Praise of Dependent Arising | Tsongkhapa
In Praise of Dependent Arising
by Je Tsongkhapa
Homage to (my) Guru, Mañjughoṣa.
I bow to (you) the Triumphant (Buddha),
who has seen and taught dependent arising,
which, to see (makes you) a knower
and to speak of (makes you) an unsurpassable instructor.
Unawareness is the root
of as much torment as there is in the world.
Thus, you spoke of dependent arising,
which, if seen, turns that back.
At that time, how could those with intelligence
not have comprehended the path of dependent arising
as being the essential point of your teachings?
As that is so, how could anyone find
as a gateway for praising you, O Guardian,
anything more wondrous
than your statements about dependent arising?
“Whatever depends on conditions
is devoid of a self-establishing nature.”
What could be a more amazing, excellent manner
of instructing than this statement?
This real fact (of dependent arising)
which, if grasped at (as establishing true existence),
makes infantile beings’ bondage to grasping for extremes more firm,
is the gateway for the learned
to cut all the webs of their mental fabrication, without any exception.
As this teaching is not seen in others,
then the title “Teacher” is really yours (alone);
it’s a sham word, however,
if also (used) for those with heterodox (views),
like “lion” for the species “fox.”
How wondrous – a Teacher! How wondrous – a Safe Direction!
How wondrous – a Supreme Speaker! How wondrous – a Guardian!
I prostrate to (you) that Teacher,
who spoke excellently about dependent arising.
You, the Benefactor, prescribed it as a medicine for wandering beings,
(since) it’s the peerless line of reasoning for ascertaining voidness,
the heart of your teachings.
How can those who see
this manner (of reason) of dependent arising
as contradicting (functionality) or as unestablished
ever be able to comprehend your system?
When you saw voidness as meaning dependent arising,
(you saw that) voidness of a self-establishing nature
and the performing of functions are not contradictory,
but in fact reasonable (in terms of one another).
But if one sees the reverse of that,
then since function would be inadmissible in terms of voidness,
and there could be no voidness in terms of function,
one would be asserting a plunge into an abyss of despair.
Because of that, excellent praise
to the vision of dependent arising in your teachings!
For that, in fact, nullifies (both) total non-existence and existence
by means of a self-establishing nature.
Non-reliance is like a flower from empty space;
therefore non-dependence does not exist.
If the existence (of things) were established by their essential natures,
then the establishment of that would contradict
their depending on causes and conditions.
(Thus) you said that because of that,
since there are no phenomena other than what dependently arises,
there are no phenomena other
than what is devoid of a self-establishing nature.
You (further) said that because,
if phenomena (actually) had a certain self-establishing nature,
(the appearance of) self-establishing natures could not be turned back,
Nirvāṇa would (then) become inadmissible,
and all mental fabrication could not be turned back.
Because of that, in the crowd of learned ones,
you spoke excellently, again and again, with a lion’s roar,
that everything is parted from self-establishing natures.
Who could get the better of this?
There is no such thing as a self-establishing nature;
also, the entire presentation is reasonable
of “this” arising from depending on “this.”
As these 2 (points) are non-contradictory,
is there need to mention that they fit together?
“Because of the line of reasoning, dependent arising,
one does not become founded in an extreme view.”
This excellent statement (of yours)
is the cause for your speech, O Guardian, being peerless.
All these (things) are devoid
(of being established) by an essential nature,
while from “this,” “this” arises as a result.
These 2 certainties, without hindering one another, serve as (mutual) helps.
What could be more amazing than this?
What could be more marvellous than this?
There is no other way of praising
than to praise you in this way.
Enslaved by their muddle-headedness,
some are hostile toward you.
Is it any wonder they cannot bear
the sound of “no self-establishing nature?”
But those who accept dependent arising,
the cherished treasure from among your statements,
and then cannot bear the roar of voidness
– it is they who amaze me.
It is just these people who grasp at self-establishing natures
in the very name of dependent arising,
but which, (in fact,) is the unsurpassable gateway
leading to there being no self-establishing natures.
By what method could they be led
to this excellent pathway pleasing to you,
which is a peerless fording passage
well-travelled by the Supreme Noble Āryas?
How can having a self-establishing nature,
being unfashioned, and non-reliant,
as well as being dependently arising, reliant, and fashioned
both be what are gathered together
with no contradiction on a single basis?
Because of that, whatever dependently arises
is, from the beginning, completely removed
from having a self-establishing nature.
Yet, since (things) appear to be there,
you said that all of them are like illusions.
It is by this very (reasoning) that one can well understand
the statement that even if opponents
try to pick apart how you have taught,
they can never find an occurrence (of fault) in the Dharma’s consistency.
“Why is this so?”
It’s because, by this explanation,
you’ve distanced afar any chances for interpolation or repudiation
regarding any phenomenon, seen or unseen.
By this very path of dependent arising,
which is the reason your speech is seen as peerless,
one can develop certainty
that your other statements are valid as well.
