Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

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Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

Postby MalaBeads » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:02 pm

kirtu wrote:Minimal set of postings dealing with Vajrayana and Dzogchen and desire split from Dealing with Desire in the Mahayana forum.


MalaBeads wrote:
Malcolm wrote:why is this so hard to understand?

M


Because understanding is not the whole of practice, Malcolm. Because we have body, speech and mind. Because if the three are not integrated, then there is no realization of what is being taught.


While it is true that i practice dzogchen, and that our mutual teacher uses the concept of integration in particular ways, please do not assume that because i have used this word here, i am speaking of dzogchen.

All the Yanas use the activity of integration in their particular method. If practitioners do not integrate what they are practicing, then the practice is not successful. Therefore those following the path of renunciation, integrate renouncing into every aspect of their body, speech, and mind. Those following the path of transformation, integrate (or transform) every aspect of their body, speech, and mind. Those practicing dzogchen, integrate the nature of mind into every aspect of their body, speech and mind. What differs is not integration but what is integrated.

So give me some credit here, Malcolm. I understand very well what is being discussed here and for the moment at least, we disagree. You are maintaining that the core method of Mahayana is the renunciation of sense objects while i am saying that is abandoning attachment to those objects.

Historically, the various Yanas have been classified as Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. But we also hear about the Path of Renunciation, the Path of Transformation and the Path of Dzogchen. This is a little different. It categorizes Dzogchen as its own path (which i happen to agree with). I think much of what néeds to happen in this discussion is the working out of what we in the west see as the activities of the various Yanas.

Desire is at the core of the Buddhas teachings. Shakymuni Buddha understood desire to be the primary activity that kept beings suffering. It followed, over time, that various methods were developed, depending upon the circumstance of the time, to address this issue of living. So we have the method of renunciation as one way. We also have transformative methods, where intention is seen to be primary regardless of the activity. And we have specific dzogchen methods.

Because Buddhism is a rather new activity for Westerners we need to learn to be clear about what we are talking about to each other. We may all speak the same language here at Dharma Wheel (English) but it is clear to me that we do not speak the same language at all.
Last edited by kirtu on Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added back link to original thread Dealing With Desire; updated to add editing reason after the fact
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:59 pm

MalaBeads wrote:You are maintaining that the core method of Mahayana is the renunciation of sense objects while i am saying that is abandoning attachment to those objects.



I am maintaining that in the path of renunciation, Mahāyāna included, attachment to those desire objects [of the three realms] is abandoned by abandoning those objects themselves directly. When those objects are abandoned, attachment to them no longer arises i.e. no contact, no sensation; no sensation, no craving.

In the path of transformation it is a little different. While contact with impure material sense organs with impure material sense objects [all considered part of the upadāna rūpaskandha] results in craving, etc., contact by pure sense organs with pure objects [all transformed into a pure mandala] does not result in craving.

In the path of self-liberation, there is no need to relinquish or transform anything since [ideally] there is no grasping at all. If there is any grasping [whether internally or externally], self-liberation is not possible. Of course the path of self-liberation is a path, and therefore, there is specific way to train to reach the level of being totally free of grasping.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:37 am

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote: Why have these two lamas [HHST and HE Ratna Vajra](and many others) not leapt directly to Malcolm’s solution of maintaining transcendent awareness or constantly dwelling in the Bodhi mind?


Now you are projecting -- I never proposed such a solution. I merely pointed out what HH Sakya Trizin taught so many years ago when I first took teachings from him: that in this day and age, the path of renunciation was not effective anymore, and practicing Vajrayāna teachings such as Hevajra which did not involve giving up sense objects was more effective in this epoch.


When HHST makes this statement he is speaking in general. Secondly his exact statement that:

in this day and age, the path of renunciation was not effective anymore,


refers primarily to the Sravaka path and is his standard introduction to Vajrayana usually just before he gives the Hevajra empowerment. It is meant as an explanation of why he is giving the empowerment to begin with.

This statement does not mean that for some people in some circumstances, renunciation is not the appropriate medicine.


Furthermore, sutra practice is recommended in Gelug and Sakya as both a preliminary and a supplement to Vajrayana. This is also advised by some Nyingma teachers too.

From Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche's "Principles of Buddhist Tantra":
In tantra, therefore, the ultimate result is the union of the illusory body and clear
light manifesting on the path of no-more learning, while in sūtra the ultimate result is the form body (rūpakāya) and dharma body (dharmakāya) of a buddha. Either result is attained by accumulating both the merit and the pristine wisdom that are the two basic aspects of the path. Such accumulation is accomplished on the basis of seeing the two truths, which are presented identically in sūtra and tantra. Still we need to train in the common sūtra paths before entering tantric practice, with its specific presentation of the basis, path, and result. Sūtra is the foundation of tantra and facilitates the attainment of the tantric path.



Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:42 am

kirtu wrote:
refers primarily to the Sravaka path and is his standard introduction to Vajrayana usually just before he gives the Hevajra empowerment. It is meant as an explanation of why he is giving the empowerment to begin with.




No, it primarily refers to the sūtra path. Of course it is the standard preliminary to the Hevajra empowerment because the Sakya school, (at least according to how it is presented by Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen in The Wish Fulling Tree and Gorampa in The Sharp Weapon of Reasoning That Cuts Down False Statements Concerning Vajrayāna) does not require any training at all in sutra prior to taking Vajrayāna empowerments.

I understand that many Tibetans and their Western adherents seem to feel some sort of gradual sūtrayāna approach is required as a preliminary for Vajrayāna, but in reality, it is just not so.

M
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:24 am

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
refers primarily to the Sravaka path and is his standard introduction to Vajrayana usually just before he gives the Hevajra empowerment. It is meant as an explanation of why he is giving the empowerment to begin with.




No, it primarily refers to the sūtra path. Of course it is the standard preliminary to the Hevajra empowerment because the Sakya school, (at least according to how it is presented by Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen in The Wish Fulling Tree and Gorampa in The Sharp Weapon of Reasoning That Cuts Down False Statements Concerning Vajrayāna) does not require any training at all in sutra prior to taking Vajrayāna empowerments.


Okay, this is an important point so I will ask him when I can.

I understand that many Tibetans and their Western adherents seem to feel some sort of gradual sūtrayāna approach is required as a preliminary for Vajrayāna, but in reality, it is just not so.


Not required, it's just advisable and a helpful approach for most people irrespective of backgrounds, Western or not. I've been reading sutra since I was a teenager and I can't imagine approaching Vajrayana otherwise, but it's not absolutely required. But if you didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment then sutra study and practice is good for you and is what most Tibetan masters (those whose bios I have read at least) who also didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment did.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

Postby Nilasarasvati » Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:35 am

But if you didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment then sutra study and practice is good for you and is what most Tibetan masters (those whose bios I have read at least) who also didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment did.


People commonly attain the Bhumis just through empowerment???? :shock: is that a thing?
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Re: Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:44 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:
But if you didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment then sutra study and practice is good for you and is what most Tibetan masters (those whose bios I have read at least) who also didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment did.


People commonly attain the Bhumis just through empowerment???? :shock: is that a thing?


Not commonly. Sukhasiddhi and who else? A handful of people are said to have done so.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

Postby Nilasarasvati » Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:23 am

oooooh Okay.

"Disciples of superior faculties."

not

"Nearly hopeless doughnut holes of obscuration." :tongue:
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Re: Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:31 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:"Nearly hopeless doughnut holes of obscuration." :tongue:
Hey, don't knock donut holes! A donut just wouldn't be a donut without the hole!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:32 am

kirtu wrote:But if you didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment then sutra study and practice is good for you and is what most Tibetan masters (those whose bios I have read at least) who also didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment did.


If you are a Vajrayāna practitioner, then that is your practice — not sūtra. For example, if you read Śantideva, then you discover the aggregates are impure. Regarding the aggregates as impure is a samaya fault in Vajrayāna, etc.

If by practicing "sutra" you mean trying to maintain the three vows without contradiction — then at least as far as the Sakya school is concerned, the higher commitments trump the lower.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Caz » Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:08 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:But if you didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment then sutra study and practice is good for you and is what most Tibetan masters (those whose bios I have read at least) who also didn't attain the bhumis during empowerment did.


If you are a Vajrayāna practitioner, then that is your practice — not sūtra. For example, if you read Śantideva, then you discover the aggregates are impure. Regarding the aggregates as impure is a samaya fault in Vajrayāna, etc.

