The Three Principal Aspects of the Path


Homage to the venerable Spiritual Guide

I shall explain to the best of my ability
The essential meaning of all the Conqueror’s teachings,
The path praised by the holy Bodhisattvas,
And the gateway for fortunate ones seeking liberation.

You who are not attached to the joys of samsara,
But strive to make your freedom and endowment meaningful,
O Fortunate Ones who apply your minds to the path that pleases the Conquerors,
Please listen with a clear mind.

Without pure renunciation there is no way to pacify
Attachment to the pleasures of samsara;
And since living beings are tightly bound by desire for samsara,
Begin by seeking renunciation.

Freedom and endowment are difficult to find, and there is no time to waste.
By acquainting your mind with this, overcome attachment to this life;
And by repeatedly contemplating actions and effects and the sufferings of samsara,
Overcome attachment to future lives.

When, through contemplating in this way, the desire for the pleasures of samsara
Does not arise, even for a moment,
But a mind longing for liberation arises throughout the day and the night,
At that time, renunciation is generated.

However, if this renunciation is not maintained
By completely pure bodhichitta,
It will not be a cause of the perfect happiness of unsurpassed enlightenment;
Therefore, the wise generate a supreme bodhichitta.

Swept along by the currents of the four powerful rivers,
Tightly bound by the chains of karma, so hard to release,
Ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping,
Completely enveloped by the pitch-black darkness of ignorance,

Taking rebirth after rebirth in boundless samsara,
And unceasingly tormented by the three sufferings
Through contemplating the state of your mothers in conditions such as these,
Generate a supreme mind [of bodhichitta].

But, even though you may be acquainted with renunciation and bodhichitta,
If you do not possess the wisdom realizing the way things are,
You will not be able to cut the root of samsara;
Therefore strive in the means for realizing dependent relationship.

Whoever negates the conceived object of self-grasping
Yet sees the infallibility of cause and effect
Of all phenomena in samsara and nirvana,
Has entered the path that pleases the Buddhas.

Dependent-related appearance is infallible
And emptiness is inexpressible;
For as long as the meaning of these two appear to be separate,
You have not yet realized Buddha’s intention.

When they arise as one, not alternating but simultaneous,
From merely seeing infallible dependent relationship,
Comes certain knowledge that destroys all grasping at objects.
At that time the analysis of view is complete.

Moreover, when the extreme of existence is dispelled by appearance,
And the extreme of non-existence is dispelled by emptiness,
And you know how emptiness is perceived as cause and effect,
You will not be captivated by extreme views.

When, in this way, you have correctly realized the essential points
Of the three principal aspects of the path,
Dear One, withdraw into solitude, generate strong effort,
And quickly accomplish the final goal.

Translation © Geshe Kelsang Gyatso & New Kadampa Tradition