In training, in your footsteps,
in what you have said so well,
after you saw in accord with fact,
one puts all one’s troubles far away,
because one turns back the root of all one’s faults.
(On the other hand,) those who face away from your teachings,
even should they devote themselves wearily for a long time,
are like inviting one mistake after the next,
because of their firm view of identity natures.
How wondrous! How could any learned person,
when he has comprehended the difference between these two,
not develop, at that time, respect for you
from the depth of his heart?
What need to mention many of your statements,
when finding merely a rough certainty
about even only the meaning of a single portion
bestows supreme bliss.
Alas! My mind is so overwhelmed with being muddled
that although I’ve long taken safe direction from (you,
who are) a mass of excellent qualities like this,
I cannot show even a tiny speck of good qualities (in myself).
But until the flow of my life-force toward the direction
of the mouth of the Lord of Death comes to an end,
I shall consider myself fortunate even in just this:
the slight amount of confident belief (I’ve developed) in you.
Like a commander of the triumphant in the worldly realms,
your omniscient mind has no other (match)
in its magnificence and excellence, in that both,
among teachers, you are a teacher of dependent arising,
and among discriminating awarenesses,
you have an awareness of dependent arising.
However much has been proclaimed by you
has originated and proceeded from dependent arising itself.
And, moreover, it’s been for the purpose of Nirvāṇa (a release from suffering).
You do not do anything that doesn’t bring about (such) pacification.
How wondrous! Because your teachings
bring about a pacification (of suffering)
to all those in whose ears it passes,
who could not respect upholding your teachings?
My delight ever increases in this system (of yours),
which defeats every kind of challenging opponent,
is devoid of contradictions from top to bottom,
and bestows the two aims of the 9 kinds of beings.
It is for this purpose that you
offered over and again, through countless eons,
at some times your body, at others your life,
as well as your dear relations and your stores of wealth.
What poor fortune
not to have heard that Dharma (directly) from you,
to whose mind I am drawn, like a fish to a hook,
by seeing your good qualities.
By the strength of that sadness,
my mind shall never give up (its regard for you),
like the mind of a mother continually
following after her dear child.
And so, for this, when I think of your statements,
I think of (you,) that Teacher,
radiant with the glory of the physical signs and exemplary features,
surrounded completely by an aura of light,
And, in that manner,
proclaiming these (teachings) with your Brahma-like voice.
The mere arising in my mind of the image of your physical form, O Sage,
is a medicine like moonlight for the torment of my fever.
Although this excellent system of yours is so wondrous,
yet unlearned people have made contentions
over so many points, like tangled vines.
Seeing this manner (of theirs),
I have followed with a great deal of effort (only) the learned
and thereby have repeatedly sought your intended meaning.
At that time, when I studied the many various texts
of the systems of our own and others’ tenets,
my mind was completely tormented
by a web of one doubt after the next.
But, my mind found relief from its exhaustion
when, through the kindness of my gurus,
I beheld the garden of moonflowers of the textual tradition of Nāgārjuna
– whom you prophesied would comment correctly
upon the ways of your unsurpassable vehicle,
getting rid of the extremes of existence and nonexistence
– illumined by the array of white light
of the excellent explanations of the Glorious Moon, Candrakīrti
– the full orb of whose stainless understanding
passes without hindrance through the sky of the scriptural pronouncements,
dispelling the darkness of the heart of grasping for extremes
and outshining the constellations of the speakers of distorted (views).
Of all your Enlightening deeds,
the deeds of your Enlightening speech are supreme.
Because that indeed is (in reference to) this very (teaching),
learned ones, be continually mindful of Buddha from this!
In the footsteps of (you,) this Teacher, I became a monastic,
and my study of (your) statements, Triumphant One, has not been poor.
As a monk who makes effort in the actions of a yogi,
I pay respect like this to (you,) that Great Seer.
To have met like this
with the teachings of (you,) the Unsurpassable Teacher,
is due to the kindness of my gurus.
Thus, I dedicate this constructive force
as a cause for all wandering beings, barring none,
to be upheld by hallowed spiritual masters.
Till the end of existence, may the teachings,
as well, of (you,) that Benefactor,
remain unshaken by the winds of misconception.
And may they always be filled with those
who have found confident belief in (you), their Teacher,
by having understood this manner of (your) teachings.
In all my lifetimes, may I uphold,
even at the cost of my body or life,
this excellent system of (you,) the Sage,
which clarifies reality in terms of dependent arising,
and never loosen (my hold), for even a mere instant.
May I spend day and night in examination,
thinking of methods by which I can further these (teachings),
which (you,) that Supreme Guide, realized
by taking earnestly to heart immeasurable hardships.
When I make efforts in that manner, with pure exceptional resolve,
may I always be unswervingly assisted
by worldly protectors, such as Brahma and Indra,
and guardians (of the Dharma), like Excellent Mahākāla and the rest.
This has been composed by the Buddhist monk Tsongkhapa.