If by practicing "sutra" you mean trying to maintain the three vows without contradiction — then at least as far as the Sakya school is concerned, the higher commitments trump the lower.


Shantideva was a Tantric practitioner as well though, His advise is multifaceted. :twothumbsup:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:18 pm

Caz wrote:
Shantideva was a Tantric practitioner as well though, His advise is multifaceted. :twothumbsup:


I was discussing the Bodhicarya-avatara and the Śiksa Sammucaya. Those two texts, as you know, are strictly common Mahāyāna.

Also we do not really know that Śantideva was a Vajrayāna practitioner, though of course there is a tradition that he was. But many such traditions are just stories, not really based in historical reality, so it is difficult to know whether they are true or not.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Caz » Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Caz wrote:
Shantideva was a Tantric practitioner as well though, His advise is multifaceted. :twothumbsup:


I was discussing the Bodhicarya-avatara and the Śiksa Sammucaya. Those two texts, as you know, are strictly common Mahāyāna.

Also we do not really know that Śantideva was a Vajrayāna practitioner, though of course there is a tradition that he was. But many such traditions are just stories, not really based in historical reality, so it is difficult to know whether they are true or not.


Historical reality and Vajrayana: Wow now that would be a topic in of its self, Would there be any reason to believe he was not ? A pure Mahayana practitioner showing perfect outer conduct while secretly practicing the most profound teachings of Vajrayana. That would not be uncommon so it would be very difficult to verify, If you don't have faith in the accuracy of the tradition it can lead to lots of question I suppose.
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:12 pm

Caz wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Caz wrote:
Shantideva was a Tantric practitioner as well though, His advise is multifaceted. :twothumbsup:

...
Also we do not really know that Śantideva was a Vajrayāna practitioner, though of course there is a tradition that he was. But many such traditions are just stories, not really based in historical reality, so it is difficult to know whether they are true or not.


Historical reality and Vajrayana: Wow now that would be a topic in of its self,


:rolling: :coffee:

Would there be any reason to believe he was not ? A pure Mahayana practitioner showing perfect outer conduct while secretly practicing the most profound teachings of Vajrayana.


Hmmm, who else fits this? Why off the top of my head, Virupa, Nagrajuna and Atisha as well as many others including some of the other Mahasiddhas.

Have to exclude the Tibetan masters since after the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet everyone began practicing Vajrayana so this was an open secret. But otherwise many, many Tibetan masters fit this as well: the five Sakya founders, Tsongkhapa, Gampopa, and on and on.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:05 am

kirtu wrote:
Hmmm, who else fits this? Why off the top of my head, Virupa, Nagrajuna and Atisha as well as many others including some of the other Mahasiddhas.

Have to exclude the Tibetan masters since after the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet everyone began practicing Vajrayana so this was an open secret. But otherwise many, many Tibetan masters fit this as well: the five Sakya founders, Tsongkhapa, Gampopa, and on and on.

Kirt


Which Nāgārjuna? You mean the original one (2nd century CE or Rasāyāna Nāgārjuna, siddha Nagarjuna, etc. ? There simply is no possibility that all the texts ascribed to a Nāgārjuna in the bstan 'gyur are by the same person. So we really know nothing about the Nagarjuna, disciple of Saraha, who stands as a seminal Vajrayāna master, apart from the fact that he was not the same person as the Nāgārjuna who wrote the Mūlamadhyamaka-karikas. The Tibetan tradition have conflated at least three separate Nāgārjunas into one personage.

Virupa was expelled from his monastery -- that hardly sounds like "perfect outer conduct while secretly practicing Vajrayāna".

Atisha was a very nice master, but his true personae was masked by Dromton, whom Milrepa referred to as a demon.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:25 am

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Hmmm, who else fits this? Why off the top of my head, Virupa, Nagrajuna and Atisha as well as many others including some of the other Mahasiddhas.

Have to exclude the Tibetan masters since after the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet everyone began practicing Vajrayana so this was an open secret. But otherwise many, many Tibetan masters fit this as well: the five Sakya founders, Tsongkhapa, Gampopa, and on and on.

Kirt


Which Nāgārjuna? ...

Ok ....

Malcolm wrote:Virupa was expelled from his monastery -- that hardly sounds like "perfect outer conduct while secretly practicing Vajrayāna".


