The Family Jewels

If asked to sum-up one of the prominent qualities of the Ratnagotra-vibhāgaśāstra it would zero-in on a “family”, in particular the “Tathata-family”, and the nature of the three-jewels that constitutes the essence of this family. The Tathagata-garbha is the womb of impressions, both pure and impure, that go-into the makeup of this family and bears both soiled sensorial and immaculate transcendent qualities. This next section of the Ratna is a form of systematic analysis highlighting the germination of these qualities.


(Kārikā 4)

The Reality mingled with pollution,
And [the Reality] apart from pollution,
The Immaculate Qualities of the Buddha, and his Acts;
[These are the four aspects of] the sphere
Of those who perceive the Highest Truth,
From which arise the pure Three Jewels.

What is elucidated by this śloka?

The Germ of these Three Jewels
Is the sphere of the Omniscience,
And it is inconceivable in fourfold
For four reasons, respectively.

The Reality mingled with pollution: samalā tathatā, or suchness mingled with contamination. This is the Tathagata-garbha enshrouded with obscurations, likened unto a soiled shroud over the Immaculate Face of Suchness. Here, the focus is on garbha as “embryo”, wherein developing sensorial-obscurations develop into discriminatory sense-impressions.

And [the Reality] apart from pollution: nirmalā tathatā, or stainless-suchness prior to sensate contaminations. This is the Immaculate Tathagata-garbha with the fundamental transformation (āśrayaparivrtti/parāvrtti). Hence, The Absolute Buddha-Body of perfect Suchness: Dharmakaya. Mystically this is the garbha as “womb”—indicating the “deepest stratum of consciousness” which is in itself pure and tranquil…the womb of suchness, or Sugata-garbha. Takasaki’s footnote makes reference that when this āśrayaparivrtti/parāvrtti occurs, the “ālayavijñāna” (i.e., Tathagata-garbha in soiled mode) no longer remains the same. Yea, it is immaculatized under its pure form as Sugatagarhba.

This is a quality of Buddhahood that is characterized by this complete transformation back into Sugata-garbha; thus Suchness freed from all defiled-dharmata. Upon depletion of all soiled characteristics, Absolute Suchness is manifested in its Immaculate Purity which is the second of the last four Vajra qualities. Thus purified, they represent Buddha-qualities which are the third of the last four Vajra-points. The ordinary worldlings (PṚTHAGJANA) are incapable of comprehending these last four vajra-points. Only those who are anointed by Buddhas of the Tathata-Family can directly discern their import.


§ 1. Inconceivability of the 4 Subjects

Because, [the Germ is] pure but defiled [at one and the same time],
[The Absolute Body is] of no impurity, and yet purified,
[The Qualities are] of inseparable nature [from the Absolute
[Body], and [The Acts are] effortless and of no discrimination.

The Four Reasons why the four Vajra-points cannot be discerned by the pṛthagjana:

  1. The Sugatagarbha is inconceivable due to its being at once pure, yet also impure through the presence of adventitious defilements. The pṛthagjanas just cannot conceive of such an apparent dualistic structure.
  2. The Sugatagarbha is devoid of defilements, yet apparently needs to become purified from such ignominious entanglements. Hence, the pṛthagjanas cannot conceive of Buddha-nature being pure yet simultaneously needing to be purified through one’s meditational practice.
  3. The qualities of the Sugatagarbha are essentially inconceivable since they are inseparable from its own innate Buddha-nature, but at the same time needs to become activated before Buddhahood can be realized through one’s Awareness Principle As IT recognizes and attunes (strengthening its Diamond body) to its Primordial Stature.
  4. Fourthly the full Primordial Stature of the Sugatagarbha is inconceivable due to its non-conceptual spontaneity. It’s all an effortless affair as discerned by the Shining-Ones enroute to full Tathagatahood.


§ 2. The Germ as Cause and Conditions of the 3 Jewels in its four Aspects.

The object to be enlightened, the Enlightenment,
The attributes of the enlightenment,
The act to instruct the enlightenment;
[Of these four], respectively,
One subject signifies the cause,
[The remaining] three are the conditions
For the purification of the former.

The object to be enlightened: direct intuition of the Absolute (Obermiller).

The second subject, ‘the Enlightenment’: (bodhi) should be known in the sense that the object to be enlightened has been awakened, therefore it is the Enlightenment. (Takasaki).

This is on the way to direct mastery of the [Bodhikaya]—the embodhiment of the Truth-Body (Dharmakaya).

This Bodhikaya is essentially pure and devoid of impediments due to the nature of its Real Essence. Formally, the defiled-garbha was sheathed due to karmic impediments and are, in reality, divorced from the Actual-Nature of Buddhahood. Hence, these remaining Vajra-points are the ripe-conditions procuring purifications from all adventitious defilements thus opening the door to the Family of Buddhas.

From The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra, by Arya Maitreya, translated by Rosemarie Fuchs–Annotation 19:

Once an individual has purified the defilements hindering the realization of the tathagatagarbha, and thus immediately sees his own Buddha nature, he has become a member of the Sangha of noble ones. Due to the power of the direct realization of the sugatagarbha, the mind of a member of the Noble Sangha is immersed in the truth of cessation and the truth of the path. The truth of cessation is freedom from defilements. The truth of the path is the realization freeing one from defilements. These truths are the two aspects of the sacred Dharma in terms of realization. Once a member of the Noble Sangha has finalized the practice of this Dharma, he has himself turned into a Buddha. Therefore the three Rare and Sublime Jewels arise from the fact that the Buddha nature is purified from all pollution without any remainder.

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