Sakya Pandita’s Instruction on Parting from the Four Attachments

Sakya Paṇḍita (1182–1251)
Sakya Paṇḍita (1182–1251)

I prostrate at the feet of the noble lama!

Having obtained a body with all the freedoms and advantages, encountered the precious teachings of the Buddha, and genuinely aroused the right attitude, now we need to put the Dharma into practice without any mistake. For this, we must take to heart and practise the ‘Parting from the Four Attachments’.

What exactly does this imply?
—not being attached to the present life;
—not being attached to the three realms of samsara;
—not being attached to your own self-interest;
—and not clinging to some true reality in things and their characteristics.

To explain this further:

It is futile to be attached to this life, since it is like a bubble on water, and the time of our death uncertain.

These three realms of samsara are like a poisonous fruit, delicious at first, but ultimately harmful. Anyone who is attached to them must be deluded.

Attachment to your own self-interest is like nurturing the child of an enemy. It may bring joy at first, but in the end only leads to ruin. Just so, attachment to your own welfare brings happiness in the short term, but eventually leads you to the lower realms.

Clinging to true existence in things and their characteristics is like perceiving water in a mirage. For a moment it looks like water, but there is nothing there to drink. This samsaric existence does appear to the deluded mind, yet when it is examined with discriminating awareness, nothing, nothing at all, is found to have any intrinsic existence. So, having come to an understanding where your mind does not dwell in the past, the future, or the present, you should recognize all phenomena as naturally free from any conceptual complexity.

If you act in this way,
—by relinquishing attachment to this life, there will be no more rebirths in the lower realms,
—by relinquishing attachment to the three realms of samsara, there will be no more rebirth in samsaric existence,
—by relinquishing attachment to your own self-interest, there will be no more rebirths as a shravaka or pratyekabuddha.
—finally, through abandoning any clinging to reality in things and their characteristics, you will swiftly attain complete and perfect buddhahood.

This completes Sakya Pandita’s unerring instruction on the ‘Parting from the Four Attachments’, the enlightened intent of the glorious Sachen Kunga Nyingpo.

| Rigpa Translations, 2011.