because no objects exist which Are not me, you are beyond perspective or meditation. Because there does not exist any protection other than me, you are beyond charismatic activity to be sought. Because there is no state other than me, you are beyond stages to cultivate. Because in me there are, from the beginning, no obstacles, You are beyond all obstacles; self-arising pristine awareness just is. Because I am unborn reality itself, you are beyond concepts of reality; subtle reality just is. Because there is nowhere to go apart from me, One is beyond paths to traverse. [Because all buddhas, sentient beings, appearances, Existences, environments, and inhabitants] Arise from the quintessential state of pure and total presence, One is beyond duality. Because self-arising pristine awareness is already established, One is beyond justifying it; the transmission of this great teaching provides a direct entry into understanding. Because all phenomena do not exist apart from me, One is beyond duality. I fashion everything.

According to the capacities of the individual, this will be recognized In three, five, or eleven days.


Accustoming yourself to the Perspective.

After having become certain by means of this perspective, which is based on the absence of any partiality in the pure fact of awareness, begin by relaxing your body and mind in a solitary place. Abandon fear and haste. Seated in the seven-point meditation posture of Vairocana, having been instructed by the master, relax in the ongoing state of complete self-settledness without hope, fear, contrivance, or addition. This is majestic utter sameness, that pure fact of being where mind and what appears are primordially pure. This itself is the deep experience of the inconceivable, fundamental dimension of reality.

[The rest of the digitalised version was dadly lost due to a computer crash, but the final part of the book can be found in the book "You Are The Eyes Of The World," published by Snow Lion Press. Lama Tharchin also gives a free audio interpretation of the Jewelship at his website - The Webmaster]


22. The "three dimensions" are body, speech, and mind which ultimately become the dimension of being, the dimension of the full richness of experience, and the dimension of apparitional being.

23. These quotations (in verse) are from the kun byed real po and are referenced in Appendix B.

24. The "I" of the kun byed real po is creative intelligence itself speaking, otherwise known to the tradition as Samantabhadra.

25. This is the "audience" for whom the text is written.

26. This refers to the three spiritual revolutions announced by Sakyamuni Buddha. The first began in the Deer Park near Sarnath, in India, shortly after
the Buddha's experience under the Bodhi tree. It centers on the four noble truths, focuses on the nonexistence of a personal soul, and leads to nirvana. Its scriptures are preserved in the Pali Canon and elsewhere. The Dhammapada (many translations of this text exist, among them is the one by Irving Babbitt, New York: New Directions, 1965) is an example of this sort of teaching.

The second revolution, spoken on the Vulture Peak near Rdjagrha, began to stress the six or ten transcendent practices, and especially focused on openness, the relative and insubstantial nature of all the elements and experiences in life. Its main scriptures are the scriptures on transcendent wisdom which emphasized an altruistic way of being. See, for instance, The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines (translated by Edward Conze, Bolinas, CA: Four Seasons Founda- tion, 1973).

The third revolution, taught at various places, revealed a vision of the interconnectedness of all reality, both animate and inanimate. Our universe is envisioned as a brilliant display of jewel light, all elements permeating all others. The Avatadisaka and Ratnakfita sutras belong to this spiritual revolution. The Avatariisaka Sutra is being published in 3 volumes as The Flower Ornament Scripture, (Boston: Shambhala, 1984-1987). The Ratnakata Sutras have been partially published in A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, (University Park and London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1983).

27. These are the mahlydna and the lower tantric careers.

28. For a discussion of these vehicles see H.V. Guenther, Buddhist Philosophy in Theory and Practice, (Berkeley, Shambhala: 1971). Simply put, spiritual pursuits can be categorized as those which mainly teach renunciation, those which mainly teach transformation, and those which concentrate on intrinsic freedom. see the commentary for a further discussion of these pursuits.

29. This refers to an ancient chemical process whereby the last tarnishing impurities are cleansed from gold.

30. Monkeys are skilled at imitating the antics of the people they have seen, just as parrots can learn phrases and inflections, but neither monkey nor parrot have any idea what these actions or words mean.

31. The spiritual heritage is the lineage by which the core experiential meaning of a given teaching comes down to us. This refers not only to how it has been transmitted from generation to generation but to how the initial revelation occurred. This is the ontological question: What is the structure of the universe, and how can the beings in it come to understand this structure? The trikaya is a description of this structure. The dharmakaya, here referred to as the supreme ordering principle of the universe, or the dimension of being, communicates and encodes itself into the archetypal forms known as the sambhogakaya, the dimension of the full richness of being, usually symbolized by the buddhas of the five families, with their symbolic colors and correspondences. These symbols communicate
themselves to the human level in a way which depth psychologists since C. G. Jung are only beginning to understand. These symbolic forms can be decoded into language by those capable of understanding them, the nirmdnakaya, such as dga'-rab rdo-rje. A great deal of importance is placed on lineage for maintaining the living spirit of the teaching, and many individualistically minded Westerners react against this. It is quite right to react when this lineage is the hierarchy of a church or sect, which it is not. Part of this reaction may also be due to an unconscious (or conscious) Protestantism that demands no intermediaries between God and the individual. The reality of lineage allows for individuals to receive teachings through visionary or other revelations. The large quantity of hidden treasure teachings (gter ma) attest to this. But the individuals who receive such revelations have also been part of a lineage in the more conventional way. See also our thoughts on tradition in the Commentary.

32. The root text, which Longchenpa here summarizes, was said to have been translated from the language of Uddiydna into Tibetan by Sri Sirhha and Vairocana.

33. Longchenpa's teacher, slop-dpon gzhon-nu don-grub, is mentioned in The Blue Annal (p. 202). Longchenpa's biography (mthong ba don ldan, p. 105) says that he heard the rnying ma'i rgud 'bum, the 'dus pa'i mdo, the sgyu 'phrul, the sems phyogs, and other texts from the master gzhon-nu don-grub. The kun byed royal po, which Longchenpa here quotes and structures, is the first text in the rnying ma'i rgud'jum.

34. The author of this text.

35. See the commentary, pp. 62-65.

36. The master who first wakes you up to your primordial condition by transmitting a teaching such as this one is here visualized in the anthropomorphic form of the supreme creativity of the universe, symbolizing thedharmakiya, the funda- mental dimension of reality. See the Commentary, p. 62ff.

37. In this gesture, the hands are folded in the lap with the thumbs touching.

38. In this posture, the legs are crossed, with the left leg beneath the right.

39. The masters who have transmitted this teaching from generation to generation are here visualized in the form of the dimension of the full richness of being, the dimension of archetypes. The Jungian archetype, however, is a confusing mixture of experiences of such a spiritual dimension together with many psychological projections on it.

40. The six sages are the concrete manifestation of buddhahood in the six realms of worldly existence (gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, hell-beings); i.e., the dimension of apparitional being.

41. In this practice the Om is pronounced as the breath is inhaled, the Ah as it is held momentarily, and the Hum upon exhalation.

42. These are traditionally listed as expectations and fear, success and failure, wealth and poverty, praise and blame.

43. A detailed discussion of this topic can be found in Primordial Experience.

44. This text, written in Sanskrit by Jnanagarbha during the 8th Century, deals with relative and absolute realities. (University of New York Press, 1987.)

45. See the Textual Introduction, pp. 3 - 4.

46. Brackets around verses from the hun byed royal po indicate portions of the root text which Longchenpa did not quote. They have been included
in the translation for added clarity.