The Foundation of All Excellence presents the stages of the path from the viewpoint of reliance on a spiritual teacher and the mind-practice of the three levels of being. Tsong-kha-pa’s poem serves as a root text for a later commentary written by Kushri Kabchu Sudhi.
In this case the author made a line-for-line commentary on the root text and at the end of each section quoted sutras as a scriptural authority. In order to make this process clear, we have inserted the lines of the root text in italics in the appropriate places. Also, many of the sutras have been omitted to limit the length of this selection.
The Foundation of All Excellence is usually recited last during the chanting of prayers, as it is a prayer to achieve the object of one’s meditation or prayer. When the text is recited in this way, the last line of each verse is repeated.
The Foundation of All Excellence
The kind Reverend Lama is the foundation of all excellence.
Seeing that dependence on him is the root of the Path,
May I rely on him
With great respect and continuous effort.
A human life with leisure is obtained this once.
Understanding that it is very important and hard to find,
May I produce unceasingly
The mind that takes up its essence day and night.
The fluctuation of life is like a bubble of water;
Remember death, for we perish so quickly.
After death the effects of black and white karma
Pursue us as the shadow follows the body.
Finding certainty in this,
May I always be careful
To do only virtuous deeds
And abandon even the slightest non-virtuous actions.
The door to all misery is seeking satisfaction in pleasure.
Having realised that there is no security
In the pernicious perfections of samsara,
May I be strongly intent on the bliss of liberation.
That pure thought produces
The great heedfulness of remembrance and discernment.
May I accomplish by this means the essence
Of the individual vow, which is the root of the doctrine.
Having seen that all beings, my kind mothers,
Have fallen like myself into the ocean of samsara,
May I practice pure Bodhi-mind,
Which assumes the obligation to free all living beings.
Bodhi-mind alone, without cultivation
Of the three Moral Practices, does not lead to enlightenment.
Having realised this, may I practice
With intense effort the Bodhisattva vow.
By quieting attraction to objects which are false,
And analysing the meaning of Reality,
May I quickly produce within myself
The path that unifies Tranquillity and Insight.
When by this practice I become a vessel of the general Path,
May I soon enter
The great gateway of the fortunate ones,
The Vajrayana, most superior of yanas.
The basis of achieving the two Siddhis
Is the pure vow one takes on entering this Path.
Having found real understanding of it,
May I keep this vow though it cost my life.
Having realised the significance of the Two Stages,
Which are the essence of the Vajrayana,
By unswerving effort in the four sessions of yoga
May I achieve what the Holy Lama has taught.
May the Spiritual Teacher who has shown me the good Path,
And all my spiritual friends who practice it, have long life;
May I at last completely surmount
All inner and outer obstacles.
May I in all births enjoy the glorious Dharma
Inseparable from the perfect Lama;
Having completed the stages and paths,
May I quickly obtain the high state of Vajradhara.
From ‘The Door of Liberation’ by Geshe Wangyal.