Luminous

· Articles & Essays · ,

by Chandrakirti, translated by Padmakara Translation Group

Because the fire that burns the wood of
all phenomena produces light,
The third ground has been called
the Luminous.

Here, the offspring of the Conqueror behold
A copper-colored glow as of the rising sun.

Their foes may torture them, though they
be innocent,
Dismembering their bodies piece by piece,
And cut their flesh and bones in
lingering pain—
But this serves only to confirm their patience
for their butchers.

For Bodhisattvas, those who see the absence
of the self,
Agent, object, time, and manner of
the wounds—
All things are like the image in a glass.
By understanding thus, all torments
are endured.

If you respond in anger when another
harms you,
Does your wrath remove the harm inflicted?
Resentment surely serves no purpose
in this life
And brings adversity in lives to come.

For it is taught that harms endured
Exhaust the fruits of wrongs committed
in the past.
But damage done to others is itself
a source of pain,
For thus you plant the seeds of future woe.

Indeed all anger felt toward a Bodhisattva
Destroys within an instant merits that arise
Through discipline and giving of
a hundred kalpas.
No other evil is there similar to wrath.

For wrath disfigures face and form and
leads to evil states;
It robs the mind of judgment to distinguish
good from ill.
Intolerance is swift to drive you to the
lower realms.
But patience, anger’s foil, is source of
every good.

Patience makes you beautiful and dear to
holy beings.
Through patience you are skilled in knowing
right from wrong.
In afterlives you will be born as human
or divine,
And negativity will have no hold on you.

Common folk and Bodhisattvas both,
Who understand the good of patience and
the ill of wrath,
Abandon anger swiftly and forever,
Adopting patience praised by noble ones.

But patience, even pledged to perfect
buddhahood,
If practiced with the three concerns, is bound
within the world.
Yet practiced without reference,
this the Buddha said,
It leads beyond the world, transcendent,
perfect.

The Bodhisattvas on this ground enjoy
clairvoyance and samadhi.
Desire and anger here are wholly rooted out.
They are at all times able to subdue
the cravings of this kingdom of desire.

These first three virtues, giving and the rest,
The Buddha praised, in general,
for the householders.
Through these is gathered what is known
as merit,
The source of the enlightened rupakaya.

Luminous and shining like the sun,
Such Bodhisattvas utterly remove
all darkness from themselves.
Their wish is then to scatter others’ gloom.
Upon this ground, they know no anger,
though their minds are keenly sharp.


Chandrakirti (600-650 BCE) was a scholar at the acclaimed Nalanda Buddhist monastery in ancient India. A disciple and commentatator on the works of Nagarjuna, he is the author of Introduction to the Middle Way, Clear Words and other key Madhyamika works.

Padmakara Translation Group was founded to preserve, translate and publish major Tibetan Buddhist works for a Western audience.

From Introduction to the Middle Way. Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group. Copyright © 2002 by the Padmakara Translation Group. Reprinted by permission of Shambhala Publications. www.shambhala.com

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