You know the story perfectly well. Dharmapala was an exemplary teacher and pure Mahayana practitioner by day. At night he secretly practiced Vajrayana. He had terrifying dreams and didn't know that this meant that he was actually on the verge of attaining the 1st bhumi. As a result he gave up Vajrayana but Naitratmya appeared to him and urged him to continue whereapon he attained the 1st bhumi and then attained the next higher bhumi each successive night up to the 6th bhumi. His disciples had noticed that his behavior had changed slightly and were worried about him. Dharmapala had a tsok and some people spying on him saw seven women, some saw lamps, etc. Reluctantly they asked him to leave the monastery. After this his behavior got wild. So up to that point he was an exemplary Mahayana practitioner secretly practicing Vajrayana.

Atisha was a very nice master, but his true personae was masked by Dromton, whom Milrepa referred to as a demon.


You've mentioned this before but where did Milarepa refer to Dromton like this? Things seemed to have gotten tense between Phagmodrupa and Sachen Kunga Nyingpo too.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:56 am

kirtu wrote:His disciples had noticed that his behavior had changed slightly and were worried about him...


Yes, it seems that once he had some real understanding, he wasn't such an exemplary monastic anymore...
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:His disciples had noticed that his behavior had changed slightly and were worried about him...


Yes, it seems that once he had some real understanding, he wasn't such an exemplary monastic anymore...


If you assert that then you have misread the story even though the story does allow multiple readings. It wasn't until the tsok, later, that he may have violated his vows with women (although he didn't - different people spying on him saw different things - the women some saw were dakinis), after which Virupa really played up the part to avoid embarrassing his students and to provide them a lesson.

But you are correct - after some real understanding - after attaining the bhumis - he was not bound by convention.

But before attaining the bhumis, people need to continue to develop their wisdom and accumulate virtue and strictly (not legalistically) follow the training of the individual liberation precepts, their Bodhisattva Vows and very strictly keep their samaya if they practice Vajrayana. Most of the time these are not in conflict. The higher trumps the lower but most of the time the individual liberation precepts support Vajrayana conduct. As Padmasambhava said : "Our view is as high as the sky, And our conduct is as fine as barley flour."

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: Uncommon Mahayana Approaches to Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:03 pm

Gahd! The same old boring argument over and over again! I wonder if we will ever get sick of having it?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:20 pm

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:His disciples had noticed that his behavior had changed slightly and were worried about him...


Yes, it seems that once he had some real understanding, he wasn't such an exemplary monastic anymore...


If you assert that then you have misread the story even though the story does allow multiple readings. It wasn't until the tsok, later, that he may have violated his vows with women (although he didn't - different people spying on him saw different things - the women some saw were dakinis), after which Virupa really played up the part to avoid embarrassing his students and to provide them a lesson.

But you are correct - after some real understanding - after attaining the bhumis - he was not bound by convention.

But before attaining the bhumis, people need to continue to develop their wisdom and accumulate virtue and strictly (not legalistically) follow the training of the individual liberation precepts, their Bodhisattva Vows and very strictly keep their samaya if they practice Vajrayana. Most of the time these are not in conflict. The higher trumps the lower but most of the time the individual liberation precepts support Vajrayana conduct. As Padmasambhava said : "Our view is as high as the sky, And our conduct is as fine as barley flour."

Kirt


There are various accounts of Virupa, and they do not all agree in particulars -- for example, one version of the mālā story holds that he threw his mālā away because he became realized. Also, there is a pun in Sanskrit that few people notice: the waste products of the body are called "mala"; a rosary is called a mālā. So when Shri Dharmapāla threw his mālā in the mala, he was making a statement about his realization i.e. since he had overcome his mala, he no longer needed his mālā.

You really need to read Rin po che ljong shing if you really want to understand the Tantric path of the Sakyapa school. In that book you will discover that in Vajrayāna (according to the Sakya school) there are three grades of heat (weak, medium, strong) on the path of application (rather than four grades as in sūtra i.e. heat, peak, etc.). Here, Vajrayāna practitioners are supposed to engage in "unconventional behavior" -- first in the their rooms, etc.

As for Dzogchen, all I can say is that in general Dzogchen practitioners are not governed by rules at all, there are no vows or samayas to follow in particular, no paths and stages, no particular conduct to adopt or reject. As long as you are not indifferent and mindful, you don't need rules, vows and samayas.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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